Fast food, slow user – techie tears hair out over crashed drive-thru till

No, don't unplug that cabl...

On Call Welcome once more to On Call, where Reg readers share the tech support moments that really made their eyes roll.

This week, meet “Ronald”, who has had a range of in-house and outsourced IT jobs in his career but wrote in to tell us about his work for a famous fast food company.

“I worked the night shift dealing with the joys of their technology at an hour when people were most intoxicated,” he said.

You would hope that wouldn’t include the people at the other end of the phones – but in light of this story, El Reg thinks perhaps one shouldn’t be so sure.

Ronald described the opening scenes from one of the most incompetent calls he had to deal with:

“I got a call from a somewhat annoyed manager saying that their drive-thru till had crashed. I started by performing all the usual diagnostics, rebooting, re-seating cables and so on.”


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But, Ronald said, “This person must never have seen a network or power cable in their life,” because they kept insisting they couldn’t find them.

After some frustrating back and forth, Ronald said that it transpired that “the till was shot, beyond repair”.

Since the restaurant couldn’t risk hungry diners rioting outside the drive-thru, Ronald needed to figure out a way to serve them their midnight takeout.

“In order to get the position running quickly, I asked if we could move another till there and restage it,” Ronald said, sensibly enough.

After a few minutes, the caller returned to tell our increasingly impatient techie: “I can't move the till, the cables won't stretch that far…”

Yes, they had indeed tried to move the till and all of its connected cables from the drive thru window to the front counter. “Even after I asked them to unplug everything and move just the PC unit,” an exasperated Ronald told us.

Undeterred, the dynamic duo ploughed on, and finally the unit was in place – all the manager had to do was reconnect the cables. Sadly, even that task seemed a little challenging for our frazzled chap.

“I heard a ‘Where's the network cable?’,” Ronald recalled. “Then, a ‘Found it!’ and then… ‘click…’, brrr. They'd disconnected the phone instead.”

However, we’ll never know whether the new till got up and running – or whether customers got their chips for free.

“Because we worked off a call queue I never did hear from them again,” Ronald said. Which was no doubt a relief.

Have you ever had a hair-pulling call with an inept user? Tell On Call how you solved their problems – or how you avoided seeing it through – by emailing us here. ®

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