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Ex-AppleCare Employee Describes Life Inside Apple 220

Posted by Zonk
from the not-a-bad-gig-if-you-can-get-it dept.
ahknight writes "A former AppleCare employee writes about his time in Apple. From the article: 'I remember when I first started at Apple they had a picture in the training class of some guy in flip-flops, shorts, and a tropical shirt in a decorated cube with a goofy grin, the message being: it's casual. One fellow even went as far as pushing that to the reasonable limit by showing up to work every day for several months in a bathrobe and sandals (and shorts). I don't recall a word ever being said. I think he actually just gave up because no one said anything.'"
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Ex-AppleCare Employee Describes Life Inside Apple

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  • little Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pliep (880962) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:41AM (#15324031) Homepage
    This is basically any IT / Helpdesk employee's story, not a lot of "inside Apple" info here. And the guy sucked at it because the most important part of being a good support guy/girl is to be able to get the customer to trust you and let you help them, EVEN if they're total bastards and very mad because something does not work.

    Knowlegde and understanding of tech is just 50% of the support-job, knowledge and understanding of people is the rest.
    • Re:little Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032)
      the guy sucked at it

      and you know this how, exactly? Did he ever take a support incident from you?

      -jcr
      • Re:little Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:15AM (#15324075) Homepage Journal
        and you know this how, exactly? Did he ever take a support incident from you?

        He didn't actually have to interact directly with the guy to know what he's like at support - after all the guy wrote a long article describing his experiences. Perhaps after reading the following in TFA:
        It's hard enough to have to change your dialect of stupid for every person that calls in,
        The GP thought that the guy who wrote the story had a bit of contempt for his customers? I hope that attitude is not typical for Apple Support (but judging by my experience with the "Geniuses" I would say it is).
        • Re:little Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

          by GaryPatterson (852699) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:22AM (#15324084)
          Just like you think Mac users are whiney fan-boys because you come into contact with a lot of them, anyone in tech support thinks that users are stupid at tech, because they come into contact with a lot of them.

          And just as the larger group of Mac users are just normal people doing their thing, the larger group of computer users are normal people doing their thing.

          Ask *anyone* in tech support, in any business. I've asked a few in different businesses and the answer's always the same.

          This blog poster's attitude is nothing unusual.
          • Just like you think Mac users are whiney fan-boys because you come into contact with a lot of them,

            I don't think all Mac users are whiney - some (like me!) are - but that vast majority are not.

            Ask *anyone* in tech support, in any business. I've asked a few in different businesses and the answer's always the same.

            Yes, I am aware of that - I did my hard yards in *shudder* support. However - I don't think its right - as the OP said:

            And the guy sucked at it because the most important part of being a good suppo

          • Re:little Apple (Score:2, Insightful)

            by suitepotato (863945)
            Being a support tech pretty much makes believing people are 99.999% morons an inevitability. When MCSE (Must Call Someone Else) and CCNA (Can't Configure Network Appliances) people are sitting there telling you their $40 Linksys router (WTF?) is fine and your line is the issue, and you're in the $1500 T1 router watching an empty arp table and error counters that aren't incrementing one bit, how much better will the common callers do? None at all. 99.999% of my callers are without a doubt unable to grasp the
            • Re:little Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

              by zaq121 (838716) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:37PM (#15326494)
              How could fellow tech support callers be your best customer? You have no idea if they are a fellow tech support person or not.

              A month ago I had to call cox about my cable modem and I dreaded making the call, knowing that I was going to be treated to someone with less than half my knowlege.

              My connection would just die after any type data would transfer. It could be replicated within a seconds of loading up counter-strike or downloading a file. After much tests I concluded that either my cable modem was going bad, or their line had issues.

              Sir, do you have a home network.
              Yes.
              Sir, first of all, it is not our network, it is your network with the problem.
              Lady, I disconnected from the network and am currently directly connected to the cable modem.
              Ok sir, what browser do you use.
              Opera.
              Sir, we don't support Opera
              Lady, I have Firefox and IE, I assume you want me to use IE, pretend I never said Opera.
              How often do you clear your temporary internet files?
              Lady, I just want to play counter-strike, I never use IE, so I don't clear the temp files.
              Sir, we don't support games
              Ok, forget I said counter-strike, would you like me to go clear my temp files now?
              Please.
              Ok, that was fast, now what? I still can't download more than a few KB of that linux ISO.

              (we continued with other newbie crap such as my connection settings, firewall, manage add-ins, if I have any 'strange icons next to the clock', etc, etc...)

              Sir, I am in your modem right now and all the levels look good
              I start a download and connection dies, she says she is still in my modem.
              Your modem is fine, I am connected to it and all levels look good.
              It looks good??? my internet JUST died. Lady, I need to get off the phone, click

              I go to best buy, buy a new cable modem, call them up and give them my new info and my problems are now gone.

