back to article Angry user demands three site visits to fix email address typos

Welcome again to On-Call, our week-ending wander through readers' tales of horrible problems they've been asked to fix at horrible times. This week, reader “Jack” explains that in desperation he once took a job with a small integrator that specialised in small businesses and won a deal to implement just about the full …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh man, I feel his pain

    Walked a mile in those shoes... Education can be a rough place to work. Just as doctors are the worst patients, educators can be the worst learners....

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

      Me too. Spent 3 yr in a school as "the IT Guy" getting that grief from uneducated educators.

      A highlight was being shouted at down the phone about a broken printer in an offsite building only to get there and find the printer out of paper. Pointed this to said shouter to get a grunt and no apology.

      Schools are often an early job for IT folk but it's a baptism of fire best kept short.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

      educators can be the worst learners

      In fairness to educators, a school bursar is really an accounts clerk with an impressive job title.

      1. waldo kitty

        Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

        In fairness to educators, a school bursar is really an accounts clerk with an impressive job title.

        that still doesn't excuse their rude manners, full on ignorance and (in many cases) refusing to correct said ignorance...

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

          Never had many issues with the Bursar (usually an ex-military man in the school I worked in) but the School secretary / Rector's PA was always a psychopath usually with a large chip on one shoulder to complement the hairy lip-mole

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

      The company I work for has to deal with the education sector and teachers are the worse. Most believe it is always someone else's fault and never their own, will blame their mistake on something having not been explained or documented well enough or it not working as they think it should. There are a few who will be gracious and apologetic in accepting it was their mistake. Most just leave in a huff while retaining the belief in their own superiority.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

        "something having not been explained or documented well enough"

        This isn't exactly an unknown situation.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

      "educators can be the worst learners...."

      I remember reading at one time that the typical education major in the US ranked in the bottom 40% of their class despite a course load was less than rigorous. For example, a person preparing to teach math was not required major in Math and only required to take the basic required math courses.

      My experience has tended to confirm that, as a group, they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

      It also led me to cherish those outstanding teachers that my daughters did have.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

        I remember reading at one time that the typical education major in the US ranked in the bottom 40% of their class despite a course load was less than rigorous. For example, a person preparing to teach math was not required major in Math and only required to take the basic required math courses.

        My experience has tended to confirm that, as a group, they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

        The reason being low pay and much abuse. You get what you pay for. Nobody in their right mind is a teacher in the U.S.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    I'm angry just reading that. These are the type of people I hate the most. Ones who know they can't use a computer, refuse to learn how to use it (or fix the areas of their knowledge that is lacking), and when something goes wrong its the computer's fault not their own incompetence.

    I am forever getting emails from Apple saying "Someone has reset your account". I'm duly concerned - well used to be - as I thought it was someone tinkering with my account. But no, it's the mother-in-law resetting her password again because she can't remember the simple password she told me to enter in for her that she uses for her work and has written down. But it's not her problem, it's the stupid computer's fault for not recognising the correct password she's entering in. Forgetting, of course, that a computer only does what it's told. It won't take a password you've entered and because it's having a particularly shitty day thinks "You know what, no. I'm not having this password even though it's correctly typed because I'm having a bad day. Piss off and try again later".

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Devil

      Well that happens to me all the time. I type the wretched password in which I know is right four times and each time it tells me it's wrong. By the fifth time it gets the message.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah I've spent ages trying to type in a password, getting locked out only to find that the remote connection wasn't using the correct keyboard layout and the special characters were being incorrectly interpreted. It's just US<-> other keyboard issue?

        Nope, it's vmware https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2071245

        1. ssharwood

          That's an awesome KB. Makes me think we need a reader-discovered amusing KB hotline.

        2. Muscleguy Silver badge

          I've had to change a password because a non alphanumerical character in the password works on the Mac desktop/laptop but not from the Android phone. I determined it was this character causing the problem. I presume an incompatible ASCII code between the two systems.

          As a result any password that might have to be inputed in both systems does not have non alphanumerical characters, lowering the security of them. Frankly it puts me off doing stuff on my phone.

          1. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Make it longer

            "As a result any password that might have to be inputed in both systems does not have non alphanumerical characters, lowering the security of them. Frankly it puts me off doing stuff on my phone."

            You do realise that the use of "special characters" does not confer some magical security characteristic on a password, don't you? It's just enlarging the character set that would have to be tried for brute forcing a password (the days when American hackers would not think to use the £ character are long gone). Hence you can restore the security of your password by making it longer. One alphanumeric character longer is sufficient to overcome the lack of a special character in a password.

            See: XKCD: Password Strength for a decent explanation.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Make it longer

              "See: XKCD: Password Strength for a decent explanation."

              Until you run into someone with a VERY bad memory, in which case they'll stumble over themselves wondering, "Now was it CORRECTHORSEBATTERYSTAPLE or Paperclip_Engine_Donkey_Wrong?"

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Well that happens to me all the time. I type the wretched password in which I know is right four times and each time it tells me it's wrong."

        Sometimes it's the shitlock that's on. No, that wasn't a typo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

      I don't get all superior or arsey about it; I just say no. Because it'll be nothing I haven't explained time and time again.

      Being able to use a computer today to get stuff done is a necessity and I don't see why I should aid and abet people who are proud to be ignorant.

      I was on a tube, idly observing a skinny man-bun scrolling through some witless feed about irrelevancies on his iPhone. He pressed the home button, and I noticed that his iPhone had one pending software update (we were nowhere near a release date), and 77 pending app updates. That's the technological equivalent of letting a cyst grow to the size of football and still not seeing a doctor. Idiocy, laziness and ignorance in one hipster-sized package.

      1. Bob Wheeler
        Facepalm

        Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

        One day I has a call from family member name redacted asking “How do I uninstall and re-install Windows Explorer”. Err year right, um no, you can’t do that I explained, what’s the problem I asked.

        Him, being an avid reader of every monthly computer magazine (especially if they has a free cover CD), had installed SIX free trail anti-virus programs at the same time. When he powered on his computer they were all trying to scan the hard disk and falling over each other.

        It took me day to sort that out, and two minutes to pull the data cable from the CD drive.

        About a month later I had another call, “I can’t load a program from the CD drive.” Oh, well those free CD’s are notorious bad quality and can never be relied on to work on every computer I replied.

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

          I'll help family but they've all been warned now that I'm not their whore to rent out after getting roped into helping great uncles, neighbours and neighbours friends.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

            "I'll help family but they've all been warned now that I'm not their whore to rent out after getting roped into helping great uncles, neighbours and neighbours friends."

            And if they reply, "Yes you are...unless you want to be DISOWNED from the family, which would include losing invitations to reunions, dinners, parties, etc. and possibly being written out of wills..."

            1. hplasm Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              "And if they reply, "Yes you are..."

              Rejoice!

            2. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              The answer to 'unless you want to be DISOWNED' is: "See if I care."

            3. Vic

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              And if they reply, "Yes you are...unless you want to be DISOWNED from the family, which would include losing invitations to reunions, dinners, parties, etc. and possibly being written out of wills..."

              Deal.

              Vic.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              "I'll help family but they've all been warned now that I'm not their whore to rent out after getting roped into helping great uncles, neighbours and neighbours friends."

              And if they reply, "Yes you are...unless you want to be DISOWNED from the family, which would include losing invitations to reunions, dinners, parties, etc. and possibly being written out of wills..."

              Hmmm, not having to listen to Uncle Know-It-All, Auntie Religious, Brother-in-law KKK, Cousin Second Amendment, and the Older Relative Organ recital (oh, my stomach, oh, my liver, oh my eyes,.....) And, not having to reciprocate or shell out for gifts, etc. Might be a wash in savings now versus inheritance later......

