back to article BOFH: We want you to know you have our full support

BOFH logo – telephone with devil's horns "NGGGGAAARRRGGGHHH!" the PFY says, slamming his mouse onto the desk several times. "Problems?" I ask. "Yes, I'm trying to get pre-sales support for a product but I'm just going round and round in the website which sends me to a Virtual Agent that can only interpret my question in …


  1. James 51 Silver badge

    Sounds like the PFY had to reboot Simon there.

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      I'm wondering if Rita and the PFY have decided that Simon needs a vacation. A long vacation. With white coats, wheel chairs and weeping willows by a stream, cool spring days with birds chirping....

      (Damn, that sounds like a *great* idea)

      1. sisk Silver badge

        It's actually not so very long ago that the PFY tried - and failed, though he didn't know that immediately - to kill Simon. Having him committed seems like it's likely to be more successful.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Are the padded rooms and straight jackets implied? And the occasional tasering?

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      "And they're coming to take me away, ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee..To the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time, ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee.."

      1. J. Cook Bronze badge

        Compleately off topic, but the band Neuroticfish did a cover of that song on their album Gelb; it's actually pretty good. (as is the original version from 1966...)

  2. wyatt

    They need to speak to Rita, she'll remember the sales person and find a number for the business which will bypass support and get to the MD who'll get pre-sales to call them so they don't lose the sale.

    Especially as BOFH and PFY will have kept in chocolates/brews/flowers/etc * (delete as appropriate)

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      I tried deleting /etc but it did not make things any better...

  3. thosrtanner

    Maybe the PFY applied the prod to himself in despair. It's so unclear.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Maybe the PFY realized the BOFH was behind the convoluted virtual agent website thing all along...

    2. Hot Diggity

      I assumed that it referred to zapping the boss earlier. Agreed, so unclear. Perhaps it was a group zap.

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Deja Vu

    There is a frightening uncanny familiarity to this situation.

    1. getHandle

      Re: Deja Vu

      And many other comment sections on El Reg articles...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deja Vu

        It's almost as if the BOFH had a short week and threw something together from reading comments on a Reg article...

        Anonymous in the vain hope it will be sufficient and he doesn't find me...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Augie

    Oh the Irony... the irony

    The irony of reading this while trying to log support call with BT.. the similarities are somewhat frighting..

    beer time I think

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Oh the Irony... the irony

      I have been dealing with a similar system all morning - an infinitely configurable helpdesk system , that amounts to full on dev work but in a stupid GUI process map system that you cant google because virtually no one else in the world has used it.

      They do have a full support site full of out of date duplicates manuals , a log a call bit and - the community.

      Unlike the bofh's example answers in the community will be supplied by one dedicated and expert customer(reseller) very promptly - much quicker than asking the company themselves.

      I feel guilty asking too many beginner questions of the guy, so this morning (after reading all the documentation on the bit im struggling with) decided to make the actual company do it and logged a call.

      .... and all I want to do, in a normal high level language would amount to:

      binVariablename = 0

    2. Joe Werner

      Re: Oh the Irony... the irony

      Hmpf. Sounds like O2. An internet provider without the possibility of contacting them by mail ffs!

  6. steelpillow Silver badge

    "Maybe the PFY realized the BOFH was behind the convoluted virtual agent website thing all along..."

    Certainly. The value being that a certain percentage of visitors will be desperate and foolhardy enough to click the pay-for option, which takes you to the second level of exactly the same game. This time the pay-for option is a phone number, which when called of course offers only spoken menus and haphazard voice recognition sending you round in an even harder circle....

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      This time the pay-for option is a phone number, which when called of course offers only spoken menus and haphazard voice recognition sending you round in an even harder circle....

      Back in the mid-noughts I worked for a large finance-related outfit in London, and their telephone system didn't have any of that crap. It was a matter of company pride that any phone call to the company at any time of day or night on any day of the week was answered by a human who actually worked for the company. It might be picked up by an automatic "hold" system that played an audio news feed while you waited, but you *always* got to speak to a human.

      The human might be in another part of the world (Bombay, Singapore, New York, Tokyo, London, etc.) but whoever it was was an employee of the company, on site in one of the company's offices.

      But speech recognition systems on telephone lines are the worst. DTMF menus are bad(1), but speech recognition systems are infinitely worse.

