1. The Vociferous Time Waster

    The cute things they say

    To celebrate Friday here are some of the conversations I have had in the last year.

    "The server is down."

    "Which one, we have hundreds."

    "I don't know, I'm not in IT."

    "Yet you feel qualified to conclude that one of the servers is down."

    "The firewall is blocking some JavaScript."

    "Are you sure the words you are looking for aren't perhaps 'proxy server'."

    "OK, smartass, the firewall is blocking the proxy server."

    "The firewall between my PC and the server is blocking my traffic."

    "There isn't a firewall between your PC and the server."

    "The network must be down then."


    User had locked their account by typing their password wrong.

    "Service is down, everything is running slow."

    "Surely it can only be one or the other."

    "It's a network problem, the user is getting a 404 error."

    "So they are receiving an error back from the server to say that the server cannot find the page in the URI? Doesn't that imply that the network connection to the server is working perfectly?"

    "I don't have the actual error number."

    "Right, so we're just making things up now?"

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Falmari

      Re: Techies - The stupid $H1T they say!

      Oh it is so true we know the techies in support follow the 3 Rs rule when some things is not working.

      1) Reboot, not fixed then step 2

      2) Reinstall, not fixed then step 3

      3) Replace.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. awood-something_or_another
      Thumb Up

      Re: Techies - The stupid $H1T they say!

      And, let us never forget: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8_Kfjo3VjU

      1. Proud Father

        Re: Techies - The stupid $H1T they say!

        "You rebooted the Exchange server!"

        Priceless, very funny video.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Techies - The stupid $H1T they say!


        Good reminder.

        I though this funny as hell when I first saw it. Then I lived it. That tech could easily have been sitting next me at almost everyplace I've worked and the callers are easily half of the calls on any given day.

        It's a shame that most of the stereotypes about tech support are unfortunately true.

    3. Daniel B.

      Re: Techies - The stupid $H1T they say!

      Ah, the elusive 500. Sometimes you'll actually get interesting stuff on the logs, or on the page. But if it's IIS, there's a good chance that the only thing you'll get is "500 Internal Server Error" and nothing on the logs. Which leads to this interesting exchange from a couple years ago:

      Developer: What does a 500 error mean?

      Sysadmin: Oh, it means "Internal Server Error"

      Developer: Yeah, but what does that actually mean?

      Sysadmin: That there's been an error inside the server.

      Everyone starts laughing

      Sysadmin: No, really. I'd usually get something to work on in the logs, but bloody IIS won't give me jack shit this time!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Email isn't working

    "The email isn't working!"

    "Is there an error message?"

    "I don't know, I can't see anything on the screen"

    "Er, is the computer actually working?"

    "Well there's a light on the box."

    "Is there anything on the screen?"

    "No I told you, the email isn't working"

    "Is anything else working?"

    "What, like Word?"

    "Yes. like Word."

    "No nothing is working."


  4. Anonymous Coward


    And it really wasn't. Three complicated rebuilds later, the mystery of why said package stopped working in spectacular fashion (corrupt data on two different laptops) was apparently no nearer resolution. Until we looked at the Event Logs:

    Me: Joe.. you're not switching of the PC every night by holding the power button down for four seconds... are you?

    Joe Bloggs: ... No....

    Me: You are, aren't you?

    Joe Bloggs: ... Yes.

    Me: Don't.

    1. Stacy


      I love those ones. Always assume the user is lying!

      In my first job ones of the salesman (who liked to think he was technical) inherited my computer when it was replaced. After 40 minutes of me giving it to him he called me:

      Him: This computer you gave me doesn't work

      Me: It worked 40 minutes ago when I gave it to you. What have you changed?

      Him: Nothing

      Me: You changed something didn't you

      Him: I looked at a couple of config files, but I didn't change anything

      Me: What did you change?

      Him: I maybe changed something in Autoexec.bat, but I changed it back

      Me: What did you change?

      Him: I looked at the NetWare config file as well, but I changed norhing

      Me: What did you change?

      Him: I changed a couple of files, but I don't know what

      It turned out that he had done something strange with the autoexec, I don'tremember exactly what, but the main problem was that he removed the MAC address from the NetWare configuration so the network driver stopped working.

      And of course he didn't take a back up of it first.

      I wished him luck and went back to work (I wasn't on support for the machines...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "Always assume the user is lying!"

        That does exemplify the classic conversation pattern I had many times in support.

        User: It's stopped working.

        Me: What have you changed?

        User: Nothing.

        Me: What have you changed since it last worked?

        User: Nothing.

        Me: Are you sure you haven't changed anything?

        User: Yes. I've changed nothing - that is relevant.

        Me: What did you change...?

        1. Scott 62


          on a vaguely related note, I went for a job interview a view years ago for a support job and we got onto the topic of customer relations / customer service and i essentially said "never trust the user"

          afterwards i found out that saying that cost me the job...maybe it wasn't the most appropriate thing to say in an interview but it's 100% true. if you've worked in a support role for any length of time it's a fact of life that you cannot trust them and generally need to assume they're lying :p

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My <COMPLICATED SQL-BASED SOFTWARE PACKAGE> isn't working

            Pretty sure it was "assume the user is lying" that cost you the job. I wouldn't want to work with you either.

  5. malle-herbert

    Here's a whole bunch of em...

    Computer Stupidities

    1. beep54

      Re: Here's a whole bunch of em...

      @malle-herbert THNAK YOU!

  6. msknight

    Explicable when we knew how...

    I was sat in my office one day when a call came through the system. Can't remember the exact words but it was a detailed report, something like, Computers not working, printers fine, etc., etc, ... strong smell of smoke...

    I got up and wandered across campus to the offending building.

    Apparently, workers were digging up the road and some unfortunate soul had gone through a mains cable, knackering the supply and presumably leaving a widow, etc. Nothing I could do there, so I proceeded to the building in question.

    In the mean time, the generator had kicked in to supply power to the building, which was why the printers came back on by themselves. However, the exhaust pipe for the generator had been positioned next to the air intake for the air conditioning systems ... so as the generator was working, the people inside were being gassed with diesel exhaust.

    And during all this, some unnamed "person" instead of evacuating the building, decided to stop and log a detailed helpdesk call as what was working, what wasn't, etc..


  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    My PC's not working...

    Re-told to me by a support desk person...

    User: My PC's not working.

    Helpdesk: Are there any lights on the front?

    User: No, and nothing happens when I press the power button.

    Helpdesk: Can you check the PC is plugged into the wall and is switched on at the wall?

    User: It's hard to see round the back as it's quite dark now the lights have gone off...

    1. Naughtyhorse

      Re: theres more....

      Helpdesk: I see, do you still have the original packaging the machine came in?

      Luser: Yes...

      Helpdesk: Okay, I suggest you repack everything and take it back to the shop you bought it at.

      Luser: Will they replace it?

      Helpdesk: No. You are just too fucking stupid to own a computer.

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: My PC's not working...

      The infamous WordPerfect you're too stupid to own a computer gag. Get's 'em ever time.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: My PC's not working...

      Yeah, been there,done that.

      Middle of a power cut some bright spark wanders in and complains that she can't get the computer to work. (Sigh).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MD: My phone isn't working! I need it sorted !!!!

    Tech: Are you technically sure sir?

    MD: Yes! why????

    Tech: Cos you're on it!

    MD: oh F*** off! durrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    1. G7mzh

      I used to work in a call centre, which people would occasionally misdial.

      Me: What number did you dial?

      Caller: I don't know, I'm on my phone.

      (Why he was specific about it being his, I have no idea).

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge


    But I bet it's based on fact.


    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Dilbert

      Everything in Dilbert is true. I've actually seen it with my own eyes.

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: Dilbert

      Well I was in in a client's IT department one day when a head of management burst in.

      "I can't get on the internet", was the cry

      "Oh, they're backing it up" says I.

      And off senior manegment went happy with the answer, however the Head of IT, the only know who understood what I said, held me with a steely glare and said "Never, ever do that again"

  10. Lee D Silver badge

    Forwards me a Viagra spam:

    "Hi, Just so you know, I got this this morning"....

    Thanks. Now so did I!

  11. Jay 2

    Is it?

    User: Is server X down?

    Me: Are you asking me, or telling me?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it?


      He's asking you ...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another video

    awood, great video that. Here's another you'll enjoy, I'm sure many of us can relate to it!


    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Another video

      Been there, lived that.

      Good reminder.

  13. Elmer Phud

    Font gone wrong

    'It's not working properly, I can't read things'

    Went to look.

    Cntl+scroll -- big text.

    Then spent a while insisting it wasn't the machine doing it.

    'Oh, I might have . . . '

  14. Tony Green

    Back in the 1980s, green-screen terminals attached to our ICL mainframes had their "protected field" (ie, the parts of the screen you couldn't type anything in, such as labels) half intensity.

    Software support bloke: I don't know what's happened, but all the protected fields have disappeared from my terminal.

    Me: just to the right of the screen, you'll see a little knob marked "brightness". Can you try pushing that up?

    Bloke: ooh wow! They're back!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, despite turning that knob to full, the user didn't get any more intelligent.

  15. Gerard McGill

    User: nothing is working

    helpdesk: OK can you try a reboot first

    User: Phone goes down ..... large bang ... OK is did do that first but it didn't help.

    helpdesk: What do you think a reboot is ?

    User: I kicked it

  16. Paul 87

    Qualifying this as an IT story because it took place on a software package (hey, it's a less tenuous link than some of the articles on here!)

    Client: Ok, so we've invoiced the same shipment three times and given them to the customer

    Support: Since you've given them to the customer, they're a legal document, you'll need to issue a credit note for two of the invoices

    Client: I can't do that, only one's been paid, I can't issue a credit note if the invoices are unpaid

    Support: No, you'll be issuing the credit note's to pay off the two invoices

    Client: No, I'm telling you, I can't issue a credit note if the invoice isn't paid.

    Support: Why not?

