Tech Support Tales

November 23, 2022 | Scott Mazza

Tech Support Tales

Computer trouble? The average Joe or Jane might think they’ve had it, but nothing holds a candle to these Tech Support stories, as told by Reddit.

1. Everyday Excellence

I was thrust a laptop by an angry executive early this morning with him complaining that his laptop had locked up again. Normally we have a ticketing system in place for any and all tech issues. However, when an exec wants something he bypasses the system, because he can.

So I go through the normal routine of diagnosis and through my efforts I see that the issue is simply bad memory. I replace the memory and take the unit back to the exec. That’s when it went from annoying to infuriating. He tells me he refuses to take the unit unless I have made 100 percent sure that everything that was wrong with it is fixed.

Internally I wanted to punch this man, but I held it in and simply asked him what other issues he was having and pulled out a notepad. He ran through a load of issues that all screamed "just clean out your applications” to me and I took his unit back to my desk.

After going through and cleaning out installed programs used literally once and never again and cleaning out junk data, I found that a folder in his roaming was reading 12GB, but was hidden. I log in with my credentials and enable viewing hidden or protected files and I see that the hidden folder was from 2014.

Basically, it was just a bunch of pictures and looked to be a temporary folder created by one of the old programs I removed. Some kind of picture manager or some such. Normally when we see personal pictures on the machine, we are supposed to delete them immediately. Now, no one EVER does this as we are not that big of jerks in the IT dept. Plus this guy was an exec, so I decided to just move the pictures to his desktop under a folder I created called Old Pics.

I took the laptop to him and informed him of the pictures, telling him I left it up to him if he wanted them deleted or not. He thanked me for my time and I went back to work. This ended up having an enormous effect. About an hour later him and his wife, who had come up to join him for lunch, came over to my desk. He seemed very happy and she was crying.

Now normally when I have nothing to do and a boss comes over, I stand up to greet them. Just the way I was raised, I guess. I was not prepared for what followed and was totally shocked by the outcome. The lady wanted to thank me for finding the pictures and the exec reached out to shake my hand, thanking me profusely before pulling me into a hug in front of the entire IT department.

I awkwardly hugged him back and he let me go, embarrassed. My eyes are wide, flabbergasted and totally unprepared for this, extremely out-of-character moment from this guy. Barely able to hold back the tears, his wife tells me that the pictures I recovered were thought to be lost. In 2012, their four-year-old son had passed of leukemia and the pictures I recovered were taken right before his diagnosis at three years of age.

Because of a house fire a few years ago, they thought they lost every last photo of their son. Apparently those were the photos I had recovered. His wife reached out to hug me and everyone in the IT department stared at their screens hard with puffy eyes as we were all not expecting this kind of emotional event today.

My boss came out of his office to personally thank me and forwarded an email chain to me ahead of a company-wide email that the CEO sent out basically retelling the tale while naming me personally. He threw in words about striving for excellence and the unexpected results of everyday excellence.

I had to turn off my Skype for business as the attaboys kept coming in one after the other. My boss told me to take my lunch early since the flood of messages was making it hard to do my job.

Tech Support TalesShutterstock

2. Opening Up The World

I work in a store that offers technical support for consumer-level technology. A few days ago, I had an elderly gentleman that we'll call Pete in. Our receptionist made him a walk-in appointment earlier that day and I ended up taking it. When I opened it all up, the only notes I saw were "Third-party software, hard of hearing”.

I walked up to Pete and greeted him, saw that he was staring at my lips as to read them, then I asked if he knew American Sign Language (ASL). I've been trying to learn ASL it as a sort of side-hobby for a few months now. Pete signs "yes" and we continue the conversation in Sign. Turns out the issue is with Skype, which keeps crashing on his roughly five-year old tablet, and he's been having difficulty video-calling his wife who is Deaf.

She lives in a different continent. She travelled there for a temporary work opportunity and would be there for two years. This being the mid-way point, it's now been one year since Pete's seen his wife. Skype is the only way they both know how to communicate efficiently long-distance, as neither are comfortable with email or other text-based services.

As I go through verifying that he knows his password and making sure there's a backup of his device, Pete and I are signing back and forth and his face was completely lit up. I felt so good to be able to, albeit slowly, speak with him in his language and give him the time he deserved, even if his reason for visiting us had little to do with our physical product.

Once everything was verified and backed up, I uninstalled Skype and reinstalled it, had Pete sign in, and use Skype's test call to ensure it wouldn't crash (as it would immediately upon call creation before). Test call went through fine. Sweet. Then the magic happens.

I looked down to write a few extra notes and began to hear some coughs. I looked up and there was Pete, crying while waving to his wife through Skype. Pete called her and she picked up! He introduced me to her and told me that it'd been three weeks since they'd heard from each other. I stepped away to give him a moment alone.

It's moments like these that keep me going as a technician. Even though I barely touched Pete's tablet, "fixing" it made me feel like a hero. It's been a few days and I can still see his smile.

Just thought I'd share, thanks for reading.

Tech Support TalesShutterstock

3. Let Me Upgrade You

I work as an Executive Support Technician for a large company. I have a team of eight people under me and we support high-ranking executives and their administrative assistants. Because of the nature of our work, we have the ability to "get things done" that the standard help desk cannot.

We can force upgrades that would otherwise be denied, get things expedited, skip the normal procedures and talk directly with the people who fix the issues. While we are executive support, there are still levels. When the CEO is in town, one of us is camped outside of wherever he might be in case there is any sort of issue.

For lower people, we make sure things get done as quick as possible, but it's not a drop everything situation. As we prepped for the releases of the new iPhones, we braced for the flood of "I NEED this" that inevitably happens. We slot in orders immediately for the top of the pyramid guys and then work our way down, replacing or sometimes having to tell them that they have to wait because the device they have is too new to warrant replacing.

So on Monday, the assistant of a lower-end executive put in a request to get both herself and the executive new 256 Gig iPhone Xs. The executive was put on the approval list, with a wait, but the assistant was denied. She had just been issued an iPhone 7 a few months ago, and she began to raise heck about "I have to support him, so I need to have the exact same phone etc".

Still denied. On Tuesday, I get a ticket from the assistant. Her iPhone will not turn on, and she requires a replacement with and attached ticket for an iPhone X request. I send one of my drones out to investigate. It got weird fast. I immediately get a text saying I have to get out there.

I get out there and the iPhone is wet, not just wet, but dripping wet, like just pulled out of a glass of water wet with a screen that could only be called heavily cracked. The assistant states, "I was using it and it fell into my water bottle". So we take the phone back to our area and I've called my manager over and we explain it.

It's obvious what has happened. We've toweled it off and when we turn it over, water drizzles out of the cracked screen. Well as luck would have it, we have spares, so I pluck a nice 64 gig Rose Gold iPhone 6s that was returned when the previous owner departed the company. I call and have the SIM card reprovisioned, then I re-assign the phone in Airwatch and I have the phone returned to the assistant.

10 minutes later, said assistant is at our door, ranting, screaming and saying that she can't work like this, she needs a new phone and if we don't give her one the “EXECUTIVE" will make us give her one. I step in and tell her "A permanent replacement is just beginning the process, we have had to issue you this phone as a loaner so you can continue working until a permanent replacement is sourced". It did not go the way she wanted.

Cue Wednesday. The approval process has come back denied for her replacement, and the loaner phone is now her permanent phone. This info is relayed to the assistant, who is fuming, lots of "EXECUTIVE WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS" and statements of "I can't believe this is happening to me, how will I work”?

Wednesday afternoon, same assistant, new ticket: iPhone broken, need replacement. I head out myself to see the issue and the phone looks like it was dragged behind a semi-truck for 100 miles. The screen is shattered, a big chunk is missing out of the top near the camera, big dents are in the back.

I calmly ask "What happened? This phone was perfect this morning”? The reply: "Well, since you gave me an old phone, my case didn't fit and it slipped out of my hands and fell down the stairs”. “Well ok, could you tell me when and what stairwell this happened in”?

She does, and I take the mangled phone, I grab my manager and we head off to the security office, and we pull the tapes. Oh, the footage was so good. On the video we see the assistant walking up the stairwell (concrete stairs, metal hand rail, your typical big building non-public stairwell). She reaches the top and proceeds to fling the phone, like one would skip a stone, down from the 6th floor to the mid-floor landing.

It lands, and then she steps on it and kicks it down to the 5th floor. It bangs off the metal fire door and she picks it up, examines it, and then tosses it down the stairs to towards the 4th floor, bouncing off a few steps before landing on the mid landing between 5 and 4.

She picks the device up and pries a large section of something off the phone (we suspect this was the chunk missing on the camera) and then heads back up the stairs, running the phone against the cinder block wall as she climbs. Welp.

We grab a copy of the video, we head straight to HR, we sit with the personnel director, we show her the video, we show her the two damaged iPhones, we show her the tickets, I relay her demanding an iPhone X and how she has taken to destroying company property to get it.

Termination follows, however the she has gone home for the day. Meanwhile her accounts are disabled, her security badge flagged.

7:30 am today, the assistant attempts to get into the building and her badge does not work, so she has to walk to the security office. The security officer takes the badge and walks her to HR.

8 am, the security officer and two members of HR are escorting the assistant out of the building. She's alternating between yelling and crying, and demanding that the executive be called and that she's being framed.

As she's brought through the main foyer, I'm on the second floor balcony that overlooks the entrance. She looks up at me, curses me, and is gone. Both phones, her laptop and other equipment have been placed with the company lawyers as a precaution.

Maybe I'll buy my team pizza for lunch today, seems like the right thing to do.

Tech Support TalesPexels

4. Turn A Blind Eye

The repair company I work at is a small business and has two locations, one of which is in an interesting area. As such, we get a lot of interesting people. This guy came in yesterday.

User: "Hi, can you show me how to access someone's text messages? I found some tutorials on YouTube but they didn't work"
I assume he wants to back up the messages, so I start walking him through how to sync his phone
User: "No no, I want someone else's messages"
Me: "Wait, this isn't a device you own”?
User: "No"
Me: "Do you have consent from the owner to read their messages”?
User: "No, that's why I need you to show me how to see them"
Me: "Sir, if you don't have permission from the other person to read their messages I can’t access them. I can't show you how to do that here"
User: "Well do you know anywhere else that can"
Me: "No sir, I'm not aware of any other repair shops that can help you do that, it's a federal crime. I can pull up the relevant laws regarding unauthorized access to someone's personal devices if you'd like"

Cue standard rant of "you guys are supposed to be the experts" as I stare blankly into the distance, losing more faith in humanity.

Tech Support TalesShutterstock

5. The Bing

Another tale from my out of hours IT desk.

Me: Hi, Service Desk


Note: yes, the caller actually said "the Bing".

Me: I'm sorry. Can you confirm which system you're referring to as I'm unfamiliar with that

Caller: Google Bing! Really how can you not know this

Me: Google Bing is not a system we support out of hours, nor in hours. This sounds like a mash up between two different search engines. What exactly is happening?

Caller: I need Google Bing to do my job! This is unacceptable. I can't find Google Bing anywhere on my PC. How dare you remove this! I need you to fix Google Bing immediately!

Me: May I remote in to take a look

Turns out that caller had a shortcut on her desktop called "Google Bing". This opened the Bing Search homepage in Google Chrome. She'd accidentally changed the name of the shortcut from "Google Bing" to something else and hence could not find it.

Me: Okay , that has been renamed now so you're good to go

Caller: Next time don't mess around with my computer! I know you guys changed this, I'm not stupid! I have a certificate of proficiency in computering.

Me: okay thanks for calling…click.

Phone Calls Gone WrongShutterstock

6. Pay It Forward

My story starts on what was a normal day taking calls on the front line for a large cable company. The job pays well and for the most part the people I deal with are fairly nice to talk to. Quite often we'll get calls from seniors (especially in the morning) who have equipment issues such as "snow on screen" or "no signal" on their TV sets connected to our digital equipment.

Now my heart does go out to some of these folks because up until recently (past few years) we would supply straight analog cable to many homes. However, most cities we service nowadays require our digital equipment to receive channels, and this has caused a lot of frustration with older people who don't know how to operate said equipment. So often times we get customers who are repeat offenders with long ticket histories of these types of issues.

I get a call from an older gentleman who's quite bitter and mean right off the bat. He doesn't like that I asked for his address and telephone number to verify the account, hates that he has to speak with a machine before reaching an agent, etc. I have some experience handling these types of customers. But this call was going to be very different.

I spent over 45 minutes with this guy (we'll call him Mr Smith) trying to get his TV set connected to the digital box properly so he could receive a picture. No luck. He was getting clearly frustrated by the whole ordeal and started blaming me for not being able to do my job properly, how I was useless, etc.

Whatever. Like I said, I've dealt with this before so I tried my best not to take it personally, but eventually I had to ask him if we could book a service tech to the home (a courtesy call) to get his TV working correctly. Unfortunately, our booking calendar was showing an appointment three days out. That's when he dropped this on me:

"Don't bother sending a technician, because I'll be dead by then. I'm 94 and TV is the only thing I have left, are you really going to make me wait for a tech”? I instantly felt bad. I mean, I've heard every complaint in the book as to why people don't want to wait for a tech but this one kind of got to me. I'm in my mid-20s so honestly I can't even imagine how it must feel to utter those words.

I spoke with my supervisor, who said they'd see if we could get someone out earlier...but we couldn't promise anything. So I let Mr Smith know and he was predictably not very happy with my answer. At that point it almost sounded like he started to cry and went into how he has no family left, and no friends that come visit—this was after I asked if there was anyone in his building that might be able to help.

Man. I felt terrible. I knew what I had to do. I took it upon myself to ask Mr Smith if I could pay a visit. He lived in a small city over from where I was, not very far to drive. He was a little shocked I was willing to do this, but sounded thankful I was willing to come out and help him personally.

I head over, get to the residence and meet him. Within 30 seconds I had the cable running again (simple input change) and even brought him a simplified remote for his set top box to avoid this problem in the future. That's when he started crying. He goes into how he hasn't actually spoken or really interacted with anyone for years.

