back to article Fast food, slow user – techie tears hair out over crashed drive-thru till

Welcome once more to On Call, where Reg readers share the tech support moments that really made their eyes roll. This week, meet “Ronald”, who has had a range of in-house and outsourced IT jobs in his career but wrote in to tell us about his work for a famous fast food company. “I worked the night shift dealing with the joys …

  1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Ahhh, memories...

    Many's the time I've managed to get an nuisance caller (I mean "user") off the line by getting them to unwittingly unplug their phone. I also had a trick where if I worked out that they were on a mobile, I'd just tap the mute on/off repeatedly so they'd think they had bad reception.

    1. AbelSoul
      Trollface

      Re: Ahhh, memories...

      So, it was you I spoke to earlier....

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        Thankfully, I've been out of front-line customer support for many years now. :) I have a team doing that for me (and I'm careful not to pass on any of my bad habits).

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Ahhh, memories...

      Whilst we all I'm sure would love to get away with some of the stuff the BOFH does, doing stuff like that gives IT Pros and IT Support in general a bad name. We have to deal professionally with the fools who are a nuisance and shit all over us as well as the people who hardly ever ask us for anything and are grateful for the help. It's the swings and roundabouts of the job we are in.

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        This was back in the day when the company I worked for suddenly found itself giving free support to a competitor- they'd sell kit, usually by undercutting us, and then hand out our phone number when their customers came looking for technical support- so costing us money. In the end, if I found out that the kit was bought from the competition, I'd just tell the customer that it was faulty and to take it back to where they bought it and get a replacement. This forced the competitor into having to do technical support themselves.

        1. Wensleydale Cheese

          giving free support to a competitor

          In the early 90s my boss was keen on Apricot's latest offerings and recommended them to various folks.

          Apricot in their wisdom (cough) then started advertising them at a lower price than we could get them for, so one potential customer bought direct from them instead.

          The cheeky blighter thought that just because we had recommended them, we should offer free support. We had to explain time and again that if he had bought from us, support would have been included.

          He really should have known better, because he ran his own successful business.

          1. ShadowDragon8685

            Re: giving free support to a competitor

            And how do you think he got to be successful, huh? Clearly it was by doing everything he could to get a deal, the git.

        2. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Ahhh, memories...

          This was back in the day when the company I worked for suddenly found itself giving free support to a competitor- they'd sell kit, usually by undercutting us, and then hand out our phone number when their customers came looking for technical support- so costing us money. In the end, if I found out that the kit was bought from the competition, I'd just tell the customer that it was faulty and to take it back to where they bought it and get a replacement. This forced the competitor into having to do technical support themselves.Worked at a retailer a while ago who sold a range of 3rd party products which were mostly "to order". There were other retailers who sold these products in other areas of the UK often at a discounted price which they weren't supposed to do. So a lady called up and asked the bemused sales assistant for information on her order. The poor sales assistant was unable to find the order on the computer and asked me for help (I knew I should have gone to the pub earlier). I asked the customer if she'd placed the order through this branch or another one with that chain. She hadn't it was with another distributor but she didn't think that was a problem. I said that we couldn't see her order as wouldn't be on our system. She told me I was being difficult and very painful "not what I expected". When I mentioned the data protection act she hissed down the phone that I was just like the last showroom she'd called. We weren't the first victims apparently and after phoning around found out she'd called a few places. The distributor she had ordered from shut at 5pm not 6pm and she couldn't get anything from them. Served her right for going to the cheaper distributor.

      2. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        <quote>We have to deal professionally with the fools who are a nuisance and shit all over us...</quote>

        Are you speaking about Manglement?????

      3. GX5000
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        I really miss TSC...

        The guys that DDOS's it to death should be found and quartered and the site jump started.

        Mind you found http://www.notmymonkies.net/ and http://www.techtales.com/techroom.php and this site.

        As if I have the time to reads them nowadays....

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        We have 4 actual BOFH downvoting you. Seems legit.

      5. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        I'm pretty sure the stuff the BofH does gives you a murder beef.

    3. Velv Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Ahhh, memories...

      Online chat boxes.

      “OK, we need to switch to the application behind the chat window, if you press Alt-F4 the application will come to the front.”

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        I thought Alt-F4 saved your work?

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Ahhh, memories...

          "...I thought Alt-F4 saved your work?.."

          Nah...it activates the aimbot in Halo PC.

          The number of times idiots fell for that. Repeatedly.

    4. phuzz Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Ahhh, memories...

      I've somewhat accidentally made a customer unplug their phone, by asking them to check the cables and connections for their ADSL line, without specifically and repeatedly telling them not to unplug anything.

      Then you ring back and they customer says "I don't know what happened there?", and all I can do is imagine them stood there with a dead phone in one hand, and the unplugged cable in the other, utterly unable to make the link between one and the other.

      All you can do is take a deep breath, go back to being calm and helpful, and make sure you pick up some of the nice booze for when you get home.

      1. macjules Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        Try government IT support then:

        "You need to have your issued USB dongle to hand, do you have that?"

        "Yes"

        "Can you plug it in please?"

        "Done"

        "Now switch on the computer"

        "Nothing happens"

        "One second, have you plugged the dongle into YOUR computer?"

        "You didn't say that it had to be be my one!"

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Ahhh, memories...

          Ah yes Helldesk

          Customer: "My internet isnt working"

          Me: "Ok do you get any error message from your modem or computer when trying to connect"

          Customer: "Erm, let me check..."

          ***Computer trying to dial a number***

          ***Random Computer dialup noises***

          Customer: "Thats odd I get another error message"

          I do not miss 56k calls where the end user hadn't written down or recorded the issue they were having and was so glad when ADSL became mainstream.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Ahhh, memories...

