Press any key

A friend pointed me to yesterday’s User Friendly, and it made me laugh.
Any WWDN readers have a tech support experience (from either side of the phone) worth sharing?

135 thoughts on “Press any key”

  1. I did 4 years as tesch support for an ISP.. Ugh.. I could have made a fortune if I just invest in an asprin company! I’d be rich I tell you!!
    But yeah, I have had calls like that before. One that I really remember, a lady needed her new computer hooked up. Kept getting a no dial tone error. Got her to finally realize that the cord wasn’t plugged in and she couldn’t find the one that came with the computer. I asked if she had another one in the house. She said yes. I told her to get it and plug in it where it says Line or Telco on the back of the computer. She said she did, but wanted to know what to do with the phone on the other end of the cord.

  2. I have a Compaq that is about four years old. Recently the CD-ROM drive died, and since it was just before the 3 year warranty expired, I called Compaq tech support to request a repairman. The tech support lackey who “helped” me was, to say the least, very UN-helpful. “First we’ll check to see if your computer is running at less than 80%. If it is, then all you have to do is close some programs and we’ll see if that helps.” Sez me, “Look, I know you’re going down your techie-support sheet, but this is not a software problem. This is a hardware problem. The CD-ROM is NOT SPINNING.” But, he insisted, so we went through the rigarmarole, which of course didn’t work. Next was getting me to empty my cache, which I did NOT want to do and I told him so point blank. He said, “This will fix your problem.” I said, “No, it will not. This is a HARDWARE problem and emptying my Internet cache won’t do a damn thing. You need to get to the part where you send a repairman to my house to fix my **** CD-ROM.” Then the nasty bugger really cheesed me off. He said, “Ma’am, we can do it YOUR way, or we can do it the RIGHT way.” I slammed the phone down and called my local computer guy, who said “Yep, it’s a hardware problem and I can fix it for you for $30.” Those Compaq people are…. grrr. Buggers.

  3. My god this first post thing is tiresome.
    I hate customer tech support. When i had a part-time job in electrical retail i would tell customers to call me and save their

  4. I have 8 years tech support from software to hardware from end user software to server and ISP support. I am microsoft certified.
    Feel free to contact me.

  5. I only WISH I had such an experience to share with you, but it’s kinda hard to have a bad or pleasant tech experience if one cannot use the phone, you know what I mean? It’s kinda like, I dunno, when my friends talk about music this, or music that, I always look at them with so much envy. *sigh* Oh well, at least it’s not raining here this morning. Peace, out.

  6. I used to build computers for a living (ah, remember the early nineties?). I sold one guy a new sound-card, and offered to install it for him, free of charge. Simple installation, no big deal.
    He declined, insisting that he was an expert in computer hardware. He’d be taking care of it himself.
    Doofus plugged the analog audio-input plug (the one that normally plugs into the back of the CD-ROM drive) into the FLOPPY-POWER PLUG FROM THE POWER SUPPLY.
    Turned his computer on.
    Smoke and fire.
    Came back with his computer asking if there was anything we could do. Turns out, he destroyed EVERY PART IN HIS COMPUTER. There was nothing that was workable. Nothing.
    Two thousand dollar 486-50 (hey, it was the nineties) down the drain ’cause chalked up to the dreaded I-know-what-I’m-doing syndrome.

  7. Ah, yes, the joys of tech support. I worked in tech support for a DSL company. I don’t have any particular stories, but I do have to say that people calling in found it hard to believe that a female could actually provide adequate tech support. They would get extremely pissed at me when I tried to tell them how to fix their computers and their broadband. If something needed to be done that I couldn’t provide at that instance (like having the lines checked or something) then of course I didn’t know what I was talking about, and please put me through to the real tech support, honey. Grrr.

  8. Funny. I did tech support for an ISP and for Dell hardware for a little over 2 years. I seem to have blocked the whole thing out of my brain. So, I can’t really give you any of my stories.

  9. Dell has the best tech support!!! Anyways I do not think i had any bad tech support problems in the past thank god! Anyways when a woman picks up the phone I just thank god i hate talking to guys on the phone for tech support lol i dont know they just make me nervous LOL.