He gave me a hug and told me how thankful he was that I came out and helped him, and told me how sorry he was for being so mean earlier on. I said it was no problem and I was happy to help, and that was it, I left. Three weeks later, my supervisor comes to my desk and asks me if I could come speak with her for a bit about an account for "Mr Smith".

Turns out, he sent the cable company a letter outlining how thankful he was for helping him with his issue and how it really "made an old man happy again for once in a very long time". The letter was framed and put on our front entrance to retail. I guess the moral of this story is no matter how nasty someone is to you over the phone, sometimes they're not always a terrible person and just going through a lot.

I still think about Mr Smith occasionally when I get those nasty customers and it makes me feel a little better.

Tech Support TalesPexels

7. Down To The Last Cent

I had a customer call me up in mobile tech support with the problem that his data wasn't working for 20 minutes. Pretty quickly I find out why: He had accidentally turned off his data on the phone menu, which happens a lot and usually the customer goes "oops silly me". Except this customer starts demanding compensation for his time without service and being very rude about it.

After a couple of minutes he's not getting that this is not something we do. So I get an idea. I tell him I'm going to go speak to my manager. I went up to my manager, explain what's happening, and he says the customer's being ridiculous.

I said, "Listen I have this idea for him, are you okay with this”? then explain my idea.

"Are you kidding? Let me get on call listening before you go back, I wanna hear this”.

I go back to the phone, he gave me the thumbs up that he was ready to listen, and I proceed.

"Right sir, I just had a word with my manager and I've managed to swing something for you, so let's break this down. You pay us 39.99 a month for three services, calls, texts, and data, so let's divide your bill by three. That gives us 13.33, so let's divide further by 30 days, which gives 44 cents for your daily data. Now you had your data turned off for 20 minutes but for the purpose of this I'll round it up to an hour, so we just need to divide that 44 cents by 24 hours. So that means you’re looking at compensation of 1.8 cents so let's just say 2”.

I looked over at my manager during this and he was covering his mouth laughing. Customer goes; "Are you having a laugh”? "No sir, the math is there”. "...Go on then, I'll take it".

Tech Support TalesPexels

8. I’m Your Man

This happened to a colleague of a colleague, who I’ll call “Hero”. So Hero is happily speeding along in his car, running a few yellow lights because he’s a bit late, etc. Finally, the law catches up to him and pulls him over. Here's how the conversation went:

Officer: Can I see your driving license, please?

Hero (with smug grin): Certainly. Here it is, officer.

The officer takes license back to motorcycle and speaks into radio.

Hero: It's not going to help you any, though.

Officer: (with no reaction): What do you mean?

Hero: (with a wider grin): The server you have to check it against is down.

Officer (still no reaction): And why do you say that?

Hero: Because I'm the guy they called to get on site and get it up again.

Our hero did not get a fine this time.

Said To Police factsPxHere

9. Start Em While They’re Young

I spent three awful years working in a call center, two of which I was roped into acting as tech support despite the fact that I'd originally been hired to sell insurance. The calls I got made me weep for humanity. After my son was born, I decided not to return from maternity leave.

I just couldn't handle staying up all night with a screaming newborn, and then coming in to work and calmly asking people how the heck they can't see the huge red "CREATE AN ACCOUNT" button smack-dab in the middle of the page, but they can find our phone number in tiny font up in the corner to call and demand that we do it for them.

Well, you guys, my baby is now a toddler, and I just had that misty-eyed, hand-on-heart, proud parent moment that you always hear about. My son was playing with his Brilliant Baby Laptop, which is basically a bright plastic clamshell that plays music when the baby mashes the keyboard.

Suddenly, the music stopped. The baby was confused. Further button-mashing had no effect. I watched from the sofa as my son frowned, experimentally smashing the buttons harder. Then, as I looked on in amazement and pride, he turned it off and on again. "Welcome”! It announced, the screen lighting up in a joyful display. My son contentedly returned to his button-mashing, and I shed a proud tear.

So what if your kid can say "mommy" and "daddy" and knows how to use a spoon? Mine can troubleshoot!

Tech Support TalesPexels

10. Pay Up

Sometimes as a consultant you get to see how an office functions from an outsider perspective. Since you are an independent contractor, the company treats you differently than an employee. Also, just due to the nature of contract work, your engagement is usually short term. This makes you a temporary fixture and sometimes you are just treated as the "fly on the wall" like you do not exist.

This can lead to some interesting observations, including seeing train wrecks in progress. This is one of those tales. So as a consultant, you are always going to be the "IT Guy" whether you like it or not. No matter how you market your services, every single company is going to assume you can do anything with a computer. And, when business is slow, this is not necessarily a bad thing if you just need work.

About 10 years ago, I found myself in a situation. I got an inquiry through my website asking about assistance deploying some workstations and other mundane tasks. Usually, I would pass on this kind of work, but it was winter and the other client work was dry that month. A guy still has to pay the bills, so I followed up and within a day the scope of work was signed.

Easy stuff. The company had its own IT department, but just needed some extra hands. I was going to be one of three outside contractors who would deploy some workstations, do some server admin work, and set up some other equipment for a new department. The money wasn't the best, but it was time I had free and it was all swing shift work (meaning no traffic and I get to sleep in). Not bad.

The first day, I report as requested at about 3 pm and talk to our contact. He was a Senior Engineer in charge of part of the IT department there. Saying he really doesn't have time to do anything more than a quick introduction as they are slammed with work, he shows us the ropes and leaves us to it. Between three of us, we break down our specialities and parse out the work.

Everyone knows this is a cake walk of a job and wants to just get it done fast as the pay was flat rate. I take the server work and see my contact, who the System Administrator. Figuring he was probably gone for the day as it was mid-evening, I was just going to leave him a note asking him to call me, but to my surprise he is at his desk. I start to get a bad inkling.

In fact, just about everyone in the IT department are milling around. Didn't think too much of it at the time, though, just that it was one busy department and the guys must be pulling double shifts. He shows me the systems and I get to work.

Around midnight we are wrapping up for the night and the three of us break down what we have left with the Senior Engineer, who is still on site. The plan is to wait until Friday night to deploy the workstations and get everything in place. The Senior Engineer says most of his team will probably be there all weekend anyhow so doesn't matter to him.

I left thinking, "Man that is a busy place...those guys must really be pulling down the overtime...I wonder what is going on they have so much work” as I walked out the door that night. Soon enough, I would find out the deal. Friday night I head to the work site a little early, figuring if we all pull a long night we should be able to wrap it up and all get our weekend back.

Things are going great and we are ahead of schedule, so the Senior Engineer offers to take us out a local diner while we wait for the office to close up so we can deploy workstations without tripping over people. At the diner, the Senior Engineer (SE) says, "I want to thank you guys for all your hard work. We are all overworked and when we got approval to contract out this job everyone was excited”.

Me: "Hey glad to be of service. Looks like you guys are crazy busy. Is everyone pulling doubles and doing weekends to handle your ticket load”?

SE: "Oh we are understaffed so we all have to pull extra hours”

Me: "That sucks, but must be some great overtime”

SE: "Overtime....not really...we are all salaried...some loophole or something...we just put in the time because we all need the job right now”

The conversation trailed off from there, but it left me thinking, "in this state most IT workers are eligible for overtime as a matter of law...there is no loophole like that...something isn't right”.

Back at the work site...I'm in the network closet with the Systems Administrator hooking up some ports and finishing the server work. He is a friendly guy, so we start chatting.

Me: "I was talking to your buddy and it seems like you guys work insane hours here”. I ask this, trying to fish for a little information.

Systems Admin (SA): "Oh yeah, it has been like this for a year. 60 hours is a light week these days. It’s ridiculous”

Me: "Yeah the other guy said you don't get overtime”

SA: Laughs. "That’s what the boss tell us. Let me show you something”.

He pulls up an email exchange he had with his manager. It is dated about 10 months ago and makes the very point I thought—that the entire department should be getting overtime and the law requires it. His boss's response in bold and caps was "IT IS COMPANY POLICY TO NOT PAY ANY OVERTIME. WORKING MORE THAN 40 HOURS IS PART OF THE JOB. DEAL WITH IT OR FIND ANOTHER PLACE TO WORK”. 

Then the SA smirks and shows me his response to the boss, "Sure. OK. Whatever" (his emphasis). And that was the end of the exchange. But it wasn’t the end of the story.

Me: "Look I'm not a lawyer, but you might want to call up the labor department...I'm pretty sure it is against the law for you to not be getting overtime”.

Then to my surprise, the SA pulls up another email from his personal account. "Oh it is blatantly against the law. I asked a lawyer and this was his response”. He then showed me a memo explaining the law and that most likely a lawsuit would be successful. This was dated about nine months ago.

Me: (confused) "So you guys know you should be getting overtime but are not getting paid and everyone is OK with that...”?

SA: "We all make sure to log all of our hours and document the time”.

Me: (still confused) "But you still aren't getting actually paid overtime”?

SA: "No, but we will. Here is the kicker. According to the lawyer, the labor department will look back at the hours we put in for the last 12 months and award us retroactive overtime. So all of us just log our time and keep records, then in about a month we are going to file a claim all together. The company is going to be on the hook for all that overtime and they won't be allowed to fire any of us for reporting them either”. Then came the coup de grace.

SA: "We all figured when this whole thing started if we pressed the point back then they would just figure out a way to screw us. So we just all decided to stay quiet, put in the time they tell us to work, and we will get our 'bonus' check when it is all said and done if this stuff is all back dated”.

Now that is some cold stone strategizing.

Me: "How many hours do you think you guys have piled up”?

SA: "Hard to tell. Everyone keeps their own paper logs to keep it quiet. We also don't talk about it too much, so nothing gets out, but last time we met outside of work it was a boat load of time. I figure, for myself, they will owe me about 13-14 months of salary in overtime and when it is all said and done, add up damages, penalties, interest, it will probably total almost two years of pay”.

Me; "Holy...”

SA: "So if the guys won't talk about it and seem eager to work all these long hours, now you know why”.

We finished up the job that night. I exchanged contact information with a few guys and said if they had any other contract work to think about giving me a call. That was it, until...Three months later, I am at another job and see an email come in from the Systems Administrator, subject line "Overtime Claim”.

"He, Hope you are doing well. We all ended up filing a big overtime claim with the state and the company fired us for supposedly falsifying our timesheets. The lawyer is sorting it all out, but anyway I wanted to know if I could give your name to an investigator who is looking for witnesses to verify some of the extra hours we worked”.

I agreed to talk to the investigator and got a call about a week later. He asked me some routine questions about times and dates and wanted me to email him over some proof I did the job. Then he started going into the details of the case.

"We got this company for probably a million in overtime and damages between all the guys in the department plus the firing is off-book, so that is going to be another few hundred thousand on top of it. The insurance company wants to settle and once we wrap up the due diligence work I think these guys are all going to make out rather nicely”.

I didn't hear anything for a while, until another email came in from the Systems Administrator, subject line "RE: Overtime Claim":

"Just wanted to let you know we settled this whole thing. Company caved pretty quick once it was clear we kept honest logs of our time and the local management violated parent company regulations for the sake of making their site budget look better. Can't go into details, but we all got sizable checks, enough to pay off some loans, and go back to school. I'll have to find a new job but after I get my grad degree that shouldn't be an issue. Appreciate you talking to the investigators. Thanks”.

Tech Support TalesPexels

11. Calling All Angels

This gem happened a few days ago.

Me: Service Desk


Me: Which server are you referring to?


Me: okay...what is it that you are trying to do?


(yes, she was SHOUTING the entire time)

Me: Please can you stop shouting at me and tell me which server you are talking about or what it is that you are trying to do? We has many different servers for different things, I need to know exactly what isn't working?


(In the background I've already loaded up our server monitoring tools. There are no alerts)

Me: I've checked our monitoring, I'm not seeing any servers as being down. Which department are you calling from?


Me: Can I get your Staff ID please?

Caller: IRRELEVANT. click

10 minutes later...

Me: Service Desk


Me: Nothing.


Me: You still haven't told me which server is down or what is not actually working?


Me: Ma'am I can see you are calling me from your Desk Phone, is that correct?

Caller: YES!

Me: and this is the phone you cannot make calls from, correct?

Caller: YES!

Me: ...

Me: Do you see why I'm having trouble understanding the problem?

Caller: THE SERVER IS DOWN I CAN'T CALL <obviously not a valid number>

Me: Ma'am that number is three digits short of a valid number, that is why the call is not connecting.


I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.

Tech Support TalesShutterstock

12. Arcane Knowledge

I’m the one who everyone in my family calls when they need help. So I get a call from my grandpa, who is 89 years old, about a new Windows 10 laptop he just got and he needs help setting it up.

Now keep in mind he is the kind of person to blame the machinery if he clicks on the wrong thing, so I already knew this would not end in a phone call. I drove to his place expecting to see it still in the box. That was not the case. When I arrive, I see him already in his desktop, after he somehow managed to install Windows correctly on his own accord—and he’s waiting for me while playing Minesweeper.

As he greets me, he freaking ALT+F4's to close the game and then tells me he cannot connect to the Internet. Not sure what happened in the week I wasn't there, I ask if he could show me the problem. He then OPENS CMD AND PINGS HIS OWN CELLPHONE and then points at the 0 packets text to show me there is no connection.

At this point I’d probably look less surprised if I see an alien invasion. So after showing him that you need to enter the password to connect to his home Wi-Fi, he then asks me how to see his email account again. Still completely stunned, I show him how to access his Outlook account and how to delete some messages.

And the craziest part: When I asked him how did he know about CMD, his answer was: "I learned it from grandma".

Tech Support Horror StoriesShutterstock

13. Surprise Freebie

This happened a while ago. I own my own computer repair business and a customer called me up asking me to build them a computer. They had all the parts and just wanted someone to put it together as they didn't trust themselves. It was a fairly high-end computer, and they spent probably $2,000+ on parts.