            Not just you Helldesk guys..

            "My internet isnt working" was common when I was supporting colleagues as the IT lead. Except that "My internet isn't working" frequently turned out to mean "My whole fucking computer isn't working". Not being tied to a remote IT desk I quickly learnt that it was quicker to pop up/downstairs to their office than try to resolve issues over the phone. Luckily, though it meant stopping my own work to do it, that usually saved much more time than it wasted - even allowing for all the other diversions and delays on the way.

            Whereas "The email isn't working" did often mean that the internet connection was down. Oh, and sometimes "The computer isn't working" meant that the printer had gone offline when they needed it. I never got to the bottom of that, even standing next to the fully working computer with them, looking at the error message from the printer. And once, when this happened, the user pointed to the error messages on the screen and said "See, it isn't working".

            I assume we've all been through dealing with users who think the monitor is the computer, and the box is just the "hard drive". As in "Is the light on the computer on? "Yes." . When in fact only the monitor is.

            1. Pirate Dave
              Pirate

              Re: Ahhh, memories...

              The one I always loved was the call of "The Internet isn't working", when the actual problem turned out to be that the user had set the browser's startup page to some obscure website Somewhere Out There, and that website was down. Did they bother trying to go to Google or Yahoo or CNN or anywhere else? No. Start browser, get error message, call IT to complain loudly. Lovely.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Ahhh, memories...

              > I assume we've all been through dealing with users who think the monitor is the computer, and the box is just the "hard drive"

              Yes, in the context of putting a bag of 10 3.5" HDDs out for electricals recycling and not having them collected. then having $COUNCILWORKER huffily tell me that "10 Hard drives is far too many to put out in your electricals recycling, they don't have room for that on the vehicle"

              1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                Re: Ahhh, memories...

                the 56k modem with another line was a godsend (especially with laplink!). that being said, the ones where the othwr line was in a different room was a nightmare. i remember installing tv card drivers via chinese whispers chain of people

          2. Michael Strorm

            Re: Ahhh, memories...

            > "***Computer trying to dial a number***"

            > "***Random Computer dialup noises***"

            @Captain Scarlet; A *real* geek would have been able to accurately imitate the sound of the modem at the other end and fool the computer into thinking everything had gone well. Though you might have had to drop to 14,400kbps. (I'm a reasonable man and don't expect miracles.)

            You'd also be able to cunningly implement a man-in-the-middle attack, so long as you could work out how to interpret and modify the data in your head. In real time.

            1. 's water music Silver badge

              Re: Ahhh, memories...

              > "***Random Computer dialup noises***"

              @Captain Scarlet; A *real* geek would have been able to accurately imitate the sound of the modem at the other end and fool the computer into thinking everything had gone well

              So I wasn't the only one singing to myself in my head as I read that post.

              Wheeeeeeeeeeee-owwwwwwwwwwwww ... Wheee-owww Wheee-owww ... bzzzt whoossshhshthsthssthhstyshhstshhstshstthwhoossshhshthsthssthhstyshhstshhstshstth

              +++

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh, memories...

        To be fair, even working in telecomms for a living for a while, I've done that. Absent mindedly. I blame the prevalence of cellular phones for rendering my subconscious incapable of realizing that 'examining the inner workings of the NTE' (which in the UK involves removing the faceplate with the actual socket on it) is going to kill the phone.

        I'm usually too embarrassed to call back

    5. jimbo60

      Re: Ahhh, memories...

      Recalling the "Internet Helpdesk" skit by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie. Worth a watch if you haven't seen it.

  2. Douchus McBagg

    Re: Ahh, memories...

    have an upvote! i'd forgotten those little classics :)

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=blackadder+goes+forth+phone+problems&view=detail&mid=63D00818FB024225332463D00818FB0242253324&FORM=VIRE

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Douchus McBagg

      You use BING?!?!?!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Douchus McBagg

        Someone has to.

        1. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: @ Douchus McBagg

          "Someone has to."

          No they don't! It's like choosing to use Edge.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: @ Douchus McBagg

            "Sorry, this video is no longer available."

            I blame Bing.

            Correct video located by google:

            https://youtu.be/3JEUChn0Jq8

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              Re: @ Douchus McBagg

              I use Ask Jeeves, still waiting for him to bring me my cup of tea >_<

              1. herman Silver badge

                Re: @ Douchus McBagg

                Eh? Your tea is sitting in the retractable cup holder under your desk...

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                2. Danny 14 Silver badge

                  Re: @ Douchus McBagg

                  i pushed the credit card in the 3.5" slot. it hasnt taken any payment for my pizza though.

                3. Montreal Sean

                  Re: @ Douchus McBagg

                  I miss laptops with optical drives.

                  I now have to carry a coaster around with me for my tea.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: @ Douchus McBagg

        You use BING?!?!?!

        You jest (and I'm right with you there) but in all seriousness did you know their by-image search is actually _far_ superior to Google's...? It offers funky features like "select the part of the image you want to search for" instead of using the entire picture as target, while Google not only fails to find almost _any_ results on by-image search for me lately (it's a relatively recent development) but also flat out removed by-image searching completely from the regional page it absolutely insists on redirecting me to, regardless of where I come from - so the only way I can access it these days is typing in the direct URL of the main by-image search page...

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: @ Douchus McBagg

          re: regional redirect ... google.com/ncr ?

  3. wyatt

    We sometimes get people asking if their data will be available for the period of a power cut, hard to get through to them that if it isn't powered on..