    Client: Well every time I issue a credit note, it asks if I want to generate a refund, I can't refund him if he hasn't paid.

    Support: Sir, why don't you click no when asked if you want to refund him?

    Client: I can do that?

    Support: Yes, why do you think it asks Yes or No

    Client: oh... bye!

  17. Slap

    Me: "What was the last thing you were doing with the computer before the problem occurred?"

    User: "Nothing"

    Me: "Well, if you were doing nothing with the computer how do you know there's a problem?"

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User error

    Sometime ago while working in a junior desktop support role I was called out to see a department head (of an educational institution) who was complaining some of her emails wouldn't send.

    Upon checking it seems she was having difficulty spelling the names of the people and organisations she was emailing. I was forced to explain this to her in front of her whole department who she was having a meeting with when I visited.

  19. Tsunamijuan

    You mean I actually have to do stuff for it to work

    This actually happened yesterday....

    Phone *ring

    User: stuffs not working

    me: okay we need to be more specific than that, whats not working.

    User: well the file isn't there

    me: what file are we talking about? and what are you trying to do?

    User: well _____ no longer exists'

    me (luckily able to figure out wtf they are attempting to do that this point) - Did you run the report that generates the file?

    user - run what??? you mean I have to run it? I don't think you know what your talking about....

    me: I wish I didn't know what I was talking about!

    What can I say, they either have no faith in technology, or to much trust in it to that point that they think it all just magically happens. I am going to go put pictures of users on the moles in the wack-a-mole game now to vent some frustration...

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. keithpeter

    end user perspective: remote control

    End user here, I only use Windows when someone is paying me.

    Employer No 1: Something not working but client PC boots. Phone hell desk, give box number. One of the lads switches on the remote control thingy, orange icon appears in status bar, I click 'allow', the lad has a look, tries a few things, sorts it out. At worst a reboot.

    Employer No 2: Something not working but classroom PC boots. Log job with centre manager. Months later, just after my last class of the academic year, chap turns up, switches the computer on, scratches head, phones his HQ, scratches head, spends 25min on phone call, departs muttering. Somehow I know PC will be in same state in September. Make mental note to bring presentation on laptop and a spare VGA cable to plug into projector.

    Guess which one is direct employment and which one has been outsourced for efficiency reasons?

    Coat icon: If I can't work at employers' location, I just arrange to work from home.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    favourite keyboard

    Once replaced a keyboard for a user who had painted letters onto some keys. When I asked him what happened he mentioned that his keyboard keys were re-organised to spell" keep smiling bawjaws".(I presume they used a donor keyboard. ) over a year ago. Now missing keys he had no choice but to repaint over those keys.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: favourite keyboard

      Have you ever installed one of those keyboards with no lettering on?

      Great fun.

  23. Dreadogastus

    Users have trouble with new tech

    Heard while working in a junior college computer lab around 1998.

    I'm sorry I think I broke the cupholder on the computer.


    Yeah, the little tray that slides out.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: Users have trouble with new tech

      The first time I heard the cupholder joke, it wasn't quite a joke, it was an actual support call.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some of my anecdotes

    The year was 1996… we had two computers in the (primary) school library, both around 386 class. Both fitted with sound cards and CD-ROM drives. Both had 5¼ drives too.

    One had a tray-loading CD-ROM drive. The other took a CD-ROM in a caddy. (And yes, I still have some of those caddies, and some SCSI Plextor CD-ROM drives that take them.)

    When one student was confrunted with the caddie-loading CD-ROM machine, and a bare CD, how do you get the CD into the machine? Well, it fits in the floppy drive!


    The year was 2009. I was doing volunteer network administration for Asperger Services Australia who had appointed a new president. Supposedly from an IT firm. I was studying at uni at the time: Bachelor of IT (Software Engineering) / Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics: Telecommunications). My father was also involved with this group at a high level, he too has similar qualifications.

    We were conferring with this person, I can't recall the full context, possibly something related to 3G networking or some such, but then he dropped a clanger:

    President: I can't understand how these radio waves don't bump into eachother!

    My father and I just looked at eachother flabbergasted! If we had told this bloke the truth (i.e. they do bump into eachother), it would have blown his mind!


    I was at a radio club meeting when one of the other members wanted to show off some digital slow-scan television software on his laptop. So he gets a laptop out, plugs it into power, grabs a mouse and plugs that in, turns the machine on.

    Then wonders why his mouse isn't working. A quick look around the back, he "plugged" it into an Ethernet socket.


    At my present workplace, we were using WPA{,2}-Personal for the WIFI network. I wasn't happy about this, so I decided to duplicate the WPA{,2}-Enterprise system I use at home, but using an LDAP back-end for RADIUS.

    After a bit of tinkering, I got it working, set things up. Now we have mostly Windows 7 machines here, and Microsoft likes making connections to WPA Enterprise difficult when the RADIUS' TLS key is produced from a self-signed certificate authority. Not a problem on Linux, MacOS X, iOS or Android, but Windows has always been a pain.

    So I produced a short guide in our intranet Wiki site on how to connect one's Windows 7 laptop to the staff WIFI with the view that later, we would make our old WIFI network a guest WIFI with limited access. The link was emailed to all staff.

    Managing Director: I tried connecting to the WIFI network. It didn't work.

    Me: Did you try following the guide?

    MD: No, I deleted that email.


    Same workplace, this happened recently to one of my colleages. We support a number of SCADA systems operated by various mining companies. They all like using these RSA SecurID tokens for their VPNs. These are a time-based token with a 3-year battery life.

    Some tokens for one company's network expired. So we put a request in, and soon enough, new tokens arrived. So he tries to set up one of the tokens, then discovers he can't set the pin number.

    So whilst on the phone to their helpdesk, they ask for his computer's hostname. They wanted to remote into his machine to deploy the software needed.

    Now, I as network administrator, would love to know how they think they can, bold as brass, just stroll through our two firewalls into the machine in question when it can't connect to their network directly to install a piece of software.

    Apparently they didn't have an installer file that they could just send us. It had to be deployed via their network tool, which presumably assumes the machine is joined to their domain, not ours.

    It was pointed out that we were not employees of the mining company, the machines were not supplied by the mining company, and that we were external contractors brought on to provide technical support.

    Next, they have us a procedure which involved entering a number into the token. Great. Except there's no keypad or interface to enter anything into this token.

    I think the problem was eventually resolved.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Some of my anecdotes

      "Me: Did you try following the guide?

      MD: No, I deleted that email.

      I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard this from users.

      1. BlueGreen

        Re: Some of my anecdotes

        >> "Me: Did you try following the guide?

        >> MD: No, I deleted that email.

        > I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard this from users.

        Oh heck. The pain. I'm a dev not helpdesk but I worked with a guy who I reported to (nice guy but...):

        Send him some code

        him: "does this do x?" -or- "how do I integrate this?" -or similar

        me: "it's in the accompanying email. I gave precise instructions"

        him: I don't read your emails

        me: what? why?

        him: they're too long

        me: but... but... they give the instructions you need! I can't make them shorter, it's a complex system...

        him: just tell me

        me: just read it!

        him: No. Tell me.

        me: whatever.... (handholds him through it).

        I later find out he started deleting my mails without reading them if they were more than about 2 lines because "they're too long". So I'm wrinting (necessarily, unavoidably) detailed emails to get the (complex, sometimes intricate) job done which he bins straight away without telling me. Such a great use of my time. Glad I'm gone.

    2. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Some of my anecdotes

      "Managing Director: I tried connecting to the WIFI network. It didn't work.

      Me: Did you try following the guide?

      MD: No, I deleted that email."

      Tip of the week: make the MD feel and look competent - it will do your career a world good. If junior, being on a first name basis with the C-suite is good for frightening the shit out of other people's line managers, and if you are more senior when Mr MD moves on to be CEO at Much Nicer Place Pty Ltd, he might even take you with him.

      Many a career has been fast tracked by being the guy from IT that the CEO / MD / CFO calls when he needs help.

      "Same workplace, this happened recently to one of my colleages. We support a number of SCADA systems operated by various mining companies. They all like using these RSA SecurID tokens for their VPNs. These are a time-based token with a 3-year battery life."

      Australia? Mining industry? I'm guessing this was about four years ago. We had the same circus. From memory, we got that software you needed from the manufacturer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Some of my anecdotes

        Managing Director: I tried connecting to the WIFI network. It didn't work.

        Me: Did you try following the guide?

        MD: No, I deleted that email.

        Tip of the week: make the MD feel and look competent - it will do your career a world good. If junior, being on a first name basis with the C-suite is good for frightening the shit out of other people's line managers, and if you are more senior when Mr MD moves on to be CEO at Much Nicer Place Pty Ltd, he might even take you with him.

        Many a career has been fast tracked by being the guy from IT that the CEO / MD / CFO calls when he needs help.

        I can't recall quite how we resolved that. Either I showed him the link to the wiki or I came in and did it for him. I do not recall which.

        Same workplace, this happened recently to one of my colleages. We support a number of SCADA systems operated by various mining companies. They all like using these RSA SecurID tokens for their VPNs. These are a time-based token with a 3-year battery life.



        Mining industry?


        I'm guessing this was about four years ago. We had the same circus. From memory, we got that software you needed from the manufacturer.

        No, it happened to us last week. I believe it is resolved now, I have no idea what happened.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some of my anecdotes

      Next, they have us a procedure which involved entering a number into the token. Great. Except there's no keypad or interface to enter anything into this token.

      If those are the same SecureID tokens we use then they have ONE button. You have to hold it down for a few seconds until the service menu appears, and then navigate through the menus and enter numbers as they cycle past at about 1 per second. A right pain!

  25. The_Idiot

    True story - because I was there.

    So I'm working in IT support in a College of Technology. We have one of the earliest and best academic CAD systems in the country/ county/ town/ two mile radius (look, there's rock round her called me granfer when they was mountains. It was a while back, OK? :-) ).

    Anyway, we have these spanking new CAD stations. AutoCad v(something really early). Heck, they had _10_MB_Hard_Disks_! They was, like, tops! (Yes - that's MB, _not_ GB).