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              The correct response to that threat, is of course. "Bye"

              If they're that nasty, they're doing you a favour by disowning you.

              'course, they'll probably immediately back down anyway.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

            "I'm not their whore to rent out "

            Well, if they were actually renting me out.....

          3. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

            A lawyer friend and I joke that we are people who walk backwards on social occasions. Once people find out what they do they tend to advance with demands about wills, disputes with neighbours, problems with getting DSL routers to work, Windows questions etc. We find ourselves taking a step backwards to try to re-establish our personal space at which point the parasites will take a step forward. I had one person have a bit of a fit at me when he was pushing for advice on how to secure his computer to keep the police away from it (yes, I wondered about that). When I asked him what he did for a living he said he valeted cars. So I told him I'd answer his question if he would clean my car for free. He didn't like that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              > A lawyer friend and I joke that we are people who walk backwards on social occasions.

              In fairness, it's your fault for being honest about what you do.

              While my line of work is neither law nor computer repair nor anything that people will ask questions about, it can be classed as "too difficult to explain" (tell the truth, I haven't a clue myself what I actually do for a living), so on social occasions I either bounce the question back ("What do *you* do?"), tell them it's not any of their business, or just say something that strongly suggests I engage in surreptitious commerce of controlled substances, depending on how much of an interest I have on holding a conversation with the other party.

              I got caught out on one memorable occasion when going for option #3 and my interlocutor very confidently said "No, you don't". I asked him how he could possibly know, to which the reply came: "I'm a police officer and I know my customers".

              1. Lotaresco Silver badge

                Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

                "In fairness, it's your fault for being honest about what you do."

                Given what I do for a living (it's not computer repair) I'm always vague about my job. Unfortunately at most social gatherings there will always be someone who knows that I "do something with computers" and someone who knows that my friend does "something with the law" and those people will be daft enough to tell others their version of what they think we do.

                The fact that he's a senior Professor who serves most of his time on international committees and government bodies that create and review the law means nothing to them. They want someone to sort out their divorce/dispute with an ebay seller/car accident compo claim for free. Similarly with me, yes I can configure a desktop PC but many of my clients tend to have "plc" in their name and I've never worked on one-to-one tech support for private individuals.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

              "A lawyer friend and I joke that we are people who walk backwards on social occasions."

              I was fixing a PC for a doctor once. In his surgery. Having more jobs to get to, I just wanted to get it fixed and get out (hardware support only) but he kept on with "while you're here, can you just..." type of requests. The usual stuff of, "how do I print this, why do I have to do that, why can't I just..." etc

              Eventually I mentioned the nail infection on my big toe and what should I do about it. "See your doctor", he says. "Ok, bye then" sez me,

      2. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

        It depends on the iPhone, doesn't it? I have a lot of pending updates on my iPhone 4. No point in applying them.

      3. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

        One of the best things about everyone being forced into Windows 10 is I explain (kindly) to the friend/family member that I cannot help them because I have no experience with Windows 10. If they try to push the matter (usually by explaining "it's a simple problem" or "all computers work the same") I then tell them that I have not even upgraded our office computers to Windows 10 because it was so different and everyone would need retraining. Again, underlining that I have no experience with it.

      4. Rtbcomp

        Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

        Now I'm retired I won't help ANYONE with their IT problems.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ha! Mother-in-laws! I store my passwords in one of those secure password apps, and offered to store one of MIL's passwords in case she forgets it. No, she doesn't trust me. One day she forgets (of course) and asks me for help. I look in my password app, and there is a note I wrote in the password field: "When [MIL] forgets her password and asks for help, tell her I told her so." So I did.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Ones who know they can't use a computer"

      The problem is that they know they can use a computer and what's more they know they know more than you. The Dunning Kruger effect.

  3. NorthernCoder
    Coat

    Obviously...

    ...she was off her dried frog pills.

    Mine's the one with the Terry Pratchett book in the pocket

    1. Michael Hoffmann
      Thumb Up

      Re: Obviously...

      You beat me to it.

      I wonder if it'd be possible to place a target over her desk and then position yourself in an office across the hall for some crossbow shooting practise.

      But, good lord, these people are educators who work with kids? Time to pull out Pink Floyd's The Wall methinks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obviously...

        Not all of them are bad ...

        My wife is a primary school teacher and she is completely at home with Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 10 (thank <deity> she missed Windows 8) and even Linux! More to the point she understands mail bounce messages, so if she does mistype an e-mail address she knows what to do!

        Funny thing is that at one of her previous schools a member of staff looked after the IT systems. He would regularly borrow my (then 16 year old) son to help him sort out issues, including upgrading all of the laptops to the latest from Redmond. He trusted my son to sort things out more than he trusted any other member of staff!

  4. Geoff Campbell
    Stop

    Ah, yes...

    The mantra of small businesses everywhere is "Never turn down business", and generally that's a philosophy I can understand (I do occasionally quote deliberately very high, though, if I really think the job will be more painful than it is worth).

    Education, though? No. In 35 years in the industry, I have *never* had a good experience with a client in the education business.

    GJC

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Ah, yes...

      "Education, though? No. In 35 years in the industry, I have *never* had a good experience with a client in the education business."

      Not in my experience. If the users were "local", then yes, they know everything about everything.

      But our remote user were different. Their calls would start with "I have no idea what I'm doing, so just talk slow and I'll follow you". And they did, they'd even learn from our previous calls and do the job themselves.

      1. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Ah, yes...

        Goodness. Well, I guess there had to be one, somewhere. Hang onto them...

        GJC

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Ah, yes...

        "But our remote user were different."

        That's because remote users have to book a call out that likely isn't going to be same day or, for software issue might mean not only a long phone conversation, but the user actually having to type stuff instead of wandering off for a coffee while the "expert" fixes it.. Local users are lazy because they have an "expert" on tap whenever required.

        Of course now we have remote desktop access and the like, some remote users can be just as lazy.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    And who loves the autocomplete function on Outlook when it corrupts the email addresses on the sly? Had this happen more than once, with the user insisting the email address was correct (by using the autocomplete feature)...

    Simply by deleting the offending email address (or the nuclear option, delete the autocomplete database) fixed things until the next corruption occur...

    Also had my share of users typing in incorrect email addresses, then sending the bounce message to me asking what is ger-wrong...

    And you get systems where users doesn't clean out their mailboxes (POP3 accounts), it get full and you get bounce messages to attest to that fact, which necessitates an email to somebody else to kindly ask the person concerned to empty their mailbox.

    Fun times for sure...

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Flame

      dunno how you've accululate 4 x downvotes as up for that!

      nail . hammer . head etc spot on

      outlooks "auto unfix" feature is a pain in the arse. While im on the subject the whole outlook address book thing pisses me off. If I wanted to actually extract the text of an email address , either sent , recieved , or in the book , its a fucking nightmare! its all microsoft-helpful-but-not giving me the display name, adding bits on , highlighting extra bits, putting it in a contact librarary , adding a "calling card" or some such bullshit - its virtually impossible to get the xxx@yyyy.zzz knub of the matter!

      ...back to this recently-used-addresses bullshit . That as 'Anonymous South African Coward' (as well as the author) mentions is one of the biggest perpetrators of the email "typo"

      ....and another thing that grinds my gears ...... people who use the "recently-used-guesswork" feature as some kind of address book ! (the same people who keep their favorite file in the outlook recycle bin) and then they whinge and bleat when you delete the "recent bullshit" database because its full of incorrect addresses

  6. Michael Hoffmann

    Ah the memories...

    From personal experience I can tell you one professional group that is worse:

    Nurses!

