I have lost faith in the world

silent tone

Golden Member
Oct 9, 1999
I work helpdesk at my current job. I got the most difficult person on the phone today. She (of course) wasn't difficult because she was rude, impatient, irate, distracted/multitasking, too old to stand up, or have broken english. It was an overwhelmingly lack of capability. I deal with a variety of users everyday, many may not have graduated past jr. high. But this, almost defiant, stupidity drove me to write about it hours afterward.

The context:
She's locked herself out of her workstation. After about 3 login attempts she calls me looking for help.

Ring, ring.
Her: I can't get into my computer, it says my account is locked.
This turns out to be false. The workstation was locked, not her domain account and in her defense, the message does contain the word "locked" in it. Strike 1, if I ask for the error message, just read it off the screen, this is simple right?
Me: Okay, I can just reset your password to make sure your account status is okay, first I need to conference you through the voice authentication system.
VA system: Please enter your 9 digit social security number using your phone keypad.
Her: <click click click click click...>
Me: (I disconnect) Maam did you use your keyboard to enter your social security number?
Her: Yeah, I used the numbers right here (I assume she's pointing to a keyboard)
Me: You need to enter the number using the keypad on your telephone.
This happens twice more before I successfully explain how the telephone can't recognize anything she types on her keyboard.
By the grace of god she gets verified on her first attempt and even follows the system's advice to speak louder! At this point I was only mildly surprised by this feat.
I now learn she has only locked her workstation, I've already reset her password so it's not going to take anything, reboot. Powering off an ATX computer only took 1 minute to explain. This is not too bad, but there are only 3 buttons on "that box on the floor that doesn't do anything".
Me: Ok, let's login. This time your password is going to be...
Her: It didn't take it, I typed my social security number in the password box.
Me: That's not your password, your password is ... (pause) Did it take that?
Her: It didn't do anything.
Me: Did you type in that password I just gave you?
Her: Yes.
Me: Then click OK.
Her: Why?
For those who couldn't tell, she has worked here several years and logged into the computer the same way everyday.
She gets logged in after a few tries, which is nothing to be too ashamed about, we use relatively strong passwords.
Her: It says I have to change my password.
It actually does, she's not lying here.
Me: Ok, let's choose a new password. It must be exactly 8 characters long and include at least 1 upper case, at least 1 lower case and at least 1 number.
She's done this at least a dozen times before, she knows the drill right?
Me: Ok, did it accept your new password?
Her: No, it's not doing anything. It just clears out the password boxes.
Me: Did you click OK?
Her: No.
Yes, she did. Twice.
Me: Let's try it again
Her: The old password field is blank
Me: Yes, you'll have to enter the password I gave you earlier, it is ...
(type type type)
Me: Did it accept it this time?
Her: No, it's not taking it.
Me: What error message does it give you? (There are 2 possibilities here)
Her: It doesn't give me a message, it just clears it out.
Fine, people avoid answering the simplest questions all day, I can take this in stride.
This gets repeated at least 5 times. Each time I explain the password rules in a different way, in more detail, or with examples. I also have to repeatedly give her the old password spelling it out over the phone. This is a breach of policy I don't usually engage in. She does manage to read me the error message once, but later claims there is no error message. She seems a little put-off when I repeat something about the 3rd or 4th time. I don't really care.
Me:Let's step through this, only press exactly what I tell you to press.
I give her a password, directing every keypress, since I can't login to her machine remotely at this point and do it myself. This is a big violation of policy, however if anybody is trying to attack the system using her account, they will have numerous other opportunities.


Sep 8, 2001
You call that bad? How about a 28 minute phone call trying to trouble shoot a proxy issue when the user doesn't know the difference between a period and a comma. Yea, i almost went insane.


Golden Member
Feb 9, 2004
What is the point of your incomplete rant? People who usually rant actually have a point to make or at least finish their rant, why didn't you?


Apr 19, 2003
Maybe not as bad as Transition's, but how about spending almost 30 minutes trying to tell a lady about the Start button. She could not fathom how to get to the Start button (swore up and down she didn't have one in the bottom left-hand part of her screen) and when she did manage to finally get there about 25 minutes into the call, she couldn't understand how to get further than that.



Mar 16, 2004
Originally posted by: Astaroth33
I'm SO glad I don't do end-user support....

Agree with the sentiment, but it's not a random thing like hair color or height.. there's a reason I don't do it, and the OP covered that reason with aplomb ;)


No Lifer
Aug 28, 2001
I praise tech support people who have the patience to instruct people blindly... I don't even have the patience to teach my mom certain functions within software that would probably take a couple minutes... I just can't do it.