  10. Back when I started school, I was one of the tech support people for the campus. One year we had just completed wiring all of the dorm rooms to the network, when I received a call from the Helpdesk stating that one of the students was having difficulties connecting to the network.
    I went through the normal spiel of setting up the appropriate DNS, etc., but still no luck, so I used the old computers science motto K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid). I asked her if she had the network cable plugged in and her response was, that yes, see did indeed have the cable plugged into to her computer and into the wall, but she had to use tape to keep it plugged in “because the hole in the wall

  11. When I was doing tech support for Snappy, we had a customer that was legendary. Now, for those of you who don’t remember Snappy, it was a parallel port device that let you take snapshots from any video device. Plug Snappy into your parallel port, connect your camcorder or VCR to Snappy, run the software, and go. Simple? Evidently not to this guy.
    Anyway, the call went as follows:
    “Snappy Tech support, may I help you?”
    “My Snappy is not taking any pictures.”
    “It doesn’t seem to be grabbing pictures? Has it ever worked for you?”
    “No, it hasn’t. I’ve been using it all weekend, and I can’t get a single picture out of it. ”
    “Are you pushing the SNAP button in the
    “Well, I’m starting by pushing the big blue SNAPPY button, and then I run the software. I even tried mounting it onto a tripod. You know, you guys sure missed the boat by not putting a tripod mount on the bottom of the thing.”
    ??? This really got my curiosity up. There isn’t a “Big blue button” anywhere in the software. And mounting the Snappy on a tripod?!
    “Sir, could you describe for me exactly how you are using the Snappy?”
    “Sure, I’m pointing the little gold pins at what I want to take a picture of, clicking the blue button in the Snappy, and then I plug the thing into my computer. The pictures never come out! It’s broken!”
    See – he was pointing the parallel port plug like it was a camera lens, and expecting pictures to come out. The blue SNAPPY button was the battery cover. Another classic case of RTFM.

  12. I used to work for Mattel Interactive’s Tech Support, for all of 2 weeks. In those two weeks, i probably have 20 stories. Just insane. My personal favorite remains the lady that called me saying that her 3 year old daughter had put glue all over the Barbie CD and wanted to know why it wouldn’t work after she cleaned it.
    Problem was she used a steel wool pad to get it off. //forehead smack
    To paraphrase Clerks, This planet would be great if it weren’t for the damn customers.

  13. I’ve been doing tech support for 8 yrs now. I currently work for an ISP you’ve never heard of but will soon. (We hope.)
    It’s busy here, phones always ringing… the other day, however, we kept getting a call and no one would be there. Over and over and over. It wasn’t a fax, because usually we can let those go to voicemail and it’ll stop the fax from auto-dialing. This happens from time to time, usually not a big deal, but really, when you say “Thank you for calling ISP name, may I have your login ID?” about 20 times in 10 minutes and having no one answer, it gets annoying.
    I got the bright idea to do *69, and it gave me a phone number. I called the number and a very confused sounding woman answered. I said “This is *ISP name* technical support, have you been trying to call us?”
    She said “You’re the voice I keep hearing in my computer! I kept trying to talk to you but you didn’t answer!”
    She had put our technical support phone number in her Dialup Networking connection rather than a local dialup access phone number, thinking that would get her connected to our service. She kept hearing me through her modem speaker and ask for her login ID, and kept trying to yell into her computer to answer me.
    I gave her the correct local access number, but before I could show her where to enter it, she hung up, so excited that she was going to make it work.
    …and then proceeded to keep dialing the tech support line from her modem.
    But since I knew this, I yelled into my headset: “Ma’am, please call us back at *our phone number* so we can show you how to set this up properly.”
    In the meantime, my coworkers (all 2 of them) are about peeing their pants with laughter, mainly because I kept such a professional attitude. (8 years of this makes you not even laugh at people anymore! Okay… well, not till you get off the phone with them.)
    After yelling this about 10 times, she finally caught on and called, and we got her straightened out.
    Yes. I am “the ghost in the machine.” F34R m3!

