The future of tech support

And you guys think I’m bad. I got sent this hilarious bit via email this morning. Make sure you’re not eating or drinking anything when you read it.

This has got to be one of the funniest I’ve heard of
in a long time. I think this guy should have been
promoted, not fired. This is a true story from the
Word Perfect Help line which was transcribed from a
recording monitoring the customer care department.
Needless to say the Help Desk employee was fired;
however, he/she is currently suing the Word Perfect
organization for “Termination without Cause.”
Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer
Support employee (now I know why they record these

“Ridge Hall computer assistance; may I help you?”

“Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.”

“What sort of trouble?”

“Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.”

“Went away?”

“They disappeared.”

“Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?”



“It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.”

“Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?”

“How do I tell?”

“Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?”

“What’s a sea-prompt?”

“Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?”

“There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.”

“Does your monitor have a power indicator?”

“What’s a monitor?”

"It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV.

" Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on?"

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see

“Yes, I think so.”

“Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall.”

“Yes, it is.”

“When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of
it, not just one?”


“Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.”

“Okay, here it is.”

“Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back of your computer.”

“I can’t reach.”

“Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?”


“Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?”

“Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle
– it’s because it’s dark.”


“Yes, -the office light is off, and the only light I have is from the window.”

“Well, turn on the office light then.”

“I can’t.”

“No? Why not?”

“Because there’s a power failure.”

"A power… A power failure? Aha, Okay, we’ve got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and
manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?! "

“Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.”

“Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take
it back to the store you bought it from.”

“Really? Is it that bad?”

“Yes, I’m afraid it is.”

“Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?”

“Tell them you’re too damn stupid to own a computer.”

I swear to God Derek. I got spammed that back in 1997. Are you new to the Internet or something? ;-)

Nahh, he’s just trying to raise money for a little girl with cancer because Mrs. Fields took all her familys money when they got the secret recipe.

OMG, I just realised I was using my CD tray as a coffee holder. By the way, where’s the “ANY” key?

And from the title of the post, I thought this was going to be an article about india.

I thought the same thing! I get people from India trying to sell me siding, refinance my mortgage, buy an alarm system, etc. First our smokestack jobs were farmed out overseas, and now our service industry jobs are going there too. What’s going to be left?

I don’t think McDonald’s has figured out how to outsource burger preparation to India. Yet.

Video game reviewing.

Have you guys seen this website by this crazy dude called Mahir? I KISS YOU!

Technically, what will be left will be jobs that require someone to be nearby. That’s over the really long run, though.

And over the really really long run, wages in every country will be about the same (no, they won’t go down to third-world levels; everyone will end up with first-world wages), so things will go back to distribution based on geographic accident (we’ve always made software here, so we’re always going to make software here) and resource factor distribution (coal mines).

Hehe, I just called EA online to cancel sims online… it WAS India. And when I call Dell support, India again! It saddens me we have to outsource all this support to India… they don’t know what they got into!


Thats the first time I’ve seen it. Besides, back in 1997, as history would have it, I was firmly planted behind a bomb shelter. Remember? Get it? bomb shelter? :D

Damn, I kill me

Hehe, I just called EA online to cancel sims online… it WAS India. And when I call Dell support, India again! It saddens me we have to outsource all this support to India… they don’t know what they got into!


Don’t even get me started on India and tech support. I swear there’s something going on that I don’t know about. I guess labor must be cheap over there or something and the average IT Indian is apparently well versed in their field.

Except for the morons that Symantec hires.

Here, I’ll let my email of 01/12/03 explain. This has to do with my upgrade from NSW 2002 to 2003. Like a lamb to slaughter, Symantec has been milking me dry for as long as I’ve had tits. So, each year, like a complete boob, I upgrade. If only to get a few new panels that they’ve dressed up as new features. They’re just as bad as Installshield. I swear I spend more money on software than I do on coffee.

Anyway, this little event all started when I received my boxed NSW 2003 and NPF 2003 bundle. I uninstalled the 2002 versions, installed 2003 and ran into a brickwall configuring my network. So I went online and told them about it. Then got the pre-requisite rubbish response back from another one of those Indians.

