back to article Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

Welcome again to On-Call, The Register's Friday frolic through readers' memories of support jobs that had odd endings. This week, meet "Larry," who once worked for a company that we won't name. Just understand that this firm is a big name in the business IT world. You don’t need to have the powers of a seer to figure this one …

  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Well, manglement ....

    .... always see support as a cost centre. So why not go ahead and prove it!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Well, manglement ....

      Like the, apocryphal, support call to Cray Supercomputers from a US govt dept:

      <angry support rep> Look you're not our only bloody customer you know !

      <user>True, but we are the one with nuclear weapons

      1. Yes Me Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Well, manglement ....

        What makes you think it is apocryphal? I mean, they had a building full of Crays at Livermore (I saw them, and lived), and that's exactly how they talked.

        The icon, of course...

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Well, manglement ....

          Yes but I don't think the University of California ever threatened people with nuclear weapons.

          If it did then other institutions wouldn't play college football, but would have to compete in DnD leagues instead.

          1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

            Re: Well, manglement ....

            Give 'em time

    2. ITMA Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Well, manglement ....

      My favourite response in such situations - when I am the customer - is to explain it to them simply and clearly:

      "I'm profit, you are overhead".

      I had an exerpience with a very good sales rep for a local Compaq dealer in the early/mid '90s.

      I wandered in almost "off the street". I was in my early to mid 20s, not in the traditional suit (can't abide wearing suits) or anything. Certainly didn't look like a serious business customer. Just wanted to ask about desktop PCs for a potential upgrade.

      The salesman, to his eternal credit, treated me as a serious customer and within 2 months I'd placed orders through him for hardware, software and trainng to the value of £234,000.

      Upgraded the entire company IT from mixed DOS/Windows 3.1 on dreadful "build it yourself" smorgasbord hardware, mixed Lotus 123/Word Perfect to all Windows 3.11, standard Microsoft Office platform and 95+ new Compaq PCs. Training for the staff and brand new server.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Well, manglement ....

        I was once depositing money into a cashpoint one Sunday afternoon. I had stuck my card in, entered the amount of cash I was depositing, and then put the envelope in containing ~£200. This was where it went wrong. The machine accepted the money but didn’t acknowledge it had had anything deposited. It asked if I needed more time which was a worry, so I called the phone bank and queried it with them. The first bloke I spoke to was helpful but clueless. He said the money was registered as being in my account and I could end the transaction. I said that it was only showing as there whilst the transaction was still in progress. He disagreed so I asked to speak to a manager who was quickly on the line.

        He said the same thing which was annoying and I told him I knew a bit more about the processes involved than he apparently did. I said if I ended the transaction then the system would reconcile the fact that it thought hadn’t had an envelope with cash and delete the money from my account. He said that’s not how it works sir and told me I could end the transaction. When I did so the money showing on his screen disappeared to his utter amazement. I was apologised to and told they’d raise a customer service complaint and to visit the branch the next morning to get my cash back.

        I went into the branch and spoke to a lovely Polish lady who I knew there who dug out my unmarked envelope with the cash in. She manually deposited it into my account and apologised for the machine’s failure. I had a call from customer service the next day who apologised profusely for the problem. They had listened to the recording of the call and said I was quite correct as to how the system worked. They gave me £50 in compensation for the inconvenience and the cost of the call. I contrast that with some of the work issues I have dealt with where the external people I’ve spoken to have been obstinate and downright rude or hostile in one case.

        1. Sampler

          Re: Well, manglement ....

          Wouldn't get that these days.

          I got a notification that the courier had attempted a delivery and we weren't home, which was odd as my partner is currently housebound and unable to leave

          Wound the CCTV back to 3/4's of hour before they claimed to visit and watched to fifteen minutes past and, nothing, no one tried to deliver anything.

          They dropped the parcel off at the local post office, which is only open 9-5 monday to friday, you know, when the majority of people work, the post office near my home, not near my work so I could even nip across on my lunchbreak.

