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Your Favorite Support Anecdote 1177

Most of us have had the unfortunate opportunity to have worked tech support at some point, whether it was for a paycheck or for a relative. The Register has offered up a vote for several of their favorite support stories but I'm sure there are many more out there to be had. My favorite horror story was while working a tech support call for a governmental employee, when asked to take her mouse and click on the "start" button all I could hear over the phone is what I later found out was the user banging her mouse against the monitor. What other horror stories have people seen from the trenches?
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Your Favorite Support Anecdote

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:35PM (#15661152) Journal
    A half a year ago, I went home for the holidays and fixed my parent's windows machine for them.

    Not more than two weeks later my mom called me up saying it had a blue screen of death whenever it tried to boot up. I asked her what the error said and she started reading to me the hex from the screen.

    She said my older sister had been using the computer last so I told her to put her on the line and asked her what had happened. She told me her friend in college had sent her an attachment in an e-mail named "ms ... blast ... worm ... 32.exe or something" but when she clicked on it, the machine started acting funny.
  • by lecithin ( 745575 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:37PM (#15661159)
    I am getting status 41s with my backup and need help.

    Okay, will you please email me your bp.conf, bpsched, bpcd logs?

    No, I can't.

    Okay, why not.

    Well, we are having problems with our network. Nothing seems to be working.

    What part of NETBACKUP don't you understand?
  • Uh Oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spittoon ( 64395 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:38PM (#15661175) Homepage
    This might be the longest /. thread ever.
  • by BecomingLumberg ( 949374 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:39PM (#15661180)
    I hate being tech support for the family... especially the ones that 'think they are pretty good with computers'.

    My step mom, after telling me that she didn't know what my father did to the computer, because he's 'not very good', proceeded to tell me that she was having problems 'downloading the program from the upload on the cd'. She simply couldn't copy her word file.

    Suffice to say, aneurisms hurt.

  • Mice (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:41PM (#15661193)
    "No ma'am. Your mouse is meant for external use only. We do not recommend insertion in bodily orifices." -=|=-
  • An oldie... (Score:5, Funny)

    by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:42PM (#15661199) Homepage
    When I worked Telephone Techinical Support for Fifth Generation Systems in the late 80s/early 90s, I had a legal secretary that could not restore her Fastback backups from the 5 1/4" disks she used. As a service, we would have customers in this situation send them in and we would restore the data, reback them up and send them back. We would want copies of the disks to be made and those sent to us. Well she did make copies. I received via overnight FedEx ten 8/12x11" photocopies of her really nicely labeled diskettes. I had a really hard time calling her back and explaining the process of how to copy a floppy.
  • by Virak ( 897071 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:43PM (#15661206) Homepage
    Damn, beat me to it. I particularly like the programming [] section. Here's one of my favorites:

    One thing that many will run into in the computer industry, is
    employers who are rather clueless and yet don't necessarily realize
    this. In 1996, a friend told me about a boss he had that needed a
    C program written for him. After a week, the boss complained that
    the program wasn't done, and he asked my friend what was taking so

    • Friend: "The program is written, and I'm debugging it."
    • Boss: "What's wrong with you people? You make programming more
              difficult than it needs to be. I have Frontpage Express to write
              web pages with, and when I write code with it, I never need to debug
              it. If you were as good of a programmer as me, you'd never need to
              debug either."
  • by Incy ( 635621 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:44PM (#15661214)
    Customer had been angry from the start. Don't know why. Just was that way. We fixed her computer up nice and new and sent her home. About 30min later she calls. Screaming and yelling. "you broke the computer..".. lots of profanity and swearing. After awhile I got her to say that it wasn't even "booting". I asked if the power LEDs were on. Took another few minutes to get the answer "no" through all the yelling and screaming. They weren't. I asked if she could confirm that it was plugged into the powerstrip, she said "no".. more screaming and yelling at me. At this point every customer in the store is listening on my side of the conversation as they were all hushed and no longer really shopping. I asked why she couldn't check the powerstrip... more swearing.. finally she said something like.."okay whatever..".. and set the phone down. She came back and I asked "was it plugged in okay"... "I don't know I had to get a flashlight.." more yelling and swearing. "Why did you need a flashlight?" "The power is out and I can't see under the desk" She immediatly realized her mistake and hung up. The call lasted about 20minutes and was the most difficult customer I've ever had to help out over the phone. Now we had another guy who was 6 foot 5 and had real anger issues -- threatened to beat me up when I refused to let him return DOS without all the disks. However that was in person, so it isn't on topic..
  • by adamofgreyskull ( 640712 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:44PM (#15661218)
    On tuesday, a colleague of mine was on messenger with client:
    Support says:
    Ok, could you ask me for remote assistance, please?
    Customer says:
    Can I have remote assistance?
  • by C0rinthian ( 770164 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:45PM (#15661226)
    User: AOL Stole my credit card.
    Tech: If you are having a problem cancelling your AOL account, you may need to call them...
    User: No! AOL stole my credit card, and I want it back!
    Tech: Wait... Tell me exactly what you did...
    User: Well, I was installing AOL, and it asked for my credit card number. So I put my card in the ATM slot and now it won't give me my card back.

    Yes, the user had stuck her Credit Card in her floppy drive. She had to send the machine back to the manufacturer, who then had to disassemble the floppy to get it out.
  • by smaerd ( 954708 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:45PM (#15661227)
    This was about a decade ago.

    I had given my sister my old 486 as she went off to college (she's older than me). Anyways... a few months or so later I get a phone call "Hey William, the computer won't start." After a bit of chatting on the phone, I get out of here that it gets through POST but won't go into windows. I put my coat on, start up my crappy car, and drive the hour to go see what the problem is.

    This is december in northern Wisconsin. As I recall we were having a snowstorm and the drive was definately NOT fun.

    I walk into her apartment, look at the machine (which she left on, or had just booted as I walked in the door).

    I hit the Turbo button. It boots.

    I go home.
  • by swab79 ( 842256 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:45PM (#15661228)
    Me: Thanks for calling tech support. Him: Hi, I just purchased a CD Writer, and it says I need to open up my computer to install it. Me: Yes, and? Him: I don't have a computer, can I still use it? Me: Can I place you on hold for one moment? Him: Sure Me: Bahahahahahaha!!
  • by PantheraOnca ( 983705 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:45PM (#15661237)
    1. Talking to a customer who is unable to get her DSL connection to work because she had inserted the network cable in the cd-rom drive. 2. Talking to another customer having the same problem as the one above, but this one has not been able to locate anyplace on his computer where a network cable might fit. When I asked him if he had a network card installed I got the answer (in a very annoyed tone of voice) "Of course I have a network card, do you think I'm an idiot?!? The card is right here in the box from the store." 3. Realizing that this will be a long and very painful day.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15661240) Journal
    When I had an old AOL account (don't laugh, it was a gift), the dial-up number went "24/7 busy" for days. I dialed the number on the regular phone to verify that it was a regular old busy signal. I called AOL to complain that the dial-up pool was stuck or had some similar problem. I went through several technicians and managers that insisted on digging into all the details of my AOL modem settings. They never listened when I insisted "but it doesn't matter what my modem does: the number is BUSY!!!!". I even offered helpful examples like "This is like you trying to have me check the oil in my car when I am telling you that I can't travel because there is a tree fallen in the road". I never could convince them: they were certain that the answer to their busy signal lay in buried in the Hayes commands configured inside my AOL setup

    However a day or two later the "stuck" modem was fixed and I was able to dial in. I guess they found some cooperative kid with a Packard-Bell who changed his personal modem settings....

  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15661242) Journal

    This was a real support call [] I once did:

  • gah (Score:4, Funny)

    by B00yah ( 213676 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15661245) Homepage
    I work for a fairly large hosting company, and we deal with some fairly large customers...but on a daily basis I see them change their server ips to gateway ips, changing all their network interfaces to have an ip of 5 (ifconfig -a 5, if you ever want to), etc. Then they wonder why we are so hesitant to give them root access to these boxes again.

    The best antecdote though, was working with a customer, who couldn't figure out why he couldn't reach his server, and was cursing a storm about it, wanting to talk to vps, etc. I can't hit the box either, and no response from the remote console, so I have the data center tech check the box, and it's powered down. I have him power the box back up, and lo and behold, connectivity restored. Customer is livid at the news that the box was down, and wants to know why. I start digging in, and notice that the user was on the box when it when down. I check his history, and sure enough, "shutdown -h now". I brought this information to him, and he hung up on me. I made sure that our trouble ticket was noted with the info, and by the next week, the customer had a new technical contact, who was much nicer.
  • by Robber Baron ( 112304 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15661246) Homepage
    My favourite came to me in the form of an e-mail:

    I spil;l;ed a gl;asasas of waster on the keyas asnd now thias ias whast happenas when I type./ Thias ias reasl;l;y asl;owing down my productivityl./


    thias ias not as joke
  • by mj01nir ( 153067 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15661247)
    I was working internal support for a bank about 10 years ago. One day I got a frantic call from one of the older Vice Prsidents.

    "I can't login! I've tried and tried, but the ^%((* thing won't let me in."

    No one else had reported a problem, so I went over to his office.

    "OK, please restart your computer and login for me."

    He dutifully restarted, typed in his login name, and proceeded to type in his all-numeric password on the phone next to his keyboard.
  • by Flimzy ( 657419 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:46PM (#15661250)
    My computer reboots. This is a true story that happened to a customer who lived in a rural area when I worked for a dialup ISP several years ago. Living in a rural area, the customer got their water from a well, and whenever the toilet would flush, their water reserve would suddenly drop low enough to kick on their water pump, and cause a temporary brown out.
  • by fahrvergnugen ( 228539 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:47PM (#15661257) Homepage
    In the late 90's, Packard Bell disappeared. Most people assumed they were finally taken down by their own incompetence, but what really happened was this:

    Packard Bell was able to manufacture their systems so cheaply because they had rent-free facilities on a disused airbase in Sacramento, CA. NEC, wishing to enter the end-user/retail sector and covetous of this manufacturing facility, bought 49% of Packard Bell, re-named them to NEC Consumer Systems Division, and put a clause in the contract that allowed them to gain ownership of the other 2% if certain milestones were not reached. Then, NEC seeded the CSD division with internal executives, who made sure those milestones would never be reached. Mission accomplished, NEC now had their manufacturing facilities rent-free, and they shut down the consumer systems division, no longer willing to compete with Dell & Gateway.

