"He would put in a (fake) trouble ticket and request me."
Am I the only to think that this sounds like stalking with a nice lunch thrown in?
Hey, hey, it's Friday! Which means frolicsome weekend fun is just a day away … if you can survive work and this week's instalment of On-Call, The Register's weekly column in which we recount readers' stories of jobs gone weird. This week, meet “Wayne”, who has an different sort of story because – unusually for On-Call - it …
Sounds more to me like the customer recognised this was someone who actually put in the effort to find the cause rather than just following the script and wanted to keep him onside in case there were future issues.
Sadly, that level of thoroughness is often discouraged because it takes longer than a Helpdesk reset which makes the problem go away...Time is money you know and to hell with giving the curtomer a real solution
Yes they have - apologised for it being something incredibly simple that didn't warrant a support visit. You must have had those?
I have learned to subtly act all like "Aw shucks , you wernt to know , that on and off switch can be real tricky to the none professional"
Working at an ISP I had a customer phone up and ask me to pass on his apology to a colleague he'd unintentionally offended.
I'd claim responsibility for that only.. Well, dealing with the, er, "wonderful and exceptionally well-trained support staff" at many NZ ISP's the offence has usually been intentional.
Though I had phoned other places to apologise for unintentional insults. And sent flowers/chocolates/coffee etc for some of the more intentional ones. (yes, some of us prefer a decent cup of coffee by way of an apology!)
Once or twice !
The most recent one, we had a customer who's a right PITA - nice bloke, but one of those who doesn't stop talking and thinks he knows more than he does (we genuinely had a customer who used to use a CD tray as a cupholder - and he was it !). On this occasion, there was a problem with billing due to the convoluted way his small local NGO was funded through the council. So I happened to take the call, where he went on and on and on and on while was trying to just get in the words "leave it with me and I'll sort it" - I never got further than "le".
In the end, I just told his to "shut the f*** up and listen for a minute" - not shouting, but a few people in our office heard it and were "a tad surprised" to say the least. The customer was surprised enough to shut up, I was able to tell him I'd deal with it, and so the call ended.
IRC he phoned the next day to say that, while he wasn't accustomed to be talked to in that way, he was apologising for driving me to say it.
The accounts department at my old job used to pre-emptively bribe me with food ("you don't look like you eat enough, here, have some of this home made cake"), in order that I would prioritise them above other departments.
It worked, and I am always willing to work for cake.
I had a customer many years ago, when I worked for an ISP as general support, who kept opening e-mails from her daughter-in-law with a nasty embedded in them. This particular nasty would associate all .exe files with itself causing the nasty to run instead of whatever the old dear had meant to run. Her A/V program was a .exe, which made the fix a bit trickier. I figured out to rename regedit.exe to regedit.com and removed the association.
The second time she brought the machine in (same problem - dunno if DIL had a grudge or didn't know how to clean her PC) she brought in a lemon poppy seed pound cake. The third time (at this point I kept the regedit.com on her machine and exported the empty .exe association so it was a simple click-to-fix) was homemade chocolate chip cookies. the fourth was some kind of cranberry bread.
My cow-orkers threatened to riot when I told her about the simple click-to-fix solution so she wouldn't have to keep bringing the thing in.
"Do you work in our server team? They appear to be powered by confectionaries.."
Better that, than being powered by caffeine and hate.
I've been researching "alternative fuels" for some time now. Coffee, cake and confectioneries are generally fine, but that hate is such a nasty pollutant! It poisons the environment around it, has been linked to all sorts of diseases including stroke and cancer, and often causes depression.
It's a nasty, toxic pollutant and I recommend all efforts be taken to remove it from the work place and replace it with other tastier fuels, which often work much more efficiently!
You mean like beer?
Hmm yes... Beer <obglid xkcd>
And you are right. Hate will fuck you up big time.
One of the fun facts about hate and revenge.. All that time you spent reminising and stressing about what they did to you, the times you spend shouting at an imaginary version of them as you're alone in your car, the effort you put into thinking about putting an axe through their head, all the hateful and angry feelings you send their way through whatever means you can imagine - that's just it, it's all in your imagination and doesn't affect them one tiny little bit. You get lots of pain and anger and stress, they don't even have a clue it's going on.
Get over it, you only hurt yourself! (not speaking from experience, honest!)
Years ago I worked in IT for one of the larger hotel/casinos here. Because of the design of the place, the shortcut to the other side of the casino was through the kitchen complex.
People might be surprised to know that large hotels and casinos try to make most food items in house. We had a large bakery within the kitchen complex. Our bakery manager had an old PC that was a total piece of crap. She had been trying to get a new PC for over a year. I was fairly new at my job there, and was just trying to take good care of our users. I've always looked at the job of IT being a kind of internal customer service. So, I went to the director of food and beverage, who for some reason I seemed to get along with very well*, and asked for a new PC for the bakery manager. He approved the purchase, and I ordered her a nice new PC.
