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Top 5 Funniest Help-Desk & SysAdmin Stories

ITCrowd Moss“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Anybody who has ever worked in an IT support role will have uttered these immortal words at least once. Actually, let’s face it, they will have uttered them hundreds of times. So, well known is this response that it was a catchphrase in the brilliant UK comedy series “The IT Crowd.”

However, today we are not looking at the standard responses to the myriad of questions that flood help-desks around the world. Instead we are going to bring you five of the funniest and most frustrating problems that support staff have had to field and their sometimes amusing comebacks, in their own words. We have kept the storytellers’ names anonymous so as not to invite any backlash, but we hope you will enjoy them.


#1 Eject, Eject!!

Where is the Eject Button“A man came in with a PC he had bought from our store, claiming the machine was broken.

“I can’t get the disc out, I have tried butter knives, screw drivers, pliers, NOTHING will work,” and he demanded a refund.

I calmly said to him “Have you tried the eject button?”

“What eject button?” he responded, as I pointed towards it.

The look on his face was priceless, while he began to realize that with all of his poking and prodding, the machine was now actually broken.”


#2 Clean the lines!!

Cleaning the Bytes“This incident occurred at a previous employer. It was not an outrageous complaint, but was more an example of how incompetent users can be.

A user came to me complaining that she could not get any of her documents to print. I went through the normal checks to make sure everything was functioning properly, which it was. I then determined that she had not logged on properly to the Novell network so her documents were not getting to the networked printer.

Without her knowledge, I got her logged on, but before I printed anything I thought I would have some fun with her. I asked her if she was familiar with the terms bits and bytes, and she said she was. I told her that her computer sends bytes of information through the network to the printer to be printed. But for some reason, there were a large number of bytes clogging the line to the printer.

We then went over to the printer where I unplugged the network connection. I told her we had to let the bytes “escape” out of the line so it would be clear to print again. I plugged it back in, went to her machine and printed a document. She was amazed!

After that, whenever she had a problem, she asked me to come “Clean the lines again.”


#3 Self-Portrait

No Right Turns Allowed“I work for a large UK retailer, who has just released a new tablet computer, providing technical support for the product. We’re encouraged to keep customers on the line during the first time setup. This happens just at the start of the call, when selecting a wireless network to connect to.

“Okay, ma’am. You’ll now see a screen that says ‘Select Wi-Fi.’ Please find your home network connection and select it for me.”

“Found it!” she replied. “It’s asking for my password, I’ll just type that in… It says ‘Authenticating.’ Why is it saying that?”

This always means the password was put in wrong. Usually it’s because the customer’s holding the tablet in landscape, and mistypes it.

“You might’ve accidentally typed the password in wrong,” I informed her. “Forget the network and try again. Might I ask how you’re holding the tablet right now?”

*sigh* “Landscape,” she said.

“Okay, if you could just hold it in portrait for me, just for this step.”

*long pause* “…How do I do that?” She inquired, frustration becoming apparent in her tone.

“Um… you turn it 90 degrees, ma’am. So that the camera’s on the side, instead of the top.”

*longer pause* “This is too complicated for me! I give up!” *click*


#4 Black and White and Red All Over

Printing in Color“I received a call from a new user wanting to know why her documents were not printing in color. I told her that the printer is a black and white laser printer.

She said well the program said what you see is what you get.

I told her again that the printer only prints in black and white.

She continued to blame the software and her computer and wanted someone to come take a look at it.”


#5 Disk Read Error

Disk Copy“In the late 1980’s I was working at a data center in the New York City area, supporting worldwide locations.

I received a call from a user in London who was experiencing problems with one of the files on her system.

I needed to see the content of the file, so I asked her to backup the file to a disk, make a copy and then FedEx it to me.

The next day I received the package and was astounded to find an actual printed photocopy of the disk! Needless to say we both had a good laugh over our miscommunication.”


Have any hilarious IT stories you’d like to share? Just let us know in the comments section below!

John Waldron is a writer with markITwrite who regularly writes on lifestyle and technology. He has a First-Class Honours Degree in English with Creative Writing and an MA in Professional Writing from University College Falmouth, Cornwall.



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