IT helpdesk howlers: best of 2018’s worst revealed

An IT services provider has confirmed what helpdesk techies have long-suspected: that PC users often get their wires crossed by mistaking IT ‘issues’ for their own slightly clownish incompetence.

But comical doesn't mean not costly. A firm with "no internet connection" called out a team of engineers only to discover an employee in the finance office had cancelled the landline to try to save £20.

“This cost the business thousands in revenue and took almost two weeks to get back online,” said Probrand, which has revealed its top 10 ‘best of the worst’ support requests of 2018.

Similarly costly, but a touch more sinister, a corporate network failed several times after it was found that the main power lead had been cut, but then quietly patched up with tape.

“Someone had cut through then repaired the main power lead supporting the servers, but had repaired it”, Probrand said. “Nobody came forward to…[own up] for this wiring disaster.”

Many of the remaining hilarities for helpdesk in the service provider’s top ten relate to ‘employees simply forgetting how to do the simplest of things’ with their PCs, said a director at the firm Mark Royle. Including:

• Locating the PC

Whether or not it was the 't-word' that threw them off, one user called to report a faulty desktop computer but when the helpdesk tried to initiate some basic fixes, the user couldn’t locate the ‘tower.' It was eventually located under the caller's desk. 

• Plugging in

A complaint about a printer on the blink was resolved when basic troubleshooting uncovered the device as not being on at the mains.

•  Clicking ‘X’

One caller reported, "I can’t view websites as ads keep getting in the way." It was news to the caller that the numerous, offending web pop-ups could be closed by clicking "close." Or "x."

•  ‘Off’ means it's off

A user worried they had “broken” their company’s IT network was actually just working on a desktop where the Wi-Fi network had been switched to "Off."

Other howlers reaching the helpdesk included:

• Engineers fielded a call from a user who had punched his laptop. He wanted the screen replaced before colleagues found out. 

• A frantic caller advised tech support that their laptop was "unusable and full of viruses." It turned out he was right -- the work laptop had been used to watch X-rated videos at home. 

• An embarrassed user demanded help unlinking their company iCloud from their work phone. The admission later was that “personal” photos had got mixed in with work files. 

• A user called to say they couldn’t see or hear anything that was happening on their laptop. Thanks to a techie who turned up in response, it was discovered that the ‘brightness’ of the screen was turned right down and the speakers had been muted.

“We do particularly appreciate the [call-outs] that put a smile on our engineers faces,” Mr Royle said. “Our teams have heard it all, from seemingly simple requests from non-tech-savvy employees, to the downright bizarre.”

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