If you’ve worked in IT support (be it within a company, remotely, or as a consultant) then you have probably heard every possible excuse and explanation end users can come up with for their problems.

I, for one, have heard so many I figured it was time I created a list of the ones that seem to pop up with regularity. Of course, being a fair guy, I also wanted to include in this why there might be some validity to each of these.


Without further ado, let’s dig into this list and see how many times you find yourself nodding in agreement.

1. “That password is too hard to remember.”

There’s a reason that password is too hard to remember – to keep your data safe! Many SMBs have solid policies to prevent users from having passwords like “password” or the user’s name. But keep in mind, the more challenging the password policy, the more often you will wind up having to change end user passwords. When you create your password policy, be aware of your user base and find a common ground between strong passwords and passwords that users can actually type.

2. “This started after you worked on my machine.”

“Yes…and then you broke it” is the response you want to give. You can’t, however. You may have just worked the miracle of miracles on a PC, but that doesn’t mean the end user won’t ruin your work. Or…and this can actually happen…you thought you fixed the issue, but didn’t. One of the things I like to do is make sure the end user tests that the problem has been solved. That way they know you did your job and can’t look you in the eye and say, “You did this!” (because they will). As much as I hate this about the support industry, you do have to protect your own back.

3. “But I have anti-virus.”

My go-to explanation for this is simple: if you use the Windows platform, it’s not a matter of if you’ll get virus, but when. End users seem to think that anti-virus is the end-all cure-all for what ails their computers. It’s not and never will be. They have to be made aware that anti-virus doesn’t give them carte blanche to do whatever they want.

4. “I pay you to keep these things working.”

Such vitriol from clients doesn’t actually hurt the PC support specialist. Remember, support is a two-way street. Your job is to keep the PCs running as well as possible, knowing full well that eventually users (or faulty patches or some other element) will break the system again. If clients want PCs that never fail, they’d all be switching to paper and abacus.

5. “The machine is only X years old.”

Moving parts wear out. Period. Computers have a finite lifespan and there is absolutely no way around that. It’s important to help end users understand that getting three years out of a computer is a good run. After that, it’s time to start thinking of replacement. This is, after all, a business and they need to be able to count on technology not to fail – otherwise, they risk data loss.

6. “It’s not happening to anyone else.”

Sure it’s not. Users may think it’s not happening to anyone else, but it very well could be. Or, the reason it’s not happening to the others is that they quite possibly didn’t make the same mistake. Or, perhaps some users don’t really know how to use technology properly and should go back to using a Lite-Brite and Wooly Willy. Seriously, end users call this one out all the time – even though the other users have no bearing on their particular issue.

7. “I know a little about computers.”

Danger, Will Robinson, danger! When you hear this, you should be afraid. End users that claim to know a “little” bit about computers is like me saying I know a little bit about rocket science. End users with a “little” knowledge of computers are actually more dangerous than those that know nothing. Why? These users will wind up pushing buttons and madly clicking their mouse in a rush to fix the problem before you arrive. Their goal? Show you they know a “thing or two”.

8. “What’s a web browser?”

This is the cry of someone at the very bottom of the end user ability scale. If they know not what a web browser is, then you better make sure you are there to hand-hold them through every minute of their training and have a quick route from your desk to theirs. Hearing this cry should also indicate to you that doing remote support is also going to be an issue. To that end, you will want to make sure that these users are set up such that all they need to do is double-click an icon to launch the support tool.

9. “I don’t visit many websites.”

That’s all good and well, but the select few sites often visited are the ones depositing malware on their computers. Downloading fun little screen savers, Facebook, and other notorious sites that offer toolbars and other pieces of malware are all over the place. End users have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they install those cute little tools that promise them the best chocolate cookie recipe on the planet. Education about safe browsing is a must for these users. Or, better yet, create a proxy server to block access to sites known to be suspect of deploying malware.

10. “I didn’t do anything.”

That’s right…the end user is always innocent and they will cry foul any time you say otherwise. In almost every instance, the problem on the computer is the result of shoddy work on the part of the IT staff. We’ve all heard this one; and we all know the truth. Half of the time the user did do something and half of the time they didn’t. Okay, maybe a 50/50 split isn’t exactly fair – but you get the idea. The truth of the matter is, however, you can’t always just blame the end user. There are those instances when it could be, gasp, your fault.

You’ve probably heard one, all, or even more of these excuses. If not, expect them soon. But don’t think end users are the only culprits in this crime. IT staff are also very well known for passing the buck of blame away from themselves.