    I was one of the end-user technical support nerds for NEC-CSD, and wow did we get some crazies. Among my favorites were the black supremacist who refused to speak to me because I sounded white, so I put him on hold and then picked up a few minutes later with a badly faked "black" accent ("Yo what up? This is NEC, I'm Johnson. How can I help you?"). His issue? He'd set all of his Windows desktop color settings to black - backgrounds, borders, buttons, and text - and was calling to complain that his monitor was broken, because all he could see what his mouse cursor (which he was angry at for being white).

    Also good was the hung-over stoner who'd woken up to find that he'd thrown up IN his monitor. No, sorry, that's not covered under warranty, but could you tell me how you did it?

    But the best call didn't even happen to me, it happened to Chuck. One slow afternoon Chuck came around and motioned for everyone not currently on a call to follow him. We gathered around his cube and he muted the input on his phone, put on his headset, and then piped it to the speaker.

    Chuck: "Hello sir, I have my supervisor here with us, could you please repeat for us what you told me?"
    Cust: "Well, this laptop is junk, and I want a new one."
    Chuck: "Okay, can you talk me through what's wrong?"
    Cust: "My modem wouldn't connect, and I got really angry, so I pulled the card out and snapped it in half. Then I threw it across the room."
    Chuck: "So your modem is no longer functional?"
    Cust: "My computer's busted and I want a new one."
    Chuck: "Okay, so how did we go from broken modem card to broken laptop?"
    Cust: "So I calm down and I figure I can fix this modem. I got the pieces, and I figured out how they were supposed to go. Then I superglued them together and put them in a vice clamp overnight."
    Chuck: "Okay. What happened next?"
    Cust: "Well, I put it in my computer and tried to dial out to the internet again, but it still didn't work. Then I tried to pull out the card, but it got stuck. I had to use needle-nose pliers to pull the damn thing out, and I only got half of it. The other half's stuck in there, and now my computer's ruined! Your computer is junk, and I want a new laptop!"

    At this point, the twenty or so people gathered around Chuck's cube were in hysterics. Chuck reached over, released the mute so that the man on the other end of the phone could hear us, left it open for a few seconds, and hung up on him.
  • by mashuren ( 886791 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:49PM (#15661270) Homepage
    An ISP, mind you, who caters mostly to customers in a rural area. One day, a guy calls up because there was a strange clicking noise coming from inside his computer when he turned it on. I wasn't too busy that day, so I figured I could take a minute to say it was probably his hard drive on the verge of death, and as the conversation proceeded, it just got worse and worse. Him: "Well, I squirted some WD-40 in there, but it didn't help none..." Me: (stunned pause) "You squirted... WD-40 in... where?" Him: "The, er, disk drive... that's what you said it was, right?" Me: (speechless) Him: "Uh-oh, smoke's coming out... better unplug this thing..." Yes, this guy sprayed WD-40 into his floppy drive and set his computer on fire.
  • Bad Router? (Score:5, Funny)

    by obsidianpoet ( 978026 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:49PM (#15661278)
    I used to work for the local Telescom company here in Western Canada doing support for the ADSL help desk. We had just rolled out 2.5 high speed. A customer called into my queue and was complaining about slow speeds. One of the first question we have to ask is "Is the ADSL modem hooked up directly into the computer, or is there a router in between?" Of course, the customer said no, he did not have a router. I saw he was on the new 2.5 program and so we went through about 40 minutes of speed testing. Download rates, TRACRT, Pinging... all of those tests came back with speed equivilant to the 1.5 package. so I excalated to our network support team. Well after about an hours worth of testing, NS asked again if he had a router, he said no again. Finally we were about to dispatch a tech when he said these exact words :Well, let me try bypassing my router and see if that works...." Which of course it did. So moral of the story? Even though tech support has to aks dumb questions, they would not be there if there was not a reason somewhere down the line.... :)
  • by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:50PM (#15661285)
    I was working support for the local cable station, and a guy called in saying that he couldn't get a picture on his TV.

    Normally this is due to getting the in/out cables wrong on the VCR, so I asked him to verify that they were correctly plugged in. He then said it was too dark to see, so I suggested moving a lamp over. At that point he mentioned that the lamps weren't working because *the power was out*. Blew my mind.

    One a side note, why the heck do VCRs need to be manually switched between cable and antenna? Are the channel frequencies different or something? And why can't they put a 10-cent NVRAM chip in there to remember all the settings during a power outage?
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:51PM (#15661291)
    I worked phone support for a software company for a while. We get all kinds of calls - anything from how do I login to the app to I don't believe the data your app is showing me to it's just broken. One day, my coworker gets a call from someone who obviously is facing some problem and wants it to be taken care of. After about a 2 minute session of standard Question and Answer, my coworker goes silent, puts the guy on hold for a short time, then continues. When he finally hangs up, I ask him what happened. Here's apparently how the conversation went:

    Coworker: tell me what's happening.
    Caller: It's broken, I need it fixed.
    Coworker: ok, so what is the problem.
    Caller: It doesn't matter, just open the ticket.
    Coworker: I need to know what's wrong before I can open the ticket.
    Caller (screaming now): Do you know what your purpose in life is????
    Coworker: Ummmmmmm.....
    Caller: Your purpose in life is to open this ticket for me!!

    And they say there is no such thing as workplace abuse.
  • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:51PM (#15661295)
    A few years ago, I had a combined programmer/support job. One day, a colleague called and said that he had an application on his computer he could not close.
    So I went over and indeed, one of our programs was in the middle of his screen and did not react to anything. On a hunch, I checked the dektop settings. Lo and behold:

    Somehow the guy had made a screenshot while running the application and used that screenshot as Windows wallpaper. Changing the wallpaper got rid of the phantom application ;-)
  • Reboot (Score:3, Funny)

    by bboyers ( 21742 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:51PM (#15661296)
    Me: Seems like your computer is having problems, lets reboot the computer and see if that will fix the problem.
    User: Am I allowed to do that?
    Me: Sure.
    User: Ok then.
    Bang, Bang heard in the background on the phone
    Me: STOP!!! STOP DOING THAT!!! (Me screaming into phone)
    User: Whats wrong, I'm booting the computer. (User was kicking the computer tower that was under the desk.)

    The sad part of this story is that it's true.
  • by lomedhi ( 801451 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:52PM (#15661303)

    Back when I was assembling i386 PCs for a small reseller, one of our regular clients walked in the door carrying a machine we had recently sold to his company. He said that it had "just stopped working", and implied that it should be covered under warranty.

    When I opened up the machine, I discovered that every screw and stand-off holding the motherboard had been sheared off, and the board was shorting against the case. There was no obvious damage to the case itself. I figured the guy must have dropped the machine and it landed flat on the bottom. Amazingly, after the board was re-mounted, everything seemed to work perfectly.

    Of course, we were rather curious about what had happened, so my boss asked the client when he returned. The client sheepishly admitted that they had planned to use the machine for tracking wildlife, running off a generator in the middle of the forest. They flew it to the intended location, and dropped it from the aircraft with a parachute. I turned around and headed back into the shop stifling my laughter while my boss told the client he couldn't justify covering the incident under warranty.

  • by Avogadros Letter ( 867221 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:58PM (#15661339)
    A Congressman from my government's House of Representatives was having issues with the Internet just last week. His problem? The "tubes" that made up the internet were "filled."
  • Re:Mice (Score:5, Funny)

    by Oliver Defacszio ( 550941 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:00PM (#15661347)
    That's odd, I've actually been recommending that people shove their mouse into various body openings (or use it to create new ones). I guess I learn something new every single day.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:00PM (#15661348)
    I had a remote user sitting in front of an NT3.5 machine, needing to do some work in a FoxPro app. We were having some library problems, etc... but lacking remote desktop tools for that session, I was relying on the user to tell me what she was seeing as she clicked on what I told her to click on. After tracking down the right icon, I asked her to run the app. "Yep," she said, "it's running! Now, how long before I see the program?"

    This went on for a long, long time. Finally I asked her how she knew it was running, when, well... it obviously wasn't running. She said, "Well, obviously I can see its legs moving."

    Never heard that one before. Long pause.

    Ah... remember the animated pointer sets that NT came with? You know, the one where the "busy" mouse pointer (hourglass) could be replaced with an animation of... a running horse? Gaaah!
  • by mc_dork ( 986995 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:03PM (#15661371)
    While working in notebook support at an Large Computer Manufacturer a few years back, I took a call one night. We handled education accounts at the time and a call came in from one of the large unviversites concerning a notebook belonging to a professor. She opened the call with, "I'm going to need to send in my laptop for servicing." So I proceed to ask the standard opening question, "What seems to be the problem with it? Is it not starting up?" She replies, "I peed in it." My brain tells me that I did not just hear that and I say, "I'm sorry?" She says "I peed in it. If you look at the history on this thing, you'll see that I've had nothing but problems with it over the past several months. I got fed up. I opened it up, I put it in the floor and peed in it. So of course it doesn't work now and I know I'm going to have to send it in to get it fixed." "You do realize this is not going to be covered by your warranty, right?" "Oh I don't care, I feel a lot better. I'll just bill it to my credit card." So I go through all of the process to set it up for depot repair and get her off the line after telling her to seal it in plastic and put biohazard stickers on it. Then there was the process of letting the repair depot know what was coming in. In the end the computer she sent in was junked without ever being touched by the depot and she was charged for a new maachine which was roughly the same cost as the pissed one..
  • by GoNINzo ( 32266 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <ozNINoG>> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:06PM (#15661391) Journal
    haha those kind of problems were so common, it wasn't even funny. Those 41's would happen when ANYTHING broke on the network, with no real details on why. So you'd be talking to someone, they'd be 'Oh yeah, we were getting 41s for the past couple days, but didn't really think anything about it.' Then you'd find out that someone had unplugged the server. or the switch. Or just removed that nic because it made ifconfig look messy. `8r/

    My favorite netbackup horror story was when a coworker took out "the" DNS server with an accidental rm -rf / . And then we couldn't get a restore to happen. Because it used DNS to resolve names. And an anal retentive sysadmin refused to allow a hosts file entry because it was against "corporate standards". So we had to do a new bind instance with two entries for the server we were restoring to and the netbackup master. Which then got overridden in the middle of the restore process. Which bind didn't notice, but then the admin (enforcing "corporate standards") did notice. So he rebooted the machine. And we had to restart the process again. Which failed because bind was broken because not all of it had been restored. So we recreated bind again, with a few more entries this time. And restored. And this time it 'took'. My coworker was very sorry (and learned why everyone uses sudo that day), but the "corporate standards" sysadmin blamed netbackup for the length of time of the restore.