  14. Oh God! And how could I forget this call the other day!
    “Yeah, my sewing machine won’t connect to the internet.”
    ::puzzled sound from me::
    “I have a sewing machine with a modem in it, and it won’t connect to your service.”
    Turns out, they do indeed make sewing machines with modems:
    What next??

  15. No really funny ha-ha ones, but my most memerable one was at 3am-ish when I worked 3rd shift (years ago). Very broken english on a computer that was configured in Chinese. It was a three hour called (which wouldn’t have happened during the day, but we had a low call volume). But the call ended with the problem solved, so all’s well etc etc…

  16. Maybe this will actually be helpful! I JUST got off the phone with HP support.
    My Computer takes 5 minutes to boot…daily.
    HP had me do an entire Destructive System Recovery.
    It didn’t work but I still had to waste the time RE-installing everything!
    Now, the problem is still happening so I called again (literally 5 minutes ago, how ironic) and they told me to do the destructive system recovery AGAIN! I said it didn’t work the FIRST time…so now they’re sending me CD’s to re-image the computer!
    I have no hope this will work either but they refuse to let me SEND it IN for repair!! (they said all they would do is what they’re telling ME to do)
    Anyone else have this problem? Ever hear of it?
    Feel free to E-mail me in order to save me some aggravation!

  17. I used to work for this little rinky-dink (Nationwide, even!) ISP in my home town as a sysadmin/tech support guy. It’s amazing all the folks who were convinced we could do more for them than AOL. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t use AOL, but there are some people who should stick with it.
    This one guy in particular had a big problem telling which of his mouse buttons did the right-click and which did the left click.
    me: Okay, I’d like you to right-click on Network Neighborhood —
    him: But I’ve got a 4-button mouse.
    me: You have a mouse with four buttons on top?
    him: No, it’s got a button on the side, with the thumb.
    me: Okay, so I want you to use the right-most button on the mouse, click on the Network Neighborhood icon and select Properties with the Left button.
    him: But I’ve got a 4-button mouse? Which button is which?
    That’s about the time I put him on hold and transferred myself outside to cry.

  18. Oh I have FAR too many tech support stories to share. I’ve been doing support for 7 years now, and am currently a level 2 tech at apple… so I not only have “stupid customer” and “tech support gone horribly wrong from the customer’s perspective” stories, I also have “first level agent utterly clueless” stories.
    And I would have no idea where to begin.

  19. [I enter a walmart in my home state of SC, in an attempt to return a PCI USB host adapter, receipt in hand. I proceed to the first cashier, Debbie.]
    Myself: Is it possible to return this tonight mam?
    Debbie: Yes anybody running a register can return it for you.
    [I express gratitude and proceed to the rear of Debbie

  20. 5 years ago, while working for a now-defunct software company that made website authoring tools, I had a guy call up who didn’t know how to resize a window. You know, drag the corner of the window until it’s the size you want. He was *that* much a novice.
    Fast-forward 3 months: he’s landed a $50,000 contract from a hospital to build their website. He’s still using our software (which was NOT a particularly sophisticated package).
    Fifty grand, and using a $49.95 product. I really felt like I was in the wrong business.

  21. Oh, man ~ I just applied for a job at Stream International, which operates call-in centres for a variety of companies.
    Yes, it’s a last resort application.
    They had me fill out a 37-page ‘personality test’, in which they asked some of the same questions twice. I’m sure I failed, and sort-of on purpose.

