Tell your wacky customer service stories

Inspired by this Pit thread I thought I’d start one so we can show the other side of the story.

Doesn’t have to be just Tech Support, basically any job exposing you to the general public exposes you to “unique” people and situations.

So what are your crazy stories?

I used to routinely get calls from a customer asking me to instruct THEM in the fine art of How To Use THEIR software.

I once got a call from a guy complaining that Windows was not functioning correctly because it wouldn’t send data to his new printer.

Correct drivers installed? Nope.

Printer turned on? Nope.

Cables hooked up correctly? Nope.

Printer plugged in? Nope.

Printer still in box? Now we’re getting somewhere.

When I was shiney-new in tech support, and hadn’t yet learned the golden rule (NEVER believe the caller without checking):

Caller: I can’t get online with this new router.
Me: OK, let me see if I can help. Let’s check the cables…
Caller: I’m an MCSE. You can skip the basic crap and just help me out!
Me: Oh! Alrighty then… what are you getting for an IP address?
Caller: 169.254.x.x. I don’t know if that’s some weird IP you guys give out, but…
Me: ???

Wait… you’re an MCSE and you don’t know what an APIPA is? Were you sick the day they covered really basic IP stuff? And somehow managed to miss this during the rest of your studies?

That lack of knowledge is akin to, oh I don’t know, an English teacher not knowing the definition of “verb”.

This is not my own story, but hopefully it will amuse.

A fellow developer once worked at a company that shrinkwrapped it’s own software. They’d put their application on a set of floppies and send them out to clients. All of the floppies were black except for disk 1, which was yellow. The installation instructions clearly said to start installation with the yellow disk.

One client had a particularly hard time installing the software. Since the problem had to be bad disks, they were sent copy after copy of the app. During one troubleshooting session, the client was asked if they’d started with the yellow floppy. “Oh no, I’d figured that it had gone bad, so I threw it out.”

The mother lode of customer services stories.

My favorite.

Pretty good site. I have to mostly agree with this customerthough. Though its more the manufactures than the store that does that.

I used to work in the call center for a major office supply chain. (Hint: It’s not called Paper Clips).

Anyway, on the General Help line, we were trained to encourage callers who were interested in tech items like printers, faxes, or computers to visit a local store so that a trained technology representative could help them determine the best product to fit their needs (i.e., so they could upsell the heck out of them.)

I was talking to one client who needed help picking out a fax machine. This was back when we first started as a call center, and our personal training was limited to the information on the reader screen. So the only questions I could answer were things like pages per minute, type of paper used, etc.

I kept encouraging her to go to the store, but she told me she never left her house. Evidently, because she’d already been hospitalized 3 times for accidentally walking through plate glass windows. In fact, that’s how she met her current husband: he was her plastic surgeon after the last glass-walking incident.

Hand to God.

Another great site for this sort of thing is


I’m not a tech guy, and this isn’t really a STORY, but…

Yesterday, I processed a credit card transaction. The name on the credit card was “Firstname Babyruth Lastname.” Not 'Baberuth," like a baseball tribute (bad enough if it were), but “Babyruth,” like Mom and Dad were high and liked candy.


I do support for the leading hotel PMS software. Here are some of my favorite stories.

Support: “What type of modem are you using?”

Caller: “Windows!”

Support: “Please click on the icon labelled “modem” using the right mouse-button.”

Caller: “Should I use my index finger or my middle finger?”

Support: “What version of [our software] are you using?”

Caller: “We are not using [our software] at all, we use [competitor’s product]. But I lost their support hotline’s number.”

Support: “How can I help you?”

Caller: “My IT bar is beeping, could you please dial in to my system and fix it?”

(after a 10-minute interrogation I found out that by “IT bar” he meant his UPS, Uninterruptible power supply, which was beeping due to a power failure)

Support: “What operating system do you have on your workstation? Is it Windows NT or Windows 2000?”

Caller: “I think we have Windows 99.”

T-Shirt slogans for Support Techs:

“Please tell me the error message as it appears on the screen, not your interpretation of it!”

It does not work is not an error description.”

I work on the IT Helpdesk for an insurance company, and we so support for policyholders using our website to view coverage/track claims/etc. We help with “how to” questions, as well as any errors that come from the web page. However, we are told over and over again to never make changes to a customer’s PC. We don’t support their equipment, and they could make a big stink if we made a change that somehow screwed things up with their network.

*If you can’t get to ANY WEB PAGES WHATSOEVER, I can’t help you. No, our website didn’t break your internet. Yes, I’m sure.

*Some features of the website use pop-ups (which I think is a terrible idea, but that’s a whole other rant). If you have a pop-up blocker, you will need to turn off your pop-up blocker, or add our website to the “allowed” list to use those features. No I can’t tell you how to do that. Not even if you ask me 20 times.

*You turned off IE’s or Firefox’s pop-up blocker, but you also have five different toolbars installed? Yeah, most of those have pop-up blockers too. No, I’m not kidding. No, it’s not our website’s fault that you installed five different pop-up blockers on your computer.

*You had the page set to remember your password, but now it’s gone? Those are stored in your computer as something called a cookie. If you cleared your cookies, or if you’re using the website from a different computer, you won’t have your saved password. Yes, it’s saved on your computer. Yes it is. No, it’s not saved on our servers. No it’s not. No. It’s not. It’s saved on your computer. Yes it is. YES IT IS!!!

