It’s a common story that if you’re the one in the family who knows computers, everyone wants you to fix everything they broke because of their own stupidity. It’s most likely true you’ve already been fixing their busted OSes and/or computers for some time now and want a way out. I’ll give you 7 ways to do it.
1. Delay any answer to a support request by 48 hours
During the normal trading of emails and messages you have two types from family members. Support request and non-support request. If it’s non-support, answer as you normally would. If it has anything to do with tech support, delay the answer by 48 hours. Eventually they will get the hint when they realize any time they want computer help that they won’t get an answer for 2 days.
2. Answer email/message support requests with links and nothing else
Some or all members of your family are too stupid to use Google. If the support request has a web page that describes how the whatever-it-is is done, send that link and only that link. If you get a reply back saying ‘I don’t understand that page’, reply with ‘Everything you need to know is there’ and stick to it.
3. Enforce a set of rules that appear to be unreasonable but really aren’t
Force any support request to be submitted like a help desk ticket, and if you don’t get everything submitted exactly how it’s supposed to be, refuse the request.
You may think this is rude but it’s not. If you ask for the following:
1. Have you rebooted? (If NO, reboot. If YES, continue.)
2. What time did the error occur?
3. What was the EXACT MESSAGE that appeared in the error?
These three simple questions will stump any stupid family member and usually get them to stop requesting help, because OF COURSE they didn’t reboot, and OF COURSE they don’t know when an error happened, and OF COURSE they never actually write down the error message that would actually, y’know, HELP YOU HELP THEM.
If you’re sick of getting descriptions like, ‘Yeah, it was this.. thing.. I clicked and it went away and now my other thing won’t work.’ Nip that in the bud and force them to write down exactly what happened. Yes, on paper. If they don’t have the info, refuse the support request.
4. Answer every support request with ‘Get a Mac’
And if they should get a Mac and ask for help, then say, ‘I don’t know anything about Macs’, followed by, ‘Go see a ‘Genius’ at the Apple Store in the mall to fix your problem.’
5. Never perform any tech support at family functions
Example: Thanksgiving dinner. If any fool in your family dares ask you for tech help on that day, glare at them with an icy cold look of doom and sternly say, ‘I came here to eat and watch football. That’s it. You will receive no tech help at all today, so don’t ask.’
And yes, there are fools out there who will ask family for tech help on Thanksgiving. And Christmas Eve. And Christmas Day. They are fools because even the thought of being a support mooch on that day is just plain rude.
6. Purposely make your documentation difficult to understand
This is a shady tactic, but it does work well. Purposely answer support requests using what they consider to be computery cryptic-style talk. If they ask you to explain things easier, reply with, ‘If you can’t understand what I wrote, I can’t help you.’
7. Learn how to say no, and mean it
You may have that slick-talker family member that does not take no for an answer no matter how many times you refuse tech support. This person is obviously trained at the art of being a mooch, and yes they are tough to deal with because they’re very persistent. Your moocher family member will try every trick in the book. Begging, guilt trips, you name it, they’ll try it.
When the family moocher approaches and wants tech support, say no. Over and over. Do not give in. Do not be swayed by the slick-talk. Say no, always say no (politely, of course) and mean it.
If the mooch happens to never talk to you again after they learn you’re not giving away any more free tech help, don’t be surprised.