Send printer ink, please. More again please, and fast. Now send it faster

Tech support chap wondered why client seemingly had a blank cheque for the stuff! Turns out they did … mostly

On-Call On-come again to On-Call, The Register’s Friday column in which readers share tales of tech support oddities.

This week, meet “Sam” who told us that back in the 1990s he had a job as “a fledgling tech support/programmer/whatever else was needed.”

Sam’s employer “was the supply point for a number of others, most of which were notably stingy.”

But one company stood out because, Sam explained, “They insisted that at any point the ribbon on their old dot matrix printer started to fade, we had to get another ribbon over to them and installed post haste.”

Note Sam’s mention of the dot matrix printer, because the client was happy to let the rest of its printer fleet fade to grey.

“They shook the hell out of toners and sprayed WD40 on ribbons just to save a few extra pence” Sam told us.

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So why the rush for this one printer?

Because it printed cheques.

“That made a difference because one of their enterprising workers had discovered that when the ink was much-faded it didn’t leave much of a visible impression on the cheques,” Sam explained to OnCall. “This meant that the printer was just printing batches of blank cheques, and as the cheque numbers were been recorded as valid, the payee (and amounts) could be changed to whatever they needed with the use of a typewriter.”

Sam understands that the enterprising chap managed to write more than £100,000 in cheques before the company looked into the situation and eventually informed Police. Sam told us a prosecution followed.

What weird consumables capers have you encountered? Click here to share your story with On-Call and we might just give your story a run here on some future Friday. ®

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