Funny and Humorous Technical Support Tales and Stories

Submitted Tales From Technical Support

Tales From Technical Support Content

Fixing one problem causes another
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Okay, so this is not a tech story, but it is funny (and annoying) nonetheless.

A little back story to set up the tale. I have lived with the same roomate for almost 2 years now. He is very well versed in computers, and almost always knows how to fix a problem. He built his own computer, and it is a very good machine. I don't know that much about computers, but I know enough to get by.

I would assume that he had had alot of overheating problems in the past because he never puts the case on the computer. Now this would be fine to fix the overheating problem, but it opens another problem. There are three of us living in this apartment. All heavy smokers. About a week ago, a problem started to occur. The computer would crash and reboot when playing a game that would change the screen resolution. I thought maybe a software error in the system was causing this. He was not home at the time, so I decided to tell him later. In the meantime I installed the game on my other computer, which is not as good but does the job.

When I next saw him, I mentioned the problem to him and he replied with his usual "eh". He was playing a game and decided not to give it much thought untill it happened to him. Well, it happened twice to him, then he just went to bed. I realize this is going long, but, long story short, this went on for a good 3 days. Play the game, crash twice, go to bed. Finally I spoke to a friend, and he said that he had that problem too, and would just get some canned air and clean out the inside of the cpu. I told my roomate that, and he picked up some canned air and blew out the cpu. Lo and behold, it worked..... for 4 days, and started crashing again.

I said I don't know that much about computers, but wouldn't a more powerful fan or something fix that overheating problem and end the need to clean out the cpu every few days?

Woman in the server room
Posted 09/01/2003 by Simon

I work in the IT dept of a medium-sized company. We'd just taken on a few new staff, and I didn't really know much about them. Most of our staff are fairly clueful and tend to leave us alone. One lunch time I got a call from the new girl in the testing department, asking for help plugging in a network cable and configuring a machine in their server room upstairs, because, as she put it 'the rest of my department are at lunch.'

Now, I didn't know much about her apart from the fact that she'd enjoyed helpdesk (and so is clearly a few pins short of a DIMM) and had aced the first semester of CCNA before her previous company had realised everyone who got one would leave for a better job and stopped paying for it. It was hardly a task that should have been beyond her, and in that department, one she *should* have done several times before.

I realised the problem straight away when I got up there - she couldn't actually get behind the servers to reach the cable that needed connecting, and she couldn't reach the machine's keyboard at the front of the cabinets. I'd forgotten that a lot of people were dressing up for charity as it was Red Nose Day. She was wearing a victorian ball gown with a huge crinoline, and the off-the-shoulder bodice didn't let her move her upper arms - which probably explains why Victorian women were apparently so useless at everything.

Considering that she apparently made the thing herself in four evenings, I think she missed her calling. Once I'd set up the network for her she got on with her testing using remote desktop.

I know everything
Posted 09/01/2003 by Random C

Not too long ago I got a call from my ex, because his scanner had stopped working. It took me about 30 seconds to work out why, and so having diaged it, I called up his manufacturer's helpdesk.

After giving them his account details - and handing over to him so they could check with him this was alright, like they knew it was really him and not some random man - they asked me what the problem was.

"It's a primax 600 and the bulb has gone."

"We don't supply primax scanners."

"Yes you do. You rebadge them. The serial number is *foo*, which is a primax 600 number."

"Oh, erm, OK, well we need to go through some diagnostics..."

"Done them already." I reeled off all the standard diags for this model of scanner under winME, most of which I *hadn't* actually done because it was blatantly a dead bulb.

There was a stunned silence.

"How do you know to do all that?"

"I work helpdesk for your biggest rival."

"Oh. I'll get the replacement ordered."

When it arrived, the bulb had gone.

Sexist jerk.
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I worked helpdesk for 8 months before encountering anyone treating me differently because I'm a woman - though I did seem to get less irate customers than most of the lads, I put that down to my being That Damn Good. *smirk* I've actually won an MS award for giving tech support, so I'm allowed to be insufferably smug.

Occasionally, however, you'll get one who starts out angry and has every intention of staying that way. Usually on a monday morning when you've already got a headache.

Mrs Shrill called me up in a flap. As soon as I'd finished the greeting, and taking her details she shrieked "Ah! A woman at last! Maybe we'll get somewhere now."

"That should be the case, ma'am, but because I'm one of the most senior techs here. I've never yet had to use my ovaries to do diags."

Thankfully she had a simple problem which had been confused by a clueless new guy - and yes, helpdesks *do* take just about anyone off the street, you think most competent techs will work for 10K in London?

Clothes maketh the tech
Posted 09/01/2003 by Random C

Out shopping a while ago, I dropped in to see a mac specialist friend, who has a counter inside a big store. He'll often have a few geeks standing around, while he's helping other customers, and we'll chat amongst ourselves and sometimes give advice on what to buy as well to save him the time.

This particular time it was just me, but he was replacing some parts in an old powerbook, so I stood out of the way looking at what he had behind the counter for a bit. After three or four people had come up and asked me for information on iPods, I wondered what was going on - I hadn't seen a sign for them, though I knew he sold them.

Finally, I realised what it was - I was wearing an Apple Store employee Christmas shirt which I'd got on ebay, advertising the iPod on the back.

How do you spell that?
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Okay, so a guy gives me a call. He can't log in to his Groupwise Email. This is quite a common call. I open ConsoleOne and reset his password to "computer". Simple enough, eh? I've done it a dozen times - but this time it doesn't work. I troubleshoot for half an hour, then tell him to tell me exactly what he's writing.

"okay, in username I'm writing - W-I-L-L-I-S-L-E", and "in password I'm writing computer.". "How are you spelling that?" "I'm not stupid! it's C-O-M-P-U-T-O-R"

Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Like they always say - A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

"This computer is so slow, what's the memory?"

