My top customer tech help calls for 2012


I am a senior citizen, officially deemed an ‘aged pensioner’ (what an awful term!). I’m happy to report though that I do still feel young at heart…. sometimes!

I’ve spent many years ‘fixing’ computers and my ‘clientele’ has grown from family and friends to friends of friends of friends of friends… well, you get the picture. Following in the tradition of ‘birds of a feather’, the vast majority of my clients are elderly… their computer proficiency ranges from absolute novice to wouldn’t have a clue. This has produced some quite humorous and often frustrating exchanges… patience is a virtue!

Anyway, here is a selection of those exchanges which I thought you might enjoy… I swear they are all 100% true:

  • Client: My emails won’t go. (I deduced that meant her emails were not being ‘Sent’)
  • Jim: Okay, can you please open your browser and tell me what happens.
  • Client: What’s a browser?
  • Jim: It’s what you use to go on the internet and visit web pages, probably Internet Explorer. There should be an icon you click on, on your desktop or on the taskbar across the bottom of your screen… a blue “e”.
  • Client: Okay, got it. But it’s no use doing that.
  • Jim: Why?
  • Client: Because my modem is switched off.
  • Jim: Much laughter.

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  • Client: I can’t get the thingee to print.
  • Jim: What’s a thingee?
  • Client: You know, the thingee on the screen you print from.
  • Jim: Do you mean some sort of document… Word or something like that?
  • Client: Yes, but I can’t see it.
  • Jim: What can’t you see, the document?
  • Client: Yes, it doesn’t show when I click on it.
  • Jim: When you click on what?
  • Client: When I click on the thingee, the thingee that shows the thingee.
  • Jim: That’s far too technical for me. Is it something you have saved in My Documents.
  • Client: Yes

After much similar to-ing and fro-ing; it turned out this lady had recently migrated from XP to Windows 7, and old documents in the now redundant Microsoft Works format had been transferred across. Of course, she didn’t have any software on the new computer which could open those old documents for her and allow her to print.

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  • Client: Hi Jim, my computer won’t go properly.
  • Jim: Is it not booting up?
  • Client: I don’t know what that means.
  • Jim: When you press the button to get the computer going, is anything happening, can you see anything on the screen?
  • Client: Oh, yes. Everything is there, it just won’t work properly.
  • Jim: Are you getting any error messages on the screen or is it just frozen and you can’t do anything?
  • Client: I can do stuff but it’s taking forever.
  • Jim: Okay, I’ll be right over.

I arrived at this client’s house and sure enough, the computer was running like molasses. I was just about to commence the standard scans and general cleanup/maintenance workover when I noticed icons in the notification area signifying that two anti-virus programs had been installed. I chose what I considered the better of the two and uninstalled the other… problem solved! I duly explained the circumstances to my client emphasizing that installing more than one anti-virus product was a no no.

Now here’s the thing; three weeks later and I receive an almost identical call from the same client. I’m totally perplexed as to how this computer could have slowed right down again in such a short space of time. A quick trip to his house and guess what? Yep, two anti-virus programs installed again!! Un-bee-leave-able!

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  • Client: I’m trying to install a program but it won’t work.
  • Jim: Okay, is it a program you downloaded from the net or is it on a disc?
  • Client: It’s on a disc, I borrowed it from a friend.
  • Jim: Is the disc still in the drive?
  • Client: Yes.
  • Jim: Okay, could you eject the disc and we’ll check it for scratches or fingermarks.
  • Client: Okay, I have the disc.
  • Jim: Now look at the underside of the disc, are there any bad scratches or fingermarks?
  • Client: The underside? Shouldn’t I be checking on the top of the disc?
  • Jim: Is the shiny side of the disc on the top, and the label on the underside?
  • Client: Yes
  • Jim: Okay, just flip the disc over so the label is up and the shiny side is down and put it back in the drive.
  • Client (after a few seconds): It’s working!!!

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Finally, a word of warning about how unscrupulous techs might take advantage of some of these naive users:


A new client, one who had been referred through a friend of a friend, was having trouble with the display on her oldish XP machine. I quickly diagnosed a RAM issue so took out the 2 x RAM strips, blew out the slots with compressed air and cleaned the connections on the strips with a white spirit. Put the RAM strips back in place… all good.

The client then informed me that she had been regularly paying a tech guy $80.00 a visit to simply remove the RAM strips and then just put them back in again. This had been happening every 2 or 3 months over a period of roughly 18 months. So, this awful tech person had collected in the vicinity of $500.00 total for a repair job, which if done properly in the first place, should have cost around $80.00 maximum. He had successfully turned a one off fee into a nice little regular earner.

By the way; that episode occurred more than two years ago and that same XP machine is still going strong… display and all.

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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