The next time something goes wrong with your computer at work or indeed at home, take a minute and spare a thought for the poor souls that have to deal with your frantic calls to the IT helpdesk. Their job is as stressful as any of the emergency services’ because having no email can feel like the end of the world, yet they don’t get any of the thankyous afterwards.
We have put together a list of some of the more outrageous tales from the world of tech support. It’ll hopefully give you some insight into what the forgotten souls on the end of the phoneline have to cope with every day when your computer simply needs switching off and switching on again.
Helpdesk: “Hello ___ IT Help Desk”
Caller: “Is this the G.E.D. Testing Center?”
Helpdesk: “No, this is the IT help desk, would you like me to transfer you?”
Caller: “No.. oh um… hold on….”
(almost 15 seconds pass)
Caller: “Do you have information on G.E.D. Testing?”
Helpdesk: “No, but the G.E.D. Department would.”
Caller: “Oh? Are you sure? Okay transfer me I guess…”
Caller: “…No wait… Don’t transfer me, what if they don’t pick up, can you go ask them?”
Helpdesk: “I’m sorry Ma’am, I’m unable to do that, however I can transfer you to the G.E.D. Department.”
Caller: “Why don’t you just look it up, stop being lazy!”
Helpdesk: “Ma’am, I don’t have access to that information, I’m unable to do that. The G.E.D. Department can certainly help you.”
Caller: “Put me through to your supervisor, I want to speak to him about you.”
(Transfers her to the G.E.D. Department)
2. Copy and paste
Colleague: How do I copy something off the document and paste it into another?
IT Support: Just select the text you want, Press CTRL+C to copy, and then CTRL+V to paste.
(Shuffles away. Shuffles back.)
Colleague: It doesn’t work.
IT Support: Did you highlight all the text you wanted to copy and press CTRL+C?
IT Support (now distracted helping other colleagues): Well maybe the keys are broken, try swapping out a different keyboard…
(Shuffles away. Shuffles back.)
Colleague: Still not working.
IT Support: Save your work. Close the program, relaunch it and try again.
(Shuffles away. Shuffles back.)
Colleague: Still doesn’t work.
IT Support: OK. Fine, let’s go see what’s wrong. Show me exactly what you’re doing.
(Head back to colleague’s computer and he starts by showing the document he has open, highlights the text, presses CTRL+C, starts walking away and heads to ANOTHER COMPUTER across the room and presses CTRL+V.)
Colleague: See? It’s not working.
IT Support: (Half-stunned between wondering how in the world the colleague thought that would work… did he think his fingers were a storage medium? That the other computer would know that it was him? That it was an incredibly awesome idea?) Um, that’s not how that works…
3. The Haunted Keyboard
A few years ago, I regularly went to a client that primarily used Macs. One of the users calls me over as I’m walking around, and she says that every so often her keyboard goes nuts and starts inputting 0s or other characters.
I checked on her computer and it seemed fine. I checked out her keyboard and made sure it wasn’t physically busted, but swapped it anyway to be sure. I asked her to let me know when it happened again. I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks, but then she says it happened a few more times, but only for 30 seconds at a time, and then it stops.
Even though she’s in her early 30’s, smart, and fairly computer literate, at this point I’m thinking that she’s doing something herself, or flat out making it up. However, the next time I’m there, as I am helping her search for a very specific, old email, sure enough, it happens while I’m working on the computer! I see it type out:
What?! I’m so confused. At this point I notice the Bluetooth icon in the top right, and that it says that one of the devices batteries are low. I look at it, and it’s got her Bluetooth mouse, and a Bluetooth keyboard (the one with the low battery)…. except, she’s got a USB keyboard… interesting.
So, it turns out she used to have a Bluetooth Keyboard, but about 6 months ago she stopped using it in favour of a wired one with a number pad. They put the keyboard in a drawer, but never turned it off. That drawer was one floor up, and really far away from her laterally. However, they recently moved that cabinet, and turns out it’s basically right on top of her now.
So, the keyboard reconnected, and anytime someone went digging around in that drawer for a cable or whatever, they were pushing keys, thus making it appear as though her computer were haunted.
4. The derogatory Term
A customer of ours has all their server and networking equipment support through us and the helpdesk services from another company. I went on-site to investigate a network issue, when I was interrupted by a very aggravated employee of theirs. She insisted I come to fix some issue on her workstation like RIGHT NOW. I explained to her that I can’t as we don’t do their support. The following conversation then unfolds:
me: I’m sorry, but I don’t do end-user cases
her: WHAT did you just call me??!
me: (puzzled) end-user?
her: IS THAT SOME SORT OF A DEROGATORY TERM, HUH?
