sorry in advance for the length of this message, but some of these are
TechRepublic's ultimate collection of "dumb user" stories
We know that it's not politically correct to make fun of or tease dumb
users, but every support tech has a funny story about someone who just didn'
t get it. We also know that it's important for techs to blow off steam, and
these humorous anecdotes are meant to do just that.
The following is a collection of the best dumb user stories we've published
to date. Keep this document handy and open it when you're feeling frustrated
or overwhelmed-or anytime you just need a good laugh.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease
"We see some pretty strange things sometimes, but this one 'took the cake.'
I work for a lumber manufacturing company in the southern U.S. And I guess
you have to work around some of these folks to understand, but down here, if
something is squeaking, then you grease it. Period.
"I kept having a lot of problems with one of the PCs-strange things with the
software, just odd stuff. I decided to pop the case one day, and there was
oily gunk everywhere! I was puzzled as to where all this oil came from, so I
asked the supervisor who used the machine. He replied, 'It was squeaking, so
I oiled it.' This is the honest truth. The fan motor was making some noise,
so he sprayed it several times with WD-40!"
Those things could be deadly
"I had a client who said her keyboard didn't work right. She would try to
type, and it would type all the wrong letters. I replaced the keyboard, and
then she said that one did the same thing. So I started thinking it was
possibly a bad motherboard, but she said that when other people logged on to
the network and were using the computer, it worked just fine, but for her,
it typed garbage. Now, I know that there is nothing in a login script that
will do this, so I asked her to show me what it was doing. While she was
typing, I noticed her lovely sculpted fingernails, which were over an inch
and a half long. So of course as she would try to hit one key, her
fingernails were hitting the keys above. I recommended that as the office
manager, maybe she should delegate typing tasks to her secretary."
It's raining cats and dogs
"Arriving at a private home to fix what was described as the erratic
behavior of the family PC, I tried to question the owner as to exactly what
was happening. 'Well, the only thing I know for sure,' she said, 'is that
every time our dog starts barking at the neighbor's cat, the computer goes
crazy.' It took me a few minutes to shake off the stupid look I must have
had on my face and start the troubleshooting. I avoided asking any more
questions fearing the answers would be as strange as that last one. About a
half hour into the job, the monitor started flickering and the system hung
up. Almost immediately, I heard the barking of a dog and had a hard time
coping mentally with what was happening. At this point, the lady entered the
room and said, 'Yes, that's what it does.'
"I was about to pack it in and for the first time give up when her husband
came in and said, 'It's a good thing we have that electric fence or that cat
would be a goner by now.' After making some inquiries, I discovered that
when the dog spotted the cat, it would run to the edge of the property and
activate the electric fence, which was controlled by a transmitter that was
very conveniently located on the corner of the desk, beside the computer."
Clean as a whistle
"I was working with Gateway at the time of this call. A customer stated that
he had followed the previous tech's suggestion on cleaning his system up
prior to formatting his system. He further stated that he felt that this
might have made it worse. I asked in which way. He stated he took the box
outside, opened it, washed out the dust with the hose, and let it dry. 'But
when I plugged the thing back up,' he said, 'nothing happened.' This is a
Beta or VHS?
"I work at a company that provides support for a number of different titles,
one of which is a CD-ROM multimedia presentation that contains many AVI and
video files on how to perform certain tasks. I received a call from a woman
who was quite upset and complaining that the videos were not working at all.
After a few minutes of gathering some information from her, I asked about
her computer system information. The woman replied, 'Oh, my computer isn't
working right now. I put the disk into my VCR so I could watch the videos.'
This is truly one of the most unusual calls I've received in almost 10 years
of doing technical support for software."
The Corsican monitors
"I got a call from a user who informed me that she and another user had
decided to rearrange their office and that after doing so, their PCs no
longer worked. I investigated and found that when she turned on her PC,
there was nothing on the monitor (it did have power). I asked them if they
had disconnected anything during their move and they said no, that they had
just moved their desks and then the PCs without disconnecting anything.
Their only problem was that when they moved their PCs, they put their
monitors on the wrong desks. I didn't see anything on the first monitor
because it was connected to the PC on the other desk. When they turned on
their PCs at the same time, they thought their computers were working but
their keyboards and mice were bad!"
At least she's loyal to her brand
"One day, a lady called and wanted me to check her dial-up networking
settings. As I talked her through TCP/IP settings, I asked her to put a
checkmark beside Use Default Gateway On Remote Network.
"'I can't do that,' said the lady.
"'Yes, ma'am, just put the cursor on the small box next to Use Default
Gateway On Remote Network and press the left mouse button.
"'I can't do that,' she replied again.
"'Do you see the small box next to Use Default Gateway On Remote Network?
"'Yes,' she said.
"'Why can't you select it?
"'I don't have a Gateway; I have a Packard Bell,' she explained."
Check one, check two.
At my previous job, I was the only support person in a company of 40 or so
employees; many days I could barely make it down the hall without someone
hailing me to their workstation with a problem or question. One day a
particularly high-strung young lady stopped me in my tracks with a frantic
plea for help; she'd just flipped it on, but her monitor was
blank...pitch-black...nothing whatsoever on the screen. As we walked to her
desk, I was treated to way too much information about how far behind she was
in her work....the implicit message being "fix it and fix it now". Well, I
took a first look and, sure enough, nothing was doing on her computer, which
puzzled me for half a second. Then I turned the CPU on and gently reminded
her that the computer, as well as the monitor, must be turned on each day.
Then I walked away as fast as I could so she wouldn't see me
rotflmao. -Melissa L.
It's all in the handshake
We recently hired a new sales rep to sell Internet enterprise software. Last
week he asked me a question about our product and wanted to know what a
browser was. Unless he is one hell of a sales guy, I don't see him doing
well in this business. -Dennis B.
Where does the thread go?
A woman working for us kept complaining that her mouse would only move an
inch or two on the screen and then just stop and she said the buttons on the
mouse were impossible to use. After several visits by our on-site support
people who swore there was nothing wrong and two mouse replacements, I
insisted the technician have her demonstrate the problem. (We are a 24-hour
operation Hotel/Casino, and the user wasn't usually on-shift when the
technicians were available to work on the equipment). The tech called me
back absolutely hysterical. Turned out the woman, who works in the middle of
the casino, had the mouse on the floor and was pushing it around with her
bare foot because she thought it looked just like her sewing machine peddle.
She works with at least 3 other people who use mice on their workstations
within 5 feet of her but she apparently never thought to use her mouse the
way they used theirs. -Patricia F.
I had a call from a user who wanted to clean his keyboard. I applauded his
self-reliant nature and told him to just use any standard cleaning solution
with a damp rag, and to be sure and dry it thoroughly. Well I guess I am the
dumb user because I was not specific enough about what type of cleaner to
use. The particular user grabbed the nearest can of brake cleaner and
managed to melt his keys together into one big grotesque deformed alphabet
palette. He called me back shortly to ask if I had any spare keyboards lying
around. I knew right then... something was wrong. He would not admit to
anything; I had to find out from his cubicle neighbor. Needless to say it
required an e-mail to the entire staff explaining the perils of brake
cleaner on plastic. -Darrin McL.
What a drip.
