back to article I got 99 problems, and all of them are your fault

Do you remember those halcyon days when we used to enjoy a city break every now again? Relive those times with a continental Friday On Call, courtesy of The Register. Today's tale of user-generated woe comes from a reader we shall call "Luuk", for that is not his name. Luuk spent the early portion of the 2000s working as an …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Correlation does not equal cause

    It's the standard mistake for the ignorant that just because X was fixing their PC/printer/washing machine/car/drains etc, that the next thing to go wrong whether related in any way or not, is X's fault because they 'did something'.

    I bet there isn't an engineer, mechanic or other tradesperson who hasn't at some time been blamed by an idiot for the consequences of their own idiocy.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Correlation does not equal cause

      Customers: can't live with 'em, aren't allowed to strangle 'em with their own tongues...

      1. Sean Kennedy

        Re: Correlation does not equal cause

        Wait, you aren't?

        Umm

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Correlation does not equal cause

      It's not even a mistake, it's the gold standard in IT : touch something and everything that goes wrong with that something or whatever touches that something is your fault.

      Even when you can demonstrate that you had nothing to do with it.

      And it's not just with users. I've had IT guys blame me for a bug because I had created code that did something entirely unrelated. But it was on the same system, so it was my fault.

      It's just the gold standard.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Correlation does not equal cause

        It's not even a mistake, it's the gold standard in IT : touch something and everything that goes wrong with that something or whatever touches that something is your fault.

        Yes, and you'll be blamed forever unless some other tech goes to their desk. Then he'll be blamed. Rinse, repeat with each tech who shows up.

        I should add that some users will let the new tech know which techs messed things up from very first issue.

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Correlation does not equal cause

        "And it's not just with users. I've had IT guys blame me for a bug because I had created code that did something entirely unrelated. But it was on the same system, so it was my fault."

        With code, I once had the following situation: Developer A thought that code reviews were above him, so nobody stopped him changing a statement "if (p != NULL)" to "if (! p)". For some bizarre reasons and pure coincidence, this didn't actually cause any visible bug. Developer B replaced a complete subsystem. Three months of work. Result: Computer crashed when it was put to sleep for 40 to 45 seconds (nothing happened with less than 40 or more than 45 seconds). I had to go through all the new code and checked it. Nothing wrong. Then I went back further in time, don't know how I spotted this unreviewed change, reverted it, everything was fine. So developer B, by doing something completely unrelated, made this bug actually break something. Not his fault in any way whatsoever.

      3. David 132 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Correlation does not equal cause

        Not just IT. It's well-known in the world of automotive repair, too... "Ever since you X, my car Y.

        "Ever since you changed my oil, my radio won't pick up Radio 2"

        "Ever since you patched my tyre, there's a rattling sound from the door pocket. All I have in there is my collection of pebbles..."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is a common problem for electricians

      Go to house to add a new socket outlet (or whatever).

      Get a call a day later "Since you added that socket in the lounge, all the lights in the kitchen have gone out. You need to come back and fix what you've broken".

      Cause - lamp has failed and taken the breaker out on the way.

      1. A K Stiles Silver badge

        Re: This is a common problem for electricians

        Had that one 20+ years ago.

        Parents wanted to replace the overhead light fixture in the dining room, so I did the usual process which I had done many times before - switch off lighting circuit and double check the fixture is definitely unpowered, remove old fixture, attach new light structurally and electrically and add lightbulbs.

        Go to consumer unit and flick the breaker back on, only for "pop, no" - the breaker has thrown open again. Try again, same thing (surprise!).

        Bugger!

        Go and detach new light fitting from ceiling and check wiring - all looks okay, breaker still trips.

        Completely detach new fitting and separate and wrap wires, breaker still trips.

        "You must have put a mounting screw through a wire in the ceiling!" Cue cutting a 18" square of plasterboard out of the ceiling near the new light fitting so a head will fit and wires can be checked. All fine, no damage can be found. Breaker still trips.

        Parents call actual (friendly) electrician as it's starting to get dark and no lights available downstairs.

        Sparky comes and has a quick inspect of wires through gaping ceiling hole - all good. He goes and tries the breaker which still trips, but at which point I hear the fizz and see a spark in the light fitting over my head, standing in the hallway. Sparky dismantles the hall light (fitted by the house builders) to find a loose connection is shorting to the metal edge of that fitting. Wiring has no obvious connection between two lights so it looks like total coincidence in timing.

        Sparky reattaches the light fittings checks it all works and leaves with appropriate payment. Father now has the joy of replacing the patch in the ceiling and making it good, whilst mother looks on with frustration.

        1. Evil Scot

          Re: This is a common problem for electricians

          However...

          Whoever installed the new light actually fixed a wiring problem (broken earth circuit).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is a common problem for electricians

        It is, and I think lies behind the common solution offered - this wiring is shot. The best thing is to rewire the area

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Correlation does not equal cause

      Ah yes the solving of problem X is supposedly the cause of problem Y, been there too many times. One example from retail was a store manager who I had visited one Friday. There was a new router/modem that I'd installed replacing an older model. As I didn't have a long enough cable I'd then used the old one as a temporary switch/extender. This would allow moving the PC running the back end [of the] till functions wired network to the very back of the shop. Owing to another job taking longer than anticpated I'd run out of time. So I'd just left the box at the halfway point and would move everything on Monday. Come Saturday morning and the phone starts ringing with that manager on the line. She informed me that I'd broken the internet for the building by doing what I'd done yesterday. She was going to complain to my manager unless I fixed it that day. She then hung up and didn't answer her phone which was unhelpful as I couldn't enquire further.

      Now I know it was working when I left so I didn't understand how it had suddenly stopped. I arrived and found that the shop still had internet access so what was wrong?!? Well aparently the flats above the shop had lost their internet connection. I tried explaining that it was highly unlikely it was anything to do with yesterdays replacement but no joy. I went round and spoke to two girls who inhabited the flat directly above the shop. They informed me that they had had no internet access since they got home on Friday night and were now relying on 3G. I asked if I could see their equipment and just got shown their phones. They had no idea what I was talking about because other than their shiny iPhones they said they didn't have anything else.

      I spotted a BT master socket with nothing plugged in and had a sinking feeling. I asked if I could see one of their iPhones to check what was going on. One of the girls showed me here phone and as I suspected it was connected to the router I'd swapped out yesterday. As a result of that being unplugged from the new equipment there was no internet access using it. Turns out the previous manager of the shop had let the girls use the WiFi and had just given them the password. He was possibly:

      a) A technical incompetent who had no idea about network security

      or

      b) Was eager to help out two very pretty young ladies by doing them a favour in the hopes of getting one in return.

      or

      c) Both of the above.

      The new manager said she had no idea this was happening and apologised for calling me on a Saturday. The girls said they'd get broadband installed ASAP and were very grateful they'd had free internet access until then. I changed the wifi password on the old box and then disabbled the wifi just in case.

    5. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Correlation does not equal cause

      Except in those 1 in a million events that happen 99% of the time when it does of course. 1 apparently unrelated incident causes a spate of new incidents. Proof of spooky action at a distance if you ask me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Correlation does not equal cause

        Proof of spooky action at a distance if you ask me.

        Yes, it's known as quantum manglement...

    6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Correlation does not equal cause

      There is a BOFH episode dealing with just this situation. Best is to let the Boss do it before beer o'clock and skedaddle the hell out of Dodge City leaving the Bossly Unit to sort out that mess.

    7. Beeblebrox

      "I removed the metal plate of the disk," said Luuk, "and pushed that in the diskette station."

      Sounds to me like Luuk bullied the user - a degree of pleasantry might have sufficed.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: "I removed the metal plate of the disk," said Luuk, "and pushed that in the diskette station."

        Sounds to me like Luuk bullied the user

        Sounds to me to be very much the other way round.

  2. The curmudgeonly one

    Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

    I once had the misfortune of supporting the library of a medical school, at a time when PCs, email and the internet were all new.

    The 2 i/c of the library was known for being the rudest of the staff. She also turned out to be the dumbest.

    Example: I got an email one morning, and I kid you not, it simply said "I can't send email. Please fix?"

    Rather than visit I rang her, and pointed out that she had just sent email. This she denied. So after a lot of to-and-fro I simply ignored her. Naturally she complained. To the Dean. Who arrived in my office yelling that I should work harder and fix her problem and what did I get paid for anyway.

