Alleee and Franc's
INSOLITOLOGY

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Online Stupidities

Here are some Tech. Support reports which explain a lot of online idiocy... From Rinkworks' "Computer Stupidities" (reports are public domain).


Customer: "I am having some problems with my email account."
Tech Support: "Who is your Internet provider?"
Customer: "I am not really sure but I think it's 'You Got Mail'."


Customer: "I need help with this dialer. The police have already shown up to my office twice today."
Tech Support: "Ok, let's check out the settings. Do you have anything entered for getting an outside line?"
Customer: "A nine."
Tech Support: "Do you need to dial a 9 for an outside line?"
Customer: "I'm not sure. I think so."
Tech Support: "Could you double check?"
Customer: "Sure. (pause) Nope. Turns out we don't need it."
Tech Support: "Ok. Then remove it. What do you have for the area code?"
Customer: "One and then [area code]."
Tech Support: "Uhm, you don't need the one. Windows 95 automatically adds that."
Customer: "Oh. So you mean..."
Tech Support: "Yes, your computer was dialing 911 and then the phone number."


"A man called, and he was EXTREMELY upset. He was yelling and carrying on, very angry with his last ISP. He wanted to know our prices and services, so as always I told him what we offer and what we could do for him."
Customer: "Well, good, I'll go with you. I was using that *^@#$%ing AOL, and I hated them &^$@#%*s!"
Tech Support: "What was the problem?"
Customer: "Well, EVERY single time I signed off AOL, this smart-@$$ guy kept telling me 'goodbye' in this smart-@$$ tone, so I canceled them!"
"It was really painful to repress my laughter."


"This is my work log, with the names edited out and clarifications made:"
August 1998:
User cannot connect.
User has MAC.
User is getting: "Failed" when trying to connect.
I can connect with this ID.
User is running 8.0, 8.1, and 8.5 beta OS.
User says he cannot connect now with any OS.
User reports connection problems throughout the past week.
Frequently he tries to connect, and it says he is connected, then he gets disconnected.
He says it takes a couple of retries and reboots to connect for sure.
User says he cannot get into email.
User opened his browser, and he is not connecting.
User says information occasionally disappears from his configurations.
User reports: "His website is private. And the Government has scanners on the Internet that scan people's computers. He can always tell when he is being scanned, because his computer starts running really slow." He would not confirm if, when this happened, he just pulled the plug. After that, he seems to lose information in his Interner/Browser configurations.



"One employee couldn't log in to her new computer account and asked me for help. I asked all the routine questions, including, "Are you sure this is the right password?""
Her: (exasperated) "I'm sure it's the correct password. I typed in the one I saw (another co-worker) use to login to her machine."
Me: "And what password was that?"
Her: "Five asterisks."


"I work for an ISP. One day a woman called, furious."
Customer: "I bought the Internet the other day, and it ain't workin'."
Tech Support: "Well, ma'am, can you explain what's happening?"
Customer: "Well, I called that number that you gave me, and it don't do nothing."
Tech Support: "What do you mean?"
Customer: "When I call it, all it does is squeal in my ear!"
"Silence."
Tech Support: "Ma'am, do you have a computer?"
Customer: "Computer? Hell, I pay you twenty dollars a month! I don't need a computer!"


"Back in my college days, I was a resident assistant in one of the dorms on campus. One of my residents (not the brightest crayon in the box) came to me asking for help as she had been attempting to connect to the Internet with no success. I sat down at her desk, and, noticing that there were only a printer cord and power cord coming out of her computer, I asked if she had an ethernet card and if she had activated her data line."
""Ethernet card? Data line?" she asked. "What's that?" I took a deep breath and calmly attempted to explain to her how to hook her computer up to a network. I finally told her to take her roommate with her to the on-campus PC store and tell them that she wanted an ethernet card for her computer."
"Two hours later, she knocked on my door again and told me that she had gotten the ethernet card, had it installed, and gotten her data line activated, but was still having problems getting online. I went back to her room, and, sure enough, she had the card but still hadn't plugged it into the data jack."
Me: "So, were you going to plug this in?"
Her: "Well, I got the card. Isn't that all I need?"
Me: "No, you'll need some cable to plug it into the data jack."
Her: "I don't need to plug it in!"
Me: "Why is that?"
Her: "Don't you know anything? The Internet isn't in the wall! It's all around us!" (waves arms and looks in awe at the ceiling) "You can't even SEE it! I don't think you're as smart as everyone thinks you are if you don't know that." (gives me a crusty glare)
Me: "So...how does your computer FIND the Internet without some sort of connection to it?"
Her: "Computers just KNOW this kind of stuff."
Me: "Your roommate has an ethernet connection through the data jack. The rest of the floor has their computers plugged into our data lines--"
Her: "Well, that's just because you're not as in touch with your computers as I am. If you all were good friends with them, they would just take you to the Internet without having to plug them into the phone jacks. You know, I don't think that's a very humane thing to do to your computer, and I don't know that I like such a cruel person touching my stuff."
"I could do nothing but look at her blankly for a few minutes before quickly retreating to the privacy of my room to laugh hysterically. She gave me five minutes before knocking on my door again. I told her if she left me alone with the computer for a while, when she came back, she'd be able to connect. After my many assurances that I wouldn't do anything "cruel and unusual" to her precious computer, she left the room to go to class. I bought some cabling, plugged everything in, adjusted her settings, and went back to my room to call my brother to tell him the story."


"A few years back I was working at the helpdesk for an Internet provider where people could get a cheap email account."
Customer: "Hi, I want to change my email address."
Tech Support: "Of course, sir, may I ask why?"
Customer: "I think it's too long."
Tech Support: "Can you tell me what your email address is now?"
Customer: "firstnamelastnamestreetadresszipcodeandphonenumber@[isp].nl."