"If I tell you, are you going to understand?"

"Yes! I understand. It has megabytes, doesn't it? It can't have gigahertz, it must have megabytes!"

I sigh.

Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

"Whenever I try to open this document, it says "there is insufficient memory to open this document" - what does that mean!?"

I inform her, but she still tells me 'it has always worked before!' - I go up to her computer, and find she's got a dozen IE windows, a virus scan, stinger (a specific virus scan) , Excel, EMIS, and about three 100 page documents in her print queue.


Posted 09/01/2003 by Random_C

This isn't one that happened to me, it's one that happened to a friend.

He was called out, at some ungodly hour, to a server which, while operating correctly, was beeping about once a minute. It had been serviced earlier that day, so it should have been fine.

After determining that the machine itself really didn't seem to have anything wrong with it, he cracked open the case...and beep it goes. He couldn't quite hear where the beep was coming from, so, as an experiment, he unplugged the system speaker. Beep.

After a few minutes of head scratching, the cause was found - hidden under a full-size ISA card at the bottom of the machine was a mobile phone, issuing its distress call as the battery ran low. The guy who had serviced the machine earlier must have dropped it.

Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Check out this gem of a call comment:

*** 04-09-2003 16:01:45 Helpdesk 1 ***


// It just goes to show you that the stupid people aren't always on the OTHER end of the phone.

daughter vs puter
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter


Can you send me another?
Posted 09/01/2003 by Helpdesk Queen

This is an internal call from one of our company's employees

User: my program is not working and I was wondering if you could just send me one of... well another one.

Tech: I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure what you mean. What is it you need?

User: Well my icon isn't working can you send me another one?

We have remote control capabilities fortunatly, I remote in, and see that the user is clicking on her program icon and receiving a runtime error.

Tech: Noooooooo, it looks like you lost your connections with a server, the application is fine, it just can't conctact the server its running off of.

User: Can't you just get someone to email me another icon?

Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

The store where I work sells all sorts of electrical equipment and the sales staff, out of boredom, have a contest to see what BS they can get gullible customers to believe.

The current champion is one guy who told a customer that a widescreen TV had a "Flux Capicitor". We asked him if he warned the customer never to go above 88 miles per hour!

Ever killed a man......?
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

This was told to me by the girlfriend of a friend of mine.

She worked in a large office doing tech support/IT type stuff. One weekend she was alone in the office apart from the odd security guard and admin staff when the "Fire in the mainframe room" alarm went off. The standard procedure is to press the halon gas button which floods the room and chokes the fire. This is also called the "P45" button, P45 being the paper a company has to give you when they fire you, as setting it off on a false alarm causes big problems and expense.

So she decided to check it out first, walked to the door and carefuly put a hand on it. Didn't feel hot so she VERY carefuly opened the door a fraction of an inch and looked in.......

To see a man with a welding torch working at the end of the room! Inches from the live electricals of the mainframe! After telling him she could have killed him with halon he said "But the security guard said it was OK....."

No Title
Posted 09/01/2003 by TGC

I used to run a Help Desk for a large corporation that will remain nameless...

We were a large organization, about 4500 employess in 50+ locations. One day, one of my better L1 techs threww a wad of paper at me (our standard signalling method, since I was in the corner of the large room where my staff was working on the help desk calls) and signalled me to monitor the call she was on. Thinking that she had a really difficult issue ( I was L3 support as well), I monitored the call. Good thing was that in monitor mode I could hear them, but my mic was automatically muted - I don't think I could have shown the same level of control as she did.

As soon as I was monitoring, she asked the user to please repeat his user information for our database. The user was a senior manager in one of our major branch locations. His salary was likely larger than the entire budget for my department.

She asked him to please repeat his description of the problem.

Him: "You tech guys are really pissing me off! I just got the upgrade for the ***** program (our primary program for access to the mainframe), and now I have to get every machine in the office replaced!"

Tech: "I'm sorry sir, but why is that?"

Him: "You sent me the program on 5 floppy disks!"

Tech "Yes sir, that's the way the upgrade comes."

Him: "My computers only have one floppy drive each! Now I have to go and find new computers with 5 floppy drives each!"

At this point I lost track of her explanation of the "load disk 1 of 5 first..." process, as I was laughing too hard to listen, but after about 30 seconds, she finished the call, and spent the next 5 minutes with her head under her desk trying to keep from hyperventilating from laughing so hard.

Big Enough Hard Drive?
Posted 09/01/2003 by Hollie

I am a system administrator who also does some digital (non-linear) editing on the side. There is a friend of my boss who sent me an email, asking me to help her find a computer to be used for editing. In the email, she told me "be sure that the hard disk has at least 80 megabytes".

I have passed that email around to all my friends (without her name and email address on it) for a good laugh!

Raccoon virus
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I help support the netwrok for a large non profit seal, sea lion and dolphin hospital on the west coast. Last weekend I was called for a problem that resulted in the following email to the staff:

-----Original Message-----

From: Bud Garrison []

Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 10:44

To: 'All Staff'

Subject: The little know and extremely dangerous Raccoon Virus

We have had an invasion of the little-known Raccoon Virus (procyon lotor). It apparently struck early Saturday Morning. This virus is identified by muddy little foot prints all over the computer room and wiring closet. In this particular infestation the virus seemed to be highly attracted to all the pretty little lights on the network switches and hubs in the wiring closet. It appears that the attack centered on the big red light and switch that controls the power to the network switches, firewall and internet router. Once the virus attacked this light and succeded in extinguising it (turned off the main power switch) the virus apparently got bored and left the network. Once I was able to get to The Center, Sunday morning, it took a little while but I was able to successfully identify the virus and rectify the devastating affects on the system (I turned the power back on to the wiring column!).

