Tech Support: A farce in one act

Lights on to a doctoral candidate in philosophy. She’s clearly intelligent, articulate, and computer savvy. She’s sitting at a desk surrounded by technical books and computer paraphenelia, including two towers, two monitors, two keyboards–indeed, a veritable Noah’s Ark of computerdom.

She seems a bit miffed, however. After some browsing, she hunts down an 866 number whereby she can contact Yahoo! customer service.

<music> Ya-HOOOO! </music> Thank you for calling Yahoo customer service. We’re shocked you found a way to reach us, and frankly, we’re embarassed. We thought we had done a better job of concealing our human presence behind our company behemoth, especially since we were taken over by Microsoft-brained minions. We’ll do our very best to change this as quickly as possible. Until then, however, we thank you very much for your time, and appreciate you holding for the next sixty days until one of our two part-time employees, located in the Phillipines, can learn enough English to assist you.

<really bad and loud telephone music>


If you have a billing problem, press one. If you forgot your password, press two. If you have a problem with your LaunchCast player press three. There are no other options. If we didn’t answer it on the page, and if the option is not listed on this menu, then the problem doesn’t exist. We’re not listening. La La La.

Bonjee presses zero numerous times, knowing from experience that the machine will eventually send her to a representative.

 I didn’t understand that request. I’m going to connect you to the least capable representative as a punishment for your erroneous and selfish belief that you should get service for products you buy.

<a lot more really loud and really bad music>

Hello, Yahoo customer service. What is your name, Yahoo ID, personal secret information, and zip code from 12 years ago when you created this Yahoo account please?

Bonjee gives the requisite information.

Even though I am carefully using my happy helpful voice, I am annoyed you remembered all that, because now I have run out of excuses not to help you. So what seems to be the problem?

I cannot log into my account. I have Verizon DSL in a linked account with Verizon Yahoo. You will notice that I have had a Yahoo account since Yahoo first started offering email, and I have not had problems until today. However, after I logged into my Verizon account and paid my bill, I tried to log into my Yahoo email, and the site would not allow me in. I cannot log in. I have not changed my password, nothing new has been downloaded onto my machine, no firewalls or such have been altered. But two hours ago, I was logged in, and now I cannot get in at all. The log in page refreshes ad infinitum. And when I do actually hit “stop” such that the page ceases refreshing so that I can enter my data, it redirects me to the generic Yahoo! page as if I have not logged in.

I see. Ma’am, what happens when you log in?

I cannot log in. That’s the problem. The site will not let me log in.

I see. Try logging into Yahoo via

I have tried that. It does not matter which Yahoo service I attempt to access. I cannot log in. I have tried My Yahoo, I’ve tried LaunchCast, and I’ve tried my email. I cannot log in.

I see. I am so very sorry for your trouble. Have you tried completely removing all internet security settings so that any dextrous troll could access your account?

No, I haven’t tried that. Hang on.

Follow these very long and detailed instructions.

Yes, got it. Done it all.

I am annoyed, since you are not supposed to know more about your computer than I do. But I still speak very politely and with a smile in my heavily-accented voice both because I must feed my family of seventeen on today’s three dollars, and because it makes me feel all warm inside to know that the longer I work with you, the more I will irritate the thirty-seven others on hold.  Try closing your browser and opening it again. Do that six times silently, and on the seventh time, give a great shout. Does this work?

Uh, no, sorry. Tried that already.

Okay. Can I log into your account?

If you must.

Yes, I see you actually have an account with us. Oh, and you have a lot of unread email. Do you want to know how to delete email or unsubscribe from unwanted email lists?

No. I am fine with the email I receive. I just want to be able to log in.

I see. May I have permission to log out of your account?

 Yes. Please do.

Well, do you have anything else I can help you with?

You haven’t helped me with anything yet. I still cannot log in.

Oh, I see. I am so sorry for this inconvenience; please hold for a very long time and listen to my very favorite very loud annoying telephone hold music while I go use the facilities, which are in a building three blocks from here. One moment please.

<as promised, very loud, very annoying music, that would do NPR proud>

While on hold, Bonjee tries to grade homework. But the music makes her perhaps a wee bit less understanding and benevolent than she might have been otherwise.

