This article is more than 1 year old

Electrocution? All part of the service, sir!

Going out with a bang

Who, Me? The weekend is over and that means time for a nice biscuit, a hot beverage, and another tale from the vaults of Who, Me?

Today's story comes from "Thor" (obviously not his name and a sign the Regomiser has watched too many movies in lockdown), the solitary member of the after-sales department in one of a chain of stores that sold anything from dishwashers to external hard drives. His role also required him to repair customer computers and perform file transfer from the old and busted to the new and shiny.

Occasionally the customer didn't want their old computer back, and some of those the store turned into loaners. "The law dictates," explained Thor (and we'll leave it to you to guess the country), "that a consumer has the right to get a loaner product while his or hers is in for repairs."

So old machines were wiped, reinstalled, and made ready to hand out to customers in need.

Of course, eventually it occurred to the powers that be that this might not be the best thing to do considering the potential for personal information whoopsies. The chain therefore replaced the recycled computers for new units and issued a diktat that customers borrowing the kit should not store personal information on them.

Good luck with that.

But what to do with the old loaners? The answer was to scrap them. As the new machines arrived, the old ones were destroyed. On the final one, Thor yanked the hard drive and had at it with implements of destruction. He then gave the motherboard a mauling before putting the whole thing into the electronics recycling bin.

He thought no more about it until the day a customer came in with a broken desktop computer and, as was his right, wanted a loan machine while his was being repaired. Thor wasn't around when the salesperson dealing with the customer came to his office, looking for a loan desktop to hand out. All of the new machines were laptops, but that wasn't what the customer had.

But there, at the back of the office, was a desktop machine. Sure, it was in the recycle bin, but it was probably OK, right?

The salesperson proudly carried the loaner PC back to the customer and, because good service is what matters, fired it up in order to configure Windows.

At this point it is worth noting that Thor had also flicked a switch on the PSU from 230V to 110V. "Don't ask, I don't know why," he admitted. We suspect the fsck-up fairy was sat on his shoulder at the time and anyway – this machine was destined for the recyclers.

The power lead approached the PC...

"Half of the store went instantly dark when he plugged the power cord into the PSU," said Thor, "but not before some heeeuuuge bangs and cracks came from the crippled computer. Black smoke poured from the innards, and the salesperson had to rush it outside before the smoke alarm went off."

There's no record of whether the customer required a change of undergarments, but Thor described the look on his face as "priceless." The moment had also been recorded on the in-store CCTV, much to the amusement of the store manager.

In the end the customer saw the funny side of things, doubtless helped by the arrival of a brand new loan laptop.

"Technically not my fault," insisted Thor, "as nobody should've taken anything from the recycling bin – but I could've just removed and destroyed the hard drive. Oh well..."

Not my fault? Hmm. We're not so sure.

"I did, however, refer to my beloved colleague as 'Sparky' for some time..."

We imagine his co-worker had a ruder name for Thor.

Ever wondered what would happen if you flicked that switch? Or had a slightly too helpful colleague unleash chaos of your making? Share your story with an email to Who, Me? ®

More about

More about

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like