Wow is that computer smart! Let me preface this story by saying I'm in the
Army and assigned as the Signal Officer for non-signal battalion. Recently
while we were in the field (in the woods working out of a tent), enduring a
merciless night of pounding rain, one of our more senior officers came to me
with a problem. He had been watching me meticulously wrap all our computers
in garbage bags to ensure they didn't get soaked by the notoriously leaky
tent we worked out of when he called me over to check his laptop. He
proceeded to tell me that he knew there was water in his laptop even though
I had found none when I checked it previously. Try as I might I couldn't
convince him it didn't have any water in it. He was so sure in fact that he
bet me a beer, which is quite a strong endorsement among army guys in the
field. "Prove it," I demanded. It's right here" he gloated, "look at this
little faucet symbol underneath the screen, it obviously means there's water
in it!!!" Because the laptop display under the monitor showed a small faucet
with water dripping from it he just knew the machine was telling him it had
water in it. Who says computers are only as smart as their users! -5158sigo
Experts in their field
This is a good one; especially considering the situation. We had a user
(management level accountant) who was really fascinated with Excel. She told
one of our clerks, "Look, you can move the cursor in Excel and the left box
(name box) will tell you where you are!" She was totally clueless on what a
function was, too. Boy, that's a POWER USER! -Anonymous, Data Processing
Throwing out the baby with the bathwater
My favorite was a few years ago, when DOS was still king. A court reporter I
did work for called me at home one Saturday morning. She couldn't get her
WordPerfect to save her document; a very BIG document that was due at a
lawyer's office on Monday morning. She had been working on the document for
about 12 hours. I made a trip to her home, and she explained to me that she
had tried to save the document but received an "Out of space" message, so
she went into her WP file manager and deleted a bunch of files to make room
for her document. She was sure she didn't need any of the old files, since
their names weren't familiar to her. Among them was WP.exe-the WordPerfect
program. Since it had to call itself to run the save routine, or the file
manager routine, or anything else except text creation, she was stuck
forever between the proverbial rock and hard place. No way to save, no way
to shell out to restore WP.exe, no way to even print what she had typed
in-all 400 pages. We print-screened all 400 pages, gave it the last rites,
and rebooted to restore her WP files. She did, however, learn a new respect
for file names she didn't recognize. -Tony M.
Where's my modem?
I work at an Internet help desk and get calls you wouldn't believe. One lady
called and said she had been signed up for Internet access for over a month
and was wondering when I was going to send her modem to her. Once I
explained that she had everything she needed and walked her through the
settings, she was online within minutes. -Vicki W., Information Technology
The drive to succeed
Hi there! I have two stories, but they are from the same company. How this
company stays in business is beyond me. I do sales, installation and support
for a recruitment company. The owner is a lady and her husband works for
her. He is totally computer illiterate and constantly on the phone to me for
help. One day when I wasn't available, one of my colleagues tried to help
the poor guy who was having difficulty hiding his task bar in Windows 98! My
colleague tried for about five minutes to get him to click right on the
taskbar. At one stage he missed the right button, hit the center button and
then the left button and exclaimed: "Oops, now I've clicked a double-click!"
My colleague packed up laughing and had to think quick to explain to our
"Dumbest Award Winner" why he was laughing. The second story happened some
weeks later when I was on site to investigate a problem on an old 486. The
clerk operating this computer is not much cleverer than her boss' husband
and does many things which are totally unnecessary. The best one I saw was
mapping each shared drives or directory from three other workstations over
and over, up to a point where she had almost used up the entire alphabet!
When I inquired about this she merely replied: "I was scared of running out
of drive space, so I just added some more." -Hein R.
"I haven't done anything differently"
Three quickies: #1. Having worked support for 9 years, I have had: one call
where printer was not plugged in, one call where phone line was plugged into
the NIC card (they had no modem, lots of calls about "Invalid System Disk,"
lots of calls about speakers not working (plugged into wrong jacks). I
usually save the obvious "is it plugged in" question for the appropriate
time, which is when diagnostics leads me to that possibility. Diagnostics
normally make it apparent within a minute or two. The more difficult
resolutions involve issues where the customers "didn't make any changes" to
their system, and then during the conversation, I find they have added
boards and software right before it stopped working! I suspect you have
already read the joke re: NOSMOKE.COM. However, if you have not, just use
your search engine to find it. It is worth reading. -WSofIsle
How many numbers in "password"?
After migrating from Vines to NT, all user passwords were set to password.
One user called and needed help logging in to the domain. After going
through all the normal routines, and checking to ensure that this user's
account was not locked out, I instructed the user (once again) to type the
password in lower case, to which she replied "What about the number?" -Jim
M., System Analyst
No permanent damage
My first story doesn't sound that dumb. Please remember that the "user" in
question is a computer consultant/contractor, who is paid a great deal more
than me to do a better job than me, because he "knows" more than me...
"I can't find the site I want, and I've checked my search criteria a dozen
Have you tried using the actual address?
"No, I don't know what it is."
Look at your search criteria.
"Oh yeah, that might work."
My second is about a genuine dumb user. The call came in.
"My printer doesn't work, can you come and have a look at it?"
Hmm, you're right. When was it last working?
What have you tried to do?
"Well I plugged it in this morning, there was a loud bang, and now it won't
A loud bang? I would have thought a better description would be "I blew up
Did you make sure the power was off before you plugged it in?
"No, I never do."
After an hour of poking about inside the PC I found the printer's OK, but
they blew the printer port and both serial ports. The PC still works, but no
mouse or mainframe connection, and they couldn't print. I don't know why it
wasn't destroyed completely (considering the two serial ports were on
separate cards, both on the motherboard-meaning the motherboard would have
taken the brunt of the power surge).
"Can you fix it (immediately)?"
The damage the "bang" did to the power lead was that the metal earth pin had
been melted. I was surprised she didn't do any more damage (like blow fuses,
blow her hand off, or destroy the printer). I would like to say that HP
LaserJets are good quality printers though. I have a question for you. How
come dumb users never actually manage to do permanent damage to
themselves? -Warren D., Assistant Manager (IS)
Train the trainer
Dumbest user huh??!! Well we had a trainer on site training users on the new
billing system we use here and she was completely neurotic, any slight
problem and she wanted you there within milliseconds. Anyway after about
three days of plodding backwards and forwards I got a call "I'm trying to
log in and the cursor is just whizzing across the screen *PANIC,STRESS*
"Anyway I arrived to be greeted with the cursor sure enough whizzing across
the screen, and the trainer foaming at the mouth about 11 people to train
and if it's not working then she will only be able to train 10 of which I
replied "Well take your notepad off the spacebar then!" to be greeted by
rapturous laughter from the training group at the trainer!!!!. That's what I
call justice! And funnily enough I didn't get another call again! -Paul N.,
PC Support Analyst
Our tech was on the phone with a user in one of our regional offices talking
them through setting up a new laptop system they received. Our tech was
trying to get the user to cable the laptop system up to the LAN. The user
explained that there was no data port for the cable. The only port the user
saw was the one the phone was plugged into. The tech continued trying to
describe the data port, but the user continued stating the only port he saw
was the one the phone was plugged into. To prove his point, while still on
the phone, he unplugged the phone from the jack. I not sure how long it took
before the user realized he had been disconnected. -Douglas L.
About a month ago I received a support call from a user who claimed to be
having trouble with her new scanner. Apparently a member of our support team
had installed it while she was at lunch and it "just didn't scan anything."
After asking her if it was powered along with the usual check-outs, I told
her to start the scan program and click on scan in an attempt to scan in a
test page. No luck. She said she could hear it working but the image it
produced was black. I decided I would be better off seeing the situation for
myself and told her "I'd be right up." She agreed and said she would
continue to try and make it work herself while she waited. When I arrived at
her office the problem was immediately apparent. Picture the scene yourself:
a very frustrated young woman pressing a magazine cover firmly against the
monitor in total confusion. I did my best to contain the evil pleasure I
took while explaining to her the proper workings of her new flatbed
scanner. -Jason K.
Polly want a cable?
I am a consultant who works with smaller and sometimes technically impaired
businesses. One day I received a call from a client stating that his modem
did not work and he couldn't connect to the Internet to get his e-mail.
