IT Policies

Help desk rants: What do you need to get off your chest?

Venting at the office is unprofessional, and your loved ones don't want to hear it. Let off some steam with people who'll understand your pain!

My neighbor at the office and I have something we call Saucy Fridays.

Whenever it's coming to the close of the week, and one of us feels like we're down to our last nerve, we'll warn the other by declaring "I'm having a Saucy Friday." It's a sign that we've had enough of our colleagues, and we're just one step away from snapping at some unfortunate who happens to blunder in and say the wrong thing.

I don't like to complain about my users at the office, but sometimes everyone needs to let off some steam. I think that this can be of utmost importance for support pros, since angst that's left unacknowledged can fester quickly. Workplace morale can start to suffer.

So in the spirit of mental health and productivity, I'd like to offer all of you the opportunity to vent your frustrations and complain (reasonably anonymously) about those things that drive you up a wall. Consider it group therapy.

I'll start.

Hi everyone, my name is Will, and I work in Tech Support.

  • I've mentioned this elsewhere in comments I've made here on TechRepublic, but it really bothers me when someone asks me to help them with a problem they're having, and then disappears once I'm at their terminal. I make it my habit to let users know if I don't need them around during my troubleshooting; if I don't dismiss them, it's because I expect to need their login credentials or I have a tip for them on how they can to avoid their problem in the future. I pride myself on making sure I don't waste anyone else's time; it really peels my orange when I'm made to feel like mine is being taken for granted.
  • It's a problem when "Can you help me?" really means "Will you do my work for me?" I've had people ask me to clean out their electronic mailboxes for them.
  • My final peeve for Saucy Friday is the phrase "Did you see my e-mail (or ticket)?" Makes my skin crawl to type, let alone hear. My stance on this: don't expect an instantaneous response from an asynchronous communications medium. If I saw your message and it required a response, you would have one already. If I saw it and didn't respond, then I won't have much more to offer you face-to-face. So why even ask the question! Please, it's okay to have something you need addressed immediately. That's called an emergency, and you can find me or call me when one happens. But if you've already decided you don't need my immediate attention—you sent an email, after all—then don't waste the time you spent composing that message by grabbing me in the hallway. It also keeps me from grumbling your name when I get back to my desk and have to delete your now obsolete message.

There. I know I feel much better.

Please everyone; feel free to let out your help desk demons. You're among friends here.

109 comments
GrumpyGit25
GrumpyGit25

Just had two calls in two minutes; both were given the same response, namely that it's a non-urgent issue, can you please log a request through our self service portal.  Both responded with a huff and a ohhh-kay. Like... sorry that I'm working on other people's issues right now... people who, strangely enough, HAVE LOGGED CALLS IN THE CORRECT MANNER!!!!

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

Has to be passwords. "Hello? You've changed my password, I can't get into the system!" "No, we don't change people's passwords unless a) they ask us to, or b) They really piss us off." "Well, it's not my password, it's my colleague's, but she's on holiday so I have to do her work." "So, did she change it?"

Joe_R
Joe_R

And some good comments.

thezar
thezar

Two other points: 1) Going back before the Apollo Project the favorite answer to a question about changes was always "Nothing". If pressed hard enough it slowly changed through "Just changed the name of the program" to what really happened. 2) I found that I have many issues with IT personnel as well. As a HD spec I quickly found that too many ITs think that if they know something at cannot be told to anyone else or they will no longer have meaning in this universe. I was working a call when an answer that I had used before just seemed to vanish from my brain (age or something). I called out to the higher level [erson near me and asked "Frank, what's the ????". His response while looking at the phone in hand was "why don't you look it up?" Grrrrrrrr

camesc
camesc

I like to call it the 'urgent' call. I've decided it's my own fault. My degree, certifications, and years experience in IT has resulted in my having an incorrect view of the concept of 'urgent'. A customer who wants their new wireless headset installed is by far the most important call ticket we have. We're at second level support and this 'user' has decided that during the busiest time I have ever experienced in my support manager role they would make everybody's life hell by escalating a nonsense call (five or six times). The sad thing about this is they fail to realise escalating a ridiculous call like that means they will wait longer. I can't help it. I'm vindictive. If you can still work, and your request is a luxury, then don't waste my time. Don't email me directly instead of going through the proper channels, don't come up to IT and speak rudely to first level front desk, and you better not even try telling me your the PA to Mr/s X. and that Mr/s X. will be extremely unhappy if this is not attended to.... wait for it.... ASAP! Go on then! Use the acronym ASAP! ASAP means something entirely different to 'as soon as possible' to a user. You know what? It's not 'possible' right now, so writing another emailing saying 'complete this ASAP' is not going to get you anywhere. In fact congratulations. I am now formulating a 'formal' complaint regarding your stupidity. Why oh why did I become a support manager when I think everybody is incompetent and a bunch of whinging whining loonatics. I need a new career... :)

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

Arrive @ desk What is the problem. This entire 10 tab spreasheet is incorrect & does not add up correctly. What would you do?