Btw, this is the THIRD time in the past six months, that I’ve had rubbish sent back from them. In another unrelated incident, one of them even suggested that I format my entire winXP system in order to isolate the problem with NSW not protecting (Recycle Bin) my system drive!!

And as always, by the time they got back to me, I had already solved the problem by digging around in their poorly written manual.

Anyway, his email to me appears first and he excerpts parts of my input in their online tech support form.

At 05:00 AM 1/12/2003, [email protected] wrote:

Hi Derek,

Thank you for contacting Symantec Online Technical Support.

In your message, you wrote:
> if you choose to have NPF integrated into the NSW interface, then you lose access to the Internet
Zone Control tab in the NPF interface.

Derek, this issue could be due to failed installation of Norton SystemWorks (NSW). Please follow the steps
to resolve this issue:

I suggest you to uninstall Norton SystemWorks (NSW) first and then use the SymClean utility to remove any left
over registry entries.

  1. For information about uninstalling NSW, refer to the article provided below:

Title: ‘How to uninstall Norton SystemWorks 2002 or 2003’
Document ID: 2001072709142207
> Web URL:

  1. For steps about using SymClean, refer to the article provided below:

Title: ‘How to use the Norton SystemWorks cleanup utility (SymClean)’
Document ID: 2001101612274407
> Web URL:

  1. Before installing NSW 2003 again, please log on as Windows XP administrator, and then perform these steps.
    For logging as Windows administrator refer to the article below:

Title: ‘How to log on as the administrator in Windows XP’
Document ID: 2001100619543839
> Web URL:

  1. Clean boot your system to ensure that no other programs are running in memory when you reinstall. The
    following article from Symantec Knowledge Base provides information as to how to perform a clean boot:

Title: ‘How to perform a clean boot of Windows XP’
Document ID: 2001053014402339
> Web URL:

  1. Install NSW, please refer to the article provided below for steps:

Title: ‘How to install Norton SystemWorks 2002 and 2003’
Document ID: 2001072514174307
> Web URL:

You also wrote:
> I cannot configure home networking options.

Derek, to resolve this issue I suggest that you add the IP address of the computers in the network to the trusted
list of Norton Personal Firewall. Please refer to the article provided below to resolve this issue:

Title: ‘Unable to communicate with a gateway that is running Norton Internet Security or Norton Personal
Document ID: 2002103010020636
> Web URL:

If you need further assistance, please feel free to get back to us.


Symantec Authorized Technical Support


Did you even READ the report I sent you? Why is it that EVERY TIME someone reports
a message, you people send a canned COMPLETELY INCORRECT response?

While I was waiting for you folks to reply to my report, something told me to check
the program manuals again. Luckily for me, I had not thrown out my NSW/NFW 2002 box+manauls.

So, I decided to compare them to see what has changed between 2002 and 2003

2002 : p36 shows the Internet Zone Control option I mentioned in my email
2003 : p36 does not show the IZC option

2002 : p70 shows how to access Home Networking via IZC from the main window
2003 : p63 shows how to access Home Network Wizard via Personal Firewall from the Security Center

Obviously, the method of configuring home networking is different in 2003 and even the interface
is different. And this is why :

(a) I could not find the IZC. It had nothing to do with integration with NSW.

btw, the option to disable integration of NPF into NSW, has been removed in 2003. So, it is no longer
an option as it was in NSW 2002

(b) I could not find a way to configure home networking in order to add adapters because home
networking is now only accessible from the Personal Firewall option (double-clicking on it) in the
Security Center

I hope you’ve learned something from this. Had I not discovered this on my own, I would’ve WASTED valuable
time in following the steps you provided below - NONE - of which had - ANYTHING - to do with the problems


Working on your international PR, Derek? You should have sent a BCG screenshot with the email.

I’m now hesitant to upgrade my NFW…

If you and Jakub get together you could probably launch an international incident involving disabled Indians providing tech support for Freelancer.


LOL!!! The thought did cross my mind :D

I’m now hesitant to upgrade my NFW…

Here is where I got them back. The money pit bastards…

When the subscription notice about renewing appeared (my sub would have expired in Feb), I clicked on the link. That link gave me the option to either renew the sub or - as a good Symantec customer (read : they like my tits which they’ve been milking since back in the DOS days) - get the NSW+PFW 2003 bundle for $49.95. BOXED!