I was also able to identify the source of infection. The cold air vent grate that was cut in the floor of the computer room to help alleviate the heat problems in the computer room looks to be the point of initial infection of this little-know virus. We will hopefully be applying new, strict anti virus measures (two wood screws to hold the grate down to the floor) in the very near future.

If you have any questions or comments please let me know.


No escape.
Posted 09/01/2003 by Chazz

I'm utterly surrounded by idiots. There's no escape any more. Here's my sad story.

I recently purchased a Serial ATA drive. It's basically a middle ground: faster and more powerful than standard IDE, but tons cheaper than SCSI. However, I have a cheapo motherboard, so I had to get an adapter card to plug it in. Fair enough, just turn on the old 'puter.... oh... The card isn't self-powering... Thanks for TELLING....

So, I decide to go around the local shops. 3 "computer part specialist" shops don't have the right power cable. Nor do the 2 computer retail shop. General electrip part shops don't have it. SO, while driving around, I find this one place a friend suggested. The most "well-informed, understanding and savvy tech I've ever talked to." Can we see where this is going?

He had never heard of serial ATA. He refused to believe me that it even existed. Wouldn't even let me get on the plugged in, already-connected-to-the-internet computer behind him to SHOW it to him. So he finally asks the stats. And proceeds to say that because ONE thing I listed (the LAST thing on the list of what's important, btw) is only 10% better (his words) it wasn't worth the slightly higher price tag.

Oi guvaldt. Dealing with holes like HIM isn't worth the slightly larger price tag!!!

No Title
Posted 09/01/2003 by Cheryl Hopper

Last August, I bought a new desktop to replace my POJ Kom-pak laptop. It arrives, I set it up. The sound isn't working. Drat. I call tech support. After waiting forever, I get IT. Tell the guy the problem, including what color the jacks were I put my speaker cord into. We go through various things, including uninstalling and reinstalling video and audio drivers. Now XP is acting up (big surprise Windows is giving problems, right?). So he has me re-install XP and call back. Fine. Call back, wait forever again, get a different tech support guy. Tell him what's been going on. Again I mention the color of the jacks I'm plugging my speakers in to. He talks me through reinstalling the drivers and all that. Still, no sound. He says it sounds like a motherboard problem and I'll need a new one installed. I resist the urge to start hurling things at the wall. I'm very glad for the extended service package I bought for on-site service and free parts. So I call the service department and they say it'll be Monday when they can get out. It's Thursday. Again, I resist the urge to throw things. Fast forward to the next morning. A tech guy can come out today. Yay! Tech guy comes right after new motherboard arrives via UPS. He installs it, rehooks speakers and all that. I ask him why he's putting the speaker cord into the lime-colored jack (the speakers on my laptop were internal, so I truly had no idea). He says that's where they go and asks me where I was hooking them up before. I point to a set of jacks on the bottom of the tower that are peach and black. He gently corrects me (likely repressing the urge to laugh at the stupid person who couldn't do her speakers right) and I express chagrin at my mistake.

I'll take the blame for being brutally ignorant there, but I have to boggle at the TWO guys in Tech Support who *not once* caught on to the fact I was plugging my speakers into the wrong jack. So much time could have been saved if the first guy had said, "You need to use the lime-colored

jack, and it's..."

Flash Photography
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Back when I worked at a fim processing company, my son, who also worked there (in the customer service dept) told me his favorite call. It seems a customer was calling because he'd used up almost a dozen rolls of film trying to photograph something, and it wasn't working, so he was sure it was our film or the processing. It couldn't be anything else, since he was aprofessional photographer. My son asked him what he was taking a picture of:

Cust: "My computer."

Son: "And what's the problem?"

C: "Well, it shows the computer screen OK, but you can't see what's written on it."

S: "And exactly what camera settings are you using?"

C: "I've tried everything from 1/100th and up (faster). I've also tried every kind of lighting and strobes, and I can't get anything on the screen to show up."

S: "Sir, the computer display repaints itself about 30 times a second. Also, since it's self-illuminated, external light makes it harder to view, not easier."

C: "So what should I do?"

S: "Set your shutter to slower than 1/30th of a second, 1/25th is usually a good place to start, and then turn the lights down. You'll need the camera on a solid tripod so the image isn't blurry. You'll need to experiment from there, but that should get you started."

Maybe I'm over-estimating things, but I'd expect a professional photographer to notice that the brighter the lights, the harder it is to see something that GLOWS IN THE DARK!

But I backed it up!
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Several years ago, I worked for a foreign-owned company, and it was a matter of faith among the American employees that the managers had been exiled, not transferred, to the US office. One day I was talking to a contractor who had just spent about 120 hours (he charged $100/hour) to recover as much data as possible from the main computer (an IBM Series I) that held all the accounting data. One day, the hard drive crashed and became unreadable. They called the IBM tech out, who told them what it would cost; when the head of IT complained, he explained that she herself had cancelled the service contract (to reduce costs), and that if they'd continued to replace the air filters for the hard drive every two months, the drive probably wouldn't have crashed. He replaced the main drive, and, at her request, left the old drive in place and mapped as a secondary (this unit could handle up to four hard drives). She then tried to restore the data from the crashed drive, and when she couldn't, she called her consultant (who had been her assistant up until 6 months before, when she'd fired him to save money). He came in and she explained what had happened and said "I can understand why we can't boot off the old drive, but we should be able to recover the data--I backed it up." Well, the backup was on a second partition of the primary drive. When the heads had contacted the disk platters, they dug gouges in both partitions. They sent the bad drive to IBM, and, for a lot of money, IBM moved the damamged platters into a new drive. The consultant then spent 120 hours in one week ($100/hr for the first 40; $150/hr for the next 20, and $200/hr above that) recovering the data that was still readable (about 80% of it). The rest needed to be re-entered by hand, and, since the paper records were destroyed for security reasons, the main office in the UK had to send copies of the paper reports which were faxed in every month to fill in the blanks.

