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Have you tried turning it on and off again? Share your craziest helpdesk requests!

Level 16

hello.IT.jpg

I don’t like Windows 8. Can I upgrade to Windows 10?

You already have Windows 10.

No, this is 8. I don’t like it. Can I change it?

Every computer here already has Windows 10.

Well, can I still have the upgrade?

                                                

Let’s face it. Some people should barely be allowed to go near a computer, much less use one. IT departments across the globe are flooded with requests that, 9 times out of 10, can be solved with a pinch of common sense. And now it’s time for you to let us know your workplace horror stories.

Use the comments section below to share the silliest questions, problems and requests you’ve had to sort out for others at your workplace. We’re looking for absolutely everything from a stupefying back-and-forth to a cry for help that boggles the mind. Showcase the stupidity in the comments below, and we'll give you 250 thwack points!!

158 Comments

Some years ago, I worked as 'IT Director'/syadmin/hack of all trades for a small K-12 school.

One day, a guidance counselor came to me asking for help in getting an email to a relative stationed at an Army base overseas. She couldn't figure out why the email was consistently bouncing.

Went over to her office, and asked her to show me what she was trying to do.

She opened up Outlook and started entering the To: address.

It was the mailing address of the Army base.

Level 9

The best one that I had was with the President of the company I was working for. He called over to the Help Desk complaining that his wireless Mouse and Keyboard wasn't working with his laptop. We sent over one of our newbies over to troubleshoot this "basic' issue. This turned into an hour troubleshooting session, consisting of undocking his laptop, replacing drivers, etc... He came back after an hour - complaining that he couldn't figure it out that we needed to re-image his laptop. I asked him if he had checked the most basic of troubleshooting steps: Did you replace the batteries?  Silence....

MVP
MVP

There was a lady complaining about her slow Wi-Five connection in the new office.

We "upgraded" her to Wi-Six and she never complained again.

I had been doing desk-side support for about 5 weeks when a user complained of slowness connecting to an ERP application. From everything that we (the application analyst and myself could see, it looked fine, not at all slow, so I told her that I would leave the ticket open for a bit while I talked with other's that might have more experience. I mentioned it to my boss, he asks: "What kind of keyboard does she have?" I showed him one just like it, and asked if I should swap it out. He says, "Nope. Turn it over. See that screw? It has a new name from today on. That's the keyboard sensitivity screw. I want you to use it to adjust how sensitive the keyboard is in front of her and see if she thinks it gets better." I did. It got better. I am not sure what I learned that day.

Level 14

I worked for an American automotive manufacturer for a number of years.  We would frequently get calls about machines not working, etc. to which we always responded with the IT Crowd favourite "Have you turned your machine on and off?"  One particular electrician was adamant that he had turned it on and off multiple times to no avail.  We trundled out the far end of the welding shop.  As we entered, the electrician stood up defiantly and said "See, I keep turning it on and off and it has fixed it."

He reaches over, punches the power on the monitor, counts to 10 as per our instructions, and turns the monitor back on.  "See?"

Industrial robots and power systems?  No problem.  Powering off a desktop PC?  Apparently that was better left to the professionals.

Level 8

Last job, there was a manager, an engineer for that matter, who would call IT in a panic every few months or so, and the same sequence of events would occur:

  1. Somebody's phone would ring during morning meeting.
  2. When that wasn't answered, the phone in the next office would ring...
  3. Continue until all IT staff phones have been rung...
  4. Ring the first one again and finally leave a message... "My computer is DEAD! It won't turn on!"
  5. When anyone went to his office to help, they found the monitor was off, and pushed the power button for him.

EVERY THREE OR FOUR MONTHS THIS OCCURRED!

This is reading like a best-of from Tales From Tech Support - love it.

Me:  My internet is not working intermittently.  I am having no issues on the intranet.  Its on both Chrome and IE.  And yes, I have rebooted my pc.

Help Desk:  Can I bomgar onto your computer?

Me:  Sure

Help Desk:  I am going to clear your IE cache and cookies.

Me:  Okay, but my problem is on both Chrome and IE

Help Desk:  Yes, clearing the cache and cookies on IE will help your Chrome as well.

Me: ( stiffles laugh )

Help Desk:  Okay, that did not help.  Hold on one second, I am going to ping your computer and verify it is on the network.

Me: (thinks to himself, "because the fact you are bomgar'ed onto my pc is not proof enough")

Help Desk:  I am sorry.  I pinged you and see that you are on the network, I need to escalate your ticket.

Me:  (Texts the manager of that department because we are friends to make fun of his department)

adamlboydmikegale


Generally I don't like to make fun of users and/or their complaints. But since this for 250 Thwack points, and in good fun, I'll play along...

