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Phone Zapper

Behavioral conditioning for hostile telephone users.
  (+7, -4)
(+7, -4)
  [vote for,

One of the great annoyances of working in computer and Internet technical support is that a tech will get a number of rude or downright hostile customers in a day's worth of calls.

Novice users aren't too much of a problem- it's the customers who insist that their computers are running fine, and who refuse to do anything a tech tells them to do to fix the problem. The worst of all, of course, are customers who think they know more than the technician they're speaking to, and insist on arguing about anything the tech says. (Hey, if you're so smart, why do you need tech support?)

Not only will these calls often affect a tech's attitude towards the next caller, but the general negativity of most callers makes tech support one of the most stressful jobs in the world. This means high attrition rates for tech support staff, which necessitates the hiring of less-qualified staff, which leads to a drop in the quality of service to you, the customer. The same applies to most forms of customer support done over the telephone.

In short, hostile, rude and ignorant callers ruin things for everybody.

My solution is a simple one. Add a shock button to the customer support person's telephone. Any time a customer calling tech support decides to be rude or ignorant, hitting this button will deliver a mild shock to the headset of the ignorant customer. According to the principles of operant conditioning, the ignorant caller will eventually associate the shocks with their hostile remarks, and will avoid being rude. This should make for kinder, gentler tech support experiences all around.

Example: Tech: "Okay, sir, would you please open up your Control Panel?"

Ignorant Caller: "No. That's not where the problem is- it's your server."

BZZZT!<sound of frying flesh as tech hits the 'Shock"'button>

Tech: "Again, sir, will you please open up your Control Panel?"

Ignorant Caller: "I'm telling you- it's your $%#@&* server!" BZZZT! <more frying flesh >

Tech: "One last time, sir. Please open the Control Panel."

Ignorant Caller: "Okay. It's open...."

Other uses for this device could be extended to the home, to discourage unwanted or rude callers. Its use should not, however, be allowed for use by telemarketing companies, although the ability to shock telemarketers might be a bonus.

BigThor, Dec 08 2000


       I like this idea as I am usually the caller after the Ignorant caller. :) I'm aaallllways nice to tech support, I promise!
oic, Dec 08 2000

       After 27 years in the IT business and having spent several years in tech support, I find BigThor's premise similar to the "good ole days" when we wished for "MEGAVOLT discharge" keys on the users keyboards when they did something STOOPID. My last day on the tech support hotline ended when I simply told the lady that the problem existed between the front of her screen and the back of her chair....
pfred, Dec 08 2000


       This one definitely should be made available for consumer use. So as to prevent misuse I guess we would be required to register with the authorities (or phone company) prior to purchasing a phone and our phone bills would come with a form in which we would describe the circumstances and the justification for using the tele-shocker during the previous 30 days.   

       Bigthor comes up with a gem.
iuvare, Dec 08 2000

       YesYesYes! I want one! I want TWO! The button for telespammers should send a just sub-lethal zap, with the ability to boost it up if the same company calls you more than once in a week. <I've often been called six times in two hours.>   

       Peter, we have ways of doing things, and tend to want to do them in that way. Just because someone else checked already does not necessarily mean they checked the same things I was planning on checking. Tell us, by all means, that someone looked at X, Y and Z, to save wasting time, but don't assume that just because we're going to the control panel that it's the same thing.
StarChaser, Dec 09 2000

       Why zap them? Just tell them to stuff it. Oh yeah, the office manager. No back talking to the customer; no giving the customer mild shock.
ImBack, Aug 21 2002

       if the customers already being rude whats the bet that theyr not just gunna tell you to get f**kd and boycott your company.or what if they just got out of the shower or pool or jist finished some other activity that involves getting wet, BAM, your staring down the barrel of a 6 figure lawsuit.Put that in youre pipe n' smoke it
andrew1, May 05 2005

       Everyone knows you shouldn't use electrical equipment while wet. It's their own lookout (puts andrew1 in pipe).
david_scothern, May 05 2005

       Caller uses speaker phone. 'Nuff said.
boogalooShrimp, May 07 2005

       //Everyone knows you shouldn't use electrical equipment while wet.// their calling tech support, how smart can they be?
andrew1, May 12 2005

       and a few days ago i was doing something (as you do) and thinking (truly multi-tasking) and i thought that people would have to buy new phones in order for this to happen as it just wouldnt work with other phones.what if the person thought "hmm...if i buy this phone, i might get zapped, but if i dont buy this phone, i wont get zapped)
andrew1, May 16 2005


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