Posted April 12, 2012 by

Survey of CIOs Reveals Strangest Help Desk Requests

If you plan to work the help desk as part of an IT department for a company or organization, don’t be surprised to receive some interesting requests.


“Can you help me fix my toilet?” Believe it or not, the person who asked this question was calling his company’s IT help desk, not the plumber. It’s just one of the unusual requests chief information officers (CIOs) said they or their support staff have received, according to a new Robert Half Technology survey. These types of inquiries aren’t all that bizarre for help desk professionals, and they demonstrate it often takes patience, as well as technical know-how, to assist colleagues at work.


CIOs were asked, “What is the strangest or most unusual request you or a member of your help desk or technical support team has ever received?” Their responses included:

  • “How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?”
  • “How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?”
  • “I need help drilling holes in the wall.”
  • “Can you come over and plug in this cord for me?”


Help desk professionals are known for lending a hand even if a request falls outside their job description, but these employees took the concept too far:

  • “I can’t find my packages online! Can you help me?”
  • “Can you help me fix my toilet?”
  • “My car’s cup holder is broken. Can you fix it?”
  • “Can you help me repair a washing machine?”
  • “Where can I find a video of Elvis Presley online?”


Help desk professionals are willing to answer just about any technical question, but some end users may want to enroll in a “Computer 101” course:

  • “I’d like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me.”
  • “How do I start the Internet?”
  • “Will you show me how to use the mouse?”
  • “My computer won’t turn on or off.” (The computer was unplugged.)
  • “How do I send an email?”
  • “How do I click on different files?”


“Beyond their entertainment value, these unusual requests demonstrate the strong customer service skills necessary to work in the help desk and technical support fields,” said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “The best IT professionals are composed and empathetic and, of course, have a good sense of humor.”


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