Technical 'Support'

Are computer technical “support” positions staffed by robots? Or are they simply underqualified, underpaid people in call/email centres? Probably the latter, as far as my experience (limited to just one case, of course) is concerned. Let me cast my support request out to cyberspace to see if I receive a more useful response.

I have just purchased an HP PSC 1350, a little all-in-one inkjet printer, scanner and copier. It’s very nice. It prints, it scans, it copies, it’s very small and fits snugly on my bookshelf near my desk at home. It’s a bit loud, but that’s OK by me.

Now, I’m using it with my Powerbook G4, running Mac OS X 10.3.3. All of the information I have received indicates that it comes with OCR software. However, none seems to have been installed with the HP installer. Have I been deceived? Was my box missing some software?

The first response from HP tech support was what you might have expected from a simple pattern matching algorithm. I described my problem as I did above, indicating how I’d installed the software, and saying that I couldn’t find the ReadIRIS OCR software, and that in the HP scanner software there was no “send this to a text editor” option available (contrary to the printed and online manuals). The response (taking the form of some parts of the manual sent back to me) contained no indication that my query was actually read beyond the first phrase saying “I cannot perform OCR with my scanner.” The part where they said “And you can perform OCR from within the ReadIRIS application” when I had already said that the application wasn’t installed was a particularly nice example of the failure of comprehension.

I sent a second query, reiterating the problem and indicating why their response missed the point. I am yet to receive a reply.

So, I’m at your mercy. Does anyone here have any experience with this?


I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.


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