    To the 'tude add the look you get of "I've seen more men naked than a 2-bit hooker, often with a syringe in my rubber-gloved hands, therefore I know what you look like without clothes and I'm not impressed. Fix this computer problem or I swear I'll use a turkey baster as the syringe".

    Truly frightening.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Ah the memories...

      Tart!

      Defo depends on the nurse though :-)

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Ah the memories...

      "To the 'tude add the look you get of "I've seen more men naked than a 2-bit hooker, often with a syringe in my rubber-gloved hands, therefore I know what you look like without clothes and I'm not impressed. Fix this computer problem or I swear I'll use a turkey baster as the syringe"."

      So what happens if you return the look with kinky look of, "You know that kind of stuff turns me on. What do you plan to put in the syringe?" One of the best ways to defuse a threat is to reply that it isn't really a threat to you. The last thing a kidnapper saying, "We have your wife." wants to hear is, "Great! You can KEEP her!"

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Ah the memories...

      A friend of mine turned up to the pub on crutches with his ankle in plaster. He's a strapping lad from the grim frozen North (well Lancashire, it's ooop North to me). Works out, hard-drinking, no-nonsense type of chap.

      So how did you get injured?

      Turns out he was fleeing in terror from a 4'10" Kiwi nurse with amorous intentions - who'd taken a fancy to him at previous visits to the pub.

      I have to admit we may have been less than sympathetic to his plight. I think I'd describe her as scarily determined...

      1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Ah the memories...

        "Turns out he was fleeing in terror from a 4'10" Kiwi nurse"

        4'10" ....

        tall or wide?

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Ah the memories...

        I'm led to believe that Kiwi nurses can be pretty determined.

        At least the one that caught me is, not that I played terribly hard to get.

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Who ever had an user with two email accounts on two different system (mailbox A and mailbox B), with forwarding enabled from mailbox A to mailbox B, and from mailbox B to mailbox A?

    And one of the mailboxes got an out of office message enabled...

    Moar fun. Yay.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Oh yeah, loads of fun. Especially when you're the one getting blamed for the cock-up.

      Happened to me a few times, but thankfully every time the boss above the nitwit actually had a brain and could understand the situation, so I never got too roasted about it. Had that not been the case . . I prefer not to think about it.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      @Anonymous South African Coward

      Internal mail group, many people on vacation at the same time, everyone of them had out of office reply enabled, message sent to the group.... 30,000 messages later~ Just call it a mailbomb!

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Many years ago I worked for a company that used Groupwise. It only took the mail server to go down once for the "2 users out of office" feature to be drilled into the entire company. For some reason the box for "only send out of office for the first email" was NOT the default option back then...

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Nightmare!

    The worst of the lot are primary school teachers.

    1. WaveyDavey

      Primary teachers

      I know a few. They spend so much time with the dribbly end of the pupil cadre that their brains turn a little bit mushy. But they always have a spare tissue in their pocket, which can be handy.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Primary teachers

        "I know a few. They spend so much time with the dribbly end of the pupil cadre that their brains turn a little bit mushy".

        Poor buggers. It's usually having to deal with the more "special" parents that inflicts most of the brain damage these days.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nightmare!

      You: Have you ever posted anything to Mumsnet?

      Them: Yes.

      You: I'm sorry, I will be unable to help you with any IT problem ever.

      1. David Robinson 1

        Re: Nightmare!

        You: Have you ever posted anything to Mumsnet?

        Them: Yes.

        You: I'm sorry, I will be unable to help you with any IT problem ever.

        Simon, is that you?

    3. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Nightmare!

      A primary school teacher asked me if electricity went uphill.

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: Nightmare!

        One asked me if apple crumble was vegetarian!!

        She is allegedly has a degree !!

        1. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Nightmare!

          Was it a question of "Is all apple crumble vegetarian" - answer "no" - or "Is this apple crumble vegetarian?"

          Apple crumble can be vegetarian if the crumble topping is made with margarine or butter. It can be vegan if the fats are entirely vegetable in origin. But it can also be neither if it is made with lard.

          1. Sherrie Ludwig

            Re: Nightmare!

            Apple crumble can be vegetarian if the crumble topping is made with margarine or butter. It can be vegan if the fats are entirely vegetable in origin. But it can also be neither if it is made with lard.

            Unless the vegetarian querying is an "ovo-lacto-vegetarian", butter is not vegetarian, as it is a milk product. It also needs to be disclosed if the asker is keeping kosher, as butter (milk) or lard (meat product) may not be consumable until a suitable length of time elapses from the person's last meal.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Nightmare!

              Isn't "vegan" (mentioned) the same thing as an "ovo-lacto-vegetarian"?

              As for kosher, depends on the lard. Beef tallow is one thing, but most lard is pork, which is never kosher.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nightmare!

        "A primary school teacher asked me if electricity went uphill."

        Ahh, like water. You did explain about the electrical pumping stations?

        1. Adam 1 Silver badge

          Re: Nightmare!

          Of course electricity naturally flows downhill. Geez people. I thought it was obvious how the high voltage lines were really high up, local street distribution tends to be about 10m up and within homes most power points are waist height or even lower down near ankle height. Why do you think it costs so much to move electricity supplies underground?

        2. stephanh Silver badge

          Re: Nightmare!

          To be frank, electrons *are* affected by gravity, it is just that they are so much more affected by electric fields.

          To overcome the force of earth gravity on an electron requires an electric field of 5.6e-11 V/m . Which is truly not very much. Practically speaking a voltage difference of a single mV will be sufficient to lift an electron tens of thousands of kilometers up in earth gravity.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So you didn't fix root cause

    It's trivial to edit the registry to permanently disable the autocomplete of email from a cache (which includes typos). Its simple to add a Contact with the persons real name mapped to their email address and have this used by the user instead.

    The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different outcome.

    Yes the user was a dick, but you fixed the symptoms rather than the cause. You can't fix them being an ignorant dick, but you could have made it easier for them to not make the mistake.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: So you didn't fix root cause

      "Yes the user was a dick, but you fixed the symptoms rather than the cause."

      I don't think IT support is allowed to fire the bursar.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So you didn't fix root cause

        "Yes the user was a dick, but you fixed the symptoms rather than the cause."

        "I don't think IT support is allowed to fire the bursar."

        The cause is the stupid feature of Outlook trying to be helpful by auto-completing email addresses it's seen before even if they are wrong, when the user starts typing a few of the letters of that email address.

        So the fix is to turn off that stupid feature in Outlook.

        Now this leaves the user having to type the email address in every time without making a typo, usually from memory. However, if you make it a 'Contact' in Outlook, then the user only has to remember the friendly name of the contact not 'zxjduerad@sadrjys.co,uk.com.xys' - which has the opportunity to be entered wrong. It's the same reason we have DNS for web site names, rather than ask users to type 212.58.246.95 when trying to look at the news.

        So, as an IT technician, fix the cause - the stupidity of Outlook - rather than trying to fix the user.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: So you didn't fix root cause

          Let's be clear on one thing : fixing the user is impossible. Either the user can learn, or he can't.

          If you disagree, you obviously have not encountered enough users.

          1. Red Bren

            Re: So you didn't fix root cause

            "fixing the user is impossible."

            Perhaps decommissioning the user is the answer?

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: So you didn't fix root cause

              "Perhaps decommissioning the user is the answer?"

              Which can be tough if the user is on tenure or has friends on the board.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So you didn't fix root cause

          I'd have gone for creating a template message with the destination email, subject and half the message pre-filled in. And linked to a button/menu so they could just click to launch it. I'd describe it to them as "saving you time since you have to send this report so often"*.

