Shark Tank: Help!

FRAMINGHAM (07/31/2000) - I'M MELTING Support pilot fish gets a user distress call - her computer won't boot. The fish notices the PC's case is deformed; he takes a screwdriver to it and discovers the motherboard is shot, too. What warped the case so badly? he asks. The user shrugs and shows the fish where she keeps the PC - right next to her space heater.

I WANT MY AOL The morning after a network firewall upgrade, a user complains that his PC is running slow and locking up. A support pilot fish swaps it for a new one. Twenty minutes later, the same user calls back, complaining that nothing works. Pilot fish checks out the applications - everything's working fine. Irate user then complains he can no longer connect to the Internet via America Online Inc. and demands his old PC back. You can surf via the company connection, fish tells him. "I need AOL to connect!" the user screams. Nobody else seems to need AOL to surf, the fish points out. User explodes, "Nobody else is surfing porn!"

MAKE MINE MUZAK Tech support fish asks for training on new enterprise apps, but boss nixes the idea: "Don't worry, we always get the unlimited phone support contract." After "many, many hours on hold trying to get through to various tech support departments," he makes a new request: "Can I get a speakerphone so I can do other things while sitting on hold?" "Right off the top," says the boss, "there doesn't seem to be a need ..."

TWENTY-FIVE YEAR bank veteran (but spreadsheet newbie) calls support pilot fish, nearly hysterical. "I was typing my numbers, and I accidentally bumped my clicker thing. Then the whole screen went black and everything disappeared!" A moment's sleuthing revealed the cause: "Bumping" the mouse had selected all cells on the screen, turning them black, sighs the fish. Solution: click.

"PEOPLE PERSON" Human resources manager refuses hardware upgrades to his early-model 486 PC. One morning he calls tech support: A CD is stuck in his drive. I didn't think he had a CD-ROM drive in that relic, puzzles the pilot fish. He doesn't - but the fish does find a mangled CD stuck in the 5 1/4-in. floppy drive.

TAKING HIS TURN on the help desk, this pilot fish fields a call from a teacher having trouble with "too many icons on the desktop." Fish can't leave the desk, but offers to help if she'll send the system up for him to look at. Thirty minutes later the teacher shows up - with just the monitor in hand. Wisely, the fish stifles his explanation that he needs the rest of the PC, not the monitor, and follows her back to the classroom where she's teaching ... computer science.

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