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It's funny.  Laugh. IT Idle

IT Calls of Shame 256

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's JR Raphael offers up six memorable tales of trouble and triumph from the tech support desk. 'Working in tech support is a bit like teaching preschool: You're an educator who provides reassurance in troubling times. You share knowledge and help others overcome their obstacles. And some days, it feels like all you hear is screaming, crying, and incoherent babble.' Pronoun problems, IT ghosts, the runaway mouse — when it comes to computers, the customer isn't always right."
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IT Calls of Shame

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  • poor analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @12:53PM (#39620173)

    Working in tech support is a bit like teaching preschool: (blah blah removed)

    Rather than the blah blah, from memory it seemed more like changing diapers, over and over and over and occasionally breaking up inter-sibling rivalry. It was excellent training for parenthood.

  • by Galestar ( 1473827 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @12:54PM (#39620199) Homepage
    http://thedailywtf.com/ [thedailywtf.com]
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:00PM (#39620275)

    "Please replace user, and try again."

    • Re:"User Error" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:35PM (#39622711) Homepage Journal

      IMO the PEBKAC problem indicates a design flaw. Most interface designs are badly flawed.

      For example, the classic stories about people losing the data because wifey put it on the fridge with a magnet could easily be sidestepped by a simple "warning: keep away from magnets". Thinking a user knows how a floppy holds data is incredibly stupid. It isn't the ignorant who are stupid, it's the fool who thinks everyone knows what he knows. Everyone is ignorant of something, and to not realize and respect this simple fact is idiotic.

      One of my pet peeves is web forms. You have to fill out street address, city, pull down the state with a dropdown list (stupid design in itself, considering any state is only two keystrokes), and zip code. Why?? If you have the zip code you already have the city and state. Twenty years ago I was designing database screens where after typing in address, the cursor went to the zip code field, and when the cursor left the field the city and state were filled in by a lookup table and could be changed by the user if incorrect. IMO to do otherwise is incredibly bad design, and lazy to boot.

      Wht is it with you kids, anyway?

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moheeheeko ( 1682914 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:01PM (#39620285)
    "Hello IT......Have you tried turning it off and on again? Yeah....no problem."
  • by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:01PM (#39620289)

    Please send them my way. My compay will thrive with the new business. I treat customers right, which usually results in new transactions from the same customers. Whuch, in turn, recommend my business to their friends/family/co-workers.

    But hey, it's much easier to blame tough times on stupid customers and Obama (obviously).

    • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:08PM (#39620343)

      What about the customers who insist a faulty cable is the reason their computer keeps getting infected and refuses to let you do anything but change the cable? Or the manager who asks why she can't print to the printer that was recycled years ago (and her specific words were "Why can't I print to the printer we got rid of?" - so she knew it was gone)? There's some customers that no amount of treating them right can help with. And both of the above happened to me within the past year.

      • I'm in no way techy-savvy-goodness, I can be one big DUH about computers, but...

        What about the customers who insist a faulty cable is the reason their computer keeps getting infected and refuses to let you do anything but change the cable?

        Are you serious?

        • Almost as bad as a story I heard of a user CONVINCED the smoke coming from his computer was a software problem.
          • "AH! My kitchen is on fire! I KNEW I should've gotten my groceries at Shop Rite instead of Stop & Shop!!!"

          • Hey I once had a software bug report on a military system I was working on that said: "Turning on master power causes cockpit to fill with smoke: Must be Resolved Immediately". Too bad we weren't in charge of the hardware.
        • Sounds about right to me. I dealt with a similar user (a nice old guy, about 85, but inept as far as technology's concerned) who had once been told "viruses can come through the cable", which I assume was part of a sales pitch somewhere. He insisted that I "disinfect" the cable before hooking up his new computer to his home router. Fine. I took the cable out the door, went to my car, opened the back, and stood there laughing for a few minutes. Then I came back in, finished the job, and left. Probably not th

          • To me, the problem with IT-abuse becomes more about the tech-know-nothings insisting that they know what the problem is and refuse the explanation of someone who's professionally trained. As I said, I'm not the most well-versed when it comes to super-techy stuff. I'm also not a mechanic, so I don't tell my main-man (who I've been going to since I got my license, the most trustworthy I've ever met) "It's NOT the brake-pads making that noise, it's my stereo making feedback! FIX MY STEREO!!"