Much like most of you people, I've been in IT far too long. Essentially, the complaints boil down to the same old statement: "My <blank> isn't working!", whereas the <blank> relies on the "thingamajib" to deliver content/connectivity/service/etc. We can always spot out the novice IT folks by those who attack <blank> directly. That being said...

I monitor a network team that supports 500+ vm servers, 3 datacenters, and 40+ WAN links, and an a sundry of other network equipment. Far too often I have had to come into "war rooms" and be the one to ASK the stupid question because these "experts" completely ignore the OSI model and are already troubleshooting at the Transport or Service layer.

Me: "Have you checked the cable?"

Network tech: "Cabling is fine!"

Me: "How do you know? I'm seeing a ton of dropped packets on the port."

NT: "Oh... hang on a sec... Have the customer try it now. It works?!!? Okay, good!"

Me: "What was the problem?"

NT: "A backend config change."

Me: "Okay. I notice that the dropped packets have immediately stopped."

NT: "Unrelated!"

Me: "Hello, Network team manager???

You learned about the Placebo Effect.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=31481

Showing her you were adjusting the screw, and explaining it would impact keyboard functionality positively, gave her the mental expectation of a positive change.

Your boss's instructions were a little more intuitive to the user than some another tech-wool being pulled over their eyes.

Level 7

My favorite one from the past:

EndUser: My keyboard doesn't work!

Me: You purchased a new keyboard just recently correct?

EU: Yes, and now it doesn't work.  I need a new one.

Me: I don't think you need a new one, maybe the batteries just need to be changed.

EU: It doesn't have batteries.  The one I bought doesn't use them.

Me: Isn't it a wireless keyboard?

EU: Right.  So why would it use batteries?!

Me: I'll come take a look.

I took down two AA batteries, walked into their office and without saying a word changed them out and walked out the door.

After that day I set an calendar reminder every three months to change the batteries.  They didn't need to be changed that often, but they never called about it again.

Level 9

One of my favorites was sending one of our rookie tech's out to find the flux capacitor on a switch. He of course was born AFTER the Back to the Future movies and had no clue as to what it was...

Level 9

I work on the network side of the house and desktop services has always been handled by another organization where I work. Years ago we had a female desktop field rep that would call once a week or so to say she was working a customers issue related to the 'network being slow'. Apparently at some point their was a problem that was resolved by someone clearing the arp cache on a router so from that point on a lot of her calls would go like this:

Rep: I'm over in xxx facility and the customer is having a network issue, I need the arp cache cleared

Us: Ok, I'll take care of it.

<random taps on the keyboard loud enough for her to hear the typing>

Us: Ok, try it now.

Rep: Oh that's much better, thanks so much for your help, you guys always fix me right up.

BobL.

Level 9

These are actual tickets I have received.

~Request for mental clarity

"Hello,

I would like to have access to Pandora.com to allow higher productivity throughout the day as listening to music improves focus and metal clarity"

~The disgruntled passenger

"I am stuck at Copenhagen airport trying to get back to Amsterdam.  I left my hotel at 6:30 this morning. Latest expected departure is 10pm.  It is a one hour flight.  At this airport nobody has a clue what they are doing.  Planes are deboarded halfway through boarding.  Gates change constantly.  There are many drunk passengers (desperate).  A young girl is now going hysterical on facetime.  For a while I tagged on with a cabin attendant who is on my flight, but after going twice across the airport I have given up, she is more lost than I.  My last resort is to go on Twitter, seek contact with the airline and see if there is anyone who knows the plan."

~Movie Sammich

"Is it really necessary to block movie news websites.  I don't have a good business reason to keep these other than I like to read them on my lunch and breaks.  I mean come on... rotten tomatoes..."

Level 16

I have to remember this "mental clarity" one!

Level 14

True story....

Years ago I worked for a company that sold PC's on the phone and before the days of the internet. I had the great fortune of working with my sister at the time, she was a sales rep and I ran the systems and network area.

One of her customers called her in a panic saying that she had a problem with the delivery of her brand new PC loaded with Windows 3.0.

Customer: The Box says there is a mouse included!!

Sister: That's right...

Customer: Why did I get a mouse?

Sister: You need it!!

Customer: Is it alive?

Sister: Excuse me?

Customer: The mouse is it alive?

Sister: (now in conference with me and a tech support rep... and yes we are muted!!!) Are the holes in the box?

Customer: Yes

Sister: Good at least it is getting air....

Customer: That's good.... what should I do?

Sister: Close the box, seal it and we'll get it picked up....

Customer: Will the mouse be ok?

