Let's be fair: Sometimes computer users resort to calling the help desk because the ON-LINE AND PRINTED DOCUMENTATION leaves a little to be desired!
  • Basic question for the support group:
    Do I need a computer to use your software??
  • Conversation between a help desk caller and a Novell NetWare SysOp:
    Caller -- Hello, is this Tech Support?
    SysOp -- Yes, it is. How may I help you?
    Caller -- The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?
    SysOp -- I'm sorry, but did you say "cup holder"?
    Caller -- Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer.
    SysOp -- Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped; it's because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotion or at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?
    Caller -- It came with my computer; I don't know anything about a promotion. It just has "4X" on it.
    SysOp -- That would be the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive.
  • Conversation between a computer user and a Dell technician:
    User -- I've pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens.
    Tech -- Foot pedal?
    User -- Yes, this little foot pedal with the "on" switch.
    Tech -- You mean the mouse?
  • Conversation between a patient user and an even more patient helper:
    User -- What do I do now?
    Tech -- What does the screen say?
    User -- It says, "Hit ENTER when ready."
    Tech -- What's the problem?
    User -- How do I know when it's ready?
  • Conversation between tech support and a guy with a good sense of direction:
    Tech -- Click on the "My Computer" icon on the left of the screen.
    Guy -- Do you mean your left or mine?
  • Conversation between a Canon technician and a woman having printing problems:
    Canon -- Under you running it under Windows?
    Woman -- No, my desk is next to the door. But that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his is working fine.
  • Conversation between a diskette user and Brent_Sullivan:
    Disk Guy -- I'm having trouble reading word processing files from my old diskettes.
    Brent -- Are they getting near a heat source?
    Disk Guy -- No.
    Brent -- Are they getting near a magnetic field?
    Disk Guy -- No.
    Brent -- Besides going in and out of the floppy drive, what is being done with these diskettes?
    Disk Guy -- I put a label on the diskette, roll it into the typewriter . . .
  • Conversation between another expert and another diskette user:
    A.E. -- I think before I can diagnose your trouble, I will need you to send me a copy of the diskette.
    A.D.U. -- No problem. We have a Xerox machine right here.
  • Conversation between yet another expert and an obedient user:
    Expert -- Now put the troubled floppy back in the disk drive.
    Obedient One -- Okay.
    Expert -- Now close the door.
    Obedient One -- Okay. Hold on.
    [Sound of footsteps. Sound of a door closing across the room.]
    Obedient One -- Okay, I'm back.
    Expert -- Um, I meant the door on the disk drive.
  • Conversation between tech support and an important employee:
    Tech -- Can I please get your name and position in the company?
    Employee -- This is Ryan, and I'm sitting down.
  • Conversation between a Compaq newcomer and John_Wolf:
    Newbie -- My brand new Contura will not work.
    John -- What did you do?
    Newbie -- I unpacked the unit, plugged it in, opened it up, and sat there for twenty minutes waiting for something to happen.
    John -- What happened when you pressed the power switch?
    Newbie -- What power switch?
  • Conversation between database administrator and database user connected to the network via his PC:
    DBA -- I noticed you are running six separate queries, and they are using a lot of tables and CPU.
    DBU -- No, I'm not running them anymore. They took so long, I killed them.
    DBA -- How did you kill them?
    DBU -- I just pressed control-alt-delete; that seemed to kill it.
  • Conversation between a hothead and a support technician:
    Hothead -- How do I install batteries in my laptop?
    Support -- The directions are on the first page of the manual.
    Hothead -- I just paid $2,000 for this %#&^@* thing, and I'm not going to read a book!
  • Conversation between an AST user and Tamra_Engle:
    User -- My mouse is very hard to control when the dust cover is on it.
    Tamra -- It has a dust cover?
    User -- Yes, it's kind of a plastic bag.
    Tamra -- Could that just be part of the original packaging?
  • Conversation between a Dell user and Wayne_Zieschang:
    User -- My mouse is not working at all.
    Wayne -- Can you describe how you are using it?
    User -- I hold it up and point it at the screen and click like mad, but nothing ever happens.