    So anyway. We were running some early demo classes for the Department Heads. One of the Department heads decides he didn't want anyone to see the files he'd been making. I don't know if he was designing a Leaning Tower of Pizza, or just picky. He was Head of the Legal Studies Department, so who knows.

    So. Like I said. He deletes his files. He's a pretty savvy user. The main college systems used CPM, so he knew about partitions. He had his own naming convention too, one he used at home with his WordStar word processor. I know this, because after he did what he did, his excuse was 'well, it works in WordStar!'.

    1: The CAD systems were DOS not CPM.

    2: There was no directory structure yet.

    3: He deleted his files with an OS layer command.

    4: WordStar let you use all available characters for your file names. Like, for instance, '*' (yes, it truly did).

    So he typically called his files 1.*, 2.*, 3.* - and so on. And he deleted them with?

    Yup. You got it. 'del *.*'.

    I can;t blame him entirely. Part of the class housekeeping notes they'd been given told them that * could be used as a wildcard front and back of the filename - and he never made the connection.

    I had a long night rebuilding the machine.

    True story. I was that soldier. Just like I was the time the Head of Science cleaned his floppy disk, but had a brain freeze when he was typing the letter for the format command. On one of those 10 MB CAD stations...

    1. lpcollier

      Re: True story - because I was there.

      Similar story, I was a year 9 student (so age about 14) and our school's design & technology department got their first AutoCAD machines - 386-class, 4MB memory, 20-40MB hard drives, running DOS 3.x or maybe 4.x. After they'd been in use for a few months I was asked by a teacher to take a look at one of the machines that had 'stopped working'. After playing around for 5 minutes and booting from a floppy I realised that COMMAND.COM was missing. I used the SYS command to restore the OS onto the hard drive. It turned out that a 'technology' teacher had decided to delete files that he didn't use from the hard drive, and since he didn't know what COMMAND.COM was for, decided to get rid of it.

  26. Shady

    My bwuvver, copying some porn to, ahem, a floppy disk

    Bro: My file won't fit on the disk.

    Me: How big is the file?

    Bro: (holding up thumb and forefinger about an inch apart) about this big

  27. JustWondering

    Not much hope

    As long as the first thing I have to do with someone else's malfunctioning hardware is make sure it is plugged into a live socket, I won't be much surprised by what they say.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Luser ::Computer broke

    Me :: Broke how? What's up with it?

    Luser :: It broke. It _was_ working, but it broke,

    Me :: Yeah, I get that. How is it broken though?

    Luser :: Dunno, it's broke.

    Me :; Broken Like errors on screen, or broken like a stuck record?

    Luser :: Don't get smart with me, I'm smarter than you, I have a BA IN ART HISTORY!

    Me :: Cool, I've a BSc in Computing. Now how broken is the computer? Is it smashed, making noises, or just non-responsive?

    Luser :: You're lying, you don't have a degree. You're just a helpdesk scummer, you're too stupid to have a degree.

    Me :: I'm not here to argue, how can we help with the computer? (Breathing slowly).

    Luser :: Its a laptop, I'm working from home, it's smashed. Get me a new one.

    Me :: OK no problems..

    Luser Interrupts :: Also I'm reporting you to your manager for lying to me about you having a degree. You can't sit there and LIE to try and feel equal to people.

    Me :: OK, Had enough. I'm here to fix your computer, I'm not here to take abuse. I see from your info you live in ****Location MILES from the office****, you'll have to go in to work, and I'll put a laptop on order for you. It'll take 28 days in line with SLA (and I'd already decided it WOULD be 28 days at this point), until then you will have to come to the office.

    Luser :: This is unacceptable! I DEMAND TO TALK TO YOUR MANAGER.

    Me :: Just a sec ***Talk to manager myself*** Hi, yeah, just spoken to him. He advises from his record you shouldn't have a laptop at all as you're only a junior manager. As such please bring it in to the office by the end of the working day. If it's damaged we'll raise that with your line manager to work out the circumstances of the damage. If we decide it was malicious damage you will be responsible for replacing the machine.

    Luser :: C**T! *slams phone down*

    I'd have overlooked the fact he shouldn't have had the lappy if he hadn't been a gimp. Also he had to pay as the screen had a blatant punch print on it. We also upset him by making him aware ALL of the helpdesk staff, including the non-degree holders earned more than him.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      To misquote Samsung: "I have a degree in art history!"

      "Dude, you're barrista."

  29. OzBob

    Had a run of really thick operators at my old job

    M rings me up at midnight saying "Bob Bob Bob there's a problem with your script". I ask "what is the problem", he says "its stopped", I ask "what is on the screen", he says "Press return to continue".

  30. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Boot, other foot

    A good chum of mine was doing the Techie stuff for an outfit in Midle England, but this happened to him at home. With a rueful smile , he related something to me in on of our quiet moments, an event which just serves as a reminder it can happen to the best of us.

    So he's there in his kitchen doing something foody in the wee small hours when the power goes off; the whole shooting match - lights, microwave, streetlights.

    "Oh damn" he thinks. "Everything is off. All I need is a bit of light and I can find the torch. I lknow - Ill open the fridge and that'll just give me enough light."

    Reaches for fridge door.

    "On, no, wait a minute........"

    Frustrating when there's no-one round to blame.

    1. Guus Leeuw

      Re: Boot, other foot

      But this is true!

      My uncle, a certified electrician, taught me this when I was a kid:

      He: Where does the light go when you switch it off?

      I: I don't know...

      He: Check the fridge!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Boot, other foot

      I was doing a quick DIY job the other day. I needed a torch for about 5 seconds, so went to my tool bag to get one. Couldn't see it. So reached into my pocket for my mobile, turned on the torch app, to look for a torch...


      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems simple enough

    This happened many years ago but I still enjoy the memory of the incident.

    Client: We bought some new computers and added them the network ouselves in order to save money.

    Me: So why did you call me today?

    Client: Our entire network has stopped working.

    Me: OK, I'll get started on it.

    Client: We can't imagine what went wrong. The settings seem simple enough. By the way, 3COM means the same thing as COM3, right?

  32. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Cute people work for tech support too

    > Hi, my router arrived crushed and it was thrown to my door from the street.

    < Are the lights on?

    > It sounds like a box of marbles so I didn't try.

    < Lets plug it in and go from there.

    > Are you kidding?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cute people work for tech support too

      > Hi, my router arrived crushed and it was thrown to my door from the street.

      That might have been me. Way back we had a Cisco 2500 returned by courier, who dropped it, possibly ran over it and our front desk signed for it. 1U box with a distinct curve in it and a tire-shaped dent. Being a slow day, we figured we'd see if it still worked. And it worked fine, and after knocking up some rackmount lugs it occupied a 2U slot of honor in our test lab for a couple of years. They don't make them like they used to.

      We also used to rack kit and ship it as assembled to new sites. To help it survive on it's travels, we got expanding foam. So we shipped a rack and got a call saying there was a problem. The rack had been boxed, the box strapped'n'wrapped on its palette and the foam injected. Guess what they'd forgotten?

      Also if helpdesk folks think they have it bad, spare a thought for field engineers. I've handled customers and escalations demanding faults get fixed when the RFOs have ranged from simple thefts to cuts caused by fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Even after pointing them at news sites about 'Disaster in xxxx', they still complain and demand service NOW! Declare a major outage and MBORC, walk customer through how cables run along the side of the road, send them pic from the field guys showing the road's gone. "But we have a 4hr MTTR.."

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Cute people work for tech support too

        Field Engineers.

        I was one once because my boss decided that he didn't like me and so whilst I worked for him I'd never write a line of code again and instead I was made a Field Engineer. And one day in the 80s I was dispatched to the far side of the country to get up an running a new digital telephone exchange that would be plumbed in and waiting for me.

        To do that I'd need a computer. And since my boss was more important than me he had the laptop so that he do all important management things and I, the one who needed something light, was given a wooden crate containing an IBM PC-XT (yes it was that old).

        I took the train across country taking this crate with me and got a taxi to take me to a spot on a dual carriagway where the exchange was. We finally got the crate into the back of the taxi after much struggling and I was dropped off in the lay-by next to where the exchange lay.

        This was before the days of mobile phones and besides being a Field Engineer for bloody Alcatel meant that I wouldn't have merited one because I was too low in the food chain and, like laptops, they were for the gorrmless suits.

        So I got a card from the taxi and told him that I would call him from the exchange when I was done because, after all, exchanges have telephones, right?

        I dragged the crate off the main road and up the muddy bank next to the exchange and left it behind some bushes. I walked over the the exchange door, opened it, looked inside and it was bright, very bright.

        The reason why it was bright was that there was no roof. In fact there was nothing but a concrete floor with no exchange racks and just a massive loom of wires coming out of the ground.

        I looked around and thought to myself "How the hell do I get out of this one?"

        I think the PC is still there many decades after I left that company.

      2. Nigel 11

        Re: Cute people work for tech support too


        Back in the old days when a disk drive was the size of a washing machine and required an engineer from the computer company to install one ...

        He turned up, un-crated it, and asked to borrow a phone. "Not working?" "No, and it won't. I need to call the shipping company and our loss adjusters ... go and take a look at it ..."

        I did. There was a neat rectangular hole in the side. The exact size of a fork-lift-truck's prong ... right through the controller (about ten foot-square circuit boards).

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Cute people work for tech support too

          Some years ago, the company I was working for took delivery of an IBM 3575 tape library. It was a difficult delivery, because the site was on a hill, and there was no direct delivery bay (it was a site of convenience used because the company split in two, and this was the only remotely suitable building that the company owned to relocate one half to). All the kit was craned onto a flat roof next to the machine room, and in through a door in the side of the machine room. This was worked out the hard way after the previous delivery of this same order was rejected as the tilt indicators were triggered as it came in up the stairs on a powered stair-lifter.