        • You replace the cable, then install the antivirus behind their back. If they are that dumb, they wouldn't even notice.
          • ... and then the person tells all of his friends: "Yep. That IT guy tried to pull one over on me, but all I needed was a cable, and that fixed it, so you guys go out and get yourself one too.Your solution may well cause a dozen or more old people on fixed incomes to purchases items unnecessarily. As a rule of thumb, feeding ignorance is a Bad_Idea(tm)
        • You have no idea...

          I once had a user that the internet didn't work for (DSL, with router), and he had DISABLED the network card in the settings.

          He also insisted that it couldn't possibly had anything to do with the problem, and expected me to fix things on my end of the phone call..

          No, he didn't get any internet that day.

          • No, he didn't get any internet that day.

            He should get a life sentence from the 'net, never mind a day, lol. Daaaamn.

          • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:23PM (#39621851) Homepage Journal

            I've been at the other end of that call, as a customer. One without an enabled network card on the PC. Because first, I wanted a connection from my router to their router working, and my connection to my router was through a serial port.

            The Fine Person on the other side of the line kept on insisting it was a problem with my PC, and refused to listen to any reasoning that since I wasn't connecting a PC to the network, this could be ruled out.
            I had to escalate twice before I got in touch with someone who could cut through the script reading idiocy. And yes, it was a problem on their end.

            • Well, I had already checked that we had connection to his router, and tried rebooting the router.

              But, there were no active connections on the LAN part of the router. After checking cables, and even trying to force the connected port up and half duplex 10mbit (in case of problematic autonegotiation or bad cable) there was no life sign from his PC. So I guided him into the settings to see if the network card reported cable out or in, and maybe see if I could force it on that end too... And maybe if he had mul

              • A few apartments ago, Time Warner came to set up a modem for new Internet service. I was at work at the time, so my girlfriend (at the time) let him in and get to work. We had two laptops and a desktop connected to a Linksys wireless router, which was then connected to the modem. The LAN worked fine before TWC's tech came out there. I got home and it was slower than shit. Turns out he set the PCs to 10mbps/half-duplex and screwed up numerous other network (and even some non-network related) settings. The ro

            • Our 1st line service desk are a bunch of monkeys working from scripts. I've heard many, many stories of their lack of ability or even common sense from customers - I'm 3rd line support so I'm usually visiting the customer's PC after the helldesk have messed it up. Such gems as insisting that rebooting the PC will somehow magically resolve a jammed tray on a printer and not understanding that if you uninstall the Remote Access Manager on a homeworker's laptop it will disconnect and you won't be able to reins
        • Internal IT support in my company. The user calls, identifies herself, IT tech launches the program for remote access and asks the user to click the "Yes I do give remote access to my computer" button.

          The user answer? "That is not my job"

      • > "... and refuses to let you do anything but change the cable?"

        I tell them I don't believe it will help at all, but I'm glad to sell them a new one if that is what they want. Wait....

        1 - Offer new Anti-Virus USB cable
        2 - ???
        3 - Profit!

        • A USB cable won't work well in an Ethernet port (although USB-B does fit surprisingly well), so it should do a good job of preventing infections from over the network.

          • FireWire 800 cables fit in the Ethernet port and Apple puts the two next to each other. If you're not looking, it's easy to plug the FW800 cable into the Ethernet port and wonder why nothing is happening.
    • by Trilkin ( 2042026 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:09PM (#39620359)

      You know how I know you've never worked as a help desk monkey?

    • This is tangential to your situation, obviously, but I cringe when I read about "IT support" workers telling stories about how clueless their users are, especially in complex corporate settings. I work with IT projects in a setting where most of my co-workers are academics, graphic artists, marketing people and the like. As part of a larger organisation we have a central helpdesk, but as I am also someone who "knows about computers" my colleagues use me as zeroth-level support line. Most of them have no cl

  • Deaf (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:02PM (#39620297)

    As far as #2 goes, I've been partially deaf since my toddler years and it really does help a lot if women are able to lower their voices. Most people just try to talk louder, but if you have a higher pitch (like most women), then deepening your voice will be a much more significant improvement over talking louder.

    • Funny enough, I have a deep voice (I'm a man) and I've had to speak in falsetto to get some people to hear me. Like the person in the story, I don't particularly mind if I have to switch voices. It's silly but I've done way sillier things.