I put it together with no issues and they were very happy. When they picked it up, they asked if I could fix up one of their older computers so their kids could play together. The computer they brought in was maybe 2-3 years old but for the time was top-of-the line parts and probably cost $2,000-$2,500. They told me that it needs a hard drive and some extra fans.

I picked up a $100 hard drive, installed the fans, and it ran like a dream. I called them and told them it was ready. They were again really pleased and said they would be by later in the day. Three days later I call them again and ask when they want it and they say they will be in on the weekend.

Seven days later they say they will be by at the end of the day. Two weeks later I call and get no answer so I leave a message and send them an email explaining that starting at the beginning of next month there will be a $20/week storage fee since it's been over 30 days since it was completed. I call them in the middle of the week to again confirm when they wanted it and explain the fee, but no answer so I leave a message and text them.

The week after, I call and no answer so I leave another message, email, and text. On week three there was still no answer. However, they called me back two days later explaining there was a family emergency and they were out of town and they would be by within two days to pick it up. Guess what happened. Three days go by and they don't show up or call.

On week four I call one last time and explain that this will be the last message they will get from me and I will hold on to the computer for 90 days, at which point I will assume you don't want it and I will take ownership. So we are over day 100 and I now have a very good gaming computer for the low investment of $100.

Tech Support TalesPexels

14. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

My friend who works with me in IT saw a ticket had come in one day. It said: "You deleted all my files! I need them to do my job”! He called the woman to see what was going on because we don't delete personal files off of people's computers unless there is a good reason for it and we have the user's permission.

While he was on the phone, he remotes into her computer and noticed everything but the recycling bin was missing on her desktop. He noticed that there were files in the recycling bin, so he opened it and all her files are there.

Him: Here are all your files, did you move them into here?

Her: Yes I did, I moved them in here to recycle them so they will be clean for me to work on them.

Him: .....Excuse me?

Her: Yes, I moved them to the recycling bin to make them new again so I can reuse the files.

Him: This is the trash bin, you would move files here to delete them off of your computer.


So for the next half hour, my buddy had to teach her how to use the “recycling bin”.

Tech Support Horror StoriesShutterstock

15. Your Time Is Mine

This one goes back to 1999 or so. I was working in the corporate headquarters of a very large company. We were responsible for the email system for HQ—about 1,100 users at the time. Like all the systems admins at HQ, I was a contractor. My boss was a guy I'll call Sam. Sam was the site manager.

The customer contact was a guy I'll call Jay. Jay was what they called an IT planner—basically a systems architect. He had dotted-line responsibility over all the systems admins, including me.

I also had a backup there, who I'll call Ben. Ben was a competent systems admin, capable of handling most day-to-day stuff.

We normally kept staff in the office from 8-6 on workdays, with an on-call rotation for certain specialty areas, including email. Back then, we carried a pager (yes, an old school beeper) for on-call duty. My on-call rotation was one week on, one week off. This story happened in my "off" week, when Ben carried the pager.

One Saturday night, at around 3:30 am, my home phone rang. My wife answered, and it was Jay calling. She grumpily handed the phone to me. Now, my wife and I had just gotten home, having been out for much of the night with our neighbors.

I was, for lack of a more refined term, positively hammered at this point. The news I got was utterly disturbing. Jay informed me that there was an email outage, and that I needed to remote in and get it back up immediately, and then drive to the office to start a root cause analysis.

I informed him that I was in no condition to drive (let alone touch a production rig) and asked what Ben told him when he called the on-call pager. Jay told me that he didn't call the on-call pager because this was way too serious of a problem to trust the backup systems admin. He wanted me working on this, and said that if I can't be relied upon to do my job when I was needed, he'd find someone else who could.

Then he hung up the phone. I went back to sleep. The next morning, I had an email from Ben telling me that Jay had called him at home rather than paging the on-call rotation. It was a very simple issue—our backup software went screwy and started writing out hundreds of temp files, which filled up a critical volume on our production email server.

Temp files deleted, email services restarted, problem solved. Total downtime after Ben got the call was about 15 minutes. The next day, I arrived at the office to a note from Sam, my manager, asking me to come see him ASAP. I went to his office, and sitting there was Jay, who was in the process of demanding that I be fired immediately for "drinking at work”.

From there, the conversation went something like this:

Sam: But he wasn't at work. He was at home and wasn't in the on-call rotation this weekend.
Jay: I don't want to hear it about the on-call rotation. He needs to be ready to work when I tell him to. I can't rely on an alcoholic, and I want him gone.
Sam: If he's not on call, he's free to do whatever he wants with his time.

Jay: Not as long as he works for me.

Jay then demands that I hand my office badge to him, and calls security from Sam's phone to have me escorted out of the building. I'm in absolute disbelief at this point. Sam gets up and goes off to points unknown, just as security arrives to see me out to the parking lot. As I'm driving off, I see Jay's boss, I'll call her Mary. Mary is running across the street to the parking lot.

Strange, but I was more focused on how the heck I was going to explain this to my wife when I got home.

I got home, and my wife was sitting on the couch, just absolutely livid. Now this was getting REALLY weird. I hadn't told her what happened yet. "Those jerks fired you”!? I'm confused as heck at this point. My wife told me that Mary called her, and that I need to call her back as soon as possible. Come to find out, when Sam had went off, he was going to Mary's office to explain the situation and keep Jay from firing me.

Mary freaked the heck out. When I saw her running across the street, she was trying to catch me in the parking lot before I left to tell me to come back in. When Mary couldn't find my car, she went back into the office and called the house, intending to leave me a voicemail, but got my wife instead. Mary told my wife what had happened, promised to rein Jay in, and asked her to tell me to come back into the office to sort it out.

So I let them stew for a while. Mary called about 20 minutes after I got home. We let her go to the machine. Sam called as well, just as my wife and I went out to get some lunch. Over lunch, my wife and I talked about how we would handle this, and (largely for financial reasons) we decided to talk to them to see if we could work this out.

We got back home to three more voicemails from Mary and Sam. About 30 seconds after we walked in the door, the phone rang again. This time it was Jay, obviously on speakerphone. Jay apologized to me and asked me to come back to work the next day. I agreed, but as he hung up, I could hear Mary say to him: "J, you're a complete idiot”.

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16. Below My Pay Grade

In early 2000, I got a phone call at home from an IT recruiter. This wasn't uncommon at all. I had at one point or another interacted with half the sleazy recruitment agencies in my city. This call was a little bit different. It was from an in-house recruiter for a tech company, a company that was one of the shining stars of tech where I lived, with a reputation for not only having solid technology in their market, but also being a great place to work.

They were an honest-to-goodness "unicorn" back before anyone called them that. The conversation went something like this:

Recruiter: Hi I’m a recruiter from CoolTechCompany. How are you today?
Me: Doing well, thanks, what can I do for you?

Recruiter: I'm calling because Lynne gave me a copy of your resume, and suggested that I reach out to you about a position we have open.

A bog-standard HR introductory call followed, where I found out that they were looking for a lead Windows systems admin for their internal IT department. Now this confused the heck out of me, because Lynne was my lead, albeit through a dotted line. Let that sink in: My boss sent my resume to a recruiter without my knowledge or permission.

Obviously, this was something that warranted further investigation. So, I called Lynne. Apparently, she had just interviewed at CoolTechCompany and didn't get the job. On the "thanks but no thanks" call from HR, she told the recruiter something to the effect of "Well, that's too bad, but I know someone else you need to talk to. He’s better at this stuff than me, and I think he'd love working at CoolTechCompany”.

And then she sent over my resume, which she had from when she referred me for an internal hire job in another division of the company we both worked at. When I asked her why she did that, her reply chilled me. She just said: "You have to trust me on this one. I can't say more”.

So I had a phone interview with the hiring manager at CoolTechCompany. He and I meshed well, and he decided to bring me in for the full gauntlet interview with the rest of the systems admin team there.

Around this time, I got a meeting request from Jim, a higher-up who had it out for me. At the meeting, Jim informed me that our company had decided to insource all the contract systems admins and bring them on as direct employees—including me. He had an offer letter waiting for me at the meeting.

I opened the offer letter, only to discover that it was a 20% pay cut from what I was earning as a contractor, to do the same job. There was a slight bump in terms of benefits value, but at first glance it was obvious that this was a pay hit no matter how you added it up. Jim also informed me that this wasn't optional, that the insourcing was going to happen whether I liked it or not, and that this was a "take it or leave it" offer.

Not only would this be a pay cut, but I would also be reporting directly to Jim, as would all the other newly-insourced systems admins on the team. Either one of those would be dealbreakers, but I kept my mouth shut, knowing he didn’t like me. I caught up with Lynne a few minutes later. She took one look at my face and knew what had just happened.

"This is why I told you to trust me” she said, before I even said a word. I could have kissed her. So, a couple of weeks later I went in for the full interview at CoolTechCompany, which resulted in an offer that would have been a no-brainer to accept even if I hadn't just had my pay cut. I received that offer just before the planned effective date of the insourcing (and pay hit).

The next day, I walked in to Lynne's cube and let her know that I'd gotten the job. She got this look of utter delight on her face and said to me: "You HAVE to let me be there when you tell Jim”. So, we walked over to his office together, and told him. His response was priceless. He looked absolutely floored, and as usually did when he didn't get his way, immediately went into argument mode.

"All the other people took the job”. True, but two others quit within the first two months because they didn't have the head start on their job search that I did. "You're making a big mistake" (And why would that be?) "Do you think that little company is going to last”? (They did).

The problem was that because of the planned insourcing, there was no mechanism to continue to pay me past the end of that week. Enter Marie. Marie was Jim's boss, who I had a great relationship with. Now, I felt genuinely bad about this, because IT operations at corporate HQ was her responsibility, and this left her with not only no email server support, but only a day to figure out how to ensure continuity.

My backup had quit for unrelated reasons a month before. I was perfectly willing to give two-weeks’ notice as per custom, mind you—they just didn't have a straightforward way to pay me for it. So, Marie called me into her office after Jim had left for the day. I told her that I was already in the interview process at the time Jim gave me the offer.

This was true, although I left out the whole part about Lynne. I said the fact that it was such a big pay cut made it a no-brainer to continue the process. Marie had an utterly stunned look on her face. Then she made a huge revelation. "Pay cut? You all were supposed to be kept at parity”.

What I found out later (through my mole Lynne) was that Jim neglected to relay that instruction to company HR when they were preparing the offer letters. They prepared the offers at what HR deemed to be market rate, which in this case was a substantial pay hit. I never found out if he did that on purpose, but given that he'd complained in the past that he thought we were overpaid for what we did, I'd be willing to hazard a guess that he did.

Anyway, even though Marie upped the offer to match my current pay rate (so much for take it or leave it) and promised that I'd be reporting to her given my past history with Jim, I still declined as my new job had a lot more long-term opportunity. HR was VERY confused at my exit interview when they noticed that I'd been with the company for only nine working days.

Incidentally, I ended up staying at CoolTechCompany for over eight years. It was the best career move I ever made. My only regret about it was that I was never able to get Lynne a job there. On the other hand, Marie stepped in and took away all of Jim's supervisory responsibility, sticking him in a strict technical role. He lasted a few months after that and bailed out to a much smaller company.

Still Mad About FactsShutterstock

17. Will We Never Learn?

I witnessed this astounding IT meltdown around 2004 in a large academic organization. An employee decided to send a broad solicitation about her need for a local apartment. She happened to discover and use an all-employees@org type of email address that included everyone. And by "everyone," I mean every employee in a 30,000-employee academic institution.

Everyone from the CEO on down received this lady's apartment inquiry. Of course, this kicked off the usual round of "why am I getting this" and "take me off this list" and "omg everyone stop replying" responses…to 30,000 employees. It had a huge domino effect. The email started to bog down as a half-million messages apparated into mailboxes.

Still, that wasn't the real problem. That incident might've simmered down after people stopped responding. In a 30k organization, lots of people go on vacation, and some of them (let's say 20) remembered to set their email to auto-respond about their absence. And the auto-responders responded to the same recipients, including that general email address.

So, every "I don't care about your apartment" message didn't just generate 30,000 copies of also generated 30,000 x 20 = 600,000 new messages. Even the avalanche of apartment messages became drowned out by the volume of "I'll be gone 'til November" auto-replies.

That also wasn't the real problem, which, again, might have calmed down all by itself. The REAL problem was that the mail servers were quite diligent. The auto-responders didn't just send one "I'm away" message, they sent an "I'm away" message in response to every incoming message... including the "I'm away" messages of the other auto-responders.

The auto-response avalanche converted the entire mail system into an Agent-Smith-like replication factory of away messages, as auto-responders incessantly informed not just every employee, but also each other, about employee status. It became cataclysmic. The email systems melted down. Everything went offline.

A 30k-wide enterprise suddenly had no email for about 24 hours. And that's not the end of the story. The IT staff busied themselves with mucking out the mailboxes from these millions of messages and deactivating the auto-responders. They brought the email system back online, and their first order of business was to send out an email explaining the cause of the problem, etc. And they addressed the notification email to all-employees@org. But before they sent their email message, they had disabled most of the auto-responders—but they missed at least one.

More specifically: they missed at least two. It all happened again.

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18. A Simple Solution

I worked at Tech Support for a big German retailer, and the CEO’s laptop needed some updates on several programs—because we weren’t allowed to push that remotely on him, as per his rule. I go into his office and he was already annoyed about the fact it was going to take longer than two seconds.

He said he was going on a break, I do the thing and left. Took me 30 seconds. I get a call from him five minutes later: “You screwed up my computer, my screen is flashing and I can’t press anything! Get in here NOW”.

Sweat is pouring down my back as I took the elevator and came back in. “What the heck did you do? I can’t do anything here without you guys messing up every tiny thing. I swear I’m getting a whole new department if this happens again”!

I looked. The screen is flashing and I couldn’t even get to reboot. My panic intensifies. And then I see it. I look over to his side of the desk and there’s a remote numpad with a folder on the enter key. I push the folder off the thing and couldn’t hide the grin off my face. He looks too. “This didn’t happen okay?! Don’t tell anyone downstairs”.

