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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 cyrax256 ( 845338 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:38PM (#15661172) Homepage
    You should check Computer Stupidities for even more funny stories: []
  • Re:Angry Customer (Score:2, Informative)

    by Andrew Aguecheek ( 767620 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:51PM (#15661298)
    Interesting... I think that's about the 9th time I've heard a variation of that anecdote. Either there are a lot of stupid people out there or you're stealing someone else's material...
  • Re:Cable TV support (Score:5, Informative)

    by harrkev ( 623093 ) <> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:22PM (#15661538) Homepage
    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?
    Highly off-topic, but the answer is "yes."

    Broadcast has channels 2-13 on VHF and channles 14 and up on UHF. This is because TV does not own the entire spectrum. In between channels 13 and 14 you will find a couple of HAM bands, military aircraft radio, public service bands, business bands, FRS and FMRS radio, government bands, etc.

    Cable does not have this restriction, so 14 begins just after 13.
  • Re:True story... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:34PM (#15661622) Journal
    The support guy was telling him to do this [], apparently. I can't fault the user -- I'd never heard of it until now, and would have thought he was asking me to open a ticket.
  • Re:A day at work (Score:5, Informative)

    by CuriHP ( 741480 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @02:50PM (#15661749)
    You know, that's exactly right.

    Back in high school, when I was still living with my parents, my mother would constantly pester me with questions about how to do inane little things in Word or AppleWorks or how to change settings. Finally one day I told her, "You don't need to keep asking me for this stuff. You know how I found out how to do it? I opened the menus, looked for somthing that sounded close and clicked on it. If it's a setting, just make sure you remember what it was set to before you start messing around. You won't break anything." Haven't had a single question since then and she's far more computer literate.
  • A metric what now? (Score:5, Informative)

    by alienmole ( 15522 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:07PM (#15661917)
    with a metric buttload of regional offices
    Shouldn't that be a metric arseload?
  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:11PM (#15661944) Journal
    Congratulations on having the first believable support anecdote post in this article thread. In fact I think I've been that user once.

    I've been in support, I've seen users do stupid things. Hell, I've seen vendors do really dumb things too (like wire up RJ45 jacks with RJ11 plugs). I've also heard the "5-1/4 disk in 3-1/2 drive", cdrom cupholder, and NIC-still-in-the-box stories. And I call bullshit on them. If anyone has gotten one of those calls, especially within the last 10 years, it was almost certainly a prank.

  • Re:Mice (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:19PM (#15662025)
    If thats the case shouldn't your tech number start with 1-900 for those kinds of things?
  • Re:A day at work (Score:3, Informative)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:43PM (#15662268)
    ('course, at $7, is it really worth fighting for it?)

    Its worth fighting for. Why should you accept substandard crap service from a business?
  • Power switch (Score:3, Informative)

    by ChrisA90278 ( 905188 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:17PM (#15662591)
    Woman calls in and say the computer is not working. I ask the normal questions. She says the screen is blank. So I ask if the computer make any disk access noises, beeps or anyhting at all when the power is turned on. She says "yes". Sound is normal but the machine is no-responvive. ... We go out and look to find the power switch on the CRT monitor is "off". I did ask about power in a non-insulting way. I asked "can you here the fan running?". After that I learned to ask if there is any heat comming out the top of the CRT
  • by subterfuge ( 668314 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:00PM (#15663299)
    And I call bullshit on them. If anyone has gotten one of those calls, especially within the last 10 years, it was almost certainly a prank.

    No Pranks here. This happened to one of my coworkers last year - I kid you not, we laugh our asses off about it to this day:

    Relatively new manager type [who had already made friends with the support folks by simultaneously demanding service NOW and always being to 'busy' for it to take place] calls the Help Desk complaining that her printer is jammed and they kick the call to us.

