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Tech Support Horror Stories
Date 5/31/2008    Tags Web, Rant    (0)

Before I was a fulltime developer (and international spy), I worked jack-of-all-trades positions that often involved a good deal of user support. I’d just like to share a few of the boneheaded things I saw during that time.
Rechargeable Batteries
At my previous employ, we had a number of computers with wireless keyboards and mouses (mice?). In order to keep the mouse charged, the user would put it in a charging station at the end of the day. I got called one day to a user’s desk one morning because their mouse’s battery was dead, despite being on the charger all night. I placed the mouse on the charger and the green light to indicate it was charging failed to light. I opened the mouse to take a look at the battery and discovered that it didn’t contain a rechargeable battery, but rather your run of the mill Raovak battery. When I questioned the user about this, she said that the mouse had been going dead from time to time so she thought it was time for a new battery, so she replaced the battery and threw the rechargeable battery away.

Computer Won’t Turn On
I was contacted to take a look at a user’s computer that wouldn’t turn on. This was indeed the case, as also the monitor would not turn on. And the clock at the desk was off too. I took all of a minute to determine this was an electrical problem, which I narrowed to a bad power strip. What makes this issue really boneheaded (in my opinion at least) was that this electrical problem was at the desk of one of the electrical engineers.

Missing Computer
When I was working at a mine doing PC support, there were little shacks scattered across the floor, each with a computer and monitor. None of these computers were very good. All were subjected to harsh environment and broke often, mostly because of dust clogging the fans. One day we noticed that one shack didn’t have a computer. After doing some detective work, we came to find out that one of the users was having trouble with the computer and took it upon himself to toss the computer into one of the crushers. The crusher was a big metal drum (30-40 feet In diameter I’m guessing) with lips inside that would rotate constantly. The crusher is filled with rocks and as it rotates, rocks stay on the lips until they reach the top of the drum, at which point they fall down and pulverize the rocks (or in this instance computer) to tiny little pieces.

Dirty Printer
One day a user was complaining that there were black marks on all the pages she printed. I printed a test page from my computer and had the same issue. I opened up the printer, cleaned out the rollers, and test another page which had the same problem. So I cleaned some more and tried again with no luck. I decided to open the paper tray and see if there was something on the mechanism to grab the paper that had black toner on it. To do so, I took out the paper. It was in doing this that I realized that on the backside of each sheet of paper were those same black marks I had been trying to resolve. I have no idea where that paper came from (possibly it was bad from the manufacturer or more likely some user had this problem on their printer and just put the bad paper back on the shelf, which eventually ended up in the main office printer).
Those are a few, but certainly not all, of my horror stories. I’d be interested to hear any that you may have as well. These always seemed to sound funnier when I retell the stories out loud, they don’t seem to carry that same energy when written down on the page. /tds/go

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