Evil Genius helpdesk humour
"We care a lot"

Updated 21 July

Newest customer type: Monkey

Ever wonder what those esoteric error codes used by helpdesk operators really mean? Maybe this comprehensive list can help you...
  • Fat finger syndrome:

    When the customer can't seem to type anything the operator quotes without adding a few extra characters and an unwanted space or two, despite repeated tries.

  • Finger error:

    Finger error indicates that the customer has yet to master the concept of 'double-clicking'. He, she or it will click on two separate icons, with two separate fingers or on two completely different computers rather than figure out a double-click requires two clicks on one icon.

    How I wish there was a way to remotely alter a user's phone so that each number requires two presses.

  • Goldfish syndrome:

    This is the unfortunate medical condition that causes the caller to forget what the technician has said as soon as it leaves his mouth. It leads to repetition, needlessly stupid acts on the keyboard, and the same technical issue coming back again and again, as in the following all-too-common example:

    Operator: "I'd like you to double-click on My Computer and open Dial Up Networking."

    Customer: "Do what?"

    Operator: "Double-click on My Computer and open Dial Up Networking."

    Customer: "What was that first thing?"

    Operator: "Double-click on My Computer."

    Customer: "Okay... done. Then what?"

    Operator: "Open Dial Up Networking."

    Customer: "Okay."

    Operator: "What icons do you see listed there?"

    Customer: "..."

    Operator: "Hello? Are you still there?"

    Customer: "What was that first thing again?"

  • I D ten-T error:

    This code is used to indicate that the customer is a complete loser who would be lucky to tie his own shoelaces without technical support from the Nike helpdesk. It takes stupidity of truly heroic proportions to qualify for the designation of ID10T.

  • Meat virus:

    A meat virus infection generally follows closely behind a more common problem and causes settings to be changed at random. A stealth meat virus infection is when the meat involved denies changing settings at random in order to solve the initial problem. Meat virus infections tend to be recurring, but unfortunately, no company has yet been able to provide a virus scanner capable of disinfecting an office.

  • Mute abuse:

    The technical term for an operator putting the customer on hold or pressing the mute button in order to cuss out the customer, the customer's parents, teachers, hardware vendor and drug dealer.


    Indicates that there is a phenomenal blockage in the computer's normal function, and it's sitting there with a phone to its ear, scratching its belly. PEBCAK stands for Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.

  • Phone-induced amnesia:

    When customers instantly forget how to perform routine tasks while speaking to a helpdesk operator. Amnesic customers have to be shown how to do things like opening their browser or email program, or even just double-clicking.

  • SGS:

    Someone who Gives a Shit. Where you get transferred when you've called Faults in order to complain about your bill, or your children's internet habits, or your unfulfilled dreams of Broadway stardom.

  • Sin bin:

    Putting a customer on hold until they're ready to co-operate.

    "I sin-binned him until he got lonely enough to listen to what I was telling him."

  • Wetware error:

    Wetware is the part of the computer most necessary to productive function. It can be located about three inches above the neck of the average computer user, midway between the left ear and right ear. Some people, sad to say, don't have any. The only way to make that computer work is an upgrade to a new user.


    You Get What You Pay For. It's a constant source of surprise to our customers that five-star service only comes with five-star pricing and vice versa.

Types of customers

  • Alphabet soup:

    A caller who will announce all his technical qualifications and certifications at the first opportunity, without ever displaying any of the skills or intelligence you'd expect someone having achieved those dizzying heights to possess.

  • Artful dodger:

    A caller who is normally fairly adept, but becomes helpless and absent-minded when the topic of payment comes up. If they pretend ignorance or deliberately misunderstand the questions long enough, the operator they speak with will hopefully give up in sheer frustration and just give them the refund they want.

  • Broken record:

    "All I know is, I'm paying for a service I'm not getting."

    Don't try explaining to Broken Record. He treasures his ignorance. Don't try reasoning with him. Your words bounce off the shield of his cold certainty. He's said it himself, repeatedly: all he knows is that something isn't right, and that someone else has to do something about it. The only way to convince him to work with you instead of at cross-purposes is to be even more stubborn than he is.

  • Drive by:

    A customer who calls intending only to report a problem and hang up, completely unprepared for any questions they might face like "what error message did you see", "what do you hear when you pick up the receiver" or "what number are you calling from".

  • Duck-and-weave:

    A caller who can't answer the questions the operator is asking, but is too proud to admit it, or suspect their problem might be unsupported. They're rather ignore or deliberately misunderstand the question, or invent something on the spot, rather than say those three words: "I don't know."

  • Gimp:

    A customer who's not happy unless he's got something to be unhappy about. If things fail to go wrong, he can usually be depended on to screw things up for himself by messing with his PC settings or his service package using the online account utilities the company so helpfully provides -- and then the barrage of emails, faxes and phone calls will begin.

    Gimp's secret motto is 'Hurt me more'.

  • Goto:

    A 'goto' is an archaic command which allows a program to jump from one set of instructions to another without going through them the normal way. Now that your average software package comprises hundreds of thousands or millions of instructions, the goto command makes a program hard to follow, and forward-thinking program developers have ditched it.

    Unfortunately, customers still jump from topic to topic, making it hard for a support agent to keep up. When you start by mentioning an email problem then switch to a connection issue while we're still trying to get the details of your email situation, then skip over onto complaining about spam, the only thing we can see clearly is the approaching migraine headache.

