Tech support horror stories

Everyone has them: tech support horror stories you can’t believe are true. One reader told us the mythical “Press any key? Which is the any key?” genuinely happened to him.

Tech support horror stories

Another reader used to work on an IT help desk when PCs were just hitting high-street shelves. “Using the mouse was the most difficult concept – one rang to complain their pointer moved slowly,” he says. “It turned out they had the mouse upside down and were moving the ball with their finger. Another had been using it on the floor and was operating it with their foot – I kid you not. We also had the obligatory reference to the CD drive as a ‘cup holder’.”

David Wright shared a printer maintenance classic. The machine stopped working, and he suggested it was the purge unit that was faulty – a common error with the printers in use at his employer. The maintenance man, however, suggested it was “air in the line”.

To solve this, he “disconnected the tube and started sucking on it,” says David. “I shook my head, since I knew exactly what was coming. He sucked again. And again. And then he spat a mouthful of ink all over the personnel manager’s desk.” He was never allowed back in the building, not least after it turned out the purge unit was indeed the source of the problem.

Back in the early days of Leigh Wood’s career, he reached up to turn off a test server, but accidentally pressed the Power button for the main file server. “However, since I hadn’t let go of the button, it was still up,” says the now director of Node IT Solutions. “So, as long as I didn’t move my finger, the company stayed up and running; if I let go, all hell would be let loose. I had no mobile phone [and I] was in a sealed server room stuck to a rack of servers.” He managed to call his colleagues from a landline – after they recovered from laughing and took a few photos, they replaced his finger on the button with a huge ball of Blu-Tack.

Leigh has had better luck on other support calls. While helping a government department upgrade to Windows XP, he fixed a printer for a lady in the office, to whom he has now been married for 12 years. “You never know what your next helpdesk call may lead to. We even named a table at our wedding HP LaserJet 4000 in honour of how we met.”

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