    Damn that netbackup, why doesn't it function when you chop the network out at it's knees!!

    I do love netbackup though. But only because it paid the bills because noone wanted to learn it.
  • by geekmansworld ( 950281 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:08PM (#15661405) Homepage
    Years ago a friend told me his horror story of working tech support. A customer was having problems with their dial-up connection. A troubleshooting method for resetting their model of modem was known as the "jump start". When my friend informed the caller that they would attempt to walk through the procedure, the caller put down the phone and in his thick drawl shouted:

    "Honey, bring me the jumper cables! This guys says we gotta give this sucker a jolt!"

    DISCLAIMER: Shocking any part of your computer may permanently void your warranty.
  • by LordSnooty ( 853791 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:10PM (#15661421)
    Me: Ok, can you right-click on the My Computer icon, please. Clot: OK.... Clot: C... L... I... C... K Me: Er, what's happening? A menu should have popped up. Clot: I've written 'click' on the icon, what next? Me: THWACK (as my head hits the desk) In a travel agency somewhere in the UK, there is still a PC where the My Computer icon actually reads 'click'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:10PM (#15661426)
    Doing tech support for an ISP, and a customer needed help with their email settings.

    Told them "In the box for Incoming Server, type, all in lowercase letters,".

    The customer called back with issues still, and when asked to read back what was in the incoming server box, they read back "all-in-lowercase-letters-mail-dot-host-dot-com".. ............I killed myself that day.
  • by ibbieta ( 31756 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:12PM (#15661447)
    Years ago, back a few jobs, I handled internal user support plus the occational escallation from external clients. Such an escallation comes in but not from a client but from our vendor support people. That's strange, I think, I never get calls from them. Anyway, I'm told that the vendor is having problems logging into our web site and checking his payment status. No big deal, really, since most vendors prefered to get that information by phone from the very person who was transfering the call to me. I just assume that he hasn't been set up for on-line access to his account.

    I pick up the line while at the same time checking the database for his information. At the very second I find out that he has been set up for on-line access I get an earfull about how "you guys" are fucking everything up and nothing works. "Total fuckups who can't do anything right. This worked before but then you changed something and now nothing fucking works you ass-hole."

    Yep, he is swearing. A lot. This goes on with every sentence and he accuses me personally of screwing it up with some mysterious changes to the web site. Never mind that the site had never been updated since the vendor logon was implimented, I was not the one to make those changes.

    I sigh, take the abuse, and lead him through the logon "process". "Yes, I have the fucking right page." "I know my fucking ID number." The ID number was four digits long and I checked that he was using the right one. "My fucking password is my last name, goddamnit!" I look that up in the database (nice security, huh?) and that is true. On my machine I log in just fine and he is still complaining that it isn't "fucking working".

    I check the web logs. Bad password. He is connecting fine but typing in the wrong password. I try to find some way polite way to ask if he knows his own last name. He does. It was Johnson. OK. I keep having him try the user ID and password. I lead him through the numbers one at a time, although I could see from the web logs that he was getting that right. I finally lead him, letter by letter, through the spelling of his own last name (not case-sensitve). That worked.

    "What the fuck did you change! Well ... shit. Stop fucking with my stuff." Then he hung up.

    His heartfelt thanks fills me with warming joy to this very day.
  • by tenton ( 181778 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:14PM (#15661458)
    Case 1: Man calls up, angry that his CD burner isn't working (it's an external drive USB). After going through the normal troubleshooting steps (including asking him if it was connected to the computer), we're finally about to throw in the towel and chalk it up to bad hardware. We try one last thing; have him disconnect everything, turn off the drive, turn it back on and reconnect everything. We then here a box opening, plastic crinkling, etc...turns out the guy hadn't take the drive out of the box yet. How he thought that the drive was connected, when the box was still sealed, I don't know.

    Case 2: Woman calls up, with a external CD burner (it's a firewire drive). I hear the words "doesn't show up", "cable didn't fit" and "pliers" and I cringed. Of course, she didn't have any firewire ports on her computer, but she did have USB ports...well, at least she used to have USB ports, before Mr. Pliers got involved. The cable "fit", but I wonder why the drive didn't work?

    Case 3: Man calls up, irate that his computer reboots everytime he goes to burn some files. After calming him down a bit, we attempt to troubleshoot it. Sure enough, every time we instruct him to click on the "Record" button (in the software, there's a button that says "Record", his computer immediately reboots. We try everything. We even turn off the auto-reboot feature in XP (so that it would, hopefully, blue screen), but that doesn't change a thing. Lucky for us, the man's brother was nearby, as my colleague heard him in the background. What was heard was, "[customer's name], what are you doing, you stupid [some expletive]? Why are you pressing the reset button on the computer?" Why he thought that was the "record" button, I'll never know...maybe I don't want to.
  • by ajakk ( 29927 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:14PM (#15661460) Homepage
    I was working at IBM in their Thinkpad support group when Win95 was rolled out. We had a special group created to handle Win95 support calls of techs who had taken training on Win95 on the IBM machines. I remember my first call after getting put on the Win95 support que. At this point in time, IBM had approximately 30 minute wait times to get to a Win95 support rep. After I pick up the phone, a guy tells me hae is having problems with Win95 on his new laptop that he bought. After confirming his serial number I asked him what the problem was. His exact answer:
    "Solitaire is dealing me the wrong cards."
    The mute button was my friend that day.
  • Head-Desk (Score:2, Funny)

    by duzupis ( 878190 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:15PM (#15661468) Homepage
    A few months ago, I received a panicked call from an administrative assistant that one of our attending physicians was having technical issues with some of the hardware in our clinic. I informed her that I had just pulled up to the hospital and would be there momentarily to correct the issue. Upon getting into the parking lot (a mere two minutes later), I received another phone call from an equally panicked medical assistant claiming that Dr. ******** said, "One of the head-desks isn't functioning."

    My reply, of course, was, "what is a head-desk? Does he mean one of the desktop PCs or the TabletPCs?"

    "I don't know; all he said is to get up here because the head-desk isn't working."

    Rushing from the parking lot to the clinic, I blow through the door and head straight back to the Triage area of the clinic. Standing in front of the aptly named head-desk (a computer monitor), I see a medical assistant working without any problems. I ask the attending physician (who initiated the calls) which computer had the problem. He points to the functioning devices and I look at him and say, "It's working just fine."

    "Well it wasn't."

    Apparently, he was just too impatient to check the monitor's power button and move the mouse to bring the desktop PC out of suspend mode.

    "In that case, next time--before you make panicked calls to everyone--make sure to check the power button and move the mouse."

    "I'm not stupid, I know how to do that!"

    I bite my lip, turn for the door, and say to myself, "I think the jury's still out on that one."
  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:21PM (#15661524)
    How about finding a 5 1/4" disc in a 3 1/2" drive? The client said he didn't have the bigger drive, so he figured if he folded the disc over and shoved it in.

    Oh, and then I had to explain that the extremely important data on this disc he just folded was likely no longer in existence.
  • by the_maddman ( 801403 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:23PM (#15661540)

    When I first started working at a local computer store in the "lab" we got one irate lady whose son had really destroyed Windows 95. She had something against my boss, and kept making a big stink about the computer being defective and demanding that we build her a brand new machine, and claiming that I didn't know what I was talking about. She eventually cornered the sales manager and yelled at him for an hour or so, and as soon as she left the store I got called into his office.

    The sales manager was upset of course, and started chewing me out, but after about 5 mins he asked me what I had to say about it all.

    "There's a difference between bending over backwards for the customer and bending over forwards."

    He turned beet red, pointed at the door and I left. I never heard another word about the incident.

  • by atarione ( 601740 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:23PM (#15661542)
    talked to a very nice older lady... she was having no luck getting her new phone programmed...

    she had talked to someone else before and got fustrated and called back

    so i tried to walk her thru programming the phone.... which wasn't working at all again.

    she kept saying she wasn't hearing any of the system announcements.... etc on the phone.

    finally about to give up and figure she had a DOA phone, I asked her to locate the model number... when she said it was an RCA...... it struck me... she was trying to program the remote control for her TV instead of the Phone which was sitting on the table next to her.
  • by macwarriorny ( 811042 ) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:25PM (#15661553) Homepage
    "I'd like to move my telephone to the other side of the room. Would you please feed more cable through the wall for me?"
  • by Metzli ( 184903 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:26PM (#15661558)
    Funny, I almost never assume that the help desk person on the other line has a clue. I once called to tell my ISP that their DNS servers weren't responding. I said, "I can't resolve anything through DNS. I tried to query your servers with nslookup and got nothing. I tried pinging them and got no response. I tracerouted to them, got responses from your network, but couldn't reach them." The person then asked, "Sir, what browser are you using to ping them?" I said, "Umm...I'm not using my browser to do that." This was followed by me asking, "Do you know a cool trick that I don't?" That's why I never assume tha tthe person answering the phone has a clue.
  • by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:27PM (#15661571) Homepage
    I was out to dinner with a new girlfriend and she was wearing a rather sexy, backless plunging top, which of course meant she wasn't wearing a bra. About midway through dinner she dropped her knife on the floor and when she bent over to pick it up... well...

    Let's just say she could have used better support.
  • by fubar1971 ( 641721 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:27PM (#15661572)
    Try this one....

    Stupid User Story []
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:28PM (#15661576)
    How about finding a 5 1/4" disc in a 3 1/2" drive? The client said he didn't have the bigger drive, so he figured if he folded the disc over and shoved it in.