It was the first thing i did. Condescending jerk-wad.

Passive -aggressive revengeShutterstock

19. One Special User

Every office has their special users. The ones who can't figure out anything technical, everything is an emergency, and everything has to function exactly the same or they can't work. At my job, it is the HR lady. Since she is just HR, all her problems boil down to a printer error, Excel, Word, reboot-and-it-works type of issues, and since I am the system admin they are all my responsibility.

However, every issue she has, she comes back to IT, walks right by my desk, goes to the programmer, manager, network admin, and explains the issue. Every time they either tell her to go me or relay the information to me to fix.

A few weeks back, she had a problem with the calculations on an Excel spreadsheet. Everyone was at lunch, so she's forced to ask me. Immediately, I say it is probably rounding up or down because it is only off by a penny. This doesn't suffice, so she ignores me and waits until lunches are done to return.

She goes to programmer guy and like usual, he passes it to me. I email her with a breakdown showing how it is rounding. She still wants programmer guy to look at it, so my manager responds with a message saying he will get to when he can. Well, programmer guy is swamped, the new website launch is getting pushed out, her Excel "problem" gets shelved with her emails coming ever more frequent.

My manager even resends my explanation, but she wants programmer guy to look at it. This is unacceptable, so she goes to the Vice President saying we aren't helping her. My boss sets up a meeting with the three of us for me to explain the issue. It was the shortest meeting ever because I start explaining it and our VP completely understands right away.

The VP cuts me off, looks at HR lady, and says "You pulled me into a meeting for this”?

Lazy People factsShutterstock

20. Sounds About Right

Last year, Help Desk got a call from a user complaining that the laptop we issued him would not read DVDs. He was one of those "I'm a very busy and a very important man, and I don't have time to follow your troubleshooting steps over the phone. Just fix it, darnit” kinda guys. He said he would get someone to drop off the laptop at our office and pick up a loaner.

We received the laptop a couple days later. There was a note attached saying that now it wasn't even booting into Windows anymore. Sure enough, he was right—it didn't even attempt to load Windows, and instead we were greeted by the "Non-system disk or disk error" message. It sounded and looked like the PC was trying to boot from the DVD drive instead of the HDD.

We opened the disk tray, and saw the culprit. There was a DVD in there, all right , but it was placed upside down. We flipped the disc over. It couldn’t have been more perfect. He was trying to watch Dumb and Dumber.

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21. In Desperate Need Of A Fall Guy

A few years back, I was working in a manufacturing company as IT manager. Like many industries, we had a number of machines with embedded computer systems. For the sake of convenience, we called these "production machines" because they produce stuff. By and large, the PCs we have inside the production machines are just normal desktop PCs that have a bunch of data acquisition cards in them.

Invariably these PCs are purchased and configured when this production machine is being commissioned, and then just left as-is until the production machine is retired. In some cases, this can be as long as 20 years. Please bear in mind that this is 20 years inside a dusty, hot factory environment.

I've been in manufacturing environments before, and this concept is not new to me. Thanks to a number of poignant lessons in the past, I make it my business to understand these PCs inside and out. I like to keep them on a tight refresh cycle, or when it's not practical (in the case of archaic hardware or software), keep as many spares as possible.

Also, regular backups are important. You just have to understand that unlike a normal PC, it can be difficult to do and plan it well in advance. More often than not, these PCs aren't IT's responsibility; they fall under engineering or facilities. Even so, these guys understand that IT runs just about every other PC in the business and welcome any advice or assistance that IT can provide. Finally, these PCs are usually tightly integrated into a production machine, and failure of the PC means the machine stops.

And so we have today's stars: Me, the new IT manager, and Aaron, the site's facilities manager. He's in charge of the maintenance of the site, including all of these production machines. He's super paranoid about people trying to take his job, so he guards all his responsibilities jealously and doesn't communicate anything lest they get the drop on his efforts.

Oh, and he has a fixation about not spending company money, even to the point of shafting the lawn-mowing guy out of a few hours pay. Then there’s the vice president of operations, the factory boss who’s a no-nonsense sort of guy, plus one of the old boys of the factory, Dale, who’s a man in his 70s.

I'm new, but in my first few weeks I've already had a number of run-ins with Aaron. I'm a fairly relaxed guy, but I have no qualms about letting someone dig their own grave and fall into it—and in Aaron’s case, I'd be happy to lend him my shovel. My pet hate was when organising new network drops, I will always run a double when we needed a single. We're paying working-at-heights money already, and a double drop is material cost only. He'd invariably countermand all my orders and insist on singles.

Then a few weeks or months later, I'd have the sparkie guy in again to install the second drop, at another $4k. And then there was the time that Aaron was getting shirty because I was holding up a project of his. Well sorry, if you are running a project that requires 12-16 network ports, you'd better at least talk to the IT guys prior to the day of installation.

Not only will you not have drops, you won't have switch ports. And if you didn't budget for them, or advise far enough in advance that I could, then you can wait until I get around to it. Failure to plan is not an emergency. So you could see that we didn't exactly gel together well. Which brings us to these production machines, and the PCs nested within.

Every attempt for me to try and document, or even understand them, was shut down by Aaron.

Me: Hardware and software specifications?

Aaron: That's my job, get lost.

Me: Startup and shutdown procedures?

Aaron: That's my job, get lost.

Me: Backup?

Aaron: That's my job, get lost.

Me: Emergency contacts?

Aaron: That's my job, get lost.

You get the picture. It resulted in a strong and terse email from Aaron to leave it alone. He had all the documentation, contacts, backups, and didn't need or want my meddling. I was not to touch any production machine’s PC under any circumstance. Moving forward a few months and I'm helping one of the factory workers on their area's shared PC.

It's located right next to one of these production machines. It's old. The machine itself was nearly an antique, but the controls system had been "recently" upgraded. I had actually seen this software in a different company, so I had some basic familiarity with it. Still, these particular production machines are rare, only a few of them exist in the world.

We bought this one from a company that had gone out of business a few years earlier. It was Test and Tag day and Aaron was running around a sparkie guy to do the testing. My earlier instruction to the sparkie was to not disconnect any computer equipment if it was not powered off. And so it came time to test this production machine's PC.

The sparkie wasn't going to touch it while it was on. Luckily Aaron came prepared with his thoroughly documented shutdown procedure: Yank the power cords. The test passed, new labels were applied to the power cord, he plugged it back in and turned it back on, then ran off to his next conquest without waiting for the boot to finish. This was the beginning of the trouble.

10 minutes later, the machine operator starts grumbling. I have a quick peek and see that the control software had started, but the screen was garbled and none of the right measurements were showing. Aaron is called over. He took one look, pales, and then runs off. Another 10 minutes later, the operator looks at me and asks for help.

I call Aaron’s mobile, and it's off. I called Vice President’s mobile and suggest that he comes over immediately. 10 minutes later, the operator, Vice Present, and I are looking at this machine. It's screwed. There's the better part of a million dollars’ worth of product to be processed by this machine, and the nearest alternate machine is in Singapore, belonging to a different company.

If the processing isn't done within soon, the product will expire and be scrapped. 40% of revenue is from product processed by this machine. We’re screwed. 10 minutes later, we still can't get a hold of Aaron. We can't talk to him about the "backups" or any emergency contacts that he knows about. We can't even get his phone to ring.

So as I have said, I have used this software before and have a basic understanding. I know enough that the configuration is everything, and the configuration is matched to the machine. But I also knew a guy who did some of the implementations. A call to him gave me a lead, and I followed the leads until about four calls later, I had the guy who implemented this particular machine.

This is the old boy from above. He had retired 10 years earlier, but the Vice President had persuaded him to come out of retirement for an eyewatering sum of money. A few hours later, this guy took one look at the machine and confirmed that the database was screwed. We'd need to restore it from backup. Aaron is still not contactable.

Me: Let's assume for a moment that there is no backup. What do we need to do?

Old Guy: Normally I'd say pray, buy you must have done that already because I haven't kicked the bucket yet.

To cut a long story short, we had to rebuild the database. But not from scratch. Old Guy’s MO was when setting up a machine, when he was done, he'd create and store a backup database on the machine. The only issue was that 20 years of machine updates needed to be worked out. It also just so happens that through sheer effort, I am able to compare a corrupted database file to a good one, and fool with it enough to get it to load in the configuration editor.

It's still mangled, but we are able to use that as a reference to build the lost configuration. All told, it took four days to bring this machine back online. But we did. To be honest, I certainly wasn't capable of doing this solo, and without my efforts to patch the corrupted database file, Old Guy would not have been able to restore 20 years of patches that we had no documentation for.

And what of Aaron? After we started working on the problem, he showed up again. He ignored any advice about a backup (because obviously there wasn't any), and instead demanded regular status updates for him to report to the Vice President. The little jerk had screwed up the machine, run off to hide, and that now a solution was in progress, he was trying to claim the credit.

When it was all running again, the Vice President came to talk to me.

VP: Thanks for your help. Your efforts have un-screwed us.

Me: No worries.

VP: And now we get to the unpleasant bit. Aaron claims that you didn't follow procedure when shutting down the machine, causing it to crash. He also claims that you hadn't taken any backups, and it was effectively your fault.

Me: And when we tried to call him?

VP: He claims he was busy contacting his emergency contacts.

Me: I see.

VP: I don't believe a word of that. Unfortunately, it's your word versus his. If I had the evidence, I'd fire him.

Me: (opening the email Aaron had sent me about meddling on my phone) You mean this evidence?

Half an hour later, I got the call to lock Aaron’s account and disabled his access card.


22. Send That To Print

It's 11:30 pm and I get a call through from my least favorite business we support at my out-of-hours desk. We have no systems access and very little in the way of documentation, plus their calls are renowned for being a pain in the butt to deal with.

Me: Service desk how can I help?

Customer: Oh hello I'm not able to print

Me: Okay, any error messages? Any signs of life from the printer?

Customer: Now hold on I'm not a computer person so you'll need to use simple terms

Me: What happens when you print?

Customer: Nothing happens that's why I'm calling you!

Me: Do you see any messages appear on the screen when trying to print?

Customer: No

I have a particularly low tolerance for these kinds of callers who are unable to provide even basic details. This guy was also coming across as very condescending.

Me: Is your printer turned on? Can you see any lights?

Customer: Of course!

Me: Can you walk me through what you generally do to print something?

Customer: I'm not a computer person so you'll need to be more clear

Me: Tell me how you'd usually print

Customer: Look here, I don't really understand what you're asking me

Me: What would you usually do to print?

Customer: I don't understand you

Me: Ok sir, I'd like to connect remotely to your computer so I can see what's on the screen. Is that okay?

Customer: This is all very complicated. I'm not sure what you want to do

Me: I'd like to access your computer so I can see what's wrong

Customer: I'm sorry, can you explain that more clearly?

Me: I'm not sure how much clearer I can actually be with this. I need to remotely connect to try and fix this for you

Customer: Look this is terribly unfriendly for people who aren't technically savvy like myself. Why can't you fix this?

Me: I'm trying to help you and fix it, but you haven't been able to provide a great amount of detail on the issue, so I'd like to remotely connect a take a look myself

Customer: I'm not familiar with these technical terms. This is very hard. I don't understand why we have you people if you can't help people who aren't technically savvy

Me: I'm trying to help, however as it's out of hours our scope is limited. I need to remotely connect to see what's going on. I respect that you are not technically savvy but at the same time we do expect a certain level of existing knowledge from users in order to be able to provide our support service after hours. I can ask that the main service desk calls you back in the morning if you'd prefer?

Customer: No look this is very important and I need this fixed, how do you get on my screen?

Me: Firstly, I need you to open a web browser or just go to Google


Me: Do you use Google?

Customer: Yes of course I do!

Me: Okay, please go to Google....

Me: Thank you I'm now connected. I'm going to take a look at the printer setup now

Me: I see the printer is reporting "not connected". Can you check to make sure it's plugged in please?

I Google the model number and this is an OLD Epson printer. USB only. At this point I've had enough of this caller’s ineptness.

Customer: But I don't know HOW!

Me: I'm sorry, I really can't help you with this part. You're the one physically located with the computer and the printer. Go to the printer and make sure any wires coming from it are plugged into the PC.

Customer: OK.

Several minutes later I hear the unmistakable sound of a device being connected in Windows

Me: Okay, the printer is now showing as connected so it looks like the plug was disconnected. Please try printing again.

He navigates to Outlook, opens an email about discounted camping products, and proceeds to print it off.

Me: I can hear the printer in the background, so it looks like we're good now?

Customer: Yes it's working but you didn't help me at all click

But joke was on him. He left the remote connection open accidentally, so I spent the next half an hour inconspicuously moving his mouse each time he tried to click something before I got bored and disconnected.

Tech Support TalesPexels

23. Works Like New

This comes from the wonderful world of home security systems customer support. My co-worker fields this one.

Co-Worker: "Thank you for calling, how may I help you”?

Grumpy Man: Gives name, address, password, blood sample of first born for verification purposes. "Well my system isn't accepting codes and won't turn on or off. I think it started after the storm that came through last night”.

Co-Worker: "Did lightning strike your house or close by”?

Grumpy Man: "Yes"

Co-Worker: "I see. Based on the age of the system, it probably took a surge. We're unable to get replacement parts anymore, so you'll need an upgrade. I can get someone in sales to call you with a price”.

Grumpy Man: "Well can't you just send someone out to fix it”?

Co-Worker: "We certainly can, but as it's obsolete equipment it's unlikely they can repair it. You'd still be billed for the service call”.

This is where the customer gets irate


Co-Worker: soft voice "Well Sir, it was brand new in 1986”.

Ridiculous 9-1-1 Calls factsShutterstock

24. Meet Virginia

I work for a small software company doing IT and customer service work supporting the users of our order-writing software. We brought on a new company six months or so ago, and along with it came a sales rep we'll call Virginia.

Virginia is 75 years old, "not good with computers," but has the best sense of humor and understanding I've ever had from a client. Every time she calls in, she's always got something to say, which usually ends in a "I hope you've got your Valium nearby”! and considers us all wizards.