    Upshot: I showed him her email, he called her a very rude name, and he took me for what turned out to be very liquid lunch.

    1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

      Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

      I love a story with a happy ending :)

    2. John Riddoch

      Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

      I too have had the "I can't send email" email. I responded with a simple "it looks fine to me" and hit send. Never heard back from them on the issue.

      1. beaker_72

        Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

        My favourite variation on that one was when one of the drones on the helldesk I had the misfortune of managing sent an email to a user to let them know he'd fixed their email.

        1. Gerhard den Hollander

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          I used to do that

          send an email saying "Your email is now fixed"

          than went and fixed their email

          The ``you're email is now fixed'' would automagically appear to indicate the email was indeed fixed

          (and if it didn't I hadn't fixed it properly)

          Side benefit.

          This worked even better if what I was fixing was something like a sendmail.cf , which when fixed meant I could go and have a coffee while the user would get the email saying things were fine again :)

          1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Colin Wilson 2 - Apple have got this right!

            ``you're email is now fixed''

            Are you sure?

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Colin Wilson 2 - Apple have got this right!

              Well, that's what you get when you call out the AA to do computer maintenance.

              Aberrant Apostrophes.

        2. dak

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          P&T in Luxembourg once sent me an email to tell me my phone line had been cut off. Which it had - a fortnight before they deactivated the email service.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          I had a stand up fight with the Service Desk Manager whilst trying to manage an email outage as he was sending out the Major Incident updates to managers and users by email!

          His response was 'thats what the process says'

          I was Tech Support Manager and our phones were ringing off the hook as several thousand users were trying to find out what was going on.

          Irritatingly we did have an alternative approach using a telephone tree to contact all departments, it just wasn't in the process so he wasn't going to do it.

          It actually ended up with me dragging him to the IT Director to be instructed to start making calls

        4. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          My favourite variation on that one was when one of the drones on the helldesk I had the misfortune of managing sent an email to a user to let them know he'd fixed their email.

          It could be worse - they could have been sending it to inform everyone that the mail system was down...

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            Now that one I have come across. With the person doing it then saying "Oh Bugger" very loudly, as he realised what he'd just tried to do. ( To be fair he realised even as he was pressing send.).

            1. Flightmode

              Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

              Many years ago (last millennium, even) I was working for a company that used Lotus cc:Mail. Occasionally, you had to perform some maintenance work to purge dead objects and reclaim database space on the servers themselves, and it was imperative that no users were logged in to the platform during that time, as that would mess with or abort the process somehow. We were a pretty small outfit, well under 100 people across two offices, so communication regarding this was usually easy - typically just an email saying "On Tuesday starting from 12 noon, no-one can log into their mail accounts due to maintenance; expected to take the three-four hours. Please don't log back in until you have been notified that it is safe to do so."

              Without fail, the CFO responsible for performing the maintenance* would be nowhere to be seen, so around lunch time on the next day, someone would dare to try to log in and would then find an email from said CFO sent at 2 pm the afternoon before saying it was all done and we could log back in.

              *) Don't even get me started on this one.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          Seen similar things here.

          User logs call that their PC isn't working and gives them their mobile number. Helldesk try a couple of things then send call to remote support.

          Remote support tries to call user on landline (but they have VOIP client on PC). Strike 1.

          Then they try to contact via IM - user showing as offline. So they email user asking them to contact them (don't have company smart phone so can't see email either). Strike 2.

          Call put on hold for a day then they try to phone again on landline - for some reason they still don't answer. Strike 3.

          Call closed as unable to contact user.

          Have also seen users on nightshifts raise calls and say what shift they are on, but helldesk (24/7) only call during office hours to get more info on call. 3 strikes and call closed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            hahaha that's how to run a helpdesk!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            I must work for the same employer you do, or else that is dishearteningly standard.

          3. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            That's how most places I've worked do it, although we put a little more effort into contacting the user. But if after 3-4 tries and a week goes by without the user getting back to us, we close the ticket.

            Funny thing though, the user ends up calling back within hours of the ticket being closed.

          4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            I'm not sure any of the other replies to this comment realised that was a story of infuriatingly hopeless helldesk , rather than user.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            '3 strikes' would seem too generous by our (outsourced) building maintenance team

            "spoke to client about XXX and advised him to raise new docket. docket closed" (in this case probably both dockets!)

            We wanted some fluorescent light fittings changed as they could no longer get tubes for them. We had to raise individual dockets (sometimes multiple, see above) for 50-ish spread over a couple of floors... and it's still ongoing after a couple of years

            (a proper planned 'upgrade' would involve planning, costings, finance sign-offs, finance sign-offs for the planning, finance sign-offs for the costings, meetings about the planning, meetings about the finance, finance sign-offs for the meetings, tendering, repeat as necessary... probably quicker to move to a new building, at least that would be on a different budget!)

          6. Tomato Krill

            Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

            Milestones met: Check!

            Another ticket cleared resolved by 1st line: Check!

            Average time per ticket reduced further: Check!

            It nails all our KPIs perfectly, doubles all round!

        6. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          That would actually be OK if user was monitoring email, and waiting for it to come back on, of if there was an auto-reply to see if it had gone and been received, or as a final test if it had been bouncing emails.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

        I had one of those emails too, and sent back a similar reply. The bad news is that the user was my mother, so I did hear back from them.....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It sometimes works the other way

      Many years ago (>30) I was working for a large oil company. My role was to coordinate inspection of material heading offshore and, since operations ran 24/7, I was on call 24/7 to arrange inspections, respond to queries (or even go to inspect if nobody else was available). This was in the days before mobile phones, so I had a pager and would regularly be seeking out a public phone to call in when it beeped (we hadn't even got to the tech of message pagers - just a beep to tell me to call in). We used a form of email within the organisation (an RS232 serial network around the offices) that, for me, allowed direct use of the telex service (and most suppliers were required to have a telex service). I also had dial-in access from home, though only used when necessary.

      One Saturday morning, dial-in was necessary to read a message regarding an urgent offshore shipment, but access failed. Are several attempts (and resets of my PC/modem) I phoned to speak to the IT desk. "We've changed the dial-in protocol" was the response, followed by "We did it yesterday and sent a message to your inbox. You'll get the new protocol there." It took a few minutes for him to appreciate that a message in my inbox was of little help when my problem was the lack of access to said inbox. It turned out (when he read the message to me) that it was a simple change to the model initiation string - it was a long time ago and, whilst the event is imprinted in my memory, the fine print is getting a bit blurry :-)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It sometimes works the other way

        A frequent variant of this is trying to communicate with a company whose online "Contact us" is a very limited number of FAQs with no message link, an online chat service which is currently or invariably offline and phone. On phoning before even dropping the customers into an ACD system as limited as the FAQs, they're played a long recording to the effect that they could get in touch via the website.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: It sometimes works the other way

          @Doctor Syntax

          That has become the standard for the majority of customer service departments the World over.

          I think bean counters have realised the cost of actually serving a customer after a sale and have devised the cheapest way of appearing to care without actually having to do much. Most customers lose the will to live fairly rapidly with these systems and just go and buy a new thing.

          Success for consumerism!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It sometimes works the other way

            Unless of course they buy a new thing from another company

            1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

              Re: It sometimes works the other way

              @AC,

              But everyone is doing it nowadays, so you lose your customer but pick up one of theirs. They're just stirring the pot.

              Unfortunately, the vast majority of consumers are becoming used to this treatment and just accept it.

              1. Glen 1 Silver badge

                Re: It sometimes works the other way

                "Unfortunately, the vast majority of consumers are becoming used to this treatment and just accept it."

                Partly because the customers just go for the cheapest, or near cheapest. Customer service only matters to customers if they need to use it.

                Compare Andrews & Arnold to TalkTalk.

                1. Nifty Bronze badge

                  Re: It sometimes works the other way

                  Except that every now & again a disgruntled consumer will get verbally and even graphically creative on social media on what crap after sales service they're getting vs the high promise & price. These guys have let me dodge or confirm suspicions on some notorious products/services and save a lot of cash and hassle.

                  So long as there's a slightly better company that's winning on reputation 52% percent of the time vs their rivals 48% they'll succeed to win the market like the classic idea of long term poker odds.

                2. Nifty Bronze badge

                  Re: It sometimes works the other way

                  Rubbish service at half the price with a data SIM as a backup, or gold plated service at twice the price? I've seen A&As pricing and it's no marginal matter.

