(or The Stupid User Chronicles)
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Systems Administrator Support Rates
(or how it should be)
Original Author unknown
Regular (as it were) Prices:
* Calling me with a question --- $10
* Calling me with a stupid question -- $20
* Calling me with a stupid question you can't quite articulate -- $30
* Implying I'm incompetant because I can't interpret your inarticulate problem description
-- $1000+punitive damages
* Questions received via phone without first trying help desk -- $10.00
* Questions where answer is in TFM -- $10.00 (this should have been
* Questions during Xpilot session -- $20.00
* Calling me back with the same problem *after* I fix it once -- $100
* Insisting that you're not breaking the software, the problem is on my end somehow --
* Asking me to walk over to your building to fix the problem -- $5/step
* Asking me to drive to another town to fix your problem -- $50/mile+gas
* If you interrupt me while I was reading news -- $25/hr
* If you interrupt me while I was trying to count all the xroaches on my screen -- $35/hr
* If you interrupt me while I was trying to actually fix somebody else's problem -- $45/hr
* If you try to hang around and get me to fix it now -- $50/hr
* If you expect me to tell you how I fixed it -- $60/hr
* If you've come to ask me why something isn't working that I'm currently working on --
* If you're asking me to fix something I fixed for you yesterday -- $75/hr
* If you're asking me to fix something I told you I fixed yesterday, but never did fix --
* If you're asking me to fix a quick patch that I made that didn't work - $95/hr
* If you're bugging me while there's another admin in the room who could have done it for
you -- $150/hr
* Making me trek to your office to fix your problem then leaving immediately after hanging
up the phone -- $1500.00
* Calling up with a problem which "everybody" in the office is having and which
is "stopping all work." Not being there when I rush over to look at it and
nobody else in the office knows anything about it. -- $1700.00
* Explaining a problem for 1/2 hour over the phone BEFORE mentioning it's your personal
machine at home -- $500.00
* Self-diagnosing your problem and informing me what to do -- $150.00
* Having me bail you out when you perform your own repairs I told you not to do -- $300.00
* Not telling all of your co-workers about it -- $850.00
* Figuring out you mean floppy drive when you say hard drive -- $50.00
* BEFORE I order your replacement hard drive -- $250.00
* Fixing your "broken" mouse with a mousepad -- $25.00
* Fixing your "broken" optical mouse by rotating the mousepad 90 degrees --
* Fixing a "broken" mouse by cleaning the rollers -- $50.00
* Fixing your "broken" printer with an ink/toner cartridge -- $35.00
* Fixing your "broken" ANYTHING with the power button -- $250.00
* Fixing the "crashed" system by turning the external disk back on -- $200.00
* Fixing the "hung" system by plugging the ethernet transciver back in --
* Fixing the crashed nameserver by plugging back in the SCSI cord someone accidentially
yanked out on Friday afternoon when the 'real' sysadmin has just left for a two week
vacation -- $400
* Visiting your old university and fixing the broken PC by plugging the monitor lead back
in -- $50
* Explaining that you can't log in to some server because you don't have an account there
* Explaining that you don't have an account on the machine you used to have an account on
because you used it to try to break into the above server -- $500
* Forgetting your password after it was tattooed on your index finger -- $25
* Changing memory partitions without informing me first -- $50
* Installing programs without informing me/getting permission first -$100/ program
* Technical support for the above programs -- $150 per hour
(regardless of whether I know the program or not)
* Spilling coke on keyboard -- $25 plus cost of keyboard
* Spilling coke on monitor -- $50 plus cost of monitor
* Spilling coke on CPU -- $200 plus cost of motherboard swap plus hourly rate of $150 per
hour spent reinstalling the system
* Leaving files on desktop -- $5 per file, $10 per day the file is
* Cleaning the mouse with spit and sleeve -- $50 plus cost of sleeve
plus cost of therapy :)
* Bringing in your own copy of the original Norton Utilities v1.0 to fix a brand new
machine -- $200
* Chewing on the end of the graphic tablet stylus -- $25
* Putting feet up next to workstation after ten mile jog through NYC
streets -- $50
* Spending 30 minutes trying to figure out what your problem is, and another 5 explaining
how to verify and fix it, only to hear you say... "So that's what the little box that
popped up on my screen was telling me to do!" -- $40
* Listening to your network troubles, suggesting that you check to see if you are plugged
into the network jack, hearing yes, trying five other things, asking you to identify your
plug type, listening to you drag furniture, and hearing a sheepish, "Oops.
