Most people seem to think that IT workers have all the answers, but the reality is, sometimes they're just as stumped as anyone else is. The world of technology is a complicated one—sometimes, there isn't a clear cut answer to a particular issue. Unfortunately, people can be quite ruthless in the pursuit of a solution to their plight. Here are the most ridiculous issues IT workers have been asked to fix.
#1 That's What You Get
I had a lady executive use her laptop bag as a wheel chock when her husband changed her tire. She ran over it. She brought it to us and said, “Make this work. I have a presentation in an hour.” Then left. We took it out of the bag and it was U-shaped. We laughed at the situation. There was nothing we could do. The hard drive was even crushed.
She came back and screamed at us for our incompetence while demanding another laptop (her third in six months). Our team lead took the laptop to the VP of technology. He brought her down to our office and made her apologize and told us she did not get any more laptops. If she wanted to work on the weekends, she had to come into the office.
#2 Talk About Inconsiderate
A lady called to report her monitor wasn’t working. After troubleshooting and asking her multiple times if everything was plugged in, she finally piped up that the monitor “doesn’t have the light on.” The monitor wasn’t plugged in and she wanted me to wake a guy up at 3 a.m. to do it because she was dressed too nicely to do it herself. I was not about to wake up the on-call for that. She complained to our director and he literally laughed at her and her reasoning for wanting the on-call sent out. She is now banned from calling in.
#3 The Layer 8 Problem
The hospital I used to work at called IT to come in one night because the telemetry monitors had all gone down on the nursing floor. The computer wasn't working and they were freaking out. IT came in and saw that someone had kicked the plug out of the outlet. Needless to say, he was not impressed. In networking, that's a "Layer 8" problem.
#4 Human Error
My partner did IT for years. My favorite is the lady who called to complain that her mouse wasn't working. He gets to her cubicle to see that she was upset with the size of her cubicle and so she had stapled her mouse pad to the wall. In the process, she had put a nail through her mouse wire to hang it... I've heard of this sort of thing as a PEBCAK error: "Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard."
#5 Good Luck With That
Years ago, I worked for a rather large ISP as a tech lead. A residential DSL customer called in demanding to speak to a supervisor because his internet was down and he was going to miss out on some multi-million dollar deal of he couldn't get on the internet. He kept yelling at me throughout the call and demanded I fix it immediately.
While troubleshooting the issue, I could see that I couldn't reach the DSLAM his connection ran through. I advised him I would have to reach out to a dispatch center to have a tech go take a look at it. At some point, he informed me that on his way home he saw that a vehicle had run off the road into one of our boxes and it had caught fire. He still said he was planning on suing our company if he wasn't able to be online to make this supposed deal of his. I passive-aggressively suggested he go to a Starbucks and wished him well with the lawsuit.
#6 Not Realistic
I work in web development and maintenance. I got a call from a client who was absolutely livid when I told her that she could not take the hyperlinked text from her webpage, transfer it over to their print ad, and still have it function as a link. "Why can't I click the paper?" The closest thing to that would probably be a QR code, but something tells me that wouldn't be good enough for them.
#7 It's A "No"
I was asked to fix a cabinet once. I don't mean like a server rack or anything, I mean a literal wooden cabinet with shelves and stuff. I was once also asked to fix an old oscilloscope that was out of warranty. It was running embedded Windows so I could at least sort of see their thought process on that one, but it was still a no.
#8 Server Issues
There was a very remote school in Wyoming with about three, out-of-warranty, servers and none of them would power on. They worked with the vendor on the phone for hours, unplugging and replugging, and various troubleshooting. The vendor asked me to fly to Montana, in the middle of the winter and the nearest commercial airports were all closed, with three power supplies.
They had no one in the area certified to repair these servers. I get there and discovered that there was no power to the outlets. I went to the electrical closet and there was a tripped breaker, flipped it back and everything was working. It cost the school almost $3,000 with airfare, hotels, car rental, and labor, to have a circuit breaker flipped.
#9 Grand Ideas
The owner of a company thought it was a reasonable plan to put a gasoline-powered generator in an unused room of our office in the event of a power failure. Not outside, not even on a balcony, but in a room that was interior without windows. I told him if he did that, I and every other sane person there would leave in the event of a power failure.
