Feature Writer John Christie – Making Mainstream Tech Support Work for You

Have you had trouble as a blind person calling mainstream tech support and gotten mixed results? In this article, I will talk about my experiences with mainstream tech support and will include some ideas on how to handle tech support representatives from a blindness point of view.

First, let me begin by focusing on my most recent encounter with Verizon. The reason for the phone call was that I wasn’t receiving emails from BlindBargains. My question was whether this problem was on their end or the BlindBargains end. I called Verizon and got a foreign tech support person. She first told me to optimize Internet Explorer. I didn’t know how to do this and told her that I was blind. “We’ll have to get someone else to help you,” she told me. Then I asked, “How about I let you take over my computer remotely?” She was all for that and I followed her directions so that she could take over my computer. She did optimize Internet Explorer and then I told her to be sure that the email accounts configured properly. She was then able to tell me that the problem wasn’t on Verizon’s end. I finally solved the problem by unsubscribing and then re-subscribing to the BlindBargains newsletter.

I had another incident which was somewhat more positive with the backup service called Carbonite. I called tech support and told them that I was having trouble installing their software. I couldn’t bring up the dialogue box. I also told them that I was blind and I asked if they could help me install the program. The rep gave me the link and some directions so that the technician could take control of my computer. However, I couldn’t follow the directions fully. He stayed on the phone with me for an hour. I finally solved the problem by having my homemaker install the program for me. Not the ideal situation by far.

Another problem that I called tech support about was that the antivirus program on my computer was deleting Jaws for Windows–obviously a huge issue. The tech support person tried to help me with this issue, but couldn’t. I eventually solved the problem by switching virus programs.

Throughout these incidents, I used some helpful tips for dealing with tech support as a blind person, and I’ve listed some of them below.

1. Be really familiar with the problem before you call. Power on and off the device. Get away from the problem and take a break from it. When you feel that you have tested your own knowledge of the problem to the max, pick up the phone and call.

2. Have the identifying information available such as model number, operating system, or web browser.

3. Don’t tell the person right off the bat that you are visually impaired. That may be okay with you that you are blind, but it might throw the tech person off and they may not pay any attention to the rest of what you have to say.

4. First, explain the problem that you are having with the device or program. Test suggestions that are offered. This will gain the technicians confidence in you.

5. If it becomes apparent that the problem can’t be solved because of access issues, inform the technician that you are blind or have low vision. Tell them that you use screen reading software and not a mouse. If they get distracted because of the blindness issue, tell them that you use technology on a regular basis, or whatever the case might be.
6. Finally, if you find someone who is resistant to communicate with you, ask for a supervisor to assist you.

In my experience, mainstream tech support personnel have been helpful for the most part. You can’t expect them to be perfect, because it’s a sighted world, but many companies are making strides in how they offer support service to the visually impaired community.

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Share them with us in the Reader’s Forum.

Source: http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw130605

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