The hallways of the kitchen complex there were usually lined with bakery carts (about 5 feet tall with a dozen or more shelves) each loaded with pastries. After getting her new PC, the bakery manager told me to help myself to what's on the bakery carts any time I happen to be taking the short cut through the kitchens. I must have gained 20 pounds while working there!
* I always took very good care of the food and beverage department. Mostly because the director was a really nice guy and always appreciated what the IT department did for him. He started with the company as a line cook, and worked his way up to be the director. He knew what it was like to work hard. He would also comp dinners for my wife and myself at the high end restaurants regularly too,
The accounts department at my old job used to pre-emptively bribe me with food ("you don't look like you eat enough, here, have some of this home made cake"), in order that I would prioritise them above other departments
Customers of mine would often bribe me with chocolate. Those who brought in the larger blocks got pushed as far up the queue as possible. Those who thought they could bribe me with a small bar sometimes got pushed down the queue.
I knew I was going to have a bad day when I'd get back from lunch and there were 3 or 4 big blocks of chocolate waiting for me. I knew my weekend was gone when I had any thing more than that! (sadly no icon to show how much weight I'd put on in the lead-up to Christmas when customers were wanting their work finished pre-break!)
Better than that. I had a regular help requester who was a nice bloke, intelligent* (he was a medic) who couldn't stop himself breaking things (as I said, he was a medic). One day, he had a group policy problem so I emailed him instructions on how to generate resultant set of policy to mail back to me. All he had to do was copy a command line instruction. It didn't work of course. Who'd have thought that spaces matter...
I didn't hear from him for a while and when I next did so, I asked what he had been up to. He confessed: "My PC works much better when I don't fiddle with it."
* He persuaded a research body to fund three months in Hawaii to determine how swimming with dolphins affected mental depression. That's smart.
Yes and recently too. I had a customer who had not charged the batteries on a unit before taking it offsite. Off course when he got to his remote location (no power available) and went to switch on the kit, no joy. So he rang me (support for the kit supplier), gave out and told me he was going to throw the whole thing "out of the window". I did tell him that he could not really blame the equipment for his failing to charge it. Anyway call ended and I thought that was that. Until he rang back the next day, apologised for how he had spoken to me, and accepted that it was all his fault.
My jaw is still on the floor till this day...
I had a software vendor ask if they could use us as a tester for their new software. As this was a high profile thing (for them apparently) they were going to send someone over to install the whole thing on a spare machine. So day of install arrives and a nice chap pitches up with his laptop and asks to hook his laptop into our network. I said "No that breaks company rules" but I'll ask IT Support if it's possible to just connect to this one machine. No that presented a risk because the machine would have to rejoin our network at some point. So midway through an exhausting morning of assisting this bloke he confessed that he wasn't going to be able to install it very easily without a direct connection.
So much for that but wait he has an idea he'll burn the files to a CD that IT Support can virus check and then install on the machine. So he burns a disc and then it's checked thoroughly but nothing untoward is found so he is given it back to use. He sticks it into the test machine and nothing happens, which he finds annoying - very annoying. I suggest that I'm going to go for lunch and he says he'll buy me lunch and that he knows "somewhere very good". So off we go and we soon turn up at Pret a Manger which was not quite my expected destination. I get a sandwich and we head back to work where he is still fuming about the fact that the disc isn't auto loading. The machine (it was 15 years ago) was running XP and hadn't had autorun or anything like that disabled.
He tries running it manually it won't install it takes all of three seconds for it to give up the ghost each time. So he calls the USA and asks for advice which comes as suggestions but no real answers. By this point I'm bored sh!tless and want to do something else. So I take a look at the contents of his newly burned CD-Rom and I spot something I think he's missed. The CD has got a load of CAB files but only one ZIP file, I pointed this out to him in between his rants at his colleagues in the USA. He looks at the disc contents, snarls at no one in particular and then burns another disc which again needs checking. This one works first time and rather than thanking me or making any comments about my observational skills just starts packing up his stuff. When done he just hands me a manual, says he's off to his hotel and to call America if it doesn't work, doesn't bother to run me thorugh anything. The software wasn't ready for release even as a beta and whilst we did use it as a test we didn't like it at all because it kept crashing/throwing up error messages.
Software vendor number two (also from the USA) who we did use their products in anger also took me to lunch when they came over. They took me to a proper restaurant with table service three courses and booze.* Their software was head and shoulders above the other lot and I made this clear to the bosses (I did this months before anyone suggested lunch). They gave demonstrations and made sure that we understood everything even on beta or test software. They also had a UK phone number, despite being US based, that we could call for technical support. Lunch is now probably banned now as bribery.