Since the vast majority of his business transpired over the Internet, the
problem needed to be addressed quickly. I arrived on site and began running
diagnostics on the system and the modem. It appeared that everything was
working correctly. I spent almost two hours trying to find out why the modem
would respond to a diagnostic command yet would not dial. In a fit of
exasperation I stated that I would take the modem back to my office and get
him a replacement until I could isolate the problem. As I went to disconnect
the serial cable, I noticed that one wire had been severed. When I asked if
he had any dogs or cats in his home office he replied negatively but seemed
somewhat embarrassed. It seems he does have a pet cockatoo that he would let
loose in his office for exercise. I wonder if this bird had a taste for
plastic? ;o) As soon as I replaced the cable, things immediately began to
work and I left with a smile and one thought on my mind. Who was really
technically impaired that day, me or my client? At least now I always check
my cables...and my pets... -Tim M.
Lefty loosy, righty tighty
I'm a helpdesk technician for a large company here in Philly. Recently, a
remote user called in asking for help on how to remove the monitor cable
from the back of the PC. She said that her husband had tried pulling it out,
her 19 year old son tried and even her next door neighbor tried to remove
the cable from the PC. None could remove it, she said. So I asked, "Do you
see those two round knobs on the side of the plug?" "Yes," she said. "Well,
unscrew them counter clockwise," I said. Next thing I heard were shouts of
joy from the people congregated around the PC. -Fernandez
When I first started, I was administering a 30 user Novell 4.1 LAN in a
mid-sized company. We were on a single server, and ran applications from the
same directory where the shared data was stored. When the users would log
in, they would get mapped to this directory three times, each time a little
further down the directory structure. Well one day I got a phone call from a
VP who was in a panic. He was obviously bored and was browsing the network
drives. He noticed he could see some of his data on each of the network
drives just in a different place. He interpreted this to mean that there was
more than one copy of his stuff on the network and being a helpful fella, he
deleted what he thought to be redundant directories, and was very upset when
his data completely disappeared. Thank goodness for the old Novell salvage
utility! -Michael K.
I had a user ask me for a floppy to back-up a file off of her hard drive.
She then asked where to insert the floppy. I told her to insert it into the
small slot that's about the same size as the disk itself. Unfortunately for
me, I was unaware she had an external Zip drive. She decided to ram the
floppy into the Zip drive as far as it would go. She then called me asking
why she couldn't read anything off the floppy. -Mike P.
Advanced data storage
I haven't done user support for over a year, thank God. Since coming to my
new job, I've been a great big network engineering nerd, so my stuff isn't
too fresh, but dumb is dumb. These stories are true. I wrote them down as
best as I could remember it right after it happened because I wanted to make
sure I remembered it.
User: "Oh my god, I've got a non-system disk error! I need a new computer
Me: "Is there a floppy in your drive?"
User: "What's a floppy? Aren't you going to bring me a new computer?"
Side note, user was on fastest machine available on the market at that date.
Someone told these users that calling the techs can get you a new computer
because they don't always feel like fixing it. The company I was working for
was very lazy, so this was essentially true. Why worry about troubleshooting
when you can give a new machine and throw a clean image on the broken one?
Anyway, back to the story.
Me: "They're the small, plastic diskettes you save your data on."
User: "Oh. Well I don't use any of those."
Me: Silently pulling out my hair because it's going to be one of those
calls, "OK, could you check the drive for me?"
User: "I don't listen to CD's at work. So are you going to get me a new
Me: "I understand. Could you check the drive above the CD?"
Me: "Is there anything in it?"
User: "How can you tell?"
Me: "Press the little button by the side of the drive. If anything pops out,
there is a disk in the drive."
User: "The message is gone!!!!!!!!!! But now the light on my monitor is
Me: Banging head against the wall.
"Did you press the round power button?"
Me: "The power button is on the left hand side of the computer. I want you
to press the little rectangular button on the right side of the computer,
then press the power button again."
User: "The CD player won't open if you don't have the computer turned on"
Me: "What's your location? I'll come on over?"
User: "Are you going to bring me a new computer?"
I drove 25 minutes to another office to fix this lady's computer. There was
a disk in the drive, by the way. When I showed it to her, she just replied,
"Oh yeah, that's how we all store our data." And no, she did not get a new
computer. That's why I'm an engineer now at a respectable firm and my
colleagues at the old place are still doing level 1 support.
I had a user ask me once, "How do I get my computer to talk?"
Me: "I'm not exactly sure what you mean."
User: "Talk, have conversations. Like in that movie, 'War Games'".
Me: "That was a fictional movie. We don't have the technical capability to
do that here."
User continues to argue that it can be done, because his cousin has it on
his home PC. I later find out that the cousin is blind, so he has some kind
of device that reads his email and documents and what not to him (sorry, I
don't know what it's called). Someone from the user's family came to the
office and set it up on his PC for him (I don't know if it was hardware or
software, never saw it, didn't care to). Anyway, the user got what he
wanted, but I don't think he wanted what he got. I get a call to support his
new talking PC. Apparently, he was using this talking deal to look at Web
pages and it was reciting line after line of HTML code. I heard it over the
phone, "Less than, capital H, 1, greater than, hello, less than, backslash,
capital H, 1, greater than". It took all self-control not to laugh at him. I
sure wasn't going to support it. He had me on speaker phone, and I received
applause from his cubicle mates when I informed him that non-standard items
is grounds for me to take away his computer and give him a typewriter.
I worked at an ISP in early 1995 when there was a sudden boom of morons
purchasing PCs for home use and wanted to get online. I got at least one
call a week where someone paid for their service, had all the proper
settings on their machine, but still weren't able to connect. The answer to
the problem was always a) didn't plug in the phone line, or b) didn't even
own a modem. You don't have to be a computer guru to check to make sure you
have the necessary equipment before paying for an ISP. -Anonymous
More password fun
I was helping my sister-in-law establish a Web e-mail account [she's a real
blonde by the way]. When we finally made it to the entry that asks you for a
question in case you forget your password, I explained to her what is was
for, I then asked her to type it in, the question was encrypted and I
couldn't see it, It then occurred to me to remind her of something..."you
need to know the answer to the question", she immediately deleted her entry,
and we timed out not soon after and had to start over again. -Doc, Systems
A user called in regarding a problem with an Excel worksheet. After
attempting to troubleshoot the problem with the user for quite a few
minutes, it was clear the user should not be allowed to use Excel or even
her PC for that matter. Without remote control available, I asked the user
to send the file to me at my e-mail address [omitted]. She then asked if she
would be able to send the e-mail to me because she was on an IBM
computer. -Danny C.
The infamous any key
I am an electronic tech for one of the biggest retail chains in the world
and have had quite a few funny questions presented. I suppose that we take
for granted that everyone is computer literate up to a point, but it's not
so. I remember two incidents that I would like to share. The first was when
I received a frantic call from one of my fellow associates that she needed
help with her program. She said, "I've looked and looked but I cannot find
the 'any' key. Where is it?" The second was from a manager who wanted me to
order him another coffee cup holder for his computer. I said excuse me but
I'm not sure that I understand what you're asking for. He went on to explain
that it was real neat how it worked. Every morning when he turned his
computer on his coffee cup holder would come out, but he had broken it and
really would like to have another. Think about it. -Fgask1949
And the ever-popular coffee cup holder
I was working tech support for a major corporate-level printer manufacturer
and received a call from a user complaining that her printer was smearing
toner all over the page. In fact, she told me, in the three months she had
it, it's always done that. My first thought was that the envelope levers
were flipped, so I had her open the left side of the printer to look. I
asked her, "Do you see the small gray levers under the big blue levers?"
"No," she replied. "Are they behind this orange thing that says 'remove
this'?'" And of course her next question was, "Should I remove it?" -Warren
My users are always guaranteed to make me laugh but one is really special.