    Which, while very off topic, reminds me of when I was at the local grocery store buying a nice little piece of brie and a baguette to go with dinner that night. At the register, the Neanderthal clerk scans the wedge of cheese, drops in the suspended plastic bag, then scans the 24" baguette, drops it in the bag, and finds that it rather wants to fall out for being sort of top heavy. So, without blinking, he folds the loaf of bread in half, and sticks it down in the plastic bag. "$6.98, sir!"
  • Virus (Score:2, Funny)

    by kirun ( 658684 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:30PM (#15661593) Homepage Journal
    I got asked "I downloaded a virus writing kit so I could send somebody a virus, but my antivirus says it's infected with a virus, what do I do?". Thankfully, I've never worked in helldesk, this was just a random person that knew I'm "good with computers"
  • by pegr ( 46683 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:32PM (#15661610) Homepage Journal
    My computer reboots. This is a true story that happened to a customer who lived in a rural area when I worked for a dialup ISP several years ago. Living in a rural area, the customer got their water from a well, and whenever the toilet would flush, their water reserve would suddenly drop low enough to kick on their water pump, and cause a temporary brown out.
    That's a "brown-out" alright!
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:34PM (#15661629)
    "OK, so does the mouse still move?"


    "OK, so it can't be completely frozen. Let's go over to the lab and I'll take a look."

    footstep footstep footstep Well, it looks to be completely locked. I thought you said the mouse still moved?"

    She grabs the mouse and swings it all over the desk, looking at me like, "SEE?"

    "Look, if the computer ever locks up so hard that you can't move the mouse on the desk, RUN."
  • by adrizk ( 137574 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:36PM (#15661638)
    Not really related, except that your mention of IP address reminded me of this one - it's kind of a cute story:

    I had a cable modem, probably close to 10 years ago when they were very new, and phoned to ask about how I could get a static IP address (I think Rogers cable in Canada may have been offering them for a few $ a month extra or something like that).

    Anyway, after a confusing conversation I was told that I was probably best to just go the the nearest Radio Shack and see if I could pick up a static IP address there.
  • by SimHacker ( 180785 ) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:36PM (#15661639) Homepage Journal

    Back in the early Mac days, there was a naive Mac user whose computer crashed and put up a dialog with the bomb icon [], saying "Sorry, a system error has occurred." So of course they jumped up from their seat and ran out of the room in terror, because they thought it meant the computer was about to explode!


  • by Were-Rabbit ( 959205 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:37PM (#15661642)
    Here's another e-mail related incident that I experienced a few years ago.

    Back in the days of Windows 3.1, I installed a small Microsoft Mail post office for our department, a state government agency. My manager got a call one morning from one of our ... er ... "repeat customers", screaming that his e-mail wasn't working and that the Commissioner had sent him very important e-mails that he absolutely needed. So, she - me manager - came over, rolling her eyes, and said, "Will you see what he's doing wrong?"

    I went over to his office where he was with some other employee. As soon as he saw me, he started up. "This e-mail sucks! The Commissioner sent me several important e-mails yesterday and I never got them! This is ridiculous! What the hell is wrong with tis thing?!" I calmly wlaked over and stated, "Let me look at it."

    After about two seconds of looking at the screen, I calmly stated, "You're not in your Inbox." { click on Inbox }

    { dramatic pause as his stupidity sinks in while the wind howls and a tumbleweed blows by }

    "I am so sorry. I can't believe I didn't see it."

    "Not a problem. Let me know if you have any other issue with it." as I walked out with no indication of the "You moron!" attitude on my face.

    I even had the gratification of hearing, "I feel so stupid" as I walked out the door. Well, who am I to argue with management?
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:38PM (#15661647)
    2 of my favs from that link
    • Gotta love the kid interested in optimization! ... When I was studying programming, one of my classmates was having serious troubles with his program. When he asked me for help, I leaned over his screen and saw all of his code in comments. The reason: "Well, it compiles much faster that way."
    • If only Microsoft new how to write a real compiler ... At my previous job, we were porting a UNIX system to Windows NT using Microsoft VC++. A colleague of mine, that was in the process of porting his portion of the code, came to me, looking really upset. Colleague: "Hey! I hate these Microsoft guys! What a rotten compiler! It only accepts 16,384 local variables in a function!"
  • by pluther ( 647209 ) <pluther@usa.EEEnet minus threevowels> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:42PM (#15661676) Homepage
    Did I read the GP correctly? Network cable in the cd-rom drive?? What, does it just dangle in there, and they expect it to work?

    I've never rescued a CD-ROM from a 5-1/4" drive, but back in the olden days, while working in the campus computer lab, people did all sorts of fun and interesting things to their 5-1/4" disks. One student punched holes in them so they can be stored in her binder.
    Another, I couldn't find why so many went bad for him so quickly, until I found he was storing them on the dorm fridge - holding them in place with an old speaker magnet.

  • My computer reboots. This is a true story that happened to a customer who lived in a rural area when I worked for a dialup ISP several years ago. Living in a rural area, the customer got their water from a well, and whenever the toilet would flush, their water reserve would suddenly drop low enough to kick on their water pump, and cause a temporary brown out.
    (Note: the french railroad slang has been translated in american railroad slang)

    Back in 1989, when the french railroads put in service their new TGV Atlantique silver screamer 190 mph trains, there was one trainset that would, once in a while, big-hole it (do an emergency stop).

    So they pull it out of service, check everything, and everything checked fine. So they put back in service, and, eventually, big-hole again.

    This happenned at least ten times; they wouldn't find anything wrong with the train, and it would only fail when it was in regular service with passengers on board.

    One day, a maintenance boss was riding the train while it was in regular service, and as soon as he went to the can, the train big-holed it as soon as he locked the toilet door.

    He had a hint, and called the engineer on the intercom: "What were you doing when it big-holed"?

    -- Well, I was cutting the power and putting it in electric braking...

    Turns out that one of the wiring harness in the car had an intermittent short where the toilet doorlock indicator light shorted against the emergency braking signal wire, but it was only energized when the train was in dynamic braking... So whenever someone went to the toilet while the train was in dynamic braking, it caused the train to stop.

  • by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:44PM (#15661687) Homepage

    My favorite has to be:

    • Me: thank you for calling $CO_HEADING_TO_C11 how can I help you today.
    • Her: I need you to help me get back online.
    • Me: OK, what seems the be the matter.
    • Her: The computer keeps saying that it can't find a dialtone.
    • Me: OK, have you checked that the phone line is plugged into the back of the computer and the wall.
    • Her: [angry]Of course it's plugged in. I caught my son viewing pornography last weekend so I superglued the end of the plug into the back of the computer, and cut off the cord so he can't connect by himself. So I know the jack is plugged in.
    • Me: OK, just to verify I understand the problem: You superglued the phone cord jack into the back of your computer and then cut off the cord. Now you want to connect to the internet and the phone cord jack is preventing you from putting in another cord.
    • Her: [even angrier]I don't have another cord. I just want to get on the internet, that's what I pay you for, so get me connected.
    • Me: Ma'am, I am confused. You have physically modified your computer in order to prevent your son from connecting to the internet, is that correct?
    • Her: [furious]I didn't change anything, I just glued the plug in and cut the cord. Now get me connected to the internet or I'm going to cancel my service.
    • Me: Ma'am, I cannot get you connected to the internet because you have damaged your computer. In order to get you connected to the internet, you will need to have someone replace the modem in the computer.
    • Her: [screaming]I didn't break anything, why won't you help me?!!
    It went downhill from there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:44PM (#15661688)
    Did you want to use it as an oar? Was it really necessary for it to remain whole?
  • by Onan ( 25162 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:45PM (#15661694)

    Some years ago a colleague told me about the strangest support problem he had ever run into: one of their developers could only log in sitting down.

    He had recently noticed that if he tried to log in in any other position (eg, still standing and just quickly checking his mail while walking past his desk), his password was always rejected. But as soon as he sat down, he had no problems getting in.

    My colleague at first laughed it off, but it was demonstrated to be the case. He spent a long time looking into cabling problems with the keyboard or network, thinking that perhaps there was a loose connection that only worked reliably with the guy's foot on it or similar longshots. Nothing panned out, and they eventually gave up on it as not important enough to dig into further.

    Finally, months later, the developer came back to him, doubled over in laughter, having figured out what the problem was. At some point in the process of cleaning his keyboard, he had reassembled it with a couple of keys juxtaposed. Which never cause him problems, because he touch-typed... when he was sitting in a normal position. When he was standing awkwardly, he looked at the keycaps, and typed his password wrong every time.

  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:45PM (#15661697)
    Their name was "Customer"? That *is* weird!
  • As repeated to me by a colleague of mine:

    Caller:I called in my computer problem over TWO HOURS AGO and tech support still hasn't called me back. What am I, black?
    Colleague:I don't think that's it. I'm black and I get phone calls from them all the time.

    Cue uncomfortable silence and the sound of the caller hanging up in disgrace.

  • Deadlocked (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stormcrow309 ( 590240 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:51PM (#15661757) Journal

    Was almost fired for this:

    User deadlocked herself and got into a deadly embrace situation that Sybase did not automaticly resolve, so we killed her.

  • by DTC ( 450482 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:52PM (#15661765)
    Did you know that a male USB-B connector will fit into a RJ-11 jack? That was a fun one to troubleshoot over the phone.
  • by BOUND4DOOM ( 987004 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:54PM (#15661795)
    Ok I have been a programmer for over 20 years, normally there is a help desk in front of me to shield me from the truly stupid but sometime the helpdesk just sends them to me.

    Like today this is an actual trouble ticket I recieved:
    User is clicking on a bookmark in their browser and is receiving an error from the intranet the error is (PAGE NOT FOUND The Page you requested has either been moved or does not exist on the intranet. Please click here to return to the home page.) Can you restore the link so the user can access it?

    However my all time favorite takes a little set up. It was a cold winter morning, about 7:30 am the entire leadership team and myself are sitting in the front conference room that overlooks the parking lot. I am not a morning person mind you as very few programmers are and was just sitting down with my first cup of coffee. We all see probably the second dumbest person I have ever known in my life drive in, late for the morning meeting as usual(remember this it is important).

    This lady walks in and someone asks her how her training was, as this lady was sent off site for training in our companies ERP system. She is really enthusiastic and saying training was excellent they gave them admin rights and could see all the screens and they could see how different things worked together and so on. Me I am sitting there just sipping on coffee, minding my own business. Then she looks at me and says out loud in front of the whole leadership team. You know I think we should all have administrative access that would speed up our jobs as we can get more things done. Without skipping a beat I say, you want me to give you full administrative access to the application that runs our entire companies financials, quotes, ordering, scheduling, and maintenance systems? You can't even remember to turn the light off in your car and you think I am going to give you admin access? All eyes look to the parking lot to see the car she drove up in still with the headlights on. She never asked for admin access again.
  • Incoming! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:56PM (#15661802)
    Back in the old days I had to pay my dues running the tech support centre of a local computer store.