So, like that proverbial lamb, I forked out my credit card and upgraded.

A few days later, the box from Digital River shows up. And what did I get? A boxed copy of NSW 2003 and a boxed copy of NPF 2003. Just like they promised.

But when I opened the box, guess what fell out? (no, not a feeding bottle), but a $30 rebate form!!! I was like, huh? So I grabbed my magnifying glass and read every word of it. Sure enough, because I had the NSW 2003 receipt, title page from NSW 2002, the proof-of-purchase tab from the NSW 2002 box, I qualified for the rebate.

I still didn’t believe it. So I called. And sure enough, they said yep.

So, I got the NSW 2003 + NPF 2003 upgrade (they are actually FULL versions btw and you have to uninstall previous versions) for $19.95. I swear I’ve never filled out a rebate form so fast. :D And I know they’re good for it because I’ve received rebate payments in the past (e.g. when I switched from ZoneAlarm Pro to NPF)

Well, I work with a lot of the Indians that traveled here to the States to work in IT shops. They tell me that unlike America, India has these training centers where they train people for cheap in various technologies. And programming books, the same ones we get but printed on cheaper paper, are like $2 a copy there. Damn it, it would be cool if I could take a class for nearly free instead of having to shell out thousands, but I digress.

Anyway, most of the Indians I’ve worked with are good people. They’re a gentle and friendly bunch. The caliber of their technical work? Some are better than others, just like anyone else I guess. But this is for stuff like database administration and programming. I’m haven’t had to deal with tech support yet…frankly there are times when I think maybe call center tech support is one of the hardest jobs around.

Have you heard Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie’s Welcome to the Internet Help Desk yet? It’s streamable at, and I think it will give you a laugh.

Bernie, you and i must work around the corner from each other here in houston…

our shop is prolly 30-40% Asian (Indian, Pakastani, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc). just like the our native born programmers (of which i am one): some are exceptional, some are average, some down-right suck. most have average english skills, although many of the women suffer from ‘soft-talker’ syndrome, which makes it tough to hear them in meetings. other than that, no issues.

we have undergone some scares recently with fears our shop would be moved to India for coding, but i firmly believe that our company understands the difficulties it would incur in that move and that the problems would cost more than funding a 140 person dev site here in houston. of course, we are lucky b/c houston is about the cheapest place to live and run an IT company.

our other division is in Portland, and it is crazy expensive to run the shop there. cost of living is certainly much higher. of course, they have ‘seasons.’ i am not sure what a ‘season’ is, but hope that summer comes back later this week! :wink:


I worked primarily downtown the last few years, until I got laid off at the end of last year. Since about 1998, I’ve seen the IT shops change to about 40-50% Indian.

I totally understand your point about programming shops going overseas. I have been hearing all kinds of stories about it. One of the tools I use, PowerBuilder, for example, was at one time developed here in the States. It’s a little known fact that recently the operation moved offshore. I do believe that huge populations of hungry Indians and Chinese with low costs of living are absolutely going to change the face of the American IT industry. Many have already come here on the H1B program, but as more shops migrate to other countries, the American IT market will definitely shrink.

Two things I think about it though:

  1. It’s not going to happen overnight. If American programmers maintain their skills, they should be able to find work somewhere for several years more - though it’s getting tougher, and has been for the last couple years.

  2. Eventually we’ll reach an equilibrium where the offshore folks are not going to continue to work for slave labor and companies will have to pay an general average wage regardless of what border they put their facilities behind. I think someone else already mentioned this in a different post. The natural tendency for hard working humans is to expect to improve their condition over time…and the guys overseas making $10K/yr or whatever are probably happy right now, but as they grow used to it, they’ll start expecting more. As the general level of living standard increases, they’ll keep increasing the average. For all the ribbing the H1B program takes from American workers, it might end up helping out in the end…when the H1B guys living in the States go back home and tell people they make $80K/yr, the natives will naturally begin comparing paystubs…human nature.

Sorry for the long post!