  • A friend worked at a brick-and-mortar that sold computers. He came back from work one day and shared that the "any key" stories are true. He said he watched a customer leave and call back a few hours later. He watched the salesman for that customer get on the phone, listen, and then say "the 'any key', that's the big long one on the bottom without a label".
  • Single-page version (Score:4, Informative)

    by bassman998 ( 922503 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:07PM (#39620341)
  • by na1led ( 1030470 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:08PM (#39620345)
    Ma'am, can you put your 10 year old grandson on the phone, thank you!
  • to diagnose why an IBM PS/2 wouldn't boot after they'd moved it --- I tried to get them to diagnose the problem over the phone / read off what was on the screen, but they refused, so I drove over, walked up to the door of the office in question, saw the error message (I think it was 101) on the screen, announced, ``You've switched the plugs for the mouse and keyboard. Do you want to pay the 1 hr. minimum for me to swap the connections for you?''

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:25PM (#39620535)

      Why insult them by asking? Just do the job, fix the issue, leave, and bill them. Not every tech support issue difficult, in fact most are quite simple troubleshooting. The smartest people miss simple things sometimes.

      • One thing is not to understand the error message, or to understand it but not to know how to handle it.

        Not bothering to even read The Fine error message is a different thing. Personally, I think that if a user can not be bothered with that, then the issue is not urgent (even if the user tells me it is).

        In my case, most of my horror stories come from family IT support. Some member of my family would sometimes get an error message while he was surfing the web, and wait until the next morning to call from his

    • My record is three seconds in the room to fix a ticket complaining that there is no sound when playing DVDs.

      Enter room. Turn on speakers. Leave room.

      I was followed out by the sound of the class laughing at the teacher who submitted that ticket.
  • by Cazekiel ( 1417893 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:13PM (#39620413)

    In most ways, this is true. Too many stories have come out about people screeeeaming at tech support, only to realize the computer isn't plugged in.

    However, I had a recent experience with Verizon support when I wanted to ban an IP address from emailing me; I'm not the most tech-savvy in the universe, and everyone here could've probably done it themselves in seconds, but I knew the basics, anyway. I went to every forum, yahoo! help section, whatever else to find a way to stop getting these awful emails from someone using an IP-masking/dummy-email service; most used MY email as the 'sender'. The content of the messages, ones I'd get literally hundreds of in one day at some points, would make me physically ill. When I'd had enough, I hit 'full header', got the IP and zeroed in on where it was coming from. I called Verizon and started a help session, where the guy helping me took control of my computer.

    TS: Okay, what we will do is block the email address sending these to you--
    Me: No, no, I want the IP blocked. This one. *mouses around to show IP*
    TS: Okay. *pause* So, you want these emails to stop.
    Me: Yes, I want the IP blocked. I read a forum saying to contact your internet service provider to find ways to block the IP.
    TS: Okay. *pause* But we can block the email address, which will--
    Me: No. No, okay... look... *takes control again* THIS is the website this person sending me these abusive emails is using. THIS is the website's IP address. When I get the emails, each one has the same IP, because they're USING this service's IP to harass me. Look, they're using MY email address as a 'dummy'; blocking the email address means I'm blocking MY email address. *clicks full header from two different emails* See? These are alllll being sent from the same IP. This is a site people use when they want to abuse someone without being found out. Watch. *demonstrates by sending an email to herself from the service being used (probably not the best idea in the universe, but he was NOT. GETTING. IT.)* See?
    TS: Ohhhhhhhhhh. Yes. It's not the email you want blocked, but the IP.
    Me: *looks to husband and shakes her head very slowly*

    There I am, a total amateur, telling a guy being paid to NOT be an idiot what I wanted done. No matter how many times I told him that forums and tech-guides all suggested getting your internet provider to help block IPs, he couldn't grasp the idea. I don't know if that IS possible, so I'm giving up on some aspects of tech support and just going to my brother, who, at eight-years old, outdid the instructor at the 'Computer Camp' he was enrolled in. Kinda sick of being so newbish when it comes to this stuff. I told him yesterday at my parent's Easter dinner he was going to teach me everything he knew. We're both kinda psyched.

    • The path of the original email is (a-hole's web server) ==> (your ISP's email system) ==> (your client, or web browser, whatever).

      What you're asking for is for them to block the first bit of communication, from the world to your ISP's email system.

      But what if there is another ISP user who expects to receive mail that originated from a-hole's web server? It isn't fair for your wishes to trump theirs, i.e. the ISP's email system is a shared resource, not yours alone.

