Salon has quite the story of an insider's view of being at a call center that does tech support for a major computer maker. Many of us know already that these call centers (run by outside companies) are often paid based on how many calls they take - not on how many people they actually help. As you might imagine, that means that these call centers have incentive to get people off the phone quickly - not to actually help them. The author describes a variety of "strategies" that people within the center (many of whom don't know much about the technology they're supposed to be supporting) use to get people off the phone quickly. If you've ever dealt with tech support, you'll probably recognize all of these people: the punter (who passes you off to someone else saying it's their problem), the giver (who just has the company send out a repair part - even if it's not what's needed) and the dreaded "formatter" who tells you the only possible solution is to format your hard drive. Apparently, this is often a bluff to convince callers that they're better off just living with whatever problem they have than erasing their hard drive. Of course, the real damage being done is to the computer companies who hire these companies - and who end up with angry customers who will never by another machine from them. Considering all the stories of dreadful tech support, you would think these companies would try to work on alternative compensation systems with these companies. However, it appears many of them have made the decision that it's okay to piss off their customers (and give up future revenue and live with people telling all their friends how much certain computer companies suck) as long as their support costs are a bit less.
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