              What good was my knowledge? Even though I know a thing or two, I was treated like I knew nothing.

              • by Cybrex (156654)
                I had almost the exact same situation, except that in my case the cause of the problem was that the cable modem had gotten fried by lightning. It was obvious, but the Time-Warner/Brighthouse fool on the other end insisted on going through troubleshooting anyway. I've done my time in phone support as well, so I'd taken my LAN out of the equation and double-checked before I called. I accepted the BS troubleshooting until he asked me to "bypass the cable" between the modem and my computer. I asked him what the
        • The GP thought that the guy who wrote the story had a bit of contempt for his customers?

          You can have contempt for customers, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to share it with them. Heck, I am sure your average /.er has contempt about customer support instead.
        • "The GP thought that the guy who wrote the story had a bit of contempt for his customers?"

          Try doing support for a year and NOT having a bit of contempt for customers.

          I've always heard Mac's were idiot-proof, i'd love to hear stories of the bigger idiots that have been created to screw-up using a Mac

        • Re:little Apple (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Red Alastor (742410)

          The GP thought that the guy who wrote the story had a bit of contempt for his customers? I hope that attitude is not typical for Apple Support (but judging by my experience with the "Geniuses" I would say it is).

          I only called twice at AppleCare. It was for a school that paid for it but forgot about it, I found it in their papers (the best kind of customers, I guess). The first time, the lady was very helpful (but only after I provided the serial and all the infos to prove it really was from a paying cus

    • Re:little Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jedi Alec (258881) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:59AM (#15324057)
      This is basically any IT / Helpdesk employee's story, not a lot of "inside Apple" info here. And the guy sucked at it because the most important part of being a good support guy/girl is to be able to get the customer to trust you and let you help them, EVEN if they're total bastards and very mad because something does not work.

      Then again, there is a limit, and if you work for the right company, a properly defined one. Nevertheless, judging FTA, this guy makes the same classic mistake tons of helldesk employees do, which is to confuse the concept of "intelligence" with "knowledge about computers". It never ceases to amaze me how underpaid geeks somehow can't get it into their skulls that the guy is not stupid, he's a bloody doctor/lawyer/diplomat/you name it, for crying out loud. Perhaps someday they'll turn the tables and when a guy like this walks into a doctor's office the good ol' doc will expect him to know whether he's running a beta version of his appendix.
      • It is occasionally difficult to remember the difference between intelligence and education, especially when one of those non-computer-educated "geniuses" is reacting out of their guilt at not having backed up their mission critical data in a weak (but very loud) attempt to project onto the *tech* as the source of their frustration, because Gob FORBID the issue should be their own damn fault...

        First, we calm the person - only then can we attempt to solve the problem.
        • guilt at not having backed up their mission critical data

          Of course, the industry (which knows its software is buggy and tends to crash) has never provided a decent, afforable, back-up solution with its home systems.

          Since they provide us will fallible operating systems, backup and restore should be easy and out-of-the box.
          • Sure they have... at least now... USB flash, CDRs and DVDRs... If your critical DATA (not your apps, those can be re-installed) takes up more then a DVD... then you should have a tape drive... especially for home use...

            Nephilium

            • Re:Minor rant (Score:2, Insightful)

              by dgatwood (11270)
              For any home user who regularly does video editing with iMovie or whatever, a DVD is microscopic. It's modestly cost-effective at 16 per gig (half the cost of a hard drive), but it takes an eternity to back up a hard drive. The average hard drive in new computers is about 250GB. For a full backup, that's a full 50 pack, at about ten minutes apiece (8x; most people don't have 16x drives yet) comes out to a little over 8 hours of continuous monitoring. Most people can't sit around and feet DVDs to their c
              • by rvw (755107)
                I have the same problem, and have a simple mechanism for backing up my data. On my Mac, I have one extra physical harddisk for backup. On that disk I create an encrypted virtual drive (DMG), my backup image. I have Deja Vu installed and it runs daily/weekly to make a backup. About every week I copy the encrypted disk image to an external harddisk. This means I only have to copy one file, which is a lot quicker when using USB 2.0 (in my experience) then copying thousands of files (like those in the library).
              • Though it requires a small investment, it's definitely possible and worthwhile to set up a practical backup solution. I had all my data on a Powerbook with a 120GB HD, but I purchased a 250 GB external hard drive [lacie.com] and left it on my desk at home. Every few weeks I'd plug it in and click on "backup" (the drive came with backup software called silverkeeper). The initial backup took a little over 30 minutes, and incremental backups took 5 or 10.