          *always use this description for any improvements to workflows where the user has a habit of cocking up but doesn't admit to fat-fingers or not understanding as being the problem. Working with anyone who admits to having difficulties due to their own limitations and is apologetic about calling you out, you can say something like "I think I have a trick that will save you needing my help. "

        3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: So you didn't fix root cause

          Hey, stop posting my email address on the internet

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So you didn't fix root cause

          You sound like a user that rings up IT with solutions you've dreamt up yourself.

          Sadly, it gets political... Yes, that would 'work', but the root cause is user input. You're avoiding the issue just like everyone else does.

          User input doesn't just trigger the issue, it IS the Issue. The answer is training, or some other intervention that modifies the user's behaviour. Of course, that doesn't happen in reality. 'I am too IMPORTANT to be taught as that means I am wrong.'

          I recently contracted with IBM as a deskside engineer. They were in the midst of pushing Lotus Notes on their new users (newish service contract). The user base absolutely balked, and an arrangement was made where some users could opt to keep Outlook but not get email support off us deskside techs (well, on the client).

          I joined after this, and was amazed - no, i wasn't 'allowed' to touch Outlook (I hate Lotus Notes as both a user and tech, and sympathised with those users), but as I was deskside, I'd see plenty of evidence of users helping each other. It was so weird. There was no official support unless you wanted to 'upgrade' to Notes.

          My point? I think the safety net of having IT bail you out precludes learning and self education. One thing I'd suggest all good techs have had, is the needy user who twigs you're good and congratulations you're now, psychologically, their personal safety net.

          Another place I worked had an on site trainer. She wasn't IT but we could refer people to her. That offset some of the needier users.

          The problem is there's nowhere else for these issues to go. As much as the user is causing something, realistically you're the only person 1) able to do something and 2) willing.

          Methinks if the bean counters thought this way, they'd roll training into the deskside roles for no extra pay and widen the support scope. Shudder.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So you didn't fix root cause

            recently? Lotus Notes? wasnt that that office suite we used to run in DOS 6.22 before windows came along?

            1. Chris King Silver badge

              Re: So you didn't fix root cause

              "Lotus Notes? wasnt that that office suite we used to run in DOS 6.22 before windows came along?"

              Sadly, it evolved and mutated. And not in the "awesome super powers" way either.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So you didn't fix root cause

              Lotus Notes? Still got it where I work. God, I hate it. God, I hate it.

              The miserable part of my life is porting the applications written for that system so we can eventually put a stake through its miserable, shriveled heart.

              1. Lotaresco Silver badge

                Re: So you didn't fix root cause

                "Lotus Notes? Still got it where I work. God, I hate it. God, I hate it."

                I escaped from it last year. There are many government offices and financial institutions that have invested so much in Notes that they can't disentangle themselves. I also hate it with a passion. As someone said to me once, "It's not that it's bad in the sense of massively bad in a way that makes one unable to use it. It's like a series of tiny insults to one's person, like being slapped in the face with a sardine. Once or twice is not pleasant but you'll live. However Notes is like being flicked in the face with a rank sardine every five minutes. It gets old quickly."

                1. PC Paul

                  Re: So you didn't fix root cause

                  Anyone working with Notes, take comfort that they may soon end up migrating to a SharePoint based system and then all your problems will be over!

                  Oh... wait....

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So you didn't fix root cause

            The Lotus Notes story was a good one.

            Another part of "user reality" is that almost every clump of users has an early adopter/computer enthusiast in the group.

            While these types can often be a massive pain as they press for upgrades and teach their co-workers dodgy tricks, they can be an asset if one invests the time to make friends with them. Then one can feed them good info and let their natural tech-enthusiasm disseminate it. The trick is to build a sufficiently positive relationship that they ask before "just doing stuff".

            The other type of user who can be a great asset is the one who has the attitude "my computer is a tool". Usually with no interest in tech, but not prone to panic. The sort of person whom one can calmly and patiently talk through a problem on the phone, and who will then go and sort our her co-workers' machine (yes, it is usually a she).

        5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: So you didn't fix root cause

          "So, as an IT technician, fix the cause - the stupidity of Outlook - rather than trying to fix the user."

          11 downvotes. It looks as if the MS marketing crowd have paid a visit again.

          1. Sandtitz Silver badge

            Re: So you didn't fix root cause

            "11 downvotes. It looks as if the MS marketing crowd have paid a visit again."

            No. The feature isn't stupid, it is just fine. The root cause was a stupid user, not Outlook. Outlook has many failings but the inability to fix the bursar's dyslexia isn't one of them.

            It is plain faster to start typing the name or email address in the To: field than clicking the To: button and selecting the recipient from the list. A mistyped autocomplete address can be removed from list by highlighting it and clicking the X or pressing delete.

            Creating a contact in Outlook also has a chance that the recipient address in it is wrong. The bursar wouldn't still admit her fault and Jack would have had to fix the problem.

        6. Nolveys Silver badge

          Re: So you didn't fix root cause

          So, as an IT technician, fix the cause - the stupidity of Outlook - rather than trying to fix the user.

          Exactly, fixing the user is a job for the veterinarian.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: So you didn't fix root cause

            Exactly, fixing the user is a job for the veterinarian.

            Or it's for someone with a Walther PPK and license to "fix" with extreme prejudice. Where's the Mr. Bond icon?

  10. HobartTas

    I know some professional people that would add in the charge to the customer for the four hours driving on top of the work they do and when their customers complain about that quote they are bluntly told beforehand "take it or leave it" but since they are highly skilled and very good at their job they still invariably get the work order as its still cheaper getting it done right compared to previous contractors that maybe have right royally stuffed things up and then cost them a lot of money to rectify.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "I know some professional people that would add in the charge to the customer for the four hours driving on top of the work they do and when their customers complain about that quote they are bluntly told beforehand "take it or leave it" but since they are highly skilled and very good at their job they still invariably get the work order as its still cheaper getting it done right compared to previous contractors that maybe have right royally stuffed things up and then cost them a lot of money to rectify."

      Or the client can counter, "I'll leave it, AND I'll consider this not fit for purpose, so don't expect my next payment." Which can put companies with razor-thin margins on the spot, as noted elsewhere in this thread.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moving from XP to Win7

    Refusing to go from XP to Windows 7 because you think it'll be too difficult? From a user perspective, that's just about the easiest transition you can do with Windows.

    If you're struggling with that, then you have no right to even have access to a PC.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Moving from XP to Win7

      Easily said with hindsight. At the time there was a monumental amount of FUD being shouted on the subject, quite a lot of it around here.

      Too many gobshite MS haters around...

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Moving from XP to Win7

        Teachers don't do change. Doesn't matter if what they are moving to is the greatest piece of software ever written and it's for free. It's a change therefore wrong.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moving from XP to Win7

      "Refusing to go from XP to Windows 7 because you think it'll be too difficult? "

      And when using a PC all day is not your primary job, having something that works and you are familiar with replaced with something new, just because it makes 'IT Support' better, not unsurprisingly pisses off users. Especially since that transition will not be seamless for them - apps missing/different, layout/shorcuts gone, documents/email lost.

      I'm in IT so I have no issue with adopting and learning new operating systems and apps - but it would piss me off as a user if someone took my PC away and brought it back different and missing stuff without any consideration that doing so will impact my ability to do my day job on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moving from XP to Win7

        If your PC is a tool of the job, surely it is in your own self interests to know how to use your tools?

        1. Dabooka Silver badge

          Re: Moving from XP to Win7

          @DrLifecandy

          Of course you are correct, but the point being made I feel was that the old tools worked perfectly fine for them.