Here is her story via her help desk ticket history! First ticket: "User
can't log in." I call and tell her to be sure she is using the correct user
ID-her first initial and the first seven letters of her last name. Her
response "...and what is that?" Second ticket: "Scanner is only scanning
half a page." I arrive and take a look and pull the document back up on the
screen. Her response, "Golly how did it get down there?" Third ticket: "Your
software won't print." (Notice the "your") Again I make the trek to her work
area, walk to the printer and retrieve the printed document. "Gee where did
you find that? I swear I looked!" Fourth ticket arrived late today: "User is
in new department and this computer doesn't like her network password." I
know the help desk is howling and I can't wait till tomorrow morning to see
what this turns out to be. -Another Anonymous Tech Support Person
The blinky thing
A little over a year ago, I came across the user that defines computer
illiteracy. I took him to DOS prompt because he could not use any Windows
editors. I get him into the DOS Editor. We make the changes to the
config.sys. He says, "Hey, something is wrong here." I ask him what is
wrong-to describe it to me. His answer is: "I move the blinky thing and I
can't stop that dash from following it." I ask him to not move the blinky
thing and ask him if the dash is at the bottom or middle? He says it is at
the bottom. "Okay, that is normal." -Roby M.
It's different in Canada
I had a UK user call me up the other day asking what cables they required
for their laptop when traveling to Canada., i.e., for his external mouse &
floppy drive. He also added that he did not know what make his laptop was
and could I tell him...Try opening your eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -Tuli
My arrow won't move
I work for a holding company that supports several hundred employees. One
day I get a call that a user's mouse is no longer working. I run through the
normal battery of tests (Have you moved your computer, possibly unplugging
the mouse, etc.). After having her check everything I could think of I
thought I should personally examine the situation. As I approached her desk
she says "see my little arrow won't move". I tried to hold back my laughter
and instructed her to let go of her stapler and use the mouse instead.
Another satisfied customer. -Jack A.
Something doesn't add up
Everyone is familiar with the standard response of "I can't find the 'any'
key". Well I have one that is almost as priceless. I got a call one day from
a senior manager at a previous job who was having trouble completing an
upgrade to one of her programs. The message that was being displayed was
press any key and she was pressing the enter key and this was having no
effect. She even used the mouse to position the arrow over the button and
hit enter, still with no results. Well I knew that she could use the mouse
to click the button, but I suspected her keyboard may have been unplugged so
I told her I would come to her office and take a look. When I asked her to
show me the problem, I almost hemorrhaged trying to keep a straight face.
You see, on her desk right beside her keyboard was her adding machine. Yep,
that's right, one of the new ones with an enter button in place of an equal
sign. Keeping the straightest face I could and coughing quite a bit as
cover, I completed the install, moved her adding machine to the other side
of the desk, and blamed it on those ever present Windows glitches. You see,
she wasn't just the world's dumbest user, she was also a SENIOR MANAGER!
Thanks. Have a nice day. -Dave R., Information Management Support
The power of power
One of our office personnel was complaining about the fact that she had
problems with her printer. She couldn't print anything from MS Word. She
keeps trying and trying but the printer just is not working and she wants a
new one right away. So, before considering her request, I take a quick look
at her machine to notice the she has 35 copies of the document in the print
queue (obviously deciding that if it didn't work hitting the print button
over and over was going to make it work) and the power light is not on. I
hit the power button, informed her of the marvels of electricity and walked
away. No, I didn't tell her how to clear out the print queue and I know she
was too embarrassed to ask. -Anonymous
Several years ago, one of my customers called and complained that his Altos
minicomputer "ate" diskettes. I told him that this was not possible but he
insisted-the computer had already swallowed a lot of them. After some
discussion it showed that he had put the diskettes in the slot between the
tape and diskette drives! Remembering this still gives us (and the customer)
a good laugh. The best was when we visited his company to empty the computer
from diskettes.... -Stefan B.
Where IS that icon?
One day a particularly technologically challenged individual called me for
help. Fortunately, someone I knew was there when he made the call, or I
never would have heard this little gem. Bear in mind, this individual has
been using PCs to do his job since MS-DOS was just a pup. I asked him to
look for the MS-DOS prompt icon on his desktop. After a very long pause the
user reports back "I don't think I have one of those. I can't find it
anywhere!" My acquaintance told me later that the in-duh-vidual was
furiously sliding the papers around on his desk, trying to find the MS-DOS
icon under the papers on his "desktop." -Greg B.
It's not always the user who's at fault
We work in a university and to give our team a bit of slack we encourage all
our students to e-mail support questions to us rather than knocking on our
office door. One lad met me in a corridor just as I was trying to leave one
evening and said he had a problem. I told him that he should e-mail me and
left. This happened on numerous occasions, always as I was walking out of
the building. The conversation would go something like : Him: "Oh, I'm still
having that problem with my..." Me: "Look, I asked you to e-mail me, I
haven't received it yet so I haven't fixed your problem." Him: "But I...."
Me: "Look I can't deal with it now, e-mail me." Him: "Ok," walking away
dejectedly. After about 6 days of this I received an e-mail from one of his
colleagues apologizing but telling me that his friend's e-mail was broken.
Needless to say after I fixed it, I received about 10 e-mails from the poor
guy very politely asking If I could do something about his broken
Fun with users
We used to love winding up our users when resetting their passwords, a
favorite was to reset the poor user's password to DONTKNOW. Here's the
conversation: "Hi, what did you reset my password to?" "DONTKNOW." "What do
you mean you don't know, didn't you reset it?" "Yes." "So what is it ?"
"DONTKNOW." "What!" "DONTKNOW." "Why don't you know?" "Your password has
been reset to D O N T K N O W " (spelled out very loudly on the phone so
that their colleagues nearby would hear). Drivel & abusive language would
always follow from the user for a while. We always replied with the
standard: "We reset it because you didn't know it-seemed pretty logical to
me!" Please treat this as ANONYMOUS to protect the innocent! -Anonymous
The flip side
You may not believe this one. I had a hard time trying not to laugh. One of
the user's functions was to print on pre-printed forms and distribute them.
The forms were in a box and were to be loaded into the paper tray of a laser
printer. I received a call from a user at one of our ten sites. She had been
printing for a year now with a LaserJet onto the pre-printed forms. The
alignment was crucial. She called one morning (after the first cup of
coffee) and told me she didn't want to complain, but the forms were placed
into the boxes in the wrong direction. I wanted to confirm and asked, "You
mean some are in one direction and the forms change direction partially
through the stack?". She said, "No, the forms are in the wrong direction in
the box." My reply to that was "You mean they are upside down?". She said
"No the forms are in the wrong direction when I remove them from the box." I
wanted to tell her to take them from the other side of the box. Or perhaps,
remove the forms from the box and click her heels three times and say,
"There's no place like home...". -Dwayne
I was employed as Network Administrator for the local school system when
this happened. My responsibilities also included handling help requests from
teachers and faculty. I had been at work for about an hour when I received a
call from one of our oldest teachers. She knew nothing about computers and
the district had just purchased a new computer for her. It had been in her
classroom for two days. She reported that someone had stolen the keys from
her keyboard!! I didn't know what to tell her so I told her I would be right
over. I wanted to see this one for myself. I had never heard of anyone
stealing keys off the keyboard. When I got to her room and looked toward the
computer, I had to consciously keep myself from bursting out in laughter,
which I knew would hurt her feelings. Without saying a word, I walked over
to the computer, picked up the keyboard, and turned it right-side up.
Someone had flipped the keyboard over. I glanced at her quickly, and with a
small smile on my face I quickly left. As soon as I was outside the building
I had to laugh my head off. She later thanked me for not making her feel
more foolish about it, and now uses her computer more, and a lot better,
than most of the younger teachers in our District. -Doug P.
One morning I received a panicked call from a client, saying that she had
put a CD into the CD-ROM drive, but now it won't come out. I wasn't supposed
to be into the office for another hour and a half, but such is the life of a
consultant. When I got to her office I asked her to move so I could take a
look at the computer, she responded that she had put the CD into another
machine. I don't remember why anymore, but that's irrelevant. We walked into
another room and she pointed to a machine. I looked at the machine, looked
at her, looked at the machine again, looked back at her again...and said
"That computer doesn't have a CD-ROM drive in it!" She had put the CD into a
5 1/4" floppy drive! I ended up removing the CD with a pair or
tweezers. -Ryan G., Network Specialist
I run a small campus network and a computer lab that is used by close to 300
K through 8 students and teachers. To make things simple I have generic
userids and profiles set for up for each grade (i.e. Grade 1, Grade 2,
etc.). The teachers, of course, have individual userids and home
directories. No matter how many in-services I give the teachers, I still get
asked to come and see why their "password won't work". Inevitably, I watch
over their shoulders as they carefully type in their password, while leaving
the User Name box set to Grade 5! -Sharon P.
