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Helpdesk funnies

Graham Davies

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A friend sent me these funnies – supposedly based on real events. I’ve added two of my own, the first two, both of which ARE real and based on telephone conversations between my (Irish) business partner and customers. Anyway, it’s something to brighten up your weekend.


Customer (School ICT Technician): There’s something wrong with the computer program we’ve just bought from you:

Helpdesk: I’m sorry to hear that. How can I help?

Customer: When I run the program it just displays funny characters on the screen.

Helpdesk: Well, yes, it would. It’s for learners of Russian.

Customer: (Irritated.) What has that got to do with it?

Helpdesk: Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Customer: (Even more irritated.) Cyril who? It looks like Greek to me.

Helpdesk: (Smiling and unable to resist being ironic.) Well, it may be Greek to you but it’s Russian to the guy who wrote the program. I can assure you it’s OK.

Customer: Thank you. Goodbye!


Customer (MFL Teacher): I can't get the program you sent me to work on my computer.

Helpdesk: What kind of computer do you have?

Customer: It’s very nice. It’s a grey one.


Customer: I can't get my diskette out.

Helpdesk: Have you tried pushing the button?

Customer: Yes, sure, it's really stuck.

Helpdesk: That doesn't sound good; I'll make a note.

Customer: No, wait a minute... …I hadn't inserted it yet. It's still on my desk. Sorry!


Helpdesk: Click on the 'my computer' icon on to the left of the screen.

Customer: Your left or my left?


Customer: Hi, good afternoon, I can't print. Every time I try it says 'Can't find printer'. I've even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can't find it.


Customer: I have problems printing in red.

Helpdesk: Do you have a colour printer?

Customer: Aaaah... ...thank you.


Helpdesk: What's on your monitor now, madam?

Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me in the supermarket.


Helpdesk: And now hit F8.

Customer: It's not working.

Helpdesk: What did you do, exactly?

Customer: I hit the F-key 8-times as you told me, but nothing's happening.


Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore.

Helpdesk: Are you sure it's plugged into the computer?

Customer: No. I can't get behind the computer.

Helpdesk: Pick up your keyboard and walk 10 paces back.

Customer: OK.

Helpdesk: Did the keyboard come with you?

Customer: Yes.

Helpdesk: That means the keyboard is not plugged in. Is there another keyboard?

Customer: Yes, there's another one here. Ah... …that one does work!


Helpdesk: Your password is the small letter ‘a’ as in apple, a capital letter ‘V’ as in Victor, the number 7.

Customer: Is that 7 in capital letters?


A customer couldn't get on the Internet.

Helpdesk: Are you sure you used the right password?

Customer: Yes I'm sure. I saw my colleague do it.

Helpdesk: Can you tell me what the password was?

Customer: Five stars.


Helpdesk: What antivirus program do you use?

Customer: Netscape.

Helpdesk: That's not an antivirus program.

Customer: Oh, sorry... …Internet Explorer.


Customer: I have a huge problem. A friend has placed a screensaver on my computer, but every time I move the mouse, it disappears.


Helpdesk: Microsoft Tech Support, may I help you?

Customer: Good afternoon! I have waited over 4 hours for you. Can you please tell me how long it will take before you can help me?

Helpdesk: Uhh..? Pardon, I don't understand your problem?

Customer: I was working in Word and clicked the Help button more than 4 hours ago. Can you tell me when you will finally be helping me?


Helpdesk: How may I help you?

Customer: I'm writing my first email.

Helpdesk: OK, and, what seems to be the problem?

Customer: Well, I have the letter ‘a’, but how do I get the circle around it?

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Marco writes:

So perhaps these could be classified as urban legends?

You're probably right. Many of them sound familiar. I can, however, guarantee that the first two are genuine - not the exact words, perhaps, but definitely true. I could contribute many more.

I could also contribute many examples of extreme rudeness on the part of customers whose immediate reaction to anything that they don't understand is to pick up the telephone and complain rather than doing the sensible thing first, i.e reading the manual - a problem that we, in common with many other software producers, call an RTFM problem. You probably know what RTFM stands for. If not, enter "define:RTFM" in Google's query box.

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I sorted out a problem with a friend's computer today and she used the now time-honoured phrase "This stupid computer."

Reflexively I repeated the mantra "Computers are stupid so we have to be clever." which is one of those "things teachers say."

My daughter plays the flute. Imagine a recalcitrant pupil picking up a flute and finding he or she can't get a beautiful tune out of it immediately. "'ere this flute don't work" "this flute is crap!" :)

Another "thing teachers say" (or at least this teacher) is "imagine you are playing a computer game. You would not sit waiting for a teacher to come and show you what to do, you would experiment. Treat Mozilla the same way, try things out, experiment, see what happens. There is an "undo" button if it goes wrong. You cannot damage the program or the computer unless you are a total pilchard."

Yesterday was a good day at work. Two unpromising classes responded very well and got stuck in with Mozilla. The "learned helplessness" was in abeyance. It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens with spreadsheets after half term B)

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I had to ring my mobile telephone company last month because they had put a bar on my phone, on the grounds that I hadn't paid my bill. I had paid the bill in fact - it comes off my credit card automatically. The customer services person was very polite, apologised and said she would investigate the problem. After half an hour she phoned me back to tell me it was a computer error and could not explain why it had happened. "No," I said, "computers just do what they are told to do. It's a programming error, therefore a human error and will probably occur again if the programmers don't sort it out." She did not really understand what I meant. This month the same thing happened again - same routine as before, but I was offered 10 pounds compensation and assured that the problem had now been resolved. We'll see...

I used to have a sign in my room which read:

"Computers are less intelligent than human beings but more intelligent than programmers."

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