          Queried with the delivery company if they could actually try and deliver it, but, nothing can be done now because it's with the post office, contacted the post office to see if it could be moved to one near work (and also open for a few hours on a saturday morning, how novel) and... no, there's absolutely nothing they can do and to contact the courier company.

          This, dear reader, is where I let you know that the courier company is an arm of the post office (StarTrak and AusPost) - so the left arm says they can do nothing and to speak to the right, who claim they can do nothing and speak to the left...

          All for a parcel they were paid to deliver and never bothered trying, as far as the CCTV serves.

          So I contact the supplier, see if there's anything they can do and to not send the second shipment the week after so we don't go through this rigmarole again with the next package, they're this little company you may have heard of called Google so you may be as surprised as I was to find the next week come and the package sent = \

          This time they did at least ring the doorbell but the driver must be the record holder for knock-a-door run as by the time my crippled partner could answer (a whole ten seconds they claim, given they were already in the kitchen by happenstance and near the intercom), so now I have two parcels, at two separate post offices, neither of which open outside of business hours.

          (they handily took this to the post office to the east of my address, whereas the first went to the nearest one west)

          Phone calls, emails, requests for escalations that never eventuated and an ombudsman filing got me nowhere, they simply closed the tickets and moved on.

          I'm no longer purchasing anything from Google or using the postal or courier services, and we're a company that send a lot by courier, we'd spent nearly half a million with AusPost in the last financial year, this year's not going to look so good.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Return to sorting office...

            Reminds me of a vacations let where the router packed up. This particular service provider insisted you use their router. "Ok, can you send one?" "Certainly sir." So they did, but it got returned to the sorting office because nobody was there to receive it, and a red card was left. Minor problem turned into a major problem. Turned out that the owner of the property had never bothered to inform the broadband company of the change of ownership, so the new router was sitting in the Royal Mail sorting office and could not be collected because the addressee could not provide proof of Id. Luckily the broadband provider sent another router to the lettings company themselves whereupon I collected it and took it to the property and installed it.

            +1 to the b/band company for going the extra mile here, but -1 for not being able to use a third party router.

            These obscure situations often only come to light when something goes wrong. In this case the property was unmarketable during the period the broadband wasn't functional, so that was a lesson the owner of the property learned the hard way.

          2. NoneSuch Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Well, manglement ....

            "which was odd as my partner is currently housebound and unable to leave"

            Ummm, is housebound unable to leave the house, or tied and gagged on the living room floor?

        2. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Well, manglement ....

          They gave me £50 in compensation for the inconvenience

          The sincerest form of apology is money, Purchased a cabinet from the closest IKEA, 40 miles away. I got it home in my truck and was assembling it when I discovered that the base was drilled wrong, and could not be assembled. Grrrr! I took the half-finished cabinet back and told Customer Service to come see how it was not possible to assemble it. They did, got some people to help wrestle it back into the store (it was a six-foot glass and wood display cabinet), gave me one in exchange and offered space in the store for me to assemble it far enough to verify it was correctly drilled. I took advantage of that, this one was correct, and they helped me load the now-mostly-assembled piece into the truck, PLUS handed me a gift card that would generously cover the cost of a tank of gas (much less back then than it is now). How to keep a customer 101.

  2. EVP Silver badge

    You get what you order

    Long time ago I called our insurance company’s emergency line. They promised to cover all expenses, guaranteed, and off I went to get supplies by taxi. When the time came, they refused to cover transportation costs. Phone recording of the earlier conversation was mysteriously ”lost”.

    I switched insurance company. Lying to me and saving 200 € has cost them this far some 30 000 € in lost revenue. Still counting…

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: You get what you order

      I must then be unfortunate in my life that on every occasion I've been lied to on the phone I always seem to be the one losing out. And all they lose is my future business, which being an 'end' consumer is just a drop in the ocean to them.

      1. H in The Hague
        Pint

        Re: You get what you order

        "And all they lose is my future business, which being an 'end' consumer is just a drop in the ocean to them."