    I use to support finger print machines for the police. Quite a few times on nights you'd hear the panic buttons being pressed and the phone getting dropped, a few minutes later an out of breath copper would be very grateful you'd not hung up on them. More of a nuisance customer than user..

  4. groovyf

    Re: Sad times

    "Ronald"... not too hard to guess the drive-thru business!

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Sad times

      Yeah it really didn't help with my craving for a sausage and egg McMuffin this morning.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Sad times

      " not too hard to guess the drive-thru business!"

      And it's clear it's not just members of the advertising staff wearing hugely oversized shoes

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Sad times

      >"Ronald"... not too hard to guess the drive-thru business!

      Burger King?

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Sad times

        No, it's clearly KFC. Ronald McDonald is a big cock.

        1. Evil Scot

          Re: Sad times

          Which reminds me...

          How do you tell the clan of a Scotsman?

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Sad times

            I dont know,

            How do you tell the clan of a Scotsman?

          2. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Sad times

            "How do you tell the clan of a Scotsman?"

            No idea, but I would presume rather carefully, depending on how many and how well-armed they are and what exactly you are planning to tell them about said Scotsman...

            1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

              Re: Sad times

              "How do you tell the clan of a Scotsman?"

              Lift his kilt and see if he's a big MacDonald

            2. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Sad times

              "How do you tell the clan of a Scotsman?"

              I'm beginning to wonder if we'll get the answer to that question?

              Personally, I'm half Scottish on my mothers side, so I just asked mum.

            3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

              Re: Sad times

              "How do you tell the clan of a Scotsman?"

              Lift his kilt & count the blue ribbons! =-D

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Sad times

          I work near 2 fast food places, smelly unpleasant oil smells drift into the office.

          Their customers block the road in.

          And one of them has a huge picture of Rolf Harris outside, the other a doubled up Arch computer logo.

  5. Richard Gray 1
    Facepalm

    Very Good Answer...

    I used to work in the tech department of an electronic retailer, still in operation, sounds like a police office....

    Anyway I answered the phone....

    "I have the wrong monitor"

    "Very sorry sir, was it the 14 inch instead of the 15 inch?" (yes it was that long ago)

    "No it just won't fit"

    I asked about bend pins on the cable, bent outer shell etc, all the time getting "No it just won't fit"

    I asked if he was trying to fit it to the wrong port (the NEW colour coded ports were a godsend!)

    "No it just won't fit, I've looked at it and it won't fit"

    Aha! thinks I.. "Well sir, it may look like it won't fit if some of the pins are missing, but the VGA connector does not use all the pins so sometimes they just don't put them in, but if you try it it will fit"

    "No it won't I've held it next to the port and it's too big"

    "Have you actually tried it?" I ask.

    "No because I can see it won't fit"

    "Will you please try it?"

    "No because I can see it won't fit!"

    After about 10 minutes of this I start to loose my temper (It took much longer back in those days, about 10 seconds these days)

    "Look" I shout "Will you just bloody try it!!!"

    Silence....

    Then a sheepish voice on the other end saying "I've been a bit foolish haven't I?"

    "Yes sir you have, Bye" and hung up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very Good Answer...

      Unsure where they were trying to fit their monitor !

      I find placing it on the desk works for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very Good Answer...

        "What's on the monitor?"

        "A flowerpot"

        o-kaaay, that we'll deal with later

        "What's _written_ on it?"

        "Sony"

        ...

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Very Good Answer...

          '"What's on the monitor?"

          '"A flowerpot"

          'o-kaaay, that we'll deal with later'

          If they have a flowerpot on their monitor, I'd be worried about them watering it. Some flowerpots leak, which isn't good for the monitor under it. Pouring liquids over something on top of electronics is a bit dodgy to. Though when I'm eating or drinking at a computer in an office, I always tell any nearby non IT staff "Don't do this at home, I'm a professional.".

          1. J P
            Coat

            Re: Onefang

            You're assuming there's something in the flowerpot that needs watering.

            1. onefang Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Onefang

              I wasn't assuming there was anything that needs watering in the flowerpot, just that someone might be watering it. The two are not related.

              Anymore watering going on and we'll need our raincoats.

        2. Chloe Cresswell

          Re: Very Good Answer...

          Christmas time - tinsel on monitor. Often ending up with bits of tinsel _in_ monitors :(

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Very Good Answer...

            "Often ending up with bits of tinsel _in_ monitors :("

            I've seen several overhead fans in a large hall with tinsel and string poking out of the motor housings.

            1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Very Good Answer...

              This was all much more fun in the days of valve TVs

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Very Good Answer...

                I'm currently dealing with a similar problem. I don't work in IT support, but when my family members have issues, they come to me. This time, it's one of my family members who runs a small business with no IT help at all. Unfortunately, the help is going like this:

                Family: We have a firewall, and it's old. We want to get rid of it.

                Me: Would you like me to recycle it? I get rid of a lot of hardware.

                Family: No. We don't know the password to it, or actually we think we know the password to it, but we don't know for sure.

                Me: Do you need the password if you're just going to get rid of it?

                Them: Well, we don't know, but how can we configure it if we don't have the password?

                Me: Do you want it or not.

                Them: Do we need it?

                Me: I don't know. What are you doing with it?

                Them: It's between the modem and the router.

                Me: Do you mean the WiFi access point?

                Them: No, that's connected directly to the router.

                Me: Which is downstream from the firewall, right?

                Them: [confidently, so I know they haven't a clue] Yes.

                Me: [realizing that using the word downstream was my fault and I shouldn't have] Do you know what I mean by downstream?

                Them: Yes, of course.

