Dear user: Details do matter

The help desk gets the dreaded call: A report on a 'broken' PC from a well-meaning but technologically clueless manager

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I punched my desk lightly, then asked a few general questions to get a sense of the situation:

"What do you see on the screen?"

"Are any of the lights on?"

His responses were the same: "The computer's broken, I tell you."

I asked if the user was available. She was, and I was transferred. I then asked that person the same questions -- and got a lot further.

The user said she was at the login screen and the lights were indeed on. At this point I thought to myself, a bit sarcastically, "What do you know? No broken computer to replace."

I then asked the user what problem she was having. She said she was unable to log in -- a far cry from a completely broken computer. "What happens when you try to log in?" I asked. She replied, "It says my account is locked and to contact the administrator."

I unlocked the account and reset the password. Minutes later she was able to log in.

I asked her if the manager was still there, but he wasn't. I called him back to inform him that his employee was able to log in and the computer was fine; it was just a locked account. He replied with his standard, "OK, thanks!"

I closed the ticket, took a few deep breaths, and got back to other tasks. This wouldn't be the last we'd hear from him, but least the company didn't have to pay for a new computer that day.

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