                  1. BenDwire Silver badge
                    Go

                    Re: It sometimes works the other way

                    As I've mentioned before, the difference in price is equivalent to a decent curry every month. I'd rather go without a curry, than be forced to use an offshored call-centre. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.

                  2. Glen 1 Silver badge

                    Re: It sometimes works the other way

                    There is definitely a question of how much is it *actually* worth to you.

                    If you can manage tethering to a phone for a day or two, go for it.

                    If you are hosting client's stuff, or reselling the connection to a client site... An auto response email ain't gonna cut it.

                  3. anothercynic Silver badge

                    Re: It sometimes works the other way

                    You know what... as a customer of A&A's, I'm happy to continue to pay 'over the odds' for a service run by real IT specialists, who know what people want and how much they'll pay for it, and who provide absolutely excellent service. No poxy filtering either, nor bandwidth throttling. They have a bandwidth allocation for the lower-end services, but they are still vastly superior to BT, Talk Talk or any other organisation.

                3. KillStuffMount

                  Re: It sometimes works the other way

                  Given I've been with Andrews and Arnold for in excess of 12 years now, no way on this earth am I subjecting myself to TalkTalk to make that comparison. I suppose I could substitute less painful activity instead *drops trousers and reaches for hammer*.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: It sometimes works the other way

                    Re: A&A... I agree that you'll inevitably pay more for a 'premium' service, but the numbers didn't quite stack up for me.

                    Many moons ago, we were with AOL since the mid-90s. Got my own line in around 2009 with Be - stayed with them until just before they were bought out by Sky. Moved to Xilo, who later shifted broadband customers over to their other brand Uno - they seem to use Daisy Wholesale and the xDSL leg is either BTW or TTB, depending on customer choice.

                    Very rarely have any issues (I can count extended outages in recent years that weren't due to an Openreach line issue on one hand) and support is reasonable - at least when there is an issue, once it's been identified we get a transparent explanation.

                    Perhaps not the gold standard of A&A, but certainly a silver at the very least!

                    (Bearing in mind my folks kept the ex-AOL broadband as a "backup" - finally convinced them to cancel it this month. They were paying TalkTalk £27/mo vs my Uno £33/mo for a much better service...and they've been sending me £30/mo for years to cover it since I moved out.)

              2. EagleZ28

                Re: It sometimes works the other way

                I once bought a Seagate hard drive, which went bad on the SAME morning when I had to make an international flight, and so was unable to address the issue.

                On the day that I returned from my trip, I contacted their customer service, as the drive HAD still been in warranty when it went bad.

                Nope. No luck, even though their own date of manufacture on the drive meant that my story was quite likely true... and I had offered to send them pictures of my itenerary and passport stamps to prove it.

                The best that they would do for me was to offer me a special replacement price on a new drive... which was actually HIGHER than common retail price, even BEFORE adding shipping and handling fees.

                That just added insult to injury.

                Since then, I've never bought another Seagate hard drive... nor has any company I've worked for, when I was the one making the purchasing decision... and I've never recommended them, either, when I was asked for advice concerning which drive to buy.

                That was 26-28 years ago... and I've bought enough hard drives for my OWN systems, not counting my employers', to cost them WAY more in lost sales than what simply honoring a single "potentially barely expired" warranty would have cost them.

                Of course, if they HAD honored it, then I would STILL be bragging about how good their customer service was, stil be recommending them, and probably ONLY them...

                SOME people know how to carry a grudge until it dies of old age, THEN have it stuffed and, ahem, MOUNTED.

                (Sorry, I just couldn't resist!)

                1. anothercynic Silver badge

                  Re: It sometimes works the other way

                  Ditto. Albeit for me, it wasn't a hard drive (or Seagate). For me it was a pair of prescription sunglasses by a brand so beloved by sports people and fashionistas the world over - OAKLEY.

                  Imagine dropping an eye-watering amount of moola for their top-end prescription sunglasses (*and* a standard pair of prescription glasses). Then, a year or three later, checking how I get the glasses refurbished and getting a "sorry, go speak to an eye specialist" answer (I'm paraphrasing) and *no* further information back. Try *everything*, from friends who work at said brand, to trying their various HQs (US, Europe, Asia, UK) and getting either *no* answer at all, or the same boilerplate message back.

                  I would've bought new frames and updated prescription glasses from them again if I'd had even the simplest "ok, yes, we do refurbish, but you will have to contact your local Oakley eye specialists as first point of call who'll take things further" email back. That would've been immensely helpful. Instead, Silhouette got my business the next time around.

                  Bonus is that Silhouette's prescription kit (sunnies or not) weighs even less than Oakley and is just as good (if not better), and that if you happen to break/damage something, they'll be delighted to tell you that they've got stock of parts all the way back to their first models. Will I carry the grudge against Oakley forever? Absolutely. Will I drop it if Oakley were to, for same reason, offer a sponsorship? Absolutely not. I don't want their kit, even if it's free. I'll happily continue to drop the money Silhouette asks for to keep my eyes happy purely because they have a level of customer service that Oakley once had and clearly no longer cares to.

                2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: It sometimes works the other way

                  "nor has any company I've worked for"

                  Just playing Devils advocate here but perhaps if you are responsible for buying hundreds or 1000s of drives for a company you could , look at independent reviews and stamina tests or whatever, rather than just writing off one of the biggest companies because of one little incident on their retail side.

                  jus saying...

                  I cant remember if Seagate actually do have an industry wide dodgy rep or not .

                  1. EagleZ28

                    Re: It sometimes works the other way

                    To the best of my knowledge, Seagate doesn't have an industry-wide "dodgy rep".

                    What got me so angry was the added insult... they'd send me a new one... for MORE than

                    the going retail price, with S&H being extra, of course, when they should have replaced it

                    for FREE, since it was under warranty when it failed.

                    At the time, I worked for a company who assembled and sold machines which came with full computers.

                    If our customers had a drive go bad at 50 of 52 weeks into a warranty, it could easily be that long before the bad drive came back to us and then we'd have to get with the supplier...

                3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  Re: It sometimes works the other way

                  Life's too short to carry a grudge but we have to do the best we can.

                  1. EagleZ28

                    Re: It sometimes works the other way

                    In general... USUALLY... I agree... life IS too short...

                    On the other hand... "once bitten, twice shy"... and "Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me."

          2. EVP Bronze badge

            Re: It sometimes works the other way

            ”ring to care without actually having to do much. Most customers lose the will to live fairly rapidly with these systems and just go and buy a new thing.

            Success for consumerism!”

            After such an event, I usually lose my will to buy any new gadget on the whole product gategory in question. In others words, I say fcuck you with me wallet. No so successful consumerism.

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: It sometimes works the other way

          Phone!!

          You're the lucky one then. Those FAQ blocker websites never normally give an actual phone number or email address.

          It's usually a Help Page, with a "Contact us" link that instead goes to that infamous FAQ page. Which, at the end of the long list of questions that no one ever asks and answers that no one ever reads has just a "Need more help?" link. Which you might assume then gives you a chance to contact them, but instead just takes you to the Help Page........

          (And reg readers, one or more of you may be responsible for some aspect of this farce. So come on, hands up, confess!)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It sometimes works the other way

            And reg readers, one or more of you may be responsible for some aspect of this farce. So come on, hands up, confess!

            Ah, but if I confessed to you, action would be required involving a roll of carpet and a shovel, and possibly an open window...

            1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

              Re: It sometimes works the other way

              Why the secrecy?

              Just explaining what you did would ensure cooperation from any onlooker (¬‿¬)

              1. David 132 Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: It sometimes works the other way

                What's the old expression?

                "Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies."

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: It sometimes works the other way

          "On phoning before even dropping the customers into an ACD system as limited as the FAQs, they're played a long recording to the effect that they could get in touch via the website."

          Pretty much every local Council I've ever dealt with do exactly that. The helpdesk is invariably understaffed and the attempts to stop users from phoning have resulted in culling even more helldesk staff. The solution to the long wait times when phoning is the only option? Departmental "digital champions", ie people with minimal training or a "hobby interest" in IT becoming voluntary level 1 support in addition to their own job and, if lucky, get a pittance extra in their pay packets.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It sometimes works the other way

          So you have tried to get a refund from TUI recently too ?