        No, because there are thousands of yous whose repeat business they lose.

        These businesses forget that finding new customers is much harder and more expensive than retaining existing customers.

        Fortunately most of my customers are v aware of this and work hard to keep their customers loyal to them, sometimes for decades. Simply by producing high-quality products with an attractive price/quality ratio, and fixing things promptly when they go wrong. As a result they only need a tiny marketing department.

        A good weekend to all commentards -->

        1. A____B

          Re: You get what you order

          "And all they lose is my future business, which being an 'end' consumer is just a drop in the ocean to them."

          No, because there are thousands of yous whose repeat business they lose.

          ------------

          True. But it would be interesting to find some way of measuring this. The boycotted business is unlikely to announce lost customers. The lost customers themselves have no way of knowing about others.

          For what it's worth, Amazon lost my custom 5 years ago - prior to that they were my go-to for birthdays, Christmas and my own purchases so their opportunity loss is several thousands of pounds (non trivial in my terms, less than a rounding error in theirs) -- and all because they screwed me over with appalling customer service on an item costing less than 150 GBP.

          Had they spent a fraction of the effort devoted to tax dodging schemes in customer service, it may have been a different outcome.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            Amazon are easy to deal with. If they don't give the compensation you deem fair, you just order yourself a present of something you know will be wrong and therefore refunded. They sent me 5 bottles of 60 quid a bottle rum (and 25 quid in credit) before eventually deciding that it wasn't a dispatch error and the listing was wrong, and refunding my 60 quid. I considered that adequate compensation for the thing they'd actually messed up, and a lot easier to get.

            1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              The simplest way to deal with amazon is

              A: Never ordered from 3rd party sellers

              B: If it breaks inside the warranty and they're giving you issues... order a replacement through a friend, or alt account and then send it back as faulty.

            2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: and refunding my 60 quid.

              They are going to have to redefine what is meant by a rum deal, on that basis.

            3. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              Sorry I must be slow. I don't get it. They sent you 5 bottles because why? You returned them? You lied and said you never received it? What did they decide was wrong with the listing?

          2. Helcat

            Re: You get what you order

            Used to be rated as a 1:10 ratio. You gain 1 customer per satisfied customer and you lose 10 customer for 1 unsatisfied customers.

            Sure, it was an estimate, but the principle was: If one person has a good experience, they might tell their friends and family and possibly give a good review, which might result in another new customer for the business.

            But one customer has a bad experience: They will tell people: Friends, family, co-workers, social media: They'll be vocal. And they will give a bad review, and may exaggerate just how bad, and that will cause people to be weary and may decide to go elsewhere instead.

            That's why keeping your customers happy is important, but you have to be careful of those who might decide to extort a bit of 'good will': That's when it's cheaper to ditch that customer, and lose 10 more, rather than pay out thousands to possibly make a few hundred in return.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You get what you order

              Many years ago, research by a large U.K. bank and airline came up with the finding that a customer whose problem you solved to their satisfaction was 11 times more loyal than one for whom there hadn’t been a problem.

              I can’t confirm the accuracy of the numbers but I know that my own relationship with a company improves if they prove they then respond well to problems. It’s a trust that is only potential until a problem crops up, at which point the trust is affirmed or lost.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: You get what you order

                It’s a trust that is only potential until a problem crops up, at which point the trust is affirmed or lost.

                Now THAT is the best summary ever, and should hang on the wall of every person who has dealings with support (together with the loyalty aspect mentioned elsewhere). That's also confirmed by the fact that it actulayy costs a lot less to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one (pretty much the same argument why you should treat your staff properly, btw).

                If someone's spreadsheet doesn't incorporate those facts they are in my opinion cooking the books. Or more cooking the books :).

                Post of the week IMHO.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                "It’s a trust that is only potential until a problem crops up, at which point the trust is affirmed or lost."