                Me: Ok. Then what is upstream from the firewall?

                Them: We have some network phones and a computer on that part. All the other computers are on the other part.

                Me: Which part? Can we start from the line in from the ISP? What's plugged into that?

                Them: The modem from the ISP.

                Me: And what's plugged into that?

                Them: The firewall and the router.

                Me: What's plugged into the firewall?

                Them: The router and the modem.

                Me: Is this router the same one that's connected to the modem directly?

                Them: Yes.

                Me: And what's connected to the router?

                Them: The server, the switch, a phone box, and the WiFi.

                Me: [Pretty sure they've got a loop but at least I understand now] So the router is between all the devices on the network and the modem? There's nothing else there?

                Them: No. The firewall is only between the router and the server. The computers are connected to the switch.

                And it continues. This is why I didn't go into IT or specifically networking. I can sysadmin a lot of stuff, but I don't know whether I can do a business network, let alone one where someone's already treated it as a cabling playground. But more importantly, it's why I would never work in support. Even if all the programming jobs that I'd rather do are replaced by AI, I'll not do support. My sanity is important to me.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: Very Good Answer...

                  > Me: And what's connected to the router?

                  About this point I realised I was far too busy to help them and suggested they get someone in this time (I was 300 miles away).

                  $400 later they realised how much free time they'd been getting out of me and tended to be far more reasonable in requests.

              2. Mage Silver badge

                Re: much more fun in the days of valve TVs

                My dad watered the plant on top of the recently installed Colour TV, that had replaced the B&W hybrid one we watched Moon Landing on. Not sure it had any valves (1971?). He missed, the TV went blank and made crackly sounds. Later it was turned back on and worked.

                Likely while spectacular, repairing watered valve gear is easier than modern electronics. SMPSUs? Replace all the caps and semiconductors as fault-finding is often fruitless, though on one occasion I simply replaced the rectifier that had a hole "blown" in it, and the standalone DVD player/recorder worked again. I use it occasionally as it can "burn" Firewire O/P of 8mm Digital camcorder to DVD. My last laptop had FW, but nothing newish I have has it.

                1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

                  Re: much more fun in the days of valve TVs

                  Sadly original HP Touchpads (remember them?) aren't waterproof. Or at least, wineproof.

          2. BostonEddie

            Re: Very Good Answer...

            Along the same lines as using steel wool to repair an intermittent motherboard RAM slot

          3. Cpt Blue Bear

            Re: Very Good Answer...

            "Christmas time - tinsel on monitor. Often ending up with bits of tinsel _in_ monitors :("

            I walked past a row of CRT monitors draped with tinsel and commented that they shouldn't do that because its a fire hazard. I was not actually serious, I figured the strands are so thin and contain so little conductive metal that should they bridge something high voltage they would vaporise before any harm was done.

            I seems I was wrong.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Very Good Answer...

      Modem with a 5 pin Domino Din.

      My modem doesn't work.....does this instead of dialling.

      Please remove & rotate the cable though 180 degrees

      It's keyed

      It will fit,

      Ohh thanks

      Then you get the one idiot that wouldn't accept that & wanted someone to drive from Exeter - somewhere up north to repair\replace perform diagnostics, ringing us for weeks.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Working at a hospital in the early 90's with a DOS based patient system and diskless clients that booted from the network. At times the little darlings would crash to a state they needed a power cycle. Most users were used to this and dealt with it them selves, couple of minutes to get back and running.

    Users that did call in normally could find the box under the monitor and power cycle it. But not the user I had one day.

    "There is no box under the monitor"

    Fair enough, it could be next to it or in some locations on a shelf underneath.

    "No nothing there either"

    OK - it's a beige box and has a green light on the front.

    "Nothing like that"

    Now getting a bit annoyed - I was a coder not hardware support and this was a ward or clerk terminal. I know it's not anything special. Trace the cable out of the back of the keyboard - this will lead to the PC - it may have a barcode reader inline if it's on the ward to scan badge at login to make secure but trace onwards from that.

    "There is no cable at the back of the keyboard"

    At this point my boss who is listening in volunteers to go and educate the caller (fix the problem) congratulating me on my patience.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      "educate the caller"

      Oh please do tell us how that "education" was performed. I have visions of your boss educating the user using said keyboard to give them a good whack about the cranium!

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: "educate the caller"

        Hey those model M keyboards were damn near indestructible. Wait since this was a medical environment ma be he gave the end user a few liters of morphine.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "educate the caller"

        "using said keyboard to give them a good whack about the cranium!"

        Did your office not have a 2 by 2 clue bat made of high tech hickory?

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "educate the caller"

        "Oh please do tell us how that "education" was performed."

        Despite the proffered vision....

        In a bunch of cases here it's been something along the lines of:

        Sits down beside user, gets comfortable.

        "Now do you see that box that's popped up on the screen?"

        "Yes, it's got some error message in it"

        "What does that message say?"

        "I don't know, something incomprehensible, I don't read them!"

        "So, humour me and read this one. What does it say"

        "Cannot connect to mailserver, password expired"

        "What do you suppose that might mean?"

        "I don't know! I don't read them!"

        "You're reading this one."

        "Er I don't know, Maybe that my password has expired?"

        "Now you're starting to catch on. Now why do you think that might have happened?"

        "Because I didn't change it?"

        "Why didn't you change it"

        "Because I didn't know I had to"

        "Even though emails were telling you it was about to expire and you had to change it, 21 and 14 days before it expired, then one every day in the final week, and then 2 per day for 14 days between expiry and the account being totally locked out - and your password expired 5 days ago"

        "What emails? I never saw them!"

