The funniest helpdesk case I’ve ever read

These are the actual notes from an actual helpdesk case that came through an actual call center that I was affiliated with some time ago.  I hope you find this as timelessly funny as I do! 


PROBLEM DESCRIPTION: I have an employee who cannot print a summary report. When Print is selected the only option given is to ‘save as’ and the only format given is .xps.

She’s a long-time user, able to do this until now. No new software or hardware recently connected to her workstation.  Other users can still perform print.

Any ideas?


  1. Tried on other workstations.
  2. Checked her default printer setup on Windows
  3. Checked her default printer setup
  4. Tried to find out what the Hell an .xps format is.
  5. Sacrificed a chicken at midnight in front of a Ken doll who looks a lot like Bill Gates.


My name is ######## . Thank you for contacting ######## regarding the fact that even after sacrificing a chicken at midnight in front of a Ken doll who looks a lot like Bill Gates, you have a user who is unable to print her summary report.

In order that I may troubleshoot this further, please answer the following questions for me:

  1. Did you use a chicken from egg laying stock, a meat type bird or a hybrid of the two?
  2. Was the Ken doll a Mattel brand Ken doll or a generic brand?
  3. When you say midnight, did you mean EST or Texas time? Or Bill Gates time?
  4. Did you remove the glasses (which, of course, made the Ken doll look much more like Bill Gates) before the sacrifice or did you leave them in place?

Additionally, I need to know the exact steps the user took when attempting to print the summary report:

  1. Was she wearing red on the day when this first occurred? Green usually works best. Oh, wait, that’s just my favorite color.
  2. To clarify, she was printing the Summary from a medical record, correct?
  3. What happens if she clicks Preview? Can she see the report without problem?
  4. If so, has she tried to click on the Printer icon from this view screen? What happens?
  5. Is the user on Vista?

Per this web site I found (via Google) — — the XPS files are created from Microsoft’s XPS Document Writer. Does the user have this program?

As you stated you wanted to know what XPS stood for, this is what I was able to find:

“XPS is a descriptor file containing information written in the XPS page description language developed by Microsoft; formatted like an XML (which stands for “Extensible Markup Language”) file and can define the layout, appearance, and printing information for a document.” I’m not sure how helpful that definition is, though.

Let me know the answers to the above. We may also want to set up a time to troubleshoot further via a phone call. It may be helpful to have the affected user on the line with us — if needed, I can use our computer share program to come in tandem to her workstation to observe the issue as it occurs. We need to do all we can to ensure that no further animals will be harmed in our troubleshooting processes.

I look forward to hearing back from you. You can reply to this e-mail.

Have an awesome day and thank you for brightening mine!


In answer to your questions:

  1. Egg laying stock (I believe it was a Rhode Island Red)
  2. Genuine Mattel, from the ‘Billionaire Geek'(tm.) Colletion.
  3. ZULU time, which would be 6:00 pm Texas time. I know it’s cheating, but the guy with the chicken is afraid of the dark.
  4. Glasses, pocket protector, two sales reps, and three corporate lawyers were included in the sacrifice. They were incinerated in an authentic Windows(tm) Recycle Bin(tm, patent pending) using $37.00 worth of regular gasoline, though I think the lawyers may have burned just fine without it. The carbon footprint from the sacrifice was offset by the lawyers. We also planted five trees, and aided the escape of three dolphins, two sharks, and a turtle from Sea World. The turtle may have been trying to get in, we found him in the parking lot.

Steps taken:

  1. Kind of a green and white, but I’m no fashion critic. If it helps, she has red hair, but I’m pretty sure it’s not natural.
  2. Yes, she was printing a summary from a medical record.
  3. Preview displays an image of a page with data on it.
  4. The print option from Preview also opens a save as screen.
  5. User is not on Vista, or Office 2007. She may be on other medications that I’m not aware of.

I also discovered that XPS is Microsoft’s official ‘screw you'(tm) to Adobe. As far as I can tell, the user hasn’t installed anything that would cause her to go over to the dark side, though she does support Hillary Clinton…

Thank you for your prompt attention. You just don’t get this kind of help from India…

Animals harmed so far:
Seven mosquitos, three flies, a snail in the parking lot (I wasn’t paying attention) and a purse dog in clothes. I just had to put him out of his misery, he begged me.


You definitely have won my most favorite case award!

To continue troubleshooting now that I have your answers:

  1. The Rhode Island Red was acceptable, but better would have been a Dorking.
  2. Bill Gates is now a zillionaire – Mattel now offers the Zillionaire version
  3. The guy with the chicken is a chicken in the dark? ;o)
  4. This may be the root of the problem – I believe we should have used five lawyers and no sales reps. Also, $37 worth of gas at today’s prices just ain’t what it used to be! We thank you for considering the environment with the planting of the trees and the critter releases.