  22. Last year I lived in an all-girl residence. For reasons that don’t matter at all to this story, I didn’t get the residence internet (resnet) hooked up right away. Now, for the second half of first semester, it worked pretty a-ok. Christmas break happens. I come back to find out I am _the_ only one in the entire building who doesn’t seem to be on resnet. Now, after about 2 weeks of fighting with the bitch that does the tech work, I’m finally able to have somebody come in and look at the piece of crap. I tell her to come at 4, because … it doesn’t matter, really. I tell her to come at four. My classes are 30 minutes away from the residence, so at 3:30 when class gets out, I’m running to get back to res before the woman gets there and I’m not. I get there 5 to four. Four o’clock hits. 5 after 4. 10 after 4. Starting to panic, as their office is only open until 4:30. I call, and it turns out she went at a quarter to 4. I’m arguing with her on the phone and then she goes “Yeah, I have to call you back. The fire alarm is going off…” (I don’t hear it, but sit tight and wait for her to call back.) So when she calls, I’m distraught and going into withdrawl without the frigging internet, and I start crying, blabbering something like “Why does this friggin’ university hate me? What did I ever do to it? Blah blah blah…” Well, just so she’d never have to fight with me EVER AGAIN on the phone, she hops in her car and comes over to fix my computer, mumbling that she isn’t even working anymore, and that she doesn’t have to do it. Moral of the story: Crying gets me anything I want. Mum said it wouldn’t work after I left home, but it looks to me like it does!

  23. During my first day as a system specialist in a military hospital, I got a call that their terminal was broken. This was a VT320, a dumb terminal, little more than a monitor and a keyboard and a connection to the server. How could it break?
    I got down to the ward, and sure enough, the VT wasn’t working. I tried everything, and the VT just sat there like a stupid brick. This took me an hour.
    One of the things that I noticed was that there was a pencil sharpener plugged into the same power strip as the VT. Strangely enough, it didn’t work either. I think, “now I’m getting somewhere!”
    So, I crawl under the desk and follow the power strip to see where it’s plugged into the wall. The power strip circles behind and to the left of the desk. I keep following it until I learn that the power strip is plugged into itself. DUH.
    I can’t move the desk because it’s too heavy, so I call the sergeant over and explain the problem. He’s the one who’s been complaining about this “broken” VT for the past few days. He turns a strange shade of greenish white, and assures me that the problem will be taken care of.
    I check my watch, and this “broken” VT has taken up two hours of my time. From then on, the power cord was always the first thing I checked.
    PS Wil, I love your site! This is the first time I’ve posted, but I’ve been reading it for six months. You’re so cool!

  24. I run our tech support desk, as well as pull a shift or two. I do CAD support.
    Here are 3 stories, 2 are mine, 1 is my bosses:
    1) I had a guy worked for me who came in one day pretty pissed off at the world. A client called in with the worst questions, i.e. wanting to be ‘phone-trained’. He told the client to “box up the computer and ship it back, you’re too fuc#ing stupid to run this.”
    He was fired.
    2) I was teaching a class to a group, and we had a PhD in the class who came in late. We started with basic familiarity of the GUI, and he put up his hand. He said: “I’m having problems with this keyboard.” I came over to help, thinking it was a cord or something. He said “Why isn’t it in alphabetical order?” I sent him home.
    3) My boss has a classic story (an incident about 10 years ago) about a guy who was buying a PC and the CAD program, but couldn’t understand the difference between Hardware and Software. Finally, the boss went to the PC, started hitting it, and said “HARRRRDDDDDDDDware”. He then took out a 5 1/4″ floppy, grabbed the ends, bent it in his hands back and forth and said “SOFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTWare” This end user just recently called me wanting to know where he could get a used Hercules Card for his second 13″ monitor.
    I wonder about folks sometimes….

  25. Heck yes. I worked as a lab monitor in a university computer lab for a year. I had people utterly convinced that the Windows dialog box “the program is not responding, it may be busy, etc.” was a virus; that the Blue Screen of Death that NT4 and 2000 were so fond of doing was a virus; people printing the entire Red Hat Linux user manual on the printers and wondering why it took so long; people with masters’ degrees and Ph.D candidates in engineering who could not comprehend the concept of “break up that literally thousand page print job into several smaller jobs because it causes the printer to vapor lock”; people who couldn’t understand the notion of “no, I cannot bump your print job up in the queue, I don’t care if you have class in five minutes – because guess what – so does EVERYONE ELSE in this lab … and many more.

