Tech Support Hell: Printers Are Evil


Call center 3From sambeaux45, TalesFromTechSupport

Hopefully, you guys don't mind me jumping around in time. I'm afraid I don't remember stories in chronological order. For the first few stories, we are at the bank. Eventually, I will post stories from my other jobs.

The following three mini stories all happened in the same week. Three different branches called in more or less the exact same problem.

$me: Helpdesk, this is $me. How can I help you?

$teller: We can't turn our MICR printer on.

$me: Okay, can you verify that the power cable is plugged firmly into the printer?

$teller: It is.

$me: Okay, is the other end plugged into the wall or into a power strip?

$teller: It's plugged into a power strip.

$me, Is the power strip turned on?

$teller: Yes, yes, and the power strip is plugged into the wall.

$me: Okay, what happens when you flip the power switch?

$teller: Nothing at all, no lights, nothing.

$me: Hmm... Okay, can you plug a fan or lamp or something into the power strip to make sure that you have power?

$teller: I can plug my phone charger in... and it's charging my phone?

$me: Well, as unlikely as it seems, I guess you have a dead printer. I'll send someone out to take a look.

The next day I get an email from the contract tech that the power cable was barely hanging out of the printer. All he had to do was plug it all the way in. I got fussed at by my boss for sending a contract tech out to plug in a power cable...


Carolanne facepalm2)

A day or two after this incident, with the scolding fresh in my mind. Another branch calls in.

$me: Helpdesk, this is $me, how can I help you?

$teller: Our network printer won't come on.

$me(internal): Not again?!

$me: Can you verify that the power cable is plugged into the printer?

$teller: It is.

$me: please unplug the power cable and jam it back in as hard as you can.

$teller: Okay, I've done that.

$me: Is it plugged directly into the wall or into a power strip?

$teller: It's plugged into the wall.

$me: Can you unplug it and plug it back in as hard as you can?

$teller: Okay, now what?

$me: Please try to turn the printer off then on again.

$teller: Still nothing.

$me: Can you make sure that the outlet has power by plugging in a fan or lamp or something?

$teller: Okay. It has power.

$me: Okay, I guess you have a dead printer. I will send someone out.

The next day I get an email from the tech that the outlet had no power because a breaker had tripped. He reset the breaker and everything worked. Again, I was scolded for sending a tech out to flip a breaker.


Freddy face pat3) A day or two following the most recent incident, yet another branch calls in saying that their printer won't come on. My boss's office is literally feet from my cubicle. By the time I finish the call, he is literally in tears.

$me: Helpdesk, this is $me, how can I help you?

$teller: Our printer won't come on.

$me: You aren't fooling me this time...

$teller: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that .What did you say?

$me: Oh nothing... Can you verify that the power cable is plugged into the printer?

$teller: It is.

$me: Please pull the power cord out and jam it back in as hard as you can.

$teller: Are you sure?

$me: YES

$teller: Okay, done, now what?

$me: Is the other end plugged into the wall or a power strip?

$teller: It's plugged into a power strip.

$me: please unplug it and jam the plug back into the power strip as hard as you can.

$teller: Okay...

Jason Argh$me: Now, is the power switch glowing red on the power strip?

$teller: No

$me: Okay, make sure the power strip is plugged into the wall, then unplug it and ram it back into the outlet as hard as you can. Then tell me if the light came on.

$teller: ... uh.. no, the light is still off...

$me: Please flip the switch on the power strip.

$teller: It's on now.

$me: please plug a fan or radio into the power strip so that I can hear that it has power.

$teller: Okay, can you hear it?

$me: Yes, I can confirm that you have power .

$me: please try to turn the printer on again

$teller: It's still not working.

$me(internal): @#$%#!!!!

$me: Okay, I will send out a technician.

The next day, I get an email from the contract tech that the printer had a faulty power switch.

$boss: You deserve an attaboy for that last printer. You were exceedingly thorough, and we definitely needed to send a tech out. Also, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life!


Carolanne computer 1Okay, still at the bank for this one... Rather than a conversation style, this will be more of a story.

One day, one of our mortgage branches calls in and says "Nobody but Mary can print.".

Huh, that's a bit weird. I call in and speak to several people ( the entire office is 8 people ). They have access to the internet, they can see other machine, but they can't print. Mary can print just fine. The printer ( a Toshiba copier ) is accessible through the web interface and is not reporting any errors.

Just for fun, I share the printer from Mary's PC and map the printer through Mary's PC on a user's machine. She is then able to print just fine. We power cycle the printer, and still nobody can print. We map everybody through Mary's PC but leave the original printer just in case.