      The right solution for you here is a

      • It isn't fair for your wishes to trump theirs, i.e. the ISP's email system is a shared resource, not yours alone.

        No, it's not mine alone, I understand that. However, the problem I have with that philosophy is the service they provide is to use a generic IP in order to hide their own from whoever they're sending mail to, and while there are perhaps real, honest uses for that, it seems obvious to me (and others) that in a good majority of cases, that service is created to abuse the person you're targeting. No

        • You make a good point as to why you (or anyone else really) wouldn't want to receive stuff from this IP. But from the POV of the ISP, it's irrelevant. You can't request to completely kill all communication at the source, unless the ISP contains some sort of per-user blacklist (ie, it blocks it for only you, and nobody else). And I seriously doubt that many ISPs would do that. And if they do, they're cutting off access to everyone that might want to go to that IP. Not to mention that the IP could be dyn

          • Good points, and I'll be taking the suggestions. I'll probably go over this stuff with my brother, as he knows more than I. Thanks. :)

        • One other option might be to see if these messages can be flagged as spam and deleted by the ISP. If the content is pretty repeatable, a good spam filter will pick it up no matter where it comes from, and many ISPs already filter spam for all their users so from their POV it might be win-win-win.

    • Wouldn't happen to be extracts from Pornocopia, by any chance? If so, I think I know the program used to send them. It was passed around a bit during the Anonymous action against the Church of Scientology.
      • I've heard of Pornocopia, as I followed the Scientology Vs. Anonymous events, but don't know what it consists of. The site in question was emkei (dot) cz, a Czech-Republic site (I rec not going there, lol). Is that the service they used? Anyway... I hate saying/typing what the content was, but it involves doing things to either dead or special needs kids. Seeing as I have a severely autistic son, it hit hard, and the fear that it could've been someone I know makes me even MORE uncomfortable. I'm a bit suspi

        • Pornocopia (Or is it pornucopia? I'm not sure) is a Piers Anthony novel. It contains lots of really weird and perverse stuff, but nothing like what you describe (He saves the stuff with kids for some other novels). It's more fantasy porn, involving weird and anatomically-impossible acts with creatures so strange they make furries look tame, all of it written in comedy and to some extent as a parody of more traditional fantasy works. It's been used in mass-mailing attacks because just grabbing a few paragrap
          • I've been thanking people here for the info/advice, and getting this clarification definitely rules out some of my suspicions. The people whom I suspect have no ties or actual knowledge of Anonymous' actions, so in knowing Anon's 'source material', it kind of rules out the possibility that I'm being attacked by them. However, it also leads me to believe that this has been a personal attack, or even the prelude to threats, ones I don't deserve (or any parent of a special-needs kid, really). So yes, thank you

            • There's another theory: It's someone's prank. This is the internet, we have trolls. It's quite likely this is just some basement-dweller's idea of a good time: Pick a target, dig up a little something to use against them (Learning-disabled son? Perfect. Probably read it on some Facebook post or blog), proceed to taunt until they respond with hilarious outrage.
        • by Jeng ( 926980 )

          If it happens again call the police.

          • If it happens again call the police.

            Police won't do anything. Call the FBI.

            • by Jeng ( 926980 )

              I have had to call the police for something similar. While looking up information on a customer who claimed not to have received product I ran across many stories by said individual associated with his email address.

              Call your local police, they will have to escalate it wherever this is actually taking place.

              Do not make copies or anything for the cops, tell the cops how to access the information. If you make copies even for their benefit you are now a sex offender.

    • The easiest solution is probably to set up a filter in your mail client that automatically trashes emails from that IP. It's not really the same as blocking all communications from that IP, but the end result is that you don't see the mail.
      • I'd tried to find out how, but all I came across was how to block addresses. I'll have to look closer, I suppose--thanks. :)

    • a guy being paid to NOT be an idiot

      Sorry kiddo, most of the people you can reach on a phone are not specifically being paid to be smart. They deal with the unwashed masses and by and far only have to do what the 3-ring binder in front of them tells them to do. Anyone that has more braincells to rub together can usually get better work. Especially when dealing with large ISP business like Mediacom or Comcast. They will hire the lowest common denominator that can deal with 80% of the traffic.

      If it's above their head, go over their head and

  • by squidflakes ( 905524 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:18PM (#39620465) Homepage

    I've always thought working in IT was more like being with a beautiful abusive spouse than anything else.