    A guy came in with an ink-jet printer that was six months out of warranty, and purchased from one of our competitors.

    He argued that it should be fixed by us for free. I said that unfortunately it was going to cost $x and we could not assist him with a free repair.

    He paused for a couple of seconds, then he picked up the printer and threw it at me. I dodged and it hit the wall and more or less exploded. He then walked calmly out of the store and we never saw him again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:56PM (#15661804)
    Sounds like an easy call. Just open a ticket: "Customer wants a ticket opened." Resolution: "I opened this ticket". Close the ticket.
  • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:57PM (#15661822)
    The people in the store were pretty sympathetic with me as I was having such a hard time dealing with her.

    After I quit teaching, I worked at Egghead for a few months while deciding what to do next. Then they were closing the stores, so the store was crowded with all the people in there after work for one of the first days of reduced prices. I was up near the register, which, in this store, was easily visible to the entire store and dealing with a difficult customer on the other end. We could not do refunds anymore (since the store was closing) and, like you, the store could hear me. It started with a few people nearby listening in, then it seemed to spread and I realized almost everyone in the store was listening in and could tell I was dealing with an irate customer. The teaching I had left was teaching emotionally disturbed kids, so I had a lot of experience handling irrational people, and also in not letting them push me around.

    I kept calm and had a flat (not patronizing voice), which is what I think started catching people's attention. It was almost like a Bob Newhart phone call where you can tell exactly what the other person is saying from your end of the phone. Toward the end, the people near me could hear the idiot woman screaming over the phone since she was so loud I had to keep the earpiece a ways from my ear. Finally, when there was nothing more I could do, and the woman was screaming, and I had tried hard to help her get a program working and she refused to work with me, I finally said, "Well, if it's not working, then there's nothing more I can do unless you want to try my suggestions," and there followed a long string of profanity that people near me could her. At this point I realized I only had my job for a few weeks, the manager not only liked me, but counted on me finishing out the closing time, so the few weeks I had left were secure AND we were really didn't have to kiss up to customers any more, so I said, "Ma'am, think you for shopping and calling Egghead. It has been a pleasure working with an enthuiastic, calm, and cooperative person like you. Please shop here again. Thank you very much," and calmly hung up.

    I got a HUGE round of applause from all the customers in the store. If I were a performer, the applause was enough I would have had to do an ovation.

    Never heard from the angry customer again, either.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:02PM (#15661873)
    Not computer support, but whatever, it was funny.

    This woman wanted to cancel her cellphone account after a few days from her activation because it was too expensive. She didn't even received the first bill then. I asked her why it was expensive... and she told me " the $/"?" batteries are like $50 each and I already bought 3 of them"; she was NOT charging the batteries, but dropping them in the trash when they were no longer charged.

    One man called to tell me he's at his cabin, with his wet suit on and he would appreciate it if I could call his cell phone while he goes under water to retrieve it!

    A LOT of women talking about their vibrator (= phone on vibrate)

    During the first months that the mobile web browser was offered, one customer used it for more than $8000! I mean, this web thing is like 28kbps... so she would have used it 24/7 for weeks... and could have bought herself a great computer with a few years of high-speed internet instead.

    Not funny: the incredible number of people who are in fact unable to read. Not just like they skip the user manual, no, they really CAN'T and when you ask them what phone they have they have to spell the name letter by letter; programming the phone can be long then.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:06PM (#15661904)
    Did you want to use it as an oar? Was it really necessary for it to remain whole?

    I'll forgive you, this once, since you were obviously raised by wolves, or in California.

    A significant part of putting a baguette and a nice piece of artery-clogging cheese on the table (to be complemented, of course, by a nice bottle of red wine, chock full of anti-oxidants that magically cures the cheese problem) is the presentation. Plus, it's nice not to have the middle third smashed flat by the cashier - if I wanted pita bread, I'd have bought pita bread.
  • by eonblu ( 932134 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:08PM (#15661931)
    Thank god I got out of phone support, but it did get me some laughs from time to time...

    User: Hi, I'm a new employee and I'm trying to log in, but I'm not able to type in the password that I need to use.
    Me: OK, so you think there's something wrong with your keyboard?
    User: No, I don't see the key for this symbol I need to type.
    Me: Oh, what symbol do are you looking for?
    User: Well, it looks like an upside down, lower-case 'i'.
    Me: (Long pause, as I visualize what she is talking about) That symbol wouldn't happen to be an exclamation point would it?
    User: Excla- Oh! Yeah that could be. Let me try it. Yup, that worked, thanks!

    Similarly, a co-worker had reset a woman's password to a simple word followed by the number 4, and told her that it was all lower case. The phone was silent for 20 seconds before she asked him how to type a lower-case 4. Ah, those were good times.
  • by mazarin5 ( 309432 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:14PM (#15661966) Journal
    In a similiar vein, when I was doing tech support for AT&T I had a customer complain that
    1. The service refused to let her shop online, always saying that she hadn't put in her credit number
    2. The computer would not return her credit card that she had apparently crammed into the 3.5" drive
    Some people just leave you dumbfounded.
  • by fallingblox ( 912093 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:15PM (#15661969)
    OK. I'm the manager of a computer repair shop at a university near Boston. The computer-IQ of students has been on the rise lately but it's still pretty low. I'm a Dell and Apple-certified tech, but I'm capable of fixing most anything. The reason I got this job, however, is because of my customer-relations skills: I never condescend or judge, regardless of the ridiculousness of the situation. But when I get in conversations with other support people, this is the trump card I use for "stupid user stories":

    It's the end of the year, and students are either gearing up to go home or panicking about finals. As you can imagine, this is a busy time for me. A diminutive Asian girl with a sunny disposition comes to my door (it's a half-door, so I can only see her head and shoulders) and the following exchange takes place:

    User: "Is this the hardware repair shop?"
    Me: "Yes, it is. What can I do for you?"
    User: "My computer's broken. Can you fix it?" (typical specific user complaint)
    Me: "Probably. What's wrong with it?" (Given enough money, I can probably fix anything)
    User: (hauls out machine and puts it on the bench) "I'm not really sure."

    At this point, a lesser tech would have broken into hysterics. The machine is a Dell D600 laptop that looks like it was dropped out of a 6th-story dorm window, then run over with a truck. It was physically folded in half. Not a single part of the machine was not broken completely beyond repair.

    Me: "...."
    User: "Can you fix it?"
    Me: "Well, let's see if anything's still intact here." (extracts HD, holds it up, shakes it. It sounds like a maraca) "Your data's definitely gone, sorry about that." (Opens lid. Shattered hinges break off. Several keys fall out. Flips over, opens RAM door.) "Miraculously, the memory seems to be unharmed, but that alone won't help. Let's see whether you're still under warranty." (Checks warranty at Dell. It's under warranty, but not CompleteCare, so she's out of luck.) "Sorry, I think it's time for a new computer. What do you want me to do with this one?"
    User: "Oh, I think I'll keep it. Maybe someone else can get it working."
    Me: "...." (hands it back to user) "In the future, if you buy another Dell, I'd highly recommend adding the CompleteCare warranty."
    User: "OK, thanks! Have a good summer!"

    I really wish she'd let me keep it. It would have been a great illustration for something, I'm sure.
  • by Memnos ( 937795 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:16PM (#15661990) Journal
    My favorite also concerns my parents, and I am somewhat to blame for not realizing how very basic I had to get. My father called me and said that his computer screen was just dark. I went through the usual routine of "is it plugged in, is the power on, etc." He said, Of course, he had tried everything. I was busy at the time so I foisted it off on my brother, who also works in SW Engineering. Later I called my brother to see if he had been able to help. He said he had. I asked what he did, and my brother said he told him to jiggle the mouse -- the computer had gone into powersave mode and the screen went dark. This is the stuff of urban legends, but I swear it's true. My Dad spent the next siz months becoming as computer literate as he could out of embarrassment.
  • by ahsile ( 187881 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:22PM (#15662052) Homepage Journal
    There was a time back in college, when I was installing Diablo 2 onto a lab computer. Games and the public lab were expressly forbidden, especially since I was a lab monitor at the time so I "shoule have known better". We had been caught a few times, but were threatened that if it happened again we lost computer privileges. This threat was worrisome considering we were programming students and no pc == no work done.

    So, like I said, I was installing Diablo 2 onto the computer and it wanted the second or third CD (I forget, and it doesn't really matter). I open up the drive, and I forgot to pull out the first CD. I close the drive with the two CDs in it, and hit the button to start the next part of the install. At this point the drive starts buzzing pretty loudly and I don't know what's going on. I hit the eject button, but before it responds the cd on the top shoots to the back of the drive and shatters.

    The PC is locked down so it can't be stolen, and now I figure I'm fucked. I figure they can track when this thing broke through logs and whatever, so I'm screwed. But wait! I have a friend who works in the computer support department. I called him up and he came down with keys and a screwdriver. We ripped the sucker apart, emtied the cd-rom bits out... and were never caught.
  • by tlacuache ( 768218 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:22PM (#15662054)
    My personal favorite from when I worked tech support for a local ISP: We were sort of the "ghetto" ISP (ie., the only ISP in town with offices within walking distance from some of the more questionable areas of the city) so we got a lot of, um, "interesting" clients. Anyway, we had this older woman we called "stick lady" because she would carry around a walking stick wherever she went. Not actually use the stick, mind you, just carry it around. The stick would never actually touch the ground. Well, she had a laptop and it had been running really slow, so she decided to buy a new one. When it finally arrived, she brought it in to the shop to have me set up the dialing software to connect to the internet. She brings the laptop in, sets it on the workbench, then pulls out her old laptop, opens it up, and sets it down next to the first. I asked her, "Oh, are we going to be configuring both of your laptops today?" She replied, "No, I always use them like this. The new one likes having the old one nearby. Helps it run faster, you know." Honest to goodness truth. I think I ruptured my spleen trying not to laugh in her face.
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:31PM (#15662138)
    One more I just remembered from doing phone support for this ISP... It was in rural southern Oregon, and there were a lot of times that I felt like Joel from Northern Exposure... My office was a desk in a garage, and on nice days I'd throw the front and back garage doors open. Looking back, it was a lot better than sitting in a corporate building with 8-foot high windows that don't open.

