April 14, 2012, 7:34 AM — Help desk employees are often inundated with difficult questions, a few of them bordering on the absurd, according to a survey of more than 1,400 chief information officers in U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.
The Robert Half Technology survey asked help desk employees to reveal the strangest questions they had ever received, and from some of the questions, it's apparent that some users have a rather broad view of the help desk's role.
"Can you recommend a good dry cleaner?" asked one needy user. "Can you help me repair a washing machine?" asked another.
Bathroom problems were also a prime concern. "Can you help me fix my toilet?" one user inquired. Another revealed: "I dropped my phone in the toilet. What should I do?"
Some users also confuse systems support staff with the cleaning staff. "How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?" one user queried. "How do I remove a sesame seed from my keyboard?" another asked.
Some also believe the crew on the help desk are Jacks or Jills of all trades, asking them to fix the microwave in the lunch room, repair office chairs and get money out of a vending machine.
Of course, there are classic questions asked by naïve users for many years. For instance, "Will you show me how to use the mouse?", "How do I start the Internet?"and "My computer won't turn on" (because it isn't plugged into a wall socket).
Because people with even a little bit of tech knowledge can appear to be all-knowing by those with no tech knowledge, the savvy can sometimes be asked to perform God-like feats, such as being asked for software "to change an audio file to video" and to download the Internet so a user can take it with them wherever they go.