Some people do not have the natural ability to use technology. On the other hand, some people are incredibly gifted whenever it comes to technology and luckily for them, they can make a lot of money handling dumb technology questions.
Let's take a look at some of the most incompetent requests tech support workers have received.
All posts have been edited for clarity.
“I supported a school computer lab for several years, and the particular issue happened a lot. It was always a quick fix, but I still recall the sheepish realization that the first offender and I both shared early in my tenure.
The help desk student came to my office to inform me of a user with a login issue. I reset the user’s password and told the help desk to have the user try it again. A few minutes later they were back and stated that the new password didn’t work. I confirmed that the new password did work at a machine in my office. Maybe the lab machine was off the network. Nope. Lost its domain binding? Nope. It was strange so I went to investigate.
The user sat there and tried different passwords over and over. They verified their username again, and everything looked right.
The user said, ‘I’ve tried every password I’ve ever used, plus the one you gave me. None of them work. I also tried it on that computer, but it’s broken, too.’
I responded, ‘Let me try a different account.’
It worked. I checked the network and domain settings for good measure and all were good. I checked the user’s account with the temporary password I set, and it worked, too.
The user said, ‘What? How? My login still won’t work over here, though. Let me try the computer I sit at for class. I don’t want to be locked out again later.’
I watched as they moved down a few seats, tapped the space bar to wake the screen, then proceeded to attempt to login. No luck. Then they slid down another seat. They tapped on the space bar to wake it up. Still no login.
I checked the first machine again, and that was when I saw that. In waking the machine, they had managed to type a single space in the username field, before their username. They felt pretty silly about it, and I felt like a dummy for missing such a simple error.
After that, the help desk had a help document that instructed users to completely clear both the username and password fields before they tried it again. I have habitually only used CTRL, SHIFT, or the mouse to wake computers since then.”
“I had software that was needed for our job that would constantly have little problems here and there. We would get unexpected exception errors and things would close. Most of the time I could fix the error because I had been doing it for years.
Every once in a while though, there would be an error I couldn’t fix and I needed to call the software support.
Well, we had one terrible error that happened to everyone and I could recreate it at will. So, I told the software company and they didn’t believe me so I sent them the log file.
We continued to get the error, so I kept opening tickets every time another variant of the issue happened.
They would always ask for a log file, so instead of logging on to the computer that originally reported the issue, I would recreate the issue on my computer and send the log file.
Finally, after about the fifteenth ticket I opened with the variant of this bug, I was told they had a solution.
They said the problem was with the computer. All the issues they were seeing had come from the same computer. Then they closed the ticket as fixed.
I had to tell them, that of course, it came from the same computer because I was recreating the problem and sending the logs. So I opened each ticket again with a log from a different computer, just to make them happy.”
“I was one of two people at my workplace that worked on Macs. One day, a customer came in with a twelve-year-old MacBook that had a laundry list of problems. One of her chief complaints is that prior to it dying the headphone jack didn’t work and it felt loose. Naturally, the first thing I told her was that it would be more cost effective to just buy a new one. She had sentimental value in the machine, so she wanted us to do it anyway.
In talking to her, she mentioned that another company had worked on it. I opened it up and began to diagnose it. On initial inspection, I found a swollen battery that had vented a bit onto the TouchPad, keyboard, and logic board. I was just getting ready to order her parts when something caught my eye and I remembered her headphone issue.
There were plenty of signs that whoever was in the machine before me had no clue what they were doing, or just didn’t care. The battery was damaged by what looked like a screwdriver, parts were missing and/or stripped, etc. On that particular model, the headphone jack was a tiny separate piece that plugs into the logic board. There was just an empty hole where the headphone jack was supposed to be.
I knew exactly what happened. The tiny piece looked like it should just slide in after you get the logic board back in, which was about an hour task by itself. Well, it doesn’t. There was about one millimeter of the logic board which prevented you from doing just that. Whoever worked on it previously must have gotten the board back in, realized the headphone jack wouldn’t fit, and just gave up and put the machine all the way back together.
When I told the customer, she was furious at first, then proceeded to laugh for about five minutes.”
“We deal with a lot of older people that come in with little problems on a daily basis.