Sister: Yes dear...... Now why don't we talk about a nice notebook computer.....

One of our locations lost two out of their three phases of power, so we get an email from one of the office administrators (on their iPhone) asking why their internet was out and when we were planning on fixing it.

Long ago, in another life, at a different employment location, the Help Desk once forwarded me a call from an irate woman, whose voice sounded unusually slurred:

Her:  "Your corporate web page is broken.  It doesn't load properly, and the links are broken."     (Me:  I checked on it; it worked perfectly for me.)

Me:  "Can you access other web sites, like Google or Yahoo or CNN?  Do they have problems?"

Her:  "Some don't work at all, some only work partially.  What did you do?"

Me:  "Something's not right.  I don't recognize your telephone number; where are you calling from?"

Her: "I'm at my husband's winter house in Florida, and boy, is he going to be mad at you when he gets home!"

Me:  "I'm sorry for the inconvenience.  Let me check on your user account status; what's your user name?"

Her:  "I don't have a user name.  I use my husband's work computer that's here at home and log in with his password."

Me: (Thinking 'Hmm--that's a policy violation and a security red flag.  What else is happening here?')  "Have any changes been made to the computer since the web site worked correctly for you?"

Her:  "Yesterday the neighbor boy came over; he upgraded my husband's computer."

Me:  "Tell me more about that."

Her:  "I don't know what he did, I just logged him in with my husband's password and let him work on it while I went shopping.  He was on it for over an hour, doing I don't know what all."

Me:  "Can you tell me some of the things he said he upgraded."

Her:  "He said he upgraded Internet Explorer to the latest version so the computer would run faster."

Me:  "Let's see what version IE is running now (I stepped her through this)"

Her:  "It's running version 10."

Me:  "I think we've found your problem.  Our corporate computers have to run version 8 to be compatible with our web pages. I'm sorry to say that he didn't fix your computer.  The work he did made it incompatible for our web site and for all the other web sites with which you've been having problems."

I turned the ticket over to the Help Desk and updated Management and Security.  It's possible the HD was able to downgrade her IE remotely; otherwise they'd need to ship a replacement computer.

Level 11

I am a giddy goat! Love the series. To bad it only lasted 4 seasons. Sorry, no time to type up the best one ATM. maybe later.

maria.bungau‌ when are the Thwack points assigned?

I used to work in security.  One of the remote sales managers who thought he was more important than everyone else constantly called and complained about everything.  We always assumed he was made because they would not let him use his personal laptop and he had to use one of the corporate ones (which to be fair was not as nice as his personal laptop)

He called me one day because he could not VPN in from the airport he was at in the the middle of nowhere.

Jack Wagon:  I can't log into the VPN!

Me:  You can't log into the VPN because you do not have internet access.

Jack Wagon:  I'd have internet on my own laptop.

Me.  No.  No.  You would not.

Jack Wagon:  I am trying to complete a million dollar deal.  Do you know how much money I make this company a day?

Me.  I am sorry but you will need to get internet access.

Jack Wagon:  I tell you what, I am just going to throw this laptop in the garbage can and you can send someone to pick it up.

Me:  (with a big smile on my face and in my voice)  Sir, please do.  I would love to let corporate security come retrieve the laptop and they really do not care how much money you make the company.

Jack Wagon hangs up and I never had a problem out of him again.

Level 10

This was about 12 years ago, when I was the on-site IT guy for a small mortgage company (we were a subsidiary of a much larger company).

We had some kind of large color printer in the back corner.  I don’t remember the brand.  It was the type that you had to add the powder to refill the colors (there were 4 slots, one for each of 4 colors).

I got a phone call that it was out of magenta.  I went to the supply closet to get some, and noticed that there was blue powder all over the printer, as well as the carpet and cubicle walls near it.  I asked the nearest staff what happened, and they gave me a funny look and said, “I don’t know; you’d better ask Wayne” (not his real name).

Wayne was a sales manager, and a nice guy, albeit not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I went over to his office… he was not there.  I went back to the printer, and came across Wayne coming out of the men’s room.  I asked if he knew anything about the blue powder around the printer.  He reluctantly said he had some trouble while attempting to fill it.  I suggested we go over to the printer, and he explain what happened.

He said he went to pick up a print job, and the printer indicated that it needed magenta.  So he went and got the magenta powder from the closet, and tried to fill it up.  When he did, it would not go in properly, and got blue powder everywhere.

I interrupted, confused… “wait, it said magenta, why did you get the blue powder?”.  “Magenta is blue”, he replied.

I’m pretty mild-mannered, but this just flew out:  “MAGENTA IS RED!”.