Had an engineer call me from a substation who couldn't get their laptop to print. No remote diagnostics "back in the day" but I (fairly) quickly established that the engineer hadn't plugged the printer's power lead in. The irony of having no power where many KV was readily available...
> Has a customer ever apologised to you? Or offered you a tasty thanks for your services?
Many years ago, on two separate occasions I was called in to deal with "issues" that a distributor had concerning systems they had installed in Westminster.
On both occasions, after a speedy resolution, I received handwritten notes of thanks from the end-user (though nothing from the disti in question). One on House of Commons headed paper, the other from the Lords.
I didn't get lunch, but the prestige within my company got me a very nice pay-rise. A benefit that kept on giving, year after year (and was pensionable!).
Pay rises are the best thank you. Wrote an access database for customer inventory coming in/out to us written in vb, no macros or queries. Took me 3 hours to complete. They made my company so aware of their satisfaction they gave me a £5,000 pay rise, that was 15 years ago so I got, and still getting, my monies worth on that short project...
"Pay rises are the best thank you" Yeah . Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.
Dont be afraid to jump to a new job , thats what I've learnt - too late really.
If I dont get this internal job I've just applied for I'm leaving - on principle .
>Weird, all the awesome engineers I know get them....
Well - the penalty for being really good at support is that, in general, you never get promoted away from support.
Most places I've worked, the way to get promoted is to go out drinking with the Right People.
Most places I've worked, the way to get promoted is to go out drinking with the Right People.
Most of the great opportunities in my life have come about because I went drinking with the Right People. Even if I didn't know they were at the time...
I forget the exact stat, but it's something like 2/3 of all jobs are never advertised. You pick these up with unrelated discussions in pubs.
"I forget the exact stat, but it's something like 2/3 of all jobs are never advertised. You pick these up with unrelated discussions in pubs."
Yeah that didnt work either ,and not for lack of drinking!, even in the type of establishments I thought it would . They all seemed to prefer some "fair" system of boxticking which means some kid who knows fuck all and has 0 years of service invested at the place will get he job you thought would be a obvious career progression for them to give you because he's got a fucking badge from the scouts.
More or less, same here.
I think what landed me where I currently am (server/infrastructure team) was because of my ability to impersonate a deity in the support arena, and basically was all like "I need the server admin to do x,y, and z in that order, because I don't have the access to do it myself" in the desktop support group.
To wit, I was 'strongly encouraged' to apply for the position even though I was lacking the appropriate paperwork. interview went well, and I was called back in a couple weeks later and basically told that I was the only one they had seriously considered to begin with.
anon to protect that paycheck.
"Well - the penalty for being really good at support is that, in general, you never get promoted away from support.
Most places I've worked, the way to get promoted is to go out drinking with the Right People."
So So True !!!
The worse thing you can do is to be 'Very Good' at your job and require minimal management WHILE also being invisible at the regular 'Boozy Networking'.
You get stuck in the job you do so well, more or less part of the furniture :(
Get visible and promote yourself and how good you really are !!!
Also beware the 'Office Politics', visibility attracts people who want your job and worse. !!!
[From experience gained too later :) ]
I've come in on emergency calls and been on the receiving end of spleen venting on numerous occasions. I usually ignore it, and get on with the job. To date, I've almost always been apologized to. Once things are running properly, and the client calms down enough for an explanation of what went wrong, they can see that it was hardly my fault. Never got offered a monthly free lunch, though. Wouldn't have accepted it if I had. Collusion is an ugly word.
 Drunken fumbling leading to breakage being an exception ...
"If it were costing my employer money"
This is not necessarily a simple issue. In the example in TFA it might be Wayne's perceived value to the customer that keeps the customer from going elsewhere. Even if it were nominally costing the employer money in the greater scheme of things it might be making money. If Wayne's job title was sales, business development or the like the only worrying thing would be that it wasn't Wayne paying the bill.
One particularly remote school with a handful of pupils and literally 3 computers plus a server had the worse setup. They were treated appaulingly by the department as nobody wanted to drive out ( 2 hours each way) and the head teacher was a grumpy ***hole.
However the same week I started they got a new head teacher who, having started and seen the state her schools IT was in logged a ranting ticket with the service desk. As the newbie I was sent up to take the flak.
Upon arriving I was met by a very polite and friendly lady who showed me the problems, I phoned my boss and said "I'm going to need some new kit and time to sort this" and he agreed, thinking he'd finally found some mug to deal with the site. So over the next couple of days I rewired the entire sites LAN, new switch, new PCs, cleaned the server up and even got the backup ADSL line fixed.
When I went back to the office a few days later I claimed it had been a nightmare, where as in reality I'd spent the previous day playing snakes and ladders with the kids, drinking tea and having cakes the staff had made to celebrate having computers that worked for a change.