        $boss - seeing them clearly showing up in the mail client subject list on the screen

        "Really, have you looked at your mailbox?"

        "Yes"

        "Take another look?

        "There's nothing there!"

        "What about these ones then?"

        "I don't read those!!"

        Eventually the user was persuaded to change password and told to read email.

        Next time the password expired, we went through the same circus.

        User is a senior academic researcher with high level qualifications and a string of awards to his/her name (there is more than one culprit, they're of both sexes and they all have prima donna tendencies) - giving substance to the hypothesis that provision of PhD involves removal of common sense.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: provision of PhD involves removal of common sense

          One of my wife's PhD colleagues once had to take the tube to go to a meeting. She asked around for tube schedules... not maps for directions, mind, she really wanted to know at what time did the tube depart!

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: provision of PhD involves removal of common sense

            If you're not experienced with tube travel I can imagine you wouldn't know they operate on a "one every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day" schedule and assume they work like trains, where one departs at most every 30 minutes and they don't all go to the same places either. Not everyone lives in London (I'm assuming London from the generic use of "the tube") or another place with an underground/metro.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "educate the caller"

          No Alan Brown, that doesn't read as lack of common sense. It reads of a sense of entitlement and an arrogance that says he/she doesn't think they need to take notice like other mere mortals do.

    2. onefang Silver badge

      "There is no cable at the back of the keyboard"

      At this point I'm wondering if it's a laptop. No box under the monitor, next to it, or on a shelf. No beige box with a green light on the front. No cable at the back of the keyboard if it's running on battery.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Early 90s and sounds like its not an exec/manager calling, so probably not a laptop.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          well was it then! thats a half a story!

          enquiring minds need to know!

          I have dealt with more of that shit than most of you , but "no cable from keyboard" is leaving me stumped.

          Are they struggling with the keypad on the office door and have reported it as "cannot enter patient record?"

          Are they tapping away at a picture of a keyboard on the box the keyboard came in?

          the mind boggles

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Wireless keyboard?

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              "Wireless keyboard?"

              in the early 90s?

              1. kain preacher Silver badge

                I had one. Let me tell you it was craptstic. It ate batteries like there was no tomorrow . Range was limited. infarct IR devices on the PC worked better. Oh and cordless phones knocked it off. Yep those were the good ole days . Yep windows 95 brings back memories of plug and pray and driver hell.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  cordless keyboards

                  " Range was limited. infarct IR devices on the PC worked better. Oh and cordless phones knocked it off."

                  Also no encryption/handshaking and no channelling, which meant that if there were 2 within a few metres of each other, keystrokes from both keyboards would feed as input into both computers.

                  Lots of fun ensued when users in adjacent offices decided they'd obtain such devices and of course they'd scream bloody murder when you took their toy away.

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: cordless keyboards

                    "Also no encryption/handshaking and no channelling, which meant that if there were 2 within a few metres of each other, keystrokes from both keyboards would feed as input into both computers.

                    Which was very useful when having to produce multiple copies of boot floppies, especially with the Apricot F1 which was quite deep front to back, but only about 8" wide so quite nicely shaped to get 4 or 5 side by side all doing the same thing from one keyboard :-)

                    1. VikiAi Silver badge
                      Boffin

                      Re: cordless keyboards

                      I once had the 'Ghost Typing' effect. This was with early-model radio (microwave?) transmitting units which had either 128 or 256 possible device IDs, so the chances of two nearby being the same were small, but not insignificant in a large, closely-packed workplace.

                  2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

                    Re: cordless keyboards

                    You don't have to go back further than 10 years ago: we bought 4 iMac for our comp lab, the bluetooth keyboard would pair randomly if 2 machines were booting at same time...

                    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                      Re: cordless keyboards

                      given all of the above

                      wtf is the point of wireless keyboards?

                      You solve the non-problem of having a small wire on the desk, and create countless others.

                      1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

                        Re: cordless keyboards

                        The only time I've used a wireless keyboard has been when setting up a Raspberry Pi as a home media centre - setting up kodi addons via url is easier when you can type.

                        Don't see the point of one on a desk, especially for gamers.

                      2. VikiAi Silver badge
                        Boffin

                        Re: what is the point of cordless keyboards?

                        Agreed! I can see the point of wireless for things that regularly move about like mice or barcode scanners, but for something that tends to stay where it is put for long periods such as a keyboard or trackball, why? Waste of batteries, and time periodically hunting for a new battery!

                        I de-soldered and replaced a button switch in my lovely logictech trackman wheel just yesterday rather than swap my trusty USB unit for the wireless version, which is all they make now in this style :-( (I do have another unit I pulled from the e-waste stream - perfectly working - in deep storage for the day my present one can't be repaired again, too).

                        Oh, and as for those Apple cordless mice that you have to turn over to plug in the USB charging cable and so can't then use while charging ... W...T...F...!

                        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                          Re: what is the point of cordless keyboards?

                          "so can't then use while charging ... "

                          That is mind bogglingly stupid , except in devices that spunk away all the charge faster than the charger would be able to replace and overload the charger. this is not that.

                          If I owned a company that had produced that, people would be sacked.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                "Wireless keyboard?"

                in the early 90s?

                Apricot were doing wireless IR keyboards around the same time as the original IBM PC/XT was still around.

                1. kain preacher Silver badge

                  PCjr had an IR keyboard

  7. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Coat

    Do you want fries with that?

    "This week, meet “Ronald”, who has had a range of in-house and outsourced IT jobs in his career but wrote in to tell us about his work for a famous fast food company."

    What do you expect from the staff at McDonalds?

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Do you want fries with that?