We recently updated our software and sent an email out notifying users of this. She calls in yesterday, and we chat it up while I explain to her that yes, this was a real email, not spam, and that she should in fact update her program.

She says "Ok, I'm going to try to be a big girl and update this myself, but stay by the phone”! A few minutes go by, and the phone rings. Sure enough, it's her on the Caller ID, so I pick up without using the standard greeting, and say "Hey, Virginia”!

She responds, "Darn, how did you recognize me with my hat and fake mustache on”!? I lost it for a bit. Having a long week full of incompetent, ignorant, or intentionally destructive users was washed away because this little old lady told the most Dad-like joke over the phone.

Ridiculous 9-1-1 Calls factsShutterstock

25. Prove Me Wrong, Why Don’t You

I have a few spare laptops around the house from tech donation when I left my old job. My director has said "They'll just sit around otherwise, at least you'll use them”. The battery's shot on one of them, but it's obviously fine when plugged in. My wife is using one of them right now, so I walked over to check model numbers to look for a replacement battery on eBay.

She asks what I'm doing, and I let her know. She asks why I think the battery's shot. I point to the orange flashing "NOT CHARGING" indicator. She made a big mistake. "No, hon, it is charging. Look”. Unplugs laptop. Aaaaaand whatever she was doing is gone now, since the battery's not charging. She looked at me and said: "Okay, maybe not”.

Tech Support TalesPexels

26. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again

We have a pretty simple system at my IT workplace. You ask for something and you get something. With me so far? It really is that simple for the user. We have to do some crazy routing on our end depending on what that something is, but that is an entirely different story.

There is also a big button that say “click here” if you want something for someone else.

It also has a giant red warning underneath that says "Hey if you don't use that big button right above, the something you ask for will be FOR YOU". We even have , ARE YOU SURE YOU DON'T MEAN YOU WANT IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE?

So enter Alice, a user. Alice supports many other users. The department might get a lot of turn over because every month they get at least one new person. Or maybe they're expanding? Who knows, not my problem. Like clockwork the second Monday of every month we get a ticket from Alice. "I asked for something for the new hire but they never got it. Please fix”.

I'm not kidding. Literally every second Monday of every month for the last year or so. Can you guess what went wrong? Let me give you a has something to do with Alice not using the giant button and not reading the two different warnings or popups. I had gotten really tired of sending Alice the same email every month. ”Please use the button to ask for something for someone else. We'll send ticket over to finance to swap the charges".

That email also contains very detailed step by step instructions. The rest of my team had also gotten tired of hearing from Alice, so we decided to not help this time, with manager/director backup. In fact, we came up with a drastic pan. We disabled the ability for Alice to submit tickets. She must call the help desk for tickets now.

We also didn't forward the current ticket to finance. We sent Alice a strongly worded email that basically said "Look, you do this EVERY month. We told you HOW to do this the correct way for a year. If you still can't figure it out, you're on your own and all these charges will fall on you”. Attach the last 12 months’ worth of tickets. We also CC Alice’s boss.

Alice must have not noticed her boss CCed, on the email because we get a nasty email back. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN'T OPEN TICKETS ANYMORE?! AND WHY AM I GETTING CHARGED FOR IT?! DO YOU KNOW WHO I SUPPORT?! YOU WILL FIX THIS NOW OR MY BOSS WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS”. Insert other comments about how stupid the system is and how incompetent my team is and other non-professional language. Email was also largely in caps.

We didn't get around to responding until after lunch but as it turns out we don't need to respond anymore. Alice’s boss has apparently already responded. "I apologize for the behavior of Alice. Please don't let her behavior affect the wonderful support you provide to our department. Ben will now be responsible for interfacing with your team to get things for our new hires. Please grant Ben the permissions Alice previously had. I've read through your directions you sent Alice and tried it out. It worked as expected. Ben will be using those directions to complete her work. Also please terminate Alice’s network access.

We shut down her network account with pleasure.

Office Drama factsShutterstock

27. May The Power Of IT Compel You

A call comes in, and a user reports her keyboard is going erratic, as in it is "possessed”. I take a stroll down to the office bearing a new replacement keyboard.

I get there and I begin to make sure that it is indeed a faulty keyboard and not just some gunk sticking the key down. I open up notepad and immediately I am barraged by "...nnnnnnn”. Everything seems fine otherwise. This keyboard is the same model as the replacement I brought over, so relatively new, no sticky keys either. Very well a faulty keyboard it is. Until...

...Until I move the tower and notice a second, wireless keyboard sitting on the side of it, laying flat on the floor, with a stack of papers and a tissue box sitting atop. I pull it out and notice the “n” barrage has stopped on the screen. I press the N key once again and an n is added to the word file.

Exorcism was performed, demons were banished, am now priest.

Tech Support TalesPexels

28. You Want What You Can’t Have

I was working for a large warehouse and customization company under contract through another company, and recently they had been talking about cutting people and shifts to make up for the lack of sales during the summer and wanted us to show our worth.

The IT manger asked me since I was the last hire to show my worth and why I should not be cut. 80% of what I had to do in the first three months I had gotten down to simple scripted fixes by talking to the software vendors and learning the fixes. I presented all of this to him and the following week I was notified by my contract manager they were letting me go.

Fine with that really as seasonal was coming up and the no drug test or background check hires were the worst each year. Only, that wasn’t the last I saw of them. Two days later I get a call from the manager demanding the scripts I used. While at the job they never provided me with any tools and they told us to use our own if we needed it.

I had never put the scripts on the server or on my work computer. I check my contracts for any clause for files or documents I create while on the job and then proceeded to tell him they were not worth me keeping my job, so I deleted them when requested to hand in my drive upon termination.

I was a contractor, so the scripts would belong to my contract company and not the company I was sent to. Sorry, nope.

Tech Support Horror StoriesPexels

29. The Long Way Round

I had to walk a client through setting up a printer over the phone. This required her to set an IP address to the printer. She was not tech smart at all.

Me: "Ok, do you have a USB cable? Sometimes they come with the printer"

Her: "No, I’m looking in the box now. There’s no USB cable. Only the printer and power cord"

So it needs to me networked, great. I walk her through getting the printer on her network.

Me: "Ok, do you see a place to enter 4 numbers”?

Her: "Yep, its right here"

Me: "Ok the number is"

Her: "Ok, I put in 19216803. What’s the 2nd number”?

Me: "No, let’s start over. The first number is 192, second is 168, third is 0, and fourth is 3"

Her: "Ok, so 192.168.03”?

Me: "No, the third number is just 0, the fourth is 3"

Her: "So,”?

Me: "no,"

Her: "But what about the 0”?

Me: "What about it”?

Her: "Shouldn't it be a number”?

Me: "0 is a number"

Her: "Look, this it too complex for me, can’t we just use the cable it came with”?


Me: ".....Yes"

Tech Support TalesShutterstock

30. Fire And Brimstone

This is my all-time favorite interaction with tech support. Late one December evening a number of years ago, I got an unexpected call from my boss. He said there was a fire at the office, and I might want to come in and see what was going on.

So I did. By the time I got there, the fire was on its way out, and I and a couple dozen others were standing around in the parking lot waiting for the firefighters to give us the all-clear to enter the building.

We had Internet service through an awesome local ISP at the time. The kind of small company that really cared about service. While I was shivering next to a fire truck, my cell phone rang. It was one of their techs, whom I had shared on office with at a different company years ago and knew well.

Me: Hello?

Tech: Hi. Just wanted to let you know that our monitoring noticed your Internet link is down, and we're working on it.

Me: That might be because it's on fire.

Long pause. Then:

Tech: Did you just say it's on fire?

Me: Yeah, there was a fire in the building. I'm standing next to a fire truck right now. They aren't letting us in yet.

Tech: Ah, well OK then. I'll assume the problem is on your end. click

Despite the cold and the uncertainty (how badly damaged was the office, etc), I couldn't help laughing at the absurdity of it all. But because that tech was awesome, less than five minutes later he called back to say, "I just checked, and we have two portable generators that aren't in use right now. If you need them. Just say the word, and I can have them there in two hours, any time, day or night. No charge”. Our contract with them had nothing in it about generators.

Chilling Near-Death ExperiencesPixabay

31. A Long Drive For A Short Day At The Beach

I work for a corporation where users handle enough information to be able to commit at least 2-3 felonies for every little query they touch. As such, they have a lot of policies that seem like extreme overkill, but on some level I agree with the attempt. The actual application of the rules I think borders on insanity but the attempts aren't all complete failures.

Anyway, because of this there's an "internal" USB connector inside the case of the computers, and all the "external" USB ports have physical blocks super glued in. So, Friday morning 8:00 am I'm sitting around waiting for a ticket or something to do. I get a call in that a computer can't login. There's no ticket because…well they can't log in to start a ticket. Entirely understandable.

The computer is network login, so there are 1,000 different things it can be. Heck, it could just be unplugged and not turning on. Y'all know how users can be. I head up to their cubicle and start checking. Everything is plugged in, the computer turns on and there's no internet. I switch her network cord with her neighbor’s to check the cord.

Her neighbor’s computer connects with her jack. I log into the local admin account and there's no internet connection or network connection at all. Check device manager and there's the problem. The driver for the onboard network got corrupted or something, can't roll it back either.

Great, this means I need authorization from cyber security to use a flash drive, and then I'll need to tear the computer apart to get to a USB port that is hidden inside the case that isn't superglued. Now, the key for the case requires my supervisor to sign off on it and give me the key for the case lock, as well I have to write up the ticket and put it into the system.

I run down to the bat cave and download the driver for her computer and email it to my boss, with a note to stick it on a thumb drive. And then walk to his desk. "Hey boss I emailed you a network driver I need on a thumb drive. I also need you to submit my authorization form to cyber security for the use of a portable storage device". Yes that really is two forms.

So we sent the form off to cyber security to authorize. Half an hour later, no response. Head of IT calls down to cyber security to get an ETA. 10 minutes later the request comes back as denied.

Turns out, we got the biggest idiot ever reviewing the request. She has a tendency to just completely drop the ball. Before she took the job in cyber security she had neither experience in cyber security, nor any basic understanding of IT. But it's OK, she can haphazardly enforce rules she doesn't understand, and she spends her day helping idiots reset their passwords using the password reset tool.

So my boss has to call her and explain the situation. After five minutes on the phone he has to go upstairs to the boss of cyber security and explain why she's an idiot today. Half an hour later, the approval from cyber security comes in to my email and my boss texts me to grab the form from him, and his spare keys and USB drive.

Now I have both authorization forms and I return to the woman's desk. She left a note for me that she's making a Starbucks run and will be back. I power down her computer and turn it on its side so I can get it open to plug the USB in. I'm standing there fiddling with the flash drive—then chaos broke loose. Someone yanks it out of my hand tosses it to the floor and starts stomping on it.


"What the heck are you doing”?

"USB devices are banned" he replied.

"WHOAH WHOAH. First of all, I have an authorization form from cyber security. Second of all, that's company property, and third of all, you just destroyed evidence" I tell the idiot. I call my boss and he's still in the cyber security office as I explain what went down.

Cyber security overhears this exchange. Cyber security decides to open a file on mishandling of suspect data. Around about 11:00 am my boss comes back to the user’s desk with a different flash drive and the drivers for the network adapter and another stack of new forms for him to do the work.

I spent an hour with cyber security filling out paper work about the destruction of a $5.00 flash drive, giving my statement on the data mishandling, and my statement responding to the accusation of using a USB storage device. So it took 3 hours and 15 minutes of two techs’ time (including the head of IT) to reinstall a network driver.

And now they have to pay a data recovery specialist God only knows how much to try to recover nothing of any value on a $5.00 flash drive, just to prove there was nothing malicious on it. It gets more ridiculous. I'm on paid leave because they don't know for certain what's on the flash drive.

Cyber security told me that as long as data recovery finds what I said is on it, or can't find anything, I’m in the clear. If the drive hadn't been smashed, cyber security could/would have just looked at the USB drive and looked at what is on the drive. Should have taken like eight seconds to do.

Instead, I can collect pay checks until the data recovery experts take a few cracks at the USB drive. But the good news is that I got to go home early on a Friday.

Wasn't supposed to seeUnsplash

32. iDiot

My company has a summer internship for high schoolers. They each get an old desktop and access to one folder on the company drive. One day, this kid can’t find his folder. It happens sometimes. I tell them to restart (the usual fix) and call me back. They must have hit shutdown though because five minutes later I get a call back that it’s not starting up.

Long story short, after a few minutes of trying to walk them through it over the phone I walk down and find he’s been thinking his monitor is the computer. I push the power button. He still can’t find the folder…He’s looking on the desktop. I open file explorer. I CAN SEE THE FOLDER. Kid says, “I don’t see it”. I click the folder.

Kid: “Ok now I see the folder”. I create a shortcut on his desktop. I ask him what he uses at home….an iPad. What do you use in school? iPads. Just to be clear I’m not blaming the kid. I blame educators and parents for the oversight, because basic tech skills are part of a balanced education.

Tech Support TalesPexels

33. Everyone’s Buzzing About It

Sometimes, people pry apart my spreadsheets and tools and code for various reasons. And when they do, they find a hidden bit of code. I put it everywhere, as a sort of signature. People wonder what it is and they ask me. And I get to tell them this story.

I was a remote support tech. This was one of my first official IT jobs, and I was a young, fresh-faced, wide-eyed kid with a working knowledge of some kind of code and the ability to install Java with over a 50% success rate.

ring ring went the phone. I perked up. Another customer desperately in need, on the brink of disaster, had called upon me to single-handedly resolve their problem and leave them 110% satisfied. A problem I alone had the keys to fix, so long as it was within the exceptionally narrow purview of the types of problems I was trained to handle.

"Thanks for calling Tech Support! Can I have your name and client number, please”?

There was a long pause and then the person slowly gave me their info. I plugged it into my system and BAM. I looked at the client's info: They were based out in Washington State. A very remote office, easily three- or four-hours’ drive from their nearest deskside support analyst. If I couldn't fix their issue, they might not be up and running for days.