  • Conversation between a user trying to fax something and the support desk:
    Faxer -- I can't get my computer to fax anything.
    Supporter -- Can you describe the process you are using?
    Faxer -- I hold the piece of paper up to the monitor screen and press the "Send" key.
  • Conversation between a user trying to boot up and the support desk:
    Boot Person -- You've got to fix my computer. I urgently need to print a document, but the computer won't boot properly.
    Desk Person -- What does it say?
    Boot Person -- Something about an error and non-system disk.
    Desk Person -- Look at your machine. Is there a floppy inside?
    Boot Person -- No, but there's a sticker saying there's an Intel inside.
  • Conversation between a software user and Gary_Rock:
    User -- I'm having trouble setting up a new program.
    Gary -- Can you try your local Egghead?
    User -- Yeah, I got a couple of friends.
    Gary -- The Egghead is a software store.
    User -- Oh! I thought you meant for me to find a couple of geeks.
  • Conversation between an impatient user and a patient techie:
    Patient One -- All right. Now double-click on the File Manager icon.
    Impatient One -- That's why I hate this Windows, because of the icons. I'm a Protestant, and I don't believe in icons.
    Patient One -- Well, that's just an industry term, sir. I don't believe it was meant to . . .
    Impatient One -- I don't care about "industry terms." I don't believe in icons!
    Patient One -- Well, why don't you click on the little picture of a file cabinet. Is "little picture" okay?
    Impatient One -- [Click.]
  • Conversation between a support person and someone needing exact instructions:
    Someone -- Now what do I do?
    Support -- What is the prompt on the screen?
    Someone -- It's asking for "Enter your last name."
    Support -- Okay, so type in your last name.
    Someone -- How do you spell that?
  • Conversation between tech support and a novice:
    Tech -- How much free space do you have on your hard drive?
    Novice -- Well, my wife likes to get on the internet, and she downloaded ten hours of free space.
  • Conversation between an experienced user and tech support:
    EU -- I received the software update you sent, but I am still getting the same error message.
    TS -- Did you install the update?
    EU -- No. Oh, am I supposed to install it to get it to work?
  • Confabulation between a time-conscious caller and a 24/7 call center worker:
    T-C Caller -- What hours is the call center open?
    C C Worker -- The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    T-C Caller -- Is that Eastern or Pacific time?
    C C Worker -- Uh, Pacific.
  • Conversation between tech support and a persistent user:
    TS -- Is your computer on a separate telephone line?
    PU (clicking to connect to on-line service) -- No.
    TS -- Well then we can't  . . .
    PU -- It says "No dial tone."
    TS -- That's because you're on the line with me right now. You need to  . . .
    PU -- No, that's not it. It does this all the time. I just have to try a few times, and it will let me through.
    TS -- No, ma'am. It's not even trying to dial right now because you're on the phone with me.
    PU -- It must be busy. I'll try again later.
  • Conversation between tech support and someone new to using a mouse:
    Supporter -- Okay, now click your left mouse button.
    Mouser -- But I only have one mouse.
  • Conversation between a game player and tech support:
    GP -- My computer crashed!
    TS -- It crashed?
    GP -- Yeah, it won't let me play my game.
    TS -- All right, hit control-alt-delete to reboot.
    GP -- No, it didn't crash; it crashed.
    TS -- Huh?
    GP -- I crashed my game. That's what I said before. I crashed my spaceship and now it doesn't work.
    TS -- Click on "File," then "New Game."
    GP -- Wow! How'd you learn to do that?
  • Conversation between a computer shop customer and a clerk:
    Customer -- I'd like a mouse mat, please.
    Clerk -- Certainly. We have a large variety.
    Customer -- But will they be compatible with my computer?
  • Conversation between a writer wanna-be and an MS employee:
    Wanna-be -- I'm having trouble installing Microsoft Word.
    Employee -- Tell me what you've done.
    Wanna-be -- I typed "A:SETUP".
    Employee -- Ma'am, remove the disk and tell me what it says.
    Wanna-be -- It says "Restore and Recovery disk."
    Employee -- Insert the MS Word setup disk.