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

I'm the helpdesk analyst for an IT Dept consisting of an IT Manager, two programmers, one Network guru and myself. My department treats me with respect and considers me very vital to the company as I am the forefront and actual "face" of IT and I interact with our users more than anyone in our department. I have a very good feeling about my co-workers and my place in my department. The majority of my users feel the same way, and do not hesitate to call me for their problems, whether I'm the right person for resolution or not. There is one middle manager in our company who totally ignores me, and acts as though I do not exist. She constantly goes to the IT Manager for help, and if he is not available, she is hunting down the Network Guru. Normally that part doesn't bother me, I figure I do not need to be the center of this person's life, and from the office scuttlebut about her managerial style, I wouldn't want to be. But the other day I was helping a user in their office, and this manager walked in and started talking over me to the other person, forcing me to stop talking and allowing her to talk about some personal (not office related) incident. She never even acknowledged I was in the room!!! AAAUUUUGGGHHHH!!!! *sighs*... There... I feel much better now!!!

Arcturus909
Arcturus909

When a user who has been sent to some exotic location for extensive training on a piece of software integral to their job (which I do not personally have or use) calls me because they have no idea how to use it. I then have to spend days or hours reading the manuals and help files to learn as much as I can about the software, just to show them what they already should know. I say send me to Florida for training, and I'll gladly pass on my knowledge to the actual user!

edp
edp

I hate it when users ring up and say "It will only take you 5 minutes" - my ideal response would be "Well if you know how long it takes to fix it...."

atsf2921
atsf2921

Clutter, When I go to repair or replace a workstation, most of the time the user would have (IMHO junk) stuff sitting around and on top of the CPU box that's on the floor or under their desk. I feel like a mover trying to move everything out of my way so I can get to it.

AV-P
AV-P

My rant : What is the ETA for my request(after filing a ticket and running towards you)? Installing bloatware and playing dumb(I dont know,it was installed from beginning). "My comp is not working,why is the network down?" "Listen,I was just tryng something and this happened"-(handing over a blue screened laptop). "My blackberry has stopped working suddenly" And my personal favourite : "Hey,do you guys fix ACs too?" Whew...feels slightly better.

kdaugharty5
kdaugharty5

When they either call, or submit a ticket, and they know more than you do. So why are you calling me.

normhaga
normhaga

that asks that video editing software be installed. As part of the service, you include a book on using the software. Six months later, when the contractee gets around to using the software, you get a call that requires you to loose a day and a half of work because you have to read the manual on a program you do not use and they failed to RTFM.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

- We're rolling out new monitors (flat-panel!) to every computer in the company. The monitors, usually 10 or fewer, are shipped to each site the weekend before installation with attached instructions: "This equipment will be installed on %date%. Please store securely until installed." At least two sites shipped the monitors back the Monday after receipt: "We don't have room to store them here." - Got a call once "The entire site can't print." When I got to the site, I checked the print server and found over 4,000 ( :0 ) jobs in the queue, starting three days earlier. I started checking the six on-site printers. Every one bore the same error message: "Tray 1 empty. Load letter." I purged the print queue, restarted the server, and showed the site manager the empty paper trays. When informed that reloading paper was a user function, his response was "Why is that our job?" Edit: speling

brownjohn
brownjohn

I had a user, yesterday, call me at 11:30am. She was trying to access a website that she needed to view while she was on a conference call. She was getting the page can not be displayed error in IE, so I told her I would be over ASAP to help her, but it would be about 30 mins. Her response was, in a very unhappy, irritated tone, "Okay. No thanks, thats too late. I needed it at 11. Bye" Click. Wow. Some people...

kenefick.m
kenefick.m

Yes, this is common in a lot of IT departments. But it may be how often you ask. I mantion this after seeing you spelling achievements and type-o's.