                Last month my laptop was stolen, and though I was pretty upset, a
              • Re:Minor rant (Score:3, Informative)

                by RogerWilco (99615)
                USB harddrive
          • What's so hard about copying your documents to a disk every once in a while?
      • Re:little Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SolitaryMan (538416) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @07:37AM (#15324279) Homepage Journal
        ...confuse the concept of "intelligence" with "knowledge about computers"
        Agree. Totally.

        As a programmer, I think that *all* programmers have to spend some time supporting customers on some stuff. Or at least read articles like this or talk to tech support from time to time. Not for the amusement ("hey, they are stupid") part, but in order to better understand how usual people see computers, in order to be able to adopt software to their views/habits.

        This mostly applies to UI designers/developoers, but every software component has its human users, and knowing these users is a key point in creating a successful application.
        • Ok, you know what? When we're very young, most of us learn to ride a bicycle. Then, at 14-16, we learn to drive a car.

          I don't hear anyone complaining that the steering wheel is not "intuitive". Hell yes, it's intuitive, and we're not going to replace it with handlebars from a bike just so someone can learn to use it without having to learn more than how to use a bike.

          Well, a computer is the same way. As a programmer, I simply refuse to make my software anticipate what users are used to, and adapt to it.
      • this guy makes the same classic mistake tons of helldesk employees do, which is to confuse the concept of "intelligence" with "knowledge about computers" You must be new here!
      • Re:little Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

        by laffer1 (701823)
        Perhaps, but I'd argue common sense is missing. My aunt is a nurse and she has absolutely no common sense. She's got 4 bachelors degrees though. Lots of learning there. She actually bought opened asprin at a garage sale! Remember she's a nurse.

        I did tech support for 2.5 years at an isp. I can tell you that many professionals can't use computers. You can only tell someone to click start so many times while telling them where to look for the damn button before you wonder how they got to be a doctor. If
        • by Lars T. (470328)
          I work at my university now in the IS department doing support and system administration on Macs. I miss the windows calls sometimes. You can only get the "My mac thinks its 1969" call a few times before you want to throw the computer into the trash. My boss won't buy new batteries for the damn things. Mac calls are always bad. If they break, they do it in a big way.

          Tell them to use a NTP-Server. Then wait untill they ask you how to do it on their Windows box.

          • Actually, Windows XP and OS X already check NTP servers. So did Mac OS 9.x, if I recall correctly. He must be supporting some pretty damned old machines, frankly... not much you can do to help with that.
        • Now there are quotas and you can't spend time with people.

          If you're going to offer support, either charge for it after a reasonable period (to allow people to report defects or problems out of the box for free) or be up front about the fact that your support organization is essentially "Dial-a-voice" where someone will read you the online help you were unable to process on your own.

          Hard time quotas for phone agents are put in place by companies and decision makers that care less about helping customers than
      • ...the good ol' doc will expect him to know whether he's running a beta version of his appendix.

        iirc the appendix left beta stage millenia ago and has been a deprecated technology for quite a while ;D

        ...this guy makes the same classic mistake tons of helldesk employees do, which is to confuse the concept of "intelligence" with "knowledge about computers"

        Quite true, a perfect example would be my father. He's a highly intellligent man--a man who in 1978 knew more about computers than likely 99+ percent of

      • Granted, you're correct. There IS a difference between knowledge and intelligence. BUT, unlike a patient consulting with a doctor - the computer user calling for tech. support is expected to already possess some basic skills required to use the computer properly.

        There really are a lot of people out there in professions requiring intelligence (doctors, lawyers, etc.) who still seem to lack a lot of common sense or ability to deal with topics outside the narrow scope of their choice of employment.

        For exampl
      • A lot of people equate "knowledge about computers" with "intelligence". There are some people in the IT world that consider their completion of a Java programming class as proof that they are the next Einstein. That's where the amazing arrogance comes from -"I know what the word "instantiate" means, therefore, I am far smarter than the average human being, perhaps the next step in human evolution". Where, in fact, they would still fail out of the Airco Institute.

        Brett
    • Yes, I found that the summary and TFA have little to nothing in common as well...

    • Re:little Apple (Score:3, Informative)

      Yeah, disappointing article. I thought it would would have been written by a developer or something. Anyway, I worked for a few months in customer tech support last year. The actual work of giving tech support wasn't that bad. Customers not knowing much about computers didn't really bother me. The work wasn't very interesting and there's no way I'd stick at it. That's because very little technical knowledge is needed. Like you said, at least half of the job comprises of being able to communicate well over t
    • Reading this made me think "wow that is EXACTLY what I went through" when I did customer service for NextCard credit cards (when they were in business).

      I'm glad I got out of the phone support rut. It was a nice company to work for, and even fun at times, but it just goes nowhere.... and you really get sick of talking to customers.
    • Insightful....I doubt it. Presumptuous is more along the lines of your comment. You could say you have evidence to the contrary. The fact that he was at the company 4+ years and was able to move, somewhat, in positions says that he was doing at least better than his peers. So i'd say your assessment if completely baseless.