    First, she only has the printer on her desk in the first place because she played the 'I neeeeeed it, I reaaalllly neeeeed it' card when she arrived a few weeks earlier. The result being that she, the special manager, now has an HP laserjet sitting on her desk that normally would service her entire department [mind you that it is network ready, but slaved to her PC...]. I'll spare you the drama involved in getting it installed but it involves the installation not happening instantly when she demanded, I mean, ordered the printer and then nearly calling the police because some tech had touched her PC before hours without her permission ...

    Anyway, her printer is now jammed. Desktop tech goes to take a peak. The manager gives the standard 'it just stopped working' line and turns back to her work. Well, to shorten the tale a bit, the tech removes a blank CD-R from the guts of the printer [apparently, she had fed it into the envelope feeder...] and when he showed it to her with a puzzled look on his face she snatched it out of his hands and curtly informed him that he could go now.

    We still do not know if she was trying to print a label on the CD or if she was trying to save a file...

    So, people regularly do incredibly stupid things with CDs. Sometimes they even recognize that it was stupid enough not to tell anyone about, not even the guy that is there to fix it for them.

    A non-CD one that happened to me:

    I was dispatched to a remote site to check out a VAX terminal [yes, we still use them...] that the user said 'just stopped working'. One large drive-thru coffee later I arrive at the scene and am led to the offending device. I ask one more time before rolling up the sleeves what had happened and am told again that It Just Stopped Working {tm}.

    Screen is dark so I flip the switch a few times - no change. I look over the top to check the power cable in the back - it is firmly inserted. I trace the power cable over a few feet and into a hole in the counter. I then look under the counter and locate the cord. I, now on hands and knees under the counter, only inches from three or four pair of smelly shoes, trace the power cord around and into a power strip whose red power lamp is off. "A-ha!", I exclaim triumphantly, and eagerly poke the switch on the power strip. The light remained dark.

    Not to be beaten, I locate the end of the power strip and follow its cord to the next likely source of trouble. The cord looped around a large purse, behind a box and then right back into itself! Thats right folks, the power cord on the power strip had come unplugged all by itself while she was working and plugged itself into one of its own outlets!

    This stuff really does happen.

    With great frequency.
  • by mrpotato ( 97715 ) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @06:05PM (#15663322)
    There's a good reason why you want to be able to support more than 16,384 local variables in a C function. Some compilers for functional languages (say Scheme) can compile a whole Scheme module to a single C function. The idea is that Scheme features tail-calls optimization, so it allows you to implement some function calls as a C goto (which is very efficient).

    Such machine-generated code can get quite big. It would really sucks to have a silly hard-fixed limit for the number of variables in a function.

    Now I understand that in the case of the anecdote the programmer might really have had more than 16,384 variables in a function for hand-written code. That would be /very/ scary.
  • Re:Not necessiarly (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @09:36PM (#15664219)
    In many Asian countries it is common to answer "yes" to any closed yes/no question, since they want to be polite and not cause offence by saying "no".

    In fact, it is common advice if you are travelling overseas to never ask a yes/no question of the locals. Instead of asking "does this bus go to $City?" which will invariably get a "yes" response, you should ask "Where does this bus go?"

    If you can, rephrase the questions to be more open-ended. For instance, tell them to do something, but instead of asking if they have done it, ask them what they just did. It may seem silly to get them to answer back exactly what you just told them to do, but if you ask for more detail you can throw them off from just parroting and get good compliance :)
  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @12:03PM (#15667553)
    Complaining about "stupid users" without providing training in the use of the complex equipment sitting in front of them is stupid.

    Expecting the IT department to provide that training is equally stupid.

    In the "fleet vehicle" example, we don't think that the auto mechanic should also run a private driving school for the employees of the company. It's a vastly different skill set, and while some people may be equally adept at replacing a fried power supply and tutoring an executive on the niceties of file management, it should not be expected that a single employee should excel at both.

    Besides which, operating a motor vehicle is a regulated and licensed activity. The company's not going to let you get behind the wheel unless you have a license, possibly with commercial certifications on top of that. There exist no such credentials for operating a computer. If your fleet mechanics had to deal with a dozen calls every day from people who don't remember how to operate the windshield wipers, I'd imagine they'd be frustrated and ornery too.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.