  26. I work in tech support for a large ISP for most of the United States. Anyway I help my own fellow employees when they have a question or problem. THese probmlems include people who are to the point where takling into the tellephone seems moot to them adn they hold the recieve like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and scream obscenities into it.
    Anyway, to make a long story short, if you’re calling technical support, please don’t ask to speak to a supervisor unless you feel you were treated poorly (without manners) by the agent/tech you were speaking to. The supervisor can do LESS for you than the agent. You can yell all you want, and that supervisor will only be able to ask your agent questions for the answers you require, so you might as well stick with the agent.
    Just a word to the wise. Good luck all!

  27. This isn’t one of my own tech stories…I seem to have blocked mine out too. Wonder why? *laugh*
    I got this in email quite a few months ago, so it might be known by quite a few people already…apparently the gu who took this call got dismissed and is sueing the employer for ‘termination without cause’.
    “Technical Desk, may I help you?”
    “Yes, well, I’m having trouble with Word Perfect.”
    “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 the program, 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 I 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
    “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.”

  28. Well, I am currently a Field Technical Support analyst for a national store chain. I won’t mention the name though 😉 Anyway, I run in to this type of thing every single day. Not only from the employees in my stores, but also from people at the corporate Helpdesk!
    I’ve had calls from the Desk stating a computer or printer won’t power up, and arrived to the store to find the power cord sitting on the floor, unplugged. I’ve had calls stating that a cash drawer will not open on a cash register, only to arrive to the store to find that the store manager locked the drawer and forgot to unlock it when the register was in use…
    I could go on all day with stories like this, but I don’t want to bore everyone to death! LOL
    And no offense to any Help Desk technicians out there, but sometimes my Helpdesk techs are worse than the people in my stores! That’s why I like to call it the Help(less) Desk!
    *Hides from angry Desk Techs* 😉

  29. It took 3 phone calls to tech support at sympatico, before a guy told me that I couldn’t use a cord longer than 3 feet for my internet connection. The first 2 guys had me jumping through hoops for hours.
    HP and Future Shop suck. I dropped off my lap-top in August, telling them that the battery wouldn’t hold a charge. They had it for almost 2 months. When my husband went to pick it up they said “Sir, we’ve discovered that your battery won’t hold a charge.” My husband was pissed. They told him to buy a new battery, when he asked them to point him in the direction of a new battery they told him they didn’t sell batteries.
    Complaint letters to both companies have gone unanswered.
    Somewhat related…I used to work in collections. One day a call came in to our centre by a man outraged over his 6months of cable tv we claimed he owed. He stated that he had disconnected his cable tv. My co-worker asked him who had been to disconnect it. He said, no one, he unplugged the tv.

  30. For six months while I was in grad school I worked for my local cable company doing customer support. On the whole the calls consisted of explaining to people how to make sure their televisions were on channel three and how to use their remotes. Until one day…
    The caller, a very distraught woman, asked me if there was a cable outage. I asked her area and advised her that as of right now, no, there wasn’t. I asked her what the problem was that she was experiencing, and she told me that her screen was “black”. She told me that she had exchanged her cable box that very day for a new one and now it wasn’t working. I asked her if she was certain that her television was on, and she *assured* me that it was. We ran through a large number of scenarios (me assuming that she’d plugged it in wrong or changed the channel or something), and finally I asked her if she could get behind her television and make sure everything was plugged in correctly.
    She said yes, the cable was coming from the wall and into her cable box, and yes, another cable went from the cable box to the television — all in the correct jacks. I asked her if the power cord from the cable box was plugged in to the wall and it was, verified that the outlet wasn’t on a switch somewhere, and then I asked her where the television power cord was plugged in. She replied, “There is no power cord from the television.”
    I patiently explained that there had to be one somewhere and she needed to find it. “No, there never was one. It’s CABLE READY!”
    Um, no. I explained what “cable ready” meant and that every television needed some power source to run. I asked her if her television was battery operated? “No, of course not. It’s cable ready!”
    At this point I was having a blast, knowing I’d have fun telling everyone later. I was actually debating asking her if her television was SOLAR powered when she then said “I know you think I’m an idiot, but I swear there never was a plug for this television.” Well, yes I do, but my professional hat is on so you’ll never know it. I asked her if there was a spot on the back of the television where a plug might come out of — thinking it had a retractable plug for some reason. No. No, she swears, there’s nothing back here.
    And then I realized what happened. She had returned her cable box earlier that day — and had returned her television power cord right along with it.
    We managed to find her box in the back, pull her power cord off of it, and she sent her husband to fetch it (I’m thinking she was too embarassed to come herself). Case closed, but MAN, what a lot of work!
    Cable ready . . .