  • Excellent quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halleluja (715870) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:54AM (#15324046)
    Perhaps OT:
    If something is important to you, you spend money to make it reliable. If you cannot make it reliable, then you make it redundant.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by GroeFaZ (850443) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:54AM (#15324047)
    Oh, and next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day... so, you know, if you want to you can go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.

    *embarrassed silence*
    • Much more importantly, May 25th is Towel Day ;)
    • i'm trying to picture what Hawaiian jeans looks like and it's not pleasant
      • Hawaiian jeans are made of grass, are fastened around the waist and are open on the bottom. Much like Scottish jeans, except those are made of wool.

        They're actually quite pleasant to look at, provided they're on an attractive member of the opposite sex. Much like American jeans, actually.
  • by Funkcikle (630170) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:56AM (#15324050)
    Hello and welcome to my blog. Just want to whine about how I work in a crappy job I think I am too good for. Not only am I too good for the job, I am way better than everyone else there. Which explains why I have not risen so fast to the top of the company that the resultant nosebleed is dripping onto Steve Jobs' hair (which is a toupe, by the way - YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST FROM THE BEST GUY IN THE WORLD).

    Not only am I great at everything, I am such a cold chap that I make everybody else cry due to my brilliance. I would laugh at their weakness but hey...I am just too cool.

    Urgh.

    What is the difference between this guy and waiters who snigger at customers who choose bad wine? The former has a blog, that's what.

    I am now going to go click on his Google ads a couple of hundred thousand times and have his account suspended for click fraud. He made me waste four and a half years reading his Maddox-style crap.
    • The main difference being, of course, that Maddox is intentionally over the top in an effor to be FUNNY (I tend to think he succeeds). This guy is just a tool. No, he's not even good enough to be a tool - he's a tool belt, the dirty piece of leather that keeps other tools haging next to the plumber's asscrack.
    • I agreee. I stopped reading just about here:

      "I worked in Austin's AppleCare center for four and a half years as a desperation move"

      Uh, four and a half months is a desperation move. Anything over a year, and you've given up. And as someone who has a bit of call center experience (I gave up for a while too), I've seen my share of these guys. The ones who will use every possible acronym and technical name for stuff as possible (and usually get it completely wrong) when dealing with the customer. And if you're one of those people, and can't understand why the customers never seem to rate their call with you "Very Satisfied", imagine this:

      You take your car into the mechanic. Now what is the first thing that comes into your head when he starts talking about this joint, that gasket, and wing nuts and what not. You may happen to know exactly what he's talking about, but most of us don't, and our first thought it, "This guy's trying to screw me".

      Now imagine a guy trying to explain the windows NT TCP/IP stack to grandma... Wonder what she'll rate him when the survey monkey comes a calling...

    • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @01:40PM (#15325753) Homepage Journal
      What is the difference between this guy and waiters who snigger at customers who choose bad wine? The former has a blog, that's what.
      Well, presumably the waiter also knows something about wine.

      You've convinced me not to bother with this story when becomes deslashdotted. But jeez, what do you expect? Blogs are all about vanity. And yet people love this shit. That is what bothers me.

    • Just want to whine about how I work in a crappy job I think I am too good for.

      And maybe he is?

      I am way better than everyone else there.

      You know, he explicitly says that one of the problems is everyone there is as qualified as he is, but no one really has anywhere to move up to.

      And no, he didn't say a damn thing about the top of the company. Nor did he particularly talk about how cool he was.

      What is the difference between this guy and waiters who snigger at customers who choose bad wine?

      And what's wrong wit
    • What is the difference between this guy and waiters who snigger at customers who choose bad wine? The former has a blog, that's what.

      Nope. No difference. [waiterrant.net]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:57AM (#15324053)
    I worked for two years at an apple re-seller dealing with support and sales. I can honestly say that the casual 'easy' lifestyle never made it to there..

    I'm just about to start legal procedings against my former manager!

    All of the Apple representatives that came to check up on 'us' as well didn't seem to have inherited the casual lifestyle either .. stiff as a board.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2006 @04:59AM (#15324058)

    You can only work in a technical service position for a limited amount of time before it loses its luster and shine, and you start to follow. Once you've performed a job for several years, you get into the groove and know how it's done. The knowledge is all there, somewhere, and it becomes routine to just look it up and spit it out on demand. You keep doing this, time and again, and eventually become a fixture: unchanging, unmoving, static.

    The problems compound when this job involves the general public. Any technical job that involves helping masses of uncensored human beings understand technology will eventually wear the average man down, causing him to go bat-shit crazy and scream at the top of his lungs while trying to take out a swath of them with a surprise barrage of old SCSI cards. The largest catalyst for such violent behavior and general mental breakdown is best described by stating, simply, that most people exist at a significant intellectual delta from that burnt-out husk of a technology worker.