Nevermind." -- $35 (including discount for polite apology)
* Dealing with tech support requests for obviously pirated software -- $25
* Dealing with "How can I get another copy of [obviously pirated software]? Mine just
died." requests -- $45
* Having to use the "We're really not the best people to talk to about that; why
don't you try calling the number on the box in which you bought it?" line -- $55
* Actually needing to explain copyright law to you after you failed to get the hint in the
previous response -- $95 (includes instructions for getting freeware replacements from the
public file server)
* Having to point out anything that's on the wall in a typeface larger than 18 points --
* If I wrote the sign -- $45
* If it's in a 144 point font and taped to the side of the monitor facing the door -- $75
* Reporting slow connection by passenger pigeon packets to MPEG archive in Outer Slobavia
as a Mosaic/Netscape/Gopher/FTP client problem -- $25.00
* Reporting it more than once -- $50.00
* Reporting it more than once and implying slothfullness on tech support's inability to
solve problem -- $200.00
* Dealing with user body odor -- $75.00/hour
* Dealing with user not familiar with the primary language spoken at site -- $50.00/hour
* Dealing with user who is (self-proclaimed) smarter than you are, but still calls every
other day for help -- $100.00/hour
* Dealing with computer hobbiests -- $125.00/hour
* Questioning the other prices ................................. $50
I'm told these are true stories -- heaven help us!
A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer.
The tech asked her if she was "running it under Windows."
The woman responded, "No, my desk is next to the door. But that's a
good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window,
and his is working fine."
Tech Support: "OK Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the
same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now
type the letter 'P' to bring up the Program Manager."
Customer: "I don't have a 'P'."
Tech Support: "On your keyboard, Bob."
Customer: "What do you mean?"
Tech Support: "'P' on your keyboard, Bob."
Customer: "I'm not going to do that!"
Overheard in a computer shop:
Customer: "I'd like a mouse mat, please."
Salesperson: "Certainly sir, we've got a large variety."
Customer: "But will they be compatible with my computer?"
I once received a fax with a note on the bottom to fax the document
back to the sender when I was finished with it, because he needed to keep
Customer in computer shop:
"Can you copy the Internet onto this disk for me?"
I work for a local ISP. Frequently we receive phone calls that start
Customer: "Hi. Is this the Internet?"
Customer: "So that'll get me connected to the Internet, right?"
Tech Support: "Yeah."
Customer: "And that's the latest version of the Internet, right?"
Tech Support: "Uhh...uh...uh...yeah."
Tech Support: "All right...now double-click on the File Manager icon."
Customer: "That's why I hate this Windows - because of the icons - I'm
a Protestant, and I don't believe in icons."
Tech Support: "Well, that's just an industry term sir. I don't believe
Customer: "I don't care about any 'Industry Terms'. I don't believe in
Tech Support: "Well...why don't you click on the 'little picture' of a
cabinet...is 'little picture' OK?"
Customer: "My computer crashed!"
Tech Support: "It crashed?"
Customer: "Yeah, it won't let me play my game."
Tech Support: "All right, hit Control-Alt-Delete to reboot."
Customer: "No, it didn't crash-it crashed."
Tech Support: "Huh?"
Customer: "I crashed my game. That's what I said before. I crashed my
spaceship and now it doesn't work."
Tech Support: "Click on 'File,' then 'New Game.'"
Customer: [pause] "Wow! How'd you learn how to do that?"