Shut the door
I've been in support for years, but by far, the best one I had was about a
guy having trouble with his floppy drive. This was in the days of the 51/4
floppies. He kept trying to access the floppy, but always got an error. I
proceeded to ask him if the door was closed. Maybe I should have specified
the "drive door". I heard him put the phone down, walk across his office,
and shut the door. When he came back, I was in tears, and had to call him
back because I couldn't contain my laughter anymore. I'm not sure if he
noticed though... -Gaspare
Plug it in
We have a user that is a director of the department. I received an issue to
go help get the user on the network (a notebook) I received the same thing
about a day or two later. What I put into the issue to resolve this was "
Once again it helps to plug the Cat 5 cable in." -Henry S., Computer
A few years ago, we had a client that had just bought a Unix system from us.
We shipped the system preloaded and all the client needed to do was connect
the cables and turn it on. The client called a local tech in to connect the
cables and the system booted with no problems. After a short while the
client needed to install an update on the system, so we sent the client some
floppy disks. The client kept complaining that the disks were hard to take
out of the wrapper and put in and take out of the computer. None of the
disks would work. Finally we sent the client a set of disks that I
personally had tested. Again, they did not work. We called a technician out
to check on the problem with the floppy drive. When he arrived the client
was out on an appointment but he used his own disks to verify there was
nothing wrong with the drive. He could not test the disks that I had sent
out because the secretary could not find them. I finally asked the client to
mail me back a set of bad disks. When they arrived, I couldn't stop
laughing. The client had taken the disks out of the black protective plastic
sleeves and tried to use them. Most of them were very bent. -Anna
Is this thing on?
I am the only IS person (NT 4.0 network) for our company of about 45 users.
One day I got a call from a user who we always have problems with. The
receptionist had been called off so she was working out at the front desk.
She wanted to know if I could transfer her personal documents over the
network from her computer to the one at the front desk. I told her to just
log in as herself, not the receptionist, since I have roaming profiles set
up. She said there were a bunch of files open and she didn't want to close
them all, log in again, and open them all back up. I then remembered that I
had helped her share her personal folder a few months before so that another
employee and the receptionist could have access to them. Problem solved! The
person she was logged in as had access to the share, so I reminded her of
this. She then proceeded to tell me that she couldn't connect to her
computer herself over the network that I would have to do it, because since
the receptionist called in sick, she never even turned the PC on in the
morning! -Marc K., MCP, IS Director
Just a little adjustment needed
As a former support person for a law firm, I have many, many stories
regarding lawyers and technology. However, one in particular stands out.
When the firm moved from a DOS-based to a Windows-based environment, this
particular lawyer "didn't have time" to attend the training we provided. The
day we switched to Windows, he called me into his office because he couldn't
get the mouse to move appropriately and the buttons didn't work properly.
After he showed me what he was attempting to do, I quickly turned the mouse
around and explained that it might work better right-side-up. -Kelly B.,
MCP, CAN, Technical Training Consultant
I'm hanging up now
I was working at a major online service at the time. I was talking to a
woman who was using a Macintosh with our software and she was not on our
latest software build. I noticed in the call log that the previous tech
instructed her to download the latest software and install it and then she
would be okay. So I asked her, "Did you go out and download the software and
install it already?" She responded, "Oh no, I haven't gone anywhere, I've
been home the whole day." I clarified, "Okay, but did you download the
latest software from our Web site?" She said, "Didn't that guy I talked to
last time do that for me?" I asked, "Did he download the software for you to
your computer? Is that what you are saying occurred?"-which we neither had
the ability or desire to do, so I knew this was not the case. She said,
"Well sure. He described it as he was doing it." I said, "Ma'am, he was
giving you directions so that YOU could do it. I'll go ahead and put those
directions in an e-mail for you. You just go online and check your e-mail
and follow the directions okay?" She said, "Okay, but I have to hang up to
use the phone line to get online." I said, "Yes ma'am, you sure do." Thank
God for single-line households. -Paige L.
Creative installation plans
I had a user who wanted me to install some printer drivers for her manager.
At this time her manager was traveling and had taken his laptop with him.
She took me into his office and said: "Can you install the printer drivers
for his new printer?" I said: "OK, but I could not install the drivers,
until he returns with his laptop" Well she said: "Can't you install the
drivers in the terminal (referring to his monitor)" I said: "How would you
like me to install the drivers?" So she went over to the monitor and turned
it on. We both stood there looking at the monitor for a couple of seconds.
Then she realized that nothing was happening and turned off the monitor, and
said: "I guess we will have to wait until he comes back with his laptop" I
could not believe this user (who has a computer of her own at her desk) was
so blind to the fact that you need a computer to install printer
Is there an antidote?
I had a user a few years ago ask me if he needed to go to the doctor to get
a shot to protect himself from the computer virus going around. It was all I
could do to not burst out laughing while explaining computer viruses. -Randy
S., Sr. Programmer/Analyst
All I did was.
I worked at a manufacturer of network management software a few years ago,
and we had a client (alleged network admin) who used LAN Manager 2. He
called us one day in high dudgeon because our blessed software had stopped
blinking working (I paraphrase slightly). On questioning him further, I
ascertained that it was recent, and that our (OS/2 1.3/LAN Manager-based)
services did not now run. "No, nothing's flaming changed..." quoth he
"...all I've done is apply an upgrade." "What upgrade?" I asked innocently.
"All I chuffing did was upgrade my chuffing PDC to NT, I followed all the
chuffing instructions...". I did my best to explain to him that different
operating systems didn't necessarily run the same software, but he was
fairly incoherent by then. Mentioning that he could contact our sales
department about purchasing an upgrade was possibly less than
I'm not that dumb
I work for a public relations firm. We had a user very recently call me and
complain about how slow the laptop we'd given her was. It was actually my
old laptop, so I knew the thing was actually pretty speedy and I wanted to
find out why it was slow for her. She complained that she'd been at a client
site giving a PowerPoint presentation and the slide transitions crawled,
sometimes taking 10-30 seconds to bring up a slide. I thought to myself
"Sheesh, she ran it off a floppy, and that's why it's slow." I asked if this
were the case and she acted indignant and said "No, I'm not that dumb, I ran
it off the network." I asked her how she'd run it off our network if she was
at the client's site. It turns out she'd dialed up a RAS connection and been
running her 10Mb presentation across a phone line. -Anonymous
A customer wanted to know why their system kept crashing every time they
were running AutoCAD 12 or 13. We looked at their system setup and you would
not believe what they had. 486DX2/66, 8MB RAM, 540MB Hard Drive I think the
drive was compressed, Windows 95. Hopefully I can remember the other ones to
send also. -Jennifer
Need an acre or so
A couple of years ago I worked with a woman who complained that her mouse
pad wasn't big enough. We used optical mice so if the mouse went of off the
pad, the pointer stopped moving. She would slide her mouse over to the end
of the pad and the pointer was still in the middle of the screen so,
obviously, the mouse pad wasn't large enough. It never occurred to her to
pick the mouse up and reposition it. -Tim P., Software Engineer.
After one of my techs completed some installs on one of our more
'challenged' end looser user I received a call from her. Apparently whenever
she hits her spacebar; one of the phones in the next cubicle rings, but not
all the time. She wanted to know when we could fix this 'intermittent '
problem? -Doug Greenfield, Performance Engineer
A guy from my office brings in his computer and asks me if I can rebuild it
for him, reloading Windows and all of his applications. He claimed that all
of his programs were corrupt, none of them worked right, and a virus must
have destroyed everything. The solution was a bit simpler than he expected.
