As technology keeps advancing, tech support becomes ever more important. Unfortunately, between the people who work tech support and the end users who need tech support’s help, it’s hard to have much empathy for the other side.
Tech support might be nightmarish for you, but here are some absolutely amazing stories that give a glimpse into the lives of these unsung heroes. Tears, laughs, and even justice awaits in these Tales of Tech Support.
1. No Act of Kindness Is Too Small
Here’s the sad thing about IT help: support staffers think all end users are idiots while end users think all support staffers are incompetent. Both sides tend to forget that the other side is human, and that leads to a lot of misunderstandings.
Or in the case of this story, a lot of heartbreak and reflection. You just never know what someone else might be going through, and a small act of kindness could be the one thing that brings an immeasurable amount of joy into someone’s life.
Like I said, I’ve dealt with this before so I tried my best not to take it personally, but eventually I had to ask him if we could book a service tech to the home (a courtesy call) to get his TV working correctly. Unfortunately, our booking calendar was showing an appointment 3 days out. That’s when he dropped this on me:
“Don’t bother sending a goddamn technician, because I’ll be dead by then. I’m 94 and TV is the only thing I have left, are you really going to make me wait for a tech?”
Read the full story here and be prepared to be rendered speechless.
2. Paranoid and Rightfully So
Anyone who’s been in the IT business for more than a year has likely run into their fair share of conspiracy nutjobs and paranoid lunatics — but every once in a while, the conspiracy theories and paranoia end up being justified.
She insists her husband is monitoring her every move, tracking her vehicle, monitoring her computer, and recording her in her own home. Here’s where it gets interesting: She claims that she knows all of this, because he has told her about it.
In fact, he has gone so far as to threaten her life if she tries to tamper with any of it. She says she has tried to apply for a protective order against him, but ostensibly without some sort of evidence of his behavior, nobody would take her seriously.
I give her the crazy litmus test and I tell her that in order to gather evidence discreetly we would need two of our senior consultants to investigate. $300 an hour, four hour minimum.
She pulls out her wallet. F***, she’s serious.
Read the full story here. It reads like a thriller novel, but never edges into unbelievable territory. It’s a little long but definitely worth the read. Skip the techno-jargon in the middle to save yourself a bit of time.
3. The 5:45am “Friend of a Friend” Call
One of the worst aspects of being an IT professional is that family members, friends, and friends-of-friends assume you’re always willing to give free advice. It’s even worse when they expect you to help, and worst yet when they demand it of you. How would you like to be called at 5:45am by a stranger?
Stranger: “Hi DallasITGuy, this is $GuyYouBarelyKnow. Do you have a second? I can’t get my laptop on my home wireless and I really need to check to make sure my flight is on time.”
Me: “Who the f*** is this again?”
Stranger: “This is $GuyYouBarelyKnow. I’m a friend of $OtherGuy. We met at $NeighborhoodBar a couple of weeks ago. My Internet’s down and I remembered you’re in IT so I looked up your number and gave you a ring. Can you help me real quick?”
Read the full story here, but if you’re prone to blood pressure spikes, you should probably do yourself a favor and move on to the next story.
4. Mom’s Broken Internet
Sometimes tech support requests are about more than just tech support. That’s what this IT worker discovered when his mother contacted him about her broken Internet connection, and it took him a bit to realize what she really wanted.
My phone rang last week while I was home. Day off.
Mom: “Do you have a minute honey? My internet doesn’t work, either computer, nor the tablet either.. I was thinking maybe you could come have dinner later and look at it? I bought chicken, soft cheese, wine, and I’m baking a..”
Somewhere later down the menu I already fixed it. I work at the telco, and have access to my tools remotely, I saw it had no valid IP so I reset the modem and the router we provide her. Basic lease renewal issue. It happens, everything else is green.
Me: “Boom, magic, you’re online mom.”
Mom: “Whaa? … Oh. You’re right.” Sounds disappointed. “Thank you, that was really fast, I guess I won’t trouble you to come over then.”
Read the full story here, but more importantly, remember that there are people in your life who wish you had more time to spend with them!
5. Accidentally Got the Secretary Fired
Humans are being replaced by robots at an alarming rate, and many more jobs will soon be at risk. This IT support story is a hilarious account of how one man’s generosity came back and bit his coworker right in the rear.