After that there’s no calming her, she fumes on about being insulted and refuses to listen to reason. In the end I simply ignored her and finished my work. The next day my boss came to me and said he received a complaint about my conduct. He says he’s very surprised about the accusation as I’m normally pretty calm and professional about what I do. I explained him what had happened, my boss bursts into laughter and walks away.
5. “Help it’s an emergency!”
I’ve worked for this IT consulting firm for almost two years now but up until a month ago my only job was providing end users with front end database support and doing some development work. I transitioned to doing hardware IT roughly a month ago and today the ticket came in.
End user: Help! Our scanner doesn’t work. The printer is fine, its just scanning; it won’t scan!
(Few hours later)
End user: Hello! When will this be fixed? We’ve been without our scanner all day!
20 minutes later I see the email. The supervisor, the other new guy and I were all in the middle of imaging 30 desktops for this same agency, to start deploying Thursday.
Me: I need to go now. User is freaking out.
Supervisor: GO! Don’t forget to reboot first thing……
I arrive on site, reboot MFP, try scanning, error 2101. Quick Google search, shake my head, realize network cable is unplugged, press it in and the scanner works fine.
User: I checked that!
Me: You need to make sure you plug it in next time.
6. Keyboard Trouble
Helpdesk: Before we boot, I’m going to have you press enter when the PC logo comes up, then F12 (additional explaining of the F12 key).
Helpdesk: The USB is in the PC?
Helpdesk: Ok, turn it on and when you see the logo, hit Enter
(PC boots, I hear a key press)
User: It’s back at the login
Helpdesk: Were you able to press enter at the logo screen?
Helpdesk: Let’s shut down and try again
(Repeat the process twice)
Helpdesk (thinking something is up): Are you pressing Enter on the keyboard built in to the laptop?
User: No, I have an external keyboard
Helpdesk: Can you unplug it so we can try the laptop keyboard?
User: Oh, it’s unplugged. Could that be why it’s not working?
Helpdesk: It sure could!
7. The curious case of the missing report information
Customer: “I am having this issue where I ran this report for month-end and half of my data is missing. I ran it the same as I did last month and half of it has just gone!”
Tech Support: “Can you please provide me with the filtering options you used and send me a PDF of the report exported from the system? I would like to see how you are generating the report.”
Customer: “There is only a date filter and so I put that in and it gives me this (provides screenshot of the top 1/3 of the first page of the report).”
Tech Support: “Ok everything appears as though the report should be printing as expected, can we conduct a web session so I can check this report with you?”
Tech Support gets on the web session and repeats the customer’s exact steps to get to the report she is using. The very first thing checked is “Is there a second page perhaps?”. Sure enough, there was a second page with all the information she reported as missing from the report.
Customer: “How about that? Everyone here missed that! The information has never gone to the second page before so I just assumed it was missing! Thank you!”
Moral of the story, before assuming information is missing, be sure to check all your pages!
8. “Hello………is this IT support?”
Last year I had a temporary graphic design job at my local council in an education department (dealing with local schools, colleges, etc). We got plenty of phone calls each day from all sorts of people – teachers, parents, students, headmasters, governors, you name it. I hated having to answer the phone because I’m a pretty shy guy.
As I’m sure is the case with most large organisations, we often received calls meant for other departments. Simple enough to deal with.
One morning, when it was just me and a new girl in the office, the phone rings. She doesn’t really know what she’s doing yet so I pick up and notice it’s from an external number.
As soon as I finish the “Hello, [Dept name] of [Council name], how can I help?” line, this elderly man – who was very polite and well-spoken, I might add – instantly jumped into some long-winded explanation of some issue he’s having with his computer.
Despite the issue sounding pretty minor (I can’t remember what it was exactly) I explained to him that he needs to contact IT Support. Even though he called on an external number, I just assumed he was from another department calling on a mobile phone (from a meeting room or whatever).
He goes quiet for a few moments before saying he thought he had called IT Support. I tell him what our department deals with and he laughs and apologises for the mistake.
Now just as I go to transfer him to IT Support, he starts telling me how he usually gets his son to help him with any computer issues but since his son is away on his honeymoon, he didn’t want to bother him.
Turns out, the old chap decided to call (well, try to) his local council’s IT Support for help fixing his computer. I have no idea how he ended up with our department’s number though.
I explained to him that unfortunately IT Support is for the council specifically, not for citizens. He was a little embarrassed, understandably.