    This doesn't have to pose a problem in an ideal world. In an ideal world, common people would be willing to accept advice from anyone capable of delivering it. In this real world, however, half of those that acknowledge that they need such assistance will turn violently against anyone they seek help from with such winning phrases as: "What do you think I am, stupid?" In most of the remaining cases, the user is a support vampire [slash7.com] and that simply ruins those willing to try and help as badly as being berated for offering the answer. This behavior is evident in forums, mailing lists, in person, and most especially on the phone with technical support.

    As a technical support agent, you develop mental calluses that help you move on and through the chaff and treasure the customers that are amiable, acknowledge that they need help, and are happy with the answer they're given. Genuinely happy. A good number of calls are actually like that and make the job bearable. A similar number are very, very far from it.

    However, the core reason of why I recently quit my job in AppleCare is that in commodity technical jobs there's only so far you can go before you arrive at the end of the career path for the masses of technical agents and hit the lid where only five or ten pass upwards. Ever. When you get there, you have two choices for moving ahead: wait for the person in the cushy job you want to leave or die to make room and pray that it's you among the masses that applied that gets it, or move ahead elsewhere. After waiting for someone to bite it in a freak keyboarding accident for four years, it was time to go with Plan B.

    So one day, when I had a life outside of the company set up and ready, I walked up to my manager and said: iQuit.

    Bitchman Begins

    I worked in Austin's AppleCare center for four and a half years as a desperation move after a programming gig decided they'd rather give it a go without me several months earlier and my severance and unemployment checks stopped paying the bills. I've used a Mac since I had control over my mousing finger, so performing remedial technical support for Macs was an obvious choice for some quick money. Mac OS X 10.1 had just come out a few months previous, which was the only free upgrade Apple has ever released for Mac OS X as it was mostly an apology to those that bought Mac OS X 10.0. The PowerBook Titanium was the king of the road, until you opened it the 333rd time and the hinge decided it was time to move on in life. There were other Apple products, but I didn't care because those were the two I was told I supported at the time.

    The job was remarkably easy, but it had been a long time since I'd done phone support, so I had a lot to learn on the procedural side. They have a shortish training course that they put all new-hires through that taught them how to use iMovie, what an iPod was (the 5GB bricks, at the time), and how to troubleshoot Mac OS 9 (no one was

  • Oh it's "this guy" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nijika (525558) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:03AM (#15324063) Homepage Journal
    The "better" one. Frack. A dime a dozen in tech supprt. Sorry, dude, but the reason your career didn't advance is because you didn't have the people skills to climb the ladder.

    How many of us here have done tech support as a full time gig? I bet the show of hands is impressive. How many realized it was time to move on, not just from the job, but from the "customerz R teh st00pitz" attitude as well?

    No? Haven't figured that out yet? Enjoy your time in the middle.

    There's always one, or more, of those guys who feel that they have been given the shaft. They're just so good technically but they can't seem to put a career together. Why? It' must be dumb luck and conspiracy. "I don't get promoted because [manager|company|god] is threatened by my skill, or because they are short sighted, or because maybe I didn't take a shower this month".

    Those of you who have your eyes upwards, or elsewhere know who I'm talking about. Those who are this guy will not realize it.

    • I spent a decade in support. Half as head bench tech for a computer retailer. Pre-Y2K. So that was fun. Then, the other half as tech support manager at an ISP.

      It's not that people are stupid. It's that they don't completely understand the technology they're trying to use. But they shouldn't need to. Technology is a tool, and they simply want it to work. Much like their car - they don't need to understand the inner workings of their car in order to drive it. And it's frustrating when it doesn't.

      That said, a
      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:45AM (#15324121) Homepage Journal
        That said, a decade in support will wear on a person.

        Tell me about it. My dad worked most of his life in process control. Building networks in mines and factories. I am sure he had a lot of fun cruising the world with a toolbox and an ethernet analyser and being shot at in PNG.

        Now the local branch of his company has turned into a phone support operation and it is totally the wrong type of work for him. He knows his stuff technically but the job is too structured for him. A 63 year old tech shouldn't have to take X number of calls per hour or get carpeted by management.

        So he is retiring soon and I am trying to set him up with a business fixing valve amplifiers. He is old enough to have started out on valves and they have come back into fashion. If I had known he was being made to do this kind of work I would have been pursuading him to get out before his heart attack, not after.

        • Not ony should a 63 year old tech not have to do this....any tech should not have to do this. Call centers are TERRIBLE support.....period when they are managed like this. The idea of support is to support people. If you have to take 2 hours to do it then you do. It should have never boiled down to something like that. Calls by hour is something that a telemarketer or a person dolling out travel info should be able to do.....techs should be able to help people and it should not matter how many calls y
      • Bad argument. If you own a car, you are expected to know how to perform basic maintenance. It's a tool, and you want it to "just work," but you should at least to know how to put gas in the car, check the oil, and squeegee the windshield from time to time.