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It sometimes works the other way

          " frequent variant of this is trying to communicate with a company whose online "Contact us" is a very limited number of FAQs with no message link, an online chat service which is currently or invariably offline and phone. On phoning before even dropping the customers into an ACD system as limited as the FAQs, they're played a long recording to the effect that they could get in touch via the website"

          Welcome to the world of BT Customer Service.

          I once had the pleasure of working through their online pages then just about every option on their ACD system before opting for 'report a fault' (which was still a nightmare as my problem was still not covered by any of the available options) in order to get to speak to a human... problem solved in 2 mins, total time to solve = a morning

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: It sometimes works the other way

        Recently tried to contact my preferred supermarket chain about a problem with an order. I could use Facebook, Twitter, one other similar now forgotten, and sign language. Not email. Not even text. Not phone. So as I don't use those social media channels, I gave up my attempt to fix the problem and signed up with another supermarket chain for my next order.

    4. Edwin

      Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

      That puts of in mind of the company I ran local support for in the late 90s... We had a number of cases where users called up after a tech support visit to complain that their files were gone or their email didn't work. A reboot usually fixed the problem, but it wasn't until someone complained that their password didn't work that the penny finally dropped.

      As users didn't have admin rights, anything more complicated than a printer install required the support team to log into the machine using their own credentials. Best practice was to reboot the machine after the work was done and remove your own username from the login prompt before handing over to the user, but it turned out one of my team regularly skipped that last bit and left the machine logged in with his own credentials. We had more than one savvy user obtain admin rights that way, too...

    5. Spacedinvader
      Facepalm

      Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

      I've had the opposite. Call help desk to report an email issue only to be told to send an email to the help desk.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

        That one is not too uncommon. And I've had a support person tell me that "We only accept tickets by email, now". With my pointing out that this wasn't sensible when they're supporting the emails to be told, (smugly to my ear), those are the rules now.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

          The only response to that is to go two levels above them. Two because for the PHB one above the choice between defending smuggins to his boss and hanging him out to dry is a no brainer.

    6. phat shantz
      Childcatcher

      Re: Rudest, Dumbest - same thing no?

      Dontcha love it when the next-higher stupid person reflexively takes the side of the next-lower stupid person when handling technology-related complaints?

      Dean, you stick to things you know (like long words that don't have any meaning) and I'll stick to what I know. Deal?

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Small offices, big binders

    One user had a small office, and had to transcribe lots of "minutes" that were hand written notes kept in big binders. The computer types all kinds of weird shit when one is resting on the control key!!

  4. petef

    I thought this would be a story of dual 5¼" floppies. Occasionally I had to retrieve one inserted between the two drives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The PC Filled up

      I used to support a Library network. The only PC's allowed to connect were the stupidly expensive one provided by the vendor whilst these were very pretty they were 2 1/2 times more expensive than an IBM PC.

      We kept getting calls asking for new boot disks from remote branch library. At it was 40 miles away we just kept sending replacements until eventually we got a call saying the PC was broken. When the engineer attended site he found the PC chassis contained a stack of disks that had been inserted in the gap between the drives. This became such a common problem (libraries tend to have lots of part time staff) We ended up 'modifying' all the beautifully sculpted PC's by sellotaping over the gap

  5. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge

    Computer science lecturer

    I was _very_ new to my first desktop support role and someone called with a problem. I visited their office in the Computer Science department and he said "The internet isn't working!" I knew that there were no problems so started learning my people diagnostic skills. I asked him what he was trying to access - web, email, gopher (yes, it was that long ago). He persisted that the internet wasn't working. Eventually he pointed at the IE3 icon. Needless to say the University approved browser was Netscape Navigator.

    The intervening years mean I have forgotten if I managed to persuade him to use the approved browser. I also wonder if he has migrated to Edge yet.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Computer science lecturer

      Internet Explorer 3 is all the browser anyone will ever need! It's right there in the bloody name! You use it to explore the internet. Netscape Navigator was OK in it's day, but Chrome is something that goes on the fins of your car and my Firefox stopped working when Clint Eastwood stole it.

      OK, maybe IE5 if you're feeling all modern like...

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
        WTF?

        Re: Computer science lecturer

        I discovered last week that a web site giving access to one more or less recent Oracle system could work only in IE 5 mode...

    2. Ruisert

      Re: Computer science lecturer

      Working as front-end at Micro$oft in the days of IE 3, I got a call from a fellow - said he'd just gotten a new computer and kept clicking the "internet" icon on his desktop and nothing was happening. My first question - "Who's your internet service provider?" I can't recall the details of the subsequent conversation, but I'm sure it involved suggesting he might use his phone book to find an ISP...

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Computer science lecturer

        If I remember correctly retail boxes often had " the internet" on them, but it was just a browser. Customers were (mis)sold a PC that could go on the internet, all ready to go... but of course it wasn't. Sometimes there'd be an AOL disc in the garbage pack that came with. Or some such thing. (Or was that later, it was a long time ago) But the shops that flogged this kit never bothered to tell the punters that the internet cost extra money.

  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Pint

    Ahh yes the

    dreaded walk to whatever machine is throwing a hissy fit today.....

    And it can take nearly an hour to walk from the office at one end of factory to the problem (and its only 6 units )

    Still.... cant beat "Computer doesn't want to send programs to the robots" call

    "bet hes using the wrong setup for that robot as usual" comes my thought

    Get to the location ... eventually

    Well the screen is showing the correct setup(for a change) however the fact that its only hanging onto the laptop body by 1 very bent hinge is a clear hint that something is amiss

    Further inspection shows further damage consistant with said laptop being dropped onto the concrete floor... and the cable is inserted in the usb slot... however the usb connector inside is nowhere near the slot... to be honest I'm surprised said laptop is actually working... and yes you guessed it

    "I never dropped it.. was like that when I got it..."

    Cue dragging the laptop bits to the office , managing to get a USB stick to connect, and downloading the drives data to it.. all done while swearing very loudly, then raising a ticket to replace it... to which the PHB said "well it still works" arrgrgh I need to retire

    To the pub

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Pint

      Re: Ahh yes the

      You need a bike. Or, at a pinch, a Segway. And a very large drink of course - but that goes without saying.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Ahh yes the

        Its 350 yards....

        With constant interuptions all the way......

        Why dont we have head banging against a wall icon and why are'nt I in the pub yet... stupid working hours

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Ahh yes the

      "Cue dragging the laptop bits to the office , managing to get a USB stick to connect, and downloading the drives data to it.."

      in the olden days i'd just swap the hdd / sdd into a non broken spare and be up and running in no time.

      If you have kit that needs to be operational its always wise to have spares as keeping offline spares is cheaper than an expensive machine not working for however long it takes to procure a spare.

      We have 4 hour maintenance contracts on key primary kit & next day on secondary. Depending on where the kit is it can take 4 hours to get an engineer there anyway so its as good as having our own cold spares.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Ahh yes the

        If you have kit that needs to be operational its always wise to have spares as keeping offline spares is cheaper than an expensive machine not working for however long it takes to procure a spare.

        This does not sit well with beancounter managers though. "I want to buy such-and-such as a spare" is met with a resounding NO!

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Ahh yes the

          ...UNTIL it's the beancounter's equipment that fails (they never do, though). Then, it's "why is it taking so long tonget a replacement...I have an important report to get out!"

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Ahh yes the

            (they never do, though)

            You better turn in your BOFH papers, with a very small bit of careful preparation beancounter's equipment fails on cue (supplied by you) and replacement always takes a couple of days.

            Until of course they learn the wisdom of keeping cold spares.

          2. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
            Joke

            Re: Ahh yes the

            The answer being:

            You didn't approve the purchase order I sent you by mail when you asked for a new computer after the previous one decided not to start anymore...

            And no I can't do it without the approval, you told us that without it the cost would come from our pay...

            1. ecofeco Silver badge

              Re: Ahh yes the

              I have done exactly this.

              A VP was eventually dragged into it. The VP made spares happen very quickly.

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Ahh yes the

          The importance of keeping one or two spare machines (Project left overs or equipment reclaims) in cupboards only you know about.

          However taken to extremes, my boss at the last place, when transitioning to Corp from our location (former centre of operations) discovered a pile of 60 new & boxed laptops the Corporate IT Support team there had been sitting on & were not on the inventory at all.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ahh yes the

          funny enough, we are speccing up replacement equipment for one of our other sites - and the head if IT is insisting on having a full duplicate set as spares - around £100,000, just to have spares.