After that, I was told to research the feasibility of putting a pedal generator at every desk. Presumably, he thought everyone could pedal the electricity to keep working. He was literally trying to create a sweatshop. Several employees had a history of heart trouble. I was told, "It'll be good for them."
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Stories that matter — delivered straight to your inbox.
#10 Safe Mode
I once had to fix a friend's computer back in 2005 or so. He wanted to play Half-Life 2, but his video card was too terrible to run it smoothly. So he uninstalled the proper video card driver, went to the NVIDIA website, and downloaded the driver for the most powerful new video card they currently had. And then his monitor stopped displaying anything. Huh... who would have thought? I laughed a lot at his stupidity once he explained what he did, but at least he was honest! I went into safe mode and fixed it for him.
#11 The Apple Guy
I've somehow become the 'Apple Guy' at my work. We recently received a batch of brand new iPad Pros and within a week, and I received a repair request due to a screen malfunctioning. Turns out, by screen malfunctioning, they meant completely destroyed. Shattered. Like it had been continuously hit with a hammer.
The lady was giving vague explanations about what happened, talking about how it might have fallen off her desk...onto the carpeted floor. But apparently, this is something I could fix? She needed it for a meeting that afternoon. I had to explain that this wasn't something we could fix, that I'd need to go through Apple for a replacement device. Shocking news, apparently.
#12 Vending Machines
Oddly enough, this is actually a perfectly acceptable solution for a broken soda machine at my second job. If the machine breaks and it's urgent (not cooling, leaking, physically damaged, etc.), you call IT, pick hardware support, and one of the options in the menu is the vending support line. Refunds just come from a box we keep in the safe though. The vending company gives us money for the refund box when they come stock the machine.
#13 A Demeaning Task
I got a call to remove a plug on the radio and push the wire through a small vent in the cabinet because the wire was "unsightly." I did this while 15 executives watched. None of them knew how to change a plug, and had never even seen the inside of one; but because it had a wire it was ITs responsibility. I never felt more demeaned in my life.
#14 Coffee Maker Duty
For me, it was the coffee maker. The worst part was that it was one of those big ones that are maintained by another company. I was not going to be touching that. Also, when I was working help desk, I got a call about the vending machine not working. I asked if he called the number on the machine and he said it looked different but thought that it would be our issue anyway.
#15 Alaskan Storm
Old story: back in the early '90s, all of Alaska's communications was via satellite. We would get notices from our providers when a solar storm was going to slow down our through-put. I went upstairs to our Finance and Accounting chief to tell her the nightly processes might be late due to the storm. Her response was, "You're IT just fix it!" Never let her forget that she saw me as a god.
#16 An Interesting Character
Back in my very early career, I had this customer named Mr. Windsor. He was this grumpy older guy and everything was an emergency. He was always yelling about some IT issues he was having. The most memorable is he called us livid over some site he was getting a "Forbidden" error on. How dare we forbid him from going to his web site! I had to patiently explain that there was an issue with that site and he'd have to contact the owner.
About an hour later, he called back demanding to speak to me personally. He got an e-mail saying he had a fatal error. How DARE WE wish him to die. We finally figured out that he'd miss-spelled the e-mail address and the fatal error was coming from the mail system. I just looked up the number to the web company and told him to call. I'd love to know how that conversation went.
Anyway, a few days before Christmas we get a phone call. It was from Mr. Windsor. He was slurring his words and clearly been drinking something festive. He called to apologize for being a miserable old duffer and thank us for being patient. Back to his usual miserable self after Christmas of course. Interesting character.
#17 Stupid People
A couple of simple ones. I got called in to repair a broken printer. The guy was pretty livid as he was trying to print in a hurry. Turns out, it ran out of paper... Even worse, I had my boss lose his cool on me because his computer didn't work and made the comment that "nothing ever works around here" (hinting that I failed at my job). I went into his office and found that he didn't turn it on... I pushed the power button and all he said was, "Oh." IT support has to be one of the worst jobs. Always dealing with stupid people.
#18 About Printers...
I hate printers. No one ever checks for paper and if it has an error saying paper jam or low ink or something they call in like they're totally mystified about what that could possibly mean. My other favorite with printers is that everyone would call and complain about printer issues even though there would be a label on the printer that said it was owned and serviced by Canon and that you had to call their support number. Apparently we had a shorter hold time, so they called us.