What happened to the head of the IT department? She got a raise and bonus for man

aging to recover 80% of the data, thereby saving the comapny thousands of dollars in data entry time.

Strangely enough, that branch lost so much money that it was sold off to a company that drove it into bankruptcy (it was a short putt; believe me).

Garbage in, Gospel out
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

This isn't exactly a tech tale, but it illustrates just how little people understand computers.

My wife is a teacher. The first year she taught (Junior High), she kept all her grades in a standard grade book. Whenever a student's parent came in to find out why little Johnny was getting a failing grade in English (she'd give them 20% if they managed to put their name on the paper and spell it somewhat accurately), she'd take her grade book down to the principal's office and show the parent that little Johnny had only submitted 3 of the 20 required assignments; at this point, the parents would argue, and argue, and argue.

At the end of that year, I bought her a laptop computer, a portable printer, and grading software. The next year, when little Johnny's parent came down and demanded an audience, she'd print a student grade reoprt and carry it down to the principal's office. The principal would hand it to the parent (while commenting something like "this is pretty much self-explanatory"), who would glance at the printout showing Johnny had only submitted 3 of 20 assignments, nod sagely and then go home to kill little Johnny.

The first time this happened, my wife was astonished; I told her it was "GIGO." She said "doesn't that mean "Garbage In; Garbage Out?" I said "No; for the vast majority of people, it means 'Garbage In; Gospel Out,' most people have no clue about how computers arrive at the numbers, so they are afraid to challenge them."

I guess it just proves Arthur C. Clarke correct: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I just worry about the fact that, for most people, anything more complicated than a light switch is magic.

Fun with managers
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Many years ago, I worked in the R&D dept. of a manufacturer of gasoline and diesel fuel injection equipment. One of my responsibilities was to set up tests in an environmental chamber large enough to hold a 1 ton pickup truck. One day my boss called me into his office and said "I need you to set up the red ford (a Ford F-350 pickup with a diesel engine) for a cold start test at mnius forty degrees." I responded with "Fahrenheit or celsius (we used both)?" He responded "I'll check." He then grabbed the note he'd been given; just before he could read it to me, he realized what I'd already remembered (-40C == -40F). He looked up and me and said "you b****r" and laughed.

Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I work for a large computer software company in WA state. Thanks to the "Blaster" worm, everybody who'd ever done any tech support was asked to volunteer to handle calls. After three days of handling one call after another, I hit to button to take the next call, and nothing happened. While I was wondering if the system had just gone belly-up, my phone rang:

Me: "Hello. Thank you for calling ---- technical support. My name is ----; may I have your case number?

Caller: "Oh my. The message said I'd be on hold at least an hour."

M: "How long were you on hold?"

C: About 45 seconds."

M: "Well, I could put you back in the queue if you'd like...."

C: [Laughing] "No; but thanks."

M: "So, how can I help you?"

C: "I'm one of those people who was too stuipid to download the patch and now I keep getting thrown off the Internet."

The rest of the call went pretty smoothly.

The Customer Sucked out my brains.
Posted 09/01/2003 by Zygos

Not so much as a techtale, more a parody of "Video Killed the Radio Star" still in progress.

[theme: video killed the radio star]

I was working with customer on their mail.

They had a problem, no matter what I tried I failed.

After an hour I worked out that had the caps key on.

Oh-a oh

Then another called no DNS.

Their computer filled to the brim with junk what a mess.

I tried to help them, but instead my stutter remissed.

Oh-a oh

There goes the last brain cell.

Oh-a oh

How did you suck it out?

The Customer sucked out my brains.

The Customer sucked out my brains.

I started with some, now I have none.

The osmosis is done, the customer has won.

Oh-a-a-a oh

The next call came in from a customer who was angry.

Its seemed his printer wasn't working; he was blaming me.

But all I could do was to refer him to HP.

Oh-a oh

A lady called, there was an error on her screen.

She had an illegal operation. Wanted to report herself to me.

I called the police on her right away.

Oh-a oh

Where do these people come from?

Oh-a oh

How did they start with so few brain cells.

The Customer sucked out my brains.

The Customer sucked out my brains.

I started with some, now I have none.

The osmosis is done, the customer has won.

Oh-a-a-a oh

Oh-a-a-a oh

The Customer sucked out my brains.

The Customer sucked out my brains.

In my mind there are two types of people.

Those with brains, and those who need them......

An apology would be nice
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I was setting up the electronics for a distributer's conference my company was hosting. This involved setting up 18 computers and 18 medical devices connected via a LAn to one another inside the conference room of a Holiday Inn. It turned into a power nightmare, and I had all the computers connected to one outlet, and the medical devices and the router connected to the other outlet since there weren't any others there.

Well, halfway through the first day, I'm sitting at a table dozing off when my boss starts yelling at me. Every one fo the computers went down. Fortunatelly, they were all laptops, but the company we got them from was kind enough to not charge batteries on them.

After 10 minutes of yelling and 30 seconds of troubleshooting, I find out that she had just unplugged the extension cord for all the computers to charge her cell phone. When she saw what happened (She was standing over my shoulder yelling that she told me to make sure nothing like this happens) she just huffs "You should have labeled that you needed that extension cord" and walks away.

I suppose I should have appologized to her for not realizing how big of an idiot she way. After all, I certainly wasn't getting an apology...

Computer Savy Granny
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Those three words should strike fear in anyone who has done tech support for that person. So anyway, the story (one of the many many many)

I was doing tech support for my grandma. This was back in the days when 98 was just released. My grandma went out and got it when she found out it was out from me, and installed it on her computer (Like I said, more computer savy then most over 60).)