I was their last hope.

"So our computer's been running really slow," the guy starts out, and I jump on it.

"I see! Let me see if you have any hanging processes going on? Do you know what version of Java you're running? Have you recently uninstalled or reinstalled any programs”?

No to all of these. Our remote session was lagging for sure. But I couldn't find out what was the cause.

"See it started after this storm…” the guy went onto a ramble about the weather and how they've been dealing with landslides and other unrelated things. Meanwhile, I kept scrounging for data in the system. The processor was just running so slow.

"...and it's been hot and the computer smells pretty funny”.

I stopped. "Smells funny? have…have you cleaned it recently to get dust out of it”?

There was a long pause while the guy presumably took the case off the PC. I was not prepared for the following events. Then—"Agh! Oh god! aaaaaahgh”! Slam. Slam. "Over there”! Strings of profanity. Then quiet.

"Sir”? I asked after a moment. "Are you still there? is everything ok”?

"No”! he shouts. "There's a hole in the wall, and it looks like they got in after the storm...some...God, they've built a hive”.


He repeated himself. "So...yeah...can you like, get someone out here with a new PC or something? I know it's hard to get someone out here and all…”

Undeterred, I assured them I'd have someone out as soon as I could. I typed up the ticket and sent it on its way, and I never heard how it got resolved. But I will never forget that ticket as I sent it on its way: Computer completely filled with bees. Sending to deskside support.

I learned something important that day. Never take a problem at face value or assume you have all the pertinent info, no matter how usual it may seem. Listen when the customer gives you background info, some of it might be important. And never, ever, choose to work in deskside repair in the mountains.

And that is why, in every code or spreadsheet I've ever written, somewhere you will find the phrase "Computer completely filled with bees". To remind myself that no matter how much I feel like a genius, there's always room for being completely wrong and completely surprised.

Tech Support TalesShutterstock

34. You Can’t Cure Stupid

Ever try to run tech support for someone with their equally technologically challenged husband or wife behind them telling them what to do?

Me: Okay, click on the email I just sent you. Then click on the link inside it to reset your password.

Customer: Okay...let me see

Wife (in the background): Wait! stop! Go back!

Customer: what?

Wife: A free iPad!

Okay, a scam email. No big deal, just tell the customer and we can move on.

Me: That's not real. It's most likely a virus.

Wife: No, let's take a look

Please don't.

Me: I really wouldn't do that

Customer: It's okay. We're just going to look and not download anything

Wife: Maybe it's from the mall!

No it's not.

Customer: Okay we're just going to take a quick look

Wife: Wow a free iPad! I can't believe it! We won!

No you didn't.

Wife: Click on it!

No really please don't. Please.

Customer: Okay let's see how to redeem our iPad from Apple

It's not from Apple. You're not getting the iPad. You're getting a virus.

15 seconds later I hear the "your computer has a virus" message playing from their speaker

Customer: Our computer just got a virus. Can you fix this? Can you remote in and fix this?


Wife: I can't believe people would do that!

And I can't believe people still fall for it.

Cue two hours of baby-stepping them through running Malwarebyte because we aren't allowed to hang up on stupid.

Customers Asked To Speak To A Manager factsShutterstock

35. Should Have Kept Your Mouth Shut

This is the day I used the Nuclear option.

User: Hi, I need your help.
Me: OK, What's the problem?
User: I need to you incubate something on my computer.
Oh what fresh torment is this?
Me: What do you mean?
User: Look, if you can't help can you put me through to a senior tech!?

Oh, screw you.
Me: It's not that I can't help, it's that I need more information about your problem before I can help.
User: It's simple, there is something on my computer and you need to put it in incubation for me!
Me: What type of file is it?
User: I don't know, I can't do anything because the program needs admin rights, that's why I need you!
Me: Have you downloaded a file or been on a dodgy website?
User: I don't need the 4th degree here, I just need get this incubated and we can both go on with our day!
Me: - If you right click on the green W at the bottom right of the screen and select “Scan Now” it will run a check for anything bad and we can go from there.
I have jumped onto the AV console to have a look as well at this point.
User: I can't do anything with that as when I click it, it says “Please contact the network administrator to access” blah blah.
Me: I need you to right click on it, not left click.
Clearly I need to escalate this to the “help a moron” division.
Me: There is no need to raise your voice, I am trying to help.
User: It's simple though, I need your admin rights so that I can move something to incubation. It's not hard.

Me: OK, I will remote in and have a look. Please click the Rescue Me icon on your desktop.
User: FINALLY, you're going to do what I asked for in the first place!

Oh, I was now going nuclear.

Me: There is no such thing as incubation or an incubator on your computer. You mean quarantine. You believe you have downloaded a virus or opened a malicious website and got yourself some malware or worse. This doesn't happen on its own. You have all of the tools needed to diagnose and hopefully remove the infection. You have two buttons on your mouse one on the left and one on the right but refuse to click the correct one in the correct place. I have taken over your machine and I am currently running the scan for the issue. I can also see from your open internet pages that you have been trying to access a number of sites. There are many, many malicious advertisements and links on those sites that are designed to trick you or catch you out and get you to download questionable files. You are in breach of company policy by using your company property for questionable activity. This will be logged and reported. The scan has now completed and found and removed five infections and I can see from my console that your system has blocked and automatically defeated 10s of threats or attacks today so this is clearly an ongoing issue for you.
User: What...
Me: I am now going to escalate this to the IT manager who has been monitoring this call and would like a word.

The user was very quickly summoned to attend a meeting with HR and an appropriate manager and I believe asked to leave the company because the IT Manager reviewed their activity a bit more thoroughly, including their internet use when on the company network/VPN.

The user then tried to sue for unfair dismissal, and the IT Manger actually laughed out loud when he was told that the reason was “unfair invasion of privacy”.

Tech Support TalesPexels

36. Not Your Average Joe

A number of years back, I was working for a company that had been around for many years. I was only relatively new myself but there were still a couple of "old guard" senior engineers around who had been there from the start. The kind that knows where all the obscure, undocumented insider stuff is and can fix most problems in five seconds that the rest of us might take hours to solve.

One of the guys in particular, who I shall refer to as Joe, was a bearded and jovial gent with a very Steve Wozniak persona. He was always happy for us to approach him with our questions and welcomed us to leverage his VAST knowledge of how the company's sprawling IT infrastructure worked to make our lives easier and cope with the constant unrealistic expectations of upper management.

He was a real, old-school engineer—someone who loved their job and was well respected by everyone around the department. So when his friend the current department head, a man of comparable knowledge and experience, retired and was replaced from the outside with a young and brash one with a business degree and little technical knowledge who was also called Joe, it was a big change for everyone. Fortunately for us he didn't interfere too much with the technical aspects of our day-to-day jobs at first. But then things started to change.

When the company first started out, they weren't too concerned with formality when it came to e-mail address policy. In later years as the company had grown, they tightened the bolts with an official policy of issuing staff with a longer, more formal address, but those who were around from the early days retained their original, shorter addresses as an alias.

It was somewhat of a status symbol and sign of authority in the company to have one, and those that did would use that version as their sending address and proudly have it in their e-mail signatures and on their business cards. The retired head had one such address, as did my old Joe in the form of

You always knew when you saw an e-mail come into the inbox from somebody with one of these addresses that they were someone important who had been around for a while. Most of the department heads were long-term employees who used them, and it wasn't long before the new IT head noticed this aspect of our corporate culture and clearly envied his peers.

But as a new employee, he was stuck with his formal e-mail address and they weren't issuing new legacy e-mail addresses of this kind unless they were for someone way up the food chain. Even as head of IT, he had no authority to claim one, which is why when one day he spotted an e-mail from Joe using his legacy address, he came up with a malicious plan. He saw an opportunity to get what he was coveting.

So as the tale goes, he called Joe into his office and had an exchange that went something like this:

IT Head: "Hey Joe, great work on the capacity report and getting it to me so quickly. We should be able to get approval from finance to expand our storage way sooner than I thought"

Joe: "Not a problem, is there anything else you needed from me for it”?

IT Head: "Nope, everything is their thanks. But I happened to notice when you sent it through you were using a different e-mail address—a little different from the rest of the team”.

Joe: "Yes, that's the one I've always used from when I started and everyone here knows to reach me at. Also some of our older systems and scripts we still use from the early days were hard coded to use it as well so I'm still actively using it to get critical alerts”.

IT Head: "I've got no problem with that, but I was interested in getting one of those kind of addresses for me. It would make it easier for people to, you know, know I'm the head of this department rather than just another employee here. My predecessor had one so it should be no problem for me to have one as well too, right? Can you make that happen”?

Joe: "I'm sorry, I wish I could but it's HR that makes that decision and it's their policy is to only issue personal addresses at the top corporate domain level now for C-level recruits and their immediate assistants”.

IT Head: "You've been here for a long time, surely there isn't a way or someone you know who can make this happen”?

Joe: "I'm sorry, it's a decision way above my pay grade. I'd be happy to put a request in for you to the head of HR to see if they could do it as a favor, but I'm pretty certain what their answer will be”.

IT Head: (Annoyed) "Ok thanks, do it and let's see what happens"

Joe goes and logs the request, but of course the head of HR knocks it back, citing policy and not wanting to set a precedent even as a favor to Joe. Joe goes back to give the IT Head the bad news:

Joe: (Knocks) "Hey, you know that request I put through to try and get you a top-level e-mail address? Unfortunately HR have knocked it back. I did my best to try and push it through but they were firm on our current corporate policy of not issuing any new ones except for those at the very top”.

IT Head: (Visibly unhappy) "I'm sorry to hear that, are you sure you did everything you could”?

Joe: "Yes, it's out of either of our hands unfortunately”.

IT Head: "Fine then".

And Joe was right. There was no way the IT Head was going to be issued with a brand-new personal address. But that unfortunately wasn’t the end of it. However, his position did allow him to authorize the reassignment of existing e-mail addresses to staff, which was normally used to forward mail and alerts still being sent internally to staff who had left the company.

He soon realized this was possible and formed another plan, calling Joe back into his office for another conversation:

IT Head: "Hey Joe, you know how we can't get new personal e-mail addresses created, but we can still reassign an existing one into my name, right”?

Joe: (Frowning) "We can do that, yes. You have the authority to have the e-mail address of anyone who has left redirected or assigned to anyone else if you so wish. Did you want your predecessor's address? I mean, we can do it, but it would confuse a lot of people if they saw your e-mail coming from someone who is gone”.

IT Head: "What about e-mail addresses of existing staff”?

Joe: (Frowning harder and seeing where this was going) "You do have the authority, but it would still confuse people and you would be getting all the legacy alerts and notifications, which would make you responsible for ensuring they flow through to the right people when they arrive".

IT Head: "I think I can handle forwarding a couple of lousy e-mails whenever I see them. I have a greater need for visibility here and there is no business requirement for you to have one, so start the process of transferring across to me immediately. Let me know once it's done so I can let everyone know”.

So poor Joe was forced to dig his own grave and give up the e-mail address he had held since day one. He definitely wasn't happy about it but did as he was instructed. Falling back on his regular corporate address, he sent an e-mail out to the immediate team and his contacts to let them know what was happening and to please use his full address moving forward to contact him.

At the same time, the IT Head proudly sent out a company-wide e-mail broadcast letting everyone know that his e-mail address had been updated and he could now be reached at as the Head of IT.

Weeks went by and it was clear he was taking every opportunity to send out e-mails using his new address. New stationary was issued, along with business cards clearly showing his position and contact address. He was clearly reveling in having a coveted address and the prestige and recognition it instantly gave him, especially when dealing with other offices and people who didn't know he was only a relative newcomer.

Life was good, that is until one fateful morning. It happened when he wasn't in his office browsing Facebook like he usually would be doing when everyone else arrived. Turned out he had forgotten about his responsibility to forward through important notifications when they can through to him. He had set up a rule to handle them, sure, but not to forward them as promised.

Instead he would delete them directly from his inbox without notice. One particular alert dealt with backup failures for a particularly important and long-term defense contract. One of our key responsibilities was to ensure daily incremental and weekly full backups being performed on one of these old legacy systems that Joe had mentioned to him, both verbally and in writing.

The media in an old backup unit had failed and was repeatedly notifying the issue. It was normally a simple fix, but with no alerts being sent through nobody knew there was a problem. So when a request came through from the client to perform a restore of the previous week's data after an accidental deletion, the backup team found, to their horror, that no backups had been running for the past several weeks and the data had been lost.

The client was not amused. The CEO with whom they had a close relationship was even less so. Then the IT Head really showed his full colors. He attempted to throw Joe under the bus when word came down that the company was going to incur a MASSIVE fee for the breach. Well, too bad: Joe in his wisdom had ensured he had done a complete “cover your butt” when handing over his e-mail address, including e-mail exchanges with the IT Head highlighting the importance of the alerts and to ensure they went to the right people.

He also included detailed instructions on how to set up forwarding rules and where to send them. All completely ignored. HR policy was specific when it came to important e-mails. It was the clear responsibility of the recipient to ensure they were handled accordingly, and the IT Head had clearly failed in his accepted responsibilities. He didn't last probation and was gone within the next month.

Everyone was wondering who we would be getting in the position next. HR and management were tight lipped on the topic and there was plenty of speculation within the department about what might happen next. We got an excellent surprise. Everyone was smiling when they walked in on the Monday to see Joe sitting in the IT Head office. In the wake of what happened management decided in their wisdom that the IT Department should have a Head who actually knew something about IT and tapped Joe to take the seat.

He hung on for a few more years before retiring or moving on, but during his tenure he was one of the best IT managers I have ever worked for, and the position didn't change him from being the friendly, helpful, and supportive teacher that he was. I was sad to see him go but while he was still with u, I always smiled when I saw his e-mails coming through to us from the old, friendly address of, which he had reclaimed and had been returned to its rightful owner.

