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Blogger insists 10-year wait for Microsoft tech support call 'not a hoax'

Some readers call shenanigans on "BIC" claim, but he provides more evidence

By Eric Lai
January 18, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The semi-anonymous blogger whose account earlier this week about getting a tech support callback from Microsoft Corp. a decade later generated heavy interest and conspiracy theories among techies posted a follow-up late Wednesday, in which he insisted "this is not a hoax."

The blogger, who reveals his initials to be BIC and his first name to be Brian, also says that the "back to the future call" was about a downed Internet connection -- not about a Windows system crash, aka the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

He also wrote: "Microsoft's calling me back is a testimony to their superior technical support."

But readers at Computerworld and Slashdot -- especially those who claimed to have worked in Microsoft tech support -- tended to be skeptical of the account.

He's got their number

"I call BS," wrote foetusinc at Slashdot. "I worked Windows 95 support around that time ('98), and while we did often call people back to check on problems, it didn't work the way this guy imagines... If this guy really did get a call, my guess is he got a wrong number when a tech was following up on somebody else's problem. Maybe his customer record got mistakenly linked to somebody else's ticket. Maybe he's making the whole story up."

In his Wednesday post, Brian "revealed" the phone number that Microsoft technical support left for him, though, apparently shy now because of the publicity his post has generated, he has not called back.

That could help Microsoft confirm the case's legitimacy. The company earlier said it was taking the incident seriously and trying to trace the incident.

Microsoft did not immediately return a request Thursday for a follow-up comment. However, it had earlier cast doubts, based on its support processes, on the likelihood that an outstanding tech support case could go on for ten years and suddenly be revived.

The handful of posters who claimed to have worked for Micosoft tech support agreed.

"At the time they [Microsoft] used a tracking software application called 'Workbench' to keep system notes and such. Callbacks were rarely done, and most of the time customers were told to call back in if they continued to experience problems," wrote 'T' at Computerworld. "I don't recall workbench having the capability to schedule a callback, and this software wasn't even tied to the call queue. If a callback was required it would be assigned by a representative to a technical lead for an escalation. If that ticket were to remain open for more than 2 days without some sort of follow up someone would be in trouble. In 2000 MS switched to a product called "Clarify", and any callbacks requested before that time would have been lost during the import... :)"

Gateway to the Twilight Zone?

Foetusinc at Slashdot agreed.

"Calls logged in workbench that we wanted to follow up on were just left open. Each morning you checked your open tickets, and called the ones that needed calling," he wrote. "No automated dialer either, as some have suggested. If something was left open to [sic] long your supervisor would check on it with you, and it would get closed or escalated posthaste."

Brian reveals his call was apparently about connectivity problems involving his Gateway Destination PC running Windows 95.

A Gateway Destination was an early media PC from the late 1990s that boasted a DVD player and a 32-inch TV-based monitor. Brian still has his.

Brian wrote that a more recent tech support call to Microsoft -- which was returned promptly -- was about a Windows system crash that he theorized was caused by his use of the Google Desktop search tool. But, he added, "Google is not evil. Microsoft is not evil."

Brian concludes his post "Well, gotta get ready for a date 2-night... so over and out."

Read more about Networking in Computerworld's Networking Topic Center.



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