We attempt to research the issue. We find NOTHING.

A few days later, the same branch calls back. Now Mary can't print, but one of the others can. Again, that person is the ONLY person who can print. We try various things including rebooting pretty much every piece of equipment in the office. Everyone has internet access as well as intranet...

We again escalate the problem to network infrastructure, and again, they find nothing. We map everyone through that person's PC and everybody can print that way.

About two weeks later, another branch calls with the exact same issue... on the other side of the country. By the end, we had about 5 branch locations calling every month or so with the same story. We never did find a cause, reason, or good solution.


Jason confusedAnd my last printer story for today. This time, this is a story from my time working for City Hall.

$me: Helpdesk, this is $me, how can I help you?

$user: I can't print.

$me: Okay, what happens when you try to print?

$user: Nothing!

$me: *sigh* That doesn't really tell me anything. Do you get an error message?

$user: No, just nothing comes out of the printer. I don't have time to do this on the phone, could you just come up here?

$me: OKay, I'll be up shortly.

So... I go upstairs and into the accounting cubicle farm. There are three cubicle in a row against the wall, each with only 3 sides. User is in the last cubicle. I ask her which printer she's having problems with and she literally turns her chair around and points to a printer TEN FEET away. Without taking a single step towards the printer, I immediately see the problem. There's a red blinking light on the printer. As I approach, I see the dreaded error message: Please load letter. User had sent the same print job 43 times... each time it didn't print, she would angrily send the print job again. I informed the user that the printer was out of paper, that she should perhaps put paper in it, and that she should verify that the printer has paper before sending 42 more print jobs and certainly before she calls the helpdesk. *sigh* Users...

TL;DR: Users lie and printers are evil.



Tech Support Hell: Wrong Kind Of Icons


Call center 2From Anonymous, Rinkworks

Tech Support: "All right... now double-click on the File Manager icon."

Customer: "That's why I hate this Windows -- because of the icons -- I'm a Protestant, and I don't believe in icons."

Tech Support: "Well, that's just an industry term sir. I don't believe it was meant to --"

Customer: "I don't care about any 'Industry Terms'. I don't believe in icons."

Tech Support: "Well... why don't you click on the 'little picture' of a file 'little picture' ok?"

Customer: "You know, I could do without you being so condescending." [click]

And yet... somehow... you bring it upon yourself.

--From Anonymous


Tech Support Hell: Beware Of Sysadmins Carrying Oxy-Acetylene Torches...


Call center 1From sambeaux45, TalesFromTechSupport

I'm sure you've all heard the expression "Beware of programmers carrying screwdrivers", right? Well... this is just a tiny bit different.

As a sysadmin on a ship, I was responsible for many things... The network as a whole, our internet connection, phones, servers, PC's, Ipods... You name it. Further, I was responsible for the various sensors that allowed our systems to work. I was also the resident multibeam sonar expert.

So... one day... I'm called down to the survey lab because our two YSI probes are showing different values. YSI probes measure salinity and temperature so that we can get an accurate measurement of the speed of sound through the water at the surface ( critical for accurate multibeam data ). Now, these can be calibrated on the fly, but no matter what we do, one is obviously WAY off. These probes are mounted in a "sea chest" in the engine room. A sea chest is just a piece of pipe teed off of the inlet for cooling water or desalination, or whatever.

So, I grab a fellow sysadmin and head down to the engine room. Along the way, I pass the Chief Engineer who sees us each grab a set of earmuffs and head into the engine room. Now, he's seen various survey crew head into the engine room to check on various pieces of our equipment, but he's never seen the "computer guys" head into the engine room, and I guess this sparks his curiosity.

We emerge a couple of minutes later and head upstairs only to return almost immediately with a couple of wrenches and a ratchet. Again, we disappear into the engine room. About 15 minutes later, we emerge and head upstairs and return within a minute or so with an impact wrench. This time he hears about 15-20 minutes worth of impact wrench noise, before we both emerge yet again, dripping with sweat.

I ask him if we can use his oxy-acetylene torch and he hesitantly agrees, but follows us to see what we're up to. I open the valves on the oxygen and acetylene bottles and coil up about 40 feet of hose on my shoulder and grab the torch, a sparker, and a set of goggles. We approach the sea chest and explain that the bolts holding it close are frozen and that we're going to heat them up to break them loose.

He eyes us rather skeptically and starts to ask if I really know how to operate a torch.

At which point I crack the acetylene valve open on the torch head, hit the sparker, and turn on the oxygen until I get a blue flame. I hit the oxygen handle a couple of times and smile in what I hope is a reassuring manner. He's still watching with some trepidation as we heat up each nut and my fellow sysadmin attacks the corresponding bolt with the impact wrench.

