April 16, 2002
5:04 PM   Subscribe

Matt Besser of the Upright Citizens Brigade has a home phone number one digit away from tech support for a major ISP. Rather than fight it or change the number he's decided have some fun with his clueless callers. If you've spent as much time doing tech support work as I have this is some good cathartic fun.This one is my favorite. (A few dirty words, so probably NOT work safe. Requires RealPlayer.
posted by jonmc (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Alas, UCB... we hardly knew ye. I loved that darn show.

Fun fact: Steve Albini did the UCB theme song.
posted by redshifter at 5:17 PM on April 16, 2002

The downloading porn one is a riot. That poor guy - he buys the computer that day and "tech support" is telling him its already got lesbian porn on it. Great link - I love pranks.
posted by iconomy at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2002

Sorry, I bailed out halfway through the first one. I don't find this tolerable, let alone humorous. I mostly find it cruel. I guess I don't understand people who find this funny. Then again, as a kid, I never had much urge to pull wings off butterflies or stuff firecrackers down a frog's gullet.
posted by chipr at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2002

Then again, as a kid, I never had much urge to pull wings off butterflies or stuff firecrackers down a frog's gullet

Whoa. Slow down there pardner. This is a some harmless four minute chunks of prankage, not animals in a killing jar. If I was on the other end of the call, I'd be laughing my ass off about it later.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:38 PM on April 16, 2002

I've always hated pranks that are at the expense of people who don't know what's going on and are behaving exactly as anyone would in the situtation (like Bill Gates' recent radio call) - it's just not funny - I would have reacted the same way. Then again, I also don't find it funny when people fall down (I think I am unique in this respect).

I have to admit though, that while I felt sorry for the callers, this was really funny.
posted by stevengarrity at 5:43 PM on April 16, 2002

chipr and stephengarrity- I can understand you're point and it's well taken, but aren't all pranks at the expense of someone who doesn't know whats going on?

Besides you spend a couple of months working tech support and answering the same questions over and over and trust me, you'll find pranks like this a lot funnier.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on April 16, 2002

This is a some
*shakes head*
I meant "This is some harmless four minute chunks of prankage..." Damned gremlins.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:47 PM on April 16, 2002

I loved that darn show.
So what do you want? A penny?
posted by holloway at 5:48 PM on April 16, 2002

Sure, a penny! As long as it isn't an ass-penny!
posted by ilsa at 6:07 PM on April 16, 2002

I'm torn, because if I do think it's funny as hell. But on the other hand, there's nothing worse than when you need help with your computer and can't seem to get it. The frustration...

Ack! There's no black or white! It's all grey! My aching brain!
posted by Windigo at 6:24 PM on April 16, 2002

A friend of mine in college had a phone number one digit away from the reservation line for the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Good times.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:28 PM on April 16, 2002

macadamiaranch - My parents used to get a lot of calls for some woman named Maria. After a while my Dad got tired of it and if some guy called and said, "Is Maria There?" he'd answer, "No she's been gone since 2 nights ago and it's about time you wised up."

Good old Dad.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on April 16, 2002

johnmc - I'm ok with pranks. When it comes to what I perceive to be pranks that chew up one's ego and dignity, I'm a little less enthusiastic. Also, I realize the fact you find it funny and I find it painful probably says more about me than you.

You want funny? Now, this [Quicktime] is funny. (Warning: the video wasn't working on my laptop. I hope you have better luck.)
posted by chipr at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2002

chipr- that was freakin' funny. He's apparently worked the same places I have. Our best ever support call was from a woman who was trying to download AOL 7.0, the message box said:

"This download will take approximately 40 minutes. However you can do other things while it downloads"

So you know what she did? She turned off the PC, went to the grocers, walked the dog, came back and was very upset that the software hadn't downloaded.

I'm convinced of two things that there are certain people too stupid to own a computer and that nearly every support call is punishment for something done in a previous life.
posted by jonmc at 6:50 PM on April 16, 2002

holloway: Thanks for the setup (I'm *hoping* that was a setup).


ilsa: Bravo!

I saw UCB perform in San Francisco at the Punchline a few years back. They were outstanding -- my gut hurt from laughing so hard.