                That's something I've always "known", felt in my bones, so to speak. When a customer has a problem, as I often say to them, the problem isn't the issue, it's how it's dealt with that matters. So I always try to deal with it in the best way possible. After all, if they choose to go with a different supplier, odds are they will have the same or similar problems somewhere down the line and may or may not get those problems resolved promptly and/or correctly.

                1. Stevie

                  Re: The Problem Isn’t The Issue

                  Exactly!

                  I have to commute using the bloody Long Island Rail Road.

                  Periodically they have problems that will take a long time to fix. Police activity, derailments, downed trees, snow drifts etc etc.

                  It isn’t the problem stranding us for hours that is the primary annoyance. It is that despite having met these same issues many times over the 100+ years of “service” they never have a f*cking clue about how long it will take to fix.

                  “We’re being held indefinitely here at <some station> due to an police activity unauthorized person on the tracks” (translation: The cops and EMTs are picking up various organs). “Indefinitely”? Really? You know how long it typically takes to do corpse cleanup in the dark from gthe umptytump times before. You know what the backed-up congestion is on the tracks. How about “We won’t be moving for an hour at least. Best you get an uber ride back to your car”?

                  Stupid, and predicated on a captive audience.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: You get what you order

                Many years ago, research by a large U.K. bank and airline came up with the finding that a customer whose problem you solved to their satisfaction was 11 times more loyal than one for whom there hadn’t been a problem.

                Ryan air is half way to getting that customer loyalty then.

                1. Stork Silver badge

                  Re: You get what you order

                  In defence of Ryanair (I know…), last spring their flights actually left as opposed to those of the competitors. We flew out of Bristol at the end of May and I think half the EasyJet flights were cancelled, none of Ryanair’s.

                  1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                    Re: You get what you order

                    See my comment on Scoot Airlines. A really nasty bunch.

                2. Terry 6 Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: You get what you order

                  But Scoot Air ( Singapore Airlines) did my daughter over well and good. You'd be mad to use them IMHO

                  She had an email a couple of weeks before she was due to go on a 3 month visit to S E Asia, that her return flight was cancelled ( note, not the outward) with the email saying click here for a full refund or here for vouchers . No other option..And it had a 6 week deadline to agree (No explanation of what the alternative could be if she didn't)

                  She was still booked on the outward. I spoke to them. Told them we'd have to find an alternative return flight with another company if they couldn't find her one. otherwise how could she get home again. They refused to help at all. Said yes, we'd have to book our own return with another airline. So we did, though at short notice that was considerably more expensive and she had limited funds ( earned interning with Oracle btw).

                  The afternoon before her outward flight they emailed to say they'd postponed take off to possibly the following morning. I kept phoning to find out when ( or if) the flight would go. But they couldn't say. While we were waiting to find out my daughter went online and accepted the return refund so that she didn't miss that 6 week deadline. Next time I called they said that she wasn't on the flight anyway.

                  Their argument was that when she accepted her refund that was for both flights. Even though they'd not cancelled the outward one previously and the cancellation email only mentioned the one flight!. So she had a flight home ( with a good airline) but no outward one!!! She was of floods of tears. Her special graduation holiday, earned through hard, work stolen away from her by Scoot. Her friend who was going to tour with her was already in Bangkok, on her own waiting.

                  Luckily I found a travel agent who moved Heaven and Earth to find her a flight (via Frankfurt). It meant a mad dash to London City Airport, with me literally paying for the flight while my wife drove us. Happy ending, but one of the most stressful, miserable days of my life.

                  If there is a God I call a curse on Scoot (and Singapore) Airlines.. (See icon)

                  1. Richard Pennington 1

                    Re: You get what you order

                    My niece, as part of her PhD studies, travelled out to one of the remoter parts of Indonesia. On the return journey, her first flight (from somewhere out in the jungle to Jakarta) was delayed, resulting in a missed connection for the onward flight out of Indonesia.