#19 Two Different Fields
Not necessarily an IT worker, but a computer scientist (a lot of people get those confused). One time I was at my sister’s house and she needed help getting her printer connected, so she asked me: “You know how to do this, help me.” I tried to do it because it was a simple Google search to fix this, but she was breathing down my neck because I was not getting it solved at the speed she wanted me to get it done. She then dropped a “Didn’t you go to school for this?” on me and I responded with, “No I make software that sometimes works.”
#20 Responsible For Internet
My favorite is... when our internet service goes out. Usually, when this happens, there is a fiber or cable line down or our ISP is doing general maintenance. I try to explain to baby-boomer co-workers that my responsibility ends outside of our Local Area Network and that it's our ISP's duty to repair whatever is causing the outage. No matter how many times I try to explain... they don't listen, it's my fault and I'm a lazy person. Apparently, I'm the reason they can't get their precious internet and email.
#21 Just Give Me An Answer
I had a doctor ask me why the state's death certificate database didn't work for him over the weekend. Mind you, I didn't work for the state. I worked for a practice he did contract work for. I told him they were probably offline for maintenance when he tried to log in, but that wasn't good enough. He insisted I get a hold of the state's IT department and find out what happened. The database was working just fine when he asked, by the way, as he brought the working site up on his iPad right in front of me.
So a week goes by and he is in my office again and asks if I had any luck with the state IT dept. I had completely forgotten about his absurd request, so I said the following: "As it turns out, I did! They told me some clod in their department decided to microwave a Hot Pocket on his lunch break but accidentally left a fork in with it. The microwave blew a breaker that controlled the server room. Knocked everything offline for a bit until they got it back up and running. Everything should be fine now." He was satisfied and walked away. Sometimes, people don't care what the answer is, just as long as they get one.
#22 Refuse, Refuse
I'm an application architect for medical record software. My primary users (I REFUSE to call them customers) are physicians and nurses in a clinic setting. There's one specific doctor who will call and give a very vague description to the helpdesk. She refuses to do a shadow session, refuses to let us get screenshots, and the person from the helpdesk isn't an application expert so they're trying to write down her issue and she's using the wrong words. By the time we usually figure out her issue, we could have resolved it in half the time if she just would have taken two minutes to speak with us.
#23 The Next Best Thing
I'm regularly asked to help hang doors, fix locks, program thermostats, boilers, change time on clocks, even repair people's spectacles, shoes, and anything they carry that could break and look "technical." Heck, I even get asked to help people with their broken-down cars. Some of it has "electronics" which people assume is an IT specialism when it's not, but often it's just the hands-on nature that they are after. Most people realize it's not my job, but we have the tools, the eyesight (so many people with bad eyesight), the fine hand control, the know-how, the ability to find manuals and tutorials quickly, and the work-surfaces to do it on.
#24 Vague Tickets
Vague tickets that give no clue as to what's wrong beyond "computer broke." Then, you ring them up asking them to fill it in properly, and they get annoyed. "I thought you guys knew what you're doing," or when the Karens at work drop off their personal laptops or phones and expect us to fix it. That's not what we're here for.
#25 Scanner Experts
I got a call that the scanner in the HR area was broken. I thought to myself, we don't have a scanner in HR. I went to the office and the lady had Word open. She was holding a document to the screen hitting enter repeatedly. I thought no one would believe me, so I brought about five other techs along to corroborate. "Hold on, I need to get our four scanner experts."
#26 Weird Wiring
A friend of mine has an issue in their household where any time someone else in the house uses the microwave while they're online, their connection mostly dies until the microwave is no longer in use. We all thought maybe it was an older microwave that didn't have good shielding since microwaves run the same radio frequency as a WiFi router, so we figured it was acting as a jammer. Supposedly, it's not an old microwave, so it's most likely weird wiring in their house.
#27 A Waste Of Time
I'm not an IT worker, but this would happen when I was in school. We used laptops in school on some occasions and the person's account who would use a laptop the previous lesson would still be logged on. My teacher would really make the IT guy working in the school walk to our class and log accounts on and off because the kids were too stupid to know that all you had to do was log off the previous person's account.
#28 TV Issues
I work in the networking department as a support technician. I had a lady yelling at me, saying our network service was totally nonsense. After calming her down, I found out that her TV was showing a blue screen and it wouldn't switch channels... The WiFi was working more than fine on her phone and her kids' Xbox... I was expected to fix her old TV as it was a "network" problem...
#29 Not My Job...