    So anyway, one of my dialup customers kept getting disconnected. It happened all the time, and was getting pretty frustrating for them. Being a really rural aarea, there was a lot of noise on the phone lines, and it was hard to explain this to people. So I'm about halfway through explaining repeater loops and line noise when I hear someone say, "Hello? Anne, is that you?"

    "No, it's Jean, I'll be off in just a couple of minutes."

    "Ok, thanks."

    "Was that your daughter?"

    "No, that was Diane from up the street. We're on a party line."

  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:34PM (#15662175)
    Living in a rural area,

    Speaking of rural... (Bellsouth country) We had an interesting DSL tech story.

    One of customers bought our DSL package, but for some strange reason it would stop working as soon it got dark out. We troubleshooted to see if anything happened at that time such as him turning on 900mhz phones, tvs, halogen lamps, lived near AM radio station etc, but none appeared to be the case.

    So one day my supervisor was helping him out since the guy wanted to keep the service because it worked fine during the day and had blazing speeds. So my supervisor is sitting there and asks him to kind of watch what is going on around sundown and not just in the house... The guy looks out his window and sees one of those street lamps turning on near his road and says he noticed lights going on and it turns out his phone line ran directly under that line.

    My sup advised him to call the powercompany if they could do something about it

    The guy sad... "Hold on...." And about 5 minutes of silence my supervisor hears a loud bang and the guy comes back and says his DSL is working fine now. ;)
  • by SvetBeard ( 922070 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:38PM (#15662213)
    Torrent, plz?
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:38PM (#15662216)
    I appologize for that.

    (can I come pick up my spare printer parts?)
  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:44PM (#15662279)
    re:How about finding a 5 1/4" disc in a 3 1/2" drive? The client said he didn't have the bigger drive, so he figured if he folded the disc over and shoved it in.

    I remember talking to a WordPerfect tech (before Corel bought WP) where the customer at theother end of the phone had CUT the 5 1/4" floppies so that they would fit in a 3 1/2" drive!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:44PM (#15662285)
    sure, or if you're really unlucky it means burning your penis!

    Bad for him, good for the gene-pool of humanity.
  • by johnkoer ( 163434 ) <johnkoer AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:44PM (#15662288) Homepage Journal
    Did I read the GP correctly? Network cable in the cd-rom drive?? What, does it just dangle in there, and they expect it to work?

    Well No... You obviously have to close the drive around the cable. DUH!
  • by SoundGuyNoise ( 864550 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:47PM (#15662305) Homepage
    Me: Hello, this is Scott, can I have your membership ID # please?
    Customer: *beep boop bop boop* (touchtone sounds)
    Me: Hello, this is Scott, can you tell me your ID #?
    Customer: *beep boop bop boop*
    Me: Hello? I'm not a machine, I'm a person. You can read your ID# out to me.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:50PM (#15662341)
    Did you pay?

    ('course, at $7, is it really worth fighting for it?)

    No, I made the rest of the people in line pay, but having to wait while we called his manager over, who then ran and got a new loaf, for which he didn't charge me. I would guess that the clerk had some splainin' to do on his next review... it may have cost him that $0.10 raise he was banking on to send him to Baked Goods Handling School.
  • by abaddon314159 ( 606227 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:50PM (#15662342)
    not always true...the first time my grandmother touched a computer we had to talk her into it, she was terrified she would break it somehow, we explained to her that no matter what she did it wasnt going to "catch on fire" or anything...

    my aunt left her alone with the computer for about 2 minutes and upon her return the computer was on fire (well it was letting the magic smoke out at least)...aparently my grandmother had decided to try to use the thing so she wanted to load some program off a floppy disk, she put the thing in sideways or upside down (round peg square hole style) jamming it in there until it fit...the floppy motor jammed and the friction caused the motor to make smoke come out the drive...

    it took us another ten years to get her to touch another computer...
  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:57PM (#15662406)
    Back in the day, using command line terminals on VAXes running VMS, most programs had a characteristic prompt character or characters, so you could easily see what was prompting for the next input - ie, the command interpreter prompted "$", the database utility prompted "RDU>", the Data Dictionary prompted "CDU>" and so on, for the dozens of tools you might come across. We wrote a program that would detect what utility a person's terminal was running, and change the command interpreter prompt for their session to match that of the program they were running - that way, when they'd exit the program, they'd still see the its prompt, and go nuts trying to exit and get back to the command drove some folks crazy...
  • by kalel666 ( 587116 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:07PM (#15662494)
    Baked Goods Handling School?

    Yeah! GO ELVES!
  • by reverendslappy ( 672515 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:09PM (#15662516)
    Working for a small ISP back in '96 or '97... User calls in, has the typical "I can't connect" problem. Go through the paces with him to make sure the software's installed (Windows 3.1 I think), etc. etc. Nothing working. Finally ask the guy, "Is your modem plugged into the phone jack?"

    User: "Modem? What the hell is a modem? I don't need one of those. The Internet is supposed to be on these two floppy disks you mailed me."

    Good times.
  • by aplusjimages ( 939458 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:15PM (#15662570) Journal
    start messing around. You won't break anything.

    Wow I'm amazed that that phrase hasn't come back to haunt you.
  • by Hardhead_7 ( 987030 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:18PM (#15662597)
    It took all of us around the office a while to piece together the full story, but it turned out, it went something like this... The customer called up one day copmlaining their computer had stoped working. In fact, they noted a sizzling sound had eminated from it at the moment of failure and the smell of something burnt was in the air. The phone tech did just what they should have done and told the customer to box the unit up and send it in for repairs. I worked a few cubicles down from the room where the techs opened these boxes. It was a fairly booring day until I heard the bloodcurdling scream. Half the office jumps up and runs over to see what's the matter, and I'll never forget the sight. Coachroaches. The tech, once he'd removed the side of the unit, had exposed them to the light and they were trying to find a new place to hide. There must have been a hundred in there. Craziest thing I ever saw.
  • BIRDS!!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by alphabet26 ( 534873 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:28PM (#15662683)
    My favorite call I took as a support tech went something like this.

    Me: ADC Support Center, how can I help you.
    Caller: Um... we have feathers falling from the ceiling.
    Me: ... Excuse me?
    Caller: Bloody feathers.
    Me: There are feathers?
    Caller: Ew, and now blood dripped on my desk.
    Me: Where are they coming from?
    Caller: I think it's coming from the vent.
    Me: Ah, well, there's not much I can do for you, but I'll let building maintenance know.

    Turns out a pigeon got caught in the air vent fan of the building, and spewed blood and feathers throughout the building.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:36PM (#15662746)
    "Insert the first floppy disk."

    ==> "Okay. done."

    "When the computer tells you, insert the second floppy disk."

    ==> "Okay. Er, ... Damn! Done."

    "When the computer tells you, insert the third floppy disk."

    ==> "NO WAY will a third disk ever fit into that slot! I can't get the first two out, either."
  • by eveversion4 ( 785389 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:36PM (#15662752) Homepage
    The funniest thing that ever happened to me in call center support was when I was working at Onstar. I got a call from a Escalade full of high school boys who thought it would be fun to play with dad's Onstar. Of course, I got the typical comments like "I bet you're hot!" or "You sound cute, do you have a boyfriend?" And then, when they realized I was unflappable, they asked if I could see them. I replied kindly "no" but one of the young gentlemen announced he was mooning me and if I could see his ass.
  • by Oniko ( 865215 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:47PM (#15662830)
    I work Tech Support at my college, and we had the same case just this past semester. A drunk guy came into another guy's room (neither of them knew the other), and pissed on the laptop.

    The funny thing is, we actually got the damn thing working again. Yes, we did actually work on the pissed-on laptop. I carried it from the front desk area to our back hardware-support room (none of the Tech Desk folks wanted to touch it; I had to keep a mantra of "urine is sterile, urine is sterile," going), made an attempt at wit in the case log, and left it for one of the others to clean out. :-P

    So the guy that did the pissing bought a new laptop for the original owner, and then he got the, uh, refurbished one.

    We had another case where a guy tried to fix his borked power supply using alligator clips and duct tape. He'd taken his second hard drive out of its bay in order to pass the wires through and out to the front to use a tiny physics-class-grade switch.

    And THEN there was the guy with a folder labeled "goodies" on the C drive, which had failed and whose data we had to recover. I'm not really against the concept of pr0n, but.... I don't know about the rest of you, but canine bukkake doesn't really count as "goodies" to me.

  • by T_ConX ( 783573 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:50PM (#15662852)
    If he can't check his email while the nation is under attack... then the terrorists have won...
  • Mr E called (Score:5, Funny)

    by jimlintott ( 317783 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:58PM (#15662902) Homepage
    This is my favourite even though I didn't actually handle the call. My old boss, Mr. E, calls and my eleven year old daughter answers.

    E "Is your dad there?"

    D "No, he'a at work."

    E "Well I needed his help with a computer problem. Maybe you can help."

    Mr E. goes on to describe the problem to my little girl who he knows is eleven.

    D "Did you try rebooting?"

    E "No. I'll try that. Hey, it works. Thanks sweety."
  • by The Notorious ASP ( 628859 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:59PM (#15662913) Journal
    About 8-10 years ago I was working for a small town ISP. Occasionally when we had customers that were exceptionally bad and taking direction over the phone we would just ask them to bring their computer in so we could work on it (at no charge!). I suggested to a genetleman down the street that he just bring his computer in which flustered him quite a bit as he didn't want to pack up his monitor, speakers, etc... I explained that we had monitors, keyboard, etc at the shop he would only need to bring the main part of the computer... the big piece that looks like a box...

    About thrity minutes later the guy shows up, pops his trunk, and brings in a big HP box which his sits in the middle of the floor. Since this is a new computer I just assume he's being extra cautious with his new machine, so I open it and and behold.... The box is empty.