          My kind of boss.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ahh yes the

          "This does not sit well with beancounter managers though."

          When the need for the spare arrives you visit the beancounter, get them to confirm how much the lack of the production machine is costing per minute and then tell them that their machine is the only one with an appropriate spec to swap in.

        5. Emir Al Weeq

          Re: Ahh yes the

          The trick is to write a business case and make sure that c>s/p where:

          c = cost of downtime, make sure you include staff costs whilst they do nothing, reputational damage costs Inc loss of future business, insurance premium rises if applicable etc. Let your imagination run free.

          s = cost of spares

          p = probability of operational kit going wrong during lifetime of spares.

          I wanted to follow this with a reference to the means to calculating (I think it was) R, as used as a measure of the speed of Slartibartfast's car, but don't have my copy of HHGTTG to hand.

    3. H in The Hague Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Ahh yes the

      "And it can take nearly an hour to walk from the office at one end of factory to the problem"

      You need one of these:

      https://vandijkbikes.nl/product/fabrieksfiets/

      Fabrieksfiets = bicycle for use in a factory.

      And here's one for the weekend (best not combined with cycling across the factory) -->

      1. shedied
        Happy

        Re: Ahh yes the

        Whoa Dijk Van Bikes!

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Ahh yes the

          Cor Blimey Mate!

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Ahh yes the

        I have never fully understood how bikes seem to have an inflation rate that matches that of housing in the UK.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ahh yes the

          unlike houses or apartments, bicycles have tires...

      3. RichardBarrell

        Re: Ahh yes the

        I'm really curious, how does a factory bike differ from any other ordinary bicycle?

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: Ahh yes the

          "I'm really curious, how does a factory bike differ from any other ordinary bicycle?"

          Doesn't actually differ massively from a standard Dutch heavy duty bike.

          This one has a carrier at the front with a bin for tools and components. Likely to have pedal-back brakes, therefore no brake cables which can snag and get damaged. May not have gears as it's only used on the flat across short distances. Basically, very robust, with a minimum of parts which need maintenance.

          1. RockBurner

            Re: Ahh yes the

            Not to mention the stand to (hopefully) prevent users leaning it against (inappropriately be-buttoned) things.

          2. RichardBarrell

            Re: Ahh yes the

            Thank you!

      4. ricardian

        Re: Ahh yes the

        Are roller skates still available?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know dumb computer users are funny but it's amazing the amount of places I've worked where the IT support are seen as unhelpful or people are scared of asking for help incase they are looked down on and feel stupid. This creates a vvicious circle of not engaging with IT and therefore people not learning and stupid things still happening.

    In that case the end result would be a smug IT support with management and everyone else in the company thinking IT are being awkward, regardless of what they think of the end user.

    Far better to have just turned up and explained that the disk removal was not likel yto be the cause of the keyboard issue and it looks like the keyboard has been pushed forward too far and needs to be pulled back. User learns a quick lesson (in keyboard use and humility), thinks a bit more highly of IT support, and the interdepartmental realtionship is slightly improved. After time, people might get to love rather than lathe IT - win for everyone surely?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      level 1 skills

      To be honest as a manager I would be irritated if a keyboard issue like that required a visit.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I agree to a point, and indeed have on occasion found that by being patient and not drawing attention to their ignorance, initially hostile people became my most emphatic supporters. However there are some who regard anyone who understands something they don't as an existential threat. You will never get anything but hostility from them.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Often these people seem to share offices and try and belittle you in front of their colleagues. Over the years I have developed weapons grade put downs for those sort of arseholes. And its amazing how their colleagues appreciate it too!

      2. hmv Silver badge

        You don't gain anything by being nasty to those types. Be nice to them.

        And rant about them for half an hour in the growlery[0] afterwards if necessary (it should be - it's a vital stress reduction strategy).

        0: That's a room for growling in. Every Helldesk on the planet should have one.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Quite right. It's what users do* that rakes in the money that pays IT salaries.

      *Well, some of the users. We all know the ones who are counter-productive.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but wheres the fun in that!!!

    5. My-Handle Silver badge

      I think in this particular case, it was less that the user had done something dumb and more that they were insisting that it was the fault of IT support. It takes a very, very patient person to hold their cool when faced with accusations that they don't know what they're doing from someone who caused that problem themselves.

      I try to hold my patience as best I can. It occasionally works.

      My colleague failed to hold his and managed to insult the user (though he didn't mean to). That also worked :)

    6. ecofeco Silver badge

      I've worked in many places the IT dept's bad reputation was deserved. Needless to say, I didn't stay there long. Nor was I very well liked my co-workers. It's weird how many places punish competency.

  8. OGShakes

    Reminds me of my mum

    She drops her laptop and is amazed when it stops charging, then is shocked when I tell her because she used it till the battery is dead I am going to have to take it a part to get her data on to her new one. New one arrives, is connected to the wireless and checked as working with her printer etc. Then she gets a new router as she finally upgrades from ADSL to Fibre (saving about £20 a month on her bill in the process) which my sister fits to save me a headache and a day later Mum calls me as she now cant print which she cant remember doing with the new laptop so that must be my fault...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of my mum

      every summer i'd have to do a 14 hour door to door multi continent trip to fix my parents computers.

      obviously i'd stay for a few weeks too.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of my mum

        I tried to fix my dads computer once but for some reason he had bought one that came with a security case that I have been unable to get into. I still have it in the shed as I've not been able to get the hard drive out of it and there's a chance there is some sensitive information on it.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Reminds me of my mum

      I'm perfectly happy to fix Mum's technology for her. I've left a radiator key in her kitchen drawer, so I can bleed the things whenever I'm up there. I change the central heating timer for her - though I think she could do that herself if only she was 6' tall and had a head that could swivel round 90° both vertically and horizontally. Some wanker installed it inside one of the kitchen cupboards, but not at the back where you can see it - no that would be too easy! It's on the side, at the bottom for maximum inaccessiblity.

      I can even fix her Mac, after my bastard of a brother gave her his old Macbook Air. I'm sure it's lovely, it's just I don't use them, and so my only experience of them is fixing Mum's when (let's be honest) she's done something to it.

      The thing that I find difficult is when I tell her what the problem is and she says, "well it can't be that." To which I don't answer, "well if you know so much why the fuck did you ask me for help?" Or the other one which is asking me for help on a program I've barely ever seen, and as I'm talking her through which buttons to press - she'll suddenly say, "Oh I can't see that button anymore, I clicked on something else." So then I'm reduced to asking what she can see on the screen, so I can work out what bizarre sub menu we've got into now. Then it's hard to keep the exasperation out of my voice.

      The only thing that's consistently worked without support, after I set it up, was her Windows Phone. Which had a great UI. Although I've only ever had to do minimal tech support with the iPad. Sadly now she's on Android and I'm starting to get problems to solve again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of my mum

        ever tried taking an 82 year old through a SkyQ issue over the phone!? Kill me now

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Reminds me of my mum

          Mum's a smilar age. So I've done the equivalent - and feel your pain. She still works for a charity though, in family support. So you get the normal stuff, plus the extra fun questions like, "how do I install a Braille embosser on my PC?"

          To which the answer is, I have no clue - and who's betting there are going to be driver downloads available on the company's website? Or even if they are, that the drivers were written for Windows 95 and never updated. Braille embossers are BIG and LOUD!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reminds me of my mum

            My Dad, 91 in a few weeks, could fix anything mechanical (worked as a motor mechanic until retirement) but computers are different case. I call him each day on FaceTime, which he's now mastered; it's relatively simple but, if you never touched a computer in your whole working life...

            He's got a Windows laptop that, luckily, he rarely uses as I've given him an iPhone and iPad. They rarely need attention and just get a once over when I visit (which used to be about quarterly - he's an 8 hour drive away). He's started using his laptop a bit more in lockdown; swapping my wife from a Windows PC to an iMac a few years ago saved me a lot of hassle so I'm tempted to visit next month and swap it out for my MacBookPro.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Reminds me of my mum

              my old man could barley use ceefax!