They'd always log a call asking for me, even if it meant waiting until I returned from sick/annual leave. This went on for 5 years, was great as the drive up there took me through some amazing scenery and if I was finishing up there on a Friday I'd take my tent and fishing gear and camp near one of the lakes over the weekend.
I spent a week migrating a small office to a hosted system. Frankly it should have only taken two days but on the first day I had just migrated Exchange from on prem to the hosted solution and whilst checking the mail flow I opened an email at random and found this:
http://imgur.com/Tyf8uO5 (Yes, I kept a copy of the email! I couldn't believe it frankly)
The three women in that email chain were all friendly and attractive and the alternative was heading back to the office chock full of standard nerds.
So I dragged things out and enjoyed myself. Frankly it's one of the best working weeks I've had.
So I didn't get an apology, but at the end of it I did get a date.
One site I visited fairly often to sort out problems. A remote job entry operator had a fairly boring job on a satellite site so would often chat to me. Eventually I asked her out for a date. She still tells me 40 years later that I wasn't her "type" - but that I was a good dinner companion while she waited for Mr Right. After a few frogs over many years a most unlikely prince did arrive for her.
As a 1970s feminist she insisted on paying for the occasional dinner - in proportion to our respective salaries. On which occasions she did the ordering - including relaying my order to the waiter. At the end of the meal there was often a moment's wavering hesitation before the waiter handed her the bill.
"So I didn't get an apology, but at the end of it I did get a date."
In the 1970s our company had a site visit expenses system that allowed you to claim a fixed overnight rate for "staying with friends". That was far cheaper than them paying for hotels.
Eventually a couple of regular customer visits resulted in staff inviting me to stay with them. We would have dinner out paid for (not on expenses) by either me or them. Most convivial.
On one site I ended up staying with a young married couple quite regularly. It transpired they had a 1970s "open marriage" - and the wife took a fancy to me. Most enjoyable while those site visits lasted - the stuff of a Leslie Thomas novel.
One prestigious computer centre's manager was apparently notorious for being awkward. Like several other customers - they were having problems with a new piece of kit. My new job was to fire-fight these problems in the field until development could fix the S/W source.
Arriving on site in my Range Rover and in a sharp suit I was met with a verbal tirade from the computer manager about the problems with the new kit. I politely agreed with him. He went quiet and didn't trouble me for the next few days as I fixed their problems with patches - while wearing my "long hours" techie jeans and T-shirt.
His staff told me that he was in shock from "a suit" agreeing that there was a problem. Never had any complaints from him on subsequent visits.
One of his senior colleagues offered me a job. I pointed out that they had rejected me only a few years earlier for a support role - probably because I didn't have a university degree. He ruefully admitted that everyone they had employed from those interviews had proved incompetent in the role.
" He ruefully admitted that everyone they had employed from those interviews had proved incompetent in the role."
I'm always happy to point out that the time I could have wasted getting a degree I was actually spending learning how to do things in the real-world.
A degree is a piece of paper that says you have the ability to learn (at least it used to) - there are other ways to prove that.
I have many pieces of university paper in very non-marketable areas, but I simply point out, at interview, that I taught myself, as a graduate student, how to set up a project, how to direct myself to a successful on time, on budget finish (i.e. got the degree), and so had proven that I was able to work hard for a goal often many years away. Oh, and I was both details-oriented and yet could see the bigger picture. Also, could read Latin. And Anglo-Saxon.
I have many pieces of university paper in very non-marketable areas, but I simply point out, at interview, that I taught myself, as a graduate student, how to set up a project, how to direct myself to a successful on time, on budget finish (i.e. got the degree), and so had proven that I was able to work hard for a goal often many years away. Oh, and I was both details-oriented and yet could see the bigger picture.
Brilliant! Do you mind if I borrow that? My pieces of paper on high end electronic and Electro-mechanical engineering havent really proved very useful.
"I'm always happy to point out that the time I could have wasted getting a degree I was actually spending learning how to do things in the real-world.
A degree is a piece of paper that says you have the ability to learn (at least it used to) - there are other ways to prove that."
Unfortunately, academia (well they would, wouldn't they?) and civil servants the world over disagree. The latter of course includes immigration authorities.
Having a degree makes it a lot easier to work abroad, something that needs to be considered in the light of Brexit (sorry about politics rearing its ugly head)..
The time most of us waste getting a degree creates networks of contacts that can bypass interviewing at all or get you interviews and work you wouldn't have known about. The actual qualification is sometimes a useful bonus. All but one of the most interesting gigs I've had down the years came from personal contacts and "interviewing" was usually just an excuse to go to the pub.
For a career in IT support you're probably right about it being wasted time though.
In my role of roving fire-fighter on a troublesome piece of new kit there were many happy customers who thanked me personally for getting it working.