Got a call from a woman said that her laser printer was having
problems: the bottom half of her printed sheets were coming out blurry.
seemed strange that the printer was smearing only the bottom half. I
her through the basics, then went over and printed out a test sheet. It
printed fine. I asked her to print a sheet, so she sent a job to the
As the paper started coming out, she yanked it out and showed it to me. I
her to wait until the paper came out on its own.
I had been doing Tech Support for Hewlett-Packard's DeskJet division
for about a month when I had a customer call with a problem I just
solve. She could not print yellow. All the other colors would print
which truly baffled me because the only true colors are cyan, magenta,
yellow. For instance, green is a combination of cyan and yellow, but
printed fine. Every color of the rainbow printed fine except for yellow.
I had the customer change ink cartridges. I had the customer delete and
reinstall the drivers. Nothing worked. I asked my coworkers for help;
offered no new ideas. After over two hours of troubleshooting, I was
tell the customer to send the printer in to us for repair when she asked
"Should I try printing on a piece of white paper instead of this yellow
A man attempting to set up his new printer called the printer's tech
number, complaining about the error message: "Can't find the printer."
On the phone, the man said he even held the printer up in front of the
screen, but the computer still couldn't find it.
And another user was all confused about why the cursor always moved in
opposite direction from the movement of the mouse. She also complained
that the buttons were difficult to depress. She was very embarrassed when
asked her to rotate the mouse so the tail pointed away from her.
Customer: "Hello? I'm trying to dial in. I installed the software okay,
dialed fine. I could hear that. Then I could hear the two computers
connecting. But then the sound all stopped, so I picked up the phone to
they were still connected, and I got the message, 'No carrier,' on my
An unfailingly polite lady called to ask for help with a Windows
that had gone terribly wrong.
Customer: "I brought my Windows disks from work to install them on my
Training stresses that we are "not the Software Police," so I let the
act of piracy slide.
Tech Support: "Umm-hmm. What happened?"
Customer: "As I put each disk in it turns out they weren't initialized."
Tech Support: "Do you remember the message exactly, ma'am?"
Customer: (proudly) "I wrote it down. 'This is not a Macintosh disk.
you like to initialize it?'"
Tech Support: "Er, what happened next?"
Customer: "After they were initialized, all the disks appeared to be
And now I brought them back to work, and I can't read them in the A:
the PC wants to format them. And this is our only set of Windows disks
whole office. Did I do something wrong?"
For a computer programming class, I sat directly across from someone, and
computers were facing away from each other. A few minutes into the
got up to leave the room. I reached between our computers and switched
inputs for the keyboards.
She came back and started typing and immediately got a distressed look
on her face. She called the tutor over and explained that no matter what
she typed, nothing would happen.
The tutor tried everything. By this time I was hiding behind my
monitor and quaking red-faced. I typed, "Leave me alone!" They both
back as this appeared on their screen.
"What the..." the tutor said. I typed, "I said leave me alone!"
The kid got real upset. "I didn't do anything to it, I swear!"
It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. The conversation
between them and HAL 2000 went on for an amazing five minutes.
Me: "Don't touch me!"
Her: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hit your keys that hard."
Me: "Who do you think you are anyway?!" Etc.
Finally, I couldn't contain myself any longer, and fell out of my chair
laughing. After they had realized what I had done, they both turned beet
Funny, I never got more than a C- in that class.
This guy calls in to complain that he gets an "Access Denied" message
every time he logs in. It turned out he was typing his user name and
password in capital letters.
Tech Support: "Ok, let's try once more, but use lower case letters."
Customer: "Uh, I only have capital letters on my keyboard."
Email from a friend:
My friend was on duty in the main lab on a quiet afternoon. He noticed
a young woman sitting in front of one of the workstations with her arms
crossed across her chest, staring at the screen.
After about 15 minutes he noticed that she was still in the same
only now she was impatiently tapping her foot.
He asked if she needed help and she replied "It's about time! I pressed
button over twenty minutes ago!"