A few weeks later I get a call from her complaining that her computer is going REALLY slowly. I drive the 5 minutes to her house and begin troubleshooting. And she was right, it would take about 30 seconds to get an icon to highlight starting in safe mode.

Getting more and more frustrated, I go into troubleshooting overdrive, doing everything I can think of to get the thing to run at least at 286 speeds. It was durring this that I noticed something, and asked her, "Are you running Windows 95?" And that's when I find out just how dangerous a computer savy granny can be. She tells me that she didn't like windows 98's interface differences, so she went back and installed windows 95 on top of 98. Well, after she did that, it seemed to be running really slowly, and she decided that she didn't like any of this new windows year crap, and went back to DOS 6.22 (on top of 95 on top of 98) and windows 3.1. I guess she didn't like 3.1 after getting used to 95, so then she installs 95. There were 5 windows directories on her computer.

So long story short, we backed up all of her files on her zip drive and formatted the hard drive. She's using XP these days, so naturally I get to visit with my grandma a lot.

Are the lights on?
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

My company performs tech support for the nursing home industry. Most of the users are middle-aged female nurses with great people skills and few technical skills. My coworker recently took a support call involving a PC that would not boot.

In the course of the support call he asked if she was sitting in front of the PC. She was. He asked her if she could see the front of the PC even though it was under her desk. She could. He then asked her if any of the lights were on. She said that they were. This led him to believe the problem might be related to the monitor.

The call went on for another 20 minutes when it became apparent that when he'd asked her if "any of the lights were on" she was referring to her overhead office lights, not the LEDs on the front of the PC case.

Friends email
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I fix and sell PCs. One of my customers bought a PC with AV software from me and got a ISP startup CD to connect to the net. I set it up and Get the latest AV updates, set that up so it does it automatically. Show them how to send and recieive emails. I send a test to my email which I then check with web-based email. Send a reply back to them. Check thier email. It came back, all is well with email. Their happy.

2 weeks later they call saying "I'm not receiving some important (aren't they always) emails, My friend sent them but I have not got them. I'm getting everyone elses but theirs!".

I ask them if their friend can send emails to anyone.

They reply "No! Since you set my PC up their internet failed and I haven't even sent them one yet. So I want you to fix it".

I ask "To fix your friends PC?", they say "No mine! its not getting their emails."

After getting though to them that I think its they friends PC not theirs that has the fault as we have checked for Viruses with the latest updates (And a different one I brought round) clean as a whistle. I ask where their friend is... Different country!

Showing great control in explaining the situation the customer is now happy again with their friends PC fixed by someone else closer and emails are flowing.

Apprantly the other techy said the PC was full of all the nasty viruses, trogans etc...

I ask myself how was their friend sending emails when the internet didn't work for them?

Ahhh the joys...

Format floppy problem
Posted 09/01/2003 by DrDunc

This happen back somewhere in 1993-1995 with Windows 3.11 when I was on support.

Person walks up and says "I tried to format a floppy disk and my PC has locked up."

I go and Look at the screen. A DOS box is open with


{Big Warning Something about a hard drive!}

Are you sure? Y

68 percent completed.

This was the Computer manager

*Special* Tech Support
Posted 09/01/2003 by Kath from Bangor

A while back I got a laptop from a certain well known chain of electronics shops. As is usual, I got 1 year's worth of warranty.

After a few months of computery-ness my fan started making more noise than usual and didn't seem to be working effectively. Then one night, it stuttered and died. Well, I was annoyed, but I still had warranty.

I shut down the laptop and called the helpline to arrange a repair. The conversation went something along these lines:

Muppet: Hi, can you give me your model no.?

Me (Kat): Sure: XXXXXXXX...

M: What's the problem?

K: My fan's been noisy for a while, but now it's actually stopped.

M: Your fan?

K: Yes

M: This is a computer helpline

K: The fan in my laptop

M: I'm sorry, I don't follow you. Are you talking about a fan or a computer?

[Eventually I convince her computers do have fans in them]

M: So, does your computer work?

K: No, the fan's stopped

M: I mean, does the computer run?

K: No, because I shut it down.

M: Why did you do that?

K: Because I didn't want it to overheat.

M: Why would it do that?

K: Because the fan isn't working.

[She seems to take this on trust, so tries a new tack]

M: How do you know your fan isn't working?

K:[Resisting the urge to say 'cos the little spinny bit isn't']I can see it, and it's not making any noise either.

M: Could you start up the computer and hold the phone up to it so I can listen?

K [losing will to live, let alone argue at this further stupidity obediently holds crackly cordless handset to laptop]

M: Well, I can't hear anything.

I am impressed that the company trains their staff to distinguish the sound of a fan not starting up from merely not hearing anything over a bad phone connection.

Eventually, I just persuaded her to send someone to pick it up and wrote a note with it detailing the problem.

Still more impressive is that during this conversation, the muppet was acting as if I didn't have a clu

e what I was talking about.

ARGH!!! [End of rant]

Mac Confusion
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Background: I'm a tech for a national telecom company (ET phone home) in the UK supplying adsl. I've been in and around computers since I was very small.

I've always considered myself to be quite experienced having built a number of pc's from scratch and played around with countless others.

That was until my girlfriend was gifted an old Macintosh from a friend who didn't use it anymore.

She brought it round to my place and asked me if I could get it on the internet.

Now I can troubleshoot a mac connectivity problem over the phone we also have an Imac and a Powermac G4 at work which I've used quite a lot so I'm pretty confident and I go about setting the thing up. It looked vaguely similar to the Imac at work so I just plugged everything in the same way.

Unfortunately this was on old Performa 5300. For those of you who know macs you'll know that there is no 'power on' button anywhere on the case. I spent about an hour flicking switches and pressing panels trying the find the bloody 'on' switch.

