Computer Tech Countdown

About a decade ago, I worked as a computer tech behind the counter of a big box retailer. I wore my blue shirt and khaki pants for about a year, and in that time I saw some crazy stuff. Here's a quick countdown of some of my favorite.

  • 10. Wireless Power. Lady called the shop after she bought her first computer. Got it home no lights. Talked through a load of stuff, until she finally mentioned "the extra black cable" in the box. Lesson learned. Never assume the customer has a clue.

  • 9. Credit card in the floppy drive. Yes, it's for real. I lived it. Old man, doing his first online purchase. Very nice man. Really stupid, but very nice.

  • 8. A Man came in, yelling at me that the computer will not power up. "I just got it home, plugged it in NOTHING! FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS, NOTHING!" Now red in the face he puts it on our bench "I WANT A NEW ONE!"

    I plugged it in. This model had a door that opened on the front. The power button was behind the door. I opened the door.

    "WHAT!? What is that!?" he bellowed.

    "This is where the power button is"

    "What have I been pressing?" As he pointed to the front.

    "Ah. That's the logo."

  • 7. Secret Service. All customer had to sign a disclaimer saying "If we break it, you can't sue us." Most didn't read it. This guy did.

    "I don't want to sign this."
    "All customer have to sign it," I said.
    "All your customers don't work for the secret service and carry a concealed firearm."

    He signed it, but I agreed to be VERY VERY careful.

  • 6. Rundll32 Virus. Another tech was troubleshooting a PC a customer left. He asked me for help as he was having trouble.

    "When I booted it up there was a Rundll32.exe error. I'm pretty sure it's a virus. I went through the registry and removed all instances. It's having trouble booting, Thoughts?"

  • 5. Fire It Up. A gentleman brings in his Compaq. It was a disaster. Apparently the computer was in a fire, hosed down by the fire department, and then sat in the rain for a week, before he brought it in. I hooked it up to the test bench to make him feel better. It worked perfectly! It was absolutely amazing!

  • 4. Hard Drive Tension. We did a lot of hard drive upgrades. Clone the old drive to a new one, very simple. Well a customer came back not an hour after leaving with his newly cloned drive. "GONE. IT'S ALL GONE!" He was raving mad. he was right, nothing but "click-click-click"

    Turns out he was in his final year the local state university. All his papers where on the computer. The computer with the dead hard drive, no backup. 4 years...gone. Turns out the tech didn't anchor the HD in place. "I wedged it in. I thought it would be fine without the screws."

  • 3. The One Ring. While a tech was working on a powered up computer with the case open, he reached in to make sure the memory was seated properly. His loose wedding ring slipped off his finger shorted out the motherboard. It was awesome. Mostly because it wasn't me.

  • 2. Modem mice. This gal brings in her computer because the modem stopped working. I opened it up, and there was a dead mouse on the modem card. It had climbed into the case through an open card slot, urinated on the modem, electrocuted himself and died. The customer laughed so hard, she didn't even mind buying a new modem.

  • 1. Error Error on the Screen. A man brings in his PC. I plug it in at the test bench and power it on.

    As it begins to post, the man gasp, "WHERE IS IT?"

    "Where's What?"

    "There was an error on the screen! I turned it off right when it popped up, so I could bring it in and show you!"

  • Every once in a while I pop in just to see how the place has changed.... It hasn't.


    Marcus said...

    My favorite was when I would install a new video card into a unit that was previously using on board video. I would specifically tell the client to plug in the monitor to the new VGA or DVI port that is down in the pci area. Without fail, I would get a call form them telling me they got no video or they would come back. I would again show them then they would do a face palm. I also worked for Best Buy for about 5 years as a tech then as a Geek Squad agent.

    kludge said...

    Marcus -

    Thanks for stopping by!

    That's great! It always amazed me how "mysterious" a computer was to some customers.

    Anonymous said...

    So I have #10 to blame when techs ask me all those "duh" questions. Thanks #10.

    My friends parents had just gotten a new computer recently, their first, and my friend called his mom to see how they liked it. She said it was OK but the word processing program took a long time to use. My friend was confused. Here's what was happening. His mom would type something and print it out to proof read it leaving it open on the screen. When she found a mistake she would BACKSPACE to the error deleting everything in her path, correct the mistake, and then use the print out to retype all that she had just erased. After he picked himself off the floor, my friend educated his mother in the fine art of moving the cursor with the mouse to the typo and clicking.

    kludge said...


    If that doesn't just sum up my view of all users....


    online data backup said...

    Haha, those are all awesome. That's quite the collection of stories - I assume it was Bestbuy where you worked? (I used to work there too)

    online backup said...

    HAHAHA, I love the fact that a guy was pushing the logo.

    I used to work in computers and my fav was one guy brought his wife in so we could tell him the virus' he kept getting weren't from bad sites he was going to.