adamblevins
adamblevins

I have those urgent issues all day, every day. Meanwhile, work back logs due top being constantly interrupted and users get irritated by the wait. Those same users grumble about the service desk and we get a bad rap... which is somehow our fault for not working fast enough. Nobody sees the vicious cycle... Never ending work: I have been happily working on my MBA but stopped classes because I thought took too much time from my family... Now, I now wind up working free overtime instead. I promise I will leave on time, and take every break I am entitled to. Jackass Users: Last night I stayed late to help a remote user having trouble (I know its frustrating trying to work without the tools you need). How was I rewarded for the free overtime? I was cussed up and down by our CFO (great exec composure) for something I had absolutely no control over (the security policy of the ISP he is using in Germany). He WAS nice enough to mention several times that I didn't deserve to hear it, and he is not usually a @#$%, but he was irritated.. and I was going to hear it anyway. Very professional behavior... OK, I'm done complaining now. :)

radams36
radams36

Another of my favorites, most prominently featured when I did the Help Desk at Ericsson: Caller starts out with the phrase, "I know can do this, because I've seen it done before." This would almost invariably be followed by a demand to know how to do something the software in question could not do. The real tranalation was, "I DEMAND that perform this function, and I won't take No for an answer!" I heard that phrase dozens of times, and I don't recall a single time that it was followed by something the software in question could actually do.

radams36
radams36

When I was doing Help Desk for the FDIC, one of the frequent Danger flags for the Help Desk was the caller who would IMMEDIATELY demand that you remote to their system. Almost without fail, they would then insist that the Help Desk analyst do their work for them. One of these users called in to a colleague of mine and started having him extensively rework her Excel spreadsheet, then told him she was leaving for a meeting, so she was going to hang up now and leave him to complete her spreadsheet. She was notorious for doing this kind of thing quite regularly. Considering that our contracting company was EXTREMELY unsupportive about absolutely everything, and would not enforce ANY kind of boundaries with the users, I soon learned to simply NOT pick up the phone if I saw her name on the caller ID.

Stangg
Stangg

When 1 person found out that I was an excel guru and consequently every man and his dog has been trying to hunt me down for advice or even just creating spreadsheets for them!

camesc
camesc

I get these ones. We have ones where they have links to 10 - 20 other spreadsheets within one and a calculation isn't working. My stock standard response is to contact the owner of the spreadsheet and advise them of the situation. If they say they are the owner I advise them unfortunately we are only able to provide technical support for faulty hardware/software however should they require application training they should get in touch with their manager/HR and arrange accordingly. As a new support manager I will not have my team wasting time (hours on one's like these) trailing through somebody's non-technical mistakes.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

And let them do it on an adding machine. I can almost guarantee that fairly early in punching in the numbers, reality will intrude and point out the futility of the exercise.

mhsisom
mhsisom

I take calls from a large theater chain and I have a few things to add. If your ticket printer hasnt worked since Monday, why are you calling on Friday afternoon asking us to fix it before you open the doors in 30 minutes. Granted we might be able to...why take the risk?! If you have a midnight showing and booking didnt add the movie in...why are you calling at 4:30 pm demanding we add. Oh, and then get mad because I cant add it in for you until someone from HQ emails me authorization. Why are you making paper dolls and airplanes at work first off. And then why when you send in your server, do I open it up to find some of the airplanes inside?! Since when did banging the mess out of your server and dropping it make it work faster? And lastly, this is from my old job but it kills me every time I get this. A user calls and says they aren't on a DL they need to be on to get mass department emails. Oh and they are over their limit in mailbox size. I look, the user is in the DL, and I VPN to their PC. What do I find?! They have a folder they created when they started over 3 years ago. Everything sent to that DL is in there for the past 3 years. I saw one that had 4,367 emails in one folder. Why wait 3 years to say you don't have it? The funniest response I got to that was..."Well when it popped up I would click to read the important ones. But once I closed it I don't know where it went so I just got somebody else to send it to me again." Ugh...that was fun :-)

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

"Sorry to interrupt, but this should be quick" and "I hate to bother you while you are eating, but...." or when people are lined up, and someone from the back cuts into the conversation to mention their problem or when going to someones desk, and having people stop you to mention a problem that they dont think is worthy of calling or emailing about, has been going on for a while, but needs to be addressed right now.

thezar
thezar

I have done a lot of contract work on warrantied machines in-homes. My fav - the computer that was put in a home built cabinet (large) and required the piece moved so that the PC could be removed as the front opening was not made large enough! Of course the user/builder wasn't home at the time.

