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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | Obtaining Technical Support | Calling For Technical Support ]

Pre-Call Preparation

There are some things you should definitely do before you pick up the phone to call for technical support. In most cases these will save you time, money, or both:

  • Eliminate the Obvious First: Make sure that you try the obvious solutions to your problems before you head for the phone. Look through The Troubleshooting Expert, look at the manufacturer's web site, or try the company's other on-line technical support, if applicable. Nothing frustrates technical support people more than having to take a call only to find out that the caller is having a simple problem that is covered in one of the company's automated support systems (such as a fax-back service or web site FAQ). Calling technical support for this type of matter wastes everyone's time--including yours.
  • Don't Call When You are In a Rush: You may be on the phone for a while. Choose a time when you won't be in a rush to get off the phone. Being under pressure just makes everything more frustrating.
  • Timing Is Everything: Find out what the hours for technical support are for the company and choose your timing well. Trying to call a busy company at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time on a weekday virtually guarantees a long wait on hold. I have had good luck in the early morning, or in the evening (when tech support is open evenings). Note that calling at strange hours may backfire, because there are fewer people calling in but also fewer people to answer the calls. If you are on the east coast, calling a west coast company first thing in the morning usually works well, because many of them open at 6:00 or 7:00 am Pacific time, and most people don't think to call this early. Similarly, these companies are usually open after 5:00 pm east coast time; take advantage of it.
  • Conserve Limited Technical Support Periods: Some products have a limited technical support period, of say 90 days from the date of purchase. Since so many people do not register their products, the companies don't really have an easy way of telling when you bought the product. Therefore, some start counting the 90 days from the time you first call for technical support. They keep track of this by taking down your name and phone number. Therefore, you will want to avoid making that first call until you really need it, because from that point on you only have a limited time until you have to start paying for support. (Your alternative is to make up fake names and phone numbers each time you call, but I'd hardly recommend this sort of fraud!)
  • Watch Out for Toll Calls: Many companies are now eliminating their toll-free technical support lines due to the cost of maintaining this service, and replacing them with toll lines. Waiting on hold at 20 cents per minute can be both expensive and frustrating, so do it only if you have to. If possible, wait until after peak hours to call if you get a discount. A trick I have occasionally (but not often) been able to use is to call the toll-free sales number and get transferred into the technical support queue. Most companies have of course, now made it impossible to do this.

Next: Dealing with the Dreaded Voice Mail System

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