Tech Support TalesPexels

37. Calling In A Favor

My home phone, which I keep because the security system uses it, started ringing at 5:45am. Yes, I was asleep. I don't get to it quickly enough and the answering machine picks it up. The person hangs up. Then I hear my mobile phone start ringing downstairs...must be some kind of family emergency, so I make it downstairs in time to hear the home phone start up again.

I answer, still half asleep and half scared that something big has happened.

Me: "Hello”?

It’s a friend of a friend, who I barely know.

Fake Friend: Hi, do you have a second? I can't get my laptop on my home wireless, and I really need to check to make sure my flight is on time”.

Me: "Who is this again”?

Fake Friend: I’m a friend of James’s. We met at a bar a couple of weeks ago. My Internet's down and I remembered you're in IT so I looked up your number and gave you a ring. Can you help me real quick?

I hung up, after screaming at him for a bit.

Scariest Moments factsPixabay

38. A Backdoor Solution

So there's this website used by a few thousand paying customers—something like $200/year. It's used by pastors to download material to use in their Church services. We support Internet Explorer for Windows and Mac (keep in mind this was probably 2006). If you've never heard of Internet Explorer for Mac, be grateful.

Anyway, Chrome did not yet exist, and Firefox either didn't, or was super early on and not that great. Then something happened. Microsoft nixed IE Mac. I don't mean they just stopped developing it. They pulled the download links and more or less pretended it didn't exist. If you didn't already have it, there was no way to get it. If there was some sort of abandonware website or other repository for old software back then, I didn't know about it and couldn't find it.

Our Mac browser support remained the same: Internet Explorer only.

Customer: Hi, I'm having some trouble with your website.

Me: What browser are you using?

Customer: Safari

Me, through gritted teeth: Unfortunately, we don't support Safari. You'll need to use Internet Explorer.

Customer: Oh, how do I get that?

Me: You can't.

Customer: ...what?

Me: We only support Internet Explorer on Macs. If you have a Windows computer, you can use that. If not, you'll need to get Internet Explorer.

Customer: Ok...this is my only computer, so how do I get it?

Me: You can't. They no longer make it. It's not available anywhere.

Customer: So how do I use your website that I'm paying for?

Me: You can't.

Customer: Do you not see the problem here?

Me: Ok look, maybe we can help each other out here. We really should support Safari, but we don't. There's no other option. If possible, can you please write me an email, and be as upset as you can—swear, threaten to cancel, threaten to sue, whatever you can. I'll take it to the powers that be and try to get this fixed for you.

Customer: You want me to swear? I'm a pastor!

Me: I know. Look, it's Thursday afternoon. Getting this pushed through before Sunday isn't going to be easy.

Customer: I'm sure God will understand.

So I get this email from him, and it's everything I asked for. Ranting and raving about how we're preventing him from doing God's work. Thankfully, he didn't complain about me at all. I take it to the web development team.

Dev: So what's not working?

Me: [I explain the problem]

Dev: I'm pretty sure it works. [Opens Safari and tests successfully].

Me: Wait, we don't support Safari.

Dev, rolling eyes: I know. It works great, it's what I use all the time, faster than Internet Explorer. But the Vice President won't approve the 30 minutes it'll take me to fix it for newer versions of Safari. I just don't upgrade mine so I can use it.

Thankfully, I had just helped Vice President with a weird problem with his computer, and he was super grateful. I walked over to his office, and he happened to be free. It was about 3 pm on a Thursday, and we closed at 4.

Me: Sorry to bug you, but...well, you should read this.

He reads the email, and his eyes go wide.

VP: This is from one of our customers?

Me: Yeah, he was trying to finish his sermon for Sunday and—

I didn't even finish my sentence before he was calling the developer’s manager. By 4:45, our website officially supported Safari and I was on the phone with the original customer to deliver the good news. I'd like to think God understood.

Tech Support TalesPexels

39. I Won’t, And I Shan’t

I do user training and support for a web application that was developed by my firm. Our clients skew older.

Client: I can't get into my account. My login isn't working. This is ridiculous. I've been trying for hours and now I'm locked out.

Me: My apologies for the inconvenience! I've just reset your password. You should receive an email with a link to set and save a new password in a moment.

Client: I don't want to set a new password. I liked my old password. It's the same password I use for everything else and it's easy to remember.

Me: My sincere apologies, but you will need to set a new password in order to gain access to your account.

Client: Can't I just use my old password?

Me: No, our data security standards do not allow that. However, if for any reason you aren't able to follow the password reset link, I would be happy to generate a random password for you, and share it with you over the phone.

Client: Do that, then, and email the password to me.

Me: Again, my apologies, but part of our security policy states that we cannot email passwords in plain text. I would be happy to give you a call and share your password with you over the phone.

Client: Why are you being so difficult? I just want my old password to work again.

Me: Sir, I'm so sorry that this process has been frustrating for you. I want you to have access to your account. Have you followed the link in the password reset email?

Client: No. It looks like a virus. I don't want to click on it.

Me: I can assure you that it is not a virus. It is a hyperlink. You can just click on it, and it'll open a page in your browser where you can reset your password.

Client: That's ridiculous. That's so much work. Why do you make it so hard? This should be simple. I want to speak to your manager.

Me: (eager to pass them off on someone else) No problem. My manager is CC'ed. He would be happy to assist you.

Manager: (this then goes to email) How can I help?

Client: Your employee is rude, stupid, and not helpful. I just want to log in, I don't want to reset my password, I don't want to click on this virus she sent me, and this is taking forever and it is ridiculous.

Manager: Sir, respectfully, we are going to need you to meet us halfway and change your password.


Manager: Again, we are sorry that this is frustrating for you. Please let us know what we can do to help.

Manager then CC's the client's boss, the director of their organization, and the one whose signature is on the contract. My manager does not take any trash from clients.

Client's boss (to their employee with us CC'ed): Are you serious? These nice people are doing everything they can to help you, and you are belittling them. This is an embarrassment to our organization. You owe them both an apology, and you need to reset your password, stop complaining, and log in so you can get me that report that was supposed to be on my desk yesterday. The fact that you've wasted your entire day on this is ridiculous and this will definitely be included in your performance review.

My manager and I were in tears. The client's boss was savage and did not pull a single punch. The client did end up resetting his password, but did not apologize. Last time I sent out an email to clients, though, his bounced. He got fired. I cackled.

Tech Support TalesPexels

40. Boss Of The Year

I used to work for a particularly large company doing tech support. One day the guy working next to me was dealing with a particularly rude business customer. The business customers were usually treated like kings, but this guy was having a particularly hard time even getting a word in.

Eventually he put up his hand to motion to the supervisor come talk to the customer. Right then, the owner of the company happened to be walking by with another one of the execs. I've met the guy a few times at the company social events, and he is a really down-to-earth, employee-friendly boss. He asked what the issue was with his customer and after it was explained, he took the headset and picked up the line.

After listening for about 4-5 minutes, he said very flatly, "That's never going to happen, especially not when you have an attitude like a 13-year-old girl”. Then he said, "I don't have a manager. I own this company and I don't have to listen to this from a jerk like you and neither do my employees. I'm terminating your account with us”.

He hung up and I watched him disable this guy’s account and add a note to the file. "Customer is a jerk. Do not reinstate account - Boss". Then he just handed back the headset and carried on about his day.

HR NightmaresShutterstock

41. The Boat Must Go On

This one is from way back when, about six years ago now, when I was in an entirely different career and halfway around the world. On a certain class of military warship, there is a place. The bridge may be in control of where the ship goes, but Damage Control Central is in charge of how fast it is getting there and whether or not it arrives in one piece.

It's run by a high-ranking officer from Reactor Department, Earl, and his two cronies, one that monitors the ship's water usage and one that monitors the ship's electrical usage—me. These three people can bring 97K+ tons of steel and sadness to a halt. Behind them are a small pile of engineering folk, literally the ship's tech support branch.

People could call us and report a problem (from an out light to a fire), and between all of us in there, we had the knowledge, skill, authority, and political clout to get a response team out. A lot of people didn't know what kind of authority we held, or exactly who they were talking to when they called down. This made for some very entertaining conversations.

One evening, the engineering folk get a call. One female sailor picks it up and naturally, we all listen in, because if it's a fire or something, we all need to respond as rapidly as possible. From our POV, this is how the conversation goes from her side:

Engineer: Damage Control Center
Engineer: The heater doesn't work?
Engineer: Oh, yeah, that's normal.
Engineer: No, we can't turn it up.
Engineer: What? No, we can't replace it, we're in the middle of the Persian Gulf, where are we going to get another one?
Engineer: Look, it works fine. Take shorter showers.
Engineer: Your division can put in a request for a bigger one when we get back to home port, but you're not getting one now.
Engineer: Yeah, no, I'm not ordering one. Replacing those things is beyond the scope of what we're allowed to do underway.
Engineer: Because policy.
Engineer: Okay. You do that. We'll be waiting. Make sure you request permission to enter.

With that, she hangs up. Naturally, we're all staring. She grins at us.

Engineer: Game faces on, this one is gonna be good. Sir, I am sorry in advance.

We sit back and put on our best game faces on and wait.

Not 15 minutes later, the door thuds open. In walks the hero of this little story, a very low-ranking punk who thinks he's hot stuff because he does maintenance on airplanes instead of steam pipes. With him is his immediate supervisor, a gentleman of my rank, and their divisional officer, a wee young lieutenant.

The divisional officer is all fired up because how dare engineering not fix his guy's problem. He makes a bee-line for the engineering folk. This path will, briefly, place him between my boss and a panel that, by the order of people with a rank I could never hope to achieve in my life, my boss is not allowed to be obscured from. They HAVE to be able to see it, at all times.

I wait until the merry little band is almost in front of my boss before I speak up.

Me: Sir, please go around, he needs to be able to see that panel.
Divisional Officer: I will walk where I darn well—

He stops. Because someone of approximately double his rank, four times his time-in-service, and significantly crankier is staring him down. All of the fire leaves him in an instant. Which, honestly, is exactly what I wanted. When high-ranking people get fired up, it's usually for a good reason. When baby divisional officers get fired up, everyone in their general vicinity is stupider for witnessing their temper tantrum. They get much more done when they're calm.

The low-ranking punk realizes that a Commander is sitting there and nearly poops himself. His immediate supervisor is completely oblivious. They walk back around our desks, not nearly as grudgingly as they could have, and take the slightly longer route to the engineering folk. Who are having the time of their lives, because the circus is well underway and they haven't had to even do anything yet.

The engineer they were talking with spins around, her hands on the arms of her chair, a very pleasant, blank smile on her face.

Officer: Are you the one that won't fix my guy's showers?
Engineer: The showers aren't broken, sir. Did he tell you what his complaint was?

The low-ranking punk nearly cringes out of his skin.

Punk: Well, the hot water heater in the shower head can't keep up with the entire division when we all shower in the morning.
Engineer: Does it put out hot water at all?
Punk: Well, yeah, when we all get up it works just fine. But as everyone takes their showers, it gets colder and colder.
Engineer: Does it ever go completely cold?
Punk: No, but with a bigger heater, we could all take as long of showers as we wanted without it running out.
Water Control Guy (also in the room): Showers should be limited to five minutes, you're wasting water.
Punk: Well, yeah, morning showers are pretty short, who wants to wake up early and shower? But when I take my second, longer shower in the evening, to relax after a long day of working—

At this point, some teeny tiny sense of self-preservation kicks in and he shuts up and looks around. He is in a room full of people who play the “food, shower, sleep—pick two” game on a daily basis. Every single person in this room, including his back-up, is staring at him with either full derision or outright hostility.

Except the engineer. She's still smiling her blank, polite, “I have been in the retail trenches and am dead inside” smile. I may be in love.

Engineer: Sir, you can see why I denied his request. Supervisor, you may want to remind your guys that, despite being surrounded with water, there is a limit on how much fresh water we can make in a day and that long showers should be saved for in port. Was there anything else I can help you all with?
Officer: No, I think I've heard enough. You two, my office. Now.

They leave. The punk looks close to tears. The officer is full of now-justified wrath. The door shuts. All of us immediately put our heads on our desk and cry with laughter. Someone hands the engineer an IOU for drinks at the next port.

The engineer’s supervisor drafts an email to the ship's mid-tier leadership that not waking up early enough to get a hot shower is not a reason to request a new hot water heater and that water on board is limited. No details are provided and everyone eagerly looks forward to the rumor mill as people try and figure out what spawned that particular reminder.

The engines turn. The ship chugs on.

Tech Support TalesPexels

42. It’s Hard To Ask For Help

My mom is sweet, but she has this notion she shouldn't bother me unless it’s important. My phone rang last week while I was home. It was my day off.

Mom: "Do you have a minute honey? My internet doesn't work, neither computer nor the tablet. I was thinking maybe you could come have dinner later and look at it? I bought chicken, soft cheese, and I’m baking a—"

Somewhere later down her menu, I had already fixed it. I work at a big company and have access to my tools remotely. I saw her computer had no valid IP so I reset the modem and the router we provide her. Basic lease renewal issue. It happens, everything else is green.

Me: "Boom, magic, you're online mom”.

Mom: Whaa?...Oh. You're right”. Sounds disappointed. "Thank you, that was really fast, I guess I won't trouble you to come over then”.

Clearly she was more excited at the prospect of the meal than the free tech support, but for her it seems something broken or a holiday is required to “trouble” me to hang out.

Me: “Hey now, I was promised a home-cooked meal here. I'm happy to come anyway”.

Mom: "Haha that's fine, it’s nice of you to be polite. But I know you're busy, you don't have to. We can do this another time”.

Okay let's do this the hard way. I reach back to the tools and deprovision the router.

Me: "There, its broken again mom. And it'll stay that way until dessert”.

Mom: "Oh! Lovely. Then, shall we say 6 o'clock”?

Why Would You Say ThatPexels

43. You Can’t Print That

I’m currently working in the managed print industry. A customer logs a call saying no printing devices in a building are working, so it was definitely server/software related. I log in with their IT guy. The server is freezing and when logging in with a new account, and there is a disk space error. I inform the IT guy that he needs to make some space and we can then troubleshoot anything if there are issues once it’s done.