One day I was told that a company's managing director was on site and wanted to see me. He greeted me warmly and said his son would be very happy to know that his father had met the IT company's top trouble-shooter.
Yes - I know I apparently pulled rabbits out of hats all the time - but had to resist the temptation to look round to see to whom he was talking.
Had a small business call and asked for me to fix their system (Windows server and a few PCs, lots of Macs). Got a 24 pack of Stella because they knew I could fix things and have a laugh when other engineers would just go 'nah mate, don't touch Macs' and walk off.
Happened more than once (hic) !!!
We were having odd problems with a piece of client/server code that wrote state information from the desktop to an Access DB on the local office servers. Try as we might, we couldn't replicate it on the set up we had in our development office and nothing showed up on any of the logs that pulled from the servers or the desktops. I asked if we might be permitted an office visit, which was refused for months until the manager of the Lincoln office got sick and tired enough to authorise the budget for a two-dayer.
Having got to their office, suited and booted with our customer-facing faces on, we had little to do other than wait for things to go bang. As it was the first time that we as developers had been allowed near the end users we took the opportunity to ask them how they found the software. We learned that they didn't like it, but largely because it had been foisted on them and their training hadn't covered the bits that we'd put in to make their lives easier. We spend two working days giving impromptu training in our software and Windows 3.11 in general and having found the diagnostic data we needed, left an office much happier with life in general and our software in particular. The office manager sent a letter to our boss expressing her joy, we got a nice little bonus, lots of steers on where the next version needed to go to make the users even more happier, we'd had a jolly nice time in Lincoln with its wonderful pubs and all was well with with the world.
Two days later we got a phone call. A field tech had arrived and rebuilt their server and nothing worked any more. The customer had two offices in Lincoln with two different functions, thus two different server builds. Their server now had the wrong build on it, it was Friday and the field tech had buggered off. It took our support guys three days to sort it out. All that good PR washed away like tears in rain.
Many years ago, I remember helping out a distressed new user coming to my office. Her former coke head boss got his IT people to spam her new email address, signing her up to tons of junk mail lists, you name it.
I managed to completely stop it, and she thanked me by giving me a bunch of flowers. I didn't expect anything really, I just wanted her to be happy and not feel harassed by her awful ex-employers.
Other than that, I'd sometimes be treated to tea or coffee and even biscuits on my travels, but that was about it.
These days I'm at my desk a lot more in a supervisory role, so I don't get many gifts nor thanks coming my way these days. My staff do thank me if I've helped them out whether it's a work or personal issue, and that's good enough for me.
as an on-spec add-on to another call out...
You know the sort of thing. "While you're here, do you know anything about these? I mean, I know you're computers, but... ", "Actually, I didn't start out as a computer technician, I'm an electro-physiology technician but the pay's better. So yeah, I'm pretty familiar with these."
I disassembled their signal amplifier, continuity tester confirmed the fault, three minutes with a soldering iron... find the replacement part... another three minutes to solder the new one in and test it all - (cost £20 for the switch incl shipping & duty from the US). When they asked me about it, they were just in the process of reluctantly packing up the (out of warranty) equipment to send back to the United States - the OEM's repair estimate? £4,300 incl shipping, about two-thirds of the cost of a new one.
So I wait with baited breath - I think that's worth a thank you or two.
While I was working at a university in the computing department, we had a student from the engineering school (which did an MSc in Information systems) come across asking to use the SPARCstations and the Oracle DB for her summer project. I set her up with logins and gave her some minimal help when she'd needed it.
Near the end of the project, I was in the lab reinstalling the servers (we gave them a clean build over summer) she thanked me for the help (which had been minimal) and asked what I liked to drink. I said whisky, half expecting a half bottle of Grants or something to appear and was rather shocked when she came back a few days later with a 70cl bottle of Balvenie :)
Given how little help I'd actually provided, I was rather shocked, but wasn't going to say no :)
I have had more than a free lunch. Whilst working at a University, I was tasked with helping with an intermittent issue with the serial port on a workstation used for experimental research. Spent ages trying to figure out why the serial port kept misbehaving, before finally deciding to replace the motherboard (it was an older workstation with built-in serial port, and I had a couple of spares in my storage room). The female post-doc researcher for once seemed interested in the work I was doing, and we chatted for a while as I swapped components around in the system.
After doing this, the system worked fine. The next day, the nice post-doc researcher brought me a thank-you card and a box of chocolates for my time - which was great! I was then invited a few weeks later to play badminton after work with her. One thing led to another, and well - she's my wife now!
I was the lead technical person to convert 150 Groupwise mailboxes to Exchange 2007, performed a 16 hour work day /overnight to ensure the work completed successfully and by 7:30am mail flow and transfer was successfully working.