                    Long story short. She telephoned the airline's customer service, who wanted her to stump up for another ticket. She phoned home to explain the position. She phoned the airline again, pointing out that they had left a 19-year-old Western female stranded in Jakarta and that they would be hearing from Daddy's solicitor...

              4. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                Correct. You get tons of customer goodwill when you take responsibility at the start for solving a problem regardless of who is at fault. On the other hand, you piss off the person paying your salary when you start off blaming the customer for the problem, trying to get out of fixing it. I work as a repair tech, and when a customer calls me I don't care whose fault is what. My job is to help my customer get his traffic back up. We can sort out responsibility and billing after the fact. My boss gets a lot of 5 star customer reviews with my name on them as a result.

              5. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                My golden rule for any company is simple

                'The true measure of any company is what they do when the screw something up'

                Ordering and delivering something is NOT good service, it's the absolute bare minimum of the consumer contract you and they entered into. It's what you have paid them to do.

                When a product is damaged, or faulty or breaks within the warranty period... that's where you will find out exactly what kind of company they are.

                A satisfied customer will tell perhaps a handful of people... a dissatisfied one will shout it from the rooftops, post it all across social media... and call out their bullshit.

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: You get what you order

                  There are some very unreasonable customers too, ones which the company is happy for them to go elsewhere.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: You get what you order

                    "There are some very unreasonable customers too, ones which the company is happy for them to go elsewhere."

                    I remember a story from a solicitor. One of his clients was a business run by a husband and wife. The wife was aggressive and demanding, never appreciating good work, instead challenging every item on the invoice.

                    The solicitor decided the income wasn't enough to keep putting up with the hassle. He wrote to the business thanking them for their past custom but saying he now wanted to end the relationship. Next day when the letter arrived he received a call from the husband which was something like "I completely understand. I've been very pleased with all the work you have done for the business. I don't want to change solicitor. Would you be willing to continue to work for me, the first task being to act for me in divorcing the bitch."

                    About 20 years ago I worked for a large business that had contracted-out much of its office IT support. At the time it had been paying a bit over £1m p.a. Our department had got a new manager and when the support contract expired she proudly negotiated a 10% lower cost with a new provider. At the monthly meetings our manager gave their contract manager a really hard time, any minor issue was blown up to a full-scale crisis, he must have dreaded those meetings. Time came for renewal of the contract, the incumbent declined to quote.

                    The previous provider felt they'd been hard done by when they lost the contract and they'd had "a difficult time" in the final months of their contract working for our new manager. They didn't relish continuation but if the price was right... they quoted around £4m. There weren't many providers able to handle the quantity and variety of hardware and software involved, there was no choice but to go with a third provider at near £3m p.a.

                    Suppose you are a large broadband provider in UK. You will inevitably have a small % of customers whose IT literacy is "extremely limited" . They need a lot of telephone support. How do you provide that? Three options, 1: competent support technicians (expensive) 2: minimum wage script-following workers, maybe off-shore where they're even cheaper 3: route all calls into a call queueing system with canned music on hold and oft repeated recorded message saying "We are exceptionally busy right now please hold, your business is important to us".

                    Two outcomes: customers give up and choose to move elsewhere because the support is useless or happy customers but it's costing a lot to provide support. There are providers who do deliver good support even to the "IT challenged" and their charges reflect that. I used to have both domestic and business internet services from what became Virgin media. The business service was in most respects the same as domestic but cost a lot more. It was when it came to support that the difference became evident. Calls to business support was answered by knowledgeable technicians who understood the problem, did the diagnostics, identified the root cause and restored service promptly. Domestic support was a very different story but a day or two of down-time was just an annoyance. I didn't mind paying the premium to keep my office staff working.

                    Done properly there's a third way. First line support for the simple problems but with an understanding of their limitations and an escalation route. Add performance monitoring that raises a red flag if first line is escalating too many *or too few* calls. Monitor customer feedback and act on it. But ultimately, even for small businesses, sacking a customer that's causing significant unrecoverable cost or distress to staff is a rational action. They'll move to a competitor and cause damage to them instead of you. And as with the solicitors story, be polite about the sacking, find a credible pretext like winding down in readiness for retirement; changing company structure and commercial offerings; workload pressure having taken on a major new client...