HoagieBP
HoagieBP

Quote And my personal favourite : "Hey,do you guys fix ACs too?" End Quote Uh....Actually, "Yes" we do. Since the HVAC system can be monitored via a PC interface it was assigned to the IT Department. We also get called on electric typewriters, 3-hole punches, paper shredders, lighting, staplers, cubicle repairs, sticking desk drawers,.... I could go on, but I'm starting to rant here.

HoagieBP
HoagieBP

You mean if I hit the "print" button and my 78.6MB file doesn't print in a nanosecond, hitting the print button repeatedly won't fix the issue??!?!??

Tig2
Tig2

I know one that may be somewhat worse. Guy is a senior level application architect who found himself with some free time for a couple of weeks. There was a PM with a spreadsheet the size of Manhattan who needed to pull some reporting from it. Because my friend knows Excel inside and out (oh and he creates databases for the heck of it), the spreadsheet lands on him. For the next two months, NO ONE would touch the spreadsheet. Instead they went to my friend and had him do all updates and such. Not a bad thing as this way the data was protected. Crunch time for project delivery comes and one of the key people decides that the data isn't being presented to her in a way she understands. So she saves to local a copy of this monster and proceeds to make it look the way she wants. And then does a cut and paste to the master. They start the rollout on Friday. We get a call that there has been a death in the family and that the funeral is Sunday. The PM is told that my friend is unable to be available on Sunday. Get a call at 8:00 a.m. that there are issues with the master spreadsheet. The long and short was that my friend ended up glued to his chair until he absolutely had to get up and get ready for the funeral. The problem? The cut and paste. These days, I only admit to knowing things that I want to have become a part of my daily life. It works.

iamalex84
iamalex84

I can't believe no one has mentioned liars. The people who deny having done anything that may have caused their issue. "Yes, 14 toolbars will cause IE to load slowly." Though this can be attributed to ignorance. The others are the ones who just plain LIE. We had a woman once who would not do what my co-worker was telling her. Then lied to me later about what he told her (though I was standing right there.) She restored her system to factory defaults (a clean install of Windows) on the advice of the guy installing their copy machine and complained to her boss that we wouldn't help her. Fortunately we had just installed our new phone system the day before and were recording every call. Long story short, we have hardly heard from her since.

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

...being a female myself, that would be a major turn off for me. She doesn't have the proper equipment to interest me...;o)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If you hit the print button once and it didn't print, it won't print no matter how many times you hit the button. :D

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

"Because the instructions are in the user manual, not the service manual."

radams36
radams36

My favorite kind of liar was the one who would tell you something that you KNEW was untrue, because they were trying to manipulate and maneuver the troubleshooting process to suit their purposes, never mind finding out what the actual problem was. I eventually developed a policy of taking them at their word. The usual conclusion, when their lies were taken at face value, was that their document file was corrupted. That pretty much put a stop to the conversation right there.

network admin
network admin

.. I was in the middle of a "server crisis" when I get a call from one of the Engineers. He needed help with his computer. When I got to his office he said, "I've been rearranging my office all day and I need you to plug my computer back in." .... :|

iamalex84
iamalex84

I am proud of the service I provide. That is exactly why I do not appreciate someone screwing up and blaming it on me. She did not have to lie to me, my boss, or her boss and yet she did; for no other reason than to cover her own stupidity and unwillingness to cooperate with the tech whom she called. I should be clear, she was not fired, only 'talked to' and the company remains a great customer.

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

... I'll keep that in mind. I do plan to remain professionally friendly, but I also am going to gently "insist" that I be shown the same respect she would demand for herself.

maecuff
maecuff

that the problem is she is (for whatever reason) intimidated by you. Perhaps you remind her of someone else, etc.. I've been treated that way, and the best thing to do is to politely insert yourself into the conversation. Go out of your way to be friendly to her. It probably WON'T fix the problem, but it WILL get under her skin. :)

brians
brians

I worked in automotive repair in a previous life and we had one customer with the most filthy, disgustingly dirty car that had piles of garbage and cigarette butts on the floor (yes, in the front seat) with electrical problems under the dash. The diag/repair would require us to lay on the floor and when we told her we wouldn't do it she said "Well, you're going to clean it before I get it back anyway so why not clean it first?" Uhhhh.....NO!

jtaylor3678
jtaylor3678

...that expect their car to come back with a full tank of gas when they take it to a mechanic.

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