The Hiltmon

On walkabout in life and technology

Not Your Free Tech Support

Friends, family, colleagues, I love you all, but I am not your free tech support guy. Computer programmers do not exist to fix your computer, printer or network problems, we don’t even fix our own. Do us all a favor, and stop asking us to fix your things, or worse, just expecting us to do so. We’re not interested. It’s not what we do. Move along.

In the last week, I received the following requests (reminding you I work from home, alone):

  • “My iPhone address book is missing, what did I do wrong.” – ex-colleague
  • “My outlook stopped getting emails, please help” – my last boss
  • “Why is my one router working but not the other” – friend with a large house
  • “My computer is slow” – my wife
  • “My printer stopped working from my laptop” – my doorman
  • “Which laptop should I buy?” – my neighbor who is a lawyer

I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m a software designer and developer. I don’t use Windows or Outlook, I don’t mess with routers and I choose Apple products. You know this. I am not interested that you are having problems, slow computers or all the fun things you tried on your computer. That is not my profession nor my interest. You see some nice software, a great design, yup, that interests me professionally. Share that.

We programmers are not alone in this. One of my friends is a clothing designer who makes her own clothes. Seems all her friends bring their clothes to her for free alterations. She is also frustrated as she does not exist to alter other people’s designs.

I used to think it was all about being nice and helpful and “that’s what friends do”, so I would spend a lot of time poking around other people’s computers and networks and try to fix their problems. What happened though, are two nasty things. One, I became responsible for the wellbeing of their computer or network in their minds, because I was the one that fixed it. Free bloody tech support for life. And two, in giving up my time to either fix things or listen to boring tech stories, I got nothing in return, not even respect. Free bloody tech support and a doormat!

I stopped doing this years ago, no more free tech support, no more listening to computer whining, I even acted quite unpleasant about it. Everybody knows I don’t do tech support. But people are still brazen enough to keep asking, as if the answer will change, just this once.

My friends who are lawyers are not interested in my ignorance of the law. My ex-colleagues who are finance people are not interested in my programming stories. Neither are my social friends or family. I respect them, and do not bore them so.

So, please, show some respect and understanding, and stop doing it to us. We are not your free tech support.

And yes, of course I fixed my wife’s computer, married readers will understand why.

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