            2. Marcelo Rodrigues
              Devil

              Re: You get what you order

              "Used to be rated as a 1:10 ratio. You gain 1 customer per satisfied customer and you lose 10 customer for 1 unsatisfied customers."

              This one must be true. Years ago a friend ask me the brand of my refrigerator. I couldn't remember - 15 years working, and not single blip. He said:

              "We never remember the brands of the good appliances, since we never think about them again!"

              Makes sense. Problem is: if I don't remember the brand, I can't recommend it to anyone, can I? So, this 1:10 ratio looks reasonable to me - I DO remember the brands that screwed me over, and I make a point of steering my friends away from them.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                Yes dammit. In my comment about the abominable Scoot Airlines I'd like to name the good ones my daughter flew with and the brilliant travel agent we used. Can I remember? No.

              2. nintendoeats Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                I just wanna say, I will only buy Sony TVs. My family has had scads of them, and not one has gone wrong in a way that mattered (and I haven't seen a minor issue on any until they were at least that was less than a decade old).

                So in that case, yes in that instance I remember and there really is some brand loyalty. Wouldn't buy there CDs though...

                I think I am probably more conscious of this than average. If I am happy with something, when it comes time to replace I will tend to look at the same brand first (given sensible circumstances).

                1. MJI Silver badge

                  Re: You get what you order

                  I like Sony TVs, I am on my 4th, had them since 20 and now nearly 60

              3. TSM

                Re: You get what you order

                Not always. I'm happy to recommend Fisher & Paykel washing machines after ours lasted us 17 years - replaced a couple of years ago by another F&P of the current nearest equivalent line but with larger capacity.

                On the other hand I couldn't tell you what brand our freezer is, but I'm happy to get another one if and when it decides to pack up.

              4. MJI Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                Ours is Bosch and over 20 years old.

              5. Loyal Commenter

                Re: You get what you order

                I couldn't even tell you the make of my washing machine if I went and had a look at it, as I've had it so long the branding has worn off the front of it. (The model number hasn't, and googling it indicates it's a Siemens). It must be getting on for 20 years old...

          3. Old Used Programmer

            Re: You get what you order

            The real downside for a business that causes you to go elsewhere is that you'll tell your friends about your experience and they will then avoid that company. They may even tell their other friends.

            So far as I know, there are statistics on how many people tell others of positive experiences with companies vs. how many are told of negative experiences. Negative experiences spread farther than positive, IIRC.

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              I do tend to spread it around eg Humax are good and Pace are a bunch of chancers.

              I am looking as a Freeview HD PVR to supplement our Freesat PVR, after the debacle of abandoned expensive Freeview Pace PVRs,Humax will be chosen.

              Their hardware was 8k compliant but their software was only 2k compliant. A previously working pre DSO Pace Twin PVR ended up at the local tip electrical recycling.

              What does this mean?

              I will NEVER buy another Pace product. I also recommend to other people the same.

        2. Snapper

          Re: You get what you order

          "These businesses forget that finding new customers is much harder and more expensive than retaining existing customers'.

          That should be tattooed on the forehead of all sales managers!

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            As far as I can work out sales managers get bonuses for getting new punters. They don't lose anything if old ones parachute out. They need churn to earn. It's a lucrative merry-go-round for them.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: You get what you order

        "And all they lose is my future business"

        And that of your family, friends and colleagues, Shirley.

        I never spend money on advertising because I keep my customers very, very gruntled. They do my advertising for me.

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: You get what you order

          I need an extra upvote for "gruntled" :).

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            It's not mine ... I stole it from a BBS in the late '70s.

            1. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: You get what you order

              >>It's not mine ... I stole it from a BBS in the late '70s.

              Honesty as well as, presumably, excellent customer service and products?

              Have another upvote dear chap!

