A word after a word after a word is power

Margaret Atwood

Aug 31, 2015

Microsoft is going to the dogs

How to handle helpful telephone calls

As a freelance journalist I work from home. That has its pros and cons and a major con is the number of attempted telephone cons. A call I received the other day was typical – for me and, I suspect, for others who work from home.

At 8.30am the landline phone rang. I picked it up. The male accent on the other end was Indian subcontinent. He introduced himself as Michael. He told me he worked for Microsoft and that they had had a number of error reports from my computer and that it had been infected with a virus and malware and yadda, yadda, yadda…

“Oh dear,’’ I said. “Hang on a moment while I go switch it on.’’

Then, as is my wont with `Microsoft’ and their helpful calls, I put the receiver down on the desk and got on with my work, with the occasional, plaintive bleating of Michael in the background – “Mr Jackson…Mr Jackson…have you turned it on yet…Mr Jackson...’’ After about 20 minutes this was replaced by the mounting electronic nah, nah, nah noise coming from the receiver, announcing that the connection was broken and it should be replaced on its cradle.

I did this and some 40 minutes later Michael rang back.

“Mr Jackson, we seemed to get cut off.’’

“Oh dear. I’ve turned the computer off now. Hang on a minute while I switch it back on.’’

I put the receiver back on the desk. Again I could hear a distant Michael calling to me and then the handset’s siren tones, until I hung it up.

Another thirty minutes and Michael rang again, sounding, I felt, somewhat tetchy.

“Mr Jackson, where is your computer?’’

“In my office.’’

“Your office?’’

“Yes, it’s just next door.’’

“Do you have a separate phone in there?’’

“It’s okay, I can carry this one through. Hang on a minute, while I go through.’’

I put the receiver down again, leaving Michael to commune with the ether, until he tired and hung up.

He rang back after thirty minutes and this time definitely sounded shirty.

“Mr Jackson, what is it you are trying to do?’’

“I’m sorry?’’

“What is it you’re trying to do?’’

“I don’t understand.’’

“You told me you were going to turn your computer on, that’s not true is it?’’’

I sighed: “No Michael, you’re right, that wasn’t true.’’

“So what is it you’re trying to do?’’

“Michael, what you’re trying to do is dishonest and – ‘’

“ – Who told you that?’’

“What you are trying to do is dishonest and I must try to waste as much of your time as possible and – ‘’

“ – F*** off!’’

And, Reader, he hung up on me.

I knew this kind of thing would happen when Bill Gates left.