His hard drive was full. I removed a couple of programs that he no longer
used and everything then worked great. -Stan Durbin, Technical Trainer
No sugar added
One story still sticks with me. A supervisor in the accounting division
called me and reported that one of her clerks had spilled a soda in the
keyboard and it would not function properly. I told her that the keyboard
uses electricity and that the liquid probably was causing a problem. Her
response: "But it was a diet soda!" -C.E.
"ID Ten T"
I had recently set up a docking station for a user. They were expecting
problems and sure enough a few minutes after leaving, she called me to
report their keyboard was locked up. Nothing she typed was being entered. A
quick visit to her office showed the problem. She was trying to reply to an
e-mail but nothing she type showed up. She had not actually hit return yet.
Because she was only viewing the e-mail, naturally she couldn't edit it.
Just another error code with the ID Ten T (ID10T). -Bob F.
Make it go away
I would like to nominate my Ex Sister-in Law for the dumbest user award.
After building and setting her up with a new system, she called me to ask
about the computer going on idle. I told her that, yes, her system could and
would go on idle. After discussing this with her to explain everything
properly, she called back to ask how to shut down the monitor, while the
computer was on idle. Which of course I responded: by simply turning it off.
I found this to be a very funny question. Thought you would too! -Teresa H.
How do you drive this thing?
I have a great one for you. About 4 months ago I was installing new
computers in a securities firm on Wall Street. I brought the computer in to
a broker, set it up and left. The next day he requested I come to his
office. He lifts his mouse and asks, "What the hell is this?" I reply,
"That's your mouse." He responds to me, "What the hell do I need this
for?" -John C.
The story I have to tell isn't really about a dumb user, though I can't help
but think of him whenever the topic comes up. The scene: I'm a tech for an
ISP, and taking new account configuration calls. This fellow calls in with
problems. He can't understand the instructions on the CD sleeve for how to
install the software, get online, and start chatting. Okay-we have this all
the time. So much so, that we have a step by step walk through, complete
with screenshots of every step as a guide. I pull it up just to make sure I
can be as explicit as possible with this gentleman who seems to be having so
many problems. I spent nearly an hour and a half with him on the phone
getting him configured and connected. He required three or four repeats and
additional explanations for every step of the process. He was very earnest,
and tried very hard, and I could tell he felt sorry for his inability to
comprehend what I was trying to explain to him. When we finally got him
configured and ready to go, he was very pleased. It was his parting shot
that's stuck with me through the years. "I'm really sorry that took so long.
You'll have to forgive me, my parents were related!" I barely managed to
hang the headset up before losing control of the burst of laughter that
erupted. To this day, I still chuckle whenever I think of that phone
conversation. -Tom S., Micro Computer Services, Desktop
Can I get a copy of that?
Remember the good old "486"-days when every CPU had a keylock switch? One of
our customers called us, saying he was unable to start his computer, because
he hasn't got a key to start the engine. Also, a customer called because he
had a problem with a diskette he wanted to use. Our sales representative
told him to send us a copy of this disk. After two minutes the fax machine
printed out a copy of the diskette. We sent the fax back with the
information that it is a double-sided disk, and we would need the other side
also. (Not nice, but a good laugh for us) Sorry for my English. -Michael W.
Where does this cord go?
Our software company hired a new "remote" salesperson who called each of the
admins in our department at least once a day for the first two weeks with a
number of different complaints/problems. At one point she called complaining
that her laptop battery wasn't holding the charge and something was wrong
with the power supply. I had tested everything before sending it out to her,
and another admin and I tried troubleshooting the problem over the phone
with her. We ended up having her send everything back. We tested it and all
worked fine. We returned the laptop to her and she was still having
problems. My co-worker finally deduced that she was trying to connect the
power supply through the CPU cooling vent which was located next to the
power supply input. -Anonymous
The first happened earlier this year when a printer was delivered directly
to a user, rather than the IS department. The user, taking the initiative,
decided to install the printer himself. He did amazingly well for a
non-computer person, and got everything connected correctly. Reading the
manual, he discovered he had to now install the drivers, which were on CD.
His computer was rather old, and unbeknownst to him did not come with a CD
drive. It did, however, feature a 5 ¼" floppy drive which he had never used.
In many car CD players, you simply push the CD into a slot, and the
mechanism will "grab" it and pull it in. Thinking a PC CD drive was the same
way, he stuck it into the 5 ¼" drive slot. About halfway in, it stuck, but
with just a bit of a push he managed to get it all the way in. He finally
called us when, in spite of flipping the drive lever down, the computer
still wouldn't find the drivers. We never did get the CD out.
Another incident involved the Operations Manager for our company. A normally
calm and intelligent person, he was frustrated by an error within Outlook.
Whenever he would open mail, suddenly lines would start inserting at the
beginning of the letter. The body of the message scrolled down off the
screen so quickly, he couldn't read it. While it happened to him regularly,
our tech support department was unable to duplicate the error, even on the
user's computer. Finally we noticed that, when reading email, his forearm
would lay across the keyboard, just clipping the "Enter" button on the
number pad. -Jim P., IS Support Center
Salesman didn't know jack
I just moved my daughter into her dorm at UC Santa Barbara and the dorm has
just installed a new Ethernet network. I had installed the Ethernet card but
I did not have the patch cord needed to connect to the network. I went to a
couple of large electronics stores (Circuit City & Radio Shack) but they had
run out because of the large demand from the school dorms. The third place I
stopped at was Staples and when I ask if they had any Ethernet patch cords
the sales person took me to where they were supposed to be located (after he
had asked someone about the location) and there were none in the area. The
Sales Person then proceeded to take me to another location and pulled a
phone extension off the rack and told me that this would work just as well.
I am a Technician at an IS shop and very familiar with networks and its
equipment and I knew that this would not work. As I explained to him why
this would not work I wondered how many he had sold to parents that did not
have any technical training in this field. My guess is that there are a few
unhappy parents out there that wondering why the cord will not fit in the
jack. -Bob R., Desktop Services
That's what you do.
Then there's the one about the "IT Professional" who bought a brand-new,
fully configured system. It was delivered and set up by the technician who
built it. Imagine the tech's surprise to receive an irate call from Mr.
Professional that his system would not boot into Windows. After a grueling
60 minute telephone run-down, the tech went back (a 60-mile round-trip) to
Mr. P's home. Imagine the tech's even greater surprise when he found that
Mr. P had fdisked his hard drive. When asked why he did that to a
pre-configured machine, he replied "It's brand-new and that's what you
always do with brand-new computers." "Sigh" -Nancy W.
All right, here's one for the record books: I had a user who consistently
had problems with her monitor. I visited her PC multiple times, and each
time she complained that the monitor was malfunctioning, and she wanted a
new one. I replaced the monitor twice before getting suspicious. After the
last call, I pretended to walk away, only to turn and see her stand up and
water the plant she had just replaced back ON TOP OF THE MONITOR! She will
be waiting a long time for a replacement now. -Jonathan F., Network, MIS
Panicking, one of my users came running into my office. "Something is really
wrong with my machine. The Windows all look funny." I walked with the person
back to their office and had them show me what they meant. "See, the Window
fills the whole screen. It was never like that before. I can't work with it
like that." After explaining how to resize Windows with the Maximize,
Minimize, Restore buttons, and making the person walk through the steps so
to be able to do it in the future, we still had to go through how to get the
screen exactly the right size so that the user could "work normally." It was
amazing how the Window had to be a certain size for the person to think they
could use it. Showing them that they could still work in any size Window did
not matter. It took about 30 minutes to fix the problem to their
satisfaction. Well, two days later, the user comes back into my office. "You
know that problem I had where my computer looked all funny? Well, it
happened again!! Can you fix it?" -Anonymous
Is that a fedora?