          I work in FE and moving away from paper to online systems etc is a huge problem. It takes a long time to become adept in a new system, time that simply isn't there anymore. Some of us try and support where we can but the calendar doesn't stop ticking along because we're moving to a cloud based portfolio or whatever. Add into the mix a lot of staff are simultaneously being quality assessed on their work (now input online) and it does get rather stressful for lots of users. It would be wise to remember this.

          Saying that, a transition in OS and MS Office versions isn't anywhere near as onerous.

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Moving from XP to Win7

          "If your PC is a tool of the job, surely it is in your own self interests to know how to use your tools?"

          They do. Until somebody comes along and changes everything "because".

        3. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Moving from XP to Win7

          If your PC is a tool of the job, surely it is in your own self interests to know how to use your tools?

          OK, I just took your regular automobile away this morning, and replaced it with a Learjet, no training period, no warning, and MAYBE I left a pilot's manual, which only makes sense to somebody who has a background in aviation, in the cockpit. You HAVE to get to work this morning, or you will be fired. See, I just gave you a much better, much more expensive vehicle to do so, with many more features and capacity, and you're complaining?

          I am a computer user but not an aficionado. I know just enough to do what I need to do. It is not rewarding. financially or otherwise, to learn more than necessary to get my job done.

          You wear clothes, for comfort and propriety's sake, but you are not forced into learning every detail about how to construct your clothing, how the fabrics and other components are produced and how they interact to make up each garment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moving from XP to Win7

        bollocks ... most users as just plain effing lazy and can't be arsed .. people with a "that's not in my job description attitude" which again is bollocks as most business roles / public service provider roles are in part IT jobs. If you can't do your job without IT you are in part an IT worker and should at learn the basics of how this shit works. We get people all the time who basically refuse to learn how to use a very simple order admin tool in their website (essentially no harder to use than ticking a few boxes in yahoo or hotmail and clicking delete or whatever - you can tell if a customer is going to be div more or less just from their email address) and yet they appear to have no problem using an iphone or facebitch etc.

        Health is a bad a sector as teaching if not worse.

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Moving from XP to Win7

      "Refusing to go from XP to Windows 7 because you think it'll be too difficult? From a user perspective, that's just about the easiest transition you can do with Windows."

      Unless, of course, your computers has ISA slots that are used to control proprietary (and VERY expensive) hardware that is critical to your business. Remember the article about the lathe?

      1. PC Paul

        Re: Moving from XP to Win7

        I had to track down a dot matrix printer which could provide some very specific emulation options (via DIP switches no less) to keep a customers very expensive optical measurement system running. The software was running on a 486 PC, running DOS, connected through a bespoke ISA card to the equipment.

        This was in 2015.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Moving from XP to Win7

          Impact printers are also essential if you're printing on copy-through paper (carbon or carbonless), since in many cases printing multiple copies is not legally an option (that's why the copy paper, after all). Since it takes a physical impression to make the copies, you have no choice but impact printers. That's why OKI, Epson, et al still make impact printers.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After a third visit, I would have been tempted to add a few GAY PORN shortcuts on her desktop, a folder full of smut on her HDD, and then sent an anonymous tip-off to the LEA.

    Who me??

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        It is to the sort of Daily Heil readers that work in LEAs

      2. Alien8n Silver badge

        I have the previous IT Manager's PC downstairs. Considering why he's now in jail I think simply nuking the PC may be the wisest choice...

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          I have the previous IT Manager's PC downstairs. Considering why he's now in jail I think simply nuking the PC may be the wisest choice...

          I wouldn't do anything except put some tape over the covers and then sign and date them along with a large label with his/her name and "possible evidence" on it. And put it in a secure location.

          Sometimes the LEA's as an afterthought want that PC to be examined and the best thing you can do is hold on to it until there's a trial and it and any appeals are over. Wiping it might be the worse thing for you to do as it's "destroying evidence" in the LEA eyes and you'll have a real headache on your hands.

          I've had to do this twice. The first time was an internal fraud and was directed on how to handle it (sealing, labeling, and storing it) and the second was someone doing fraud from home and also, as it turned out, from work. I handled it the same way and luckily I did as a month after the initial arrest, the LEA wanted the boxen.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Gay Porn worse than Straight Porn

        For the modern puritans who run the LEAs these days, the answer is YES.

        And I am being serious, of course add a few hand gun photos and perhaps a Private Eye subscription confirmation email, and they would go nova.

      4. frank 3

        Well said, have an upvote

        because we have more than enough bigots around at the moment.

      5. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        I see where you're coming from Symon, but yes, yes it's worse in education.

        What it should actually be is BDSM porn. I know more than one friend in education who can never, ever, even suggest they are in any way other than vanilla and completely straight.

        Shouldn't be the case, but unfortunately it is.

      6. Lotaresco Silver badge

        "You think "GAY PORN" would somehow be worse than "STRAIGHT PORN"?"

        Well there's always Donkey Porn, as the less offensive option, unless someone is going to get worked up about the gender(s) of the donkey(s).

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          If it is education, shouldn't it be kiddie porn, to cause a complete meltdown?

          1. IT Poser

            shouldn't it be kiddie porn

            You've worked at the FBI for far too long.

  13. farvoyages

    https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/exchange/2004/04/08/me-too/

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not me, but a colleague ..

    Working for a small software house that inevitably picked up tech support issues from the tightwad* estate agents we made software for.

    Colleague had a call saying "the system was down". He calmly asked them if the router and modem were switched on, and was assured they were. He asked the caller to actually leave their desk, go and look at the shelf, and report back. Caller did, and insisted "the lights are on"

    Four hours later (2 there, 2 back) colleague gets in, just before 5pm. Problem ?

    Yup, the router and modem were switched off. Numbskull caller was reporting the lights on the power clock were on. Which they were.

    I suggested in future we insist the caller send an MMS pic (one thing you can guarantee estate agents have around) *before* haring out.

    *Tightwad doesn't begin to cover it. Estate agencies have a very high turnover of staff, so the helpdesk was basically a free training resource. In the end the company was bought out by a rival whose software was worse, but who had nailed the business model by using some of the monthly rental (our software was licensed) to provide "free" training twice a year. Which reduce support calls and gave the veneer of better software (it wasn't).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

      "Yup, the router and modem were switched off"

      So you asked the user to check IT gear, and then get grumpy when they mis-interpret their blinking lights.

      A decent IT support support person would have put a simple crib sheet together on how to check it with pictures of what good and bad looked like if this was to be done by Joe User, or better still, had a secondary remote connection into that office which had ping/status checker for each of the devices (router/modem/servers/switches etc) to see what was broke. Better still - that secondary remote link would also have remote control at a hardware level (example HP ILO) to remote hardware reset the device.

      Solve the technical root cause. Stop blaming users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:@smartarse AC

        Ah, the datacentre brat. In the real world (did you read the background) generally -especially for one-man-band estate agents, the tech support would be "my nephew Barry, when he's not at school"

        Contractually, we only supplied software, so the "technical" answer when the call came is was "not our problem, call your tech support"

        However, (as anyone who has actually run a business, as opposed to thinking up smart alec comments on El Reg, would know) the hard reality is if our company hadn't "fixed" the software, then that was another argument to get into about "We're not paying this month". Which - when you are £500 from bankruptcy - is the difference between having a business next month, or learning where the job centre is.

        Have you ever been to a *real* small SOHO outfit ? I would gamble some are still on dial-up.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: smartarse AC

          "Have you ever been to a *real* small SOHO outfit ? I would gamble some are still on dial-up."

          Way back I had one as a client. The owner was a really good bloke. I felt sorry for him that his only son was just too think for him to even contemplate handing the business on when he retired. The server was on a dial-up modem for support. If I needed to dial in he unplugged the fax and plugged in the mode.