Customer: "I can't seem to send any email."
Tech Support: "What are you doing to send it?"
Customer: "I write it down on a piece of paper, slide it into the slot on the front of my computer, and click on 'send mail'."


Customer: "I have a problem with Usenet news."
Tech Support: "Um, sir, you shouldn't be calling me in the first place, send mail to support--"
Customer: "But this is very important, and maybe affecting a lot of subscribers! Please listen to me."
Tech Support: (well, he did say please) "Ok, what's the problem?"
Customer: "There's nothing interesting on Usenet. It's all mindless crap, and as one of the larger Internet providers, you must take liability for this!"


I work at the computer store on a campus. A few weeks ago, we had a customer call in and ask the following:
Customer: "I'd like to buy the Internet. Do you know how much it is?"


One day as I was doing some research for an assignment, an older gentleman asked the library assistant how to print from a web site. He was fairly web savvy, so he was just asking about selecting and printing the text he wanted. The assistant complimented him on his prudent use of resources and said, "So many students don't do that. They just print out the whole Internet."


Emailed to the owner of a web page:
I got here by some nefarious route. I was trying to get to [an email address] or other similar sites. I distinctly dislike being hijacked in cyberspace to see something I did not ask to see. If this happens again I will make a formal complaint to my local federal district attorney. Thank you. Do not do this again.


Customer: "I want to get the new Netscape from you people."
Tech Support: "I'll need to charge your account $30."
Customer: "What do you mean? I pay for this service."
Tech Support: "We're providing the registered version of Netscape. Netscape charges us, so we have to charge you."
Customer: "Well, my son is a socialist and I spent a year in Spain. What do you have to say to that?"
Tech Support: ...
Customer: "I thought so." [click]


I work for the computer help desk of a large university. One of our more memorable clients is infamous for what I can only describe as techno-paranoia. The last time she called to tell us we were going to have to do something about the "Internet Communists." She was convinced that they were getting into her PC through her television and putting typographical errors in her word processing files. "They weren't there before," she insisted, "and I don't make those kinds of mistakes!"


About a year ago, a customer from Roswell, NM, called in to place an order. To break the ice, I jokingly asked if he or any of his neighbors had seen any aliens lately. The guy laughed and proceeded to tell me all about the crazies (his word, not mine) that not only live in Roswell but who come on vacation there in hopes of seeing a UFO themselves. As he talked, I processed the order, and the last bit of information I needed to complete it was the guy's email address for marketing purposes.
Customer: "Email! I won't have anything to do with that Internet or modems of any sort! You should be careful about those. Don't you know that once you install a modem, the government can look into your computer and watch everything you do? That's why every night before I go to bed, I turn the monitor to the wall."


I work for a nationwide ISP, doing overnight technical support. A man who had immigrated from Croatia called to ask us, in his thick eastern European accent, mind you, why we were kicking him offline.
Customer: "Why do you guys keep kicking me offline?"
Tech Support: "Can you hold on a moment while I look at your account logs?"
Customer: "Sure, but please hurry."
Tech Support: "Ok." ... "Hi, thanks for holding. It looks like our servers are reporting that either your modem is hanging up like a normal disconnect, or the connection is just being lost. This is usually attributed to line noise. I'd advise you get in touch with--"
Customer: "No, that is not what it is!"
Tech Support: "Well, that would normally be the first place I'd look. The modems are just losing touch with each--"
Customer: "All right. Apparently they do not tell you everything there. What I'm trying to look at are some Croatian newspapers to keep up with what's going on in my old country. The government did not like me when I was there and they do not like me being in touch with my family and events there today."
Tech Support: "Sir, the government there cannot disconnect you from the Internet here. You are in the United St--"
Customer: "My government was very powerful. They can do lots of things you would never imagine."
Tech Support: "I'm sure in Croatia, the government would have the power to disconnect you from the Internet. The service providers are under their jurisdiction there. However, in America, there is nothing they could do to force our computers to knock you off line. You're safe. I'm telling you, the first and foremost place I'd look is the telephone company to have them do what's called a 'data grade check'--"
Customer: "No, no, no. That is alright. I just wanted to know if you were doing it intentionally, or if it was them. Thank you. Thank you. Have a good night."



Customer: "I don't understand why my inkjet printer keeps printing blank pages."
Me: "Ok, did you remember to install the printer cartridge?"
Customer: "Yes, I put it inside the printer on the carrier thing."
Me: "Did you remove the tape from the bottom of the cartridge?"
Customer: "The tape with the blue flap? Yeah."
Me: "Yes. Ok, tell me what exactly you are doing to print."
Customer: "Well, I press this purple button on the printer, and the page comes out blank."
Me: "Well, sir, this is not the way to print. Let me show how we can do this and print a document or a picture. Let's go to your PC."
Customer: "What's that?"
Me: "Your PC -- your computer."
Customer: "What's that?"
Me: "The computer, the thing with the keyboard, the monitor, the PC."
Customer: "I don't have one of those."
Me: "???"
Customer: "..."
Me: "Excuse me, sir, you don't have a computer?"
Customer: "Nope."
Me: "Sir, why did you buy this printer?"
Customer: "Well, I went to Radio Shack, and I pressed this button, and it would print out pretty pictures."



Customer: "I think I broke the Internet!"
Tech Support: "So it was you!"
Customer: (click)



Customer: "I just re-crashed and re-burned my computer, and I need some help getting my Internet to work."
Tech Support: "You did what now?"
Customer: "I re-crashed and re-burned my computer."
Tech Support: "Well, maybe that's why it's not working. It's in pieces and on fire."
Customer: "Huh?"



review written by Franc, 07/2002. Updated 06/2005.