True stories from The Wall Street Journal, by Jim Carlton;

1. Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.

2. AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.

3. Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn't read word processing files from his old 5" diskettes. After trouble shooting for magnets and heat failed to turn up anything, it was found that the customer labeled the diskettes by applying a label and then inserting them in his manual typewriter to type the labels.

4. AST customer was asked to send copies of her defective diskettes to tech support. A few days later a letter arrived from the customer along with Xeroxed copies of the floppies.

5. A Dell technician advised his customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, inserting the floppy, and then walking across the room and closing the door to the room.

6. Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of trouble shooting, the technician discovered the man had been trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it up to the monitor screen and clicking the "send" command.

7. A Dell customer needed help setting up a new program, so a Dell tech suggested he go to the local Egghead. "Yeah, I got me a couple of friends," the customer replied. When told Egghead was a software store, the man said, "Oh, I thought you meant for me to find a couple of computer geeks."

8. Another Dell customer called to say that his keyboard was no longer operating properly. Thinking that it may be dirt or dust, the customer had even gone to all the trouble of cleaning his keyboard by filling his tub with soap and water, soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.

9. Customer called Compaq tech support to say that her brand new computer wouldn't work. She said she had unpacked the unit, hooked it up, plugged it in, but nothing had happened for 20 minutes. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked, "What power switch?"

10. An exasperated caller to Dell tech support said her new computer wasn't running faster when she stepped on the accelerator. The lady had been trying to use her mouse as a foot pedal to speed up her computer.

11. Story from Novell NetWire SysOp:

Caller: "Hello. Is this tech support?"

Tech: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?"

Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting it fixed?"

Tech: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"

Caller: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer."

Tech: "Did you receive this cup holder as part of a promotional item, maybe at a trade fair? How did you come by it? Can you describe it or does it have a brand name on it?"

Caller: "It came with my computer, I don't know anything about a promotional item. All it has on it is 6X."

At this point the tech muted the call because he was laughing so hard that he couldn't talk. The caller was using his CD-Rom load drawer as a cup holder and had snapped it off the drive!

Carl Zwanzig: "Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together...."