A Complete Num-Dum

, , , | Right | August 3, 2020

I work for a small IT service provider. A lot of our customers are rather inept with computers, but at least they know what they need to do their jobs. Every now and then, however, there’s one that takes the cake. The phone rings.

Me: “[My Company], [My Name] speaking; how can I help?”

Customer: “This is [Customer] from [Company #2]. My keyboard is broken.”

Me: “Okay, what seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “Well, the number buttons don’t work anymore.”

At this point, I have to admit I don’t make the connection. I figure, since he can’t type numbers, remote support won’t, either, as our remote support software works in such a way that we give the customer an ID comprising eight numbers he has to punch in. However, since the customer’s office is only a five-minute walk, I grab a spare keyboard — we always have those laying around — and go there. I arrive and try to reproduce the problem.

I type the numbers via the number keys above the keyboard.

Me: “I can’t seem to reproduce the problem. The number keys work just fine.”

Customer: “Not those, the others.”

He types on the num pad, and indeed, no numbers.

Me: “…”

I press the Num key. The customer types and numbers appear!

Customer: “Oh. Oooh… That’s what that button does? I never used it.”

Me: “Yes. Sometimes it turns off when you restart the computer. Just make sure the LED is on. If it isn’t, press the key.”

The customer thanks me and I leave. At this point, I am slightly annoyed, mostly at myself for not making the connection. But being a professional, even in support, it’s hard sometimes to consider that people don’t know even the simplest stuff. Then again, there are lights on my car’s dashboard of which I don’t know the meaning, either.

The following day, the phone rings.

Me: “[My Company], [My Name] speaking; how can I help?”

Customer: “[Customer] from [Company #2] here. I think my keyboard is really broken this time. It won’t type numbers again.”

Me: “Did you check the light?”

Customer: “Of course I did! It was off and I pushed the button. It’s on now, but it’s still not working.”

At this point, I considered trying remote support, as I now knew he could still type numbers, he just insisted on using the num pad. So, again, I grabbed a spare keyboard, just in case, and walked over.

The customer remembered he had to push “a button on the right side of the keyboard which turns on a light”. However, he couldn’t remember which one. He also couldn’t remember which light was supposed to turn on. He actually found a button that turned on an LED, but it wasn’t Num; it was Roll. The customer now has a post-it on his screen stating, “In case numbers don’t work, press NUM” with a drawing of where the key is located and which light is supposed to be on.

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