Helpdesk #3

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 neighbors. 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.

Customer: Ok.

Tech Support: Did you get a pop-up menu?

Customer: No.

Tech Support: Ok. Right click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?

Customer: No.

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 couldnt, 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 Dells 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 Im 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: Im having trouble installing Microsoft Word.

Tech Support: Tell me what youve done.

Customer: I typed A:SETUP.

Tech Support: Maam, 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.

Customer: What?

Tech Support: Did you buy MS word?

Customer No…


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 cant open the box.

Tech Support: Well, Id remove the tape holding the box closed and go from there.

Customer: Uhhhh…ok, thanks….


Customer: Im having a problem installing your software. Ive 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 files there in the correct place-it cant help but do something. Are you sure youre 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 youre 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 Im 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 computers asset barcode or using the number beneath the bars.

Customer: Hello. I cant 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 wont work.

Tech Support: Your A drive wont work?

Customer: Thats what I said. You sent me a bad disk, it got stuck in my drive, now it wont work at all.

Tech Support: Did it not install properly? What kind of error messages did you get?

Customer: I didnt get any error message. The disk got stuck in the drive and wouldnt come out. So I got these pliers and tried to get it out. That didnt work either.

Tech Support: You did what sir?

Customer: I got these pliers, and tried to get the disk out, but it wouldnt budge. I just ended up cracking the plastic stuff a bit.

Tech Support: I dont 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. Then I used the pliers and it came out fine. I cant 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? Silence.

Tech Support: Sir?

Customer: Yes.

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, didnt follow the instructions we sent you, didnt actually seek professional advice, didnt consult your users manual on how to use your computer properly, instead proceeding to pour butter into the drive and physically rip the disk out?

Customer: Ummmm.

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 youre supposed to help!

Tech Support: I am sorry sir, but there is nothing we can do for you. Have a nice day.

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