No, the user is not always right

Tech support responds to a call for help with a computer problem, only to be met with rudeness and outright lies

Why is it that some people have a hard time admitting they've made a mistake?

I received a call on the support line from a relatively new employee at a nearby remote office. She was yelling and screaming that her PC was not working.

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I tried to walk her though the steps to determine the exact problem, but she wouldn't answer my questions. She just kept repeating that she was sitting there working on her computer when all of a sudden the screen went blank.

That was the most I could get out of her because she was being difficult, to say the least. Besides calling me every name in the book, she said that her computer never works. It is always broken, though this was the first call our IT department had ever heard from her. She demanded that I show up in person to fix it now, then hung up on me. I tried calling her back, but she would not answer.

I knew that if I didn't leave right away to go fix her computer that she would very likely file the complaint up the chain of command until it got to the CIO, who would then ask me why this problem wasn't taken care of ASAP. So I headed off to the remote office.

When I got there, I noticed there was no power to her computer or monitor. I also noticed that there was a space heater under her desk that was turned on. Several years before, the company put in place a strict rule that no one can plug a space heater into a power strip because of fire concerns. All space heaters had to be plugged directly into the outlet.

After tracing the wires, I found that she had followed the rules: The space heater was plugged into the outlet. But to do so, she had unplugged the power strip from the outlet and plugged it back into itself, so neither the computer nor the power strip were attached to a power source. Of course the computer wouldn't work.

I stepped away from the desk and explained to her what I'd found. She admitted that she'd unplugged the power strip to plug in the space heater, but then offered this gem: "I don't understand what the problem is. I did plug the power strip back in. I swear the computer was working after I did that, so that is not the problem."

If that bald-faced lie weren't bad enough, she then continued her rant, saying how we, the IT techs, always try to blame problems on the users instead of the computers and that we never listen when users do have a problem.

I responded by unplugging her space heater. Then I unplugged the power strip from itself and attached it to the wall.

A miracle happened: The computer started working! I told her, "You're right, that wasn't the problem," and walked away.

As they say, the customer/end-user is always right, right? Right!

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This story, "No, the user is not always right," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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