Sometimes it feels like nobody I ever talk to in tech support has the slightest modicum of common sense.

Let's do some examples.

Someone had a newish (=6 weeks old) laptop, and some of the keys on the keyboard stopped working. A problem which, it must be said, pretty much screams "hardware fault". They took it back to the shop, started it up, and showed the tech support person that the keys were indeed non-functioning. Said tech support person's first suggestion: "It could be a software problem - let's try rebooting". Bear in mind that this guy had just seen the machine start up, do its POST and then boot Windows from scratch.

The other day our entire office (about 30 people or so) started getting really slow network performance. I reported it to the helpdesk, making it clear that everyone had suddenly started getting the problem and that the LAN activity indicator in my taskbar was, unusually, permanently illuminated. Guess what he did? He remoted into my desktop, cleared out my Internet Explorer temp files, and told me to call back if that hadn't fixed the problem. (Guess what ... it didn't fix the problem).

Oh, and then there was the time that our ADSL Internet connection wasn't working. "Hi, I think we have a line fault; the phone line isn't working and the ADSL that runs on it is dead as well". In this instance, step one from the tech guy was: "Have you checked your Outlook Express settings?". The response threw him a little ("No, I don't use Outlook Express") but he soon got his head straight and launched into a tirade of what it might be. "No, it's definitely a problem with the line", I insisted. "What makes you think that?" he inquired, in one of those snidey "this a**hole customer thinks he knows more than me" voices. "Well, the fact that the line has no dialtone kinda gave it away".

My life seems to be full of idiotic so-called techies raising my blood pressure for no good reason. Sometimes it's little things, like arriving to upgrade my Compaq desktop's RAM but bringing memory for an IBM one ... and then repeating the same error three times over the next few weeks. Sometimes it's destructive stuff, like remote-controlling my computer, closing down my apps (helpfully clicking "No" to the "Do you want to save?" dialogs) whilst thinking he was controlling the computer of the user he was speaking to on the phone (who was most definitely not me, and was in fact in a different building).

Are tech support people getting more stupid? Are our universities all dishing out dullards, and apparently inflicting them on me and all the people I consult for? Or has being clever and technical suddenly become a crime, with all the decent support people now languishing in techie jail somewhere? We ought to be told.