I then call the user who logged the call and let her know the issue. Unfortunately, she isn’t computer savvy, and it makes no sense to her. A depressing conversation occurs:

Me: Morning, just calling regarding your printing issue. It’s due to a server fault that your IT team members are looking into. They should hopefully have it resolved soon, which will likely resolve your issues.

User: Oh, well the printer still isn’t working, none of them are, this is URGENT.

Me: I understand, but your IT is looking into it due to a server fault and should have it sorted as soon as possible.

User: Ok, so when are you coming out to fix it?

Me: I would not be able to fix the machine on site. It is a server issue as it has run out of disk space. The IT guys are looking into it.

User: This is urgent. The ENTIRE site can’t print, what’s the ETA on the fix?

Me: I am not your IT so I am unable to advise. You would have to call them as they need to resolve it.

User: I need an ETA to inform the users and management.

Me: I’m not in your IT so I can’t give an ETA, unfortunately.

She then punted me over to her manager.

Manager: We need an ETA for the fix or send someone on site. I want this actioned ASAP.

Me: I'm not your IT. I’m from the managed print support company. The issue is with your server and your IT are looking to fix it. An engineer from us won’t be able to assist.

Manager: So you are categorically stating YOUR print engineer can’t fix the printer? What kind of support is this?!

Me: The issue isn't with the printer, it’s with the server the print software is on, which your IT are looking to fix urgently.

Manager: No, the PRINTER is not PRINTING so it’s a PRINTER problem, we don't have servers.

Me: You do have servers.

Manager: Why are you refusing to fix this? You can't just say no! We have a support contract!

Me: Your IT fix your servers; we fix the printers and the software that’s on the server. You need to call your IT.

Manager: I’m escalating this to my director. Expect a call back shortly.


Miserable JobsShutterstock

44. Can’t Hack It

This happened a while back but it's still the best thing that ever happened to me at work. True story. So, I was hired by a big defense company with over 3,500 employees. You can imagine this was a very big company. We were in building 34, and if you needed to go somewhere quick you took a bike or an electric car.

I usually did second line support, but they had a couple of people call in sick and asked me to do first line support. It was a Friday and not much was happening besides the usual email problems. The phone rings.

Her: Yes hello, this the secretary of the CEO. We need you to come over NOW! We have a big problem.

Me: What seems to be wrong?

Her: The CEO is trying to open a file in Word, but every time he does this, scrambled text is showing up. I THINK WE ARE BEING HACKED!

To be fair, this was a big issue, since a couple of weeks before this a group of activists broke into the company and climbed on top of our radar tower.

Me: I'll take a look from here and take over your screen. Hang on.


Her: I don't know what this is. You see?!? This is so weird...

Now, I knew what was wrong at this moment, but I wanted to see in person. You don't just walk into the exec office every day.

Me: Uh-huh. I'll be there as soon as possible!

I grab this electric car, drive over, and five minutes later I walk into the executive building. A very nice building, totally different from the rest of the offices. They even had their own dining room and bar. The security guy sees me coming and waves me through. He was informed of my coming and understood the importance.

I get out of the elevator at the top floor and am greeted by the secretary, a manager, and some other assistant. They are all a bit panicked.

“Come over, have a look at this”! the CEO says.


I look at him. I look at every single person in that room. You could feel the suspense. I look back at the computer. I pick up the newspaper that was on top of the keyboard and ask:

Try again please? The looks on their face: Priceless. I also got a free lunch with the CEO.

Workers quittingPexels

45. Mother Doesn’t Always Know Best

I work for a small IT company providing website, email servers, and web software. After a few years of collaboration with the client, our accountant comes to me saying that the client hasn’t paid the monthly fee for their website and mail server. Sometime clients forget to set up automatic transfer when they change banks, or their accountant went on vacation and forgot to tell someone to do it—things like that.

So I called them up to figure out what had happened. One of the first problems was that the main contact was the co-boss of the company, who was actually the mother of the other boss.
Me: Hi there, we haven’t received your transfer from last month. Is there a problem?
Mom: I don't know what those fees are. I won't pay it.
Me: These fees are for your website and your mail server.
Mom: We don't use it. I don't want it. I won't pay for it. Click.

Okay! You do not have to be this rude. So we send a registered letter with recorded delivery saying that if they do not pay by the end of next month, we will have to shut down all their services. After a month and a little bit, still no transfer, we shut off everything.
Sure thing, 30 minutes later we receive a call from the boss—AKA the first woman’s son.

Boss: My emails stopped working, you have to fix this please.
Me: Yes, we shut off your server because you haven't paid your monthly fees for the last two months.
Boss: What? But my mom is in charge off all the suppliers, she should have paid you.
Me: No, she told us that you did not need our services and did not want to pay for it.
Boss: She is crazy! We take care of all our invoices and contracts by emails. Without them we may as well close the company. I will take care of paying you personally from now on. But please start the server back on.

So we did, and 20 minutes later, one of his employees was at our door with a check for the last two months and the upcoming one. And from this point, he always paid us on time.

Tech Support Horror StoriesShutterstock

46. What An Icon

Last night I did a scheduled upgrade of QuickBooks for a client. One server, 10 desktops, three databases. It went well. As usual with an upgrade like this, I'm scheduled to be on site the next day for a couple of hours to help out and answer questions about the new version. In this case, I was scheduled for Monday morning since like most offices, they're closed over the weekends.

My cell phone rings this morning at 7:30 am (on the weekend). I don't recognize the number so I ignore it. I quickly regretted it. They then proceed to call back continuously for the next 10 minutes, never leaving a message until the last call. I listen to the message. It's from a staff person at the client where I upgraded QuickBooks, irate as heck and yelling, "QUICKBOOKS IS BROKEN! I CAN'T DO MY JOB! THIS IS GOING TO COST THE COMPANY TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! YOU BETTER GET THIS FIXED. GET OVER HERE! CALL ME BACK IMMEDIATELY”!

So I remote in to the remote desktop server, verify that all is well, take a deep breath and call her back. She proceeds to berate me until she runs out of breath, never tells me what the problem is but instead focuses on how her inability to enter some transactions she didn't get to Friday is going to cause the end of life on this planet. After several minutes I finally get her to tell me what problem she's having when she runs the program.


"Does it give you an error message when you try to start it? What do you see”?


I remote into her system. The icon is there, in the exact same place as it was before, but it's a slightly different icon. Still titled "QuickBooks" of course, but it's a different color. I tell her to watch the screen, double click it, and of course QB comes right up.

I remind her that this is a new version and that some commands and screens will look a bit different. She accuses me of screwing around with it just to make things more difficult for her. I tell her that's not the case, ask her if there's anything else I can do to assist. A couple more ugly comments from her and we end the call.

My phone system sends me voicemails as emails with MP3 attachments. I forwarded the email to the owner of the company and told him I expect to be treated more professionally in the future. Frankly, I hope it costs her the job.

Creepy StoriesShutterstock

47. Making Mountains Out Of Mole Hills

This just happened. So, I had a laptop system board fail. Under warranty. No problem.

Engineer comes on site. Does the job. All good. 10 minutes later, I'm called down to where he was working by a member of management, saying that he must have been doing illicit substances in there because there's a syringe in the bin. There's about 10 members of staff all freaking out.

It's thermal compound—basically glue for CPUs.

Phone Calls Gone WrongPexels

48. You Need A Time Out

I was working service desk, and it was getting towards the end of the day. We were winding down before leaving at 5 when I had a call from a very angry man who ran a small business.

He'd logged a ticket the day before for being unable to print to a specific printer, however he could walk 20 more meters and collect his documents from another perfectly fine printer.

The job had been with the senior engineers for the day as obviously, this is not the highest priority issue we'd had today. Despite being polite and offering to speak with the team leader, he flips out. I DON'T WANT YOU TO SPEAK WITH A MANAGER, I WANT YOU TO FIX IT.

My boss is very good about us not taking flak from customers, so I immediately flick him a message that it's starting to go south. I tell him I'm sorry I can't fix it, but I'll organize an engineer to give him a call tomorrow and speak with my team leader. He doesn't take this well and immediately yells "I WANNA SPEAK WITH YOUR MANAGER".

I say of course and go to transfer the call. My boss picks up and I deadpan to him, “I've got a gentleman who wants to speak with my manager”. He gives me a grin and then says to put it through. He sits on the phone for five seconds before asking him to stop swearing, I didn't hear this part but evidently he doesn't stop.

He immediately hangs up on the customer, speaks with the director and has all services for this customer cancelled. My manager then says you did absolutely the right thing and says if he ever calls back, we're to put him straight through and never help him with anything.

Tech Support TalesPexels

49. Not A One Size Fits All Solution

What follows is a story that comes from my first few months at a medium-sized company. I was a tier 1 phone jockey and this was my first “adult job” after college, so you can imagine how surprised and nervous I was when one day I get an email with the subject line “FWD: DISABLE FACEBOOK NOW”!

It was written just like that. In all caps, two (or maybe three) exclamation points. Inside, there was a long message chain containing an extended rant from our marketing executive, sent to the CEO, replied to, forwarded to the CIO, replied to, forwarded to my manager, and then kicked down to me with no explanation.

My manager did this kind of thing a lot. Rather than open a ticket in the ticketing system he insisted we use a certain way, or explain anything in his emails, he would simply forward us an email chain of a conversation he’d been having with some store or department manager, some executive, or some vender, and we’d have to read through all of it to figure out what he wanted.

This email was one of those. But that wasn’t the worst part. Since it had come from people up the chain from him, I had to read through all of his pathetic groveling and deferential boot-licking to reach the part where he made his unqualified promises about what I’ll do in how much time.

Eventually, I surmised the following: Our marketing executive is upset that his employees are spending work time on social media. He has decided that this is all IT’s fault. He wants social media "disabled on ALL computers”. He sent this complaint to the CEO, because it’s not good enough to contact IT and open a ticket to get something done, he has to try to get someone fired while he’s at it.

Okay, fine. We actually had Websense, so I wrote up a ticket, opened up the admin console in Websense, and added Facebook’s URL to the blacklist. Done and done. I hit reply-all to the message chain and let the executives know that we’re good. It had a surprising effect. Immediately I got hammered with replies from the CEO, my manager, and the marketing executive (who had made the request). They all wanted to know why I disabled Facebook on their machines.

Exercising all the restraint I had, I apologized and explained that when they said “disable Facebook on ALL computers” I didn’t realize that they meant for there to be exceptions to the rule. I grabbed one of our Tier-3 guys and he helped me set up MAC filtering in Websense. We made a group for the executives and managers to be excepted from the social media blackout, and then blocked Twitter, Instagram, and all the other common social media sites while we were at it.

Thinking the issue has now been properly dealt with, I updated the executives, who seem placated, updated the ticket, and then closed it. 15 minutes later, a red-faced young woman appeared in the IT office. She’s from marketing and was upset because she couldn’t reach Facebook or Twitter.

I gently explained that those had just been blocked at the request of her department’s executive.

Her: “But you’re NOT supposed to block ME! I’m a social media manager! It’s MY JOB to be on FACEBOOK. NOW I CAN’T WORK”!

Me: “Oh. Hang on”.

I placed a quick speakerphone call to the marketing executive and got his admin assistant.

Me: “Can I speak with the marketing executive? It’s about the Facebook blackout he requested”.

Assistant: “Ooh yeah, he’s pretty upset about that”.

Of course.

Me: “Can I speak to him”?

After a minute, she got him on the line.

Exec: “Hi! Glad you finally got it right”.

Me: “Sir? The social media manager is in my office right now”.

Exec: “So? Tell her to get back to work”.

Me: “Sir, she can’t. She says it’s her job to run the company’s social media pages and she can’t work now because of the block. Do I have your permission to unblock her”?

Exec: “…”

Me: “…”

Exec: “You mean we’re paying someone to be on Facebook”?

Me: “...She works for your department, sir”.

Exec: “Unblock her for now, and tell her to come see me in my office”.

Me: "Okay”.


I turned to look at her, and she was already walking out.

ME: “Hey—are you alright”?

She turned back to me.

Her: “I’m fine. This is the third time this month that dinosaur has forgotten that I work here. I’m used to explaining my job to him”.

Miserable JobsPexels

50. Cutting Onions Over Here

This is the story about the most emotional call I've ever taken. Essentially, one of the jobs I have is programming calling features. This call in particular happened about a month ago. A ticket had come to my queue about a customer having trouble accessing her voicemails. I dug deeper and found it was full as well.

No problem, there were some programming errors, which I fixed, and I then called the customer who will be known as Sweet Elderly Woman (SEW).

SEW: Hello?

Me: So, I am calling because you reported an issue with your voicemail today.

SEW: Oh yes! Is it fixed?

Me: Yes! It should be. But I found that your box is full. It has the maximum amount of messages in it.

SEW: Dear, I'd hate to be a bother, but could I get you to go in and delete them for me? (We have a way of accessing the messages if the customer cannot, doesn't want to, etc).

Me: Absolutely. I will gladly do this for you. I'll call you back when I'm finished?

SEW: Yes please!

She thanks me and I hang up to go access the messages. Knowing full well that this is going to take at least 15 minutes, I go and read Wikipedia articles as the messages are playing. I eventually reach the last message—but the recording catches my attention. I stopped reading, listened to it, began tearing up and saved it in her box. I compose myself before calling back.

SEW: Hello?

Me: Hi! It's me again. I listened to all the messages and deleted them all except for one.

SEW: Oh thank you, sweetheart! Why did you leave one?

Me: Well, I think you should listen to it. I will hang up to give you some time, okay?

SEW: Okay, dear.

I gave her time to listen to the message and called her back. She was crying when I called her back. It was then I learned the story. The message was from her husband who had passed due to brain cancer three days after he left the message. It was him saying goodbye and that he loves her so much and he's "never felt more alive" than all the years she spent with him.

She was crying because he was deceased by the time she got to the hospital and she had not heard his voice. She said I gave her part of herself back that she'd lost when he passed. She thanked me and we disconnected the call.

Tech Support Horror StoriesShutterstock

Sources: Reddit

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