Eventually I give up and try to find the user manual. The manual stated the 'on' switch was actually on the keyboard, the same button which is used to eject the cd on the Imac. I hit to button and nothing happened.

"Odd" I thought and went back to the manual. On the first page it showed me what I'd done wrong. I went to the back of the machine. Plugged the keyboard in the correct socket, hit the button and Bingo!

Moral: No matter how much experience you think you have, if you've got something new, RTFM!

Cannot connect...
Posted 09/01/2003 by Kander

Short one:

During our family barbeque at my granddad's place he asked me to check out the computer, because he couldn't get his mail. Fine with me, so we went upstairs and I began analyzing the problem. First, logical step, ask him to show what he normally does to fetch his mail. He's using Outlook Express. Great... After pressing the download/send button OE pops up this nice error 'Cannot find server'. First conclusion is that the server might be down. No such luck, it's been like this for a few weeks. Ok, next option, the server settings have changed. Checked it with the papers he got from the ISP.. no such luck, server settings were fine.

Then he decided to tell me a little something: Umm, before this started happening I changed something in Internet Explorer.

Great... on to the IE settings. Turns out he disabled Autoconnect (he's on dialup) so he didn't even have a connection! He's a sweet man, but sometimes.....

Posted 09/01/2003 by FSFunky

Hi, I'm an ICT student.

So today, I had network admin-class. We had to work on anti-virus programs, teacher sees me using McAfee and goes up to me and the conversation goes like this:

T(eacher): So, how much do you know about virus-scanners?

M(e): Well, I know a bit, I suppose.

T: I have a problem, when I boot up I get an error message. Can you fix it?

M: What kind of error message?

T: Just an error message, about files or something? Can't you just give me an answer?

And that guy is supposed to teach *us*...

Fun in the college computer lab
Posted 09/01/2003 by Lee

I work in a computer lab in the Computer Science Building on my college campus as a "lab assistant" (read: Computer babysitter). Now, just because this is the CS Building, doesn't mean only CS Majors can use the machines, the labs are open access to all students. Here are a few stories that take the cake:

M: me

L: (l)user

L: Excuse me, I can't get my paper to print.

M: (Check the printer, no paper, add paper, check print queue, 47 copies of the same document)

M: You only need to tell it to print once.

L: But it didn't hear me the first time!

New L: I can't get my paper to come up.

M: (Check disk, disk OK)

M: Where did you save it?

L: On my computer in my room.

M: (Oh, no.......)

M: Did you save it on this disk?

L: No, I told you I saved it in My Documents on my computer!

And they get worse every semester........

Fun with Duel Boot Machines
Posted 09/01/2003 by Lee

Here's a story about the problems with having a duel boot machine:

M: me

L: (l)user

L: What's all this crap coming up on my screen?

M: (Looking) Oh, that machine is just booting into Linux.

L: What the hell is Linux? I need Word! I have to print out my paper it's due in 5 minutes across campus!

M: (Well across campus is about 10 minutes at a normal walking pace....)

M: Just use this computer (Already in Windows XP)

L: I can't! I saved it on this computer!

M: (Uh oh. We just cleaned all the files off that one yesterday. Students are only supposed to save their work on floppies or ZIP disks.)

L: (Pushing power button to stop Linux from loading.)

M: OK, that was bad. The computer may not boot now.

L: But all I need is Word!

M: (Ugh.) I'm afraid your paper maybe late.....

Posted 09/01/2003 by

Okay, I am just 16, but this just blew my socks off today. A person comes up to me because he has a computer problem (it turns out he was the victim of a scam, the teddybear icon thing). I tell him that i guessed that i would have to look at it for him, and he says to me, "No, that is okay, I think it is a problem with my softdrive." I was astounded, I had a good laugh about that. lol... softdrive...

little gem of computing
Posted 09/01/2003 by helpdesk queen

This little gem I would expect from a first time user, but from an employee who has been working with computers for years... I'm simply in aww.

User receives a script debugging error, I try walking user through the debbuging process.

Tech: "Click yes"

User: "ok" (she clicks yes, but receives another error)

Tech: OK lets try no this time, go ahead and say "no" to this one

User: "no"

Tech: (hears no clicking)

Tech: "umm, CLICK no!"

User: "oh.. ok" (she clicks no)

Tech: good girl!

Explosive CD Rom
Posted 09/01/2003 by Justin Salter

Hi there. Great site, I figured I'd share my little tale.

Last weekend, my aunt and I loaded a game onto my grandmother's new computer. Now, everything on this computer is fairly new, hardware and all, and it's running Windows XP. Anyway, we get the game installed okay, and start it up. I notice that the CD Rom drive is making unusually loud noises when it spins, as if the motor is running on overdrive, but I think nothing of it.

Out of nowhere, we're both scared senseless by this insanely loud *POP* sound coming from the computer. It sounded like a gunshot, no exaggeration. After my heart starts beating again, I reach down and open the CD rom tray, and to my shock find that the CD has somehow shattered into multiple pieces. It didn't just break in half, or crack, but literally shattered into more than 20 seperate shards. I've never seen this happen before, and I've been building/repairing/using computers for over 10 years. Definately an odd occurace.

It's Greek to me!
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I have all my recipes on my Word Program. I am running XP on my PC. Recently a friend asked me for copies of several of my recipes. They all printed out just fine except the one for Greek Salad. It came out in Greek, not the language but a Greek letter for every English letter e.g. Sigma for S, Alpha for A etc. I know that this recipe has printed out correctly in the past because I have a hard copy in my file. The font says Times New Roman G1 which I do not have in my drop down list of fonts. When I select all and try to change it to another font it changes to all those squares and gobbledegook that you get when your computer doesn't recognize a file. Has this happened to anyone else? Do I have a Greek Worm??