Regarding the steps taken:

  1. Only her hairdresser knows for sure!
  2. I knew that because I am psychic.
  3. As it should.
  4. Whew, still working correctly!
  5. The medications may all be due to the director she works for — she may need to create a new case as this is a separate issue. Or it is fodder for the next Dr. Phil show? I’ll have my agent contact her agent.
  6. Hillary who?

Although the seven mosquitoes and three flies harmed should be multiplied many times over; the snail’s demise brought a tear to my eye (but you did apologize), and you did an act of kindness regarding the purse dog, I would like for you or the user to follow these steps – yes indeed, we must get to the root cause of the case at some point:

  1. Click Options, Reports
  2. Open the appropriate source file
  3. Select View, Summary, from the menu bar
  4. Set the options needed per the four tabs
  5. Click Finish. The summary will appear.
  6. Click File from this summary view and choose Printer Setup. What printer is selected? What are the options to choose from?

I believe you will find that the printer selected here is what is causing the option for “save as” versus actually printing. I can duplicate this in my test system if my printer setup is other than my normal printer (for example, one of the choices in my drop down is a Microsoft Office Image Document Writer, which when selected, wants to ‘save as’ a .mdi file type).

If this doesn’t resolve her issue, then the adventures in troubleshooting will continue! I truly look forward to your response!


Now you’re just being difficult…

  1. We’re collecting more chickens now. Will report on varying success levels of each.
  2. The zillionaire version comes with too many extra lawyers, gums up the whole works.
  3. Will adjust ratio of sales reps to lawyers.
  4. The turtle’s pissed… Now he has to walk all the way back to where we found him. Plus, the sharks ate one of the dolphins.

On the technical side:

I’ll ignore the assumption that my directing requires medication. I’ve seen her drive and know for a fact that she has other issues.

The options you listed will probably work, she left work early today to pick up some more medication, so can not be tested.



Tag, you’re it.


Tis not I who is being difficult, but the workstation (and the sharks). At least we’re having fun!

  1. Stop with the chickens before PETA finds out. Stick with the lawyers however.
  2. Be a pal and give the turtle a ride back or sign him up for DSL
  3. Have shark steaks on the BBQ tomorrow for all – bad shark!
  4. Regarding her driving issues, ah, never mind. That could get too deep.

Hopefully you’ll be able to test the info per the previous email in the morning.

However, I am not sure that info will be as helpful as I’d hoped since you have now provided additional parameters that fail when printing (or rather, attempting to print) from a medical record.

We may have to bite the bullet and actually talk to one another on the phone tomorrow. I would be available after 10am EST. In the meantime, I also suggest, especially if she is experiencing any other printing issues in any of the other modules that we update/repair her workstation prior to our conversation.

The steps to update/repair the workstation are available via this link…  #########

One other test — if the affected user logs in as herself at any other workstation, does she experience the same issue (even though the normal user has had no problems printing)?

If the 10am EST hour is not convenient for you, let me know when would be the best time for you.



I’m worried. I haven’t heard back from you after my email to you yesterday. You either:

  1. Took your toys home and refuse to play anymore
  2. Were kidnapped by PETA extremists
  3. Have an assistant who is still at the drug store, thus you are unable to run any tests on her workstation
  4. Have been duct taped to your desk by aforementioned assistant, after she read the case notes, ensuring you cannot email out for help
  5. Found the issue and have been buried under by so many reports now that your assistant can print that she has negated the planting of the trees previously aforementioned

If I don’t get to chat with you by email or in person today, have a great weekend!



Assistant is out with a suspicious illness either caused by pagan ritual, or proximity to Friday…

Issue is still unresolved, hopefully we can reach a conclusion on Monday.

I was, in fact briefly duct taped, by PETA extremists, but they got distracted by a Capitol One commercial and I was able to chew through my bindings with the help of the turtle (he’s still waiting for a ride back to Sea World) while they were comparing kitten photos.

You have a great weekend, and we’ll attack this thing next week. If you need to close the ticket so it won’t look bad on your ‘solve’ record, go ahead.


No worries about my solve record — we’ll keep this open until you:

  1. Test with your assistant, she converts, or you hire a new one;
  2. Return from Sea World after taking the turtle home.

I will head off into the sunset this Friday with an extra broad smile that you caused. I look forward to next week when you have time to tag me.

You’re invited to visit for more goodness.  🙂  

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