      What do you expect from the staff at McDonalds?

      What is a compoota?

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Do you want fries with that?

      >What do you expect from the staff at McDonalds?

      A philosophy degree?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Could I perhaps interest you in some thin sliced double fried chips?

        To be fair - any Liberal Arts would work.

      2. onefang Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Do you want fries with that?

        I thought computers came with chips, not fries?

        Though I did have a guy bring in a motherboard once that had a potato chip stuck in the middle of it.

        1. Patched Out

          Re: Do you want fries with that?

          CPU - Central Potato Unit?

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Do you want fries with that?

            CPU - Central Potato Unit?

            I think Crispy Potato Unit.

      3. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Do you want fries with that?

        >What do you expect from the staff at McDonalds?

        "A philosophy degree?"

        I was expecting a degree that would allow you to become a politician.

      4. Lilolefrostback

        Re: Do you want fries with that?

        Maybe in Europe. In Canada, I'd expect acne from McDonald's staff.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Do you want fries with that?

          "In Canada, I'd expect acne from McDonald's staff."

          That yellow stuff they put on the burgers....

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Do you want fries with that?

      This is the thing. McD and the like pay rock bottom rates to people who only have to perform very simple tasks. And it's done by script. They are not expected to think for themselves. A sensible IT support system would have a camera they could point at the problem and a headphone to talk to the support dept. So you could say, " Look down to the right. Can you see that grey wire in the back of the box. Press the top of the wire where it goes into the box and pull it out. Now can you see the black wire......"

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Do you want fries with that?

        "There's a switch at the bottom of the deep fat fryer. Just push your arm all the way in, it won't hurt."

        1. NXM

          Re: Do you want fries with that?

          /put hand in fryer/

          Don't go there. when I was 16 I made the chips in a chip shop (perk: free chips. nice).

          Someone who fried was convinced the fat was cold, but was told by the owner it was still hot. "No it isn't" she said, and put her hand in. Hello, burns unit.

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: Do you want fries with that?

            I used to work with Henny Penny pressure fryers in a chicken shop in my youth. Fantastic bit of kit. Could cook 4 chickens worth of pieces at a time, dry white toast and coke optional.

            1. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Do you want fries with that?

              "Could cook 4 chickens worth of pieces at a time, dry white toast and coke optional."

              You fry your coke?

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Do you want fries with that?

                "You fry your coke?"

                He's probably Scottish <ba-dum, tish!>

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do you want fries with that?

            Um NXM was this person high ? I just find it hard that some that could walk up right could be that dam stupid, oh wait never mind I worked retail

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: Do you want fries with that?

              @AC: "I just find it hard that some that could walk up right could be that dam stupid, oh wait never mind I worked retail"

              Just imagine the intelligence of the average person you meet. Then realize by nature of statistics probably 60 to 70% of those people are actually stupider than that! (might be as high as 80% if you deal a lot with mor highly trained/educated people)

              1. kain preacher Silver badge

                Re: Do you want fries with that?

                Working retail if found that most people were stupid, entitled or a combo of both

                1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: Do you want fries with that?

                  CPU - Central Potato Unit?

                  I think Crispy Potato Unit.

                  Chipped potato unit?

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Do you want fries with that?

        A sensible IT support system would have a camera they could point at the problem and a headphone to talk to the support dept.

        But that would require extensive investment, so good luck in getting that one past the Finance bods. They'll ask you how much time you expect this to save, how much the camera training will cost given their high staff turnover, and how often you would expect the camera and headphones to be ineffective due to either technical fault or user incompetence (given that this is often what your system is trying to resolve in the first place).

        (Sorry, I may be in a particularly negative mood today.)

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Do you want fries with that?

        " A sensible IT support system would have a camera they could point at the problem"

        Thats a great idea , thats why the various pc remote control methods save thousands verbal enquireies / instructions PER CALL. But with McD pos systems etc you'd need a remote camera as you say - but if you're looking after 1000's of outlets , could prove tricky

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Do you want fries with that?

          "...camera..."

          Oooh, this gives me a splendid idea sure to disrupt support as we know it - universal telepresence quad-copter drones, available to dispatch within the same city to customer premises in minutes* on-demand, to be rented by and connected to as-needed by any interested support desk.

          * stops flying as soon as it lands at target premises of course, to be picked up and pointed at whatever needs to be viewed.

          1. Luiz Abdala
            Windows

            Re: Do you want fries with that?

            That's bloody genius. With a freaking flying cam, all the clueless plebs will be quickly diagnosed.

            If you just managed to get an USB probe linked to the drone that hacks in the machines... or just like BB-8 a prong strong enough to power-cycle a PC switch...

            1. Montreal Sean

              Re: Do you want fries with that?

              A BB-8 style prong with enough juice to power cycle the user would be more fun. :)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Do you want fries with that?

                I know it's fashionable and "hur-dur-dur" to knock McDs employees.

                But I've been involved in the hiring of employees who worked there part time / summer / between jobs etc and they actually learn a hell of a lot of transferable employment skills - responsibility, timekeeping, JIT processes (to an extent), teamwork, individual work, working to regulations etc.

          2. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Do you want fries with that?

            "universal telepresence quad-copter drones, available to dispatch within the same city to customer premises in minutes* on-demand, to be rented by and connected to as-needed by any interested support desk."

            What could possibly go wrong?

          3. Olivier2553 Silver badge

            Re: Do you want fries with that?

            Yes, I was thinking around an augmented reality helmet that the user would wear while helpdesk would guide him through the procedure.

    4. Akko

      Re: Do you want fries with that?

      The "food" I've ordered, of course

    5. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Do you want fries with that?