        2. PC Paul

          Re: smartarse AC

          When I did SOHO/SME stuff I had a customer who had never realised that ADSL had arrived at his rural location so had sorted his bandwidth needs by getting a phone line and modem for EVERY ONE of his six users.

          He actually contacted me to ask if there was a way to spread the traffic across the lines better since some users were much heavier users than others.

          Well, yes, but actually I got him onto an industrial strength dual input router and cut it down to just his two best phone lines (they were all a bit flaky and a long way from the exchange, so a bit of redundancy was worth paying for).

          More bandwidth and much less monthly cost. He was pleased.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

        It helps to label everything so that a user can find the exact piece of equipment you need them to tell you about. I do this for all of my clients. It is tedious detailed work that I hate doing, but it pays off handsomely when you can get on the phone with some one and direct them to the equipment via labels.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

          Go a step further for remote locations. Take a photo or several. Mark them up with names and make sure they match the labels on the boxen. Afix said photo to the door or even the rack. It makes sorting things out without having to drive there.

    2. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

      "Working for a small software house that inevitably picked up tech support issues from the tightwad* estate agents we made software for."

      Oh please don't remind me. I once did some freelance work for an Apple VAR in the 1980s. They had hit on the idea of using Apple's 24bit colour displays, Colour printers, Director and some early digital cameras (Probably Sony Mavica IIRC) to speed up production of house particulars and to provide animated displays in shop windows. These were ahead of the game at the time since the PC competition was limited to 16 colour EGA and was a bitch to program compared to the ease of using Director.

      I installed a system at a Surrey estate agents, having to deal with their Jaeger and pearl wearing office manager. I reminded her that the letter they received had explained that someone should be trained to use the system and either I could do that at the time or send someone at a more convenient time.

      "What do you mean, training?" She said. "I expect someone from your company to attend and do this for me. I don't do this sort of work, none of us does." I explained that they hadn't ordered a fully serviced solution, just a turnkey system (big price differential). She then spent four hours arguing with me that this wasn't "OK, yah, not at all." Towards the end of the day she got a huge wine box out from a filing cabinet and laid into it with vigour. As I was leaving she was very drunk and loudly telling everyone in the room that because the cleaner had not laid her clothes out on the bed that morning that she had been forced to come to work with no knickers.

      This was a big name in estate agency in Surrey at the time. I was fairly horrified at the combination of laziness, stupidity, arrogance and wilful ignorance not to mention the alcoholism.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

        Estate Agent + 1980's = I'm not surprised at all.

        Even well into the 1990's estate agents had a reputation for overbearing arrogance. Usually fuelled by too much money coupled with a personality that would make you vomit.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

        "As I was leaving she was very drunk and loudly telling everyone in the room that because the cleaner had not laid her clothes out on the bed that morning that she had been forced to come to work with no knickers".

        So I guess that one went on the "sun-over-the-yardarm" list, i.e. customers you only visit in the morning because they'll be drunk, rude and unreasonable after a liquid lunch ?

        On the subject of underwear (or lack thereof), I have actually bailed out of an on-call when one sozzled customer asked me if I knew what a VPL was, and then mentioned that she wasn't wearing any.

        1. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

          "So I guess that one went on the "sun-over-the-yardarm" list, i.e. customers you only visit in the morning because they'll be drunk, rude and unreasonable after a liquid lunch ?"

          That one went on the "Send someone else, I refuse to attend this location." list. Fortunately I could and still can cherry-pick work so it was no loss.

          Another one I turned down was a private school that complained that the children knew more about computers than the staff and it was becoming impossible to teach any subject that involved the useo f a computer because the kids kept changing security settings and deleting files from teachers' workstations.

          I showed them a system that was designed for another school that used Citrix for the kids giving them a sandboxed environment where it didn't matter what they deleted/changed because next time they used it, it would be restored from the template. The design ensured that kids could not access the staff systems. The school refused on the grounds that this was some sort of evil magic. I refused to go along and tinker with their malware-infested, thoroughly compromised network any more.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

            "I showed them a system that was designed for another school that used Citrix for the kids giving them a sandboxed environment where it didn't matter what they deleted/changed because next time they used it, it would be restored from the template."

            What happened, then, when you learn the kids found out how to ESCAPE the sandbox and STILL infect the machines?

      3. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

        why am I picturing the the TV show abfab ? was her name Edina ?

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Not me, but a colleague ..

      Estate agents are the same everywhere. You could have easily just described an American RE agent.

      As with the rest of the posts in this thread.

      I get an RE agent needing support and I'm instantly hard nosed and overcharging.

      Oh, and abfab was NOT fiction.

  15. Rob Crawford

    Easily fixed

    Such issues are easily fixed by making such calls chargeable.

    If the contract didn't cover such calls being chargeable then the people involved in the bid should be sacked

    1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Easily fixed

      We had a similar situation- customer had a support contract, but on-site visits were extra. Which was handy because one of the remote offices demanded an on-site visit for every minor issue (one included me arriving to the site and just plugging back in the computer that the cleaner had unplugged the night before). This stopped the moment we showed him how much he had accrued in extra on-site charges, for the first half of the year.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Easily fixed

      "If the contract didn't cover such calls being chargeable then the people involved in the bid should be sacked"

      Probably the owner. Small businesses don't like turning away custom.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Easily fixed

        But there is such a thing as a money sink. I'm sure a small business owner would be savvy enough to turn away customers that will cost them more than they make: either in side costs or in turnover as your valuable employees check into homes as a result of calls from Hell.

        1. PC Paul

          Re: Easily fixed

          10% of your customers give you 90% of the hassle. But you can't always tell which 10% until you're well into the contract.

  16. Roger Kynaston

    Ah Education

    My first proper IT job was at a certain university now going down the drain with a loud glug glug sound.

    The computing department had it's offices next to the Information Services office where a shiny newbie was sat. A lecturer in "computer science" calls.

    CS lecturer: "I need the internet! The internet isn't working!"

    Me: "OK is it email or do you want to browse the web?"

    CS Lecturer: "The internet isn't working!"

    Me: "Could you show me which program that isn't working"

    He then pointed at the IE3 icon and sure enough it didn't work. The officially sanctioned browser was whatever version of Netscape was current then.

    CS Lecturer: "But that isn't the internet."

    I don't remember how I explained it but I think he was happy and I never go called by him again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah Education

      "CS Lecturer: "But that isn't the internet."

      It is from a users perspective.

      I've an Honours Degree in Physics and a day job of solving complex IT issues - yet I expect to take my car to the mechanics with 'this car doesn't work properly' and to explain it using laymans terms & plain english.

      In the same way I do not expect a user who is having internet browser issues to explain it as 'When using one of the non-default web browsers configured on the desktop operating system, the icon which represents a shortcut to launching the application, which would normally render html web pages from remote servers, via an intermediary proxy server, possibly due to a local configuration issue, or a wider network connectivity issue, or possibly DNS or web proxy or routing, or less likely an external ISP issue, or even the remote site to which I am connecting is having an issue with its web services'

      'The internet is broke' is an appropriate shorthand for his issue. You're supposed to be the IT guy - you work out why it's fucked.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah Education

        Your tone, words and attitude are exactly the same as the other AC fellow taking the side of the user. Which hurts them in the long run, when there are people with all their skills AND computer common sense. God help if they train up a new starter.

        I think you're a liar. You're using AC to claim two different professions.

        Post without AC. nothing you've said warrants it.

        I'm thumbing this down as it has eff all to do with reality. I'd put a small fortune on you not being IT, but having some kind of grudge.