        2. Old Used Programmer

          Re: Reminds me of my mum

          Well... At the moment, I'm the phone tech support for an 81-year-old who is used to Windows and MS Word and is temporarily using LibreOffice on a Linux (RPiOS) system (Pi4B-4). His background is as a successful fantasy writer. He'll be out of the convalescent facility and back home in a couple of weeks. Had to get him *something* to write on in a hurry to keep him from going stir-crazy.

          Fortunately, his mind is still running just fine. Once he gets out and I get the Pi back, I'll pull his files off in a format his own machine will read. (Probably .docx.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of my mum

        Teamviewer?

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Reminds me of my mum

          I put an icon on my late mother's PC that said "Help".

          And when she clicked it Teamviewer launched.....

      3. WanderingHaggis

        Re: Reminds me of my mum

        We got my mother in law has a chromebook. I figured cheap, internet, emails and letters nothing else needed and remote desktop works across the pond. Sure beats her windows 95 (it still works so why do I have to change) with viruses and junk installed by friends of the family.

    3. W4YBO

      Re: Reminds me of my mum

      How the hell did my 82 year old mom install and enable a Dvorak keyboard? She's never even heard of one.

      "Hey Mom, see the clock in the lower right of your screen." "Yes." "What are the letters just to the left of it?" "ENG & DV."

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Reminds me of my mum

        That doesn’t actually surprise me. I hide the keyboard language setting in Win10 on the taskbar preferences, on all the PCs I set up. Plus set input language to UK and delete all other options. This is because people were somehow switching to US keyboards. Even though they didn’t know how. I’m impressed on getting Dvorak though...

    4. LeahroyNake Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of my mum

      My brother gave my mum and all in one Mac thingy so I got to claim ignorance regarding support for about 4 years.... Until it started getting hot any then turning off. Removal of screen and lots of plastic crap to hoover out years of dust and cat hair and it surprised me when it worked after putting it back together.

      Hint they have a magnetic screen front so use a sucker to pull it off.

  9. Richard_Sideways

    Wibbly

    My first IT job out of Uni was being the general IT Guy at a book seller ("Amazon? PAH!" they said...) One of the staff there did desktop publishing on Quark. New version day came along and up rocks me with my selection of CDs and shuffle in the new version, all is well and rosy in the garden. Few hours later I get an irate call from the user saying her monitor (some beast of an Iiyama CRT) has gone all "Wibbly Wobbly" and that its my fault as its the only thing that's changed and that I'm terrible and she's got deadlines and that this is completely unacceptable etc, ad nauseum. Interesting side note here is she phoned me... yet her desk was not 20m from mine, in an open plan office... I digress - I go visit said irate lady, and indeed, her monitor has a proper shimmy on, and the only thing on her computer that had changed was that new version of Quark... the thing that had changed under her desk however was the small fan space heater she'd brought in from home and doing unspeakable things at the Hz rating the monitor was set to. Suggesting her fan was causing the issue did not seem to improve the situation, so I play with the Hz until its stable. As I slink off back to my lair I hear the unmistakable sound of the self righteous "Huh! I TOLD him it was the computer!"

    1. juice Silver badge

      Re: Wibbly

      > the thing that had changed under her desk however was the small fan space heater she'd brought in from home and doing unspeakable things at the Hz rating the monitor was set to. Suggesting her fan was causing the issue did not seem to improve the situation

      I'm fully aware that sometimes the people you're trying to help can be... recalcitrant[*], but personally, I'd have asked "do you mind if I try something?" and then flicked off the power to the fan heater.

      Hard to argue with physical evidence like that ;)

      [*] I used to work at an ISP. Every Christmas, posters were put up around the call centre, reminding people that cheapo fairy lights can do terrible things to customer wifi signals...

      1. Captain Obvious

        Re: Wibbly

        That was my first thought as to why the person did not do that as proof...

      2. Old Used Programmer

        Re: Wibbly

        At a drug store chain I worked at it turned out the reason we couldn't maintain data connections at night to transfer files to one store was that the DSL line came into the building right next to the transformer for their main neon sign. Oops. The data line got moved...

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Wibbly

      You were too polite there IMO. I'd have simply proven it by switching off the fan (problem goes away), turning it back on (problem returns), then left it at that.

      But then, I do have a habit of not going over and above to help people who are rude and abusive to me. Polite users? I'll help them all day long and will go above and beyond to find solutions. Rude ones get the most simple fix and that's it.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Wibbly

        Yup. I've no time for rude people on either side of the transaction. You're only allowed to esacalate to rudeness if seriously provoked - and even then I prefer politeness, even if that politeness only stretches as far as to calmly tell someone that their behaviour has become unacceptable and that you won't be talking to them anymore if it continues.

        So that means not laughing at people or condescending to them for not understanding, when you're supposed to be helping them. But not being rude to people about stuff that isn't working - or blaming the support minion for stuff that clearly was decided at a higher pay grade than theirs.

        Demanding apologies and/or assigning blame is almost never helpful or useful. I don't do it when I'm the guy asking for support and I won't accept it when I'm on the other end of the transaction giving support.

        Although that was the only time in my professional life that I've ever seriously considered telling someone to fuck off. I'd been paid, I'd watched them bankrupt one company by their combination of incompetence and litigiousness and they'd only paid half the design engineer's invoice, so he wouldn't help them. They'd literally carried our yet-to-be installed equipment out of the plantroom, raised the floor by half a meter to incorporate the strenghtening they'd originally forgotten, then had the gall to tell me the kit I'd sold them didn't fit and it was my fault.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wibbly

        Yes agree.

        Work at a hospital - had two calls logged, one for a consultant and one for a laptop that an irate patient had poured an urine sample over.

        I had first choice of calls - I chose to deal with a piss filled laptop rather than deal with the consultant.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Wibbly

          Wibbly (CRT screen) wobblies timey wimey - How about you remove that great big charging station for 8 hand held radios directly behind your monitor before you submit another ticket?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wibbly

            In my case it was a large MRI scanner type device that was on the other side of the wall!

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Wibbly

        Under the desk - I think that groping around below waist level* could lead quickly to rather a long chat with Human Resources.

        * To switch the fan off obviously - but it may be not obvious how to do that. There's probably a switch somewhere but where - and by now there's a micro-heater that just squats in a power outlet and glares at you.

    3. swm Silver badge

      Re: Wibbly

      "her monitor has a proper shimmy on"

      At work our group was moved to a couple of trailers during some remodelling work. Most of the CRT computers exhibited a shimmy. We noticed 4 amps through the safety ground. Further checking finally revealed a bad ground wiring in one of the fluorescent lights. Lots of tracing with a clamp ammeter and magnetic field detector.

    4. Old Used Programmer

      Re: Wibbly

      I was on a contract for a school system in San Jose. One of the people at the office had a--then--magnificent Viewsonic CRT. 21", perhaps? Really big for the time. Had a *terrible* image. After a bit of asking around trying to help, I found out there was an unshielded, major power distribution panel on the other side of the wall the monitor backed up against. It also turned out that the people that ordered PCs for the district offices cut corners by getting really cheap graphics cards.

      So when I was told they couldn't afford to get the power panel shielded, I suggested getting her a better graphics card. They wound up putting a then quite a ways behind the current good stuff VooDoo2 in her PC. That allowed the refreshed to cranked up from 60Hz to 85Hz. Presto! Clean display. I think they spent about $100 on the card. Shielding the panel would have been more like $1000 plus.

  10. heyrick Silver badge

    Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

    Every single bloody friend-of-a-friend who I have been roped into fixing some aspect of their computer. So I plug the network cable back in, job done. Two weeks later I'm being slagged off because I broke their DVD writer, or something utterly unrelated. And they expect it fixed. For free. Immediately. And while I'm there...

    I've not touched another person's computer in years. I just tell everybody that when I "know something about computers" that means embedded systems and I know nothing about nor do I use Windows/Mac/whatever it is they use. If they push it, I simply recount some of the fun I had debugging an interrupt handler on a 6502. Okay, it was a BBC Micro and it was thirty five years ago, but their eyes glaze over and it makes the point that their concept of "computer" is very different to mine.

    I didn't mind doing favours. I do mind when it becomes abusive. I especially mind being slagged off to others because of their own stupidity. So fuck 'em, they can go find a local professional, and good luck finding one that speaks English (I live in France) and/or won't charge "foreigner rates". NMFP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

      This. Doing "favours" for friends and family only leads to regret.