    Wanna-be -- What?
    Employee -- Did you buy MS Word?
    Customer -- No.
  • Conversation between an old hand and a new system administrator:
    New SA (needing to type in the pathname to a directory called "i386") -- Where's the key for that line thing?
    Old Hand -- What are you talking about?
    New SA -- You know, the one that looks like an upside-down exclamation mark.
    Old Hand -- You mean the letter "i"?
    New SA -- Yeah, that's it!
  • Miscommunication between helper and beginner:
    Helper -- Do you have 3 ½ diskettes?
    Beginner -- No, I only have 3 of them.
  • Dialogue between help desk operator and an impressable user:
    Operator -- Okay, in the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the "OK" button displayed?
    Impressee -- Wow. How can you see my screen from there?
    Operator -- Years of training.
  • Dialogue between help desk operator and a concise user:
    Help Desk -- What type of computer do you have?
    User -- A white one.
  • Exchange between help desk and a Windows user:
    HD -- I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.
    WU -- Okay.
    HD -- Did you get a pop-up menu?
    WU -- No.
    HD -- Okay. Right click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?
    WU -- No.
    HD -- Okay, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?
    WU -- Sure. You told me to write "click," and I wrote "click".
  • Exchange between a new network guy and an old network guy:
    New -- I'm going to be using Windows NT. Should I get the Server or Workstation version?
    Old -- Well, are you using it as a workstation or as a server?
    New -- A server. So, which one do I get?
    Old -- The server version, perhaps?
    New -- Which one is that?
    Old -- Windows NT Server.
    New -- Okay, thanks.
  • Parley between Tech Support and bad spellar:
    TS -- Type "A:" at the prompt.
    BS -- How do you spell that?
  • Rap session between an astute user and the help desk:
    User -- I can't log in to my account.
    Desk -- Okay, let's look at your configuration.
    User -- Okay, but I know that my User ID is case sensitive.
    Desk -- Yes, it is. Okay, what does it say in the "User ID" field?
    User -- "Case Sensitive."
  • Chat between Tech Support and a sentimental user:
    TS -- What's on your screen right now?
    SU -- A stuffed animal that my boyfriend got me at the grocery store.
  • Powwow between Tech Support and a certain uncertain guy:
    Support -- What operating system are you running?
    Guy -- Pentium.
  • Powwow between Tech Support and a similarly uncertain guy:
    Tech -- What version of the Mac OS are you using?
    Sim -- Word 6.0.
  • E-mail Q&A between me and the guy training me in ASPX programming:
    Me -- Is there something we do different to run the ASPX scripts as opposed to the ASP scripts?
    The Guy -- Aspx uses different continuations & to reference data it is field.value come to mind.
  • Confession of a meticulous computer user:
    My keyboard doesn't work any more. I cleaned it by filling up my tub with soap and water and soaking it for a day. Then I removed all the keys and washed them individually.
  • Query by an eager computer user:
    Could you please copy the Internet onto this diskette for me?
  • Declaration by a man who knows what he wants:
    I don't need any of that SQL stuff, I just want a database!
  • Pondering by an observant diskette user:
    Excuse me, can I use this disk? It has a hole in it.
  • Protest by someone paying close attention to the key labels:
    I don't have a space bar.
  • Question from someone paying less attention to the key labels:
    Do I have to hit 'F' and '8' at the same time?
  • Voice mail message left by a newcomer to GUI:
    Uh, my problem is, I've got my pointer in the middle of the screen, and I need to move it to the left, but my mouse is over at the left-hand side of the pad. And if I go any further to the left, it's going to go off the pad. Anyway, if you could give me a call, I'd appreciate it. I'll wait until I hear from you.
  • Enraged complaint from a paranoid user:
    My computer called me "bad" and an "invalid!"
  • Simple question from someone who likes a backup plan:
    How do I print my voicemail?
  • Revelation from a modem user:
    I have a long distance modem.
  • Common greeting by callers to a local ISP:
    Hello, is this the internet?
  • Frustrated complaint from a confused IBM user:
    I'm having trouble printing documents. The computer is telling me it "can't find the printer." I turned the computer screen so it faces the printer, and it still can't see it!