          As the pallet was carefully lifted and swung onto the roof, I saw that the packaging was damaged, so raced to grab my digital camera from my bag.

          I recorded the state of the packaging, and then the unpacking process being done by a very unhappy IBM engineer. As the exterior cardboard box came off, we could see that the interior top packaging was dented, and that the top of the library (a 1.7 metre tall octagonal shaped prism) was pushed down in a 'V' shape, with the heavy gauge steel bent by several centimetres. The supposedly parallel rails that the tape gripper moved up and down on were bent a bit like (), with the middle being visibly wider than the ends.

          Quite what had happened we never found out. My guess is that it was on a fork-lift that was raised too high so that it hit the top of a door or a ceiling beam during the unloading from the plane. It hadn't been tipped or fallen, because despite the damage, the tilt indicators had not been triggered. IBM asked for a copy of the pictures to use as evidence for a claim against the shipping company.

          I still have those pictures somewhere, although I've never posted them anywhere.

    2. ScottK

      Re: Cute people work for tech support too

      About 10ish years ogo My girlfriend had an AOL account at her house (she got it before I met her). When she switched from dial up to a broadband conenction they sent through a CD with the software for the router. On installation it just reached an OS check then hung forever. I had a look on the CD and found an XML file with OS checks. The PC had Windows 2000 with SP4 installed. The XML file had checks for Windows 2000 gold, SP1, 2 & 3 but nothing for 4. I had a bash at modifying the XML file but couldn't get it to work so took a deep breath and called their support.

      I tried to explain the issue but the support rep insisted on running through their standard support script. After wasting 30 minutes plus on this I tried to explain that all I needed was for them to send me an updated install CD that supported SP4. She went quiet then put me on hold while she went to discuss this with someone else.

      After another eternity spent on hold, she eventually came back and said "don't worry, our software doesn't need service pack 4". At this point I gave up in despair and hung up. My solution (apart from telling the gf to change to another ISP as soon as possible) was to flatten the PC and install Windows again. I installed the AOL software then re-applied sp4. I figured this would be quicker than attempting to resolve it through their tech support.

  33. MatsSvensson


    "Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me!"

    That's how most of these "stories" read.

  34. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Your website's down

    text from friend: Your website's down (I have some tech info up there)

    me: works fine from here, email me a screenshot?

    friend [via text]: can't, email's not working, something to do with the wifi (by which I know he means router, I'm good like that).

    me: check google.com

    him: that's down too!

    I stopped replying

  35. heyrick Silver badge

    Technical support from the other angle

    To set the scene: Livebox hit by lightning (via phone line).

    > Hello, how may I help you?

    < Hi, I need a replacement Livebox, this one has been struck by lightning.

    > Okay sir, can you please tell me... What lights are showing on your box?

    < None.

    > Could you please check that it is plugged in.

    < It is not plugged in.

    > That may be the problem sir. Can you please plug in your Livebox, then we can go from there.

    < You are working through a support script aren't you?

    > ...

    < Can I suggest a small alteration? If hit by lighting, go to oh-crap?

    > Please plug in the Livebox, sir. I cannot assist you otherwise.

    < For your information, the power pack is bulging and smells of smoke. Are you happy to accept liability for any damage caused by me plugging this in?

    > Smells of smoke?

    < Yes, the Livebox was hit by lighting.

    > You said that sir, but how do you know?

    < Because it is black all around the phone port, the ADSL filter is in pieces all over the room, and when I shake the Livebox, all sorts of stuff - burnt, I should add, rattles around inside. {shakes box}

    > Right, sir, I think I understand. I can arrange for a technician to come and look at your phone line tomorrow.

    < {nnnnnngh!} I don't need a technician, thank you. I just need a replacement Livebox.

    > Your phone line may be damaged.

    < Possible, but unlikely.

    > How can you be certain sir?

    < Check your caller ID, notice where I am phoning you from. It is on the screen in front of you, right?

    > ...

    < This is really simple. Livebox dead, customer needs replacement. If you need to specify a reason for return, just write "customer did not go to church enough, God was annoyed".

    > ...

    > ...

    > ... [thinking he'd hung up on me]

    > ...

    > ...

    > Right, sir. We can arrange for a replacement unit to be shipped out to you. Where would you like to collect it? Your nearest Orange shops are {blah} and {meh}.

    The story didn't end there. The unit sent was a recon with a wifi card that flaked out as soon as it got warm. I managed to keep it limping along by pointing a big fan at the box, but made my thoughts known on the support forums. Luckily, thankfully, a tech there picked up the thread and arranged for a proper replacement to be sent out so I didn't have to call support again. Funny in hindsight, but at the time... Grrrr!

    1. BizDev

      Lost Files

      A few years ago we had a user who's job largely revolved around two Word documents. From time to time she'd ring to tell us that they'd been "lost".

      Her problem was that she "stored" them on the list of the last 4 files opened on the File menu in Word.... So from time to time she'd open enough email attachments from clients to "lose" her files from the list.

      One of us would then pop round to her desk and open the files to put them back in the list... We never did succeed in explaining the intricacies of the file system to her...

      1. regadpellagru

        Re: Lost Files

        Another one quite similar:

        This sales admin young woman was only using a single tool, salesadm, and for convenience, there was a shortcut for it on the desktop. Every month, she accidentally removed the short cut, and called that "salesadm has disappeared". Each time the support lad would recreate the shortcut.

        I don't think she ever realised one could launch programs via the start menu ...

      2. Mark #255

        Re: Lost Files

        Oh $DEITY.

        In Word 2010 you can 'pin' files to the recent files list.

        I don't know whether it's awesome or awful that the developers have used Tales of the Lusers to widen their use-cases (luse-cases?)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lost Files

        As a grad-student I ran the back-ups for Win3.1x computers of the academic research lab. One day a computational chemist came to me because he had lost all his digital teaching documents/lecture notes. They were not on his computer and they were not on any of his backups.

        I felt bad for him so I expanded the search and I found his files in the backup of almost all other lab computers. What happened? Turns out he had saved the files to a networked folder located on our print-server. The folder contained the master copy of WoW -- we'd copy that game to other computers for the occasional late-night networked gaming session. With time we got lazy and wouldn't delete the local copies, so every lab computer had the lecture notes -- except for the computer of our poor computational chemist.

        He was more of an Amiga person.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lost Files

          For the first time, I heard that gaming actually saved somebody's work.

          The worst one I heard was that a server was spurting out errors related to a corrupted DLL. Every week, on Monday, the DLL came back corrupted (to life). Turns out that 2 PFYs would install Quake on it, play through Saturday and Sunday, and then remove it before Monday. The Quake installer replaced the good DLL with the corrupted version (instead of versioning it, as it bloody should, but back then...). These two got terminated, really quickly.

  36. Rufus McDufus


    Here's a couple.

    First - the mail server is running out of disk space. We decide to implement the obvious policy of emptying everyone's trash, removing emails more than a month old. I immediately get calls from at least 5 users saying 'where have all my old emails gone?'. 'What do you mean' I say, 'you got the warnings that we're emptying the trash with emails older than a month?'. Every one of them then tells me that the trash folder is where they store _all_ their emails. The reasoning is that it's quicker to hit 'delete' than put them in a folder. They've got a point I suppose ...

    Second - my first job at a top science and engineering university in the early 90s. Female professor of computing comes in one morning with a sorry-looking Sun 3/60 keyboard. 'It's not working', she says. I took a look at this rather greasy keyboard. After asking how it got this way, she told me... She'd puked on the keyboard. Thinking the acid in puke probably wasn't very good for it she decided to wash the keyboard. Not in water though as most people would do (and probably wreck the keyboard too but that's not important right now). No, she decided cooking oil would be a suitable cleaning solvent so she drenched the keyboard in it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Barf

      I'm impressed that someone actually thought to use a non-ionic solvent to try to clean a keyboard.

      In fact DI water with a small quantity of detergent is a pretty good cleaner for things like keyboards, so long as you take the bottom off first and don't have any power connected, and dry thoroughly. For small objects and circuit boards, vodka with a drop of Ecover per 100ml does the trick if followed by a DI rinse. Vodka is much cheaper than the expensive propanol they sell in little bottles.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Barf

        Out of interest, why vodka and not denatured ethanol?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Barf

          Out of interest, why vodka and not denatured ethanol?

          Because the original poster would rather drink vodka than denatured ethanol while waiting for a keyboard to dry?

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: Chris Wareham

            Fair point. Not being a vodka drinker the point flew right over my head...

      2. Mayhem

        Re: Barf

        Easiest way to clean a keyboard is to put it in a mesh bag and put it in the dishwasher (ideally without all the dirty plates)

        The mesh bag is just to collect any keys that fall off in the process, to save hunting around to see where they went.

        Put it in a hot water cupboard for a day or three to dry properly, good as new.

  37. riparian zone

    he wanted his blue E back...

    many moons ago when I was tech support for an ISP, starting yet another 12 hour shift on a sunny Saturday..punter calls:"I've lost my blue E on the desktop" Me: "Sorry, sir, you mean Internet explorer?"

    "Yeah.want the blue E back"

    "Sorry, but that is not what I can help with, your machine dials up (yes, a while ago) to the internet?"

    "Yeah, but I give you good money, blah moan BLAH"

    Hearing this general complaint in the offing, I forge ahead..."Ok, I will try to help, follow my instructions"

    We start a search for iexplore. He manages that.

    "Do you have a list of files? We are looking for iexplore.exe", I say.

    "Yeah. But there's not iexplore.exe, there's an iexplore.cnt...what's a cnt?"

    "I can only think of one thing, sir"

    We didn't find the big blue E either, and I got a warning later...worth it.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Insert optional title

    I once asked for a copy of a customer's file in so I could check it. The customer photocopied the floppy containing the file and faxed it to me.

    I asked a user to double-click an icon with her mouse. She asked "with the left button or the right?" to which I replied "the left button". She responded with "Your left or mine" (she thought I was looking at her through her screen).