      (1) My general habit with those is to hammer the zero, star, or tic-tac-toe key on the phone until the system gives up and just routes me to a human out of despair. It's brutally effective.

      1. iron Silver badge

        > tic-tac-toe key on the phone

        It's called the HASH key.

        Or if you come from the wrong side of the Atlantic, the pound key but that's just wrong.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Actually, I believe the name of the symbol and an octothorpe.

          1. david 12 Bronze badge


            ... and it's called an actothorpe because the computer nerds who came up with that thought it was funny.

            before that, it was just the hash, pound, or number-symbol key.

        2. Graham Dawson

          It's called the pound key because of what you do do it in frustration after hours of endless twisting menus, all alike.

        3. The Oncoming Scorn

          Also referred to as the number key.

        4. Jamesit

          It's also called an octothorpe.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        to get human, is a good place to go

      3. jonathan keith

        "hammer the zero, star, or tic-tac-toe key on the phone until the system gives up and just routes me to a human out of despair."

        I've found that voice recognition bots often respond to a loud shout of "Fuck's SAKE" by immediately transferring the call to a real life person.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      And it also sound like something the Bastard himself will do.

      Anybody remember this episode?

      You are in a twisting maze of little support options all alike.

  7. earl grey Silver badge


    Beer time.

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


    Only too recognizable, alas. Put me in mind of the rant in the Travel Agent Sketch somehow

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant

      Have a pint of Watney's Red Barrel for your trouble.

    2. Servman

      Re: Brilliant

      I first parsed that as "Time Travel Agent" and all I could think was "what a cool job!"

    3. techdead

      Re: Brilliant

      man I haven't seen that in years..... fabulous

  9. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    One might think

    that this will NOT end well for Steven - assuming he did not use the cattle prod on himself as suggested upthread

  10. nichomach

    This isn't even comedy any more

    It's just too bloody accurate.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: This isn't even comedy any more

      The majority of customer support systems work this way, keep you going in ever decreasing circles until you disappear up your own jacksie.

      1. nichomach

        Re: This isn't even comedy any more

        I'm there right now. Attempting to explain to a web filter support guy that the point is not to *block* an appliance from talking to its replication target but to *allow* it and that the slow throughput at said webfilter is what's getting in the way.

    2. fredds

      Re: This isn't even comedy any more

      Comedy mainly consists of commenting upon life's foibles; with a twist.

  11. Nick Ryan Silver badge


    Sounds almost exactly like my recent experience of logitech support. I generally like their (keyboard and mice) products but had to ask a question about one of their keyboards. Which for other keyboards would have been resolvable with a product sheet or possibly even good photos, but no... Lots of stupid redirections, missing products (disparity between what was listed on their website, what was in the market available to purchase and what products their support department admitted to), stock totally unhelpful responses and lots and lots of waiting.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge

    The BOFH knew

    that the software the PFY was seeking information on was *crap*. The next scene will be the BOFH, PFY and an HR ogre discussing the altercation... Cue PFY on mental health/stress leave...

  13. Florida1920 Silver badge


    Hurrah!!!!! Return Of The Cattle Prod!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


      Ah yes! Cattleprods are the way to run your business. The customer is always unconscious. Or screaming...

    2. hplasm Silver badge


      From a NetMGR* Help point of view, i was expecting this to end with a resounding


      * If you know what I mean...

      1. J. Cook Bronze badge


        @hplasm, re: Thwack.

        I see what you did there. (and their software is maddenly annoying to use as well...)

    3. TRT Silver badge


      Putting the 'prod' into 'productivity'.

  14. the.spike

    Speaking and saying nothing

    "." the PFY says wordlessly


  15. steelpillow Silver badge

    Choices, choices...

    You are in a long comments thread where all the best jokes have already been taken. Press:

    1 to crack a bad joke

    2 to comment on an existing joke

    3 to tell a workplace anecdote

    4 to purchase a BOFH-branded (sic) cattle prod. (Please have your PayPal credentials ready).

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Choices, choices...

      OPTION 4! By Cthulhu's glowing naughty bits, OPTION 4!

      *Mashes the 4 key until it catches fire*

      Gimmie my cattleprod! Shut up & take my money! =-D

      /wanders away happily triggering TheHappySparkyThing...

    2. grumbler

      Re: Choices, choices...

      Space-X have their own branded flame-throwers, why doesn't El Reg start making cattle prods?


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