      What you expect from a bunch of clowns ?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phone Reset

    A useful trick to get people off the phone (at least temporarily) is to find out the factory reset button combinations for different makes of IP phones, then ask callers to press those buttons.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Phone Reset

      And then they ring back even more irate and possibly to one of your colleagues who has to pick up the shit you left for them.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Phone Reset

        There's only 2 types of problem in this world:

        "My problem" and "Not my problem"

  9. jmch Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Shot

    “the till was shot, beyond repair”

    So was it shot figuratively or literally?? This being a McD drive-thru in the wee hours, I wouldn't bet against literally!!

  10. The Corner of Moron

    Last week it was 'Timmy' now it's 'Ronald'.

    I'm loving the pseudonyms!

  11. UberMunchkin

    Trying to talk a user through a procedure over the phone, I asked them to double click on 'My Computer'...Silence....(I should mention at this point that the lady I was talking to was extremely Scottish so you can imagine the accent).

    Her: "I Canne do that"

    Me: "Why not, is the icon not there?"

    Her: "Nae, cause I'm in f**king Scotland and youse in the South of England".

    Had to put that one on hold for a while as I got my shit back to together. :)

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      "Trying to talk a user through a procedure over the phone,"

      Is the worst thing ever , it should be an absolute last resort , you should use every trick in the book before you try that. Remote control , mapping C$ and shoving stuff on , psexecing , pskill ,reboot ad infititum

      I was recently working in earshot of the helpdesk and kept hearing one guy saying "its been 10 minutes now and we're still trying to enter your password" and silences followed by "Hello ? did you do that? what happened ? whats on the screen?"

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        "Trying to talk a user through a procedure over the phone,"

        Is the worst thing ever , it should be an absolute last resort

        I once had to talk a Sales & Marketing guy on the other side of the Atlantic through patching a Unix binary using adb. (Very long story.) My initial remarks were "Only press the keys I tell you to, when I tell you to press them. This includes the return key. Do not press any key that I have not told you to press. Do not think or try to be helpful."

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          @Arthur.

          *shudder*

          adb scripts. *shudder*

          No, I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about ever, ever ever again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Trying to talk a user through a procedure over the phone, I asked them to double click on 'My Computer'."

      I can still remember the fury at Microsoft I felt when they did that bit of total stupidity.

      I spent years referring to it as "My Little Computer".

    3. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

      I think it's changed to simply 'Computer' now

      "Can you double click on Computer?"

      "Whereabouts?"

      "Computer"

      and so on

  12. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    You want fries with that?

    My brother worked for an audio firm that made a lot of the radio kit used by McD's, and in particular their drive through operations.

    Since cost is of concern and crypto in the public domain was perceived by the authorities as dodgy (maybe even satanic), the radios were simple VHF/FM, with at best analog spectrum inversion for "security".

    So some guys took it on themselves to take over drive through ops using their own radios. Example(*)

    McD: "You want fries with that?"

    Guy, very quickly: "Good God, man! His ass is half the size of Texas already, why does he need fries?"

    Drive: "WTF!!??"

    McD "I'm sorry..."

    Guy: "Dude, seriously. There's already a couple thousand calories in that feed sack..."

    As drive throughs are a large fraction of gross receipts managers would call the audio firm and demand immediate fixes...

    I imagine these days its digital radio and AES. Now if I just had a nice software defined radio. Oh, wait. I do.

    (*) Any resemblance between these words and anything I might or might not have transmitted is ... simply a coincidence, your honor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You want fries with that?

      "So some guys took it on themselves to take over drive through ops using their own radios..."

      I know of a McDonald's crew that inverted that trope.

      McD headsets also allow staff to communicate with each other. I know of one McD employee whose wife liked to sit in the parking lot and listen to the chatter on her scanner. The staff caught on, but didn't let on. I believe one of their tactics was to discuss how "Ronald" was flirting with attractive customers (followed by peeking out the windows at the car when he left for break or quitting time).

    2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: You want fries with that?

      I never understood why they don't have you ordering then paying at the first window, instead of ordering via microphone to drive to the first window to pay.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: You want fries with that?

        Because throughput. One person is giving their order, one person is paying their order at the first window, one person is being served at the second window. All simultaneously. Ordering and paying at the same window slows down the overal process. There's even McD's where there are 2 ordering stations because that is usually the bit that takes longest nowadays with plastic card payments iso cash.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You want fries with that?

        "I never understood why they don't have you ordering then paying at the first window, instead of ordering via microphone to drive to the first window to pay."

        My hometown McD's had an order window, a pay window, and a "food" window in that order. Built ca. 1996, worked that way for a few years, then they eventually installed a conventional speaker ordering system and abandoned the first window. I preferred ordering from a human versus a noisy radio speaker.

        Now don't get me started on the overly chipper recorded message that asks if you're ready to order (even if the attendant is not ready for you).

  13. Marty McFly
    Happy

    Did that, done that....

    Worked in the POS industry in the mid 1990's, supporting pizza restaurants. The "TV part", "typewriter piece", and "brain box" were common vernacular. Since the installers worked in tech support on their off weeks, you can bet we all made damn sure that every cable & port had a label on it.

    You haven't worked tech support until you have talked a non-technical person through how to reseat a network card plugged in to a riser card in a 486 chassis at 2am in the morning.

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Did that, done that....

      One better. Try a person for the love a god could not type in a simple password. You walk them through opening up note pad, type the password in and tel them to copy in paste. Only to find out you need to give them a 5 hour course on how to use the mouse and copy and paste . What's that tell them to high light and use control C and control V ? Well that's another five hour course on how to high light with the mouse and then they will swear there is no Control button. Then you tel them to hit ctrl+v and then they will insist there is no ctrlV button

  14. MVS

    Havening fun yet?

