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We're the help desk, for Pete's sake, not miracle workers

IT help desks are expected to provide answers on much more than how to operate computers and other tech devices, it seems.

More than 1,600 chief information officers at companies across Canada and the United States were asked to recount the strangest questions put to their tech-support staff, and came up with some unusual – if somewhat unbelievable – examples:

  • "Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?”
  • ”I dropped my phone in the toilet. What should I do?”
  • ”We need you to fix the microwave in the lunchroom.”
  • “Can you help me fix my chair?”
  • ”Can you help us get money out of the vending machine?
  • ”Where can I find a video of Elvis Presley online?”
  • ”How to I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?”

The survey, conducted for IT provider Robert Half Technology, found that some callers were focused on more personal issues:

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  • “Can you recommend a good dry cleaner?”
  • ”I can’t find my packages online. Can you help me?”
  • ”My car’s cup holder is broken. Can you fix it?”

The survey also found that help-desk staff encountered many basic-level technology queries, including:

  • ”How do I start the Internet?”
  • ”Will you show me how to use the mouse?”
  • ”How do I click on different files?”
  • ”I’d like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me.”
  • ”How do I send an e-mail?”

Lara Dodo, a regional vice-president of Robert Half Technology in Canada, said the survey results demonstrate that tech-support workers need a good deal of composure, and patience, to do their jobs. A sense of humour would be helpful, too.

"Although many of these unusual requests are quite entertaining to hear of, they illustrate the strong interpersonal and customer service skills required to work in the technical support and help-desk fields," Ms. Dodo said.


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