Sorry about that, but are you still holding? You are? Really? I wasn’t expecting you to stick around, because usually people don’t like to hang out this long waiting. Let us try something else. Please close everything you have open on your computer. Then turn your computer off. Turn it on again. How about now?

No, sorry that doesn’t work.

I am completely abashed. I will now blame you, and tell you that Yahoo is not responsible for this. What browser are you using? IE? It is all Microsoft’s fault. Do you have Mozilla? True, you won’t ever be able to use your LaunchCast on Mozilla, but you’d at least be able to access all our FREE content. We wouldn’t mind you continuing to pay for your music subscription, though.

I do not have access to a computer that has Mozilla installed. But you see, this shouldn’t be relevent. Two hours ago, I was in my account, happy as a little clam in shallow waters. Nothing changed on my computer. I did not upgrade my browser. Everything is identical to what it was this morning, only now I cannot get into my account. It is not my browser—there is no good reason for this to happen.

I am going to be very, very quiet, now, and pretend that your telephone dropped the call. Maybe if I stay very silent, you will hang up. I am thinking happy thoughts. There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home. Oh, I think she heard me breathe. I’ll hit the mute button, too. Now I’ll be very quiet, like a fish.

Hello? Hello? Darn it, they dropped the call!

Bonjee calls back, and gets another representative, who speaks even worse English than the first. After repeating the entire sequence above, almost verbatim, the following transpires:

Oh, I see. And what happens when you log into your account?

I cannot log into my account. That is the problem.

Do you have any problems with your billing?

No, I specifically said that I had a problem logging in.

I’m sorry, ma’am, but I am a billing representative. You need technical support.

Is there no one else there who can help with this problem? I called this very number moments ago.

No, ma’am. We only do billing here. But if you go to the page, and click on mail, then on customer service, need reply.

Yes, I’m there. But it requires me to log in, first.

Yes, that’s fine. Send them your problem, and they will help you as soon as they can.

The problem is that I cannot log in.

Oh, I see. Have you tried turning off your computer, unplugging all electrical appliances within a fifty-yard radius, and sprinkling the neighborhood trees with holy water?

Yes. While I was on hold. That didn’t work, either.

I am speaking slowly now in a very nice nice voice. Clearly, ma’am, this is entirely your fault. It is your computer; it is all you. Yahoo is infallible. I only know what they tell me to know. And I do billing. We are the Borg. Your problem is not with billing, LaunchCast, or your password, so you have no problem that is related to Yahoo. La La La.

Is there no other number I can call in order to get tech support?

We are tech support. You can contact us via, and clicking on ‘contact us’. We will send you an email to your Yahoo account.

So there is nobody there competent to help me determine what is going on.

It is your problem. Your browser. Your computer. Your issue. Yahoo has no problems in that category. La La La. I will now be very silent. Ooops, you dropped the call!

I see. How about I hang up now, since you are incapable of helping me, and allow you to pretend to help somebody that has a billing problem?

I am pretending I have already hung up. I will be quiet as a fish. I am even holding my breath.

Bonjee hangs up. After two hours of tinkering around, she figures out the problem. It wasn’t her browser. Scene fades as Bonjee types up a blog entry while listening to her LaunchCast station.



6 thoughts on “Tech Support: A farce in one act

  1. Instead of an epilogue:

    “By what I could discover, the Yahoos appear to be the most unteachable of all animals: their capacity never reaching higher than to draw or carry burdens. Yet I am of opinion, this defect arises chiefly from a perverse, restive disposition; for they are cunning, malicious, treacherous, and revengeful. They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and, by consequence, insolent, abject, and cruel.”

    Gulliver’s Travels, chapter 35.

  2. I’ve actually had similar experiences with Verizon DSL support. Case in point: I was helping some friends get connected to the internet using a USB/DSL Modem (yeesh) and the tech asked me to turn off Virus Protection. I complied and, of course, within moments some “dextrous troll” plagued the computer with a virus. And in another experience we were routed back and forth between a technical support person and a billing person. You’re dialog I’m sure is fiction but based on real life events!

  3. I came upon your post because I was searching the web for an answer to my problem – the same one you were having. I am unable to log in to yahoo. getting the same refreshing problem, when i log in now it just acts like I haven’t done anything. your blog says you figured out the problem. any chance you’d let me know how??

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