One day, I had this older gentleman come in and state that his seven-year-old laptop was having issues booting. I started to get him checked in and began asking more questions to narrow down the problem.
He eventually said, ‘Well, it said something about something not being found and then turned off.’
Being rather familiar with issues like that, I forewarned him it was most likely a failing hard drive and we would have to install a new one and try to recover what we can.
He immediately got defensive and said, ‘Well, I don’t think it’s the hard drive, the last tech told me that and did something and it worked fine until now.’
He went on to tell me that it had happened at four other tech shops.
I assured him we would look at all possible issues and let him know. Out of curiosity, I called one of the shops and ask about this client.
They laughed and said he refused to buy a new drive, so they just installed windows on the partially dead drive and went on with their lives.
Now with that information, I was determined to get something visual to show him his drive was bad, so I pull it out and put it in a ‘toaster’ and ran a surface test. Some of the worst drives I had seen had only shown a couple of red, or bad, blocks in this test.
Well, I ran it and walk away, only to come back to half of the screen being red. I had no clue how this drive was still spinning and windows.
Armed with that, he finally bought a new drive.
Needless to say, nothing was recoverable.”
“I was working as a swing shift server administrator for a large bank. Our location was one of three data centers.
Most nights were crazy busy; however, that night was slow. So, I took the opportunity to look for something to do. I decided to check out the Day Shift ticket queue. There was a ticket open for over a year.
The user’s monitor image would randomly shake. The team could not duplicate it and they replaced the monitor several times. Challenge accepted.
There were almost no employees there at night so I went for a walk. I found the user’s cube and the monitor looked fine. She had a very large monitor which wasn’t normal. Most employees had small LCD monitors at that point. I took a look at her coworker’s monitor and almost immediately realized what was going on.
The user on the other side of the cube wall had an electric desk fan sitting six inches from the back of the large monitor with only a cloth cube wall between them. I turned the fan on and the monitor wigged out. I left the owner of the fan a note asking her to relocate it.
I closed the ticket. The following day I was told that the day techs were given a hard time all day over how simple solving that ticket was.”
“I used to work at a very standard national contact center. Most of the work we performed was also standard practice customer support. One day, the phone rings and it was a company employee across the country.
She was nice enough but I could tell by her voice that she was losing her patience. She explained that it was the fourth time that she has had to contact us regarding the issue. For some unknown reason, the lady just couldn’t log in to her back-office computer. Simple enough fix.
I pulled up her password on my end and asked her to verify what username and password she had used.
She butchered it but close enough. I could tell she was likely just entering the right password incorrectly.
I said, ‘Alright ma’am so I’m going to read off your password to you okay?’
I proceed to quickly ramble off the password followed by the obligatory, ‘and remember this password is case sensitive so those letters must be capitalized.’
She responded, ‘Ooooh okay,’ and sounded like she got it.
I heard her typing in the password followed by a very annoyed, ‘It still didn’t work!’
I asked her to try one more time for me, and by that time I was dialed in remotely. I began to notice the little black dots appearing where the password should be were clearly longer than the password we just discussed.
I said, ‘Hold on, hold on ma’am,’ and explained the situation.
She responded, ‘Well I’m typing exactly what you told me!’
As a last-ditch effort, I pulled up the actual password on her display. I quickly moved the cursor back and forth over the password and highlighted it.
I said, ‘Okay ma’am this is your password. Can you see it?’
She told me that she understood once again.
Right before she started typing, I reassure her, ‘And remember it’s case sensitive so the capital letters have to be capitalized.’
She began to type and I immediately noticed it was way too long again.
At that point, I was frustrated and said, ‘Ma’am. I just showed you your password on the screen and you’re clearly typing something else. Can I ask what you’re typing?’
In an angry voice, she yelled at me, ‘Well you told me my password was casesensitive!'”
“I worked in a clinic where I was the only person in my department. They decided to hire me and get me started prior to the department being operational, so in order to keep me employed, they had me help out through various departments.
We needed to keep records on all patients that come through the front door unless we transferred them completely to another facility or if a certain amount of time hasd passed after a patient had died. When I first started I had ended up helping out the IT department with a complete network changeover and had received glowing reviews from my work so management decided to put me in with records to assist them in their change over from all paper to all digital with all patient records. They had made it through approximately one hundred patients out of ten thousand. It had taken them two weeks.
