Evil Genius helpdesk humour
"We care a lot"

Does this kind of spam increase over the winter months?
All-seeing, all-knowing

Customer: "Look, um... I've been getting this email. You know, advertising email."

Operator: "I know the kind you mean. We call it 'spam'."

Customer: "It says, uh, 'you don't have to put up with a small penis anymore'."

Operator: "I'm sorry you've received that. Spam is --"

Customer: "What I wanted to ask is how did they know?"

Hello, who am I?

Customer: "Hi, I'm having some trouble. How can I tell if I'm one of your customers?"

Unrealistic expectations

Notes taken from a trouble ticket:

20/05/03 08:25 chrisk ticket_open

* Rachel calling / win2k / connexant hcf 56k

* appears to be a random windows error - apps not responding, can;t restart from menu - advised caller to reset computer

* caller can't find reset button - assisted caller to find reset button

* caller can't figure out how to use reset button

* advised caller to use power button

* caller can't find power button - assisted caller to find power button

* caller cant figure out how to use power button

* enquired how caller's recently-completed introductory computing course went - apparently, it went fine - call is now approaching the 20 minute mark, may have to escalate it shortly

* advised caller to turn computer off/on at wall

* caller can't find power socket

* hung up on caller and took a long break / NFA

What's a phone for, anyway?

Operator: "We may need to have the phone serviced for you, none of my test calls are getting through."

Customer: "No, they're getting through. I heard them ring."

Operator: "You did? Why didn't you pick up?"

Customer: "You didn't tell me you wanted me to."

Most people know instinctively what to do when the phone rings. Why didn't you?
Prank call?

Customer: "When I try to listen to my voicemail, it just keeps telling me to press one to listen to my voicemail."

Operator: [after some checking] "I can see why that's happening -- someone has recorded the voicemail instructions, and left that as a message in your voicemail box."

Customer: "Why would anyone do that?"

Operator: "That's a good question, but we may never know the answer. Want me to delete that message?"

Customer: "Please."


I guess you'd have to come and work here.
Let me know if you find out

Customer: "How can I find out about the problems on your network that you don't know about?"

Out of order

Customer: "I can't seem to get a connection through my cable modem. There's just nothing coming up on the screen."

Operator: "Can you seem the modem from where you're sitting?"

Customer: "Yes."

Operator: "What blink pattern are the lights displaying?"

Customer: "They're blank."

Operator: "All blank?"

Customer: "Yes."

Operator: "Including the power light?"

Customer: "Yes."

Operator: "Okay, I think we've found the problem. Your modem is turned off."

Caught out

Customer: "Okay, I wrote 'click' on the mouse. What do you want me to do next?"

Operator: "Uh...?"

Customer: "...you didn't really mean that, did you?"

Someone emailed me this story, so of course I accidentally deleted the message LIKE AN IDIOT and lost the sender's name. If that was you, please write to me again. I promise I'll let someone who knows what they're doing read it to me.

Back to the drawing board

Operator: "I've checked your domain name and email capture, and my test message went through successfully. I don't think there's anything wrong with your email account."

Customer: "But I've had my site up for a week, and I haven't had any orders -- haven't even had any enquiries. How can that be right?"

Operator: "Well... you may have to consider the possibility that the Internet isn't the place people traditionally look when they need a new composting bin."

Not part of the deal

Operator: "I've placed a test call and tracked it through the switch, I can see that it's reaching the phone. If someone's there, they should be able to hear it ring."

Customer: "But they're not answering!"

Operator: "Well, there's no way I can make someone pick up the phone."

Customer: "You must be able to! What am I paying you for?"

Now I think I understand why they weren't picking up.
Shattered illusions

Customer: "Please help me, my computer's infected by a virus and I'm just terrified."

Operator: "Which virus did your scanner identify?"

Customer: "It's a new one, my scanner doesn't even realise it's there."

Operator: "Okay, what's happened to make you think there's a virus present?"

Customer: "I found dozens of filthy pictures on the hard drive. My son told me viruses cause that."


After taking this call, I'm proud of the way I didn't track him down through our customer database and set fire to his house.
Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Operator: "I've logged that with our network service team, so I'll just quote you your reference number at that end. That starts with 'N' for Nigel --"

Customer: "That's not a number!"

Operator: "...Okay, the reference code is N - three - four --"

Customer: "You shouldn't say you're giving a number when you're not."

Operator: "N - three - four - seven - two --"

Customer: "I know you don't think it's important, but it is."

Operator: "--Five - seven - three! Got that?"

Customer: "That's no good to me, I can't remember codes."

Hidden in plain sight

Operator: "...and now I'd like you to press the enter key."

Customer: "Enter key? There's no enter key."

Operator: "On some keyboards it's labelled 'return'."

Customer: "All I've got is File, Edit, View..."

Operator: "It's not on the screen, it's on the keyboard."

Customer: "Keyboard? What are you talking about? All I see is File, Edit --

Operator: "Not the screen, the keyboard. Where you've been typing."

Customer: "It's got File --"

Operator: "You're still looking at the screen. Look lower. The thing with the keys on it?"

Customer: "You mean the power button?"

Operator: "Keep going. Lower."

customer: "You mean my modem?"

Operator: "Keep going. See all the buttons that have letters on them?"

Customer: "Of course I do."

Operator: "That's the keyboard and that's where you'll find the enter key."

Unrealistic expectations

Notes taken from a trouble ticket:

18/04/03 10:52 chrisk ticket_open

* lisa calling / unknown os / unknown modem

* cannot browse/view email (caller has a weird setup which requires webmail, it consultant told them not to install email clients because they're a security risk)

* cannot quote error message - the consultant is on site and looking at the problem at the network but he's too angry to talk to me???