“Oh”, Wayne replied, looking down at the floor.  He went back to his office.

Now it all made sense… the cyan (aka blue!) was full… and he dumped a whole cartridge of cyan into it. Meanwhile, magenta (aka red!) was still empty.  And he had been in the men’s room, washing his hands of it.

The thing that killed me was not that he didn’t know his colors, but didn’t he notice that the blue slot was already full?  It was pretty obvious when you slid it out from the unit.

I’m pretty sure he never touched that printer again.

Okay, one more small tale from K-12 land....I don't care about extra points, maria.bungau‌ - I just get a kick out of all the stories and want them to continue!

We had a couple of rolling wireless carts with laptops in them that circulated among the classrooms - still a pretty common scenario.

The carts also had standalone access points - these things were ancient in 2008. For reference, these were 802.11b-only, so best case is a screaming 11mbps.

One day, the science teacher had a guest in to talk to the class about some related topic. This gentleman was in his early sixties.

Mid-class, I get a call that the wireless for a bunch of the laptops seems to be not working.

I head over and take a look - sure enough, a few of the laptops will get a signal and then mysteriously drop off. I carried one over to a workbench on the other side of the room to have a closer look while the class continued, and would you look at that - the signal came back! Okay, weird. I bring it back over to the cart (surely the signal won't be WORSE closer to the access point, right?) and - no signal! I'm puzzled, and start visually inspecting around the cart, make sure the AP's plugged in, etc. All looks good.

Then I notice that the guest speaker is standing pretty close to the cart, and occasionally is right next to it. He also occasionally grimaces mildly and briefly, but continues his talk for a bit. When the talk adjourns, the science teacher mentions the grimaces and the speaker relates that he keeps 'hearing some really weird noises in his hearing aid'.

A slow light starts to dawn over the debris-strewn hills of my mind....I ask, innocently enough, if the gentleman's hearing aid uses the 2.4ghz band. He replied in the affirmative.

I bring the laptop I had been testing with to the back of the room - signal comes back. I walk toward the guest speaker, and experience a dropoff at about ten feet away.

This was the time that Bill's hearing aid broke the wireless.

Level 17

Caller : My Internet is not working!

ME : Okay, when you open your browser what happens?

Caller : Nothing!

ME : Does the browser open? If so..

Caller : NO IT DOESN'T OPEN! THERE'S NOTHING ON MY SCREEN!!!!

ME : Okay, I understand..is the monitor powered on?

Caller : <Presses Assumed Power Button> NO, THERE'S NOTHING ON THE SCREEN  ....   I can't even see the power button...

ME : It should be located on the bottom right side of the monitor and it loo..

Caller : I KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, BUT IT'S DARK IN HERE!

ME : Dark Sir ?

Caller : YES! All the Lights are Off

ME : uh, is there currently power at ***** site?

Caller : NO, THE POWER IS OUT!

ME : <Annoyed but Subjugated Pause> I think that is the problem sir.

Level 16

Keep 'em coming!

Level 9

Users are like kids, they say the darnedest things!

I can sympathize with your experience dealing with a self-important user.  It used to happen to me all the time at a previous location.  Folks would call to complain how their local cable company connection had failed--and then expect me to fix the issue for them.

Fortunately there was an SLA in place, but at 2 a.m. it was often not helpful to the client--who wasn't shy about cursing me and their ISP up & down, and shouting about how much money they brought into the organization.

I'd carefully transcribe their rant into the Help Desk ticket and reassign it to their Manager.

After a few of these detailed reassignments to their Managers the 2 a.m. calls stopped coming in.  Some of the problem people got better attitudes, some of them were let go, and sometimes the ISP was able to improve their infrastructure.

Back in Windows 95 days I worked for a K-12 with typically scant resources for staff & training.  Of the 30+ sites I supported, one had more troubles than all others combined.  I stopped out there and spoke with the local "techy" teacher (let's call him "Mr. Cloof"--not his real name) and went through all of the computers in his lab, showing him how I was correcting issues and helping them become more stable.

Three days later four out of five of those computers had significantly decreased network functionality and my network stats showed they were having a ton of collisions, CRC's, and retransmit errors.  I drove out there and found there were human errors made at the administrative level.  Students didn't have that access, and none of my peers would've made the changes that were performed. 

I spoke with "Mr. Cloof" again and learned he thought he'd be able to improve on the settings I'd adjusted a few days earlier.  He knew people always complained about the computers being slow, so he'd gone into most of the computers' network card settings and forced them from auto negotiate to 100 Mb FD.  He knew he wanted them running at the fastest possible speed.

