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Computer Help Desk Calls

When the air conditioning goes down, it gets hot in the server room  - climbing to over 100 degrees. The infrastructure guys get the bright idea of opening the window - yes, this server room has a window - to cool off the room. Great idea, right? However, the lawn sprinklers go on causing two brand-new high-end servers to get wet and bringing an entire project team of over 30 people to a grinding halt.

A user calls the support desk and reports she's having trouble powering up her new laptop. She says the battery is good; she used it last night. The tech desk asks, "Is the laptop plugged in?" The user says, "How do I determine if it's plugged in?"

A user with a problem calls the help desk, saying "An error message just popped up. It's asking for me to hit OK or cancel. What should I do?" The tech rep says, "Click Cancel." The user promptly states, "Well, I already clicked OK!"

"I know you'll think I'm crazy, but Elvis keeps crashing my computer," this user tells help desk. And she's right - when she takes a CD-ROM out of the drive, Elvis starts singing. It was finally figured out: Apparently, she put an Elvis CD in the drive on top of another CD, and it got stuck on the plunger of the CD-ROM drive. When she took out a CD, Auto-run would start the audio CD (stuck on the plunger), and Elvis started singing!

User tells support tech that she knocked a key off her laptop. She replaced it, but now it won't work. Tech asks, "is the key loose?" "Not now," user replies. "It was loose, but I fixed it. I used super glue."

Phone system administrator reports a problem to vendor: He can't connect to the system remotely for monitoring and maintenance. Help desk: "Fine; a technician will remote into your system and fix the problem." Admin: "But I'm reporting that we can't remote in." Help desk: "Yes, that's on the ticket. I'll give it to the tech and he'll remote into your system and fix the problem."

Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.

A manufacturer generates bar codes for different departments, and though no two formats are alike, they all get done, until one manager's sample bar code doesn't scan. "Even our best scanner beeped back an error," tech says. So he calls the manager, who admits he created it with a drawing program. "We don't really use bar codes," he confides. "We just thought it would look professional."

Employees who travel are literally destroying their laptops, technician says. So when one vendor rep says his laptop can be thrown to the floor without damage - "try it," he says - tech is impressed and asks the agency head to come see. "The head guy walks into this office without a word, picks up the laptop and slams it to the floor, just as my assistant informs him we are in the office next door."

IT tech rep sends a report to several accountants in two parts - he has to break it up because it's bigger than the 1,500KB size limit on attachments. But one user says that's unnecessary. "Quit sending me kilobyte files", she says. "Send megabytes. The file will only be 1.5MB - much smaller than the 1,500 system limit."

A lady was putting a credit card into her floppy drive and pulling it out very quickly. I inquired as to what she was doing and she said she was shopping on the internet, and they asked for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM "thingy."

"Everything on my laptop is turning blue," user complains. Support rep hustles to the scene and finds user has attached the laptop to a video projector. The wall you're using as a projection screen is painted light blue, support rep patiently points out. "I know that!" user snaps. "I'm not stupid. Just fix the thing so it projects white!"

Layoffs are coming, so an insurance company ranked all employees for future termination. "To maintain secrecy, they shredded the printed spreadsheets with the ratings," says an employee. "Unfortunately, the spreadsheets were printed in landscape mode, so the shredder blades separated each employee and rating, by name, on his own strip of paper. After I came across them in the recycling bin, I knew each person's rating - all 126 of them."

An individual who plugged their power strip back into itself and for the life of them could not understand why their computer would not turn on.

A user's PC is flickering and rebooting. It checks out fine for support tech assistant so he tells the user, "Do what you normally do." She sits down and goes to work - and the system soon reboots. "The fourth time, I noticed she was tapping her foot to the music on the radio", tech says. "Her foot was hitting the power strip on/off switch just enough to cause the system to reboot."

Important HR reports must be shredded - they have confidential data, boss tells IT rep. Since most of these reports are just for reference, why not just save the printing and keep them on disk? rep suggests. "No, they must be shredded," boss insists. Well, why don't we hook the shredder to the back of the printer for the unnecessary reports? rep jokes. "Sounds great!" says the boss. "How much will it cost?"

A distraught young lady weeping beside her car. "Do you need some help?" She replied, "I knew I should have replaced the battery in this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery for this?" "Hmmm, I don't know. Do you have an alarm, too?" I asked. "No, just the remote 'thingy'" she answered, handing it and the car keys to me. As I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, "Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries as it's a long walk."

It's a tech's first day on the job as a quality control analyst in the operations center. She boots up her workstation, and the splash screen proclaims the department's slogan: "Comitted to Excellence." She points out the misspelling to her boss. "Yeah," boss says, "it's close enough. Everybody knows what they mean."

When this executive's PC stops working, support tech patiently explains that the executive really shouldn't have deleted critical Windows system files. But a week later, it happens again. And when tech asks why, executive explains, "Oh, I needed to make room for some big spreadsheets, and my files are much more important than those. Why doesn't the computer still work?"

This Army hospital commander likes voice-recognition software for dictating notes, so he assigns three IT staffers to get it working. "One was from India, one from the Far East and one, though born in the United States, had a strong Southern accent," reports support crew member. "They took turns reading the training paragraphs to the system. For some reason, it never worked right."