* lisa can't relay the error message - all the consultant has to say is four-letter words...

* caller is doing her best, but she doesn't know what's going on

* ending call - advised lisa if the consultant can't fix the problem or give me the information i need to fix the problem, he's just wasting her time and money... she'll mention that to him when his mood improves / resolved

I wish someone would pay me $80 an hour to make stupid decisions and blame someone else for the consequences.
Mistaken identity

Caller: "Why do I always get an error message saying 'we do not relay' when I try to send email out through you?"

Operator: "That would be because you're not one of our customers."

Caller: "You mean I need to sign up an account with you just to use your email servers?"

Operator: "Well, yes."

Caller: "That sucks."


Goodbye warranty, hello electrostatic damage.

You shouldn't touch the PC's internals unless you're well grounded -- in reality as well as electrically.
Don't try this at home

Customer: "I followed your advice from earlier, and now I can't see where to put the plugs back in."

Operator: "Okay, there should be two sockets on the back of the PC, one labeled 'phone' and the other labeled 'line' --"

Customer: "Not anymore, now they're on the desk."

Operator: "Sorry? What was it you did?"

Customer: "Took the lid off the computer and pulled the cards out, like you told me."

Operator: "No, cords! Cords! You were meant to check the cords!"

Customer: "Well, help me get these cards back in and I will."

Minor inconvenience

Operator: "I'd like you to take the mouse up to the top left-hand corner and open the 'My Computer' icon --"

Customer: "I can't. I'm blind."

Operator: "Do you have speaking screen software installed?"

Customer: "No."

Operator: "Um... how do you normally make use of the computer?"

Customer: "This isn't my computer."

(Just as an aside, speaking screen browsers can only manage text. If you're a web designer or have a website of your own, be kind and include brief text descriptions in your image tags.)

Mistaken identity

Customer: "I'm not getting any email, and I know people have been sending me plenty of messages."

Operator: "Okay, what happens when you try to retrieve your messages?"

Customer: "Nothing."

Operator: "Is there an error message displayed on the screen?"

Customer: "I suppose there must be. I can't remember."

Operator: "...right. What's your email address?"

Customer: "It's abc@RIP.com."

Operator: "I can't seem to find that address on our system here."

Customer: "Well, it's right here on mine. Except that it's spelled wrong, it has a 'G' instead of an 'A'."

Operator: (silent cursing) "Okay, gbc@RIP.com. Right, I've found that. There don't appear to be any messages waiting."

Customer: "There must be."

Operator: "The mailbox is empty -- hang on, this mailbox appears to have someone else' name set up on it?"

Customer: "Yes, that address was used by the woman who had this position before me."

Operator: (short pause to regain composure) "Mr Customer, do you have the details of your own account?"

Customer: "...I have to go now. I have a school to run."


I thought you had to complete school in order to work there? Even the caretaker should know a rake when he steps on one.
Questionable priorities

Customer: "It's going to take you two days to fix my phone?! I can't believe this -- I have a father dying in hospital, you're telling me they can't contact me for two days?"

Operator: "Well, they could call you on your other line --"

Customer: "NO! That one's for the internet!"

Unrealistic expectations

Notes taken from a trouble ticket:

* caller advises me that as a support agent it's my job to listen without interrupting while he vents

* interrupted caller to advise him that while he was venting, another customer has reserved the tech callout booking he wanted


It's a popular myth that technicians work faster if you interrupt them every 20 minutes.
Unrealistic expectations

Notes taken from a trouble ticket:

09/07/03 16:24 chrisk ticket_update

* valerie calling

* what is progress on sending email? - advised the senior tech team is still looking into this

* how long will it take to solve? - not sure, have eliminated several possible causes, but specific cause is not yet isolated

* how long will it take before we know how long it will take? - don't know yet, need to narrow down the remaining list of possibles

* can she speak to senior tech? - no, they can't stop what they're doing to take a phone call

* valerie would like us to know she intends to continue frequently calling for updates to pressure us until we solve the problem

* advised valerie that if we need to call our senior technicians away from working on the problem to explain the current status of the investigation, it will take longer to fix

* valerie advises she will complain to her account manager about this intolerable situation - advised that's a good idea / closed pending customer input

Everything the hard way

Customer: "Hi, one of my friends just called me and told me that she left a bunch of voicemail messages on my number."

Operator: "Okay. What seems to be the problem?"

Customer: "Well, did she or didn't she?"

Shoe on the other foot

Notes taken from a trouble ticket:

09/07/03 14:19 chrisk ticket_open

* craig calling / Win98 / dynalink 56k w. rockwell drivers

* cannot retrieve email - outlook express error 0x800ccc0e - cannot connect to server
* checked connection log - looks okay
* tried connecting via dun - successful
* checked email settings - correct
* still can't receive - same error
* pinged customer's ip address - good response, no firewall
* deleted/recreated email profile in outlook express - same problem
* had customer ping pop3 server - good response
* had customer telnet to pop3 server - unable to open connection
* antivirus software? - yes, norton 2003 - disabled - telnet - same result
* rebooted - email now coming in on first try - and I feel like a damn fool... / resolved

[Note for non-geeks - rebooting is the Swiss army knife of tech support. It's an easy fix for a good half of all problems, so by taking the caller through all those other processes first, I was doing the equivalent of taking a non-functional appliance apart to examine all the components one by one and only then remembering to check whether it was turned on...]

Mea maxima culpa.

All I can say in my own defense is that at least I got him his email in the end.

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