        Stop pretending and drop the AC and start telling the truth.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah Education

        'The internet is broke' is an appropriate shorthand for his issue. You're supposed to be the IT guy - you work out why it's fucked.'

        He did. Do you have an allergy to acknowledging users misusing computers or something

        'I've an Honours Degree in Physics and a day job of solving complex IT issues''

        Ah, so you're merely a user. Mystery solved.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Ah Education

          I've an Honours Degree in Physics and a day job of solving complex IT issues

          I've an honours degree in chemistry, a masters degree in chemistry, fifteen years experience working as a professional software engineer and a firm grasp of grammar (including how to identify and correctly capitalise a proper noun). If we're playing the "most qualified wins" game, then I win, and you are wrong.

          QED

          1. Alien8n Silver badge

            Re: Ah Education

            I have a Cambridge Certificate of Computer Literacy. Does that count?

            1. thesykes

              Re: Ah Education

              Computer Studies, CSE, Grade 3.

              Bask in my reflected glory.

              1. Ian Emery Silver badge

                Re: Ah Education

                HAH!! "O" Level "C", with no help at all from the school or IT teacher; one of two mid-grades I am proud of, as the Head did his best to stop me even sitting the exams; he wanted everyone to only sit CSEs.

                BTW, a degree only means you know a lot about a tiny area of one specialised subject; not that you are particularly bright (although you might be).

                As I have just mentioned in another thread, I have had a degree (and private school), educated teacher ask me if apple crumble was vegetarian.

                1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: Ah Education

                  > As I have just mentioned in another thread, I have had a degree (and private school), educated teacher ask me if apple crumble was vegetarian.

                  Perhaps they didn't trust your cooking and were actually asking if you left the maggots in?

                2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
                  Happy

                  Re: Ah Education

                  My apple and bacon crumble is vegetarian, yes.

                  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                    Re: Ah Education

                    "My apple and bacon crumble is vegetarian, yes."

                    But is it kosher?

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Bask in my reflected glory.

                It's like basking in the soft warmth of the November sun in Florida.

                Which is what I'm doing this week, so maybe it IS the warm Florida sun.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ah Education

        "CS Lecturer: "But that isn't the internet."

        It is from a users perspective.

        You did grasp that "CS" meant "Computer Science" didn't you? For some users that perspective isn't good enough.

  17. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Not just the users though

    My current ISP has been bouncing mail from one of my customers. I complained about this and asked them to whitelist his address. They responded that they can't do this unless they can see his original mail. I pointed out this was bollocks and I don't have his original mail. They responded with a snarky "You must have the original mail, or how would you know it was bounced?" oh, easy "He telephoned me to say his emails have been bouncing for a couple of weeks." "Then you need to get a copy of the bounced email and forward it to us."

    I told them I couldn't do that and how did they expect me to get a copy of the mail? "Tell the client to forward you a copy of the mail." They're missing something there. Can't quite put my finger on it...

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Not just the users though

      To be fair, how do you know it is your ISP that is bouncing the emails, and not his? All your ISP's helldesk operator is doing is asking for the evidence so they can confirm what you are saying, because users often talk complete bollocks...

      Maybe ask your customer to forward the bounced email onto the helldesk operator? Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Not just the users though

      Lotaresco, if you havent even seen the bounce message I'd say theres a 99% chance your customer has got the address wrong.

      Like in the article.

      See also "This Fax machine is broken" not once - you hear me NOT ONCE has the fax machine ever been broken , its always been dialled wrong number , been given wrong number , reciepient hasnt turned machine on , reciepeient has changed number , phone bill not paid, etc etc etc

      All stuuf that can easily be tested by ringing your intended faxee from your mobile to see if their machine is awake

      which is what i do first off.

      well second off, first i ring client to get the number they are trying to fax,

      BECAUSE IT DIDNT OCCUR TO THE FUCKING HELPDESK TO ASK THAT!!!!!despite being asked countless time to gahter that info. let alone diagnose it.

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Not just the users though

        "Lotaresco, if you havent even seen the bounce message I'd say theres a 99% chance your customer has got the address wrong."

        Well you can say it, but you would not be correct. The ISP in question does not send bounce messages to the recipient, only to the sender. The problem isn't PBUK. It's down to the ISP blacklisting blocks of IP addresses, sweeping up the innocent with the guilty.

      2. aidanstevens
        Meh

        Whut?

        What is fax?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just the users though

      Had a similar problem at work. My company's bank started to complain that they could not send e-mails to us. After much back-and-forth of e-mails we finally worked out that their IT bunch had decided to configure their e-mails so that they would only send using TLS, which we had not configured our e-mail system for (my bad, I could not be bothered to do it). Of course the banks IT crowd did not announce this, and when we started asking questions along the lines of "have you changed anything, and if so what" they refused to talk to us.

  18. JJKing Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Schools, meh!

    Autocomplete function is actually the Outlook address book and so I was educated by this IT illiterate Primary School teacher. Her problem was it kept corrupting, unlike the NK2 file from Outlook 2007, so I kept getting calls that her address book was corrupted. After about 15 minutes I just gave up trying to explain the difference and I was fairly good at reducing an issue down to an analogy that was understandable and not geek speak. I told her to stop installing a certain Apple program that was responsible for the death and destruction in this case. Bloody iTunes.......oops.

    Got a call at 8.30pm about a teacher who couldn't logon to their laptop. I had set the passwords to never expire as I only had 4 hours per week at this school and couldn't afford to spend it on id10Ts who couldn't remember it (also happened after their 2 weeks breaks). I said I would make a special trip into the school and I would be there at 8.15am sharp, and I was. Strolled into the principal's office and laptop was on his coffee table, closed and turned off. No password had been left, would have been useless since teachers start each sentence with a capital letter so who knows what the case sensitivity of the password would have been. Some even wrote their whole password in UPPERCASE when it was asked for. TEN minutes later the teacher was found, typed password into the laptop that I had booted and surprise, surprise, it logged on. "Well it wouldn't work last night". I cracked it saying I had just wasted 30 minutes coming here for a working password. It was out of my way for that day and I had to wait while the teacher was found. I should have just left it and fixed it during my next weekly scheduled visit.

    A Prep class (first year students), I couldn't leave there after fixing a fault until I got a special stamp on my hand from the minimalistic brain sized teacher.

    Oh yes, the Internet is not working is teacher code for "I can't access my Facebook page" when everything else is working.

    Had a school where they office staff refused to keep documentation from couriers. This resulted in some 8 laptops being delivered, put into the strongroom, $2,000 worth of books being delivered. Laptops were configured and setup for the appropriate staff members. Laptops ended up having the wrong serial numbers (I could have resolved this with a single phone call but I was not forwarded the email that got sent to the School Notebook Representative, SNR) so another 8 laptops sent to the school and put in the strongroom. Remember, I don't know about these extra laptops. School sends laptops back to supplier. I enter strongroom and ask why there are 16 laptops here. No said office moron, they were returned. I get call from laptop supplier about a delivery of books from said school. My report was a two pages long as I described in detail what had happened. You guys got the cliff notes version. It was a total and avoidable cockup if I had been forward that single email.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical

    Users usually are quick to blame hardware, software, anything but user error, and become verbally abusive when it's implied that it's user error, not the technology. Apparently, she was more stupid than she looks. One would think that after it had been proven the first time that she made a typo, that she might want to insure that she typed in the correct e-mail address, in the future. Apparently, not.

  20. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    People who never make mistakes are incapable of learning from them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really??

    Impressive job titles are meaningless, when that job title belongs to an idiot with questionable skills and a bad attitude. Makes the idiot look even worse for acting like an arsenal, when it actually is in fact, user error.