No overtime payment for me (salaried worker) but my boss was taken out for a very nice lunch by the MD of the newly installed Exchange server. My boss thanked me for his nice lunch. No pay rise or benefits, so I moved on.
Got into work one morning There were half a dozen agency staff who'd turned up to do data entry. On what? Sales had set up a new contract but the business process required didn't fit with anything presently in place and nobody thought to enquire what might be needed. Most unusually I hadn't caught wind of this one, otherwise I'd have had the rabbit ready to pull out of the hat.
I quickly set up a database table and data entry form (on the development server - not letting a load of strangers have logins on the production box). While the new arrivals got on with key pounding I spent the rest of the morning working out how to feed the data into the appropriate bits of the production database so product shipment could start in the afternoon.
All the personnel from the other teams got taken to London for lunch in the BT Tower revolving restaurant. But not the one who stopped the whole thing becoming a fiasco.
Fixed a customer's server kit and installed some new stuff, about 2 days work. The customer asked me to come back on the 3rd day but make sure I was wearing my best suit, wouldn't say why. I duly arrived and was ushered into a cab and promptly found myself taking a very expensive Elevenses at the Savoy by way of a thanks for all my hard work.
"Elevenses at the Savoy by way of a thanks for all my hard work"
I once went in on a Saturday to help a customer with a system he couldn't start.
I was treated to a Parisian full works Fruits de Mer lunch the following week, as a thank you.
This was a proper French lunch, taking most of the aftermoon, no rush to get back to work, and we mostly talked about life outside work.
Very hard indeed to beat.
Years ago, during a bit of a career stall, I ended up being a junior code monkey for a company.
One afternoon, I wandered through the Finance department - to find everyone absent except the Finance Director, who looked about as grim as could be.
It turned out that their computer system had gone down hard - no-one could do anything, so all the staff had been sent home. They'd phoned Support, who couldn't get there for 3 days, and would do a bare-metal reinstall of the whole system when they did.
Now this was a NetWare system, and I had previously supported NetWare. So I offered to take a look - after all, I really couldn't break anything, as the support guys were going to nuke everything from orbit anyway.
It took me 10 minutes to find the problem.
It took me 20 minutes to summon up the courage to apply the fix.
The following morning, I got in to work to be told that the FD was looking for me - urgently. "Crap", thinks I, "I've broken something". With trepidation, I headed for his office.
Whereupon, I was greeted with a huge beaming grin, and a very large bag of beer.
 Spookily, my NetWare support role was in exactly the same building as this fault...
" a very large bag of beer."
I can usually be swayed with a bag of beer, but that and all the other little cakes and trinkets mentioned in these comments illustrate that none of us are getting proportionate rewards.
Im sure that Finance director could tell you , if not straight away then after his incident report , how many thousands they were losing per hour . Multiply that by 3 day call out and reconfig time , subtract price of bag of beer . profit.
Bonuses are only for those
Im sure that Finance director could tell you , if not straight away then after his incident report , how many thousands they were losing per hour . Multiply that by 3 day call out and reconfig time , subtract price of bag of beer . profit.
But I was staff - so they could reasonably have asked me to do the job as part of my normal duties.
The fact that I got anything as a thankyou was really quite welcome - and not even because it was beer, but because someone at Director level actually gave a shit...
It took me 10 minutes to find the problem.
It took me 20 minutes to summon up the courage to apply the fix.
Ooooohhhh....been there. A sphincter tightening moment when you feel "sure" you are about to do the right thing but that nagging voice at the back of your head is saying "Nooooo....don't do it!", even though you can't make it worse. And the massive sense of relief when you succeed!
After sorting out an issue (I forget what) for an Underwriter, I got treated to the opening day of the third Test v the Windies at the Oval. Lunch and beers (many) for the day provided by a bunch of brokers, who seemed a bit bemused when I told them I worked in IT.
It's a day I remember fondly, though I subsequently lost my souvenir England cricket hat in Rome airport. But that's another story.
Whilst browsing the helpdesk tickets for second line support, I spotted one that should have been accelerated. A user for the test stage of Windows XP to Windows 7 migration had an appalling experience and wished to revert to XP -- not impossible, but horrible for us to implement. The user was an important manager who had been chosen for the stage by a project manager in a misguided attempt to show our competence. In a positive way.
I transferred the ticket to myself and identified that the user had an administrative assistant (i.e. hero in this anecdote). She confirmed that the user struggled with Windows and told me what he needed to do, how he did it and how we (IT services) could make it better for him. We (she and me) arranged for a visit from a different member of the second line support team than the one who had messed up his PC. We picked someone who could perform a technical review and talk about the transition. There was a small backroom team on stand-by to sort out problems. We contrived a special request for a third member of the second line support team to visit his home to ensure that his new laptop worked with his broadband connection and wifi -- and that our user knew how it worked, vaguely.
