Another rainy day at the help desk

Counselor, sleuth, magician, and even techie -- it's all in a day's work at the help desk

Another rainy day at the help desk
Credit: Tjook

One thing about a day on the job in IT: It’s unpredictable -- especially when you work in tech support. I never know from one day to the next if it will be a good shift or or a crazy one. Here’s a slice of the smorgasbord of encounters that keeps us on our toes.

This morning, I had to deal with a very grumpy user who was having iPhone problems that needed warranty service. According to company policy, if a phone needs warranty repair, the user takes it to an Apple store themselves, and I informed him of this practice. He wouldn’t hear any of it and refused -- it was a company phone, and he insisted the company fix it!

During our discussion, we discovered that his phone was old enough to be eligible for an upgrade, and I would explain this to his supervisor. He insisted that if his supervisor did not approve the cost of a new one, then he would have a team lead without a cellphone!

Thankfully, I was able to cut off the conversation and place a call to the supervisor. I began by saying that I had spoken with a very grumpy employee of his, and the supervisor jumped in with an apology -- he had supplied my number to the employee. He said he would surely approve the cellphone, and we agreed to leave the “grumpy” description between the two of us.

Projector and printer problems

I was about to return to awaiting projects when another employee came to me and said they had a presentation in half an hour. Hadn’t someone talked to me about hooking up the computer to the projector and sound? I had not been informed of this, but fortunately, I was able to adjust my schedule -- the presenter was a bigwig visiting from Corporate.

The next assignment that morning involved a printer in another department. Apparently, the backdoor of the printer hadn’t been closing for some time. The employees had worked around it by first banging on the printer to wedge the door shut, which eventually broke the prongs that told the sensors that the backdoor was closed.

Next, the employees came up with the idea to shove a few folded pieces of paper into the sensors and tape the door shut. Ingenious, right? But when there was a paper jam, those pieces of paper had to be removed and reinserted to clear the sensors.

Apparently, they didn't want to tell the IT department that they had been abusing their printer. I found out about it when the next shift had to clear a paper jam and didn't know about the wadded paper in the back of the printer.

The department manager wasn't happy with the result: the cost of a new printer part charged to his team.

Pick up the phone

Later that morning, a temporary employee walked up to me and said, "My phone is doing it again -- what was that thing you did to my phone the last time?" Those were pretty much her exact words.

Further investigation clarified that “it” involved her office phone sending all incoming calls directly to voicemail after half a ring. She kept saying she didn’t know what was wrong with her phone and she needed a new one. (In situations like this, it’s always the equipment’s fault, isn’t it?)

However, I couldn't remember what I had done last time, so we launched an experiment. My boss and I didn’t know all the phone codes offhand -- an outside vendor had set up the system and problems were minimal. We did some research, then dialed a few codes to find a fix. Meanwhile, the employee remain unconvinced that the problem had nothing to do with the phone, but rather its programming, and she kept insisting she needed a new one.

In our company, you dial 0 to get an outside line and, of course, 0-1 to dial long distance. Knowing these codes, we asked her to dial one more time -- voilà, we found the problem. She had been dialing too fast, hitting *-1 instead of 0-1, and thus setting the system to forward all of her incoming calls to voicemail.

We reset the device and explained the problem, and so far today, her phone has been working as it should -- no replacement necessary.

What will the afternoon bring? Hopefully, more quiet and less crazy. But hey, it's all in a day's work in IT.

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