Help me help you: tech-support support

Your computer vendor may charge you for technical help, but I won’t. And I don’t mind–really. The Q&A column I used to write for the Post and the one I do for USA Today both require readers to ask me how to get their computer/phone/TV/app/service working properly.

Question-mark key

But there are a few things you can do to make my work easier.

One thing I’ve harped on before is being specific. There are a million ways something can “not work” in a computer, so I’ll need to know more about how things failed. What was the text of the error message you saw? What’s the last thing that happened before things went awry? What exactly did the service rep tell you?

If in doubt, take a screenshot. In Windows, hit the Print Screen key and then paste into an e-mail in Windows; on a Mac, hit Shift-Command-3 and look for the new image file on your desktop; in iOS press the home and power buttons; in Android hold down the power and volume-down buttons. I won’t share that image with anybody else unless you’re okay with that.

If I don’t have those details, I’ll probably answer your first e-mail with a round of follow-up queries to elicit that extra information.

But I also need to know if my suggested remedy worked for you, and I’ve had a couple of readers leave me hanging in recent weeks. Sometimes I can try to recreate the issue on my own hardware and software, but in other cases that’s impossible–for example, I can’t subscribe to an Internet service not available anywhere near D.C. to see what’s wrong with its e-mail.

And on a personal level, I like hearing from readers that I was able to help them out. So please don’t forget to send that last “it worked, thanks” message you might think unnecessary.


2 thoughts on “Help me help you: tech-support support

  1. My Kindle Fire HD used to work fine. About 3 months ago, it was unable to pick up the WiFi at home. On the settings, it looked like it was connected fine, but when I tried to use apps or go on internet, I saw the wave symbol with the x in yhe upper right corner. I should add that my iPod Touch and my iPad Mini work fine at home. The Kindle Fire HD does WiFi great at McDonalda, Starbucks, and Target, but not at home. I follow the help website by deleting my home network on the device, turning it off, waiting several minutes, then turning on and re-entering my home betwork password. No go. Amazon help desk told me to do the same procedure and pull the router. I did and it didn’t work. I called Amazin help desk and they tried to tell me the problem wasvin my router and I should buy a new one, or the problem was with my internet service provider. I called my ISP and the technician was annoyed and got “short” with me. He said the problem was not with the ISP or with my router, and he implied that the Amazon Kindle Fire HD was a piece of junk and I should use a quality tablet such as an Apple iPad.

    Now, I use my Kindle Fire HD only away from home. It works great st the library or at McDonalds. When I want to download a book, I can’t do it st home.

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