    When times are good, they are really good. You're happy, you're content, and you want the world to know that you love this job.

    But when things are bad, they are really bad. You get the shit knocked out of you for the smallest things. You learn little rituals and laundry lists of rules and behaviors that you have to engage it, because you're afraid to get hit again. Of course, some days the mood is just wrong and you're going to get it no matter what.

    When you do finally decide that you've had enough, and you turn your back on IT, all you can remember is the beautiful amazing job that you suddenly don't have and it takes every ounce of willpower not to go crawling back. Oh, sure, you know that IT has a history of this sort of thing. Life will be great for a couple of weeks then suddenly it will go back to a living hell, but you think... hey, I'm older and wiser now. Maybe IT has changed. Maybe I can change IT.

    But IT never changes.

    • by Cazekiel ( 1417893 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:27PM (#39620569)

      They yell at you over the phone because they love you.

    • I've always thought of it as being more like a firefighter.. without the glamour.. or the girls...

      Spend all day working on preparedness, public education, prevention, etc.. then Run Like Mad when the fan gets hit by brown stuff.. then, have to figure out why it happened, and how to add it to the list of prevention matters.

      And if your really doing you're job right, people will wonder why they even keep you around at all, nothing ever goes wrong.. :)

  • None of those stories were remotely amusing.

  • by Chente ( 9402 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:35PM (#39620659)

    I once worked on my next-door-neighbor's computer to solve a printer problem. The printer was not connected, and he didn't know what kind of cable he needed. I found a spare USB cable that would fit. I felt it was odd that his USB connections were so far down at the bottom of the back of his case, but I've seen a lot of odd cases. I downloaded the drivers and installed them, nothing unusual; the printer was soon working normally. My delighted neighbor and asked me if I could check the computer's CD drive. He told me that the last time he had tried to use it, the CDs just kept sliding right off the drawer each time he tried to load it. I was surprised to find that the CD drive was at the very bottom of the front of the case. Curious, I tried to find the maker's name. It was LLED, except the letters were written backwards.

    It was a very easy fix, I can tell you. I managed to get everything set, and get out of his apartment and back into mine before I burst out laughing. I told my girlfriend about the mysterious DELL computer case I had just seen and how I had fixed my neighbor's computer simply by flipping it right side up.

    She refused to believe that anyone could be that stupid, but there you have it.

  • by dcsmith ( 137996 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:39PM (#39620727) Homepage
    In story #1, why was the tech's computer powered up, logged in to the network, and not locked? That's the only way someone could walk up to it and access 'My Computer'. Sorry, I call BS.
    • Windows 95/98.
      Or, like many large systems, any user could probably log in to their own profile on his physical computer via active directory accounts.
  • by Petron ( 1771156 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:41PM (#39620751)
    I'll share my own store of tech support blues...

    Back in the day, I worked at a dial-up ISP. I was working in tech support, and working in the PC-Repair office, and while most calls were the "Your caps lock is on" and "The power is out, wait for it to turn on" issues. There were some fun with the PC-Repair office (Coffee stains in the CD Load-tray (the stories are true!), or the "I never used antivirus! I know what I'm doing" people that tended to wind up on our "Maleware Count High Score" board.

    One day I took a call from a lady that said she couldn't send and receive email. She said she was on her cell phone so I had her walk through trying to get the email and get the error message - 680: No dial tone. So I asked her to make sure the phone cord is plugged in to the computer and the wall. She said her laptop didn't need to be plugged in using a phone cord. Well now I'm thinking she had a wireless network setup and about to go through those settings, when I noticed the sound in the background.... Traffic. She and her husband was in the middle of the road. She insisted that she could unplug everything and still get her email while on the freeway before. Ends up that laptop was their only computer (no home wireless). I told her she could send/receive email when she connects to a phone line again, but she demanded to talk to my manager, who confirmed everything I said. She ended up stating she would look for other services that would know how their systems run better... I checked a couple of months later and her account was still active. Guess no other dial-up internet company offered a hundred mile long phone cord.
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:17PM (#39621801)

      Every time I chuckle at a story like this I can't help but wonder how much of a Grade-A Moron I look like to my mechanic or to any other service provider I use when I'm outside of my comfort zone.

      We really do need to be careful about associating understanding of the blinky lights with intelligence.

      • I tinkered and messed, and futzed with my furnace for a few hours, but with it being winter in Wisconsin, and two small kids in the house, I gave up and figured I really needed to have working heat..

