10 Tips To Follow When Calling Your Computer Help Desk

1. Before you call make sure your computer is plugged in and turned on.

I’ve actually gotten about 6 calls from people whose monitors were black because their computers were turned off. I’ve had about 3 calls from people with unplugged computers. One person actually asked me, “Will it work if it’s not plugged in?” Don’t be that guy. It’s embarrassing for you and a waste of the help desk technician’s time.

Image of Roy from "The IT Crowd" answering a computer help desk call by asking, "Hello, IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?"

2. If your screen freezes, then reboot your system.

What do you expect a help desk guy to do for you? There’s no unfreeze switch in the back. There’s no secret button combination that unfreezes computers. All a help desk guy is going to do is reboot your system. Save him the trouble. Save yourself the wait, and do it your self.

3. If you want to know how to add bullets to your PowerPoint or insert a picture in Word, then use the fucking Help menu.

Don’t call the help desk to find out something you could have figured out on your own in less than 15 seconds. If you ever call your help desk and ask how to use any of the Office programs, chances are they’re going to open Office on their computer, pull up the help menu, type in your question, and read what it says to you verbatim. So basically, their boss is paying them to read to you. Your laziness has reduced your I.T. technicians into overpaid nannies for illiterate adults.

If you type almost any problem into an internet search engine and find the answer to even the most obscure problems in minutes.

4. If your internet connection is down, or your mouse or keyboard stopped working, make sure your wires are plugged in.

80% of problems with network connections and peripherals can be solved by jiggling the cables. If you call the help desk they’re going to ask you to jiggle cables. Now that you know it, do it yourself before you call.

Drawing of two men looking at an unplugged computer. One man is saying, "I've already submitted a ticket to IT."

5. If your account is locked out don’t tell the help desk that you have no idea how it got locked.

I’ll tell you how it got locked. You put in your password wrong too many times. The more you try to deny that you’re responsible the dumber you’ll look in the eyes of the nerds in the help desk. Do you want to be looked down upon by nerds? No. If you want to minimize the shame of getting locked out of your account then minimize the time the help desk guy has to spend unlocking it. You can minimize the time by wasting everyone’s time with transparent excuses.

An image of a fake Windows error code that says, "An ID10T error has occurred. Location: Between keyboard and chair. You must eliminate the problem before proceeding further."

6. Don’t yell at the help desk because your computer is broken.

It’s not their fault. In fact, the help desk technician is the last person you want to yell at, because he’s the only one who can help you. And think about this. Every call the help desk guy gets all day is from some frustrated idiot at his wit’s end. You’re the 10th today and the millionth in his life. The help desk technician is not in the mood to deal with your shit.

I’ve put many angry customers on hold for no reason and bullshitted with my coworkers while the guy on the line fumed. If I had to go out to the person’s workstation to help them I’d wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a day before helping them. On a few occasions, I even told them that a fixable problem was unfixable. For really nice customers I’ve taken their systems home and worked their problem on my off time or hooked them up with extra software or hardware. The helpdesk technician is not your punching bag. He’s a human being, and you need him.

7. Don’t explain how important it is that your problem gets fixed.

The technician doesn’t care, and your babbling is only keeping him from fixing your important problem. If you absolutely must explain how important your work is, then only do it once.

On a related note, know that if the technician says your hard drive has exploded and there’s no hope of salvaging your data…you can not get the technician to change his mind by repeating over and over how important it is that you get your data back. If a doctor told you that your spouse was dead you wouldn’t stand there repeating to the doctor how important it is for you to get your spouse back. Face the facts. Move on. Back up your data next time.

8. If you know anything about computers, then don’t try to impress the technician with how much you know.

And don’t try to start a dick waving competition about who knows more about computers or who has the better home computer. You will only make yourself look like a dick, annoy your technician, waste the time he could be using to fix your problem, and cause him to give you worse service now and in the future.

9. Try to describe the actual problem you’re having.

This means taking ten seconds to analyze your screen and at least read labels correctly.  I don’t know how many times someone has called me because they say they can’t log in to their computer, but when I get to their office they’re logged in. They just can’t get to a website. I had one guy call up and say he deleted the Internet. The whole damned thing.

Just because your internet connection doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that the entire building’s internet connection is down. Before you tell the technician the building’s internet is down, ask the person next to you if they have a connection. I understand that everyone can’t be tech savvy, but explaining what is right in front of you falls more under common sense than tech sense. Use common sense. Take the time to analyze the problem you’re having if only enough to describe it accurately. It will help the technician help you.

"Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone who doesn't have it."

10. Rewards your helpdesk technician

Unless you’re the old lady who gives the help desk candy all the time, or you’re the hot young girl who wears low cut shirts, your help desk technicians hate you and don’t want to serve you because you’re an idiot who makes their lives hell.

They only help you for the money, and they don’t get paid enough to make dealing with you worth it. They would quit and get a better job, but they’ve got bills to pay just like everyone else. So they man up and take shit from idiots day in and day out like good, hard-working adults are supposed to.

Try to look at life from their point of view. They deal with real, catastrophic tech problems day in and day out. The more time they can spend on real problems and the less time they have to spend on wiping stupid, lazy people’s asses the better they’ll be able to improve everyone’s computing experience.  So try to fix your problem yourself before calling. If you do have to interact with technicians then get to the point, shut up and let them do their job. And give them candy.

11. The help desk cannot fix your Hotmail. 

Don’t ask.

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