  31. My buddy got a good one…
    Caller:I can’t make this program work.
    Sam: What is happening?
    Caller: Well it says press any key to begin
    Sam: So what is the problem?
    Caller: My keyboard doesn’t have an Any key

  32. One of my favorite calls, been taking them for three years now, but this one sticks in my mind.
    Me: “Welcome to your ISP’s support, can I get your e-mail address?”
    Her: “Yeah my dsl isn’t working again.” ( ignored my request for e-mail address. )
    Me: “Okay, can I get your e-mail address?”
    Her: “Can you hold on?” (doesn’t wait for me to say yes or no, she covers mouth piece but I can still her her.) “Why the hell did you unplug it? Plug it back in. See its blinking again you ass. You made me call and waste this guys fucking time.”

  33. Two tales, while I worked in a library computer lab at Case Western around 1989…
    First, imagine a lab full of Mac SEs, all loaded with the obligatory fireworks screensaver. (AfterDark 1.0, perhaps?) Now imagine clueless users who’ve never seen a screensaver…
    “The screen went black. My paper disapeared…”
    “Damn it!” (pounding fist on table enough to move the mouse and wake the machine…) “Works every time…”

    User comes to lab monitor… “I think there’s something wrong with my disc.”
    Lab monitor takes the disc, holds it up to the light, opens the shutter (3.5″ disc) and starts spinning the platter slowly while examining the surface.
    “Yep, there’s the problem. You’ve got a bad sector…”

  34. In the 90s, I had just started working for a small software company which produced an ascii based program. I had done some work for our newest customer. I had just installed our software in the customer’s computer system when I got the phone call. The customer began swearing a blue streak and telling me that our software had destroyed one of their monitors. In the interest of customer service and since I was the last one to touch the code, I immediately went to their site to solve the problem.
    I arrived at their site extremly confused about how an ascii based program could have broken a monitor, but I was new so who was I to question the customer. I was shown the monitor while a group of angry customers gathered around to scrutinize my activity, sure enough the monitor was blank. I began the diagnosis. I checked the power light, it was on. I then checked the brightness knob and found it turned all the way down. Turning the knob, I told the gathered mob, “You have to turn the brightness up.” Of course the text on the monitor immediately appeared.
    (What is up with this? It doesn’t help the story, but turning down the brightness on a monitor was an old fashioned trick to prevent burn in. You’d have to be an experienced computer user to know about burn in or this practice. I wasn’t experienced, but I learned from people who were.)
    After this incident there was a saying around the office, “Is this one of those situations where we have to tell the customer to turn their brightness up?”

  35. Wil you have no idea how much Arena sucks without you. Well, maybe you do and you’re laughing your ass off about it. Anyway just wanted to say that I love the site and I’ll miss ya on G4.

  36. I’ll say this…Brandi, my boyfriend feels for you.
    When my boyfriend first got out of college, he worked for a state’s Department of Personnel (I won’t mention which one) at their help desk. One weekend there was a thunderstorm, which created a power surge that fried a few computers. The department then told all staff to unplug their computers over the weekend to ensure this wouldn’t happen again. One Monday he gets a call from someone in the building, saying that his computer won’t work. So he goes up to check it out. Looks at all the plugs on the computer, presses the power button a few times–nothing. So he asks “Have you plugged in your computer yet?” and the guy says yes. So he gets under the desk to take a look. Turns out the guy’s computer was hooked up to a power strip, and he had PLUGGED THE POWER STRIP INTO ITSELF. Not wanting to make the guy feel like a complete idiot, he quietly plugged the strip into the wall and turned the computer on.
    The best part is that five minutes later he got another call…same thing.
    He told me the story that night with a “for THIS I spent 4 & 1/2 years studying computer engineering in college” look on his face as I laughed uncontrollably.
    We’ve since moved to another part of the country, where he now spends his days yelling at a company who can’t get a simple membership database up and running. Sometimes I think he still wishes he was working at that help desk.