I work in networks and I used to share an office with people who just basically took situation reports. So when they were out of the office for lunch or called in sick, we'd answer their phones and take notes for when they got back. So our guy called out one night and I took a call that some generator somewhere went out. Okay, cool; I wrote it in the log and passed it on for the next shift. Then the boss ended up questioning me on what I did about the generator. Like, what did you expect me to do, ping it? Would you have liked me to get it's Mac address? It literally has nothing to do with my job.
#30 Also Not My Job!
I was called to fix a point of sale issue for a small coffee shop. The computer was fine. The wall outlet tested negative for power. The owner asked how long till I could fix it. After explaining that she needs an electrician, she started screaming at me and demanding that I fix it because it is my job. After weeks of receiving phone calls from her screaming and vulgar emails being sent, we came by, took the computer system back, and canceled her contract.
#31 Idiot With A Ph.D.
I’m not even IT, but because I know a thing or two about computers, they gave me the name of “IT Assistant” at my job. The most recent thing I experienced was a doctor telling me she didn’t have Microsoft Word on her computer. I checked every time she asked, and she definitely had it. Then, yesterday I realized when they said they found it. She’d been saying they didn’t have it downloaded because it wasn’t on the desktop as an icon. Months of her complaining and me checking her computer just to find out I was dealing with idiots with a Ph.D.
#32 The Catering Kitchen
Our office had a new "catering kitchen" for executive functions. One of the first events it was used for was a fundraiser breakfast put on by the staff for some reason or another. They had to skip the hot food because they couldn't get the stove to turn on. After that, nobody used the stove because everyone thought it didn't work.
One day, it became an IT problem because the stovetop was broken and they wanted someone to fix it, and, well, it uses electricity and has LEDs, so it must be IT, right? I figured out the problem. there was nothing wrong with the stove, other than it was an induction stove and they had non-ferrous cookware, which will not work with induction stoves.
#33 The Singing Computer
Finally, I get to tell my Singing computer story. I was stationed at the IT help desk for the Air Force for a short time. I got a call one day from a woman, telling me her computer was singing to her. Baffled and somewhat quick-witted, I asked the woman: "Can you put the computer on the phone for me?" Sure enough, I was hearing the POST beep being repeated over and over again. So I asked her, "Is there anything covering your keyboard?" I heard the flop of a book hit the desk, followed by the Windows welcome screen sound. At this point, I just hung up the phone.
#34 We Are Gods
Industrial maintenance is a very similar field, in that just because you can hack machinery, everything that is not quite right is automatically your responsibility. My partner was once asked to change the wind direction and I was the target of screamed foul-mouthed abuse by an insane idiot because I didn't really give a heck about stopping the rain. We are Gods... I, the God of rain, my partner, the God of wind.
#35 Not A Priority
A lady in our office is moving offices in the middle of this crisis, while most everyone is working from home anyway, INCLUDING HER. We got a ticket to "move her file cabinets to her new office." People take the whole: IT will move your work station thing way too far. All we're supposed to handle is moving the computer, monitors, etc., but some people take that one step further... Give a mouse a cookie and all that. She also wanted it done THAT DAY for some reason; we couldn't just wait to do it until people were back in the office.
#36 Digital Trash Bin
I do tech support for one of the major tech companies out there. This lady was livid that the super important emails she intentionally stored in the trash folder were automatically deleted. I kept having to tell her, "You put your important emails in a folder named 'Trash.'" It never clicked with her. Finally, I just asked, "Would you put important paper documents in your real trash can?" She still didn't see the comparison and left my chat unhappy.
#37 Give Him A Break
Not sure if this really fits the question but I was trouble-shooting a terminal over the phone when the caller asked if it needed to be plugged in. "You mean the power cord? Hold on." I put the caller on hold until I stopped laughing, then got back on the call. "Is this the model with antennae on the top? No? Then it needs to be plugged in."
#38 Keyb0ard Swap
Two support employees came over to show me how their usernames had been swapped in the internal chat. They were chatting with each other and couldn't figure out why their messages were appearing under each other's names. Turns out, they had switched keyboards to "try it out" without switching USB dongles. Absolute geniuses.
I worked in a call center doing IT support. I got a call from someone saying her laptop wasn't charging even though it was plugged in. I went through all the basic checks with her and then decided to send an engineer out to find out exactly what was wrong with the charger. She had one of those USB chargers and had plugged both ends into her laptop. Rather than one end into the plug part. The engineer called me back later to laugh about it.
