It was a dark and stormy day. The kind of day you just knew something bad—no, something evil—was going to happen. That’s when the help desk ticket came in. There was something different about this one, though. Something…eerie.


“Oh, no! It sounds like VoIP might be down,” shouted an admin.


In a mad dash, the IT team turned to their trusty VoIP & Network Quality Manager to determine the cause of the problem. They looked up from their flickering monitors with dismay.


In a low, shaky voice, the admin announced, “Everything looks normal, though.”


“But that can’t be!” Shouted another. “We’ve got the helpdesk ticket right here to prove it. Could there be…a ghost in the machine?”




As it turned out, what really happened was that the end-user who reported the problem unknowingly pulled the cord out of their handset. A little less spooky perhaps, but no less frustrating.


How often do end-users bombard help desks demanding their technology issues be addressed—passing blame on to the IT department in the process—when in reality, it was a simple problem they caused and could have easily solved themselves? Pretty often!


Just in time for Halloween, we recently polled you, our venerable thwack community, on the simple end-user-caused problems masquerading as IT catastrophes you’ve encountered. The results—while hilarious—show that managing a help desk can be a real nightmare. Here are a few of the best stories we can all relate to:


  • An end-user was standing at the printer impatiently waiting for their print job to come through. After storming out of the room then returning to the printer, they declared that there was an issue with the network that was preventing his job from printing! Turns out, they were standing in front of the wrong printer.


  • Every day at about noon, there would be an office-wide network outage. IT tried troubleshooting with the local exchange carrier, the technology vendor and company management, but couldn’t resolve the issue. It was soon discovered that an employee was unplugging the power to the network box at the same time every day to plug in the microwave for heating lunches.


  • An end-user complained that he was unable to burn his presentation onto a DVD, the problem was easily solved by trading out the CD he was trying to use for an actual DVD.


  • While conducting an inventory check of the server room, the hardware custodian casually began pulling pieces of hardware out from the racks, causing major system crashes in the process. IT had to quickly swoop in and inform the custodian to kindly stop yanking on the hardware.


  • An end-user submitted a ticket asking, “How do I reply to an email? Do I copy the whole email and then open up a new email and paste it into the new email?” Uh, nope, just click on “Reply.”


  • More than once end-users have called the help desk to complain that the VPN is not working and that they’re getting strange errors message they’ve never seen before. More often than not, their laptops’ Wireless Network Interface Controllers were turned off.


  • It was a particularly cold day in the office, so an end-user in the branch office plugged a space heater into the uninterruptible power supply unit used to support the network. This caused a power overload, shutting down the entire network.


If you’re looking for ways to improve your help desk, check out this whitepaper. You can also find other SolarWinds resources here.