I arrived in their department and I was greeted by a team of about five ladies, the youngest looked to be about sixty. I greeted them and made friendly chit-chat at first. Before showing me how they had been working I learned that they were not in favor of going to an all-digital system and that they wanted to stick to paper records.
When it came to scanning files, they showed me how to work the scanner. They opened the top, put the page on the glass, hit scan, hit add doc to PDF, flipped the page over, and hit scan again before swapping it out. That PT file was on the thin side and had well over fifty pages. After about an hour and a half, it came time to save the thing. I was told not to name the pt files and to leave the file as ‘Untitled’ as it couldn’t have any patient information on it, but just set it face down in an Inbox.
After watching all that, I asked why they didn’t use the auto-feed and I was told that they didn’t like having to reorganize the pages.
Confused, and being a little intimidated by being the new guy, I just nodded and said, ‘Oh, okay.’
At that point, they all decided it was time to go to lunch and invited me along but it was a salad place.
I liked my burgers so I politely declined, went to Burger King across the street, and came back figuring I could let it scan while I ate.
I took the first file, set it in the auto feeder, checked the settings, enabled two-sided scanning with blank page elimination, and hit go. I sat down and made it through about a third of my burger before the doc was done. I checked it on the preview and it had no issues so I saved it off and set up the next one.
By the time they got back, I had scanned close to fifty records and the inbox was so full that I had to make another stack.
They were shocked, to say the least. When they asked how I did it so fast I showed them.
None of them knew that you could set the machine to scan pages two-sided. What would have taken them years to do now was able to be done in a few months.
Needless to say, we did have to come up with a naming convention for the files, so eventually, it was decided to use initials because we still stuck to the no-names rule. It took them longer to figure out who was who than to actually scan the docs.
I was removed from their section before completion due to my section coming online, but they still reached out to me for help before they asked our actual IT crew and they brought me brownies.”
“I didn’t realize I could do that!”
“As part of an apprenticeship years ago, I had to do work experience as first-line support on the phones. One call from a senior, and elderly, member of staff stuck out to me.
The lady said, ‘Hello, I have a screen plugged into my device and it’s not working.’
I responded, ‘I can see by your records you have a Dell laptop, is that right?’
She said, ‘That’s right.’
I said, ‘Okay, well, this could be a few things, it could be your laptop, cable, or monitor. Can you help me diagnose the issue by connecting your laptop to a different screen?’
She responded, ‘Of course.’
A whole five minutes later, the lady said, ‘I’m really sorry, but I can’t get the wire to reach!’
Puzzled, I asked, ‘What do you mean? You have a laptop, right?’
She responded, ‘Yes but the wire won’t reach my desk from my colleagues.’
I asked, ‘And you’ve moved the laptop?’
Shocked, she exclaimed, ‘Huh? I didn’t realize I could do that!’
It turned out it was docked, all the time, and used as if it was a desktop.”
“I work for an IT infrastructure company that installed the cables that made the network function. One of the other services we offered was ‘service calls.’ For a contracted rate, a national management company requested one or two of our techs to be the on-site eyes, ears, and hands of techs several states away.
For this service call, my supervisor and I were supposed to go exchange the customer’s brand switches then stay on-site while the customer engineer halfway across the country configured the new switches. The ticket said we were allotted twelve hours to complete the work.
We arrived, checked in with the project manager, and went inside to get to work. After waiting for thirty minutes, we called our point of contact to see where she was. It turned out, she had a flat tire and was going to be two hours late.
We were content getting paid to twiddle our thumbs for two hours.
Finally, our point of contact arrived and we got to work. Physically swapping the switches had surprisingly gone smoothly. It only took about five hours.
The issues started when the time came to configure. We powered up the first stack, connected the dual routers to the indicated ports, and waited. According to the customer engineer, the switches weren’t stacking right. Or if they did stack, they didn’t configure right. Oh, boy.
What happened next was three hours of hard rebooting the switches. If the customer engineer changed anything between reboots, we never noticed.
The engineer got on a zoom call with one of his colleagues and finally sorted out the issues with the first stack at six o’clock that night. We had been on-site for eleven hours at that point.