At a bit of expense, we converted a test user who hated Windows 7 into an advocate. And the admin assistant learned a bit about how to get IT services on her side.
It was an expensive exercise but one that was important to the credibility of a project. Could we have given similar support to other users? On several more occasions, I arranged for senior managers to be treated similarly at work (without home visit). I hope that the lessons I learned were passed down.
One academic bought me a rather nice bottle of wine, and one user bought me the Dilbert "Hands-On Manager" mug after walking him through a difficult issue.
Most of the time, the students would say thank-you at the end of the year with a big bar of Fruit and Nut. I didn't have the heart to tell them I had a nut allergy, but my colleagues did well out of that arrangement.
Yeah, I had that on a site visit once. I arrived well within the 7 working hour response time and the boss on site was *very* abusive. I just said I don't have to take this and walked out. Phoned the office from the car and told them what had happened and they said to wait a bit. 20mins later said abusive boss came out, apologised, and invited me to come sort out his crashed server, which I did. It took about 30 mins. On calling in to close the job off I was told that it had been escalated up to director level who rang the customer and told them the contract was cancelled and they could stew in their own juices if their attitude wasn't resolved immediately. I never had another problem at that site. Apparently the boss there had had a bad day and the server crash was the final straw. Still no need to take it out on me and I never looked forward to site visits there ever again, even though he went out of his way to be nice afterwards.
Some times, it is.
My very first job was on a call center for a large shipping company supporting their in-house written apps that they provided their customers for creating shipping labels and whatnot.
One of the calls I got was from a very upset and annoyed shipping manager, who proceed to rant and rave at me for about 20 minutes or so. The poor guy wasn't made at us, or the software, but at one of the other employees of said shipping company, and I guess he just needed someone to yell at. I was polite, professional, and let him de-spool, taking notes the entire time. I'm not sure if I actually did anything, but I wrote it all up and sent it up my chain of command, which was about the only thing I could do. (I made the caller aware of this, obviously.) I did get an apology from him for his ranting, and I went on my merry way; Apparently, I have a sympathetic ear or something.
"It shouldn't be" is something kids say. It just is, and the better you are at it, the more clients love you. I actually joined my current business partner partly because he's a basket of nerves and hates dealing with client rage, and I can just shrug it off and take the brunt. You'd be surprised how much letting someone vent calms them down. (I still prefer it when they find a more suitable target, of course.)
"They need to get a grip on their misplaced anger."
So if your company has seriously mucked things up for a customer the customer should just shrug it off? They have no entitlement to be angry at your company, the one that's got things wrong? Why?
It may well be that anger is misplaced in that front line support isn't responsible for you company's lack of a proper escalation process, bad product quality, documentation or whatever it is that gave rise to the anger which may very well be justified. Front line support is, unfortunately, the only face your company presents to the user once the shiny suited salesman has disappeared.
But no company should regard anger directed at it as being misplaced unless they're very sure that it wasn't their own inadequacies that caused it. And they are, very often the cause in one way or another.
I generally get offered a decent breakfast & lunch when I get to them! But having equipment in the basement where the kitchens are located, generally puts me off food for a week!
Servers next to freezers, cables in false ceilings & open racks with food on the top equipment, kind of puts me off!
guy was losing his sh*t over a problem that "you *ssholes can't figure out!". To be fair it was a critical system, but in the beginning days of "the dot com era" there were lots of people with a little money, great ideas, and in spite of poor stress management and interpersonal relationship skills, decent people.
Resolved the problem (intermittent power loss) and spent awhile demonstrating WHY it was critical the UPS remain plugged into a certain outlet, made sure to demonstrate exactly what happened when it got moved to a lower rated one, and did so making sure the guy understood it. Let his rants run by and when he'd gotten that out of his system, he understood the problem, and apologized.
Also apologized with $300 in cash undeclared to my boss. And none of our future call outs to his company resulted in any bad attitude for at least as long as I remained with that outfit.
I've had quite a few thank you gifts over the years for helping customers out. The most memorable ones have been the customer who sent me a bottle of quite good whiskey wrapped in an unused baby's nappy and a bottle of Absolut Citron Vodka from a grateful PA when I helped her set up the stand at a show when all I was asked to do was set up a laptop for her to show a looping PPT presentation.
Them were the days, alas I don't get such get thank you gifts anymore however they do let my manager know which helps with my end of year review .. and salary uplift conversations.
In the early 90s I worked for a SOP software and hardware seller as support.
We had one food manufacturer customer in the Black Country that made savouries (dead pigs went in one end of the factory and savoury delights came out of the other). Accounts had a 286 CP/M multi-user server with an DK511-8 (5 1/4" 80MB) as the HDD. As many older viewers will know, these were quote prone to going pop.