        Guy came right out, tested a few things.. worked.. I caught myself right before I said "well it wasn't working a minute ago".. I just can't be that customer.. :) Turns out a sensor was going bad, and had to get replaced, it would only work after it had sat idle for a while (with the power off to the furnace) M

    • IRDA modem in her cell phone? I used to do that back in the day.
  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:48PM (#39620817) Homepage

    "Who would have thought?"



  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @01:56PM (#39620921) Homepage Journal
    What is interesting is that two of these things are problems that, for better or worse, and maybe for good reason, were designed into the system. 'My Computer' is a stupid name for the stuff on a computer. Even more stupid then 'Trash' to eject a disk, as that can be trained to.

    The telephone system sucks for older people or people with some hearing loss. I am sure there was a good reason to make the frequency range so small, but as older people are expected to do everything they same as they always did, it becomes more of a problem. Fortunately there is Skype with is a lifesaver.

    As far as everything else, support, like teaching, is about asking questions and assuming nothing. It is hard because the other person thinks they are being talked down to, but then some people cannot be helped.

    • What is interesting is that two of these things are problems that, for better or worse, and maybe for good reason, were designed into the system. 'My Computer' is a stupid name for the stuff on a computer.

      True, but it is such an obvious source for confusion that anyone doing tech support should have made sure they spelt it out in full: minimise the window to see the desktop, find the icon named "My Computer" and double click it. Depending on the person who called for support, you may need to specify to double click with the left mouse button. Some older people can have problems with the double click action, so a right click and select "Open" from the menu works too.

      If the user thinks that you are talking dow

    • Ah yes, "My Computer." One of the best things MS ever did for support folk was to eliminate the "My" from that.

      I remember I had a habit of saying things like "now go into my computer" -- which would be followed by "How in the hell am I suppose to get into YOUR computer?"

      I learned very quickly to say "Double click on the icon labeled 'My Computer'" instead.

  • Computer Voodoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:27PM (#39621229) Homepage

    Don't forget computer vo0doo.

    You were the last person to work on my computer and that was 4 years ago. It has been working perfectly, I have installed no new software, I have made no changes. Ha! now it is not working and it is something that YOU did 4 years ago that is causing the problem. Fix it NOW and fix it for FREE.

    Yes, you are the hoodoo with the voodoo. Magically something you did 4 years back has kept the computer running beautifully for 4 years, then all of a sudden "poof" it has broken everything. Links don't open, and the computer runs slow.

    Do I even need to mention that on a computer with NO software installs in 4 years, now has 10 browser bars and Add/Remove programs shows Smiley Central was installed 2 days ago.

  • by FlyingGuy ( 989135 ) <flyingguy AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:50PM (#39621493)

    This is a true story from the WordPerfect help line. Needless to say the help desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing the WordPerfect organization for "Termination without Cause."

    Actual dialog of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee:

    "Ridge Hall computer assistant; may I help you?"

    "Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

    "What sort of trouble?"

    "Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."

    "Went away?"

    "They disappeared."

    "Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"



    "It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

    "Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

    "How do I tell?"

    "Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?"

    "What's a sea-prompt?"

    "Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?"

    "There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything type."

    "Does your monitor have a power indicator?"

    "What's a monitor?"

    "It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?"

    "I don't know."

    "Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?"

    "Yes, I think so."

    "Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall."

    ".......Yes, it is."

    "When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"


    "Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."

    ".......Okay, here it is."

    "Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."

    "I can't reach."

    "Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"


    "Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

    "Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark."


    "Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window."

    "Well, turn on the office light then."

    "I can't."

    "No? Why not?"

    "Because there's a power outage."

    "A power... A power outage? Aha, okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?"

    "Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

    "Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

    "Really? Is it that bad?"

    "Yes, I'm afraid it is."

    "Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"

    "Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer."

    • by Ultra64 ( 318705 )

      Oh yeah. I remember this "true story" from when my friend told me.

      In the 90s.

    • At the risk of being "that guy" this is a forwarded email that's been circulating via forward buttons for 10+ years now...who knows if it's true... sounds true... :-)

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:58PM (#39621565) Journal

    While no longer technically helpdesk, a vast part of my job is spent doing the job of our helpdesk and solving the world's problems. These are a few of my oddballs.

    A person at a field office could no log on to the Staples site. She contacted Staples who said her cookies must have been deleted which is why her information no longer auto-populated but they reset her password and sent her the information. She still couldn't log in.