Within a few minutes we have all 8 bolts off and we swap out the barnacle encrusted sensor probes with fresh new ones and get the sea chest bolted back together. I put the torch back where it belong and the engineer follows us out muttering something about the world coming to an end when the computer guys can handle a torch. LOL

We were able to get the new sensors calibrated and were back to work in probably 2 hours. This was not the first or only time that I saw someone completely shocked that a "computer guy" had skills outside of computers.



Tech Support Hell: Not Having The Requirements Does Not Explain Why It Won't Work!


Jason laptopFrom Anonymous, Rinkworks

Customer: "I am not seeming to be connecting."

Tech Support: "Ok, what kind of error message to you get?"

Customer: "I do not know, just help me!"

This is common. We have people who will tell us they saw the error message 10+ times but have absolutely no idea what it said. We are not psychics.

Tech Support: "Oh, ok, well, what kind of computer do you have?"

Customer: "It is being a Packard Bell."

Tech Support: "Do you know how much memory you have?"

Customer: "I have 4 megs of Random Memory."

There's the problem -- the customer doesn't have the minimum requirements to run the software. You would think that once the person finds out he doesn't have the right equipment to run a piece of software, it would end the conversation...but, alas, the following dialogue is more representative of customer responses in such situations.

Tech Support: "I'm sorry, but, you don't meet the minimum requirements, so we're really not of much use to you until you upgrade."

Customer: "But, this is not explaining why I am not connecting! Why am I not connecting to your system!? What does memory have to do with me connecting!?!?"

Dumbass 1Tech Support: "Well, if you don't meet the requirements, there is no guarantee that the software will work at all, hence the system requirements. Because you don't meet them, there's really no reason to try and fix it, because it's not going to work."

Customer: "BUT, I HAVE A 28.8!! What would you have done if I had said I had 8 Megs!?"

Tech Support: "Well, when I found that you had four, after you told me that you surely had eight, I would be pretty mad."

Customer: "This is not explaining why I am not connecting!! I HAVE A 28.8!!"

Tech Support: "But you do NOT have the MEMORY requirements for the software. It WILL NOT work for you unless you upgrade to eight megs of RAM."

Customer: "I am thinking that I must be cancelling my account."



Tech Support Hell: You Hit It With A What?!


Call center skull 2From xkaosphoenix, TalesFromTechSupport

$HC is head cashier $Me is a field service technician for a chain of retail stores

I walked into my first site for this week and $HC immediately flags me down and rushes over. The following events began:

$HC: "We have a register down on front end and it's critical we have it back up today!"

$Me: "Sure, let's go take a look at it."

$HC escorts me to aforementioned register.

$Me: "Ok. So what's the issue?"

$HC: "It just doesn't work."

$Me: "What is it specifically doing or not doing?"

$HC: "It's just not doing anything! Fix it!

So, I began my troubleshooting. After about 30 seconds, I discovered the issue lay inside the cash drawer. Specifically, the Ethernet port that connects to the docking bay inside the terminal. It was busted to the point I had to dig it out of the register in 4 pieces.

$Me: Showing the issue "I'll have to order this part. This isn't something I carry in my vehicle stock."

$HC goes on rant of how nothing ever gets fixed.

Dumbass 1$Me: "How did it get like this? These things don't just sort of implode by themselves..."

$HC: "Well, it stopped working over the weekend and I called the help desk. They said to check that cable that went into the cash drawer. It was a little loose and they said it needed to be pushed in securely. So I gave it a tap to make sure."

$Me: "... What'd you tap it with?"

$HC: "I found a rubber mallet in the cupboard so I used it to help me. But the help desk told me to make sure it's secure! It's their fault!"

$Me: "Please, from now on, simply just press down and wait for a click of the tab locking into place. If you still can't get it working, I'm here once per week and I'll be glad to look at it."



Tech Support Hell: That's Not How That Works


Carolanne computer 1From Anonymous, Rinkworks

Customer: "I lost some of my files. I archived them, but when I went to retrieve them, they were gone!"

Tech Support: "What program did you use to archive your files?"

Customer: "I used DOS -- but now I can't find them!"

Tech Support: "Ok, what program are you using to do this?"

Customer: "I used 'undelete', but they aren't there."

Tech Support: "Uh...what command did you use to archive your files?"

Customer: "I used 'del' and the filename."

It turned out that the guy had been deleting files, which would free up disk space (he liked that), and when he wanted a file again, he would undelete it.

Apparently he actually got away with this for a while, until he discovered 'defrag', which overwrote his deleted files.