True tech support stories from the past, as told by the people who worked them:
A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer. The tech asked her if she was “running it under Windows.” The woman then 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 is working fine.”
Tech Support: “How much free space do you have on your hard drive?” Customer: “Well, my wife likes to get up there on that Internet, and she downloaded ten hours of free space. Is that enough?”
Tech Support: “Ok 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 was finished with it, because he needed to keep it.
Customer: “Can you copy the Internet for me on this diskette?”
I work for a local ISP. Frequently we receive phone calls that go something like this: Customer: “Hi. Is this the Internet?”
Some people pay for their online services with checks made payable to “The Internet.”
Customer: “So that’ll get me connected to the Internet, right?” Tech Support: “Yeah.” Customer: “And that’s the latest version of the Internet, right?” Tech Support: “Uhh…uh…uh…yeah.”
Tech Support: “All right…now double-click on the File Manager icon.” Customer: “That’s why I hate this Windows — because of the 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, 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.” Tech Support: “Huh?” Customer: “I crashed my game. That’s what I said before. Now it doesn’t work.” Turned out, the user was playing Lunar Lander and crashed his spaceship. Tech Support: “Click on ‘File,’ then ‘New Game.'” Customer: [pause] “Wow! How’d you learn how to do that?”
A man attempting to set up his new printer called the printer’s tech support number, complaining about the error message: “Can’t find the printer.” On the phone the man said he even held the printer up in front of the screen, but the computer still couldn’t find it.
“Ridge Hall, computer assistant; may I help you?” “Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect.” “What sort of trouble?” “Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.” “Went away?” “They disappeared.” “Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?” “Nothing.” “Nothing?” “It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.” “Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?” “How do I tell?” “Can you see the C:\ prompt on the screen?” “What’s a sea-prompt?” “Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?” “There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.” “Does your monitor have a power indicator?” “What’s a monitor?” “It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on?” “I don’t know.” “Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?” “…Yes, I think so.” “Great! Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into the wall.” “…Yes, it is.” “When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?” “No.” “Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the
other cable.” “…Okay, here it is.” “Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back
of your computer.” “I can’t reach.” “Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?” “No.” “Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?” “Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle-it’s because it’s dark.” “Dark?” “Yes-the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from
the window.” “Well, turn on the office light then.” “I can’t.” “No? Why not?” “Because there’s a power outage.”
At 3:37 a.m. on a Sunday, I had just looked at the clock to determine my annoyance level, when I received a frantic phone call from a new user of a Macintosh Plus. She had gotten her entire family out of the house and was calling from her neighbor’s. She had just received her first system error and interpreted the picture of the bomb on the screen as a warning that the computer was going to blow up.
Tech Support: “I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.” Customer: “Ok.” Tech Support: “Did you get a pop-up menu?” Customer: “No.” Tech Support: “Ok. Right click again. Do you see a pop- up menu?” Customer: “No.” Tech Support: “Ok, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?” Customer: “Sure, you told me to write ‘click’ and I wrote ‘click’.” (At this point I had to put the caller on hold to tell the rest of the tech support staff what had happened. I
couldn’t, however, stop from giggling when I got back to the call.) Tech Support: “Ok, did you type ‘click’ with the keyboard?” Customer: “I have done something dumb, right?”
One woman called Dell’s toll-free line to ask how to install the batteries in her laptop. When told that the directions were on the first page of the manual the woman replied angrily, “I just paid $2,000 for this thing, and I’m not going to read the book.”
Customer: “I received the software update you sent, but I am still getting the same error message.” Tech Support: “Did you install the update?” Customer: “No. Oh, am I supposed to install it to get it to work?”
Tech Support: “Ok, in the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the ‘OK’ button displayed?” Customer: “Wow. How can you see my screen from there?”
Customer: “I’m having a problem installing your software. I’ve got a fairly old computer, and when I type ‘INSTALL’, all it says is ‘Bad command or file name’.” Tech Support: “Ok, check the directory of the A: drive- go to A:> ´ and type ‘dir’.” Customer reads off a list of file names, including ‘INSTALL.EXE’. Tech Support: “All right, the correct file is there. Type ‘INSTALL’ again.” Customer: “Ok.” (pause) “Still says ‘Bad command or file name’.” Tech Support: “Hmmm. The file’s there in the correct place- it can’t help but do something. Are you sure you’re typing I-N-S-T-A-L-L and hitting the Enter key?” Customer: “Yes, let me try it again.” (pause) “Nope, still
‘Bad command or file name’.” Tech Support: (now really confused) “Are you sure you’re
typing I-N-S-T-A-L-L and hitting the key that says ‘Enter’?” Customer: “Well, yeah. Although my ‘N’ key is stuck, so I’m using the ‘M’ key…does that matter?
At our company we have asset numbers on the front of everything. They give the location, name, and everything else just by scanning the computer’s asset barcode or using the number beneath the bars. Customer: “Hello. I can’t get on the network.” Tech Support: “Ok. Just read me your asset number so we can open an outage.” Customer: “What is that?” Tech Support: “That little barcode on the front of your computer.” Customer: “Ok. Big bar, little bar, big bar, big bar . . .”