I was handling support calls for a fairly complex financial package. The
end-user assured me she knew her way around the PC and that she could handle
most problems on her own. As we began to work through the system, I asked
her, "What do you see on your screen?" I suggested she get some remedial
help, when she answered "Oh, I've got a "C" with a funny little sideways
hat." -Ron E.
Here's a dumb user story for you. I was working in a help desk environment
and working with a user over the phone. I was trying to get her to type the
following command " assign c: d: ." I told her to type exactly what I said,
which was "assign space c: space d:" and every time she typed in the command
she said it came back with bad command or file name, so after a couple of
times I asked her to tell me what she was typing letter by letter, to which
she responded with the following "assign space c: space d: " As you can see,
she was typing the word space instead of using the space bar. -Gary Y., NT
Three users come to mind, all involving floppy disks.
1. While working for the Education department I had a phone call from a user
who needed a document off a disk, but was having problems with the document
on the disk. I asked her to send me a copy of the disk so I could have a
look and retrieve the document. 5 minutes later I had a copy of the disk,
from the fax machine. She had copied the disk on the photocopier and faxed
it to me.
2. A school principal rang and told me he had problems with a floppy disk
which had very important information on it, and no, he had not made a
backup. I went to the school and asked for the disk, which was given to me
in three pieces. His cat had been playing with it and pulled it apart!
3. A school was having problems with all disk drives, but only when using
disks the school had created. I went and had a look. No problems, it read
every disk I put into it and created. It was then I saw the problem. A
teacher came in with a disk with student work on it and asked for it to be
labeled. The office girl took the disk, put a disk label on to it and
inserted it into the typewriter to type the name on to the disk. I thought
the disks looked a bit bent! -Tim Sayre
Back to basics
We have a user here at our office who was using his daughter's name as the
main part of his password and has a number on the end of it. Each month he
just adds one to the number and he has a new password. Even though this
seems like a relatively easy thing to do when prompted by the network to
change his password, he always has a problem and locks up his system. The
technician or admin usually has to help him change his password. One month
he forgot how to spell his daughter's name-her name is Catherine and he kept
spelling it with a K! -Mamie A.
One small adjustment
I work in a government agency, but I won't quote who or where (to protect
the users), in an IT Branch, and we'll get inundated by users requesting
assistance. This particular day, I received a call from a manager
proclaiming her disk drive was malfunctioning because she couldn't insert
the diskette. Making sure she wasn't trying to insert a 3.5" into a 5.25"
drive and vice versa (yeah, we get those too), I told her I'd stop by after
completing another run. Later that day, I walked into the facility and asked
for the manager who proclaimed, "Thank God you're here." She escorted me to
the machine in question and demonstrated her plight..."See it won't go in."
I stood there for about 15 seconds examining the disk drive, then flipped
the diskette over and it promptly went in (it was one of those boxes that
had the user pop in the diskette on the side). I quickly walked out of the
facility and busted out laughing. -Ralph
We recently took the browser service and network neighborhood icons away
from our users, as many of them were venturing into the world of "browsing"
our servers, causing many potential security threats. As a result, they lost
their mapped drives to their personal folders on their local file servers.
We emailed everyone the instructions for the "net use persistent" command to
restore those links, but there were a few who didn't quite "get it". One of
these called and insisted that he had followed our instructions to the
letter, but still could not map the drive. Over and over I asked him to
repeat to me what he had heard from me: "net use x: /persistent:yes
\\server\file" . He repeated it word for word, but still insisted that it
would not work. I finally dialed in to his PC with our remote software to
see what he had typed. This is what was on the command line: "net use x:
forwardsplashpersistent:yes \server\file." Genius, sheer genius. -Bill A.
Head of the class
I used to work for a 2-year branch college of a 4-year school as the Senior
Information Systems Technician. I received a call one day from one of the
Math Professors and she said that her printer would not work. I asked her if
she had turned it on and received a barrage of indignant responses stating
that she had a Ph.D. in mathematics and she knew enough to turn her "damn"
printer on. I went upstairs to the Doctor's office and looked at her printer
with her standing there next to me. I turned the printer on and watched as a
bunch of files started printing out. I was quickly informed that if I told
anyone about this incident I would fail Calculus IV. (I passed the class
with an "A" and promptly told the entire school after I finished the
semester). -Bobby C.
Another under-cover disk error
This happened to me some time ago while I was working for the Support
Department of an accounting software company. At the time I was doing
telephone support. We had just sent out an update to the software, with
instructions to call the help desk if anyone had problems installing. I
received a call from this guy saying that the disk didn't fit into his
floppy disk drive. After quite a bit of messing around, I finally worked out
that he actually had a 5 1/2" disk, instead of the 3 1/2" I was expecting...
No problem, I also got him to measure his disk drive, and we worked out that
this was also 5 1/4" (a rare case of sending the correct sized disk to the
customer). After telling the guy to turn the disk around, and upside down,
and everything else I could think of, I started to wonder how stupid this
user really was, or if I was missing something....So I asked if he had
removed the disk from its cover (you know, the paper slips the 5 1/4" disk
come in). He replied that he hadn't realized that he had to take it out of
its cover, but that's not the end of the story....After coming back to the
phone a few minutes later, he said that although the disk now fitted into
the disk drive, he couldn't get the software to run. At this stage, I
arranged a site visit to go out and help the poor bloke. When I turned up
onsite, it turned out that when he had taken it "out of its cover", he had
taken a knife and opened up the disk, taking out the actual floppy inside,
then jammed this into the drive. The reason it hadn't fitted in the first
place was that there was another disk still in the drive....Soon after this
the client changed brands of software, and started using another company for
support....We were so sorry to see him go... -Andrew W.
Green with envy?
My husband and I own a small computer sales/service business. I got a call
one day from a customer who had recently purchased a computer system,
complete with printer. She was complaining that her new printer would not
print in color. I went through the normal procedure for troubleshooting
printer problems, but still she got no color. The document she was printing
was a Microsoft Word document and she was trying to print it green. Finally,
I asked if she had set her font color to green, and her response was, "What
is font color?" Problem solved!! -Kerry L.
It ain't heavy, it's a program
Here's one that tops all the stories I have ever encountered or heard....One
of the advancement planning committees in the area had actually gotten to
the point where it had a huge staff and a growing technology problem. They
finally hired someone to be on point for tech questions. He was
very...creative ...in his solutions to problems. One day, he was talking to
the receptionist downstairs and she mentioned that she wanted a monitor
stand to let the monitor go above her desk surface, since she was running
out of room to do her work. Very seriously, he advised against getting one
because they did not work after a while. She asked him why they stopped
working and he replied, "Well, every time you add a program onto your
computer, it puts an icon on the desktop and adds an entry to the start
menu. After awhile, too much gets on there and the monitor becomes heavier
and heavier, and the stand can't support the weight. The whole thing can
crash down, just because you put a few more programs on." He recently left
the position because he said nobody took his advice seriously enough. Wonder
why.... -Elisabeth McM.
Lawyer was in the dark
The lawyer's secretary calls me and she is all in a fluster. Her monitor is
not working. Attempts to talk her through the routine steps, "Is it plugged
in?", "Is the power switch on?" etc., were met with a screeching "fix it
now!" I requested she put her boss on, the lawyer gets on the phone, and I
attempt to begin the problem identification process again. The lawyer is
almost as bad as the secretary. After a few minutes of futile attempts to
calm them down, I informed the lawyer that I would come to the office to
address the problem. I told him that if the problem was a hardware failure
there would be no charge but if the problem was not a hardware failure then
they would be billed a service call minimum, $72.00 plus taxes. He agreed to
these terms. I drove to their office and identified the problem within 1
minute. Someone had turned the brightness on the monitor down to the minimum
setting. At least they paid the bill I presented without argument. -Mark D.,
What are you running here?