    I looked at the email that had been sent to her and something clicked in. I asked her if she hadn't transposed the company ID and her ID when logging in. As soon as I said this she started (nicely) cursing under her breath. Sure enough, with those two items switched, she got in with no problem. She all but begged me not to ever tell anyone about this, even when I was completing the ticket to close it. I put in some vague information about possible web site issues but did mark the ticket as 'Education Required'.

    Whenever I tell someone to open their C: drive, I tell them to go to My Computer (similar to the one story). The only difference is I tell them it's the My Computer icon which is usually located in the upper left corner of the screen. So far, that bit of communication is all that is needed to get them on the right path.

    I was working to streamline the process by which a visually impaired employee would receive documents from various offices. His screen reading software had issues with certain pdf documents. I finally got all involved to send him Word documents instead.

    However, during this conversation, I had remoted into a different person's pc to look at where the documents were being sent from. This person asked me how I knew the documents I was looking at were pdfs. I moved the mouse to the Adobe icon in front of the document and explained this means it's a pdf. I then moved to the end of the document name and said, "See this .pdf extension at the end of the name? That also means it's a pdf document."

    I then showed her what Word document icons look like for comparison.

    A printer was no longer showing it had a high capacity, tray 4. Everything printed fine, it just wouldn't pull from tray 4.

    After turning the machine off and on, hoping to reset it, someone mentioned the light for the tray no longer lit. That got me thinking.

    I looked at the back of the machine and saw there were 2 power cords. One for the machine itself and one from the machine to the tray. I checked and the plug, which was only inches off the ground, was loose

    Only conclusion I could reach was the cleaning crew had whacked it with the vacuum and slightly jarred it loose even though by looking at it you wouldn't have noticed it.

  • Supporting executives, supporting PhD’s.

    Everyplace I worked there was a designated “fall guy” to service the spoiled, self-important primadonnas in pinstriped suits and lab coats, You had to pretend that their incompetence and buffoonery did not exist, while somehow correcting the damage they did and explaining how to push the on switch on the power unit that the computer sat on. Whomever got the “honor” of this position usually got fired within the month!

  • by mcavic ( 2007672 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:16PM (#39621795)
    I was at the office once, logged onto a production server via Remote Desktop. The boss needed to borrow the workstation I was using, so I just minimized the connection and let him have the computer. 10 minutes later he was still banging away, and it was time for me to leave, so I just left.

    The next morning I got a call that the production server had gone down. Well, the owner of the workstation came in and didn't recognize the icons on her screen, so as the normal first step in troubleshooting, she rebooted.
  • by BitwiseX ( 300405 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:42PM (#39622037)
    Years ago I worked at small ISP, doing some web design, as well as phone support. Needless to say the phone support took up a majority of my time, and there were some fun conversations. Here's my favorite of all time:

    An older lady called me one day extremely apologetic. She kept lamenting to me how sorry she was and how bad she felt, and keep asking me if all of my other customers were calling and complaining. It was her fault! She was adamant about that. Finally as she calmed down a bit, and I asked her why she was so upset. "I think I broke the Internet". I looked at my boss, who had wandered to my desk, (he could hear her frantic apologies through my headset), and I gave him a Spock-like eyebrow raise, covered my mic, and told him "She broke the internet." He chuckled, said "Have fun!" and went back to his desk.

    So I explained to her that the Internet wasn't broke, and how it was highly unlikely that she could have broken the internet, so don't worry. She was fairly calm at this point, so I asked her "Ma'am, so what made you so concerned that you called me? What happened?" Her response was: "Well, I had an icon on my screen that said 'The Internet', and I think I accidentally deleted it. I thought I deleted the whole Internet!"

    Poor lady. Remember when the IE icon actually said "The Internet"? You couldn't delete it either (not without some IT knowledge she didn't possess). So I walked her through auto-arranging her desktop icons and POOF there it was. She must have moved it off screen.

    It's a tough job, but I do miss feeling like a hero.
  • Silliest thing I ever managed was to plug a flight controller into an ethernet AUI port. The magic smoke started to come out and everything.
  • by aapold ( 753705 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:16AM (#39627127) Homepage Journal
    My favorite call began thus:

    "I have a memory problem but can't remember what it is."

    (user had seen a message regarding memory but couldn't recall the exact text, and was hoping to convey this.).

Marriage is the sole cause of divorce.