Tips to making that call to Tech Support…

One of the most stressful experiences for any computer user is when they are at that “crisis” point with their PC and they need to contact Tech Support. Often home-based users will first go through the misery of trying to locate the tech support number, then have their patience tested by the array of telephone options before they actually get to talk to someone; and, then come to find that their tech support service is outsourced outside the country where native language accents can make communicating even that more difficult.


Making that call to tech support requires planning and preparation. Follow these steps and your experience with tech support will be less stressful and you even may learn something along the way.

Many hardware issues are the result of loose cable connections and many issues in general are predominantly software and/or internet related.  Always rule these out first, prior to making that call.

Most computer manufacturers offer a one year warranty for free tech support calls (and on-site or mail-in service when need be). Make sure you are within the warranty window when making that call or you will be charged on a “per call” basis. If you are outside that warranty window, have that information clarified.  Most manufacturer’s tech support services already know how long you have owned the PC or other equipment you are calling about.

Write down the “Brand”, Brand Model”, “Model Number”, and “Serial Number” of the computer (or device) before placing that call. There is nothing more frustrating, especially after waiting to talk to someone, than having to crawl to the floor or move the computer on the desk  to find the numbers (using a flashlight and magnifying glass).

Whatever the problem you are experiencing, write down exactly what you are experiencing and/or the error codes you may be experiencing. This will make it much easier for you to explain (and read back) the situation to the tech.  Also, jot down any changes that may have occurred recently with the computer or device (e.g. installed software, uninstalled software, new device connected, etc…)

If at all possible, use a speakerphone or a portable phone that can be easily handled. Resolving the problem may require using both hands.

Clear your desk or work area so that you have room to move about. It is not uncommon for a Tech to ask you to remove a cover on a PC if it is a suspected hardware issue.

Have a pen and notepad available. The Tech may ask you to write down a phone number, web site address, provide an incident number, etc…

Be prepared for possibly long wait times; and, be prepared for the possibility of being on the phone for a long duration during the troubleshooting period with the tech.

After reaching a tech, ask them for a direct phone number to their site in the event the call is dropped.

If you are on a dial-up connection or are not connected to the internet, make sure you explain that first off. This information does have an impact on how the service tech can respond to your situation.

Be courteous and listen to the Tech… Handling tech support calls or help desk calls can be very stressful. Some of these techs handle numerous calls, one right after the other, with people who are literally in crisis mode and take their frustration out on the tech. This will absolutely get you nowhere…

At the end of your call with tech support, you will most likely be provided with an incident or event number.  It is important that you write down and keep that number in a safe place in the event you experience a reoccurrence of the problem.

As you can see there is considerable planning involved when making that tech support call.  If you have any further tips to provide, you are welcome to leave them in the comments section below.


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9 thoughts on “Tips to making that call to Tech Support…

Add yours

  1. Most important – if you had done something then tell about it.

    Stories about “it just stopped working” without mentioning cup of coffee poured inside computer case are no longer funny by now. 🙂


  2. Rarst,

    I think the funniest situation I ran into when I was working IT was a lady on my network whose (deskjet)printer stopped working. I was constantly reminding this person not to eat at their computer workstation. When I investigated, a real live mouse was building a nest in her printer. I guess it figured it had a food source nearby and what the heck…



  3. I am both a consumer of electronic products and services, (who has made those calls) and I am a “Tech Support” provider (who answers those calls). I can say that without doubt there is some excellent advice here.

    I would like to stress the point Rarst made: don’t lie to the person trying to help you — you aren’t helping yourself. If you have looked at naughty websites, say so (You might as well, your machine is going to tell me anyway); if you knocked your laptop off of the table and onto a hard floor, say so! Those things are VERY relevant, and admitting them up front can save an hour – or more – of your (billable) time.

    “Tech Support” is abysmal, and the move to “outsourcing” means the person you’re dealing with is struggling to understand English, and they’re reading from a script. They CANNOT skip ahead to page 4 because you want/need them to, they’ll lose their job if they break protocol. Understand this, and play along. Eventually they’ll get to page 4 and 5, and 6.

    But many people refuse to come to someone like me, an independent, experienced technician because they have a mindset that we’re “too expensive”.
    Like many things in life, you get what you pay for. When you’re accessing free tech support, it’s a pure cost (loss) to the provider, so they’re going to minimize that loss by providing the cheapest (aka “worst”) service possible.


  4. Having worked support for many years, it can be frustrating. Please be patient. I know that some people
    hesitate to call simply because they can not understand the other person because of their accent, or their language is not understandable. If you encounter someone like that, be polite and asked to be transfered to someone else.


  5. Readers,

    The post from “Frank” is a good friend of mine; who actually introduced me to computers many, many years ago. Frank worked as a Tech at one of the largest credit card processing centers in the country with responsibility of maintaining hundreds of PCs… Frank is correct in what he is saying; it is all about communication…



  6. That was a very thoughtful post Rick.
    I got trained to handle angry customers yet I was
    surprised when I lost my cool at one customer rep! lol
    I’ll plug in this post at my piece ReadPal today.


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