Weep for the children
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

This is not my own tale, but rather one I say on the news about 2 or 3 months ago. I actually saw one of these sys admins interviewed on Bill O'Reiley, if that gives you an idea as to how bad this tech call went.

This takes place at a college which has 2 people who do sys admin (at least relevant to this story). At the time a professor cam in, the newest system admin was working, and there was something severly wrong with his computer, either it wouldn't boot, or was loaded with viruses, I don't remember. So the woman said she'd take a look at it and get it back to him.

To make a long story short(er), she ended up scanning this professor's school computer and found a bunch of porn on there. But not just any porn, this was kiddy porn.

Shocked and appaled, the admin went to her supervisor and showed it to her. The supervisor didn't want to believe it and kept saying over and over "No, they're of age, they have to be of age..." but it was apparent they were all between the ages of 8 and 12.

So what would you do with this information? Hopefully the same thing they did, which is go to the dean with this information. The dean saw it and reacted in a most peculuar way.

He disciplined the newer sys admin for violating the professor's privacy, and that since it wasn't performed with a search warrent, it cannot be used in any way (which, by the way, only pertains to cops and feds searching, not citizens). She was put on probation, and let go shortly after. So what happened to the professor, you ask? Well, at the time this story broke, the professor was being suspended with pay. I guess it really doesn't pay to be a good citizen...

Simple Instructions
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

I am a Sysadmin for a Retailer. I wanted to see if could net send to a domain rather than individual computers. I typed net send "domain" "this is a test please ignore and click ok."

Shortly afterwards I recieve a call from a user...

Her: Ive got a message on my screen what do I do?

Me: What does the message say?

Her: It says "this is a test please ignore and click ok"

Me: Try clicking ok.

Her: Thanks.

A little power helps
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

A user called and told me that she was having a problem with her computer. I ask her to explain to me what was going on and she explained that her monitor was black. I had her make sure that there was a light on the monitor. she told me that the light was on. Next I had her look at the computer to make sure the light was on the computer. Confused she stated "I don't think so". by then I am worried. I asked her to just turn the computer on. she questioned "The power button"? I repeated by saying "yes the power button". She then asked "The one button next to the floppy?" (the only button on the computer). After she figured where the power button was the computer finally worked for her.

Some people should not own computers
Posted 09/01/2003 by Susan

I work for a cable office. While working one Saturday I took a call. Everything was going great. The woman had mainy questions on our hsd. So after many minutes telling her the specials and setting up the appointment for our techs to go out.

I asked her "what version of windows do you have?" She took a minute to respond.

"Wells lets see I have small windows, big windows, tall windows and short ones." Then she starts going on about where they are all located in her house. Not listening to a word I said.

Finually I said loudly "ma'am I ment your computer"

She plainly tells me "ohh I ain't got one of them but I can go get one tomorrow"

I hung up and cracked up laughing and trying to figure out why she was calling me if she didn't have a computer and didn't know anything about them.

No Title
Posted 09/01/2003 by Dan

This happened to me while I was setting up a customers Internet connection...

Tech: Do you see your Internet connection?

Customer: Yes.

Tech: Right-click on it and go to Properties.

Customer: I'm not writing anything on it, it's a new computer!!

No Title
Posted 09/01/2003 by Dan

This happened while trying to figure out what OS the customer was using (I couldn't get them to type WINVER in the Run box, that's what I was dealing with!)

Tech: What Operating System are you using?

Customer: What's that?

Do you use Windows or is it an Apple MAC, do you know?

Customer: Oh it's Windows.

Tech: Good, do you know what version?

Customer: Double-glazed.

Air Travel in UK - Be Afraid... VERY Afraid!
Posted 09/01/2003 by Terry Arnett

In the UK, Lawrence McGinty of ITN was reporting on the opening of the Swanwick Air Traffic Control Centre - back in 2001 (or thereabouts). It was shown firstly on the Early Evening News.

He gave a great presentation, showing all the technology to be used at the new Centre. Lots of large 21" monitors in a purpose built environment.

On his signoff piece to camera, Lawrence was saying how advanced it all was.... by a monitor showing the Blue Screen of Death. Consequently, it didn't show the same piece on the 10pm news!

Where is Tech Support when you truly need them... HA!

Cmos Password
Posted 09/01/2003 by Jake Calhoun

I just recently got a phone call from an lady who didnt know the password for the computer to load up, and it happened to be the user password for the cmos logon. She had bought the pc, a Packer Bell 95 as she called it. But she havnt got to use the pc yet! since she didnt know the womans password who she bought it from in the first place! Well she told me that she had two experts that told her, they needed to make a program to get into it, and it'd cost her some money for them to make it. Lucky for me she didnt have to have someone charge her an arm and leg to remove the battery, saying they made a program, since she's the type that thinks "turning the internet off with the company made the computer mad and wont turn on!" and then wants to call them to turn it back on to make the pc work again! Strangly she's called me back several times and still pays me for removing the battery and resetting the password... no complaints though :)

Brown broke my monitor
Posted 09/01/2003 by Nocturnal

Not exactly a typical tech support story, but worth a read anyway, I think.

About a year & a half ago, I moved back to Pittsburgh from Minnesota. Way too far to drive, so I hopped on an airplane and sent everything I owned to Pittsburgh via a certain brown shipping company. Thankfully, I was smart enough to opt for the maximum amount of insurance on the packages that held my computer & monitor.

Almost all of packages arrived within a week. The exception was my monitor. After another week of waiting for it to reappear out of the black hole that it had fallen into, it arrived at my front door. My mistake was to not inspect the package thoroughly before signing for it. If I had done so, I would have noticed the boot-sized indentation on the one side of the box. After opening the box, I called UPS to let them know that, somehow during shipment, the box, packing material, and monitor were all damaged.

