Why Can’t People Do Their Jobs?

What follows is a rant after a morning full of burning stupidity.  Feel free to skip over it.

I work in tech support and in tech support you expect a fair amount of stupid. However, I work in tech support for the digital advertising industry.  That’s right, digital advertising, which technically should be an industry full of people who have some idea how to use a computer considering their whole industry is based on being able to use one.  Unfortunately, this is not something you can assume.

I have spoken to an embarrassingly high number of people who, when asked what browser they are using, have no idea.  That’s right, they’ve got no idea which icon they click on to access the internet.  I have literally had to have asked them, ‘is it blue or orange?’  Then when I ask for the version of the browser after a long and detailed explanation of how to find where this is, they inevitably say, ‘but it’s just a whole string of numbers’.  They find it impossible to believe that this string of numbers would actually means something to somebody.  And these are the morons in charge of multi-million dollar digital advertising campaigns.

Then there are the morons who use one of my company’s competitors’ products and ring me up for tech support. ‘Hi, I know you don’t work for Company X, but I was wondering if you could tell me how do this in their program’ and then they seem genuinely surprised and upset when I tell them that I don’t actually provide tech support for our competitor’s products and perhaps they should call Company X’s tech support people. And that no, it’s my fault or problem that Company X provides such shit tech support.

But my real beef is with those who honestly should know better.  Flash designers who are paid to write actionscript and yet can’t seem to follow the most simplest of instructions on how to do this and programmers who haven’t yet learnt the difficult art of copying and pasting and even worse programmers who want me to tell them how their damn site’s code works.

It drives me insane how many utterly incompetent people somehow manage to keep their jobs and for some strange reason they all seem to work in the digital advertising industry and seem to have my number on speed dial.  These are the people fail to understand that I’m not being paid to do their job and feel entitled to unleash abuse and insults if I dare to tell them that something is not my job but theirs. Heads up to the last person that called me, last time I checked tech support didn’t involve managing advertising campaigns, that’s you are employed to do.

Does anyone else work in an industry like this where they are constantly amazed of the level of incompetency people can display and still keep their jobs?  Is the whole world like this?

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About Meg

A thirty something queer Aussie geek girl who now lives in Germany.
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8 Responses to Why Can’t People Do Their Jobs?

  1. Lee Hambley says:

    I’m in a pretty similar industry (software gardening) – but it’s true here too, the problem seems to be that the education system doesn’t set people up for specialist jobs, and the world needs a lot of specialists.

    In my field you can do an OK job, and get some decent results (especially in a big company) with almost no experience, 4-6 weeks with a textbook and your evenings and weekends, and you can write code, and ship it to the internet… and probably find a job, working out of your depth, for a client/company who doesn’t know better.

    And, on the other end of the spectrum are the people like myself, who have worked and studied at their trade for 10 years or more… and understand things at a very fine level, at least – we try to.

    I think the main difference is between the people for whom their job is a job, and for those who’s job is a definition of their self-image… I’m a hacker, through and through and through, and if I die with a keyboard and a C manual in my hand… I’ll be happy. For a lot of people, the job finishes at 5, and it’s TV and video games.

    I’ve been fortunate to hire a couple of guys I’ve never met, from Belarus… of all places, and they’re both so exceptionally talented that it makes me feel like I’m back in with the noobs… Remember, even if you think you’re the one doing it right, there’s a fair chance someone, somewhere thinks you’re an idiot… and they might be right!

    • Riayn says:

      I don’t doubt that there is probably a large number of people out there who think I’m an idiot…. and in quite a fair few situations I would agree with them.

      However, I find there is a difference between those who don’t know but are willingly to learn and those who are happy in their ignorance and don’t care to learn. The latter really piss me off. The former I actually like to work with.

  2. Scott says:

    I fell your pain. I was a sys admin for a (now defunct) web software company, and that involved some tech support. I preferred helping the secretaries to helping the developers. The secretaries knew the limits of their knowledge and could ask intelligent questions. The developers assumed they knew everything and that their problems were my (or the firewall’s) fault. (Hint… if you’re trying to connect to a service that isn’t there, it’s not going to work whether a firewall is there or not! :-)

  3. Stereo says:

    Bravo and if I could just staple this post to the heads of the incompetents I come into contact with on a daily basis, this would make my life a hell of a lot easier. I work in a Digital Agency and it’s ludicrous the number of clients who ask the most ludicrous of questions or expect us to pull something cutting edge and savvy that often doesn’t exist yet out of our asses for no cost and they actually get angry about it when we explain that unfortunately, this is not how a business works.

    Bravo again.

  4. scottsabode says:

    The truly incompetent are too stupid to even realise it. And they piss me off.

  5. shoegirl says:

    It’s not just your industry, don’t worry. I encountered this when I worked in marketing/communications in the states and my husband, who’s an accountant, comes home with stories of his superiors and colleagues who have no idea how to get their department’s work done when the people who work for them have gone on holiday and the others have quit. How people make it to the top without knowing how to do the work that gets them there is beyond me!

  6. cliff1976 says:

    Does anyone else work in an industry like this where they are constantly amazed of the level of incompetency people can display and still keep their jobs? Is the whole world like this?

    Willkommen in Deutschland. It can be, in large enough companies, notoriously difficult for an enterprise to separate itself from its weakest links. If you’re lucky, they get shifted away to somewhere where if they can’t help, they can at least stop hurting. But I’ve never heard of incompetence as grounds for employment termination — here, I mean.

  7. Sol Gorrell says:

    Try healthcare. You would think that with all that education, nurses would be able to tell a foot from a shoulder. You would think that doctors would know what test to order to confirm a suspected diagnosis. You would think that if they didn’t know. They might ask or look it up somewhere. Sad that as a layman, I have to give advise to people whom you would expect to know. And we wonder why healthcare is so damned expensive in this country. Smdh

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