        Likewise, anyone who cannot bother to run an antivirus, not download strange email attachments, and click every "hot call girls" banner that pops up shouldn't own such a complex machine until they are willing to put some basic effort into learning how to

    • by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:43AM (#15324118)
      I was only part time, but it was while I was in college. I worked phone tech support for a major computer manufacturer.

      Despite being more knowledgeable and more helpful to customers, I was passed by for 'promotion' (if you call it that... the place sucked) several times. Poeple that knew a LOT less and usually just messed up my customer if I had to get a second opinion on something.

      Until 1 day, the seating arrangement changed. I ended up sitting right next to the head of our area. I said good morning every morning and suddenly I was 'backup team lead' about a month later. Another month later, another seating rearrangement, and for the next 2-3 months, I remained 'backup' and people who had never even been backup were promoted to full team lead.

      At the time, it stuck in my craw that I had to 'suck up' (even tho I was just being my normal self at the time I was promoted, I'd have had to go out of my way to be nice under the new seating) to the boss (female, if that matters) to get anywhere.

      I was only there 6 months, but I learned a LOT about politics in the workplace. Geeks tend not to do well with it, but it's worth the time to look into so you at least know why thse things are happening to you.
      • You pegged it.

        A lot of it is being in the right place at the right time, and trying to arrange things so that you are more often in the right place at that time

        That, and people like to work with people that they like. Make yourself likeable, and strangely, people will like you. And you will get promoted.

        It always works that way for me, anyway, but then, I'm the deviant geek that actually likes people, and genuinely wants to help them.

    • How many realized it was time to move on, not just from the job, but from the "customerz R teh st00pitz" attitude as well?

      No kidding. I moved into Apple Cusotmer Relations as an Intern. 18 months later I'd survived the March '97 layoffs and I had moved off the phones to a job I really enjoyed.

      Sure, we bitched about the customers - and they often deserved it - but normally only after work, with the attitude that if we could make people who were that pissed off into happy Apple customers day after day, we cou
  • Wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Work for a company that markets to (and apparently, hires) unreasonable elitist snobs, and then have the nerve to be surprised and hurt when they whine like unreasonable elitist snobs?

    It's not like anybody twisted this gomer's arm to become an Apple employee, nor continue the pain of cashing those regular checks for 4 years...

    The telling point is that, even after all of his tale of woe, he's still an elitist snob going to work in an Apple-only software shop. Here's hoping when his gear breaks, he gets supp
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:12AM (#15324073)
    The blog entry seemed pretty reasonable to me. He was in a job for a long time, got stale, realised it and got out for greener pastures. Lots of technical people do that, and it's a good thing for them.

    I particularly liked the part where the bozo with the "mission critical" computer didn't back it up. If it's mission critical, you have redundancy. If you don't have redundancy, it's not mission critical - you've already decided you can survive without it.
    • Well this story was a refreshing change from the previous story about the tech support worker who was woefully underpaid. The difference here is that this person not only recognized it then acted and moved on. That one action puts him above many workers in the tech field. Yeah it took time for him to find something but he didn't stop till he did. He is taking a risk as well. This is the kind of person you want to come work for you. Someone who moved on because they wanted to better themselves. Sure t
    • > If it's mission critical, you have redundancy. If you don't
      > have redundancy, it's not mission critical - you've already
      > decided you can survive without it.

      Ha!

      You clearly have never worked in tech support. Sometimes a programmer is told "you're the systadmin" and they have to try and figure things out, while still doing their programming job. Sometimes they get it right; sometimes they screw up basic things like having backups.

      • You clearly have never worked in tech support. Sometimes a programmer is told "you're the systadmin" and they have to try and figure things out, while still doing their programming job. Sometimes they get it right; sometimes they screw up basic things like having backups.

        That's more of a "from the top" decision. The people in charge have decided that the servers aren't mission critical by not having a good system administrator for them (and I say that as a programmer who knows good system administrators
  • by green pizza (159161) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:22AM (#15324085) Homepage
    The writer of that blog entry is obviously a native english speaker. There's no way he worked in tech support.
  • by TheNoxx (412624) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:24AM (#15324088) Homepage Journal
    Become /. front page material?

    Just wondering.
  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by liangzai (837960) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @05:32AM (#15324105) Homepage
    That is the Apple way, folks. Robes, sandals, beach sand. Cars, guitars, sex, and teenager violence...

