Evil Genius helpdesk humour
"We care a lot"

The question is: how long did he squat there trying to push the phone jack into an already-occupied socket?
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Operator: [after several long pauses while checking settings] "I think relaying back and forth between the phone and the computer is taking too long. Can you plug a receiver into the phone socket the computer is using for a bit?"

Customer: "I'll try --"

[longest pause yet]

Customer: "No, I can't plug it in, it won't fit."

Operator: "The receiver plug won't fit into the phone jack?"

Customer: "No. There's no room, 'cos the modem's already plugged into it."

Divine intervention

Operator: "What process do you go through to get connected?"

Customer: [completely serious] "I pray to God, and he connects me."

(The benefit of hindsight... looking back now, I see that the only correct response to that would have been "And what physical manifestation does the Lord's intervention take?")

No user servicable parts

Operator: "This is odd, you seem to have two completely different modem setups installed. That can't be right."

Customer: "No, I do have two different modems in this computer. One's an older one I never took out."

Operator: "Oh. Well, we'll just need to pick which one you'll be using, and get rid of the other one." (meaning that the hardware profile in Win95 would be removed so this modem wouldn't be used anymore)

Customer: "Okay." [long pause...]

Operator: "Hello? Are you still there?"

Customer: "Yep, still here. I just took out one of the modems -- hey, the screen's gone blank."

Operator: "Sorry? You physically removed a modem? While the computer was still running?"

Customer: "Yeah, just popped the case off and pulled it out. Do I need to reboot this thing before it'll start working again?"

See, this is what happens when you let the smoke out. But at least the customer was willing to look under the hood, right?
Fun with email

Customer: "I just changed my email address the other day, and now I'm not receiving any mail."

Operator: [hoping he's not going to have to apologise for another operator setting up the caller's email client wrong] "Has it been this way since you called the helpdesk?"

Customer: "Oh I didn't call the helpdesk, I just put a new email address in my program."

You've got mail... honest

Customer: [calling on a mobile phone] "My new cellphone keeps telling me that there's a message waiting in my mailbox. I'm standing at the mailbox now, and there's nothing in it. In fact, the mail doesn't even get delivered until later in the morning. Is the damn thing broken?"


I guess it was one of those "John G killed my wife" moments...
Seek help... elsewhere

Customer: "I've just registered an account and I was a bit worried that it might not have gone through. I thought I'd better get some help. Can you check it for me?"

Operator: "Yep, I can do that. Can you give me the user name you entered?"

Customer: "I don't know."

Operator: "Okay, how about the email address you picked?"

Customer: "I don't know."

Operator: "Your customer number?"

Customer: "No, I don't know that either."

Operator: "Didn't you type all of these in five minutes ago?"

Customer: "Yes, that's right."

Hormones, maybe?

Operator: "You've reached the helpdesk, could I have your user name or email address please?"

Customer: "I can't remember that, I'm pregnant!"

Moving target

Operator: "Open 'my computer'."

Customer: [short pause] "I can't click on it, the icon's moving too fast!"

Wetware error

Customer: "I've just finished signing up and there's a problem already."

Operator: "What's the problem?"

Customer: "I went through the registration process, and I've been sitting here for two hours, and nothing's happening."

Operator: "What's showing on the screen?"

Customer: "There's a little box saying 'You have successfully registered, close this program to finish setting up'."

How? How could she get this wrong? Did she start gulping down vodka halfway through the registration? How?
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Customer: "It says 'no dialtone'."

Operator: "Okay. To start with, you'll need to check the modem cable is plugged into the line socket, not the phone socket."

Customer: "All the hardware's fine."

Operator: "You've checked the cord?"

Customer: "There's nothing wrong with the connection."

Operator: [not giving up] "So you have checked the cord?"

Customer: [gives the sigh of a man forced to suffer fools] "Look, there are so many wires back there I can't make head nor tail of it. There's already a power cable between the computer and the wall, can't I connect through that?"


Life is full of difficult decisions. But this wasn't one of those.
Stupid user error

Customer: "I'm just finishing signing up. Now there's three buttons on the screen, 'back', 'cancel' and 'finish'. Which do I click?"

Operator: "Do you want to go back and change the details you've entered?"

Customer: "No."

Operator: "Do you want to cancel your registration and forget about signing up?"

Customer: "No."

Operator: "Okay, what does that leave?"

Customer: [long pause] "Is it... finish?"

Operator: click

What's the word for the opposite of ambidextrous?

Operator: "I'd like to check the dial-up networking settings. To start, double-click on the 'my computer' icon."

Customer: "I can't. I'm left-handed, you see."

Left-handed people. Nature's most hideous mistake.
You are here

Operator: "I can see the problem. The dialing location is set to overseas. You'll just need to update that so it has our country in there."

Customer: "Okay... what's the right country?"

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Customer: "I think I may have forgotten the password... but I'm not sure if I have or not. Can you tell me if I did?"

Operator: "Yes, I can test that for you at this end. What's the password you're entering?"

Customer: "I don't know."

Operator: "...In that case, I think you've forgotten it."


No, but your couch hates you.
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Customer: "It keeps saying the password is wrong, but it's not. Is my computer pissed off at me?"

