Tech Support, how may I help you?

Disclaimer: These are true life examples of emails we receive from professors and students. Nothing has been changed in them, except the names of the students, the names of the profs and the actual content of the emails. That should totally cover my butt if anyone wants to sue, right?

Student writes:


How are you doing?

What do I have to do to access the documents posted in my course from the computer in my office? Same for students.


Tech Support’s reply:


I’m doing fine.

I don’t understand the question. Can you tell me exactly what you are trying to do?

Not that funny, but you can clearly see that it’s weird, right? What does “Same for students” means?

Professor writes:

I have a few questions on your LMS. Should I ask you?

Tech Support’s reply:


Again, not too weird, but we receive close to 200 emails a day, we don’t really have time for those or for the emails that just say “Thank you!” or “Got it now!”.

More after the cut (unfortunatly)

This one is a series. From the same student.

First email (19h46) : To whom it may concern
Tech Support’s reply: Yes?

Second email (19h46): To whom it may concern
Tech Support’s reply: I said: YES?

Third email (19h48): To whom it may concern (the rest of the message is there)
Tech Support’s reply: Ha, sorry I couldn’t read you the first two times. (rest of answer is not funny)

Multiples email with the same question are not uncommon – they use the shotgun approach – but multiple empty emails? Wow!

Student writes:

Dear Professor Bob Loblaws,

I have a question related to the Chapter 4 mastering chemistry post lecture assignment. When I was working on the exercise 4.68, I began “accidentally” having computer problems, the first 2 tries were entered randomly I don’t know how, something was wrong with the keyboard, and then my computer shut off. When I got my computer running again today I found out that I only have 2 more attempts left instead of four. I don’t know if it is possible if you could do anything because I know nothing is your fault, it is the computer breaking down. It would be great if I can somehow get back my two tries so I won’t be loosing these points.

Thank you for your time,

Alfred Bleu

Tech Support’s reply:


You “accidentally” wrote to Tech Support instead of Professor Bob Loblaws. Darn computers!

You would be surprised the amount of emails addressed to Professors sent to the Tech Support. Well, maybe you wouldn’t.

Student writes:


I am missing a class on my Virtual Campus that I am registered for:
PSY3303A (Theories of Personality).

Tech Support’s reply:


I’m sure your course is missing you too. Psst! The course is not missing, the professor didn’t activate it yet.

Have a nice day!

This is how I know it’s time for me to go home.

Student writes:


My name is Lara Croft and i am in your Ethics, Technology and Society
class. I am having problems opening up the first assignment and all the
other files on virtual campus my microsoft word isn’t reading the files.
If you could send me the first assignment and other materials to this
address it would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

Lara (Croft)

Tech Support’s reply:

Hi Lara,

I think you want to write to the Professor. We’re the Technical Support team. All your assignments are not belong to us!

Ha ha ha!

This is the kicker. Hang on tight this one’s bumpy! It’s all the same student from now on, writing and phoning about the same “problem”.

Student writes:

To the management of Virtual campus:

Hello my name is Mafalda, and i am an MA student in Globalization. Under one of my courses listed on virtual campus, to be specific understanding development, i noticed that under my profile where it says users name: my student number is being display for all to see, please this information should not be left out in the open like that. so if that can be taken care off as soon as possible it will be great. i contacted your office yesterday at about noon and since then no one had gotten back to me or either had the error being address. this e-mail marks my third attempt in contacting you.  Also my first name is Mafalda and not Mafalda Juliette.

I thank you very much for you time


I decide to reply from my personnal account, since she seems to be indicating that no one of my team replied to her since her first contact, 30 hours ago. I’m playing the part of the “concerned manager”

My reply #1


Can you tell me if you can see any of the OTHER STUDENTS student numbers? You can see your own student number in your profile, but only you can see your complete profile. Where exactly are your seeing the other student numbers? I just ran a test in a course, and as a student I can’t see the other student numbers.

Can you also tell me how you contacted maestro yesterday? I looked in yesterday’s emails and phone messages and I couldn’t find anything from you or about the issue you described. If you could provide me with copies of emails sent or times your phone calls were made, it would help me get to the bottom of this.

If you want to have your name changed from the university database, please contact Infoservices. The Virtual Campus and Blackboard Vista only query the central database for your name, we don’t have the necessary access to modify your name in the database.

If you want to give me a call tonight, I’ll be in my office until 18:00.

That’s pretty good right? Again, I’m trying to resolve her issue, I’m all about custommer service. Mafalda leaves a somewhat unintelligible voicemail at 18h20 on my office phone. I get home and pick her message. She’s basically repeating that this is a grave error that should be fixed immediatly, that she left numerous messages, but that she understands that she sees her own student number.

My reply #2

Sorry I missed your call, I was in transit between the office and my home.
So you understand that only you see your own student number, right? It is not an error, it’s the way the system works. Every student sees their own student number, but not the other sudent numbers. Again, this is not an error. No other student sees your student number, it is not “out there for everyone to see”.
As far as previous contact goes, I couldn’t find any record of a voicemail from you. Did you leave one message, two messages, more? Or maybe you just called, there was no answer and you didn’t leave any message? This is fairly important to me, I want to understand if my team has made a mistake not returning your calls, or if you just attempted to contact us without leaving a message.
Also, from the voicemail you left me tonight, you didn’t leave a number to reach you. Is it possible you didn’t leave your number when you contacted maestro? 
All the best, 

I’m seriously doubting she left any voicemail in our support box. I’m thinking the only possible way would be if she left a unintelligible message without a phone number. Then we have no way to call her back. But I sound pretty cool, right? Slightly pissed?

She writes back (to me):

Yes , while you are right, i do not that that is the case when the profile system in issues here is one the is accessible to all student in the class to see. when u go on the roster , i am sure u noticed that only their name and e-mail information is  showing , but when it comes to my profile the first thing u see is my student number. please try an take care of the error.



So she doesn’t get it. She’s supposed to see her student numner (it’s her username on our system). She thinks that it works for the other, but that it’s broken for her.

While I’m reading her reply, she sends an empty e-mail to the support inbox.

My reply #3 (from my account)

Hello again,

Once more, this is not an error. You are allowed to see YOUR STUDENT NUMBER because you are, well, you. Other students see THEIR STRUDENT NUMBERS, NOT YOURS.


I consider this matter resolved.

Clearly I’ve lost it at this point. Two minutes later, she sends the same “while you are right” email to the support inbox.

My reply  #4 (from support account)

Please read multiple previous replies.

Good night.

Time for some 15 year old Single Malt.



  1. I received a call from a user stating she had an error message on her screen.

    “Can you read it to me,” I asked.

    “Uh … no,” she stumbled.

    “Hmmmm,” I thought to myself. “Is it possible I installed the Arabic version of Windows on her computer?”

    “I’ll be right back,” I said.

    (The error was a normal, run-of-the-mill, error.)

    delmers last blog post..Survivor Corps

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