Of course, being the bright-eyed, not-yet-disillusioned, early-twenties computer nerd eager to prove my worth, I didn’t just want to do my job. I wanted to do it great and really impress people. Go above and beyond and be appreciated.
And the complaining secretary from that morning had plopped a great opportunity to show that I’m a real go-getter right into my lap.
6. “I Think We’re Being Hacked!”
The funniest — and most frustrating — clients in tech support are those who have so little computer experience that everything frightens them and they have no idea how to deal with even the most mundane of problems.
The phone rings.
Her: “Yes hello. This the secretary of the CEO. We need you to come over NOW! We have a big problem.”
Me: “What seems to be wrong?”
Her: “Mr. CEO is trying to open a file in Word, but every time he does this, scrambled text is showing up. I THINK WE ARE BEING HACKED!”
Read the full story here. Hopefully stories like this help you to better sympathize with IT workers. They have to deal with a lot of crazy and inane support requests on a daily basis, so when they’re short with you, don’t take it personally.
By the way, Hollywood’s depiction of hacking is never what it really looks like. Most of the time, hacks are entirely invisible. Instead, you should worry more about installing a good security suite and adhering to these most effective tips from security experts.
7. Google’s Phenomenal Customer Service
Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, you have to give Google props for what they did for this person who needed help — with a product that wasn’t related to Google in any way whatsoever.
My friend bought a Netflix box for a TV, and when it wouldn’t work, asked me to come set it up. I couldn’t get there until after work, and when I did, it was working. She said she called Google to fix it…
Read the full story here. To be fair, the Google support worker probably used Google to help her troubleshoot her setup, but still, it’s nice to know that these kinds of quiet moments are happening out there even if we don’t always hear about them.
8. IE vs. Chrome, What’s the Difference?
Tech-savvy people tend to forget just how much jargon, knowledge, and experience is necessary to become comfortable with technology. Things that are simple to you and me might be impossible to grasp for the average user — such as the difference between Internet Explorer and Chrome.
Me: “Ma’am, it looks like everything works well here, Internet is working alright, you sure it’s not a problem with your connection?”
Woman looked at me like I offended her ancestors
Woman: “CAN’T YOU SEE SIR, THEY DELETED INTERNET FROM MY COMPUTER!!!”
Oh. I got it… Someone deleted Internet Explorer from her laptop, changing it with Chrome. Poor woman didn’t have a clue what Chrome is.
Read the full story here and try not to facepalm too hard or judge the woman as a stupid human being. We’ve all been there at one point or another, and that’s why sites like this exist: to help people learn!
9. Voicemails from His Daughter
IT support folks are rarely thanked when they do a job well done, but more so than that, they’re even more rarely recognized when they do hero-level work. Consider this story of an innocent help desk worker who does his best to help retrieve a man’s important voicemail files.
I don’t remember his name but his problem description was just “needs to remove audio file from phone”. Figured heh this should be easy (a typical old faculty member needing help with his phone kinda thing), I asked him to come sit at my station and took a look at his problem.
He unlocks his phone for me and I navigate to his phone app and pull up the voicemail. While I was looking at the phone he said there were 3 voicemails from the previous weekend were the ones he wanted saved. I played the first one on speaker to see if they were playing properly.
Read the full story here. If there’s one thing to take away from this story, it’s that even the simplest or humblest of tasks — like saving voicemail files — can make a huge impact on someone’s life. Never underestimate how you might be helping others.
10. The Case of the 500-Mile Email
This last IT support story is equal parts fascinating and hilarious. What do you do when someone tells you that they can’t send emails to recipients who are more than 500 miles away? The solution to this “impossible” problem will definitely catch you off guard.
I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.
“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.
I choked on my latte. “Come again?”
“We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”
Read the full story here. If anything, this just goes to show that IT workers occasionally have to deal with some really weird issues and come up with brilliant diagnoses.
IT Workers Deserve Our Appreciation
The next time you think that all IT support workers are lazy and incompetent, we urge you to remember these stories. Consider what they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, and remember that some IT workers truly are modern-day heroes.
On the other hand, be aware that there are predatory people out there who disguise themselves as IT support folk in order to scam and deceive innocent users like you and me. Learn to identify these tech support scams so you don’t become another victim.
Have any IT support stories of your own? Whether you were the helper or the end user, we want to hear them all! If you have no stories, then tell us about your biggest IT pet peeves!