  • Hand-waver:

    To a Hand-Waver, any factor which could prevent them from getting connected is Not Important. Error messages? Not Important. High-speed download limits? Not Important. Is that actually your credit card number you're giving us? Not Important. Hand-Wavers are eternally frustrated by the fact we can't be persuaded not to worry about these things.

  • Lad:

    The Lad has a vague suspicion that the gigabytes of porn he downloads every week makes him a bit of a loser, but he just can't seem to help himself. He calls the helpdesk for two reasons -- first to indulge in a bit of buddy talk with the techs -- he's just like us, he's one of the lads, honest, he's heard of this new thing, it reckons it's going to kill spam completely, what do we think of that? -- and then to quiz us about his favourite subject, because someone who's right at the source like us must know all the best sites, right? We can get him some passwords, can't we? Come on, he's just one of the boys, do a mate a favour!


  • Life Story:

    A customer who thinks it's reasonable to respond to a question like "Is that box ticked?" with an answer like "Well, last week I was trying to look at this website..."

  • Little brother:

    A caller who routinely draws on some higher authority in the form of a manager friend, a PC technician relative, an acquaintance of a half-brother of a cousin who heard that it's not really like we've been telling them, and will get us fired unless we give them what they want.

  • Lonely caller:

    A caller who doesn't really have a need for support, who has invented a pretext for calling in order to have someone to listen while they talk. Generally older people who live alone, some Lonely Callers will quite ruthlessly steamroll over any attempt to cut the one-sided conversation short.

  • Monkey:

    Just like a monkey in a science lab, this caller has been trained to press buttons in exchange for a banana. The monkey usually describes itself as an IT manager or a network technician, and doesn't realise those titles imply a certain amount of technical knowledge.

  • Mouthpiece:

    The customer pays a technician to drive out to his house, the 'technician' calls the helpdesk so someone can walk him through the solution to the problem. Essentially, he's getting paid $50/hour plus callout fee just for holding the phone.

  • Muppet:

    A customer who's incapable of doing anything on a computer without having skilled assistance standing by. It's implied that the easiest way to get a customer to update his settings is to attach wires to his fingers and move them over the keys.

    "He was a complete muppet -- wanted me to stick my hand up his bum and type in his password for him."

  • One-stop shopper:

    A customer who's convinced his ISP helpdesk can help him with any technology problems he encounters, whether or not they're internet- or PC-related. Shoppers are often disappointed to find we can't help them programme their VCRs, record answering machine messages, hook up an office network, or write their own best-seller games, no matter how much they insist.

  • Pacman:

    A caller who is suspected of having downed a few magic pills before picking up the phone.

  • Parrot:

    A caller who collects technical terms, then either misapplies them or invents his own jargon. He thinks he sounds educated, but actually he's just confusing.

  • Passive-Aggressive:

    Passive-Agressive obviously thinks you're full of shit, but rather than say so, she'll continue weakly protesting that it was working yesterday and she's never had to do anything like what you're asking before. Meanwhile you're repeating explanations and instructions and wishing she'd either come out with it and call you a liar so you can (politely) tell her to go to hell, or just give in and let you fix her problem.

  • Poor-me:

    See 'Sob Sister'.

  • Reader:

    When asked to click on an icon, this customer will immediately read out a full list of every icon he can see. When he opens up a new window, he starts reciting the options from the menu bar. God help you when you try taking Reader through a setup screen, because the instructions are right there in front of him, whole paragraphs of them, and he can't be stopped.

  • Retread:

    A customer who will call multiple times with the same problem, either unable or unwilling to follow the advice they've been given.

  • Sob Sister:

    A caller who starts reciting a list of their personal, professional and financial problems as soon as their call is answered, in preparation to asking for a refund.

  • Time traveller:

    Your caller ID shows that Time traveller has been waiting less than five minutes, but he insists it's been long enough to varnish the dog, defrost the lawn, re-upholster all his family members and knit a 3rd-world country. At least half an hour.

  • Tinfoil Hat:

    Tinfoil Hat has a burning conviction that any and all problems he suffers are the result of breakdowns at his telco's end -- not that they'd admit it, of course. They're all liars. He doesn't know if it's mechanical failure or incompetence, but he knows it can't be his equipment. He's not going to let them fob him off that way. If his telco claimed that grass was green, Tinfoil Hat would stick his head out a window to check.

  • Unclean:

    Hmm. It took a long time to log in this morning -- my god, it must be a virus! The internet is full of viruses and worms and they're all trying to infect her PC. Illegal operation? It's a virus! Crackling speakers? Virus! Email from someone she doesn't know? It's an all-out attack of spammers and hackers coming at her armed with viruses!

    (This was written before it became common practice for spammers to use trojans like netsky to turn personal computers into spam relays. Not that this makes it any less stupid.)

  • Waffler:

    Waffler has a point to make, but first he has to spend five minutes slowly circling it, like a vulture closing in on a dead zebra.

  • Yo-yo:

    A customer who calls with a simple problem, and is shown how to fix it. Then calls the next day with the same simple problem, and is shown how to fix it. Then calls the next day with the same simple problem and...

    It doesn't matter how hard you throw it, because a yo-yo is tied to your hand.

  • Zoo keeper:

    A parent who calls during a school holiday or weekend, frantic because their pay-per-view TV is out, and they're left with no choice but to interact with their children.

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