"How bad is the damage, sir?"

Me: "There is a 5-inch diameter hole in the side of the monitor."

"Does it still work?"

Me: "I'm not so sure it would be in my best interest to plug it in and power it up in its current condition. Can you have someone come out here and look at it to verify its condition, and then we can get around to the part where you pay me for it?"

"I'm sure we'll pay you for it, since you had insurance, but you'll need to take it to a certified computer repair servicer to have them verify that it cannot be repaired for less than it would cost to replace."

Me: "Fine."

So I end up looking like an idiot when I take a $150 monitor to a repair shop and ask for an estimate. They told me what I already knew - that, since it had a large portion of the side of the case missing, and had various fragments of circuitry and wiring hanging out of the hole, that it couldn't be repaired. That bit of knowledge cost me $45. Of course, the brown shipping company cut me the check for $150, but wouldn't pay for the estimate.

No Title
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

A few years ago (1999 to be exact), my sister was going to buy a laptop and was getting advice on what to buy. Once we had the system basics figured out, I told her to have it installed with Windows 98, rather than 95 as she was used to. She was wanting the "latest and greatest" so told me "Well I'll probably tell them I want Windows 99." I tried very hard not to laugh, and explained that they didn't come out with a new version every year, that 98 *WAS* the latest version.

It's Magic!
Posted 09/01/2003 by Anonymous Tech Supporter

Many years ago, when our government department office upgraded from the Wang terminals it had been using for the past who-knows-how-many years (decades?) to shiny new Windows 3.1 PCs running off a Netware server, I inherited the title of Lord High Techie Guy.

It was up to me to answer any and all questions about these new-fangled things from up to a hundred people at a time, and the sheer number of support calls I recorded (manually, there was no software for this) convinced the local management to upgrade my job from part-time to full-time.

So here I was, answering questions all day, every day, in my very first official techsupport role. And for that office, I was it. I was the entire IT department. Yay. My phone never had a chance to cool down.

Then, a week or two into this madness, I realised that 90% of the calls related to network errors, of the kind you get when a brand-spanking-new, nationwide computer system is installed and has teething troubles. For each error, the guys in IT Central would issue a patch. The patches, surprisingly, usually worked. Unfortunately for me, they had to be manually installed on each workstation. This meant that every time the network configuration was "adjusted", and a patch issued, I would be guaranteed to receive around a hundred calls, starting the moment I walked in the door.

Then I had a brainwave.

The security on the office server was, shall we say, minimal. I snuck into the user settings location on the disk and installed a new icon on everyone's desktop one night. This icon linked back to a batchfile on the server that would run the latest patch or three. I titled the icon "The Magic Button."

For the next two weeks, whenever I took a call or visited a user's desk, I would make sure to refer to The Magic Button, and ask if they had tried it. In 90% of cases, it would fix whatever problem they were having.

Suddenly, I had a lot of free time on my hands. And my phone was no longer glowing red-hot. And I was b

eing paid a full day's wages for maybe half an hour's work.

This would be the end of a successful story, but more was to come. A patch was issued which had a problem - it wouldn't run if the user had a particular configuration option set in Windows (something minor, I forget the details). It also couldn't cope constructively with the problem - it would just die. My batch file wasn't sophisticated enough to fix the configuration issue, but it could detect it just fine. I could fix the configuration remotely from my desk, but I needed to find a way to make the affected users call me immediately WITHOUT attempting anything funny on their own.

I knew that normal error messages would be of no use with this crowd. So I got the old creative juices flowing and made some updates to my script.

Sure enough, over the next few days I would get the occasional call from a user who had tried to run The Magic Button to fix their newest network problem. And every call started the same way:

"I have this error message which says 'Not Enough Magic!' What on earth is it talking about?"

- to which I would reply "Hmm, the Magic Button doesn't have enough magic? Let me install some more," and with a quick frobbing of their configuration options behind the scenes, I would then continue with "OK, try it again."

Every time, I'm talking EVERY SINGLE TIME, I would hear them say "It's saying 'More Magic Detected!', and it seems to be running fine now!"

Thus endeth the lessons in Office Politics, Office Automation, and Error Messages That Work. Tune in for future sessions covering The Great Boss and the Timesaver Script, The Tuesday Boot Sessions, A Perl Script Called Buffy, and LaserFire! (aka Someday Your Prints Won't Come, aka What Are You Smoking?).

Tempers cost money
Posted 09/01/2003 by Slim JB

I work as a network engineer, and sometimes help the helpdesk if they get stuck on something they haven't seen before.

We support the travel industry, anyways a call comes through that states the PC the travel agent is trying to make travel bookings on ins't working properly.

Apparently on the main booking screen instead on the usual prompt ":>" there is a "giant blinking line with a kink in the middle" and when they type anything the screen goes "all funny".

Helpdesk try all sorts of stuff and when none of the standard fix's work they inform the agent they will have to transfer him to me, but the agent loses his cool and demands that someone go on site and fix it, they will not speak to anyone else over the phone, they have had enough.

The job is transfered to me.

I realise the problem after reading the call log, but I'm not allowed to phone them.

I drive out to their shop, and look at the screen, I click on a tools/options menu and change the font size from 255 to 12. problem solved.

All phone support is free, the call out cost them $180.

Sure you were....
Posted 09/01/2003 by Tron

I am a former network admin, so I am slightly (grin) proificient, but this has me stumped

Me > I'm afraid we are unable to troubleshoot network -related issues.

Me > I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

one unusual thing is on this system the IP is DHCP assigned, but on the other system it

Me > You should have DHCP assigned.

I understand, however it is a connectivity issue with the IP.... says to contact ISP

I agree... how can I change that please


A former network admin who doesn't know how to set for DHCP in Windows. Guess we know how the "Former" got in their title.

Tales From Technical Support Index