*No, I can’t tell you the status of a claim/explain why your coverage has changed/explain why your rates went up/etc. You need to contact your agent for that. Because I don’t have access to any policy specific information. No, it’s not because “I don’t feel like doing it”, I can’t look it up if I want to. Yes, it is my job to “help customers”, but only with technical issues. No, the status of your claim is not a technical issue.

OK, that one made me laugh! :smiley:

I worked in Tech Support for a software company for 10 years (not all consecutive. Did four years, then six with a stint as a software tester in the meantime) and it’s a job that will make you lose all faith in the intelligence of the human race.

I often wondered how our customers got dressed in the morning! Our clients were college educated (not in computers or software, but they had to have a degree for the jobs they did) and could not follow a simple instruction to save their lives.

Anyway, I have two stories.

  1. A call came in and I answered it with my usual spiel ending with me asking for the customer number. The answer? The sound of toilet flushing. I often wondered how I should have taken this: Was this their feelings on me, the company, or did I just plain old catch them in the bathroom? :slight_smile:

  2. I did both incoming calls and email support. I was mostly the only one doing email support and I was used to many customers being familiar with me as they used email almost exclusively for their support needs. They could get an answer faster from me via email than they could sitting on hold waiting for one of the other techs to answer the phone. One day, I got an email from a tech guy who was helping the client. Nothing unusual, that happened all the time. Anyway, there were a couple of emails between me and him to sort of help ramp him up on some of the particulars so we could get down to actual troubleshooting. Out of nowhere, he decides to tell me in a rather lengthy email that he’d been having an affair with the client (who was female) and the email went on at great length about the emotional trauma, etc. (no details, thank goodness!)

I just didn’t know what to do when I read this thing! I ended up ignoring it and giving instructions based on what I thought the issue was going to be, but it totally floored me that someone would just email a total stranger about something so sensitive!

I can only imagine that the anonymity of the email gave him a chance to unburden himself, but I found it quite risky of him to do…

Where do I get these shirts? I’ll take 25 of each.

We have web based application
Customer: It doesn’t work
Me: What happens when you go to
Customer: Our internet is out I can’t use the Internet
Me: head-keyboard-head-keyboard

One of these happens to me at least once per day. I used to get upset but now I realize it is job security

My small company created some online software that you use for sending out HTML newsletters. The name of the software is a common noun - let’s say Monkey (no it’s not MailChimp). Since we couldn’t get our web address is

Yesterday we got a support email from the form on the Web site. It was from some woman we’d never heard of (we know all our customers pretty well), who left her email address as She wrote that she needed to know how to log in to her account from home because she was at home with her son who is sick. She wanted us to call her at home ASAP so she could get her email.

My tech support guy called her back and it turns out that she works for a company called Monkey Electronics. She went to our product’s Web site - which has its own logo and everything, and clearly explains what our software is/does - navigated to the contact form with our not-her-company contact info on it, and filled it out thinking that this would be the key to getting her company’s Webmail login info.

Every so often we just run into this level of dumb that I never knew existed before.

That reminds me of this one time when I was a bank teller. A guy came in wanting to make a withdrawl. I asked him for ID. He said he didn’t have any on him, and that I could just look him up on the computer. I told him, truthfully, that the computers were offline. (Back in those days, that happened a lot.) He accused me of being lazy and/or a liar, and insisted that I look him up on the computer. I reiterated that I was unable to do so. He repeated his accusation, only louder and angrier. This escalated for several minutes, and each time he grew more insistant that he didn’t have any form of ID at all, and that I was lying about the computers being offline.

Needless to say, I was hoping and praying that computers wouldn’t come back up while he was standing there.

Finally, a supervisor came over. Mr. Abuse started yelling at him, too. The supervisor told him that if he didn’t produce an ID, he’d have to leave my window. I don’t remember, but I think there was even a threat of having him arrested for trespassing.

When Mr. Abuse was checked and mated, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his driver’s license.


Yes, yes it is. It’s not a detailed error description, but the customer might not know how else to describe the problem.

I HAVE learned to say “I can’t get online” rather than “The internet is broken”, though.

Some of our website requires login with a purchased password for full access. When scanning through the error logs I saw all sorts of people entering crazy passwords, and failing to log in. What I determined they were doing was entering their dial-up or e-mail password trying to log into our site. How they thought we would have their dial-up or e-mail password I’m not sure, I guess they think all web sites cooperate together or something?

When I’m not gladiating intergalactically, I’m an IT tech at a high tech company. You’d think that a HIGH TECH company would have people who are pretty tech savvy working there. Not neccecerily.

We had a field rep who I called Black Bart who kept calling the helpdesk for help on little things here and there, little things that are easily fixed, but he treated every call like it was the end of the fricking world. The worst one was when he broke his Office 2000 somehow, I had to remotely connect to his laptop connected through the VPN and repair it. Did I mention it was a Friday afternoon and I took the call 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave? It took about an hour and a half to fix it (I should have disconnected, it was slowing down everything, but I wanted to stay on to monitor it). He groused the ENTIRE time. Fortunately, he only lasted a few months here.

We had another user who plugged his UPS into itself.

Actual email that I sent to a manager when he moved desks: For your move, you can take either the IPPhone you have now or I will set you up with a digital phone at the new location.

His reply: Oh, I’ll take the IPPhone. What’s an IPPhone?

I had a coworker ask me how to send email through Facebook recently. I dunno, did you click that tab that says “messages?”