Stories From The Help Desk
These are stories from help desks around the country.
At 3:37 a.m. on a Sunday, I had just looked at the clock to determine my annoyance level, when I received a frantic phone call from a new user of a Macintosh Plus. She had gotten her entire family out of the house and was calling from her neighbor’s. She had just received her first system error and interpreted the picture of the bomb on the screen as a warning that the computer was going to blow up.
Tech Support: “I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.”
Tech Support: “Did you get a pop-up menu?”
Tech Support: “Ok. Right click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?”
Tech Support: “Ok, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?”
Customer: “Sure, you told me to write ‘click’ and I wrote ‘click’.”
(At this point I had to put the caller on hold to tell the rest of the tech support staff what had happened. I couldn’t, however, stop from giggling when I got back to the call.)
Tech Support: “Ok, did you type ‘click’ with the keyboard?”
Customer: “I have done something dumb, right?”
One woman called Dell’s toll-free line to ask how to install the batteries in her laptop. When told that the directions were on the first page of the manual the woman replied angrily, “I just paid $2,000 for this damn thing, and I’m not going to read the book.”
Customer: “I received the software update you sent, but I am still getting the same error message.”
Tech Support: “Did you install the update?”
Customer: “No. Oh, am I supposed to install it to get it to work?”
Customer: “I’m having trouble installing Microsoft Word.”
Tech Support: “Tell me what you’ve done.”
Customer: “I typed ‘A:SETUP’.”
Tech Support: “Ma’am, remove the disk and tell me what it says.”
Customer: “It says ‘[PC manufacturer] Restore and Recovery disk’.”
Tech Support: “Insert the MS Word setup disk.”
Tech Support: “Did you buy MS word?”
Tech Support: “Ok, in the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the ‘OK’ button displayed?”
Customer: “Wow. How can you see my screen from there?”
Customer: “Uhh…I need help unpacking my new PC.”
Tech Support: “What exactly is the problem?”
Customer: “I can’t open the box.”
Tech Support: “Well, I’d remove the tape holding the box closed and go from there.”
Customer: “Uhhhh…ok, thanks…”
Customer: “I’m having a problem installing your software. I’ve got a fairly old computer, and when I type ‘INSTALL’, all it says is ‘Bad command or file name’.”
Tech Support: “Ok, check the directory of the A: drive-go to A: and type ‘dir’.” Customer reads off a list of file names, including ‘INSTALL.EXE’.
Tech Support: “All right, the correct file is there. Type ‘INSTALL’ again.”
Customer: “Ok.” (pause) “Still says ‘Bad command or file name’.”
Tech Support: “Hmmm. The file’s there in the correct place-it can’t help but do something. Are you sure you’re typing I-N-S-T-A-L-L and hitting the Enter key?”
Customer: “Yes, let me try it again.” (pause) “Nope, still ‘Bad command or file name’.”
Tech Support: (now really confused) “Are you sure you’re typing I-N-S-T-A-L-L and hitting the key that says ‘Enter’?”
Customer: “Well, yeah. Although my ‘N’ key is stuck, so I’m using the ‘M’ key…does that matter?
At our company we have asset numbers on the front of everything. They give the location, name, and everything else just by scanning the computer’s asset barcode or using the number beneath the bars.
Customer: “Hello. I can’t get on the network.”
Tech Support: “Ok. Just read me your asset number so we can open an outage.”
Customer: “What is that?”
Tech Support: “That little barcode on the front of your computer.”
Customer: “Ok. Big bar, little bar, big bar, big bar . . .”
And the best for last!!!!
Customer: “I got this problem. You people sent me this install disk, and now my A: drive won’t work.”
Tech Support: “Your A drive won’t work?”
Customer: “That’s what I said. You sent me a bad disk, it got stuck in my drive, now it won’t work at all.”
Tech Support: “Did it not install properly? What kind of error messages did you get?”
Customer: “I didn’t get any error message. The disk got stuck in the drive and wouldn’t come out. So I got these pliers and tried to get it out. That didn’t work either.”
Tech Support: “You did what sir?”
Customer: “I got these pliers, and tried to get the disk out, but it wouldn’t budge. I just ended up cracking the plastic stuff a bit.”
Tech Support: “I don’t understand sir, did you push the eject button?”
Customer: “No, so then I got a stick of butter and melted it and used a turkey baster and put the butter in the drive, around the disk, and that got it loose. I can’t believe you would send me a disk that was broke and defective.”
Tech Support: “Let me get this clear. You put melted butter in your A: drive and used pliers to pull the disk out?” At this point, I put the call on the speaker phone and motioned at the other techs to listen in.
Tech Support: “Just so I am absolutely clear on this, can you repeat what you just said?”
Customer: “I said I put butter in my A: drive to get your crappy disk out, then I had to use pliers to pull it out.”
Tech Support: “Did you push that little button that was sticking out when the disk was in the drive, you know, the thing called the disk eject button?”
Tech Support: “Sir, did you push the eject button?”
Customer: “No, but you people are going to fix my computer, or I am going to sue you for breaking my computer?”
Tech Support: “Let me get this straight. You are going to sue our company because you put the disk in the A: drive, didn’t follow the instructions we sent you, didn’t actually seek professional advice, didn’t consult your user’s manual on how to use your computer properly, instead proceeding to pour butter into the drive and physically rip the disk out?”
Tech Support: “Do you really think you stand a chance, since we do record every call and have it on tape?”
Customer: (now rather humbled) “But you’re supposed to help!”
Tech Support: “I am sorry sir, but there is nothing we can do for you. Have a nice day.”
This page was last updated August 1, 1999.