Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt
Tech Support Horror Story – McDonnell Douglas (1994)
Some true tech support horror stories are stranger than fiction. And you have to admit, sometimes we do see a little of ourselves in the most unlikely situations. This story’s true and happened to a friend and colleague, Ian Sears, the Tech Lead of Level One Phone Support for IBM at McDonnell-Douglas Aerospace in 1994. This is how he narrated it.
Phone Support: Hello. Tech support. How can we help you today?
Sally: Hi. This is Sally. I’m just really frustrated because my computer is STILL down and I want someone out here now. Today! Now!
Phone Support: Hi Sally. Sure thing. Let me just look up your ticket here and see what has been done since you last phoned in. Okay ,I see that you say your computer is frozen. We had you restart everything and it’s still frozen.
Sally: Yeah! I mean, come on!
Phone Support: Sally? Would you give me a chance to try something and see if we can’t fix this right now, over the phone?
Sally: Okay. ONE more time. But then I want your word that someone will be out here today. This machine is a piece of JUNK!
Phone Support: Okay, Sally, you have my word. Ok, now as we progress I want you to slowly do each step and tell me EXACTLY what you see, WHEN you see it. Okay?
Phone Support: Sally. I want you to look down at the big box under the desk, that’s the CPU. See the light on next to the main switch right there on the front? That’s the power. I want you to push it in, wait two seconds, and then let go and tell me what you see with that little light.
Sally: Okay. But my CPU is on my desk, not under it. Okay, this little green light… pushing the switch in, one Mississippi, two Mississippi and …. letting go. Okay, the light is off.
Phone Support: Sally. Great. That’s perfect. Okay, we are going to wait to a count of 30 and then… ok, now Sally. Push that button and let go. Tell me exactly what you see as you are seeing it.
Sally: Ok, pushing it now. The light came on again. The screen is coming up….. damn. DAMMIT! Come on, guys. It’s still frozen. I’ve had it with this. With you, with the computer. With this whole mess.
Phone Support: Oh. Hmmm. Sally, just a moment.
At this point, Phone Support got Ian’s attention, relayed the above exactly as it happened, and asked for escalated input. Ian got on the phone with both of them, introduced himself and stepped Sally through the exact sequence one more time.
Ian: Sally, I know the computer is on your desk. I want you to look at that OTHER computer underneath your desk, the one that is always in the way of your feet.”
Sally: Oh, you’re kidding me. You want me to crawl down under my desk! This is ridiculous.
Ian: Sally? Just get down and look at it for me Sally. Do you see it? Are you looking at the front of the other computer under your desk there?
Sally: Hang on. Jeez. Can’t believe this. Okay, YES. I am looking at it. Covered in dust. I can’t breathe.
Ian: Sally? I understand. See that little light on the second computer under the desk there?
Ian: Okay, Sally, I won’t keep you. Push that button and turn it off. Then once it is off, push that button and turn the thing back on again.”
Sally: Okay, done. And, yeah. There. Light is back on. I hear a whizzing noise.
Ian: Sally, that should do it. Get out of there and see how the computer is doing.
Sally: Oh! It’s … um … it’s asking me for my password!
Ian: Sally, this is great. Go ahead and do what you do. Let me know if you are back in.
Sally: Yep! I’m way ahead of you….. there! It’s WORKING! Great! Thank you! Wow, those other bozos didn’t know about the other computer. You’re the one who should be answering these calls, you know.
Ian: No problem, Sally. We’re a team here. Feel free to phone in any time. That’s what we’re here for. Is there anything else we can do for you today, Sally?
Sally: Nope! All set! Thanks! Bye!
So Sally had been turning the power to her monitor off and then on again, over and over, for days and through three phone support calls. Each time she thought she knew where her computer was. For Help Desk staff, customers are always right until they figure out what isn’t. Can you beat my story? Email me at Jeremy@aNewDomain.net or leave your story below. Best one gets the byline!