November Theme Of The Month: Black Friday!

Category: Technology

The realm of Technical Support is there to provide expert assistance to those who are not so tech-savvy. Although they still expect you to know what a computer is, and how to turn it on, and to know that you can’t ‘fix the internet’ because it isn’t pretty enough. You have been warned…

When Crazy Requests Reach The Stratosphere

| Tulsa, OK, USA | Crazy Requests, Extra Stupid, Technology

(I work for a major satellite TV provider providing tech support when this customer calls in:)

Me: “Thank you for calling [TV provider]. My name is [My Name]. How may I help you?”

Customer: “Yeah, there’s nothing on my TV!”

Me: “When you say nothing is it a black screen?”

Customer: “No! It says searching for satellite signal. What is that?”

Me: “Oh, that means that for some reason either the dish isn’t picking up the signal from our satellite or else it isn’t getting from the dish to your receiver.”

Customer: “Well, then put a new satellite up there.”

Me: “Sir, I don’t believe that would—”

Customer: “You’re not paid to think, so just put a new satellite up.”

Me: “Sir, am I correct in hearing that you want us to launch a new satellite, knowing that such a process would take several months and cost millions of dollars?”

Customer: “Yes, but we both know it won’t take months. I want it done tonight, and it better not affect my bill.” *hangs up*

The Machines Are Already More Intelligent Than Us

, | Paris, France | Extra Stupid, Money, Technology

(I work at a library’s copy store, a fairly large room within the main branch of the library. At the entrance of our store there are three huge copy-card dispensers – about the size of a cupboard – with a different slot for each way to pay: coins, banknotes, and credit cards. On every wall of our store, several A3-sized posters inform customers that they have buy cards to do their copies.)

Customer: “Excuse me, but I paid and I didn’t get my card.”

Colleague: “Did you pay with credit card, bill, or coins?”

Customer: “Bill.”

(My colleague goes to the card dispenser with the customer.)

Colleague: “I’m truly sorry, sir, but it seems I can’t find your bill.”

Customer: “Oh, that’s because I didn’t put it there.”

(Then he pointed at the coin slot. And indeed, there was a tiny piece of paper sticking out of it: the corner of his banknote, folded in four…)

On A Preaching (Hard) Drive

, | UT, USA | Religion, Technology, Theme Of The Month

(This occurs in northern Utah in a city where the majority religion is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a.: “Mormons”), to which I belong, but this is a big enough city that Christian churches were quite common. A couple approaches me about buying a computer.)

Me: “So, what do you need the computer to do for you?”

Customer: “I need to make some presentations.”

Me: “What kind? Business proposals? Slide shows? Videos?”

Customer: “Well, I’m a preacher, and I need something to make presentations and project them onto the wall for my congregation so they can have some visual aids during my sermons.”

Me: “Got it. Let me show you a few things.”

(We discussed specs, capabilities, accessories, security software, productivity software, and we’re just getting to the service contract options when the conversation takes an abrupt turn.)

Customer: “I just need to be sure it’s going to last a while. I have a small congregation right now, and we don’t have a lot of money. You see, I used to go to [Non-Denominational Christian Church] west of [City], but I didn’t like the pastor there, always lording over the people with what he thought was his authority and power. So I did some studying and started my own church.”

Me: “…I see. And you want to make sure the people coming to worship with you understand the important parts of your sermons.”

Customer: “Yes. PowerPoint will help.”

Me: “I’m sure it could. Now—”

Customer: “Do you have a church?”

Me: “Well, I don’t HAVE a church, but I go to one.”

Customer’s Wife: “Oh, good. It’s always nice to meet another Christian.”

Customer: “What church do you go to?”

(I state my religion and mention which building in town I usually attend services. I’m about to steer him back to the service contract conversation when his whole posture changes. His face turns a little red, his back stiffens, his hands curl as if about to form fists, and his eyes widen.)

Customer: “You’re Mormon! Oh, Heaven help you! I preach the apostolic gospel of Paul as is written in The Bible. I left [Non-Denominational Christian Church] because [Pastor] refused to preach that gospel. Jesus declared that anyone who should preach anything other than the gospel of Paul will be cursed! That’s why I only preach from The Bible, and I only preach the apostolic gospel of Paul. You Mormons don’t even believe in The Bible!”

Me: “Actually, we do, but I try not to discuss my religion at work. Now, would you be interest—”

Customer: “No, you DON’T! You don’t even believe in Jesus! If you don’t give up your wickedness and become Christian and be saved, your soul will be destined for Hell. It is my duty, as a Christian and as a preacher and as a follower of Paul, to save your SOUL!”

Me: “I’m quite happy with my faith, thank you. Now, if you’ll look at this flyer, you’ll see we have a variety of pricing options for the service contracts, if you want to get one, and—”

Customer: “Here! Take my card! Come to my church! Save yourself! Let me save you!”

(His wife clears her throat and interrupts to tell me which service contract they might be interested in but that they need some time to think about the whole purchase. She thanks me for my time and turns to go.)

Customer: “It’s not too late! We meet in my living room every Sunday at 10:00 and every Wednesday at 7:00. Please come! Uh… Do you have a spec sheet for that second model?”

(I send him on his way. I notice a few other customers staring at me and at the two customers as if we are some gory train-wreck spectacle. I turn to the one who has been waiting the longest.)

