What did she think an email address was for?

Working in the hinterlands of ISP support in the late nineties it was fun to talk to people still “Surfing the Web” and finding out about these newfangled computer-y what’s-it’s-…

One night, while working my beloved 4PM to Midnight shift, a woman called in and said she had an issue. Well if you have an issue, we open a ticket. So, as was procedure, I asked her for her primary email address. She said she didn’t know.

I asked her again, making sure she knew what I was asking for “you know, the one you picked out when you opened the service, the one you give to people who email you.”

“I don’t want to give you that information.”

USUAL RED FLAG: usually this means the person is paranoid, and is going to be unhelpful.

“Well, it will make the call go more smoothly as I can access issues I you have had in the past; that may help us resolve this one more quickly.”

“Can I give you an alias?”

Our ISP allowed up to 5 alias accounts, but you still had to log in with the primary account.

I said back, “Uhh you can, but then I have to trace back to your primary account and use that address. It really is quicker just to give it to me.”

“Can I spell it?”

“Uhh, sure…” Hmm this should be good.

“My email is B-I-G-B-O-O-B-S @ISP.net”

I had to resist the urge to call her “Ms. Bigboobs” for the rest of the call. Her issue was that she was traveling in Florida, and couldn’t get the DUN to connect. I worked with her, couldn’t get it to work.  She hung up, then talked to about ten other agents that night. By the end, we had all taken our turn…with Bigboobs…

Moral of the Story: be careful what you pick for your email address…eventually you are gonna have to tell it to someone.

Semantics – you’ve heard it a million times.

I had a client come in and say that another tech had “fixed their hard drive, it’s a silver one” (they were here to pick it up).  Since said tech was off sick, I ended up dealing with it.

So I went through the stack of hard drives on the desk, spent about 15 minutes looking through every one of the jobs there and could not find it. Trying to squeeze every bit of information out of them I finally found the issue. “Its a silver Apple one”…. oh, you mean this big tower here….

Next time I should ask them what they want their “screen saver” set to…sorry, I mean ‘wallpaper.’

Next up: The fire department gets a call about the firewall…

I remember about 6 or 7 years ago I worked for a computer repair centre. We used to have a ‘wall of shame’ in the tech room, where basically if any of us came across a particulary brain dead client we would stick a copy of the work order on the wall for the rest of the employees to see.

(A bit of background, the client was a big corporate client of ours but they were working out in the middle of nowhere. It was a 6 hour round trip for our technicians at $90 per hour travel time, and a minumum charge of 3 hours on-site time at $150 per hour at a priority service charge)

My favourite one on the wall of shame went something like….


Client called to report that one of his servers is making a beeping noise. This call is urgent. He authorizes a priority service call for repair.


Advised client to replace batteries in fire alarm



[Picture Source: shingst (CC)]

Computer support can only do so much…

This was during the early 2000s, when things like spyware and malware was really still in the ‘OMG’ phase. I get a call from a really desperate sounding man.

Me: Thank you for calling (broadband company) My name is Daniel, may I have the phone number on the account, area code first please?

DC (desperate customer): Oh thank God! Ya gotta help me!!
Me: Yes sir, just give me your phone number, and I’ll open your account
DC: She’s due home in an hour!!!! I’m in so much trouble!!!

After much wrangling and finally getting his phone number, I ascertain the problem: This gentleman had received high speed internet two days before his wife left for a business trip for two weeks.

Evidently, he’d done absolutely nothing the entire time she was gone except surf porn. Lots and lots of porn. Lots and lots of porn = Lots and lots of spyware, malware, adware, viruses, etc…to the point where his browser had been hijacked, his computer would barely run, and he was getting pop ups when his Internet explorer wasn’t even running. Usually in these cases, I am required to use my best judgement. i.e. – foist him off on someone else as *their* problem. But I was wanting to test out my mad skills, so I set to work.

Anti-virus program? he didn’t have one, install one! Anti-spyware? didn’t have one. Let’s install one! Let’s install two! he found 29 viruses, and 351 pieces of spyware.

Feverishly, we worked together, restarting the computer over and over, slowly chipping away at this veritable porn paradise. Finally, with fifteen minutes to spare as to when his wife was due home, we’d scrubbed his registry clean and got his computer all squeaky shiny again.

Feeling proud of myself, after he thanked me profusely, I hung up the call and thought nothing more of it. However, friend a of mine at work stuck his head over the cubicle a couple months later and said, “Uh, hey, did you work with some idiot who kept looking at porn on his computer?”

“Uh, yeah, why?”

“Dude’s on the phone. Guess he jacked everything up again, and his wife wants a divorce.”


[Picture Source: jamaisdeux (CC)]

Contest Upate

The voting stage of the made-up IT term/phrase is here! Cast your votes now becasue it closes on Friday at Midnight!

Prize Update: We had to change the prize. Our legal team (imagine two bald IT guys and one with hair) have come to the conclusion that we cannot give out food items as prizes. Instead the winner will receive an awesome Fail Desk Tee-Shirt.

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