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Tech Support: Sightings of the Technically Dumb

What are they teaching in our public schools today? These stories may provide an answer.
From a posting on the Internet; source unknown.

I worked with an individual who plugged their power strip back into itself and for the life of them could not understand why their computer would not turn on.

1st Person: "Do you know anything about this fax-machine?"

2nd Person: "A little. What's wrong?"

1st Person: "Well, I sent a fax, and the recipient called back to say all she received was a cover-sheet and a blank page. I tried it again, and the same thing happened."

2nd Person: "How did you load the sheet?"

1st Person: "It's a pretty sensitive memo, and I didn't want anyone else to read it by accident, so I folded it so only the recipient would open it and read it."

On the way home from work recently I saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car. "Do you need some help?" I asked.

She replied, "I knew I should have replaced the battery in this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery for this?"

"Hmmm, I dunno. Do you have an alarm, too?" I asked.

"No, just this remote 'thingy,'" she answered, handing it and the car keys to me. As I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, "Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries... it's a long walk."

Tech Support: "What does the screen say now."

Person: "It says, 'Hit ENTER when ready'."

Tech Support: "Well?"

Person: "How do I know when it's ready?"

My friend called his car insurance company to tell them to change his address from Texas to Vermont. The woman who took the call asked where Vermont was. As he tried to explain, she interrupted and said, "Look, I'm not stupid or anything, but what state is it in?"

Several years ago we had an intern who was none too swift. One day he was typing and turned to a secretary and said, "I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?"

"Just use copier machine paper," she told him. With that, the intern took his last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five blank copies.

I was working the help desk. One day one of the computer operators called and asked if anything "bad" would happen if she dropped coins into the openings of her PC. I asked her if this was something she was thinking of doing. She said, "never mind" and hung up. So I got out my trusty tool kit and paid her a visit. I opened her CPU case and sure enough, there was 40 cents.

One of our servers crashed. I was watching our new system administrator trying to restore it. He inserted a CD and needed to type a path name to a directory named "i386." He started to type it and paused, asking me, "Where's the key for that line thing?" I asked what he was talking about, and he said, "You know, that one that looks like an upside-down exclamation mark."

I replied, "You mean the letter 'i'?" and he said, "Yeah, that's it!"

This person had a broken lamp which he wanted to discard. Unfortunately, the power cord ran under his refrigerator, making it impossible to move the lamp while the cord was attached. He decided to cut the cord, since the lamp was unusable anyway. He didn't remember to unplug it first. I found him in the hallway rolling back and forth.

I was in a car dealership a while ago when a large motor home was towed into the garage. The front of the vehicle was in dire need of repair and the whole thing generally looked like an extra from the movie "Twister." I asked the manager what had happened. He told me that the driver had set the cruise control, then went in back to make a sandwich.

I called a company and asked to speak to Bob. The person who answered said, "Bob is on vacation. Would you like to hold?"

A friend of mine rented a movie from Blockbuster. Before the movie began a message came on the screen saying, "This movie has been altered to fit your television screen." My friend asked me: "How do they know what size screen I have?"

A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer. The tech asked her if she was running it under "Windows", to which the woman responded, "No, my desk is next to the door. But, that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine."

TECH SUPPORT: "O.K. Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter "P" to bring up the Program Manager."
CUSTOMER: "I don't have a 'P'".
TECH SUPPORT: "On your keyboard, Bob."
CUSTOMER: "What do you mean?"
TECH SUPPORT: "'P' on your keyboard, Bob."
CUSTOMER: "I'm not going to do that!"

Overheard in a computer shop:
CUSTOMER: "I'd like a mouse mat, please."
SALESPERSON: "Certainly, Sir. We've got a large variety."
CUSTOMER: "But will they be compatible with my computer?"

I once received a fax with a note on the bottom to fax the document back to the sender when I finished with it, because he needed to keep it.

TECH SUPPORT: "All right, now double-click on the File Manager icon."
CUSTOMER: "That's why I hate this Window - because of icons. I'm a Protestant, and I don't believe in icons."
TECH SUPPORT: "Well, that's just an industry term, sir. I don't believe it was meant to..."
CUSTOMER: "I don't care about any 'industry terms'. I don't believe in icons."
TECH SUPPORT: "Well... why don't you click on the 'little picture' of a file cabinet. Is 'little picture' ok?"
CUSTOMER: (click)

CUSTOMER: "My computer crashed!"
TECH SUPPORT: "It crashed?"
CUSTOMER: "Yeah, and it won't let me play my game."
TECH SUPPORT: "All right, hit Control-Alt-Delete to reboot."
CUSTOMER: "No, it didn't crash - it crashed."
CUSTOMER: "I crashed my game. That's what I said before. I crashed my spaceship and now it doesn't work."
TECH SUPPORT: "Click on 'file', then 'New Game.'"
CUSTOMER: (pause) "Wow! How'd you learn how to do that?"

CUSTOMER: "Your computer's sound card is defective and I want a new one."
TECH SUPPORT: "What seems to be the problem?"
CUSTOMER: "The balance is backwards. The left channel is coming out of the right speaker and the right channel is coming out of the left. It's defective." TECH SUPPORT: "You can solve the problem by moving the left speaker to the right side of the machine and vice-versa."
CUSTOMER: (sputter)... (click).
TECH SUPPORT: (snicker...)

I got a call from a woman who said 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 herself. So she sent a print 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 with a problem I just couldn't solve. She could not print yellow. All the 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 in the rainbow printed, 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 held the printer up in front of the screen but the computer still couldn't find it.

Another user was all confused about why the cursor always moved in the opposite direction from the movement of the mouse. She also complained about how hard it was to hit the buttons. She was quite embarrassed when we asked her to rotate the mouse so the tail pointed away from her.

This guy calls in to complain that he gets "access denied" message every time he logs in. It turned out he was typing his user name and password in capital letters.
TECH SUPPORT: "O.K., let's try once more, but use lower case letters."
CUSTOMER: "Oh, but I only have capital letters on my keyboard."

I have a friend who just bought a computer and was instructed to load a program by typing "A:" and then the name of the program. My friend told me it would not work because his keyboard was no good. He said he couldn't type the "dot over dot thingie" (a colon) and that every time he tried to type the "dot over dot thingie" he got the "dot over comma thingie", no matter how careful he was to press only the very top of the key. When I told him about the shift key, he thought I was a genius.

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 crossed. After several 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 (the’ help’ button) over twenty minutes ago!

(Thanks, Betty.) These are taken from an article in the Wall street Journal (date not known). Posted here: 2-14-00.

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. The customer had stuck labels on the diskettes, then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.

Another 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 a 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 troubleshooting, the tech 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 individually.

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 also tried turning the computer screen to face the printer but 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.

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?"

True story from a Novell NetWire SysOp (or IBM, depending on the version you hear): 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? 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 it snapped 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 I 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.

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