I have two. A lady called the shop I work at and asked to speak with a
technician. I answered the phone and asked her how I could help her. She
said she had printer problems. After asking several questions and I was not
getting anywhere I asked her what program she was running when she had the
printer problem. There was long silence and great disgust in her voice when
she finally said, "I am not running a program I am running a computer." At
that I was lost as what to say.
Second story: I was working on a computer one day when a young man came into
the shop and was asking me if the owner needed any more help. He stated he
knew everything there was to know about computers and was looking for a job.
I told him he would have to talk with the boss about that. As we continued
to talk I discovered the computer I was working on was his and he had
Windows totally corrupt. I never let him know I was working on his computer
but it was hard to keep a straight face. The cover to his computer was under
the bench so he did not realize that it was his computer I was working on. I
hope you get a chuckle out of these. -Wesley R.
The chicken or the egg?
Here's the one that won our Ticket of the Year at our site's Ticket of the
Week Sweepstakes. Other than the problem in the trouble ticket, there was
another problem: we of the tech support staff didn't know whether to give
the award to the user or to the help desk for not resolving the issue and
went ahead and opened the ticket. The ticket read, and I quote, "User cannot
read files in Microsoft Word after they have been deleted." -Bill S.
Couldn't you just wave?
While I was working at a customer's site one day, the system manager walked
into the computer room, sat down in front of the console terminal, looked
straight into the terminal, and very loudly said "HELLO" to his console. He
then proceeded to log in to the system. I had to stop what I was doing to
see what he was saying hello to. Digital Equipment Corp had an operating
system called RSTS-11 which typed "SAY HELLO" on your terminal screen when
you attempted to log in to the system. You were then supposed to respond
with your account and password. This system manager (who had a Ph.D.)
responded to the login message by verbally saying "Hello". I asked him why
he was shouting hello to the terminal. His response was that he had to shout
hello so the computer could hear him over the computer system's noise. If he
did not say it loud enough, the system would not let him log on. Needless to
say, I had to leave the room before I busted out laughing. -John D.
Do disks gain weight?
I had a user say that she has a 3.5" floppy disk that she had been using for
several months and now it no longer fits in the drive. When I visited her
PC, sure enough, her floppy disk was half way inserted and she could not
push it in any further. I removed the floppy and tried it myself, and it
would only go in half way. Upon examining the floppy, I saw that she had
applied a new label. The label was the long version that wraps over the top
of the floppy, but she applied it only to the front of the disk, thus
trapping the metal sliding door under the new label. -Dave U.
Okay, while performing the duties (punishment?) of the help desk I received
this call: Ringing Phone.
Me: Help Desk! How can I assist you today?
Caller: Well my scanner isn't working.
Me: I see. Is the power turned on?
Can you see a green light next to the power button?
Me: Is the cable connected from the scanner to the back of the computer?
Me: Does your computer report any errors when you attempt to scan a
Caller: No! It just doesn't scan this report in. I need this done in two
hours and I can't get this thing to work.
Me: I'll send a technician out. Ringing phone after technician dispatched.
Me: Help Desk! How can I assist you today?
Technician: (holding back laughter) This ticket on the scanner is closed.
I'll put my comments on the repair ticket.
Technician returns Laughing and having a great time.
Me: What's up with the scanner?
Technician: Read the ticket.
I pull up the ticket and read: No scanner. User needs a brain transplant.
User attempted to scan a document into the monitor by holding it up to the
screen and stepping on the mouse. By the way, the mouse needs to be replaced
as the user crushed it. Now that's dumb! -Neal R.
Shift in thinking necessary
I work for a computer repair company. One day I got a call from a woman who
wanted to know how to delete files in Windows 95. I got her into Windows
Explorer and then asked which files she wanted to delete. She responded with
"All of them". I explained to her that she did not want to delete all of her
files because this would make her computer inoperable and found out that she
was trying to delete files because the new version of AOL would not install
until she had enough free space on her hard drive. I asked her to read the
directories that were on her computer and found out that they were aol30a,
aol30b, aol30c, etc. I decided that it would be safe to remove some of the
old AOL directories so I told her to highlight the folders, hold down the
Shift key and then press Delete. I heard a repeated beep and asked her which
key she was holding down. "The long one at the bottom." "Ma'am," I replied,
"that is the space bar. The shift key is the one with the word "Shift"
written on it. -Christian H., Support Specialist
I belong to a mailing list for developers using a certain product. The list
moderator is an author who has written a book on learning how to develop
with this product. In her signature line she lists the title and publisher
of her book. Recently a subscriber to the list posted a note to the group
asking her for the title of the book. DUH! -Scott D.
But the light goes off!
This is close to one which I read on your site. A user called to complain
that her virus scan didn't work first thing in the morning like everyone
else's in her department did. I asked her what happened when she booted her
computer in the morning. She said that nothing happened. While she was away
at lunch, I rebooted her PC and the virus scan automatically scanned her PC.
Next day she called to complain that I still hadn't fixed it. I immediately
went to her desk, and asked her to show me what it does. She turned her
monitor off, then back on and said "See!". Apparently she was just turning
off her monitor at night and she thought turning it on, rebooted her
PC. -Fred R.
Here in Tennessee when you mention "megabytes" they think you mean a good
day at fishing. -Thad
I was called to assist the MD's PA who was complaining bitterly about how
bad her PC was (again); this time she was complaining that whenever she
tried to type anything, nothing happened. This really threw me as it only
seemed to happen in Microsoft Word. After a little bit of investigation, and
multiple denials of culpability, it turned out that she had set the colors
to white text on a white background. -John H.
That's not nice!
We recently migrated to Lotus Notes, which displays the 'folder' name the
user is in at the top of the screen, along with the user's name. One poor
soul called the Help Desk with the following: "It says, Jane Q. Doe - Trash
on my mail screen. I AM *NOT* TRASH!" Enjoy -Nancy A.
Hide and go seek
I had a user call about a problem printing a letter using Word 97. After a
certain point beginning with an "h", all the words had dots (.....) under
them and did not print. She swore that it was something wrong with her
computer. I tried to tell her that she had somehow hit [Shift]+[Control]+H
at the same time which is the shortcut to hide text. The next day she called
with the same problem, again insisting it was a problem with the computer.
When I told her once again how to remove the hidden text option, she said
she would write it down so it wouldn't happen again. I'm sure it is still
happening and she still thinks it is her computer. Thanks for the
laughs. -Melinda J.
Thankyou for the long post.
Next time, post the link instead.
On Jul 20, 2004 "nerd32768" blathered:
> sorry in advance for the length of this message, but some of these are
Long? H*ll, I took on look at the length of that post and I didn't even get
past the first two sentences. Pace youself there nerd.
MCNGP #36, MCSA, A+, Net+, i-Net+
"Not only am I certified, I'm certifiable!"
Join Date: Jan 2009
Remember, about 10 or 12 years ago, when AOL sent out all those free 3.5 disks to people all over the US so that you could try their software? I worked at a law firm with an older woman who complained one morning that her wrist and fingers of her right hand really hurt. I asked what she'd done to hurt herself and she said that she'd been using scissors too much the night before and it was really hard work she'd been doing. I was mystified by that and she volunteered that her scissors were now completely ruined and she'd actually ruined 3 pairs of them the night before. Now I was really on the edge of my seat waiting for the rest of this story. "Well," she said "you know my friend works at the IRS in Covington and we ride the bus together. She told me that her supervisor at the IRS told everyone there that those AOL disks that come in the mail have all your personal information encoded on them and you can't just throw them away or THIEVES could go through your garbage and get your Social Security number and all your credit card information and he told them they have to cut them up to protect themselves and she told all of us on the bus or we wouldn't have known. And I got three of them in my mail and all my neighbors got them so I did theirs, too! That plastic stuff they put those disks in is really hard to cut up!" I tried, but in vain to convince her that this was bogus and to use logic to explain that it would have been a MONUMENTAL or even IMPOSSIBLE task for AOL to first gather all that information (and where would they even acquire it?) and then individually code a special disk for practically every user in the country. She NEVER believed me.
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