I didn't touch a thing – just some cables and a monitor – and my computer broke

Lies, damned lies, and lies told by end-users who do their own tech support

On Call With another working week almost done, The Register once again offers a fresh instalment of On Call, our reader-contributed tale of tech support trials and tribulations.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Edward" who works for an Australian managed services provider.

"We do all sorts of things for our customers to make their IT lives easier, including a fully managed desktop service," Edward explained.

One customer of that service had just installed a lovely new fleet of high-end laptops, all overseen by a cloudy endpoint management tool.

Despite the PC fleet being just a couple of weeks old and under control from afar, an end-user called one day to complain that their laptop docking station was no longer able to connect to a pair of external monitors.

Edward's colleague on the helpline remoted in to the machine in question and, while doing the usual troubleshooting without much success, asked if the user had changed anything since the machine last worked.

"Nothing had changed," came the emphatic reply. "It just suddenly stopped working."

The client was due a weekly scheduled visit, so Edward made the journey – and upon arrival found the monitors were indeed not working.

So he swapped in his own laptop, which he knew worked just fine.

It, too, failed to make the client's external monitors display so much as a pixel.

At this point there was just one thing to do: crawl under the desk and investigate the cabling.

Edward found an HDMI cable – but it was only plugged into the two monitors. No cable reached the laptop dock.

The fix was therefore blindingly simple, but also presented a mystery: who would have mangled the cabling so badly? And why?

Which was when Edward realized the monitors were not the ones his company had so recently installed at that workstation. They were larger – and nicer.

"It turned out that the end-user did not like the monitors he was assigned, saw that a colleague had better kit, and decided to take matters into his own hands and remediate the 'obvious injustice'," explained Edward. And in the process, they messed up the cabling.

When confronted, the user muttered some random excuses, which Edward and his workmates turned into a lunchroom joke – And a story for On Call.

Speaking of stories for On Call, we want more! We're edging towards the 500th On Call and want to make sure we get there. So if you have stories of users messing up cabling, or swapping kit, click here to send us an email so we can consider your tale for a future Friday. ®

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