Wed, 12 Jun 1996
I used to work in a computer store and one day we had a gentleman phone in
with a smoking power supply. The service rep was having a bit of trouble
convincing this guy that he had a hardware problem.
Service Rep: Sir, something has burned within your power supply.
Customer: I bet that there is some command that I can put into...
Service Rep: There is nothing that software can do to help you with...
Customer: I know that there is something that I can put in...some
command... maybe it should go into the CONFIG.SYS.
[After a few minutes of going round and round like this]
Service Rep: Okay, I am not supposed to tell anyone this but there
is a hidden command in some versions of DOS that you can use. I want you to
edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT and add the last line as C:\DOS\NOSMOKE and reboot your computer.
[Customer does this]
Customer: It is still smoking.
Service Rep: I guess you'll need to call Microsoft and ask them for a patch for the NOSMOKE.EXE.
[The customer then hung up. We thought that we had heard the last of this
guy but NO... he calls back four hours later]
Service Rep: Hello Sir, how is your computer?
Customer: I called Microsoft and they said that my power supply
is incompatible with their NOSMOKE.EXE and that I need to get a
new one. I was wondering when I can have that done and how much it will cost..
Mon, 16 Mar 1998
Just in case you think you are TC (technologically challenged).
The following is an excerpt taken from a Wall Street Journal article:
- Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press
Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.
- AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was
hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic
bag the mouse was packaged in.
- Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that
the system wouldn't read word processing files from his old diskettes. After
trouble-shooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was
found that the customer had labeled the diskettes, then rolled them into the
typewriter to type the labels.
- Another AST customer was asked to send a copy of her defective
diskettes. A few days later a letter arrived from the customer along with
photocopies of the floppies.
- A Dell technician advised his customer to put his troubled floppy
back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on,
and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close
the door to his room.
- Another Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to
fax anything. After 40 minutes of trouble-shooting, the technician discovered
the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the
monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.
- Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no
longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and
soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them
- A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged
because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid". The tech
explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn't
be taken personally.
- A confused caller to IBM was having troubles printing documents. He
told the technician that the computer had said it "couldn't find printer". The
user had tried turning the computer screen to face the printer - but still said
that his computer still couldn't "see" the printer.
- An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her
new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the
technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her
response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens." The
"foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's mouse.
- 11.Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand new
computer wouldn't work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in and sat
there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened
when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"
- 12. True story from a Novell NetWare SysOp:
Caller: "Hello, is this Tech Support?"
Tech: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?"
Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?"
Tech: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"
Caller: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer."
Tech: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, It's because
I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotional,
at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?"
Caller: "It came with my computer, I don't know anything about a
promotional. It just has '4X' on it."
At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn't stand
it. He was laughing too hard. The caller had been using the load drawer of the
CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off the drive!
- Another IBM customer had troubles installing software and rang for
support. "I put in the first disk, and that was OK. It said to put in the
second disk, and had some problems with the disk. When it said to put in the
third disk - I couldn't even fit it in..." The user hadn't realized that
"Insert Disk 2" meant to remove Disk 1 first.
- In a similar incident, a customer had followed the instructions for
installing software. The instructions said to remove the disk from it's cover
and insert into the drive. The user had physically removed the casing of the
disk and wondered why there were problems.
Assistant Director, Organizational Development & Training
Personnel Services Department
Mon, 1 Mar 1999
"Your sound card is defective and I want a new one."
"What seems to be the problem?"
"The balance is backwards. The left channel is coming out of
the right speaker and the right channel is coming out the left. It's defective."
"You can solve the problem by moving the left speaker to
the right side of the machine and vice versa."
Customer: "I'd like to return this scanner."
Store Clerk: "Excuse me?"
Customer: "This scanner I bought. I paid eighty dollars for this scanner, and it doesn't work!"
Store Clerk: "Uh . . . sir, that's a trackball."
Customer: "No, it isn't. It says 600 dpi tracking resolution right here!"
Got a call from a woman said that her laser printer was having problems:
the bottom half of her printed sheets were coming out blurry. It seemed
strange that the printer was smearing only the bottom half. I walked her
through the basics, then came over and printed out a test sheet. It
printed fine. I asked her to print a sheet, so she sent a job to the
printer. As the paper started coming out, she yanked it out and showed
it to me. I told her to WAIT until the paper came out on its own. Problem solved.
I had been doing Tech Support for Hewlett-Packard's DeskJet division for
about a month when I had a customer call with a problem I just couldn't
solve. She could not print yellow. All the other colors would print fine,
which truly baffled me because the only true colors are cyan, magenta,
and yellow. For instance, green is a combination of cyan and
yellow, but green printed fine. Every color of the rainbow printed fine
except for yellow. I had the customer change ink cartridges. I had the
customer delete and reinstall the drivers. Nothing worked. I asked my
co-workers for help; they offered no new ideas. After over two hours of
troubleshooting, I was about to tell the customer to send the printer
in to us for repair when she asked quietly, "Should I try printing on a
piece of white paper instead of this yellow construction paper?"
A man attempting to set up his new printer called the printer's tech
support number, complaining about the error message: "Can't find the
printer." On the phone, the man said he even held the printer up in front
of the screen, but the computer still couldn't find it!