For two years, this company's purchasing agent has bought printer supplies from the same outfit: Tech rep says "the prices are high, a third of the refurbished toner cartridges are no good, and she never sends them in for credit." So tech finds a better, cheaper supplier and management declares to be the preferred provider. So why are invoices still coming in from the old outfit? Purchasing agent admits it's because she likes the candy the first supplier sends with each order. "For this invoice alone, that bag of candy cost us an additional $204."

Tech Support: "What does the screen say now.." Person: "It says, 'Hit ENTER when ready'." Tech Support: "Well?" Person: "How do I know when it's ready?"

Several years ago we had an intern who was none too swift. One day he was typing and turned to a secretary and said, "I'm almost out of typing paper. "What do I do?" "Just use copier machine paper," she told him. With that, the intern took his last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five blank copies.

One of our servers crashed. I was watching our new system administrator trying to restore it. He inserted a CD and needed to type a path name to a directory named "i386." He started to type it and paused, asking me "Where's the key for that line thing?" I asked what he was talking about, and he said, "You know, that one that looks like an upside down exclamation mark." I replied, "You mean the letter i?" and he said, "Yeah, that's it!"

User calls the help desk to ask if something is wrong with the mail server. "My e-mails are coming in with next week's date. This is March 31, isn't it?" No, says tech support, it's April 7. That's when the user realized she forgot to change her calendar.

Network techs at this manufacturer are surprised when they get a poor evaluation -- the networks are running fine with few user complaints. "That's the problem," says IT guy. "Their metric is how many trouble tickets they resolve and how quickly." So techs take to randomly unplugging a hub, waiting for trouble tickets to come in, then restarting the hub. Rep says, "They were rated 'excellent' on their next review."

1st Person: "Do you know anything about this fax machine?" 2nd Person: "A little. What's wrong?" 1st Person: "Well, I sent a fax, and the recipient called back to say all she received was a cover sheet and a blank page. I tried it again, and the same thing happened." 2nd Person: "How did you load the sheet?" 1st Person: "It's a pretty sensitive memo, and I didn't want anyone else to read it by accident, so I folded it so only the recipient would open it and read it."

IT guy is fed up with executives who say they need the latest technology, so he comes up with an idea. "Every six months, we have people turn in their laptops for a technology refresh," he says. "Their laptop cases and keyboards are cleaned and fitted with new, upgraded "Intel" stickers. They love their "new" laptops, and never catch on that all they get are new stickers. And this frees up considerable budget for users who actually do need the power but who are too far down the ladder to actually get it."

AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.

Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn't read word processing files from his old 5 1/4" diskettes. The customer had stuck labels on the diskettes, then rolled them into his typewriter to type on the labels.

Support rep gets a call from a user whose new PC is shutting down at random. User suggests the cause might be a virus-laden e-mail but then mentions that the monitor, printer and fax machine are shutting down, too. Are they all plugged into the same power strip? rep asks. "Yes, but that couldn't be it," user says. "I've had that for years."

Another customer was asked to send a copy of her defective diskettes. A few days later, a letter arrived from the customer along with photocopies of the floppies.

"The bottom half of all my printouts are blurry," user complains to support crew. He orders a replacement drum for the printer, but it doesn't help. Neither does a new printer. So he goes to her desk and asks her to print something. As the paper starts to emerge, she yanks it out of the printer and says, "See what I mean? Look at the bottom of this printout!"

A Dell technician advised a customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.

Another Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of trouble-shooting, the tech discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.

Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.

Boss's fast new CD burner needs the right media, so tech assistant asks the office secretary to order some recordable CDs rated at 40X. "Imagine my surprise later in the day," assistant groans, "to hear the water-cooler discussion about my trying to acquire 40 X-rated CDs for my department!"

A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid." The tech explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn't be taken personally.

User has gotten her third replacement monitor in as many months, so support tech checks it out - and finds water under the monitor, but no source of a leak. The next day, he's walking by and catches the user's new secretary in action. "I explained to her that watering a plant on top of any electronic equipment is a bad idea, and that maybe watering an artificial plant wasn't the best use of her time either."

A confused caller to IBM was having troubles printing documents. He told the technician that the computer had said it "couldn't find printer." The user had tried turning the computer screen to face the printer, but that his computer still couldn't "see" the printer.

An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her new Dell computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happened." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's mouse.

Another customer called Compaq Tech Support to say her brand-new computer wouldn't work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked, "What Power switch?"

True story from a Novell NetWire SysOp: Caller: "Hello, is this Tech Support ?" Tech: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?" Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?" Tech: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?" Caller: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer." Tech: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, it's because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotion, at a trade show?" Caller: "It came with my computer. I don't know anything about a promotional. It just has '4X' on it." At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn't stand it. He was laughing too hard. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off the drive!

Another IBM customer had trouble installing software and rang for support. " I put in the first disk, and that was OK. It said to put in the second disk, and I had some problems with that disk. When it said to put in the third disk - I couldn't even fit it in...." The user hadn't realized that "Insert Disk 2" meant to remove disk one first.

Network admins decide all users should move their files to network folders. But after 15 minutes of copying, one user complains to support crew about how long it takes. Rep explains that she has lots of documents and a slow network connection, and all the other users are uploading files too. But user points to the Windows animation of documents floating from one folder to another and says, "Well, wouldn't it go faster if they just moved these two folders closer together on the screen?"

Big electronics company is building a factory for a joint venture. But the locally hired IT manager is a little fuzzy on some details, says a lackey working there. "The general manager told him to build a raised floor in the computer room. A month later, we saw it - he literally raised the floor six inches by pouring a cement slab six inches thick."

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