My Computer (from Kay)
I work in a small school district. One day, a high school teacher called me up to complain that a computer wasn't working correctly. Bit by bit, I coaxed out that she was having trouble retrieving a file on her personal folder on the school's network--her folder simply wasn't there. 90% of the problems our users report are solved by a simple reboot of the user's computer. So I asked the teacher to go restart her computer and call me back if the problem still existed.

She called me back ten minutes later and said she was still having the same problem. I checked--I could see her logged in on the network, and I could ping her computer. I checked her permissions on the network--everything looked fine. I asked her to try a couple of other things. Nothing seemed to work, and this teacher (already known for her crabby, high-strung attitude) was getting progressively grumpier.

Finally, I put down what I was working on in between her phone calls and went out to her site to see what the problem was. Instead of leading me to her desk, she led me to a computer lab down the hall, where she had Microsoft Word open and on the "Open file" dialogue box. I checked, and sure enough, she wasn't logged into the network. However, the computer was logged in as a student. I asked her why she'd logged in as a student, and she said that she hadn't--the computer was already logged in when she got there and began working in Microsoft Word. I asked her why she didn't restart the computer like I'd asked her, and she replied that she had.

Well, clearly she hadn't, if she was still logged on as a student and her file was open on the computer. I didn't want to call her a liar, so I asked her why she restarted and logged in as a student.

She replied grumpily, "I didn't log in as a student. You asked me to restart my computer, so I went back to my classroom and restarted my computer."

I've since learned to always ask a user to specify which computer they're at.

 

A Smoke Smell (from Andrew)
I used to work at the helpdesk at a prestigious, downtown law firm that was had a reputation for dealing with high profile cases. As such, their lawyers were very good at their jobs and very professional. Their expertise, however, did not extend to computers… or apparently to common sense.

One day, I received a call from one of the partners that the monitor in the legal library was making some weird noises and smoking. "Unplug it immediately!" I said while jumping out of my chair, "I'll be right up."

I ran up several flights of stairs and rushed in the room. The scene caused my jaw to hit the floor. The partner – a lawyer with two decades of litigation experience – was starting to spray an aerosol can into the plugged-in, smoldering CRT monitor that was surrounded by stacks of paper and books.

I quickly stopped him from spraying the can, cleared away all the papers, and unplugged the monitor as fast as I could. Flabbergasted, I asked him why he was spraying the monitor with the aerosol can. He replied “the smoke smell was getting to me, so I wanted to use some air freshener on it.”

In those pre-electronic filing days, I often wonder how bad it would have been had I not bolted up the stairs. That partner had almost set hundreds of records, case files, and other important documents on fire.

 

The Mystery of the Missing Messages (from George Alexander)
I used to work on team that maintained an in-house application called InfoSwitch. This app was used by the customer service reps to ensure that once a customer bought a cell phone, the various features on his/her plan would be set up correctly on the network switch. This would enable the network to recognize the customer's phone and enable the phone to perform all of the functionality it was supposed to.

One day, a trouble ticket got passed up to us saying that a certain customer was set up for text messaging, but wasn't receiving any. First things first, I logged into InfoSwitch and verified that the customer was in fact set-up for text messaging. Then I dug a bit deeper, and looked at the network switch itself: the customer was indeed configured to use short text messaging on their phone.

The next logical conclusion was that his phone probably didn't support the feature in the first place (it was a new thing back in those days). So I checked the capabilities database and discovered that yes, this model supported sending and receiving text messages. I brought the issue up with the team, and we spent the next hour or two digging into other databases and scratching our heads trying to figure it out.

And then it dawned on me. Did anyone ever try sending the customer a text message?

I grabbed our on-call mobile device and sent a text message to the customer’s phone. Success! The problem was marked as "resolved" in the trouble ticketing system. There was a brief temptation to mark the solution to the problem as, "Customer now needs to make friends."

 

When Christmas Trees Attack (from Shaun)
It's that time of the year again!

******************************************************
* TICKET #B8-4432851      *CLOSED*        2010-12-01 *
******************************************************
*                                                    *
* ASSIGNED  : gbivins                                *
* DEPT CODE : T1-SUP                                 *
* CUSTOMER  : Sohcnum Grocers                        *
* HARDWARE  : QMS                                    *
* RESOLUTION: CLOSED-WITHDISPATCH                    *
*                                                    *
*                                                    *
* __ ISSUE __                                        *
*                                                    *
*   Customer called, problem with their QMS ticket-  *
*   printing kiosk. Computer is going straight into  *
*   BIOS on every reboot. This is the touch-screen   *
*   only model, so they cannot hit ESC to exit.      *
*                                                    *
* __ TROUBLESHOOTING __                              *
*                                                    *
*   #2010-12-01 8:11 AM#                             *
*   Rebooted several times over phone, system always *
*   going into BIOS. Confirmed that no keyboard was  *
*   plugged in. Suspect hardware problem; customer   *
*   does not have a keyboard they can plug-in to     *
*   further diagnose. Dispatching tech (JADAMS).     *
*                                                    *
*   #2010-12-01 12:20 PM#                            *
*   Tech reports that a Christmas tree was setup     *
*   next to the kiosk. A Christmas decoration from   *
*   the tree was taped to the kiosk and touching the *
*   touch-screen.                                    *
*                                                    *
*   Tech removed removed the obstruction from the    *
*   screen and rebooted the kiosk. This has resolved *
*   the issue.                                       *
*                                                    *
******************************************************

And another one, just a few days later.

******************************************************
* TICKET #B8-5433829      *CLOSED*        2010-12-03 *
******************************************************
*                                                    *
* ASSIGNED  : sdennis                                *
* DEPT CODE : T1-SUP                                 *
* CUSTOMER  : Tower Supplies                         *
* HARDWARE  : BILMAX                                 *
* RESOLUTION: CLOSED-FIRSTCALL                       *
*                                                    *
*                                                    *
* __ ISSUE __                                        *
*                                                    *
*   Customer called, all four BILMAX terminals are   *
*   not working. They will not respond to input and  *
*   there is no green power light.                   *
*                                                    *
* __ TROUBLESHOOTING __                              *
*                                                    *
*   #2010-12-04 3:18 AM#                             *
*   Suspect terminals are receiving no power. Asked  *
*   customer to verify outlets.                      *
*                                                    *
*   Customer verified that outlets were dead. They   *
*   recently plugged in a fiber optic Christmas tree *
*   and that seemed to blow a circuit. Advised to    *
*   check breaker box or call their electrician.     *
*                                                    *
******************************************************