    You are free to sweat in your Business Bhurka and eventually choke on your tie when it gets stuck in your Dell lapstop, but remember you had a choice.
    • eventually choke on your tie when it gets stuck in your Dell

      Last Friday I was setting up a new Linux box to blast spam through. My tie got stuck in the whaddyacallit, bezel?, the metal thing that was keeping the SCSI drive in, and I didn't notice until a coworker called me to the telephone. I jumped out of my seat to get to the phone, or tried to anyway. Darn thing was a loadstone around my neck and I dragged it into my lap. Lost a sound card and a darn good tie. But it was a Gateway, so my 8 year re

  • Turning up in a bath robe for work is taking it to the extreme. May be it was a PR exercise on the employees behalf. Any way it is really good to have such loose dress code at work. Ultimately, people should be alowed to wear what they are most comfortable in rather than insisting on a particular attire to bring uniformity at the work place.
    • This one summer when business was really slow, I worked on a Giant Mutant Rat movie for much much less than my usual rate. It was as a favor for a friend who was hired as Gaffer, but didn't have much practical experience. So I was his Best, and handled most of the distro, load balancing, etc.

      The D.P. was this Russian guy. The director was also the Camera Operator, so in actuality there wasn't a whole lot for the the D.P. to do. Anyway, after the third day, he started showing up in a bathrobe. That bathrobe
  • by FooHentai (624583) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @06:54AM (#15324216) Homepage
    Whatever, tech support is the IT equivalent of working in McDonalds. The only difference is how much knowledge you're expected to bring to the table. I'm sure there's some attainable goal of a satisfying tech support role, but it must be prohibitively costly and difficult to implement, since even Apple evidently functions just like all the rest when it comes to support workers.

    The pay, conditions, level of respect you receive, and especially the customers, all comparable. Flipping burgers and switching backup tapes don't feel all that different, they're both soul destroying once you get past any initial novelty.

    So it's hardly surprising that many leave the job in a pretty bitter state. What is surprising is how many of them think their situation is novel, and that it's worthy of sharing with the world.
  • Oh noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Uhlek (71945) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @08:11AM (#15324320)
    Oh for shame! A helpdesk job with no upward mobility and he had to leave for greener pastures!

    Give me a break. For those of us in IT, there are lots of jobs and lots of career paths -- but if you really want a new job, you have to motivate yourself, learn on your own, and (often times) leave the company to get a better job. If you're intelligent (as another user pointed out, just because you have a knack for computers doesn't make you smart) and are good with customers and juniors, you'll go far.

    The key thing support guys (and I fall into this category) usually fail to realize is that they are not the cock-n-balls. They are the jock strap. It is their position to support the important parts of the business. Like the dispair.com poster says, just because you're essential, it doesn't mean you're important.

    Me? I've got 8 1/2 years of IT experience. I went from being a lowly support guy (about as low as you can get...a data tech in the Marine Corps), today I'm a router guy who does senior-level enterprise network support for almost a half-million end users in our organization. Daily.

    If you want it bad enough, you can get it. Just get rid of the "heh heh stoopid lusers" attitude and get with the program. IT support is little different than A/C repair, vehicle repair, medicine, or a myraid of other support/repair professions. Get the customer to trust you, don't make them feel stupid for not being able to do it themselves, and in the end, get them up and running, and happy that you're there for them, and will be next time.

    You never hear EMTs giggling after work about stupid guys not being able to recognize heart attack symptoms. They get on the scene, and help the patient. Help the customer. Support them. That's what "IT support" is all about.
    • Re:Oh noes! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ahknight (128958) *
      You never hear EMTs giggling after work about stupid guys not being able to recognize heart attack symptoms. They get on the scene, and help the patient. Help the customer. Support them. That's what "IT support" is all about.

      Bad analogy. Now if the heart-attack victim shot up off the ground and strangled the EMT and started blaming his for his high cholesterol, well that'd be about right.
  • My biggest problem when I worked at Apple (tech support, then educational tech support) was that the only thing that mattered ever was sales. I was a good tech, but I'm not at all a good salesperson. I never once claimed to be a good salesperson... I'm terrible at it, don't like trying to sell things to people, and frankly just dislike salespeople in general. When I was hired on, we were told that there was only a little bit of minor sales involved, such as being able to sell someone an adapter or disc when
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13, 2006 @10:12AM (#15324667)
    I can say that if you think apple customers are hard to deal with you're a spoiled brat. They are some of the nicest, most intelligent people out there.It's all how nice you sound. I get maybe 3 insufferable jerks per WEEK. that's at 30 calls a day.

    If you're an asshat, you'll get a lot more asshats because you CAUSED IT!

    I personally PREFER people with zero knowledge of computers. they do exactly what I ask them to quickly and efficiently.

    It's the people that think they know everything and argue that they know more than you that make life hard.

    When someone is obviously low in computer proficiency I tell them "It's really OK. I'm sure there's something you do much better than me, some day I may need YOUR help."

