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The sweet sound of a user’s apology

A techie enjoys rare music when an angry customer calls to complain about a new computer, then changes her tune

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I’ve learned that part of the IT job is being blamed when things go wrong, whether or not it’s our fault. End-users are frustrated when something doesn’t work, automatically point fingers at the tech team, and argue with us even when we’re trying to help — so it can be surprising but vindicating when a person admits in the end that the mistake is theirs.

I was the manager at a small mom-and-pop computer store a few years back and got a call one day from an irate customer. She had picked up a new PC from us the day before. We had set up everything needed in the store, but she hadn’t wanted us to go onsite to hook up the system. She said she’d do it herself but had run into problems once she got it home.

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She began the call by yelling that her computer wasn’t working and she was going to sue the store because we sold nothing but junk.

I knew for a fact the computer had worked when she picked it up — we had even tested it in front of her, which I explained. She wouldn’t listen to me and said we needed to come over immediately or she was going to sue. I told her we couldn’t send anyone at that time and she would have to pay for the on-site visit when we designated a rep, but I was willing to help her over the phone. She wasn’t happy, but agreed to the offer.

I asked her to explain the problem. She told me her computer was beeping and wouldn’t stop. My initial thought was that something got loose in transit or wasn’t plugged in correctly, and I figured she was hearing the normal beep codes. I asked more questions.

Me: “Does the computer actually turn on?”

Her: “Yes.”

Me: “Does it open Windows?”

Her: “Yes.”

Me: “Can you use the computer, get on the Internet, use programs, etc.?”

Her: “Yes.”

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