    A standard web signup procedure was too complicated for many users so it was replaced with one that has a single box that says "Enter your email address" and then either prompts for the password, offers to reset or creates the account if not found. We still got frequent calls asking what to do on the first panel.

    A user was given an updated executable to replace in an install directory to fix a bug. After reporting a "dll not found" error I explained that she was running it from the wrong folder. She repeatedly insisted everything was correct so I had to visit. As expected she was running a copy on her desktop not from the program folder as she normally does. She blamed my instructions.

    "Your configuration instructions don't work, I have followed them exactly!". I remote on and follow the same instructions. It works.

    Not mine but witnessed. "You know how you explained how to print 12 copies of a document in Word last week, can you explain it again?"

    Same user as the last one claimed that moving her hand over the number pad to her mouse and back to her keyboard was giving her RSI. We had to buy her a keyboard without a number pad.

    "I can't connect to the service!", "(sigh) For the third time. First you must register the service and then you can connect to it, not the other way around!"

    Twice recently I have been dealing with third party IT folk that have replied "how do I do that" when asked to open a command prompt. Another said the same when asked to map a network drive. They probably make twice my salary.

    "I'm getting an 'access denied' error. What do I do?" or "What does 'RPC server unavailable' mean?" reported by third party IT.

    "Can you check if this download link works?" I would like to say that is a one-off but I get it frequently.

    "Can you check if this CD has anything on it?" As above.

    "Do I need internet access to download this?" And again.

    "Will on-line activation work if I don't have internet access?" I'm really not kidding.

    "It tells me that this file was created in a newer version of the software, what do I do?"

    Not mine but witnessed. CFO: "This error is a Windows error and I need you to fix it.", IT: "That is not a Windows error and you need to call the vendor.", CFO: "I have been working with [software name] for years so I think I know more about it than you do!" The error was "Login failed" and had the software name at the top of the error box.

    It isn't always the users. A fellow technician once sent an engineer out to a remote site (at a fairly steep call-out charge) to deal with a non-booting server after troubleshooting with one of the on-site users. The engineer ejected a disk from the floppy drive and it booted fine.

    Anon as I still work with some of these idiots.

  39. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

    Yes it happens, when the BOFH is not on the payroll

    Accounting dept: We need more storage space for our end of year reports

    IT Dept: of course, we'll get right on it. clickety click...

    Okay, you can start using this new drive share as of tomorrow morning.

    Next day:

    Accounting dept: We are still out of space.

    Support Bod (me) dispatched to scene. I look at the complaining user's windows box and see the dreaded out of space bubble both for local and network drives.

    Analysis reveals the accounts droid was cutting and pasting the department's extensive video collection (he was office video librarian and had more selections than Netflix, really) back and forth across the company network share and onto his colleagues C: drives for local viewing, pretty much whenever a hot new film was released.

    Although traffic filtering rules prevented streaming video, they could not prevent resourceful users from home downloading, followed by an update of the office film repository with Hollywood's latest. Space quotas had long ago been vetoed by upper management.

    Boy, did I enjoy explaining that one to the CFO.

  40. walkindude

    Wireless power

    Called to a client office to install a new printer they had sourced. They showed me where they wanted it, over in a corner where there's no power.... When I point this out to them i get confronted with 'we know that, that's why we bought a wireless printer....'

  41. Hopalong

    Floppy Care Information

    Many, many moons ago in a place far far away (well 3000 miles give or take)....

    When PC's where new and had 5 1/2 floppy diskette drives, a company I worked for was holding programming classes for the local hires, each one was given a 1.2MB floppy disk to store their programmes etc.

    Now the admin girl who had ordered the boxes of floppies (they came in boxes of 10), noticed that there was some useful 'how to care for your floppy diskette information' printed on the back of the box, so, she thought it would be a good idea to ensure that each student had a copy of this useful infromation. So she photocopied the back of the box and to ensure that every student had a copy, she then proceeded to staple a copy of the care instructions to the floppy diskettes!

  42. englishr

    Me calling Gateway 2000 technical support after taking delivery of a ludicrously expensive 17" Trinitron monitor (mid 90s): I just plugged in the new monitor, it made a loud pop and some smoke came out the back.

    Gateway support: Uhhh - I don't know much about monitors. I'm going to transfer you to my manager.

    Me: Hello - I just plugged in this new monitor, it made a loud pop and some smoke came out the back.

    Manager: I don't know why you're talking to me! I'll ship a new one out today, and you should have it tomorrow.

  43. DF118

    "Hello, $corpname service desk, how can I help?"

    "Hi, I'm just wondering: is there a way to add two numbers in Excel without using a calculator?"

    "Um. I think so, let me just check"

    *stabs mute button*


    *falls off chair*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "add two numbers in Excel"

      In the mid-1980s I went to work for a company which had invested in Dec Rainbow computers, which ran Lotus Symphony. For capital projects, there was a spreadsheet to fill in.

      So I took the template I was supplied with, which was in fact a filled in sheet, and put in all the numbers. None of the totals changed.

      There was not a single calculation on the sheet. It was all pasted values. This included things like the internal rate of return.

      It turned out that the designer of the sheet was filling in all the boxes using an HP financial calculator. One justification for the Rainbows was that they would remove the need for expensive financial calculators in future.

      But better. As each project was sert up and printed, the file was saved to a backup floppy disk which was archived. The same file name each time. On the same disk.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      " is there a way to add two numbers in Excel without using a calculator?"

      At least he asked. So there's the chance he may progress.

      The scary ones are the ones who don't even consider that there may be something better they could do with the several hundred quid worth of kit.

    3. plrndl

      I once had a boss who spent hours creating spreadsheets of prices, discounts etc.

      He did all the calculations on a calculator.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Customer called declaring that our reporting tools weren't working.

    On preparing their report through our web portal, they had the option to export to Excel or PDF, as indicated by the sodding huge Excel and Acrobat icons on the page.

    Initial thoughts were simply that he was trying to Print To PDF using the browser File>Print and getting the report compiler page.

    But no, further questioning revealed that he was in fact going File>Save As, which was rendering him an "I E file" (html file which, on his corporate box defaulted to showing an IE6 logo, poor sod).

    We also have one staff member who regularly reports from across the office that "the system's down", "the website's down" or "oops, it's broken".

    What? Your computer, the network, internet connectivity? Do you actually mean broken or running slowly?

    He's the sort of person who won't be told no about the variety of Google and Yahoo! bars he installs in his browsers. Every modern browser has a search bar as part of the browser, and the rest? Just insists "he needs them" *sigh*

    1. Stefan 2

      User ignorance is sometimes scary and baffling, but the logical and ultimate extension of the "I saved it in Excel" mentality is that Microsoft's next filesystem will be the unfilesystem, where you will literally find everything is "just in Excel/Word/PowerPoint" with all sign of underlying data storage system being entirely abstracted away from the user.

      Excel 2013, for instance, now requires three separate and informed mouse clicks to bring up a 'File Open' dialog.

      1. lpcollier

        Agreed. I liked the abstraction in the original Archimedes RISCOS where the application would give you a little window with an icon representing the file, which you then had to drag to your chosen place in the file manager window (or whatever it was called). The whole idea of an OS having multiple ways to browse the file system ought to disappear really.

  45. Viper1j

    Access Denied

    This guy calls in to complain that he gets an "Access Denied" message every time he logs in. It turned out he was typing his user name and password in capital letters.

    Tech Support: OK, let's try once more, but use lower case letters.

    Customer "Uh, I only have capital letters on my keyboard,"

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2014 - SIM cards still jammed, forcibly into slot on a laptop, upside down. For some reason mobile data services didn't connect.

  49. TommyBoy

    Evry Monday Morning

    Scene: Monday 8:10 AM, Help Desk at a Community College

    [Helpdesk Phone rings]

    Tommy the Tech (Me): [Checks number] @#$%! [picks up phone] IT Helpdesk

    IT Director (Barbara) [panicked voice] : Is this Tommy? (I'm the only tech who's there before 9 AM, and have been for the last 2 years)

    Tommy: Yeah (Thinking in the back of my head: NO IT"S FRIGGIN BATMAN!!!)

    IT Director [panicked voice]: Alice (Dean of English) says Carol (Professor) called and six computers in room 123 aren't working!!!

    Tommy: Okay, I'll go look.

    IT Director [panicked voice] : The students have to do a lab and is this a problem and... quack... quack... quack...

    Tommy [interrupting]: ...I understand. Ill go look.

    Tommy walks, literally, ACROSS THE HALL. (The tech office is in room 124, same building.)


    Ignoring this Tommy pushes the power button on the monitors of the six 'non-working' computers.

    Through Arcane Technological Magic they are now working.

    Carol: LOL. Oh, I guess I should have checked that

    Tommy: Yeah, I'm right across the hall in 124. Just knock. You don't need to call Alice or Barbara.

    Carol: Ok, Thanks.

    [Enter Alice and Barbara]

    A&B [In Stereo]: OMG is everything OK? What's wrong with the computers? Do we need to move the students to another room? Quack... quack... quack...

    Carol: The monitors weren't working but Tommy fixed them.

    A, B & C: Discuss some Faculty BS for the next 30 minutes or so while the students warm their thumbs rather than working on the OH SO IMPORTANT online labs.

    Tommy exits the scene and goes out to the parking lot to smoke at least 2 cigarettes.


    Scene: Next Monday 8:10 AM, Help Desk at a Community College

    [Helpdesk Phone rings]

    Tommy the Tech : [Checks number] @#$%! [picks up phone] IT Helpdesk

    IT Director (Barbara) [panicked voice] : Is this Tommy?....



    Tommy no longer works in IT. He got a job as a Union Electrician for more money and less BS

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too much memory...

    Many years ago I was involved in a project where we were doing some on-site development of an early MS Windows, Client/Server system which involved a pilot installation of the system for some users on the site. It was the first time many of the users had ever seen Windows (3.1), or even a PC (let alone a mouse etc). The idea was that users would field test the software and we would get issue reports directly and be able to fix them as quickly as possible, by being on-site.