During the process, my supervisor advised me, ‘Make a nice comfy pile of boxes and take a nap, because we’ll be here for a while.’
The next stack also chose to be a problem child, and two brand switch engineers were roped into the zoom call, as well as another customer engineer. Some firmware conflicts between the configuration and the switches were preventing any of the switches with fiber ports from grabbing the master role.
At this point, someone on the call had a thought.
They asked, ‘Wait, what’s the local time? How long have the techs been on-site?’
After some silence, my supervisor chimed in, ‘It is currently about 2100 hours local time, and we’ve been on-site for fourteen hours.’
They responded, ‘Okay, let’s troubleshoot the web configuration later. For now, we need to get this done so the network is operational tomorrow. Has anyone started stacking closet three yet?’
My supervisor responded, ‘I can send my junior tech to closet three to work on that one while we manually configure these switches, sound good?’
Everyone agreed to the course of action and I went down one floor and awaited a call from the customer engineer to power on the stack.
At around midnight, I got the call to power on the last stack. To everyone’s amazement and relief, it stacked and configured correctly by itself, so I just needed to patch in all of the existing ports myself.
As I finished with that, I got a text from my supervisor.
He said the three stacks were all working and he would meet me in the main closet to collect our tools and leave.
I closed the closet and opened the door to leave the suite.
Suddenly, an alarm started going off. It turned out the alarm auto-armed at midnight, and both our point of contact and building security had gone home for the night. Lacking a code and not wanting to smash the keypad, I left it and met up with my supervisor.
He agreed that there was nothing we could do about the alarm, so we should just pack up and leave.
We walked out of the building at two-thirty in the morning, looking forward to four hours of sleep before we had to come back and get some final paperwork.
Just then, a black van with blue flashers pulled up to us.
The police officer said, ‘We received an automated call from this address, is everything alright?’
After quietly groaning, I responded, ‘Yeah, that was me, we got locked in and I tripped the alarm as I left.’
The police officer said, ‘Okay, can I see your license so I can record that I made contact on my paperwork?’
I silently pulled out my driver’s license and handed it over. I had to wait a whole minute while he read over my information to the dispatcher.
Finally, the police officer said, ‘Here you go, sir, thank you, and have a good night.’
At seven o’clock that morning, we come back. Once again, our point of contact was late.
My supervisor called to update the project manager.
He said, ‘Yeah, we’re back on site to get our completion signature and box up the old switches, but our point of contact is late again.’
The project manager was furious and asked, ‘What are you still doing there?! We’ll fax them for signatures, and the local IT had better be capable of putting eleven switches in eleven boxes and slapping a shipping label on them. Go home and get some sleep. I want an email explaining your story on how a twelve-hour job ended up costing us thirty-nine hours. Bye!’
I don’t know the full fallout of that day, but the exact operation was put on indefinite hold in all of the customer’s locations while a postmortem was done on our job. That hold stayed in place for a while due to their incompetence.”
“Ram that RAM in there!”
“I was on-site replacing RAM for one of the Finance guys at my workplace. It just so happened that the Finance guy and I had worn nearly matching outfits that day. We both had short brown hair, relatively skinny, same build size, white shirts, black pants. He left his office to let me replace his RAM.
I went under the desk to start opening up the computer and a sales lady walked in to talk to the finance guy.
Not realizing that he had left, she said, ‘What are you doing, idiot?’
I had been called way worse on the job so I just went along with it.
I responded, ‘Replacing the RAM in this computer?’
She exclaimed, ‘Yeah you ram that RAM in there!’
I smirked from under the desk and said, ‘You don’t know who you’re talking to do you?’
The sales lady sat down and said, ‘I know who I’m talking to, you freaking weirdo.’
I popped my head up from behind the desk with a huge grin on my face.
She looked like she had just witnessed a murder and gasped.
She exclaimed, ‘I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize. You and he are both in the same outfit. I’m so sorry!’
The finance guy walked in while I was on the ground laughing and looked confused. I laughed even harder.
Once she explained the situation that just ensued and we all had a good laugh, I finished ramming the RAM in there and went on my way once he was booted up and good to go.
It was just so perfect. It made my day.”