I sighed and gave him my lesson about auto negotiation, and helped him understand how his settings on the computers' NIC were no longer compatible with the network switch ports, and that his changes resulted in the NIC's slowing down from 100 Mb Full Duplex, and connecting instead at 10 Mb Half Duplex, with many collisions and retransmits, thus slowing them down immensely.  I corrected the problems and asked him to not make any more changes without coordinating with the IS staff and left.

You know it--a few days later all the computers were off line at this location again.

This teacher quickly earned a reputation for breaking things out of good intentions and ignorance, and eventually the IS Department came to refer to any computer that didn't work correctly as one that had been "Cloofed". 

Level 15

While teaching a VB class at a "school" in NYC, I asked the students to move the mouse to the top-right of the screen. One poor soul, who thought the mouse was a gas pedal of some sort, picked the mouse up from under her foot and placed it on the screen. Needless to say she did not do very well in my class.

Level 15

Then there's the perpetual joke of having the new guy run all over the building looking for a "paper stretcher" so he can fit all of his type on one page. Great that the whole building was in on it!

You're cruel.   

I watched a naive young wife go into an auto parts store on the request of her husband (who remained in the car) to buy some "Blinker Fluid".  She got quite irate at the clerk, certain that he was giving her grief, also certain her husband would never set her up like that.  (No, I wasn't the husband.  Or the clerk.)

Level 11

Thatis messed up, and funny all in one!

Level 11

Hmmm...

Level 11

That is normal, for a manager!

Level 11

Light headed? Can not say blondee.

Level 11

Common sense is not so common.

CommonSense.bmp

MVP
MVP

When the mission is completed!

Oh wait.... wrong thread

MVP
MVP

I've read the same scenario in an email as an IT joke but it finished with.

Me: Do you still have the boxes that the computer came in.

Caller: Yes I do, why?

Me: You better pack up your computer as you're too dumb to own one

MVP
MVP

About 23 years ago when coax cabling was all the rage, I helped setup a school lab where they insisted on doing their own cabling. So he bought a cable cutter and scrimping tool. I installed a server for him and connected it to a couple of work stations so that he could see how it all connected together. Showed him him to move the terminator to the last pc as he cabled more in.

All was good but then the calls started. "the network keeps dropping out". Told him to start at the beginning with the terminator and keep going along until you find the dodgy cable. He found the dodgy cable and replaced it and all was good for a few days and then there were network dropouts again. This went on for weeks with them calling me each time. Each time he traced to another faulty cable and away he went.

Finally I went out there to see what was going on. We went along with the terminator until we found a dodgy cable. I then created a new cable for him. It was a this point he noticed I crimped the centre pin. Apparently he'd never crimped any of the centre pins So once he redid all the cabling correctly, all was good.

MVP
MVP

It was a special sewing machine foot operated mouse

Level 12

This is is a copy/paste of an actual ticket:

Yesterday we revised our earnings upwards, meaning we did better than expected. When we told the stock market this fact, our stock dropped 30%. Clearly the stock market has a technical problem in production. Can you guys please look into this, and fix the problem. Maybe we can handle this sort of thing in staging next time?

Networking's response:  I can fix the Internet.  But the stock market might require some scripting magic.

DevOps Scripting Guru:  Clearly this is an error on our part. The only way to fix it is to buy some of that cheap stock!

Level 10
Level 16

gsutherland@sharoncu.com‌, your sister is awesome!

Level 9

I make people watch Sales Guy vs Web Dude, even if they don't work in IT.  The sad thing is that video is pretty accurate (outside of the Halo part).

I had to call Frigidaire about my new Fridge this weekend. 

The Lady on the phone asked me"Have to tried turning it off and on again."

I'm like does Microsoft make y'all refrigerators now?

Level 14

Thanks... maria.bungau

Soooo.... did rebooting it work?

Level 8

I once had a user ask me to set up a vpn tunnel and request that I "just drop the traffic off on the internet". What?

Actually, no. 

Level 9

#1 favorite -- "Which is the any key"?   {Response to telling the customer, press any key"

#2 favorite -- (am dating myself) -- Customer has unlabeled disks (yes, in the day of 8" floppy disk) -- trying to help the customer to find their word processor software (wordstar) --

Me: "Ok, let's insert the first disk"

Customer:  "Ok"

Me: At the prompt, type - wordstar and press enter

Customer:  "Says not found"

Me: Ok, let's try the next disk

Customer:  Ok -- Typing  wordstar and pressing enter -- says "disk read error"...

Me:  Ok, let's try the next disk

Customer:  Ok, but it's a very tight fit and I am having a hard time closing the door.

Me:  What?

Customer:  Should I be removing the other disks?