    A few days in to the pilot, we came into the project office one morning to see a stack of error reports that were very confusing. It appeared that the system had come to a grinding halt, and everything the users tried to do was resulting in the system complaining that there was "too much memory".

    A quick visit to the user workstation revealed that the problem was not "too much memory" but that some of the users had discovered the wonders of MS Paint, and proceeded to completely fill up the hard-drive (admittedly not very capacious back in those days) with .BMP doodles that a 4 year old would have been embarrassed by!

  51. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)

    A bit of both...

    First the users...

    Back in the early 1990s, I was a break/fix techie covering a large number of small sites. There was a very tightly defined SLA that meant that we had to fix everything first time even if it involved getting the soldering iron out for component repair on monitors, PCs and so on. Everything that was not on the service schedule or was user error was chargeable.

    One such site had had warnings from senior manglement that they were generating too many chargeable calls because of their really basic errors. I was called out because one of the green-screen terminals was dead, refused to boot. I decided to be civil and call in advance because the most common fault was them being pulled forward and removing the power cable from the over-tight cable management. User "I'm not stupid you know, I know you don't pull them forward". I turn up at site, before I touch anything, I point the user to the dust trail at the back of the terminal that had been disturbed and the power cable was out. She said "you must have just done that!" By magic as I'd been standing with her at the time? Plug in, chargeable job as it fires up immediately.

    Another site had a user complain that she couldn't access the terminal service. Sounded legit, light on unit's power switch, nothing on the screen and the brightness/contrast dials did nothing. On site, I saw it was a standard PC monitor. The manager of the unit had bough a few to "make the terminal service faster". Most users had never seen a PC before and all they knew were the green-screen things. Manager got all ranty at me telling me to "just make it work, it's a computer, make it work!" Once I explained it was an unsupported device, he (the manager) agreed to it being chargeable for me to install the terminal access software on the PCs he'd bought and he'd arrange training for his staff on how to work PCs. Then after I plugged in the first one, it had no OS on it, had no OS disks and the manager said "why would I need to buy software when we don't have any on the older machines". A complaint was registered against me because I was too incompetent to resolve a simple issue. My manager replied with an invoice for chargeable callout plus 2 hours, no other comment. Two weeks later after another guy had done the install work, for a fee, I was called out again with the call details being "New, faster PCs have not made terminal service any faster"...

    A good friend of mine showed me a keyboard he replaced on NHS site. User reported that some of the numbers on the keypad were wrong when displayed on the screen, he pressed 1 displayed 7, 2 displayed 8 and 3 displayed 9 and vice versa. When questioned, he said he preferred the way numbers were on his phone's keypad so wedged out the keys thinking that that would do the job as, after all, computers should be smart enough to know that he was pressing 7 to get 7. The keys wouldn't go back in as he'd snapped a few retainers so superglued them in.

    I could spend many hours typing anecdotes about that time of my life but it's only really fair to let some of the techie people have fingers pointed a them as well:

    One very highly paid (for the time in 1999) Oracle DBA working on site called me at 4:55 saying he was going home and hadn't achieved anything that day because he hadn't been able to get a script doing what he wanted. He hadn't bothered saying anything when he turned up in the morning because he tried once and thought someone else would fix it when they noticed it wasn't working themselves. The idiot had logged onto the wrong server and had run a completely different named script that was a simple maintenance script that had no output. Apparently it was our fault for not being there to supervise him. A few weeks later he complained to my manager that I was micromanaging him.

    Another place had two senior Exchange techies, there was a third who left and wasn't replaced. He told the other two before he left that someone had to redo the backup solution as it was currently a bodge job using his admin account for permissions (yes, really...). The two that were left thought the other one would do it. 8 months later a very senior manager asked for a restore of a mailbox that they believed a user had deleted to help hide criminal insider trading activity, this mailbox was to be handed over in an as-is format to the relevant authorities for review. Two techies look at each other with increasing horror realising that there were NO backups of any mailboxes since the leaving techie's admin account was disabled. Oh the fun that the company had explaining that one. I was on the project team that had to be constituted to try to "do something"

  52. Mephistro Silver badge

    Circa 1988, in my first paid job in IT, a manager in one of our customers called to get help with a program that was misbehaving in his -if I recall correctly- IBM AT. After some questions, it was clear that the program itself was damaged, so I started the process re-installing it.

    Me: Sir, are you in the main program's menu?

    User: Yes

    Me: Well, take the 'xxxinstall' disk and put into the drive.

    User: Done

    Me: Now exit, close the door and resta... (sounds of footsteps going away in the distance and a door closing) Sir? SIR???

    And a dozen or so of incidents with users stapling notes to floppy sleeves, people writing in floppy sleeves with ballpoint pens and people sticking post-it notes with the adhesive band in direct contact with the floppy's magnetic surface.

    And this is a good one:

    User: I purchased a box of floppies from your shop yesterday, but they're all defective, none of them works.

    Me: Please bring back the box and the floppies and we'll give you a new one.

    When the customer came, it was clear that he had removed the protective sleeve from all the floppies in the box. Sigh...

  53. Neoc

    Because sometimes their brains go into Neutral.

    Let's dig one out from the 90's - my first job was with the department of education. They were using a rather well written (for the time) database system to help schools keep track of students, classes, scores, etc. The software ran on a *nix variant and came in two flavours: High-school and primary. The High-school version produced backups that were large enough to warrant 1/4" tapes, while primary schools' backups would fit on one or more floppies. All schools were carefully instructed on the values of backups.

    Being lowest in rank, I spent my first few years as the guy being sent out to deal with problems at the local schools (we had regional people for the others). Every so often, the system would be so badly borked the only thing to do was wipe the drive, re-install the OS and the software and break out the backups. And of course, most of them hadn't followed the simple backup procedure we'd installed (5 weekly backups, one a day, reuse last week's media). So when I got called to XXXX Primary School and found out their system required a rebuild, I requested their backups fully expecting to be met with blank stares. But the Admin staff smiles at me and asks which day's backup I want. "You mean you keep a full set of backups?" "Oh yes, religiously," she replies, pointing to the whiteboard across the room where the backup disks are being held aloft by large magnets, under great big MON/TUE/WED/etc... headers.

    Had a fun time trying to explain why I couldn't get any data out of any of the backup disks.


    Second one comes from the early 00's. The system was originally written before GUI and the screens were basically 24x80 text-based forms. Not a problem, it was early days for GUI so seeing an old green-terminal set of screens being re-created on a Mac or Windows machine wasn't that odd. What was odd was a set of requirements I got from a fairly high-end user. I paraphrase:

    "We want three screens: a Query screen, a List screen and a Maintenance screen. If the user enters a query which returns more than one item, the system should display them in the List screen so that the user can pick the right one and update it. If the system returns only one item and it's the right one it should jump directly to the maintenance screen. If there is only one item but it's the wrong one, the system should display it in the List screen so the user doesn't accidentally update it."

    It took me 30 minutes to finally get through to him that the system could not automagically tell if the record was the "right" one or not if it matched all the query parameters.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User: my share drives haven't finished loading

    Me: *remotely shared screen* I can see the shared drives, won't they open?

    User: look under the drives, the load bar hasn't completed

    Me: thats the space indicator.

  55. Jimboom

    When supporting a school many years ago

    The scene is that at the time I was talking with a primary school teacher who said the particular educational software I supported was not working.

    Me: Ok, we need to go check the internet proxy settings to make sure that nothing has changed.

    Teacher: Uhh, ok,.

    Me: Can you right click the mouse on Internet Explorer


    Me: Thats the big blue icon

    Teacher: Umm... sorry, I don't know what you mean. I don't have a mouse

    Me: Oookkaaayyy.... Can you look at the back of the computer, look for the purple and green connectors, is there something plugged in there?

    Teacher: *sounds of scrambling under desk*... oh yes... there is something plugged into that

    Me: Ok, follow that cable, it should go to your mouse

    Teacher: Oh that... no, we have a ladybug, not this mouse thingy you are talking about

    Me: Right.. so you have a mouse in the shape of a ladybug.

    Teacher: If you say so.

    Me: Ok, can you right click the mouse on the big blue icon

    Teacher: You mean the ladybug?

    Me: Hnnnnnngggghhhhhhhh

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Working for a UK airline back in the 90s speaking to a airline crew room at East Midlands Airport....

    Me: Looks like we are going to have to reboot your PC

    User: OK, how do I do that?

    Me: Can you see the Ctrl, Alt and Del keys on the keyboard?

    User: Yes

    Me: OK you need to ctrl-alt-del together

    (I can here muttering and noises at the other end of the phone)

    User: OK we're ready...after 3... 1 2 3...go

    Me: Did that work?

    User: not sure - Susie wasn't ready.

    Me: Sorry?

    User: We need to try again when we are all ready...

    Turns out she and two of her colleagues had a key each to press...Put me off flying for a while I can tell you.

  57. 's water music Silver badge

    teh stupids

    Received in internal post:

    - HP LJII font cartridge

    - Handwritten note:

    "I am having trouble with this modem, can you investigate please?"

    Helpdesk call:

    The [built-in] trackball on my laptop was sticking so I sprayed it with WD40 and it isn't really working now...

    Phone call to laptop stock admin:

    Me: Bit of a funny one. I've got a user who WD40ed their track ball and broke it, do you have any stock for a swapout?

    Stock lady: Who was it?

    Me: <user's name>

    Stock lady: (exasperated) Not again!

    Another story from the stock lady:

    A user came in for a swapout after his laptop bag was clipped by a train when he was standing too close to the platform edge. Interestingly the train had, carefully, almost fully disassembled the laptop, retaining all of the fixings in a neat collection and then appeared to have unsuccessfully attempted reassembly. The train's motivation for doing this could not be determined.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'You've got to come quick, there are *PEOPLE* here...

    ....'help! There's nothing on the screen! There's a QUEUE now! We don't have time to try things over the phone! Come now! 'Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope' etc.