  37. Leah — I feel your pain. I worked for over two years in a university computer lab, and not even Macs or PCs, but VT100 terminals hooked right up to the Unix system. Bigass line printers, even a plotter.
    None of which is relevant to this story, which took place about two weeks after I started working there. The weather was bad, so I was glad to be spending the evening with my toasty-warm computer equipment and fast Internet access in the 24/7 facility.
    I was glad, I should say, until the sump pump in the wall behind me failed. Sheets of water started coming out from under the platform I was standing on . . . the platform where all our computer cables were kept.
    Naturally, this concerned me.
    I called the main admin and told him I wanted to close the lab. He said, “I’ll be down there in a few minutes; it can’t be that bad.” A few minutes pass. He walks into my room, gets about two steps in, and realizes he’s standing in a puddle. “Close the lab and get the hell home,” he says.
    So I make the rounds of the three terminal rooms and tell the users they have 15 minutes to close their work, that the lab is closing because of flooding in the printer room. “OK, I just have to print my thesis,” I hear more than once. “The printers are already off — there’s water flowing through the cables, and I’m playing it safe,” I tell them, occasioning screams of anguish. But mostly, they pack up and leave.
    Not so the guys playing Xtrek on the Sparcs. I went in there three times, giving them 15, 10, and 5 minute warnings, and finally walked in and told them that the lab was now closed, and anyone who was still in there 60 seconds later would get to talk to the campus police on a trespassing charge. It wasn’t until they got to the door and realized that their Birkenstocks were getting wet that they realized I wasn’t kidding about the flooding.
    I considered flipping the circuit breakers to the room and telling them the water must have gotten into the wiring, but I was pretty sure they would have all hung around until the power came back on. Textbook obsessives, they were.

  38. It was around 1996, and our family got our first computer. A nice and fast Packard Bell P75 with a whopping 8 MB of RAM. For some reason, after installing a game demo, the computer refused to load.
    As I seemed to understand the computer the most, I got elected to call Packard Bell tech support.
    After waiting on hold for a few minutes, I get connected to some guy who (in retrospect) seemed to know what he was doing. Somehow, some files critical to the operation of Windows 95 were corrupted. So he decided that reformatting the computer would be the best option.
    After instructing me how to get into the DOS prompt, he tells me to type stuff like (“Ok, now Dan, type in ‘f’ for furry, ‘o’ for octopus”) and so on.
    I was having trouble keeping up, and told him so, so he went a bit slower.
    Then he asked me to repeat back what I typed.
    I diligently replied:
    “f for furry o for octopus” and so on.
    He didn’t laugh too much, but he quickly corrected me.

  39. My boyfriend just started doing tech support for Cablevision’s Optimum online. His away message on AIM reads “@work helping all the STUPID people.
    :p” and that is ALL I hear about all night when he gets home. Im getting a headache from his job and I am not even the one on the phone.

  40. My husband does tech support/computer maintenance on the side. he works full time for a shitty retail company and goes to college nights. he can build computers, networks, etc. you name it and he can fix it. anyways, one of his least favorite computers to work on belongs to his dad. his dad is an electrical engineer. although he works on billion dollar air craft and other computer related things every day, the man does not know shit about computers. bless his heart, he tries so hard, but if you’re running win 95 cause you’re too cheap to upgrade, don’t call us if you’re now having problems with office 2000 on your win95 os.
    and, derek once had a guy who had a problem with his cup holder-yes, children, he was using his cd-rom disk drive for a cup holder and was pissed when it broke.
    some people should not be allowed to abuse appliances like that.

  41. Well…there’s tons of stories after working in tech support for over three years now…I especially like people that want to make me believe they are using Windows 97 on their computer… 😉

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