    The moment I say that the call goes very smoothly, as they know I'm not going to judge them, I'm just there to help.
    • What the hell? Dude, there is no way you can corelate the purchase of a PC with personality. That has got to be some of the most lame Apple bigotry I have seen to date. ALL support lines get customers that run the range fromt he very pleasant to the downright nasty. Have you actually worked in a variety of call centers? I have and the type of person you talke to has nothing to do with the product.
    • I personally PREFER people with zero knowledge of computers. they do exactly what I ask them to quickly and efficiently.

      There is a flip side to that coin.

      My story is about AT&T (nee SBC) DSL support. Nothing at all to do with Apple.

      My DSL is pretty reliable. Still, every once in a while it does go down. When it does, I know how to diagnose the problem pretty well. And because I have a nicer DSL "modem" than they give out, I can actually go in and see pretty detailed status reports. I can even try

  • by ACK!! (10229) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @10:27AM (#15324730) Journal
    Read the article he was a developer and walked into the job with an attitude.

    I have worked a ton of these jobs and a lot of things people have said so far I totally and completely agree with:

    1. Just because someone does not understand computers does not make them an idiot. I did tech support for lawyers at one point and you cannot tell me that the Harvard grad senior partner was an idiot just because he knew less about computers than Bob the first year help desk guy. Yet, Bob got his silly butt fired for treating the senior partner like a moron and insulting his computing skills.

    2. Its customer service. Yeah you might be able to answer half the questions before the customer figures out what to tell you about their problem but come on.

    3. Sure, a customer should be prepared with basic info going into a help desk call just like you should have all your insurance info right there when you call the company on a claim and all that. But this is not the way to look at it. When someone takes their car in especially nowadays they do not know cars and can barely in grunts noises and gestures describe their issue. That is the way it is. Its the job. Get over it.

    4. You think customer service sucks? Man, you ain't seen shitty jobs till you flipped burgers or done landscaping in the hot summer or worked a conveince store so until you have scrubbed puke out of a toilet at 3am after the drunks drop come in with the munchies acting rowdy then shut the hell up. Boo-frickin-hoo You are above it? Then quit, get a better job and get over it.

    5. I agree with the poster who talked about the good service from Apple. I have heard some motherboard freaking out mac in the shop for weeks horror stories. But it has never been my experience. I went in a month after I got my shuffle and the usb went dead and my computer would not recognize the thing at all. Unlike one poster that wrote the Genius Bar guys off as arrogant the guy checked out what I said I told him what I had tried and he plugged the thing into a Mac right there and - nothing- they replaced it right then and there. Quick, easy polite and all.

    • Just because someone does not understand computers does not make them an idiot.

      Nod.

      I'm sure my mechanic thinks I'm a pain in the neck, 'cos I don't find cars the coolest things ever and keep coming back with stuff I could have avoided if I obsessed over my car the way I do over my computer.
  • I seem to recall someone I knew got in a conflict with an Apple manager over whether or not "barefoot" was okay. I might be wrong, though. It's a long time since I heard the story.
  • Come on, this isn't news. It's just another self-involved blog post... jesus, why should I care? Waste of space.
  • by Shannon Love (705240) on Saturday May 13, 2006 @10:39AM (#15324799) Homepage
    To give you an idea about that, how much would you expect to pay a consultant (one man, not a company) that had even most of the following skills?

    I worked in Applecare for 9 years and saw a lot of this attitude. Tech support specialist feel more knowledgeable than we actually are because we forget the enormous support given to us by our teammates and the support infrastructure of the company. It might be true that any particular high level support tech could leave the company and get highly paid for the knowledge they possess but that superior knowledge would grow stale in hurry. They would have an edge for 3-6 months but after that slip down the knowledge slope and end up just like everyone else.

    Applecare techs can quickly solve problem that would take expensive consultants because they have an instant reservoir of high quality information at their fingertips. First, they have their teammates who are also specialist in area who can be tapped just by poking one's head over a cube wall. Second, they have the databases, training and testing labs provided by the company that lets them find answers quickly. Thirdly, they can escalate problems up the technical food chain until it hits the people who actually created the product in the first place.

    All this support makes the individual feel super-knowledgeable but I saw a lot of people leave for consulting gigs who didn't make it for long because they under-estimated how important their support was.

    Tech support isn't for everyone. Its not a high status job by any means no matter how well compensated. However, if you like rapid problem solving, have basic personal skills and can just remember that if everyone knew what you knew you wouldn't have job in the first place, it can be a good career.

  • flipflops is a dot-com thing. I know people who do that where I work, shorts, flip-flops and t-shirts. So what. I'm waiting for someone to show up in drag .. LOL.. last person I heard that did that at a company was fired, not sure why though...

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