Customer: "Hello? I'm trying to dial in. I installed the software okay,
and it dialed fine. I could hear that. Then I could hear the two
computers connecting. But then the sound all stopped, so I picked up the
phone to see if they were still connected, and I got the message, 'No
Carrier,' on my screen. What's wrong?"
An unfailingly polite lady called to ask for help with a Windows
installation that had gone terribly wrong.
Customer: "I brought my Windows disks from work to install them on my
home computer." (Training stresses that we are "not the Software
Police," so I let the little act of piracy slide.)
Tech Support: "Umm-hmm. What happened?"
Customer: "As I put each disk in it turns out they weren't initialized."
Tech Support: "Do you remember the message exactly?"
Customer: (proudly) "I wrote it down. 'This is not a Macintosh disk. Would
you like to initialize it'?"
Tech Support: "Er, what happened next?"
Customer: "After they were initialized all the disks appeared to be
blank. And now I brought them back to work, and I can't read them in the
A: drive; the PC wants to format them. And this is our only set of
Windows disks for the whole office. Did I do something wrong?"
For a computer programming class, I sat directly across from someone, and
our computers were facing away from each other. A few minutes into the
class, she got up to leave the room. I reached between our computers and
switched the inputs for the keyboards. She came back and started typing
and immediately got a distressed look on her face.
She called the teacher over and explained that no matter what she typed,
nothing would happen. The teacher tried everything. By this time I was
hiding behind my monitor and quaking red-faced.
I started to type, "Leave me alone!"
They both jumped back, silenced. "What the . . . " the teacher said.
I typed, "I said leave me alone!"
The kid got real upset. "I didn't do anything to it, I swear!"
It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. The conversation
between them and HAL 2000 went on for an amazing five minutes.
Me: "Don't touch me!"
Her: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hit your keys that hard."
Me: "Who do you think you are anyway?!" Etc. Finally, I couldn't contain
myself any longer and fell out of my chair laughing.
After they had realized what I had done, they both turned beet red.
Funny, I never got more than a C- in that class.
This guy calls in to complain that he gets an "Access Denied" message
every time he logs in. It turned out he was typing his user name and
password in capital letters.
Tech Support: "OK, let's try once more, but use lower case letters."
Customer: "Uh, I only have capital letters on my keyboard."
Email from a friend:
My friend was on duty in the main lab on a quiet afternoon. He noticed a
young woman sitting in front of one of the workstations with her arms
folded across her chest and staring at the screen. After about 15
minutes he noticed that she was still in the same position only now she
was impatiently tapping her foot. He asked if she needed help and she
replied, "It's about time! I pushed the F1 button over twenty minutes ago!"
Feb 4, 2008
Customer: 'I've been ringing 0800 2100 for two days and can't get through to enquiries, can you help?'.
Operator: 'Where did you get that number from, sir?'.
Customer: 'It was on the door to the Travel Centre'.
Operator: 'Sir, they are our opening hours'.
'Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?'
'I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand who you are talking about'.
'On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning. Now, can you give me the number for Jack?'
'I think you mean the telephone point on the wall'.
RAC Motoring Services
'Does your European Breakdown Policy cover me when I am travelling in Australia ?'
' Doesn't the product name give you a clue?'
(enquiring about legal requirements while travelling in France ):
'If I register my car in France , do I have to change the steering wheel to the other side of the car?'
Directory Enquiries Caller:
'I'd like the number of the Argoed Fish Bar in Cardiff please'.
'I'm sorry, there's no listing. Is the spelling correct?'
'Well, it used to be called the Bargoed Fish Bar but the 'B' fell off'.
Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven.
'Woven? Are you sure?'
'Yes. That's what it says on the label; Woven in Scotland'.
On another occasion, a man making heavy breathing sounds from a phone box told a worried Operator:
'I haven't got a pen, so I'm steaming up the window to write the number on'.
'I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop'.
'Did you get a pop-up menu?'.
'OK. Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?'
'OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?'.
'Sure. You told me to write 'click' and I wrote 'click''.
'OK. In the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the 'OK' button displayed?'
'Wow. How can you see my screen from there?'
'I deleted a file from my PC last week and I have just realised that I need it. If I turn my system clock back two weeks will I have my file back again?'.
There's always one. This has got to be one of the funniest things in a long time. I think this guy should have been promoted, not fired. This is a true story from the Word Perfect Helpline, which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department. Needless to say the Help Desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing the Word Perfect organization for 'Termination without Cause'.
Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. (Now I know why they record these conversations!):
'Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?'
'Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect.'
'What sort of trouble??'
'Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.'
'Hmm So what does your screen look like now?'
'It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type.'
'Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out??'
'How do I tell?'
'Can you see the C: prompt on the screen??'
'What's a sea-prompt?'
'Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?'
'There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type.'
'Does your monitor have a power indicator??'
'What's a monitor?'
'It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on??'
'I don't know.'
'Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??'
'Yes, I think so.'
'Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall.
'Yes, it is.'
'When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one??'
'Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.'
'Okay, here it is.'
'Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer.'
'I can't reach.'
'Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is??'
'Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over??'
'Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark.'
'Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.
'Well, turn on the office light then.'
'No? Why not??'
'Because there's a power failure.'
'A power........ A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now.
Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??'
'Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.'
'Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.'
'Really? Is it that bad?'
'Yes, I'm afraid it is.'
'Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??'
'Tell them you're too f---ing stupid to own a computer!!!!!'