#40 Dang It, Carrol!
Someone put her broccoli and her fork in the microwave for 30 minutes... They didn't even turn it off; someone came knocking at my door saying it smelled funny in the kitchen. They assumed anything electric was my forté. When I arrived, there was a small crowded gathering around the microwave, laughing. I turned it off but the microwave was fried inside... I told the office manager not to buy a new one since they couldn't take care of it. Carrol is eating raw salads for two months now...
#41 Wrong Company, Dude
The receptionist routed a call to me because they couldn't log into their account. That's pretty standard. The only problem was that I could not find him in our AD environment. I double-checked the spelling, asked if he had a different name at some point, all of that, before double-checking that he worked for my company. Nope, he worked for McDonald's corporate, which is an entirely different company. When I tell him that he called my company instead, he still asked why I couldn't just go in and unlock his McDonald's account.
#42 The Nerve
I had a guy walk up to my desk and told me with firm annoyance that the coffee machine was out of beans. I thanked him for bringing it to my attention and told him I’d definitely go to the cafe downstairs for my coffee instead since that is maintained by the office facilities team, not IT. Seriously, the nerve of some people at my work...
#43 A Miraculous Recovery
Not ridiculous because of the customer, but I was trying to salvage a computer for a friend of mine. She really likes to type up her journal on there. Their house caught fire and basically burnt to the ground. When I arrived, the computer was melted almost into a puddle. I popped it open and the hard drive looked like it was in somewhat okay shape, so I left her with a statement along the lines of: "I don't know if I'll be able to fix it, but I'll try." I was able to get everything off with no trouble. Still the most miraculous recovery of data I have done to this day.
#44 False Alarm
I'm an e-commerce manager and I focus on optimizing our operations, digital marketing, website enhancements, etc. I am NOT an IT person. One Sunday night rolled around and I got an email at 7 p.m. from HR with the President cc'd asking me to come in early the next morning for an important meeting with her, the president, and myself. Terrified of getting fired or reprimanded, I dragged myself in to find they were asking me to set up their printer because they had a meeting at 8 a.m. That's it! The language of the email was so cold, and to boot, the HR manager's son is the head of our IT department!
#45 Really Behind The Times
I work for an IT call center at a university and once received a phone call from a Ph.D. professor asking if there was a way to search a Word document. I then proceeded to spend 30 minutes on the phone with this man explaining how to use CTRL+F. The icing on the cake was when he asked if he needed to save the Word document every time he made an edit.
#46 A Lawyer's Confusion
I had a paralegal call me and said that the attorney's laptop, as well as hers, stopped working. I asked her if they were plugged in and she said they were. She said I needed to come down to the courthouse and fix them. When I got in the courtroom, I found that the laptops were both plugged into a power strip, but the paralegal did not plug the power strip into an electrical outlet.
#47 That's Actually Sad
This happened to a co-worker of my boss back when he wasn't the boss. His co-worker was called to a woman's house because she claimed that when she typed on her keyboard, a bunch of letters she didn't type would appear on the screen. When he made it to her house, he found out that she was extremely obese and when she would type on the keyboard, her fat fingers would hit multiple keys at once. It was very hard for him to explain what the issue was to her. (This was before I was into IT).
#48 Geek Squad Problems
Tangentially related. My dad did networking and general IT for Best Buy for a while. A lot of his work was over the phone at remote locations. He had a Geek Squad guy who didn’t know what an ethernet cable was. Let me repeat that. The GEEK SQUAD GUY did not know what an ethernet cable was. Don’t go to the Geek Squad, people.
#49 Puppy Mishap
I had a person purchase a computer and two months later call saying it didn’t turn on. This was a serial complainer, so I got sent out to look at it for free. It was in her place of business and her business was down. She had three puppies and they’d been going #1 on the back where the vents were. There was a big puddle at the bottom of the computer. She stopped complaining at this point. I had to clean the machine up and take it back to the shop. I spent the rest of the day smelling awful.
#50 A Dying Breed
I'm 40. I've been messing with computers for about 30 years. The most common and ridiculous request I get is from people asking to "hack" social media accounts. I can't get used to the fact that the generation that is more technology dependant in the world's history has zero understanding of basic concepts regarding said technology. Sysadmins are a dying breed.