    A reminder of yesteryear, and fun for those not aquainted:

    I present to you the Chronicles of George:

    https://www.chroniclesofgeorge.com

    This is a company santitized dump of the helplessdesk ticketing system of all of "George's" (the first line helpdesk operator) incoherent and misspelled tickets, with MST3K style commentary.

    The website was created another guy working there for cathartic release of all the pent-up emotions gathered during his affiliation with the George.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Havening fun yet?

      I'm havening fun on the Georgening forum, it be a noice place to be.

  15. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    And of course, there's always:

    Me: "Good afternoon, @#$%@#$% command centre, how can I help you?"

    Her: "I was told that the power outage in the data centre was repaired and everything was back online, is this correct?"

    Me: "Well, yes, we've recovered from the power failure and most systems are back online, how can I help you?"

    Her: "Well, you're absolutely wrong, I'm at my desk in the data centre and none of the lights are working, and I can't turn on my computer!!! You guys need to change that message on your phones right now, and get back to work on the problem!!!"

    <queue puzzled look at my compatriot, who can hear this woman screaming at the top of her lungs into my headset>

    Me: "Ma'am, which data centre are you in please?" <We do have several, although there are *NO* desks in any of them and certainly damned few user desktops>

    Her: "I'm in the 8th floor computer centre at 888 #@$%@ street, in room *#$%^, and the lights wont go on, my computer wont go on and I'm pretty sure my phone isn't working either"

    <aaaaaahhh!!!! Thats an outbound call centre phone pharm, not a data centre, aaaaaaaaaaand there *should* be a rather long banner hung on the doors about the building service and where the reps are supposed to go instead for the day>

    Me: "Are you aware that the building is under power maintenance, and you are supposed to be across the street in 1 @#$%&^#& @#$%&# on the 9th floor?"

    Her: "Oh, so it was you that told the security guards that lie!!!!"

    We wont go into where I and my compatriots took this dear lady, but we'd already had a 4 hour power outage to deal with in our data centre that day and we were looking at about another 11 hours of work to sort out the fallout on a long weekend sunday. All I can say is that I was thankful for the hold button. She ended up across the street on the 9th floor with her co-workers about an hour and half later, but *ONLY* because we had a call from someone already there and managed to connect the two bodies to convince her that we were not "Utterly incompetent lying @$%^@#$%^s" Sadly for her, it ended up being her second last day on the job. Inbound calls were recorded all the time, and she got pretty darned foul.

  16. HellDeskJockey

    Ahh Users

    My personal favorite:

    Customer: "Hi our equipment lost memory and data could you help us?"

    Me: "Do you have a backup."

    Customer: "No we've never done one." (On equipment they have had for 5 years or more)

    Me: "Ok this will take a bit of time." (Typically 3 to 5 days of phone support)

    Well at least every day is a day closer to retirement.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Annoying call or annoying field engineer?

    Thanks to a customer's randomly filled CMDB, today I got a field engineer wandering through 9 data center buildings, looking for an old POWER5 server with a couple dead SCSI disks. The guy earned his ticket to heaven the hard way. I reckon I owe him beer worth several hangovers.

    1. Montreal Sean

      Re: Annoying call or annoying field engineer?

      I feel the field engineer's pain.

      More than once I've been called out to a data center to replace a failed hard drive where the client's call center provided incomplete info in the ticket.

      The ticket is supposed to contain the server rack location (room, row, cabinet number) as well as the server serial number.

      I arrive onsite, sign in, provide my ID and ticket number, scan my iris at security, then again at the server room door.

      Contact the help desk to request the missing location info and get told they don't know what the rack row and cabinet number and can I just look for the server with an amber HDD failure LED?

      Sure guys I'll wander through the 1000 server racks all of which have at least two servers with failed drives in them and check serial numbers.

      Not a chance. Call me back when you have the info, I don't care how irate your client is with you.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burger Flipper Has Problems Disconnecting/Connecting "PoS Terminal"

    Wow. Color me surprised.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You want hell try having a phone port go bad and then having to explain to the customer do to regs we can not talk to your old phone company you need to call them . Version had a habit of releasing the number early to make the competitors look bad. For some reason in the US if you port a land line it can take up to a month. Port a cell number and it takes up to an hour . Because of the length of time it takes to port a land line all kinds of things can go wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Porting Land lines

      "For some reason in the US if you port a land line it can take up to a month."

      Because Baby Bells, that's why. They're nostalgic for the monopoly days.

  20. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Don't make me go there

    While doing tech support for a major PC manufacturer, a caller just would.not.shut.up while I tried to research his problem. Early in the call, he said, "I hope I don't have to unplug things because the PC is under the desk." To shut him up while I worked -- yep, sent him under the desk to unplug everything and then reconnect it. By the time he came whimpering back, I'd figured out what to do and we fixed his problem. When I got off the call, my supervisor, who'd been monitoring, came over and congratulated me on doing a fine job. I think he missed the part where I sent the guy away to give me some peace.

    Lost count of the number of people who had dial-up modem problems, and the phone plugged into the back of the PC. Reconfiged the modem, they initiated dial-up, and disconnected the phone. Well, now we know that part works!

  21. dmacleo

    heh I love the question is the internet down?

    well, as a whole I doubt it.

    but I will get Kyle from south park to reboot the router.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_Logging

  22. RockBurner

    But email will still work?

    When you've just told the boss that the company modem/router has fried itself (again).

    AARGH!

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