Usability War Stories

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June 22, 2008, at 09:16 PM by 24.64.87.10 -
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~~The PC Cup Holder: A True Story from a Novell NetWire SysOp

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The PC Cup Holder: A True Story from a Novell NetWire SysOp

June 22, 2008, at 09:16 PM by 24.64.87.10 -
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(:title Usability War Stories :)

These stories have been collected from various places. I make no claims on their truth!

~~The PC Cup Holder: A True Story from a Novell NetWire SysOp

This story from: g.wagner@sylvania.sev.org (George Wagner)

Caller: "Hello, is this Tech Support?"
Tech Rep: "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 that fixed?"
Tech Rep: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"
Caller: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer."
Tech Rep: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped, it's because I am. Did you receive this as part of a promotional, at a trade show? How did you get this cup holder? Does it have any trademark on it?"
Caller: "It came with my computer, I don't know anything about a promotional. It just has '4X' on it."

At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn't stand it. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder, and snapped it off the drive.

Computer Interface Contributes to Plane Crash

This story from New York Times 24 Aug 96 p7.

The crash of a Cali-bound American Airlines jet last December in Colombia, S.A., occurred because the plane's captain entered an incomplete command into the onboard computer -- and the default action taken by the software pointed the plane in the wrong direction. The beacons at the Cali and Bogota airports both begin with the letter R, which is the only character the pilot typed; instead of proceeding toward Cali, the plane turned in the opposite direction (toward Bogata) and crashed into a mountain.

More Help Desk Support Stories

Are these true? There too good not to be!

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.

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.

Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn't read word processing files from his old diskettes. After trouble-shooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was found that the customer labelled the diskettes then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.

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

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, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.

Another 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 was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.

Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them indivilually.

A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid". The tech explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn't be taken personally.

An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her new Dell Computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's mouse.

Another customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand-new computer wouldn't work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"