Me: “Sir, are you here to save souls or to save money on a computer?”

Taxing Faxing, Part 15

| Charlotte, NC, USA | Crazy Requests, Food & Drink, Technology

(Callers place orders for a certain drinkable product. They can also call in to track their orders. One such customer places her order and calls back a few days later to see where her package is.)

Me: “I’m showing it was delivered via UPS this afternoon.”

Caller: “It was MAILED?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

Caller: “Why wasn’t it faxed? You all did this every other time! I want a refund, now! I have a dinner party and I am so embarrassed! I bragged on this and you failed horribly!”

Me: “Ma’am, we aren’t able to fax this order, I am sorry. We can send a new order out if needed but it won’t arrive until day after tomorrow at the earliest. Have you checked everywhere, or asked your neighbors?”

Caller: “I don’t need to! It’s not my fault you all are incompetent morons… Oh! I’m pulling up to my house now, and I see it! Still refund me, as I have a headache from this call!” *click*

Taxing Faxing, Part 14
Taxing Faxing, Part 13
Taxing Faxing, Part 12

Providing A Self-Service Service

| East Sussex, England, UK | At The Checkout, Awesome Customers, Technology

(We have two self-service checkouts and three normal registers. Younger customers tend to be fine with the SSC but our elderly customers prefer the manned registers; however, there’s often only two staff in so if there’s a queue then sometimes people who would normally come to a human will switch to the SSC queue. An elderly man switches out of our queue to use a SSC, and immediately starts having issues. The next SSC comes free and a mother starts teaching her daughter how to use it.)

Elderly Man: *puts his basket in the bagging area*

SSC: “Unexpected item in the bagging area. Remove item before continuing.”

Elderly Man: “THESE CHECKOUTS ARE A DISGRACE! They don’t make any sense!”

Mother: “Now, [Daughter], lots of people find these tricky, but if you remember a few things then they’re easy as pie!”

Daughter: “Okay, mummy! What do I do?”

Mother: “Well, put your basket on the left. The left side is just a shelf and the right side has scales which weigh our shopping so it knows we aren’t stealing. The middle bit is the scanner and we have to wave the barcodes at the glass panels there.”

Elderly Man: *picks up his basket and looks to the woman uncertainly*

Mother: “So, [Daughter], remember: leave ’em to the left and roll ’em to the right. You can’t go wrong!”

Daughter: *picks up a tin of beans and rolls it over the scanner glass*

Mother: “Now, hear that beep? That means it scanned it. You can look at the screen if you’re not sure.” *points to where the screen now says ‘beans’*

Elderly Man: *copies*

(It all goes well at both tills for about 30 seconds until…)


Mother: *rips the corner off a ready meal barcode whilst her daughter is looking at the elderly man shouting* “Oh, no! Look, [Daughter], we can’t scan this one!”

Daughter: “Should I get another one, mummy?”

Mother: “No, that takes too long, but it’s okay. See that big button that says ‘Finish and Pay’?”

Daughter: “Yes, mummy.”

Mother: “Well, just above that there’s a button that says ‘Item Does Not Scan,’ so if you press that, you can put the numbers from the barcode in by yourself. If I read the numbers out, you can push the buttons.”

Daughter: *does this*

Elderly Man: *copies and then picks up a Danish pastry, and turns it over in his hand looking for a label*

Mother: *notices and picks up her own bakery items* “[Daughter], let’s do these next!”

Daughter: “But these don’t have a label on them!”

Mother: “That’s because we bagged them ourselves, silly! Now there’s two ways we can do this. If we press the ‘bakery’ button we can either select a subcategory like ‘pastries’ or ‘doughnuts,’ or we can press search if we’re not sure what category something goes into.”

Daughter: *puts all their bakery through*

Elderly Man: *copies daughter*

Mother: “Now, then. We’re all done. What button should we press now?”

Daughter: “Finish and pay?”

Mother: “Exactly right. Now, before we pay, mummy needs to scan her [Loyalty Card] so we can have the points for our shopping. Can you press the button for it?”

Daughter: *presses the button*

Elderly Man: *finishes scanning items and stands there looking at the till*

Mother: “Oh hang on, [Daughter]! I want to check if those crisps came up as ‘buy one get one free.'”

Daughter: “How can we check?”

Mother: “Well, the tills take the offers off at the end, so if you press ‘go back’ we can look at the bottom of the screen to check the offers. If it’s all good then we can just PRESS THE BIG FINISH AND PAY BUTTON ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER OF THE SCREEN.”

Daughter: *goes back to look if the offers have come off and then presses back to the payment screen*

Elderly Man: *presses ‘Finish And Pay’*

Mother: “Good, so now we just need to put the money in. Remember to check the notes are unfolded and that the corners aren’t bent. You can drop coins in this hole.”

Daughter: *pays*

Elderly Man: *copies*

Mother: “Right, [Daughter], our receipt comes out here, next to the scanner. Once it’s printed we can leave.”

Elderly Man: *snatches receipt and stalks off*

Manager: “Excuse me, miss? You forgot to take this!” *hands her a MASSIVE box of chocolates*

Mother: “Oh, I couldn’t!”

Manager: “No, please. That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I wish all our customers were like you!”