    Walked literal half-mile to other side of site. Turned PC on.

    Walked out, half-mile back, closed call.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    the wise spouse

    User : 'that big monitor you put on my desk...it's slowing my computer down.'

    Me : 'No, it isn't. Computers don't work like that'.

    User : 'Yes they do. My husband says so'

    Me : 'He's not correct, I'm afraid'

    User : 'Yes he is - he's an IT Consultant'

    1. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)

      Re: the wise spouse

      To be fair... I did see someone plug in a 19" monitor with a decent resolution to an ancient old PC that had a graphics card with a massive 1MB graphics card RAM then complain when it would neither display at full resolution nor work at anything more than flicker-screen refreshes on routine work. The thing routinely overheated the graphics card and caused plenty of BSODs. The solution was to replace the 19" one with the old 14" one it had replaced, problems went away, user was happy and call was closed.

      1. Mark York 3 Silver badge

        Re: the wise spouse

        A certain County Council I worked at bought in stocks of machines that had ventilation holes punched into the top lid with Sony monitors usually placed over the those holes by the users.

        The deskside (not the support staff who lived in a hut in the car park) staff did a whole bunch of weekend moves, pushing the units with the case fan vent up against the fabric lined cubicle walls.

        Ditto many a field call's for overheating PC's at more than one school\council offices for the same reasons.

        Some freak harmonic would create user calls for noisy fans that ceased the moment the case lids came off.

        I did get some nice mileage recompense & day trips out across Somerset visiting these places.

  60. Alan Sharkey

    From the 80's

    I was the computer manager of a large oil survey company. I was based in the UK and managed offices all over the world.

    2am, I get a call from Brunei (calls from there were expensive in those days)

    "The printer has stopped working"

    "OK - any lights showing"


    "Which ones?"

    "A green one and a red one"

    "What words are above the lights"

    "Green one says Power. Red ones says No paper - Oh Shit - Goodbye"

  61. Stuart Castle

    Some of the things I've heard..

    I work in IT support for a major Uni, dealing primarily with students, and here are a couple of my favourites..

    Student: Your server is down.

    Me: Which server? (We have a lot of servers students may need to access depending on what they need to do).

    Student: My website is not accessible. (Again, we have multiple webservers the students can access depending on what server and technology they need to use for their courses).

    Me: Which server?

    Student: Your web server.

    Me: OK, Show me what you are doing..

    Suffice it to say the student was trying to view the site using a file:// URL pointing to the local hard drive, which of course meant that none of the actual PHP script for the site was being run..

    Another time, I was emailed by a student who said their site wasn't working and their lecturer told them the server was misconfigured. I'd not heard anything about a server fault, and this server hosts thousands of student website, so if it was misconfigured, I'd have heard, even though it was a Saturday when I got the email.

    I logged on to the server, went through the student's code and 5 minutes later, found a missing comma. Replaced it, and the site worked fine..

    Another one.. We used to have a lab where every computer had a VHS/Mini DV combi VCR so students could digitise video tapes. I had a student come and see me to say the computer had taken their blank CD, did not recognise it and would not give it back. I was busy, so another techy went up to have a look. She came back down and confirmed the student's story, so I went to have a look.

    When I got up there, they had both stuck the blank disk in the VHS slot of the VCR, apparently not noticing that the computer was a tower unit under the desk.

    One final one. When I first started working here, we had a lecturer run in the office panicking. When he calmed down, he said that we'd had a few PCs stolen. Obviously we take that seriously, and I ran to the lab with him, expecting to find a mess of broken security cables (we do lock everything down).

    When I got to the lab, I realised what had happened. For the computers I mentioned above, we had separate monitors used for previewing what was on the tape(s) in the VCR. Even though these looked nothing like PC monitors (they were actual video monitors and actually looked like portable TVs without an aerial socket), he had assumed they were PC monitors and, when he found no PCs, thought they'd been nicked.

  62. Jimboom

    One from the other side of support

    Once, many many moons ago I used to work for a computer company that thankfully went bankrupt.

    One such tale that stuck with me was a call answered by one of the senior techies that we all listened in on.

    Lady: *crying* It's not working!!!! I don't know what I have done

    Tech: I'm sorry ma'am. If you calm down and explain it to me then I can help you

    Lady: But it is not working, I don't know why it isn't working

    This back and forth went on for a few minutes, eventually he got her to calm down and stop crying.

    Tech: Ok ma'am, can you please tell me what the problem is.

    Lady: It's not talking to me!

    Tech: Huh? You mean it is not making any noises? Perhaps it is the sound card. I can tell you what cables to check to make sure the sound card is working.

    Lady: It's not talking to me!! Why is it not talking to me?!

    Tech: *Goes through the checks regardless, confirms the sound card is working* I am sorry to sound dim here, but what exactly is it that should be talking to you?

    Lady: The computer... it should be talking to me. I saw it on that TV show ( I think she said it was Star trek, but honestly we were laughing too hard at this point to hear the whole conversation).

    Lady: Is someone laughing at me??

    Tech: Oh no, sorry, someone just told a funny joke on the next desk over.


    They used to make us techies jump on customer support if they were lacking staff members or if their call queue's were too high.

    Not specifically IT related, but just to give you an example on how daft some users are.

    Me: Welcome to **** customer support, how can I help you?

    Very Irate person: I am not happy. I want to speak with your manager.... NOW!!!

    Me: Well sir, I would be happy to assist you if you just tell me what the problem is

    VIP: No. I don't want to be fobbed off again, I called you guys up the other day and someone there told me to go to the shop. I took the day off to go to your shop and they told me that they could not help me and to call you. I called you again and they sent me out the wrong thing! I don't want to have to explain myself yet again!!

    Me: Well sir look. I can't get a manager on the phone if I can't even tell them what the problem is.

    VIP: *huffs loudly* FINE.... well, I went to your shop and ordered the premium package.. and I am not happy because I didn't get everything.

    Me: Ok Sir, well that sounds simple enough, if you tell me what software package it is you are missing and I will send it out to you.

    VIP: *getting audiably more irate by the minute* WELL, if it is so simple then how is it you people have managed to screw me around so much?!?!

    Me: I am sorry sir. I meant no offence. If you just calm down and tell me what it is you are missing I can see what I can do to help you.

    VIP: Well, when I went to the shop and they showed me what the premium package was, it came with all these bits of software.

    Me: Ok, so which bit of software is it that you are missing?

    VIP: NO! I never said I was missing any software! Thats what I told the first guy I spoke with and they just sent me the same disc's I already have

    Me: Umm.... ok. So what it is that you are missing Sir?

    VIP: When I went to the store and they showed me the computer, the cd's came in a little cardboard box... I paid for it, so I want that box!

    Me: Ok sir, let me put you on hold...... *goes to find the nearest wall to slam my head into*

  63. John Tserkezis

    This one a little different, in that a vendor had done a stupid. One where they *should* know better.

    Ordered a bunch of discrete assorted components from wagner electronic services, box arrived, some resistors and caps did not show up, and some others we had not ordered were delivered instead.

    Wrote up a list of order corrections needed, and had our receptionist send the wrong bits back. She comes into the workshop soon after (she had called them first) saying the order was correct and looking a bit bewildered. She's not a tech, but has her head screwed on straight, and I was puzzled too. So I spoke to them. Had to get them to explain twice because I didn't believe what they were saying:

    (paraphrasing because this was several years ago) "If you order a component that is out of stock, or not a regular stock item of that value, we will substitute the next closest value for you".

    It's not libel if it's true, I hope they sacked that idiot we spoke to.

    1. Martipar

      Title pending

      So you're not in the UK then? Over here you can be sued for libel even if it's true.

  64. DaemonProcess
    Paris Hilton


    " My computer appears to be frozen. It is slightly chilly in here this morning, would it help if I moved it closer to the radiator? "

    Seriously though, many of these stories obviously point to a lack of training, on the user side and also on the IT helpdesk side. So many wasted hours.

    Companies have made the decision that it is cheaper to employ a helpdesk to answer lots of calls than it is to train all staff in basic use of technology. Instead, recruitment adverts specify all staff must be pre-trained elsewhere at someone else's cost. In fact that statement goes across the board these days doesn't it.

  65. ukgnome

    University Help desk

    user - my email won't work

    me - yes, it's become compromised and is sending out spam

    user - I didn't do it.

    me - have you answered any of these (phishing) emails

    user - Yes, was that wrong?

    me - blah blah phishing, blah blah security, blah blah why it's dumb, trust no one etc

    user - OK got it, I was dumb

    me - so to get your email working I just need your credit card number and security code.

    user - sure 4566 7899 9988 9287 - and security 674

  66. steve_g1bbs

    Printer not working

    Some years back I was responsible for support of some remote outposts, and one day the manager of one of them rang up to tell me that the printer attached to the network in his office had stopped working. I spent a good half hour talking him through all the steps needed to ensure that power and network connectivity was there, that print queues had been flushed, that there was toner in the cartridge, everything I could think of to try remotely. Having failed to get his office printing again from afar I had to hop in the car and drive the 20 miles to his office. Where the problem became immediately apparent.

    It was out of paper.

  67. Daz555

    How about some techie foul-ups?

    Me - Sat in my Bristol office remote controlling a server in Reading. Suddenly I rise to my feet and put my coat on. "Where are you going" ask the team. "To Reading". "Why" they ask. "You'll see."

    I walk out of the office to the sounds of everyone's mobiles going mad with text alerts. Classic shutdown, when I meant log-off moment - and no iLO.

    1. NogginTheNog

      "and no iLO"

      I've worked in TOO MANY companies with remote offices that skimp on the ILOs - those damn things are worth their weight in gold! ;-)

  68. Trygve Henriksen

    Don't touch that CABLE!

    Last year, I think it was, I had a call from one of our offices. They had moved the big multifunction machine(print/copy/scan/fax) around a bit, and had managed to rip out the fax cable...

    They had found a similar cable but that didn't work...