      You "fixed" their computer. Therefore ANYTHING that goes wrong in the next 18 months must be because of something YOU did.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

        Only 18 months? Your friends and family probably change computers regularly - The ones I used to deal with KNOW, that for the rest of the lifetime of the equipment, ANYTHING that ever went wrong was my fault.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

      couldn't agree more! And my hourly rate is slightly more than a 4 can pack of cheap larger or 1 bottle of shite wine, for spending 4h of an evening (2 of which is spent waiting for the fecking shite ridden PC to restart) Like you I stopped doing jobs for "friends" years ago, unless they really are good mates!

    3. spodula

      Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

      The best advice was given to me by my Uncle. (Who used to fix PDP-8's on Oil rigs back in the day)

      "Just tell them your a bus driver. Its easier that way."

      Of course this doesnt apply to family, who mostly know different alas.

      1. mrmond

        Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

        "Just tell them your a bus driver. Its easier that way."

        It took 5 years after I stopped being a bus driver before people stopped asking me which bus went where and other time table related questions!

        I wish people would stop asking me to help sort out their tech problems!

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

        I tell em I dont know about Windows cos I've been on Linux for 29 years. I have set up a dual boot for quite a few people 'to tide them over' and that seems to make most problems go away

        1. Old Used Programmer

          Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

          /shrug My career was COBOL on mainframes.

          Actually, it's not much a problem. Many of my friends are at least as good with PC problems as I am. Other than the immediate household, everyone is too far away to do anything useful, or I haven't seen them in far too many years. The next older generation is all dead (if my father were still alive he'd be 110) and suspect a good fair fraction of my cousins are, as well (some of them having been born not long after 1930).

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

      I've never had a complaint that something unrelated was my fault for fixing it, and my answer would be blunt and to the point if anyone ever does. Friends don't pull that kind of crap.

      Friends get stuff fixed for free, although I'd expect drinks if they can afford it, or just tea and biccies while I work if I'm returning a favour. Friends of friends pay in booze or chocolate.

      Mum doesn't get charged. But then she usually invites me up for dinner and only springs the IT problem on me once I've arrived. And there's often pudding and sometimes even custard. Home made fruit crumble and custard. Mmmmmmmm. Yum. ...mentally wanders off to happy (custardy) place...

      1. l8gravely

        Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

        I support my In-Laws computers at points, and their aging DSL line for internet. Can't count the number of times I've had to reset things for them. For my MiL (Mother-in-Law) I ended up getting her a Chrome Book for her online needs and she's been happy as a clam. My FiL is a bit more advanced with Family Tree stuff and such, so he gets a laptop, but he also tends to buy a new one without telling me since the old one is "slow". Sigh...

    5. nintendoeats

      Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

      I have an alternative, maybe naive view (I was just coming into existence when you were debugging the 6502).

      I don't think I have ever been aggressively chastised for the aftermath of helping somebody fix their computer. Perhaps this is because for most of my life, computers have been commonplace and my family has a better core understanding of how they work (even if they still need help). In fact, my experience is the opposite. How many times have I said "Mom, I'm only here for a week, please give me your bloody laptop so I can look at XXX". I'm either pointing out problems they don't notice, or insisting that they let me fix the thing.

      The people in life have given me a lot, often things I find tedious or don't know how to do. I spent a lot of my time doing something I found fun, and turned it into something useful. If I can repay them with those skills, then I am getting a very good deal. I also often learn things, because their systems and needs are different from mine.

      Certainly I get frustrated (mostly when ̶m̶y̶ ̶m̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ people ask my technical opinion, ignore me, and then wind up in exactly the situation I was trying to avoid, or when ̶s̶h̶e̶ they repeatedly make the same mistake and delete all of their DUCKING photos without a backup AGAIN), but that's not limited to computers.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

        I used to get both from mum. While we were up there visiting she didn't want to bother me with a problem on her PC. I'd get home, 200 miles away, then find out, that the bloody thing hadn't been working.....

      2. WonkoTheSane
        Trollface

        Re: Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user

        Your mom lets you look at XXX on HER laptop?

        Now that's a family!

  11. 0laf Silver badge
    Megaphone

    When working ina school I was yelled at down the phone that a printer wasn't working (urgent, life threatening blah blah usual shite from a teacher). It was a 10min walk across the campus. I got there, was berated again in front of a class of 6yr olds. Went to printer, it was out of paper.

    No apology, no acknowledgement of inappropriate attitude for such a basic fuckup.

    I was using a dating site a few years back, I was not suprised to see a large proportion of the 'ladies' on the site were divorced teachers. And not with yours would I go near a single teacher.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      I'd have been tempted to turn to the class and ask if they can spot the problem that is clearly eluding their teacher...

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        And after the class has pointed it out, I would have informed said teacher I would file a complaint with their head of department and/or school board about their choice of language in front of children.

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        "Well class, can anyone explain to teacher what paper out, insert more paper means?"

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          "It means the teacher is an incompetent idiot who shouldn't be allowed near children without competent, adult supervision!"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know *exactly* where the user should stuff their keyboard.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Lengthways?

      1. Marcelo Rodrigues
        Devil

        "Lengthways?"

        Sideways. And rotating.

        1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          And plugged in, with the wiring sufficiently changed to send as many volts as possible to it?

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            & at high speed.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              & at high speed.

              Two reasons why you are wrong:

              1) It ends the suffering too quickly

              2) It might damage the keyboard

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Might damage it?

                Not if it’s an IBM Model M keyboard...

              2. EagleZ28

                While your #1, ending the suffering too quickly, is certainly a valid point, I most respectfully submit that your #2 is variable...

                After the keyboard has been... ahem... put through those paces, I'm not certain anyone would WANT to use it, so any damage sustained might not be a problem...

                ... and if someone might want to use it anyway... try using a Keytronics 101-key AT keyboard. Those things could (can) survive a trip to hell and back.

        2. JJKing
          Meh

          Sideways,and rotating?

          Sideways. And rotating.

          And the woodpecker said god bless my soul, take it out, take it, take it...remove it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    had quite a few users over the years trying to plug their RJ45 network cable in to the adjacent phone socket

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      I have no problem with any user making silly mistakes like that. It's the attitude towards the person they have asked to fix the problem that matters.

      If you are pleasent and polite and have made a silly error like putting an RJ45 in the wrong place or the USB in the network port (a common one), I will be delighted to help you out, have a chuckle with you about how easy it is to get these things wrong and give you a bit of advice for next time. I'll also know you're not a dick and will likely help you out faster next time.

      If however you're are an arsehole your experience may differ.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        "It's the attitude towards the person they have asked to fix the problem that matters."

        A thousand times this. I have no objection fixing things for my friends or family, even if it's an annoying problem and it's all a result of their actions. I may get a little annoyed if it takes hours to fix it, but my grumpiness is directed at the machine, not the user. That is, I don't have a problem fixing that if they understand that my efforts are helpful and they are benefiting from my work. It's when they complain about my help when I consider saying "not my problem". For example, when I need something from them to finish my recovery and they just don't want to provide that right now because they're doing something else on their weekend, I consider informing them that I too have some ways to spend a weekend so maybe they can find someone else who doesn't mind performing IT work for free. If someone requesting help doesn't do that, they usually get dedicated assistance from me.

    2. Dwarf Silver badge

      I once had a friend insert an RJ11 into a USB-A connector, it went in and looked right and the cable was appropriate for the multi-function printer/fax/scanner.

      I was at the far end of the phone and they were using the same phone line for fax and phone, so diagnostic was a bit slow in places. I had to go there and take a look. Took a minute to figure out what was happening.

      I've also seen a phone exchange that had to stay put during an office build out that ended up with concrete all over its wirewrapped backplane. It worked fine after all the moisture had dried out, but fixing any backplane issues was never an option !!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My example

    User with a long history of being a complete asshat logs a call: "My computer was moved over the weekend and it's not working."

    (Funny, worked okay when I checked it yesterday. But off I go, to the other end of the site. What's another ten minutes each way wasted?) I get there and all looks okay; screen is on, cursor moves as I move the mouse, keyboard works okay in Word etc... "What seems to be the problem?"

    User: "My mousemat is missing."

    Me: "You have a mousemat."

    User: "Yes, but it is not mine. Mine has a [REDACTED] on it." (hidden because it would reveal his identity to those who know him, not because it was rude or anything)

    Me, after looking about half-a-metre to his left, on the desk right next to his: "What, this one?"