    Trying my best to keep a straight face I asked him is this is all he brought, to which he replies "Well yeah, you just told me to bring the box!"
  • by Atroxodisse ( 307053 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#15662969) Homepage
    I had a co-worker tell me this story about ten years ago. They built a nice top of the line system for the secretary of one their best customers. They wanted to make sure they made this customer happy so they burned the system in for 48 hours and ran every conceivable test. Sent the system to the user and hoped for the best. Sadly they received a tech support call from the customer saying the system was behaving very eratically and running very slowly. They tried their best over the phone but it was determined that they should send the system back. They got it back and tested it but could not find any problems with the system. Again, they sent it back and again the same problems were reported. This time they took it to the client's business and set it up and then watched in horror as the secretary placed several large fridge magnets on the side of the case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:07PM (#15662972)
    I did...this student inserted a cd-rom into a 5 1/4 inch drive and turned that could hear it screeching away...destroyed both the CDROM and both the heads in the floppy drive !
  • AM ? PM ? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:09PM (#15662983)
    how about this;
      lady says, "my website keeps logging me out right after I log in."
      [the site has a 30 min logout feature to close idle terminals.]
      her clock ends up being set to 10 PM instead of 10 AM and tripping the 30 min logout. So, We set her clock back to the correct time, problem solved...

    until after lunch...
    she contacts again, and says "its doing it again"...
    I say "doing what? logging you out?"

    She replies, "No, the clock says PM again."
    I politly replied, "Well, my clock reads 2 PM and its going to switch every 12 hours. "
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:17PM (#15663019)
    That's a neat one. Did you know that a RJ-11 jack will fit "loosely" into a NIC? Did you also know that if that RJ-11 is active and plugged into a NIC, the phone lines die? You would not believe the amount of calls I recieved saying that "Plugging the computer in makes all the phones die!"

    Also... a couple more favourites:

    Me: "Can you please unplug your computer?"
    User: "Thuhh Computerr!? What's that?!?"
    Me: "The thing on the floor with the power plugged into it."
    User: "Oh! You mean the modem! Just a sec!"

    And.. walking someone through the insides of a desktop over the phone is fun...

    Me: "Alright, now take out the screw that connects the modem to the back computer."
    User: "Ok, they're all out."
    Me: "Goo.. wha? _All_ out?"
    User: "Yep. Got all 8 of 'em!"
    Me: "..."

    Goood times! :D
  • by onebuttonmouse ( 733011 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:20PM (#15663042) Homepage
    He he, you said boobies.
  • by C0rinthian ( 770164 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:28PM (#15663091)
    Never. Ever. Remote into a users machine when they are trying to configure a webcam. Especially if you work a night shift.
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:34PM (#15663139)
    Along those lines:

    10 - 15 years or so ago... My grandmother had a CD of the phantom of the opera and a fakebook. She asked me to put the CD on for her ... I asked her if she wanted it on any particular song to which she replies, "No ... I'll just wait for the one I want" ... I say, "Grandma there's no reason to wait." ... she says, "I don't want to scratch it!"

    (she thought they worked like records)

  • Not all of the NIC in the box stories are bull or pranks. Back when I was still on dialup (cicra 1998 or 1999), I knew most of the techs that worked for the ISP. I met up with one of them right after work, and he had a priceless expression on his face of the "humanity hurts my head" sort.

    It turns out that this older lady had just gotten their service and made a call because she couldn't get online. They walk her though the basic steps of asking her if she had a network card and if it was plugged into the wall.

    Still no luck. After a while, they sent someone around to her house (it was a small town. Total population was something like 5,000) to see if they could sort things out because it was taking too long on the phone.

    They got to her house and found that she did indeed have a modem, and it was in fact plugged into a standard phone line which was then plugged into the wall. However, she did not have a computer. She had bought the modem and set it on top of her television...

    Some of these stories are so strange that you just can't make them up.
  • by Thuktun ( 221615 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:38PM (#15663170) Homepage Journal
    How about some -real- stories?

    Yes, like when I call Charter Communications because my cable modem keeps dropping its connection for a day at a time, every other day. Both times I called, I suggested it was a line problem, the second time because I had actually looked to see what the signal strength was when it managed to connected.

    Some of the amazing things that were asserted to me:

    * I needed to turn off my computer, even though there was a wireless router between me and the cable modem, as that might have some bearing on whether the cable modem was able to find a usable channel.

    * I needed to plug my computer directly into the modem, even though I already had the very same cable modem HTTP diagnostic pages we were headed for pulled up on my wireless laptop through my wireless router, as though those were a figment of my imagination or somehow flawed.

    * I have to power-cycle the cable modem anytime I change the plug in its Ethernet port so that the computer plugged into it will be able to discover it. Amazing advances like hot-plugging 10Base-T and DHCP apparently don't exist.

    * The cable modem's signal strength indicator "usually lies", even though it amazingly registered just about exactly what a physical test of the line showed on a following service call.

    While some of these steps were probably in the tech support checklist, I suspect the tech support workers were filling in the reasons behind those steps with their own misconceptions. I've taken to simply lying to the tech support person when I can tell a step is totally pointless, and that shouldn't be necessary to get prompt resolution.

    The sad truth is that many of those staffing front-line tech support are clueless, too, just at a slightly higher level.

    * One last bonus one. Okay, this wasn't Charter, but our phone company when I was checking out their new DSL product a few years ago. This "technical" guy I was transferred to insisted that you couldn't put together a LAN behind a Linux-based router and share an outbound Internet connection because--not in his words, but what he feebly tried to explain--that the HTTP requests would serialize, each computer waiting for other computers' HTTP requests to finish before theirs began.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:47PM (#15663235)
    I hope you sent him an internet in response, not in a truck of course, because the internet isn't a truck.
  • by Rifter13 ( 773076 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:51PM (#15663252) Homepage
    Jeeze, I have BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. I worked at one company, that we had this guy that would lie to me EVERY FREAKING TIME! Eventually he would reboot, and say. Weird, it worked that time! I finally got into the habit of remoting into his PC, and looking at the system event logs. I would comment. Odd, I can see the last time you rebooted was a week ago... not just before you called me. He then would come back saying he shouldn't have to reboot. I agreed, and had him reboot anyway. :-)
  • by Krisbee ( 644227 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @05:58PM (#15663284)
    This happened just a couple of years ago, when one of those email viruses was plaguing the Windows world.

    He: Good afternoon, I seem to have a problem with my home computer. I think I've got a virus.
    Me: Well, we don't support home computers, but I guess you've heard about the new virus on the news.
    He: Yes I have, but I don't think I have that one. I'm very careful about this. I always read my mail by ssh'ing to work and read the mail using pine.
    Me: OK, that seems good to me. Why do you think you have a virus ?
    He: Well, today I got mail from a colleague of mine, whom I'm sure would never send me anything nasty, so I had pine
    to save his attachment on the disk at work. Then I fetched it to my home computer using F-secure SSH, and double-clicked
    on the icon.
    Me: Ah-ha! You didn't by any chance notice the name of the attachment?
    He: I don't know exactly, but I remember it had a peculiar extension, .doc.exe something, ... do .. you .. think .. I ..
    Me: Ahem, as I said, we don't support home computers. I guess you'll have a nice evening reinstalling your machine...
  • by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:03PM (#15663314) Homepage
    I was IT manager of a department of four at a manufacturer. A user three cubicles away called me and said "My computer is frozen". I stood up, and Jan was also standing up, looking at me. I said "Can you move your mouse?" She replied "Yes," and picked up the mouse, waving it in the air so I could see that its mobility was unimpaired.
  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:32PM (#15663455)
    Anyway, after a confusing conversation I was told that I was probably best to just go the the nearest Radio Shack and see if I could pick up a static IP address there

    Did they have any in stock?

  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:39PM (#15663976)
    Me: " you know what's going on right now?"
    Marketer: "No, I heard something was happening, what is it?"
    Me: "Well, a couple airplanes just flew into the World Trade Center in New York."
    Marketer: "Holy shit!" *click*

    Most satisfying way to get off the line ever.

            Wouldn't the most satisfying way to get off the line run something like

        Marketer: "Holy shit!" *BOOM*


  • by sgtrock ( 191182 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @08:40PM (#15663981)
    I was swapping stupid user tricks with a TRW printer tech while we waited for parts to show up from his shop. This was back in the mid 80s, I think. He told me one that had me laughing so hard I was crying.

    It seems that way back when, TRW had gotten into providing support contracts for people in small towns all over the Midwest. We were in the Twin Cities, and this guy's territory covered Minnesota, Iowa, and most of North and South Dakota. Anyhow, he gets this call from a lawyer's secretary somewhere in North Dakota.

    It seems that no matter what she tried, she just couldn't seem to save her files to her 5 1/4" floppies. This was back in the days when many PCs were sold without any hard drive, so the loss of those floppies meant that she had no soft copies of her boss's correspondence. She didn't mind so much, as she was required to print out everything anyway. Still, she knew that if she could use those old letters as templates, she wouldn't have near as much work.

    Well, the tech goes back and forth with her. No magnets nearby. No, she wasn't using magnets to stick them to the desk. (Don't laugh! I actually had a user do that to me!) No paper clips. None of the more usual or even unlikely problems that we all saw back then.

    He even walked her through saving a file from Word Perfect, then verified that she could actually pull it back up. Everything seemed to check out fine.

    Now, he doesn't want to drive to the far side of North Dakota unless he has to. It's a looong haul. So he has her send him one of the bad floppies so he can run it through some diagnostic software.

    It shows up in a 3" mailer tube.

    Think about that for a second. He had to explain it to me twice before I got what he was telling me.

    He pulls the floppy out and unrolls it, but naturally by this time it's unreadable. He calls her up and asked her how it got that way. It seems that after she was done filling up a floppy, she would slap a blank label on it, slide over to the old IBM Selectric typewriter, roll the floppy in like a piece of paper, and fill in the label!

    Twenty minutes of patient over the phone tutoring later, problem solved. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:10PM (#15664122)
    Er, as another married guy, I can think of at least five days a month that GP made the right choice...
  • by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:18PM (#15664156)

    I used to work on a helpdesk for BT (UK phone provider). One of my favourite incidents was when we were called out to fix someone's PC that was overheating. According to the fault report, it was "Overheating due to having too many files in the root directory".

