Some days it doesn’t pay to be a huckster selling phony Windows support. Not that Windows doesn’t need supporting, mind you…
“What,” you may ask, “is Online Tek Squad?” I didn’t know, either, until a guy calling himself Paul, known to Caller I.D. as “Name Unavailable,” rang me up from what turned out to be a nonexistent phone number. Paul said he called me because my computer was infected with “over 30 viruses.” Wow. Good thing he got hold of me before the number climbed to 40 or 50, right?
He wanted to know if I was in front of my computer, which I was. Could I click on the little Windows logo in the lower left corner of my screen? “I don’t see a Windows logo,” I said.
“What web browser are you using?” he asked.
“Chromium,” I said.
“Well then, please go to www.onlineteksquad.com,” he said, except he
spelled it out, one letter at a time.
Being a nice person, I did as he asked. He sounded like a pleasant man, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Next, he said, scroll down to the words “CONNECT TO TECHNICIAN” and click on them. See, their technician would solve my computer’s problems and fix it so that it no longer ran slow.
“But my computer is running just fine,” I said. “It has no problems at all.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, seemingly puzzled, “because we detected problems from your Internet connection.”
“What IP address did you check?” I asked.
Paul said something like, “Ummmm….”
“Is it possible that you were confused because I’m running Linux, not Windows?” And not wanting to stop there, I continued, “Guess what, pal? You sound like a nice guy. You ought to get a legit job instead of trying to pull [obscenity] scams like this [obscenity] you’re wasting your time on with me.”
Whoops! Paul hung up.
Hello, Paul, come back! I was enjoying our conversation and didn’t want it to end. I had been doing some very boring work and loved the little break you gave me — and besides, I have a little sadistic streak buried deep inside my battered psyche and it was fun to let it out to play with you.
I know. I shouldn’t do this sort of thing. When the bogus Windows tech support people call, I should curse and hang up immediately, not keep them on the line until, after 10 minutes or half an hour of playing dumb, I tell them I’m running Linux, which always causes them to hang up right away for some strange reason.
And then, when I try to call them back, their phone numbers never seem to work.
Darn Linux! I have Windows, too, but I obviously don’t use it nearly enough. When I tell people like Paul I run Linux, they can’t get away from me fast enough. Obviously, if I ran Windows more often, they’d want to keep talking with me and I wouldn’t be so lonely.
I guess that’s my 2017 New Year’s resolution: to run more Windows so I can make lots of friends who are in the business of supplying bogus computer tech support.
Or maybe I’ll just go on using Linux most of the time, and if I want to make new friends I’ll go have a drink or two at the Drift Inn, where nobody really cares what operating system I like best. One or the other, anyway.
Robin “Roblimo” Miller is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief at Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned SourceForge, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, ThinkGeek and Slashdot, and until recently served as a video editor at Slashdot. Now he’s mostly retired, but still works part-time as an editorial consultant for Grid Dynamics, and (obviously) writes for FOSS Force.