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Crying For Help Online 

by Jim Edwards

(c) Jim Edwards - All Rights reserved

Anyone surfing the Internet for more than a week eventually
needs help from someone else. Whether regarding an online
purchase, technical support on computer hardware, software
support or some other type of help, sooner or later everyone
needs assistance. 

The way in which you ask for help has everything to do with
how fast and how well you receive assistance. In the online
world where email rules, the following tips will help you
get what you need and get on your way quickly. 

* Remember the "person" on the other end *

When something on your computer or a particular website
doesn't function properly, irritation seems a natural
reaction, especially when you have no clue why things don't
work or how to fix them. A sense of helplessness often leads
to feelings of frustration and anger. However, no matter how
upset you get, you must always remember that a live person
will receive your email communication and, in many cases,
they didn't cause your problem directly. 

Remember, those email "missiles" that make you feel better
in the short term will almost always come back to haunt you
over the long haul. 

When first asking for help, never send notes with phrases
such as "If you don't respond to me within two hours I'm
going to contact my lawyer." or "I sure hope this isn't a
scam." Rarely do such comments produce the cheerful help or
assistance you actually want. 

* "Please" and "Thank You" *

Common courtesy goes a long way towards getting what you
want, especially regarding technical support. Notes with
nasty comments put the person on the receiving end in a bad
frame of mind. However, notes with a polite tone sprinkled
generously with "please" and "thank you" will usually
receive prompt and courteous attention. You can always get
more severe later if you must.

* Don't use ALL CAPS *

Using all capital letters in an email rates the same as
SHOUTING in someone's face! Ignorance of this custom online
does not excuse the behavior. 

Though you may think typing certain words in ALL CAPS merely
shows emphasis on your part, to a "computer geek" you will
seem rude and offensive. Once you have offended the person
from whom you seek help, your chances of receiving that help
diminish significantly. 

* Get to the point *

Everything happens quickly online. Time ranks number one as
the customer support person's scarcest resource and they
don't have time to read long emails to figure out what you

When asking for help, always include your name, contact
information, order information, specific dates and a clear
description of the help or information you need.

Avoid including any extraneous information that won't
contribute directly in assisting someone in giving you
exactly what you need.

Though the Internet and email may seem like an instant
solution to many problems, people still run the technology. 
If you need help from another person, don't treat the person
like a machine. You'll get a lot further by doing it this

- Jim Edwards writes a syndicated newspaper column in plain
language for non-technical people about current Internet
issues, challenges, news, HOT new tools... and much more! 
"The Net Reporter" ==>

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