    What had actually happened was a hardware engineer had been called out to look at the PC overheating, and as part of his routine checks had looked at the hard drive. There were quite a few data files in C:\, and the engineer had mentioned that they might want to fix that (this was in FAT12/DOS 3.x days when you could only have 128 - I think? - files in the root folder). A fair point - if the user hit the limit they'd probably get confused - but for some reason the user interpreted this as being the cause of overheating. And that's a software problem, so they called us.

    Another good one was a fault reported on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum [] that was being used for some critical purpose in a telephone exchange, and could we take a look at it? Be very afraid.

    On a related note, we also dealt with ordering new kit. We used to get a few requests for a Zenith laptop from phone engineers for testing lines, etc - because it was good for playing this 3D golf game that was doing the rounds. Requests for this were usually denied by management, because they see that the guy just wanted a laptop to play with. In response to the denial (and more often, as a first line of attack as people got wise to this), they would opt to order a 'Tester 4A' instead, which also allowed them to test phone lines/systems. Orders for a Tester 4A were always approved by management - with, I like to imagine, a harrumphing grunt of approval that here was an engineer that was actually interested in doing their job for a change, dammit.

    Now, I'm sure you can guess what a 'Tester 4A' actually was :-)

  • by epp_b ( 944299 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:54PM (#15664291)
    Customer had been angry from the start. Don't know why. Just was that way. We fixed her computer up nice and new and sent her home. About 30min later she calls. Screaming and yelling. "you broke the computer..".. lots of profanity and swearing. After awhile I got her to say that it wasn't even "booting". I asked if the power LEDs were on. Took another few minutes to get the answer "no" through all the yelling and screaming. They weren't. I asked if she could confirm that it was plugged into the powerstrip, she said "no".. more screaming and yelling at me. At this point every customer in the store is listening on my side of the conversation as they were all hushed and no longer really shopping. I asked why she couldn't check the powerstrip... more swearing.. finally she said something like.."okay whatever..".. and set the phone down. She came back and I asked "was it plugged in okay"... "I don't know I had to get a flashlight.." more yelling and swearing. "Why did you need a flashlight?" "The power is out and I can't see under the desk" She immediatly realized her mistake and hung up. The call lasted about 20minutes and was the most difficult customer I've ever had to help out over the phone.
    I read a story very similar to that a while ago, but it ended a bit differently...

    Support: Sir, you need to disconnect all of the cables from your computer, put back in the box, and take it back to the store where you bought it from.
    Caller: Oh, is my computer defective?
    Support: No. You, sir, are to stupid to own a computer.
  • by iphayd ( 170761 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:22PM (#15664411) Homepage Journal
    I did this to my college roommate on April Fool's day one year. He replied by installing MS Office 6 on my Mac. It took 6 months to make it stable again.
  • by munpfazy ( 694689 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:35PM (#15664454)
    My girlfriend recently did the same thing. I'm amazed to hear that it's happened to others as well.

    I found it totally mind boggling. I can understand how someone who isn't paying attention could stick an RJ-45 plug into an RJ-11 jack, or bend a few pins by trying to stick a d-sub in backwards. But sticking a .5x1 cm connector into a 1x2 cm slot and not immediately recognizing that something is wrong seems almost incredible. How would you decide which side of the connector to use? It seems like it would be impossible to plug it in without asking, "Should I stick it on the left or the right side of the big connector?" which would seem to lead to the question, "why is one connector four times bigger than the other?"

    None the less, I saw it happen and was called in when she was unable to diagnose the problem. (To her credit, she immediately told me she had unplugged and replaced the printer cable, instead of keeping it a secret.)

    My favorite incompatible plug story took place in a lab full of physics students. We had a long cable run from some hardware to a computer using two lengths of wire joined with a 4-pin circular connector, tucked up in a wire rack along the ceiling. After years running at hundreds of baud without a hitch, the line suddenly stopped working.

    We checked the whole cable and found an open on one of the four lines. We then took the segments apart, and found both halves worked perfectly. After an embarrassing amount of head-scratching and attempts to recreate the problem by stressing and flexing connectors and cables, we eventually realized what happened: the connectors which we had unplugged from each other were both the same gender.

    Someone long ago had forcibly joined two male connectors together, and they just happened to get lucky and all 4 pins shorted against the appropriate mates and worked fine.
  • by NoMaster ( 142776 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:36PM (#15664463) Homepage Journal
    I was about 5 or 6 when I asked my father (an electrician) what he meant by "male" & "female" connectors.

    I was so scarred by his explanation that I'm now 39 and still posting on Slashdot...

  • by Chris Snook ( 872473 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @10:54PM (#15664548)
    We got a call once from a customer who was trying to figure out why their Linux server kept rebooting. We looked at the logs, and sure enough, a few times a week, usually around 9 a.m. or 1 p.m., the system would gracefully shut down, as if someone had typed "reboot" or "shutdown -r now", and start back up again without fsck or any error. They weren't running any clustering or management software that should be auto-rebooting, or anything in cron, and there was nothing in root's bash history. At the time of these reboots, there were no users logged in to the system. There was no data corruption or substantial negative impact other than the intranet web server being down for a couple of minutes, but they were worried that this was a symptom of a more serious problem.

    After a bit of pondering, I figured it out.

    Does the server boot into X, or stop at a text login?

    Text login

    And is it plugged into a KVM, or does it have its own keyboard, mouse, and monitor?

    It's on a KVM

    What else is plugged into that KVM?

    A mysql server and our domain controller.

    What time does your Windows administrator come in to work?

    He's here right now, should I get him on the line?

    No, that's okay, but am I right that he gets in to work around 9:00 and gets back from lunch around 1:00?

    I guess so, usually.

    What does he do to log into the domain controller?

    He switched displays, saw the "press ctrl-alt-del to log in", and burst out laughing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @01:19AM (#15665083)
    Someone I know works in the support of a local cellphone company. Once a person called him wanting to buy a certain ringtone. He had one of those prepaid deals in which you charge your account with a certain amount of money and after you use it up, you need to recharge it. Since the account was empty he was explained that he can't buy the ringtone until he puts some more money into it. The customer asked if he can get it now, promising to charge his account as soon as he can. After my friend explained that this is not possible, the man agreed, saying he'll charge his phone and call right back, and just asked that if my friend hold on to that ringtone for him. My friend tried to explain that ringtones can't run out, but since the customer didn't seem to get the idea, he simply ended up saying "Ok, I'll hold on to a copy for you".
  • by epp_b ( 944299 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @02:16AM (#15665245)
    I developed the online help files for a webmail client a little while back. In one of the help files, I provide my (spam-proofed) email address so that users can email me if they have suggestions for the help files or if they can point out something that may have been overlooked. It even says that I have nothing to do with the actual webmail client -- only the help files, that's it -- and am only to be emailed for suggestions on the help files.

    Despite these very clear instructions, I have received countless emails of people asking for technical support for the installation of the webmail client they use that could hosted on a server in Bulgaria for all I know. Most of the time, I reply with a stock message, but one in particular called for more...


    I can't get into my mail account. I have tried [] with the password of ********* ( I think that is the right combo) to no avail.... Any chance you can help me?

    [Alternate email]
    [Phone Number]

    Please email me as I can give you any security info you may need including SS# and/or bank account number I am using to pay for your services.

    I need to get access to my account as soon as possible as I think I am loosing business as I write this. Thanks for your help.


    Maybe she thought I was Nigerian.
  • by callingalloldhippies ( 962071 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:50AM (#15665481) Journal

    O.K. I will top you all except "MY" Tech Support were guys on IRC back in 97 ( I think.) Someone else had delivered, set up, done the install and taught me enough to use Usenet, mIRC, play musical C.D.'s while we chatted and DCC'd back and forth to one another. I had in a dot matrix printer, speakers and even could fax. I could send jpegs and gifs and thought I was HOT STUFF! I was also slipping up on 60 and perhaps a smidgen of senility as quietly as possible.

    The setup was on a special desk I had built out of the dinette ( which I had found useless except for eating and vastly more useful for a tiny home office in my 35' fifth wheel which I used for a mobile snowbird business.

    After a prolonged stay in Washington State, it was time to hit the road and after notifying the phone Co to disconnect my wiring to the rig and unplugging the phone jack inside the trailer, I took one look at the snake pit wires running out of cpu, apc, printer, speakers etc, I went directly into a panic attack! Besides all those CONNECTORS.. x pins xxx pins, long skinny one short fat ones OMG!!!!!!

    Soooooo...I hooked up my 35' fifth wheel to my F350 Ford pickup, got out my girlie pink tool kit and a brand new roll of Duct Tape! Miles of duct tape, over the top of the monitor in all four directions and under the table top. Same with the CPU, the APC, the keyboard, the track ball and the fax/ speakers/modem and etc. ALL DUCK TAPED in their exact position.

    Several hours later upon arrival after unhooking the rig, hooking up the power, finding the exterior phone connection I had ordered in advance and peeling off foot after foot of Duct tape, I plugged in my phone, dialed in to via my favorite MIT server and with great expectation of being praised for my ingenuity described in my usual graphic fashion my brilliant solution.

    They had a wonderful time telling one another for days and days earning me the Duct Tape Queen title for many a many dull evening on IRC.

    I DID NOT however ruin a weary techs day. But I am sure the story still gives one or more a chuckle.
  • by fatmal ( 920123 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:14AM (#15665692)
    I was asked by a secretary to do a restore off a 5 1/4" disk (she'd been dutifully backing everything up - just as we told her to), she said "the data is on this" - taking the disk from where she'd stuck it to the magnetic whiteboard.
  • My Story (Score:2, Funny)

    by Fraser ( 16937 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @07:08AM (#15665914) Homepage
    I was working at a big broadcasting corporation a few years ago. A senior director, known for his fabulously short fuse, burst into the support office shouting "It doesn't work! Why does nothing bloody work round here?"

    I said "What doesn't work?"

    "My bloody computer - I have important work to do and it doesn't bloody work. Come and fix it. And I don't want this to happen again."

    I looked around at my colleagues, my eyes saying farewell to them, and walked down the hall behind this tall, raving man.

    When I got into his office, he pointed at his laptop docking station and said "There. Fix it."

    There was no laptop in the docking station. He'd left it at home, and had merely been jabbing the power button on the monitor and swearing.

    I pointed out the obvious to him and left, quickly. Six months later, he was gone.

Due to lack of disk space, this fortune database has been discontinued.