I didn't mean it, officer

Customer: "I'm getting a message that the program has performed an illegal operation. Does that mean one of the kids has installed some pirated software on my computer?"

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Customer: "I can't connect to the internet."

Operator: "What error messages do you get when you try?"

Customer: "Nothing."

Operator: "Okay, first I'd like to check your networking setup. Open 'My Computer'."

Customer: "I don't have a computer."

Operator: "What? How were you planning on connecting to the internet?"

Customer: "I dunno."

"When I stick a fork up my nose and chew tinfoil, I get a funny feeling which I'm sure is email coming in -- but gosh, it makes my eyes water..."
The purloined letter

Customer: "Okay, the message loaded. Now how do I reply?"

Operator: "See that reply button?"

Customer: "Oh. Okay. Right, now I've written the reply, how do I send it?"

Operator: "Send button."

Customer: "Oh."


Just like skydiving: if your first try failed, a repeat booking is pointless.
I think you've missed the point

Operator: "If this doesn't work, call back and we'll look into another fix for it."

Customer: "Oh, this is stupid. I've called four times this week with the same problem, and every technician I spoke with gave me something different to try!"

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Customer: "This box comes up on the screen, and it won't go away. I can't connect."

Operator: "What does the box say?"

Customer: "Oh, I don't know. But it won't go away, and I can't connect because of it."

Operator: "Does this box always come up right after you click on 'connect'?"

Customer: "Yes. And it won't go away."

Operator: "And you can't connect, yes. Try connecting now, and when the box comes up, put your password in it."

Customer: "Okay... hey, it's working! I'm connected!"

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Customer: "It says that my Netscape security certificate has expired."

Operator: "Okay, that means you'll need to upgrade to a more recent version of Netscape or switch to Internet Explorer."

Customer: "I need Netscape or Internet Explorer?"

Operator: "Yes, that's right."

Customer: "Which one am I using now?"

Ancient history

Then there was the customer who called us to complain about the speed of his DSL connection. He sternly warned the operator he spoke with not to try and con him, because he was an MSCE/MSD and an expert in Windows 200. No, that's not a typo: Windows 200.

Okay, I'm duly impressed that he's an expert in an operating system that pre-dates the fall of the Roman empire, but still -- what does a Windows software developer know about DSL that makes him think he could spot a lie?

"I remember back in the days when 640 Kb was enough for anybody..." *wheeze*
Leave a message

In this instance, the customer was getting a 'line busy' error. Most of the time, this means the user's computer is dialing the wrong number to connect to our network, or in some cases, that the network is overloaded at the moment. It never means what this customer thought it does:

"I've rung the people I'm sending the email to, and they're not on the computer or using the phone. Why should it be busy?"


First think, then act! First think, then act! First think...
Please don't breed

Customer: "I'd like to claim my money back under your 30-day rebate offer. I signed up an account I didn't want yesterday."

Operator: "I'm sorry, you signed up an account you didn't want?"

Customer: "Yes."

Operator: "Um. Why?"

Customer: "Well, I might have wanted it."

Secretarial service

Customer: "I'm getting a lot of spam I don't want, so I'd like you to block it for me."

Operator: "We can't actually block out spam at the server, but I can show you how to set up filters in your email program. You can automatically delete messages from the spammers."

(At the time, we didn't offer an email filtering service.)

Customer: "Oh, that's no good. If I do that, I might miss out on the spam I do want."

Operator: "Excuse me?"

Customer: "I don't want all the spam blocked, just the spam I don't want."

But wait! There's more!

Operator: "We can't filter out spam at the server."

Customer: "Why not? I pay good money for my account, and you should be able to do it if I want you to."

Operator: "Well, the server can't tell the difference between regular email and spam. It doesn't have the judgement a person has."

Customer: "Oh, that's alright. I'll give you permission to read my email if that's what it takes. Just don't read my personal email."

Over ten million email messages passing through our network every day and the customer thinks we can pre-read them?

But that's not all! There's still more!

Operator: "I'm sorry, that doesn't sound very practical. For a start, there's no way we could tell whether a message to your account is spam or personal without reading them all."

Customer: "Don't be so difficult. You're making me angry."

Telegraphing his punches

Operator: "[RIP] technical helpdesk, [operator] speaking. Can I have your login --"

Customer: "Turn the tape recorder off!"

Operator: "Excuse me?"

Customer: "Turn the tape recorder off!"

Operator: "What tape recorder?"

Customer: "I know you record all calls to this number and I want you to turn it off!"

Operator: "Oh, that. Yes, you're right. That's handled by our quality control department, I don't have any direct access to it."

Customer: "I don't care who handles it, turn it off!"

Operator: "I'm sorry, it's not up to me. But if you don't want to be recorded, you could always send us a letter or fax."

Customer: "Oh yeah, and given you written evidence?"

Operator: "Excuse me? Evidence?"

Customer: "I know you can take people to court when they threaten you in writing or over the phone."

Operator: "Are you planning to threaten me?"

Customer: "I'm a paying customer and I'm not happy and now I want you to turn off that tape recorder so I can give you a bloody earful!"

Operator: "Well, now I'm definitely not turning it off."

Yes, a lot of the things you say to us on the phone are actually illegal. Why do we let you get away with it? Because we have your money to comfort us.

Up to a point...

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