  22. Jimathy

    Travel time charges

    After the second call out I would have started charging Travel time + expenses.

    I can't stand the blame culture that exists today, shit happens, get over it.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a coworker, in fairness only at the other end of the building, but SOP is that whenever she calls with a problem you promise to come and fix it in ten minutes.

    She almost never lasts ten minutes before calling back and saying she's found how to fix it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "She almost never lasts ten minutes before calling back and saying she's found how to fix it."

      Oh, she's a keeper! The shit ones don't bother to tell you until you get there that they "fixed" it.

  24. Frank N. Stein

    SameTime

    What I despise about Notes is SameTime, which I'm forced to have to use. I miss the good ole days where there was no chat programs in use, at work.

  25. TomPhan

    My favourite story of a demanding user

    This happened to my wife - a support call was escalated to her and marked as urgent because it was a surgeon needing something before going into surgery; it's understandable that anything which could be a matter of life and death doesn't stay with a tier 1 person going through a script.

    She quickly found that the problem was the printer was out of paper and as a surgeon it was beneath him to put any in.

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: My favourite story of a demanding user

      "a support call was escalated to her and marked as urgent because it was a surgeon needing something before going into surgery"

      Surgeons, Flash Harrys, are like that. I taled to an NHS support person a few years ago who said to me that it's very difficult to resist a surgeon's demands because they always scream that "SOMEONE WILL DIE" if they don't have their own way. He gave the example of a surgeon demanding to load patient data onto his own iPad and when refused screaming that "SOMEONE WILL DIE" so IT support had caved in and connected his private device to the hospital network.

      I had experience of working in the NHS when I was (much) younger. I suggested that they should have asked if people were dying at the moment because he wasn't using an iPad and then to suggest that if that was the case he should be reported to the BMA standards committee for looking after victims patients inappropriately.

  26. Ken Smith

    Some clients need sacked

    I dumped a client once who had forwarded his e-mail to a personal pop3 e-mail account on his own Mac. So it downloads the e-mail to the Mac. Then the Mac had a hard disk fail and he lost his e-mail and he wasn't backing up his Mac. He blamed me quite aggressively that I hadn't backed up his Mac & e-mail. I concluded that he would blame us for everything and he knew enough about IT to dig a big hole and blame others that he couldn't get out of it.

  27. Paul Renault

    Why didn't the service contract include extra charges for user errors?

    With the planet burning up because of all this unneeded carbon loading caused unnecessary, customer-caused four hour trips (my guess, some 50l of gasoline) when caused by users who refuse to understand basic training and simple checking would be stopped by actually charging the customer.

    This would shut this BS down quite quickly, no?

    Isn't billing the customer extra when an on-site visit is required because of their errors standard practice? It is where I work.

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Why didn't the service contract include extra charges for user errors?

      Four hours during the London rush "hour" (00:01-23:59), could mean a distance of nearly a MILE!!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    University errors

    This week I received a phone call in the middle of the night from and educational institution half a world away requiring me to change over two adjacent columns in a spreadsheet. The columns involved only contained numbers there were no formulas that could even potentially be messed up. The whole job took 10 seconds but why does someone have to drag me out of bed for that?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not related but support

    Only on Friday night (10pm) I got a call to help someone charge their new laptop. Bought that day. Post Facebook user, first laptop. After talking, sending images with big red arrows I got asked "can't you come here and help me" ... If only it was a ploy to get me there, but sadly it was a real request and I said #$&-&##&-_#

    Blood relatives only now, and that's because I've trained them.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Billing properly fixes these issues easily.

    Have to say, that contract should have had travel time factored in. So long as the user is paying, I have no problems driviving 50 miles to push a power button or whatever when a user will not or can not troubleshoot effectively over the phone.

    I ran a boutique firm (2 man shop) that focused on the music business. Loved almost every one of my customers, who were pretty with it and mostly paid their bills in time. But one guy, who had written a couple of hit songs and therefore could live quite well simply by walking to the mailbox in a bathrobe holding a water tumbler full of Jim Beam every so often, well, he was SPECIAL

    He desired a home recording studio, and we were happy to design, deploy and bill for same. Worked great when we left and our boy was as happy as a turtle in a dishwasher.

    About a week later I got called back about 9:00 in the evening...the studio wasn't working and he was planning a session the next day. The Jim Beam made troubleshooting over the phone impossible, so I jumped in the truck and made the 70 mile drive down to his palatial estate, fended off his damned poorly trained and ill tempered Rottweiler getting to the house, and went to the studio to see what the problem was.

    I found the "Windtunnel" Mac the system was build to his specifications laying on the floor, open, all I/O pulled from it, and a new I/O card that a songwriter buddy had given him now installed. Buddy had tried to make it work, but was frustrated by the fact that short of writing your own drivers, that particular card was never ever going to work on this DAW platform.

    Friend has really tried to help, mostly by wiping or altering all the configurations for the DAW. I grimaced, and went to work. My client, three sheets to the wind, kept pulling me away to listen to new tracks or look at videos in the media room. The sociability turned a maybe 2 hour job into 5 hours stretching to the wee hours.

    When presented with the bill for the 5 hours on site, after hours differential + 140 miles travel, client was taken aback. He thought the time I spent listening to drunken ramblings while watching Britney Spears videos in the middle of the night was billed at a lower rate, apparently.

    I gave him the option to pay for half and lose my phone number, or pay up. He paid half.

    It took a week before my phone was ringing again. I gave him the phone number of my best competitor and wished him well.

    No one should do this job for free. Family pays a 20% surcharge to compensate for the fact that it is difficult to fire them as completely.

    And the smartest decision a small business owner can make is which customers need to be fired.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Billing properly fixes these issues easily.

      "No one should do this job for free. Family pays a 20% surcharge to compensate for the fact that it is difficult to fire them as completely."

      Can't family counter with bad Christmas presents, impromptu visits during the holidays (where you may happen to be), and (if immediate like the spouse) threats of cold dinners for a week and so on?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not just educators

    Oh boy i have a couple of users like this... If its not a miss spelled email address (which they keep adding back to outlook autocomplete, despite being shown how to remove the incorret address), they are complaining about bounced emails and dont bother to read the reject message will say the 500mb email they tried to send was rejected due to its size...

    What annoys me the most about said users, you will explain things in the most simple way you can, they will nod along and give the impression they are listening... (And due to this you have to try and explain it again the next time do the same stupid thing that makes you feel your in the IT version of ground hog day). If someone doesnt understand, i will happily explain it another way until they get an understaning.. But instead they dont want to look thick when mention such techno bable such as email and subject line. So instead they nod along with the same unchanged the lights are on but no ones home expression they always have.

    The other favorite line is i dont care why, i just want it fixed... Without them accepting socially (but know deep down) they are what needs fixing, and the explination of x was your attempt to fix said heavily defective and broken peice of office equiptment they look at in the mirror each morning.

    I do miss the days of AT power units and having a 240v live switch at the front of the case... I could in theory think of a number of ways to fix the broken kit......

  32. EmleyMoor

    Idiots not retaining bounce messages

    Occasionally, attempts to email me fail. This has been going on for years... at times it has been overzealous reaction to a "server busy" message, at other times misreaction to a rejection for being malformed. There are also instances lacking explanation.

    Why? Because NOT ONE of the affected senders has EVER bothered to keep a bounce message to show to me. I have specifically requested of one of the worst offenders that they now do... they are yet to have email bounce since they were asked.

    One of the affected senders is a well known market research service, and I am a member of one of their schemes. You'd think they'd know how useful bounce messages are!

    The other is a housing association, and none of the staff who email me are particularly IT savvy, hence my instruction to them.

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