Good stuff. I really think Comedy Central dropped the ball when they didn't renew the UCB series. Dolphins can suck it!
posted by redshifter at 7:28 PM on April 16, 2002

I don't know. Unlike some others in this thread, I really enjoy comedy at the expense of others. Unfortunately, the two calls I listened to just weren't funny at all. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of the jerky boys either, so...
posted by willnot at 7:48 PM on April 16, 2002

My fave tech support call was some dude called and couldn't turn his computer on. He tried to get the switch going, check the circuit breakers, just about everything. Last thing I could think of was to plug it in and out, and his response was "Oh, there's a storm so i unplugged it"...my response was the only way to fix it in that case was to box it back up and ship it back to Dell. I just REALLY do not understand how people can be THAT stupid. kinda' makes me wonder if they do it just to get a rise outa' me.
posted by jmd82 at 8:08 PM on April 16, 2002

jmd82, the very, very old You're too stupid to own a computer story. Really happened to you? Ayup.
posted by dhartung at 8:31 PM on April 16, 2002

No shit, dhartung. Besides, we've all kicked the plug out, or pulled it for some reason, then forgotten. That doesn't make us too stupid to own one.
posted by gnz2001 at 8:41 PM on April 16, 2002

Lol, yes dhartung. I was probably got by them (i still can't believe anybody is that stupid to actually not plug their computer in), but i feel so special that it actually happened to me.
posted by jmd82 at 8:48 PM on April 16, 2002

When I first got my cable modem, I had all sorts of problems getting it to work, but with the help of tech support, I finally got it online. A few days of flawless operation go by, and then all of a sudden it stops working. I tried all the tricks I knew, and none of them worked. So I give up and call tech support. ABout 20 minutes into it, I look down and realize that the problem I had was the the dog had chewed the etherner cable in half.

...and I say we settle the Palestin vs. Isreal issue with a good ol' log-rolling contest.
posted by skwm at 8:48 PM on April 16, 2002

Okay, for those of you who haven't heard this before...go here and look for "Welcome to the Internet Help Desk"...it's about the sixth song down...
posted by NsJen at 8:50 PM on April 16, 2002

I think Mel Brooks captured the essence of comedy when he said Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.

I don't like to find things funny if someone else gets hurt, but I have to admit that when a friend of mine wasn't looking and ran smack into a stop sign, I couldn't stop laughing.
posted by jaden at 12:17 AM on April 17, 2002

I do phone support. I always feel like I'm being punished. OK, well, it's like 98% of the time. Actually, I'm currently sans position, if anyone you know needs a headset whore...

Moving on, one place I worked (Hardware support for a macintosh peripheral manufacturer) had a number one digit from the Montel Williams Show. After navigating the not extensive but obviously computer-related automated menu, you waited on hold and heard messages about what you could do to get through support as fast as possible (be in front of your computer, have it on, etc). After ten minutes, if you were not answered you were put into a voice mail box where you were asked to leave your name, number, zip, best time to reach you, COMPUTER, the HARDWARE you were having trouble with, and a brief description of the problem you were having with your COMPUTER. One day I got this message:

"Hi, my name is Jennifer, my number is (whatever), you can reach me between 10 and 3, my zip is (whatever), and I'm callin about um, you get pregnant and um, your babydaddy leave you? I do not own a computer. Thank you."

I also got to talk to a woman who told me how she somehow ended up slicing a hunk out of her MasterCard and the strip won't read now so could I please send her another one? When I told her that I couldn't do that, she got belligerent with me until I got a chance to tell her that I couldn't because I'm not a credit card company.

This list goes on and on. The guy that told me the floppy wouldn't fit in the disk drive because (what proved to be) his disc drive was round.

To sum up: All those 'hilarious' forwards you get about tech support calls that absolutely must be fake? All true. All that and more.

Additionally, I wrote all about it here. (it's a self link, which is ok in a thread, right?)
posted by verso at 12:45 AM on April 17, 2002

The one customer I will always cherish from my time in tech support is the one that screamed at and abused me the most.

She was a detective working on a big murder case, who couldn't get connected to the Internet through the ISP I was working for at the time.