    (I knew that the office had had 3 major rebuilds of the wiring in the years since it was built, and also that the first fax in that location had been a bit 'special', so the odds were that the cable had been a custom job)

    I told them to NOT touch the cables, then jumped into the car and set off for a 1.5Hour trip.

    Guess what I found when I arrived?

    Not a single cable!

    The one they had borrowed, they had of course returned, and the broken one they had tossed out somewhere.

    So instead of spending 5 minutes making a copy of the old one, or just crimping on a new connector, I spent an hour digging through 2 decades of dust and grime following the cabling to the end, and replacing every custom job with standard cables.

    The same with printers.

    If someone calls me to tell me there's a paper jam, and that the 'paper ripped' when they tried to fix it themselves, I always tell them not to throw away the pieces. Which they do anyway...

    (Luckily, they usually throw them in the closest recycling box, though, so I can find them)

    Why I want the pieces?

    So that I can tell if there's still paper trapped in the machine or not.

    (I'd rather spend a minute with a paper jigsaw than 15 minutes with my hands inside a contraption of sharp edges, fiddly screws and god knows what, making certain the bl**dy thing won't crash again 5 minutes after I leave)

  69. Flyberius


    We have an elderly Sales Rep around his mid sixties and he is as shit with computers as you can possibly imagine.

    He has some pretty wild expectations such as thinking you can diagnose and repair his home inkjet printer without him a) telling you the make and model, b) telling you what specifically isn't working and c) actually being at his house so that you can ascertain all of the above and implement a fix.

    To top it all off he is either dribbling on all of the equipment I give him or doing something else even less pleasant. I am really hoping its dribble. Really hoping...

  70. Moon Monkey

    I used to work on software for DEC PDP-11s on site - oil refineries, steel works, that kind of thing. We got a call one morning that a customer couldn't get their system started. After trying various things, we decided that the DEC engineer would have to do a site visit.

    A couple of hours later, we got a call from this engineer. "Tell me," he said, "At any time did the customer happen to mention that the computer room was six inches deep in water?"

  71. Moon Monkey

    The customer is always...

    We had an installation in a famous glass company's factory. It was process control gear controlling the furnaces and other hot processes for making glass. Naturally, our training material went into a lot of detail about correct design, in particular the need for plant to fail into a "safe" mode - shut things down if the software detects a problem, basically.

    However, apparently glass manufacturing suffers from large delays if the process is stopped - it takes several days to get everything back up to the proper working temperature. So, they thought they'd implement a different failure regime, which involved setting valves to fail OPEN.

    Of course, when a failure did occur, it was during a holiday weekend when very few staff were present. So the first that most of them learned about it was when they arrived to find the entire plant several inches deep in solidified glass...

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: The customer is always...

      Please tell me you have a picture of that...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone can have a really bad day!

    I once entered rant-mode because some idiot manufacturer had put the sticky material on the wrong side of my block of post-it notes. Two degrees and a CCNA were no help with this problem.

  73. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Printer Mayhem

    Happens at least once a week

    User: Printers Broken

    Tech: Which one?

    User: Erm they are all broken

    ***Tech goes to printer room*** Finds two wanting toner, a copier out of paper and another one asking for B5 because someone told the printer to print B5

  74. Kev Beeley

    A user asked me once if I could get our order management system to generate a report of all the orders it didn't know about.

    After the few seconds it took my brain to try and comprehend the sheer idiocy of what I'd been asked, I replied, "I'll see what I can do, but before that, could you ask your children to write a comprehensive list of all the words they don't know and let me know how you get on?"

  75. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Down

    Evesham Micros

    I once bought an unusual all-in-one computer which I planned to rebuild for my kids to use. As it was an unusual design I thought some documentation might help me, so I called the manufacturer Evesham Micros hoping for some help. I asked if they could send me a manual; I was prepared to pay (a reasonable amount) to cover postage etc but was hoping they'd take the spirit of customer service and just send it to me. I was told that they didn't deal with anyone who hadn't bought directly from them. I said I only wanted a manual not any support, but the CS operative was firm. So I said thank you for your help, and I'll make sure I and anyone else I know never buy any Evesham product again.

    Can't say I was too sad when they went titsup a few years back.

  76. A K Stiles

    Printers again...

    User comes and complains (for the umpteenth time) that the printer is printing letters on plain paper instead of headed paper. I go, pull open the print drawer labelled 'HEADED PAPER' and find it's full of plain paper...

    or that the printer complained it was out of headed paper so someone pressed buttons until it started printing again, from a different tray...

    - -

    User: "My computer's just stopped working"

    Me: check base unit lights (on), then cables (all seated), work up to the monitor, then roll eyes and pull the desk phone away from under the edge of the monitor and reach under that spot and turn the monitor back on again...

  77. Moon Monkey

    Plenty of space now

    Vax VMS automatically stores previous versions of documents when they are changed. So there's a command "purge" which removes all old versions. Now, when engineers come to do some work, they would naturally issue a "purge" to make some space to work in. Unfortunately, commands can be redefined, and one particular company had redefined "purge" to mean [the VMS equivalent of] "delete -r *.*"...

  78. Bob Wheeler

    Two Tales of Woe, and Two of Payback

    Woe Tale 1:

    I looked after 6 Netware servers in the finance Department when one day I got a call from a user saying "The network is dead, all the servers are dead". I checked the monitor dashboard, all servers showed green. the other phone lines weren’t melting so I told the user "Nah, all is well, but I'll send someone down to check it out". That afternoon, the news came back that the problem was the users mouse had stopped working - ful of fluff warped around the roller ball.

    Woe Tale 2:

    A user was having a problem unable to remove 3.5inch floppy on his machine. Went along to find out that he had used a floppy in the drive but the metal sliding cover had come off, inside of the drive. So he naturally, instated of reporting it, tried to force another floppy into the drive, thinking that the detached metal sleeve would magically attach itself to the floppy. It didn't work.

    Payback 1:

    The head boss of the IS/IT section wanted one of these new-fangled PC thingies in his office. So I duly ordered up a top of the line IBM PS/2 Model 30 (that shows how long ago this was)

    I set the machine up on my desk, gave the boss a quick demo of the machine working so he was happy. Then moving the machine to his office, set everything up, plugged in all, but on cable. Out of curiosity I wanted to find out how long it would take for him to notice that the power cord was missing. The answer was three years.

    Payback 2:

    A boss had sent out a memo (paper memo in those days) to all staff saying “no-one is permitted to move/re-arrange their office desks for any reason without my prior written permission”. About a week later, I was working late so went into the boss’s office and cleared the top of his desk, and then turned the desk through 180 degrees and put everything back on his desk. The next morning, there was a very loud scream of pain when his knees hit the wooden back of his desk. The thing that always got me was that the boss was convinced it had to have been two people to pull of this prank, of picking up his desk and turning it like that, to the extent that he came over to me (he knew I had stayed late) and asked me who else worked late the night before. If he ever knew it was me, he never said a word to me about it!

  79. demaniak

    What could this eldricht runes possibly mean?

    I have now had two incidents, with two different applications, with different users.

    The applications throws up an error message: "There is not enough space on the device."

    In one case, the message even helpfully provided some instructions to clean up files etc.

    In both cases, the messages were actually provided by the underlying OS (so technically not even our app, but never mind that..technical point).

    Apparently this is to much for most people, because they insist on contacting support with this "error" message.


  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waaaayyy back in the daaaayyyy

    I remember the changeover from ICL minicomputers in [major DIY chain] to PC-based point-of-sale hardware.

    "I can't get the disk drive to work on the new machine!"

    ...To cut a long story short: the store manager couldn't get the new machine to read the 5¼-inch floppy disk his year-on-year sales summaries were saved on.

    The new machine wouldn't read it; this didn't surprise the support tech, because the new machines all had 3½-inch floppy drives.

    What *did* surprise him was that the store manager had inserted the 5¼-inch disk by folding it in half, and had actually expected this to work.

  81. MurphysLawAgain

    Is it plugged in?

    One of my favorites from the days of a sales department with dial up modems went more or less like this:-

    Day 1

    Caller "Hi this new computer you gave me can't call the servers. This modem doesnt work"

    Me "Hi, is it plugged in?"

    Caller "Yes - of course."

    Me "Did you follow the guide?"

    Caller "Yes, in every detail."

    Me "Ok - we often get a problem with broken cables, let us send you a new one."

    ... snip for a few weeks of couriers, replacement parts and irritation ...

    Day 15

    Caller "Still doesn't work. I want more help."

    Me "Lets go through it one more time. Is it all setup?

    Caller "Yes"

    Me "Its plugged in?"

    Caller "Yes"

    Me "Ok start it up. Whats that noise?"

    Caller "Well once I can hear the modem dialling I have to plug it into the wall".

    Me "Aaaaagh"

  82. TeeCee Gold badge

    Unexpected cost saving.

    Many, many years ago I was involved in replacing the company's main PABX. One of the interesting "features" of the old setup was that the management floor in the adjacent building had its own (rather fancy) PABX piggybacked onto it. TPTB insisted on keeping this setup.

    So, to connect PABX A to PABX B, holes in walls, bit of plastic drainpipe, pull cables. Simple.

    While planning this, we stumbled upon an entirely unexpected and very large cost saving. The old piggyback arrangement had run on a load of wires going out of the building to a manhole outside and then back into the adjacent one.

    Installed by BT.

    Billed monthly as leased lines........(!)

  83. destroyer427

    Me: Do you have Windows 7 or XP

    User: (In a condescending tone) Actually I have 10

  84. nipsy


    We once had a salesman state in a tender that we would print out the work ticket in Braille for blind customers.

    On a laser printer......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Braille

      Nothing to do with topic...

      "I am blind -- but I am able to read thanks to a wonderful new system known as 'broille' . . . I'm sorry, I'll just feel that again."

      Peter Cook (one of Secret Policeman's Balls, I think)

  85. G7mzh

    Customer telephones:

    Us: Are you in Windows at the moment?

    Cust: No, I'm in the kitchen.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019