One month-end this happened again. I arrived mid afternoon on Friday to find the Hitachi drive had failed. The accounts manager was most upset that they couldn't generate invoices etc. Usually this meant new HDD and rebuild - approx a days work with tapes, discs config sheets etc. A colleague had told me after a previous rebuild that he'd got away with swapping the control PCB on the drive. I tried this and - miraculously - the system came back up.
The company was really grateful, and I was rewarded with 2 boxes of Steak & Kidney pies, Pork Pies, Scotch Eggs and a few other tasty treats. If I remember, the repair lasted about a year, which was pretty good going for the time.
The past is a foreign country.
A colleague had told me after a previous rebuild that he'd got away with swapping the control PCB on the drive. I tried this and - miraculously - the system came back up.
In the 80s I had lots of success with recovering data from dead (it was most often controller/logic (especially with IDE, but also some ST-506/412 (MFM/RLL)) rather than mechanical drive failure) drives.
Made for very happy customers when they were exchanging drive under warranty and inquired if it was possible to recover the data.
A number of jobs ago, I used to do on-site service for small companies. One place I went to was a furniture store, and we did their POS systems. I was called out to fix one of them, and they hit me with the old standby of 'while you are here, can you fix this other one?" I figured, what the hell, I'm getting paid anyway, and it was on covered equipment, so I poke at it, and got it working in a couple minutes.
Now, we were not allowed to accept tips, but this time, I was forced to accept it as a good will thing. $20 for plugging a cable into the correct port and fixing a POS that was down for some time prior to that? I'm good!
Or offered you a tasty thanks for your services?
Funnily enough, yesterday afternoon I was at a friend's place waiting to sign for a courier package.
A great many moons ago, when I was working in what I've referred to here as a "factory" IIRC, I also did some work for out-of-firm customers - people who needed a small job done.
I didn't recognise the courier, but he recognised me. I'd done a job for him back then and had apparently helped him out immeasurably with a car restoration he was doing.
He dropped back a bit later in his run with a fairly decent bakery-sourced pie and doughnut for my lunch, and tomorrow has invited me out to see his car and go for a ride, with lunch involved as well.
(TBH, I still can't recall the guy from work or the job I did for him but hey, free lunch is free lunch, and a cheap mince pie is still tastier than the basic sammies I'd probably be having!)
My best buddy at work would map his print spooler to the hot chick in accounting's PC. Needless to say every time he want'd to chat her up he'd kick off a large "test print job" bringing her machine to it's knees. He was always waiting by the phone for her call.
They are married with two kids now...
My incident revolved around an auditor. He had a distrust of the mainframe where I worked. Whenever he called I was honest with him to a fault. Our security system was not IBM's but another one. He was always calling up and asking questions like why did I access this specific data set. I informed that that was part of my job as when a drive was just about to go, I would move all the data off of it to one that was ready for use. That way I told him there would never be calls at 0300 about a drive failing. I was also responsible for all the DASD on the system. It was typical for me to do hundred+ datasets at a time. He was suspicious of me. for some reason. I was installing maintenance on a copy of the system and all of a sudden I was seeing thousands of loggings of datasets that were *mine* (well they belonged to the system). I watched as the logging went up to 3000 or so. For the sake of good relations, I called him up and asked if he wanted to see what I was doing. The listing for applying maintenance can grow rather large as practically every system data set is updated, it was 6 foot high. I put it on a paper cart and took it up to his office and said where do you want me to go through this with you. He was surprised that the listing was so large.
I went through each update and why it was logged. I think his eyes glazed over as I went through every fix that went on. I asked him after 50 pages if he wanted to continue. and he said well could I come back later, I said yes. The next day he called me up and asked if I could start again. I said yes. I got a cola and went up there prepared to start up again. Sitting at the conference table was a VP and our security person and I thought oh no I am getting fired. I asked him if he wanted to start over and he said yes, I was not happy to repeat myself but I thought if I was going down for something, it wasn't what I was doing as it was part and parcel of every day on the job. So I explained the process of how IBM sends out fixes and a little bit on how they are packaged. So I started at the first logging message and what was going on. This was way over the VP's head but the security guy grasped the fundamentals and understood vaguely what was going on. He was getting into it pretty good and the VP fidgeted looking for a way out. I asked the security guy that what I was doing was normal and he said "yes". With that the VP got up and walked out of the room. I asked the auditor if I should continue and he said no. The auditor and the security guy got up and left. So I took 6 foot of paper back to my desk to go through by myself and was done in 2 hours as I knew what if any issues I had to look for.
After that I never was questioned about anything I did. The Auditor actually warmed up to me and apologized for getting me into the situation. He thought I was doing something I shouldn't have and he saw tha it was normal for me to update system data sets on a not currently used system.
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