As I went through all the normal troubleshooting procedures, I discovered this lady was the cell phone only type. When I told her she'd need just a plain old phone to connect to the 'net, she went ballistic, like I had mortally insulted her honor, and seven generations of her family's honor. She called me every name in the book, threatened lawsuits, I think she was spitting a lot. She didn't know you needed a phone to connect to the 'net!

I couldn't resist. I walked her step by step through our installation guide, taking time to point out every icon with a picture of a phone in it. My tongue caressed every word that had even the slightest relation to a telephone. She got calmer and calmer throughout the process. I'm good at talking people down.

However, I simply had to get the last word. I told her, as sweetly as I could, "If I were a detective, I'd call these things clues." I ended up losing the customer, but she had given me such a perfect set up I found myself unable to resist.

That was four years ago. The murder goes unsolved.

Self-purloined from my work at E2
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:05 AM on April 17, 2002

I recently sat down my friend, who had never touched a computer in his life, and tried to show him how to use the internet. "Right uh, first you to press the Explorer icon on the desktop". To my amazement, he raised his finger up and touched the screen.
posted by dydecker at 3:06 AM on April 17, 2002

Reminds me of a quote about the the Mac from several years ago that went something like "Mac's are hard to use, not easy. They just happen to be the easiest."
posted by NortonDC at 5:06 AM on April 17, 2002

We used to have a tech who would tell customers "Click on ctrl-alt-delete to open the Close Program box". He would get so unerved when customers couldn't follow his instructions. I had to point out to him repeatedly that "clicking" on ctrl-alt-delete was impossible to do. He'd be fine for a day or so but then it was back to the same routine. Another rep would tell customers "Oh thats a glitch in the program" 99.9% of the time. Fortunately we "fixed the glitch".

Ignorance seems to be a two-way street in the tech/consumer relationship.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:20 AM on April 17, 2002

We've all come across things that we can't help laughing at, even if it is inappropriate; however, when you intentionally makes a fool of someone who is clueless, you're just being an asshole.
posted by troybob at 8:30 AM on April 17, 2002

this seems to happen plenty to people i know:

i actually had a friend who moved into a new place in denver and the line the telco assigned him was still in the ring down for the naacp... they'd get calls all the time for donations and they'd insist that they didn't need the money, and all they really needed was cornstarch and shoelaces. took about a week before the telco caught on, but seeing as how none of them had a tv it was good cheap entertainment.

also i have another friend who lives in fullerton and his number is one away from a video store a couple miles away. people call to ask if he has copies of a certian movie in and he lets them know that they only have what they're looking for in betamax.

"yep, i've got 143 copies of forrest gump. but they're on betamax. you got a beta vcr? oops. 142 copies. looks like we got a run on `em. want me to hold one for you?"
posted by boogah at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2002

One must go read Acts of Gord, the owner of a videogame rental store that seems to be the epicentre for idiots.

"Once when Gord caught a shoplifter and excommunicated him, Gord also excommunicated his friend that was with him.  Friends who let friends try and steal Wayne Gretzky's 3D hockey deserve to be kicked out.

Anyway, the sidekick returns a couple weeks after the fact and tries to head to the back of the store to the big screen with a friend.  So the Gord walks up to him and politely ask him to "get the hell out before I throw you out."

Seems his mighty grade 10 social studies class taught him that he can do anything he wants.  So, the Gord grabbed his jacket and back of his neck and began to forcibly walk him towards the door.  The whole time he's screaming vulgarities and how Gord can't touch him and such.  The Gord didn't say a word.

When the Gord got to the door, he threw the punk out.  Only Gord missed and the punk hit the wall beside the door.  Ah Al Bundy, how you inspire us.  Then Gord moved over 2 feet and threw him out the door onto the sidewalk.

Now as Gord walked back to the counter the sidekick's sidekick then goes into how Gord can't do that and how if Gord ever did that to him he'd kick Gord's ass.

So the Gord decides to see just how bright the sidekick's sidekick is.

"Get the hell out before I throw you out."

One of the regulars laughs as he knows what's coming up.  He was here for part one a minute earlier.

So the punk still going on about how the law works and such.  So enough is enough, the Gord grabs the kid in the same fashion and begins to walk to the door with the punk.

And again the Gord threw and missed, the punk went right into the wall.  The Gord apologized for missing, and then tossed the punk outside to join his friend."
posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 PM on April 17, 2002

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