    User: "Yes, but that is not my desk and I have been told I am not allowed to move IT equipment." (Like I said, l-o-n-g history).

    Me, wondering how it got there since I was the one who had set his desk up after the move, just in case he tried something like this: "How did it get there then?"

    User, the only person from his team in so far - the only person at this end of the office - looking as innocent as possible: "I dunno…"

    Me, after swapping the two mousemats back: "There you go. Please don't hesitate to call us if you have any further problems." (Did I mention the grating teeth and overwhelming desire to find out if it is possible to rip someone's lower intestine out through their windpipe?)

    1. My-Handle Silver badge

      Re: My example

      I've had a couple of calls like that.

      I prefer the long level stare (you know, the one that makes the whole room feel awkward), then leaving without a word.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: My example

        My-Handle,

        You are Paddington, and I claim my £5.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: My example

          I do rather like marmalade, but I've never been to Peru :)

    2. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: My example

      I dunno,

      I'd have thrown it across the room, torn it in half, sneezed on it, wiped my arse with it something anything but do the bidding of a gigantic prick with a micropenis.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: My example

      User: "Yes, but that is not my desk and I have been told I am not allowed to move IT equipment." (Like I said, l-o-n-g history).

      "I think in this case we can allow an exception." [Turns and leaves]

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: My example

        Set up a new office equipment move after she finishes for the day, I always tried to do office moves last thing at night rather than face them while hung over the following morning & needing canteen breakfast.

        Stroll in as per usual, calm relaxed. Thank god your'e here go sort your idiot woman down in 225 shes screaming every two minutes her computer isn't working. It was working last night, tested logged in the full works,

        Walk down the hill (I'd just walked up) in the pouring rain & discover shes dragged & rearranged every bit of heavy office furniture, re-sited the computer & plugged into a dead wall port.

        Not the only user in that building who thought every wall-port was live - I had to explain to one manager the concept of if he wanted to fit more people onto that floor, his budget would have to pay for a new switch for that floor.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: My example

      There's a good argument for charging support time to departments or at least giving department heads a regular analysis or work done for their department.

  15. shedied

    There was one time I walked into the data center to find the CE in that classic plumber-tooling-under-the-sink position, way deep in the interior of our mid-range.I was wondering what necessitated this house call when I turned to the co-worker nearby and said, You know, sometimes it's not in the hardware...

  16. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Hi IT?

    My worst call ever from my hell desk days:

    Hi IT? The vending machine is out of crisps.

    Me: while I think that's a terrible problem why are you ringing IT?

    User: Well it's electric isn't it?

    To this day my ex colleagues and friends in IT have a running joke of "Hi, IT? Can you change the light bulb / refil the car with diesel / wipe my arse for me?"

    1. JimC

      Re: Hi IT?

      I recall when management thought it would be a good idea to have a single helpdesk for everything. So the hapless souls from the property department were stuffed in a corner of the helpdesk area and the theory was that lightbulb and blocked toilet calls would go to them, and the users would have a single point of contact. Of course there was no call routing at all, so the poor sods would pick up the phone with IT calls, be quite unable to do anything with them, and at busy times be unable to find anyone to pass it on to. I forget all the various things that went wrong, but it didn't last too long...

      1. Steve Kerr

        Re: Hi IT?

        I've had the toilet is blocked calls before, told them to call facilities management.

        Also had the printer is out of paper call

        User "The printer is out of paper"

        me "add more paper, it will be in the cupboard under the printer"

        User "aren't you going to come down to change it?"

        me "er....no, take the paper out of the cupboard under the printer and follow the instructions which are on the side of the printer, bye"

        Every printer in the building - there were lots, sat on a cupboard containing about 40 reams of paper which were checked weekly and restocked.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Hi IT?

          Every printer in the building - there were lots, sat on a cupboard containing about 40 reams of paper which were checked weekly and restocked.

          I once sent an email that the three nearest cupboards all seemed to be getting a bit low on paper (one ream total, which I took from the farthest*) to use in the printer nearest to my desk). The guy doing the checking and restocking was away (riffed by the bean counters) and nobody took over. And he also was responsible for ordering more when stock ran low. The howling from bean counter country when the paper completely ran out was music to the ears of everyone else.

          *) Under the bean counters' printer

  17. Rufus McDufus

    Ambush

    "Dodging the usual hallway ambushes with which those that Know A Bit About IT are so frequently cursed" - or often the walkway through a large open-planned office, known to fellow tech staff in several companies I worked at as "sniper's alley".

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Ambush

      There are offices we do our utmost to avoid, which we informally call Bermuda Triangles, if you get near them you'll inevitably be sucked into them where you'll be asked about countless old tasks status' and as many new requests will be made.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Ambush

        where you'll be asked about countless old tasks status'

        To which the correct answer is that those tasks are currently suffering a completely avoidable delay because they are keeping you from your work.

      2. Moonrunner

        Re: Ambush

        There maybe a reason for that. Our company's CRM support team has a 6-8 months turnaround time for support requests. No, I'm not kidding. It really is 6-8 months, 25-33 weeks, 175-231 days, 4200-5544 hours.... You get the point... That's why our department (handful of people) also keeps a separate record of open tickets (ticket number, date opened, actual issue), so when we hear back from one of them over something that happened 6-8 months ago, we ambush them and ask them to look into the other dozen tickets that have been piling up since then. That's how we once got a fix for a ticket that's only been sitting for like 3 weeks!

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ambush

        "There are offices we do our utmost to avoid, which we informally call Bermuda Triangles"

        Ah, yes. I remember being very careful about choice of staircase to use when visiting the floor below to avoid walking pas one particular department.

  18. Captain Obvious

    Happens to us all

    Most recently, I was moving the payroll system from one pc to another - mind you this is software only.

    All of a sudden, the time clock was no longer working and they blamed me. When I remoted in, I diagnosed it at the network physical level as everything else was fine. They continued to blame me as I was the last one to touch it and move the software. I told them to get in the network cable team and IF that was not the issue, they could bill me. Turns out, someone plugged the time clock Ethernet cable into a different port - just like I predicted - a network physical fault.

    That is at least one of 1000's of times I have been blamed for something that was not my doing....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Happens to us all

      as a server guy ts ALWAYS the strings fault, Layer 1 issue!

  19. steveg123
    Facepalm

    Cleaning

    I have one at the moment - I visited to fix an email password problem, and after I had left she decided to clean the computer with antibac spray. Now the keyboard doesn't work, and it's somehow my fault!

    1. keith_w Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: Cleaning

      Of course it is. You touched the keyboard during the fix the email resolution so of course she had to disinfect the keyboard from your germs with the anti-bacterial spray. Therefore it is absolutely your fault.

  20. Moonrunner

    Modem reset causes printer issues

    Working as a Bob for a small ISP, way back when, this was 'Tuesday'. My favourite was when the client blamed powercycling his modem for a laser printer failure at the other end of the house.

  21. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Actually a nice story

    When I was a young tech support bloke, I supported a research lab in a uni. One of the computers in the lab died while the researcher using it was demonstrating something to his boss. Can’t remember the fault beyond it being an actual hardware failure. The researcher was quite rude while I was attempting to fix the problem.

    When I went back to my office (which was literally next door) to get a part, I heard the following convo:

    Boss : “You were a bit rude to that technician.”

    Researcher : “He’s just an oily rag.”

    Boss : “That ‘oily rag’ knows far more than you ever will about computing and deserves respect. Apologise to him.”

    I got a very reluctant apology,

  22. jason_derp Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    To be fair

    That user is a jerk, and the logic is unfounded. But i literally blame myself this way when i work on computers. I fixed X but broke Y. Shit.

  23. Uplink

    Irreversible coincidences

    It's ever so lovely when you fix one tiny thing and everything breaks. And then you revert the tiny thing and everything is _still_ broken. After you investigate the borkage, you end up with this question: How did this work in the first place? That's when I declare whiskey o'clock.

  24. JJKing
    Coat

    99 problems?

    Damn, I thought this was all about Maxwell Smart having a tiff with his girlfriend/wife. Missed it by ----> <---- that much.

    Mine's the one hanging inside the Cone of Silence.

  25. ecofeco Silver badge

    Rhetorical question?

    "Ever done a good deed, only to have it thrown back at you by an angry user, or finally snapped after one petulant request too many?"

    At least once a year, sometimes more.

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