  • Another frustrated complaint from another IBM user, who was trying to install software from 5¼" diskettes: I put in the first disk and that was okay. It said to put in the second disk, and I had some problems fitting it in. Then it said to put it the third disk, and there was no way I could get it in with those other two!
  • Common question by users of a local ISP:
    When I pay for my on-line service, should I make the check out to "The Internet"?
  • Uncommon question by an up-to-date user of a local ISP:
    So that'll get me connected to the Internet, right? And that's the latest version of the Internet, right?
  • Offer from an experimenter who was trying to be helpful:
    I had problems connecting to some dial-in lines. Now when I hear my modem, I pick up the phone and make a "Kckgkth" sound into it. Then I hang up and get a reliable connection. I would be glad to record this noise and send it to you so your other customers could benefit.
  • Excerpts from a hotline E-mail:
       . . . when I tried to delete it I accidently hit "C" instead of "D". . . . I did eventually delete. . . . I have two questions: Why did this happen, and why am I not able to see the item which I deleted . . . ?
  • Excerpts from another hotline E-mail:
       . . . when entering an order . . . I received an error message. . . . I immediately went out of order and looked at the QOS69 screen . . .
  • Typical call to the help desk:
    The message on the screen is "Press Any Key." Where is the "Any" key?
  • Not-so-typical call to the help desk:
    I need to know how to have my report sent directly to the copy machine.
  • Conversation between computer store employee and gentleman with a smoking power supply, who couldn't be convinced that he had a hardware problem:
    Employee -- Sir, something has burned within your power supply.
    Gentleman -- I bet that there is some command that I can put into the AUTOEXEC.BAT file that will take care of this.
    Employee -- There is nothing that software can do to help you with this problem.
    Gentleman -- I know that there is something I can put in, some command; maybe it should go into the CONFIG.SYS.
    Employee, after a few minutes of going round and round -- Okay, I am not supposed to tell anyone this, but there is a hidden command in some versions of DOS that you can use. I want you to edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT and add the last line as C:\DOS\NOSMOKE and reboot your computer.
    Gentleman, after following those instructions -- It is still smoking.
    Employee -- I guess you'll need to call Microsoft and ask them for a patch for the NOSMOKE.EXE.
    Gentleman, calling back four hours later -- I called Microsoft and they said that my power supply is incompatible with their NOSMOKE.EXE and that I need to get a new one. I was wondering when I can have that done and how much it will cost.
  • Conversation between a WordPerfect user and a WordPerfect Customer Support employee:
    WPU -- Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect.
    WPCSE -- What sort of trouble?
    WPU -- Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.
    WPCSE -- Went away?
    WPU -- They disappeared.
    WPCSE -- Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?
    WPU -- Nothing.
    WPCSE -- Nothing?
    WPU -- It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type.
    WPCSE -- Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?
    WPU -- How do I tell?
    WPCSE -- Can you see the "C:\" prompt on the screen?
    WPU -- What's a sea-prompt?
    WPCSE -- Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?
    WPU -- There isn't any cursor. I told you, it won't accept anything I type.
    WPCSE -- Does your monitor have a power indicator?
    WPU -- What's a monitor?
    WPCSE -- It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?
    WPU -- I don't know.
    WPCSE -- Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?
    WPU -- Yes, I think so.
    WPCSE -- Great! Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall.
    WPU -- Yes, it is.
    WPCSE -- When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?
    WPU -- No.
    WPCSE -- Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable.
    WPU -- Okay, here it is.
    WPCSE -- Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer.
    WPU -- I can't reach.
    WPCSE -- Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?
    WPU -- No.
    WPCSE -- Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?
    WPU -- Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle, it's because it's dark.
    WPCSE -- Dark?
    WPU -- Yes. The office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.
    WPCSE -- Well, turn on the office light then.
    WPU -- I can't.
    WPCSE -- No? Why not?
    WPU -- Because there's a power outage.

  • Let's be fair: Sometimes computer users resort to calling the help desk because the ON-LINE AND PRINTED DOCUMENTATION leaves a little to be desired!