              I wish there were more suppliers like you.

            2. this

              Re: You get what you order

              <pedant>Actually PG Wodehouse </pedant>

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            According to Merriam-Webster, the first use of gruntled dates back to 1904. Hooda thunkit?

            1. Jonathon Green
              Holmes

              Re: You get what you order

              Does gruntled predate disgruntled?

              1. disgruntled yank

                Re: You get what you order

                Historically, no. In mood, yes, generally for most of us it does.

            2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

              the first use of gruntled

              The curious thing about the modern, humorous use of “gruntled” vs. “disgruntled” is that it relies upon one of the multiple meanings of “dis-”. Not only can “dis-” be a negation (e.g. “continue” vs. “discontinue”), but it can be an intensifier (e.g. “embowel” vs. “disembowel”). The “dis-” in “disgruntled” is an intensifier rather than a negation, which is shown by the earliest example of the second definition of the verb “gruntle” in the OED, from 1589.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: the first use of gruntled

                Dis-gruntled instead of dat-gruntled.....

                1. ecofeco Silver badge

                  Re: the first use of gruntled

                  What about da-gruntled?

                  1. Spanners Silver badge
                    Go

                    Re: the first use of gruntled

                    I was wondering about de-gruntled.

                    It makes me think it could be removing dangly bits from a male pig...

                    1. Richard Cranium

                      Re: the first use of gruntled

                      I'd like to propose a new coinage? regruntled: the result of successfully recovering dissatisfied customers (listen, understand, empathise, apologise, fix the problem).

                      My mail-order beer supplier sent me a case of beer, one can had exploded. "Support" said what amounted to "shit happens, beer is a live product and fermentation can continue in the can, we don't offer replacements" so I cancelled my monthly deliveries. A couple of days later the proprietor called me in person and did the right thing: Understood, apologised, explained that the support person was new and had now been given some guidance, added a few pounds credit to my account, gave me his personal contact details and asked that I contact him direct should I have any future issues. I'm now regruntled and my beer supplies are being regularly replenished.

                2. Irony Deficient Silver badge

                  Re: the first use of gruntled

                  … or the Shakespearean “yondergruntled” —

                  But soft, what loaf though yondergruntled bakes? It is the yeast, and Juliet is the bun.

              2. scasey

                Re: the first use of gruntled

                I'm a bit late to this party, but I'll post anyway...

                A few years ago I was working with a Latvian builder. He kept saying that things needed to be mantled. I had no idea what he meant, but not being in the building game, didn't want to risk looking stupid by asking. He said 'Then they tell us to mantle this, and mantle this, then mantle that. And we do all the mantling. Then they come along and make us dismantle it all, without even using it'.

                Ahhh!

            3. Sudosu

              Re: You get what you order

              Gruntled, disgruntled.

              Flammable, inflammable.

              Oh, wait.

        2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: You get what you order

          Absolutely. One of the best things is when someone phones and wants to bring their business because of a recommendation. All we have to do is not to fsck up. Well, and if something goes pear-shaped, fess up and correct.

          It also goes the otherway: when I stop doing business with crappy clients and put them on our black list.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            "It also goes the otherway: when I stop doing business with crappy clients and put them on our black list."

            Firing customers who are a more of a pain in the ass than they are worth is one of the truly great joys of being self employed.

            About three times per year, or thereabouts, I quite literally use the phrase "you're fired" to a client of mine, or of the wife[0]. Frankly, I quite enjoy it. The look on their face when they realize I am dead serious is priceless.

            [0] She's a softy, so I draw this detail by default.

            1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              That is one of the great things* of my employer: I get full support for firing or not accepting clients that I don't want to work with.

              *no, not everything is great - cf. another of my comments within this section.

            2. JohnTill123

              Re: You get what you order

              Agreed!!

              A very good friend of mine was in accounting, and he had a number of clients. He used to complain that half his customers never paid his bills, and he couldn't live on the revenue he was getting from the customers who did pay. I knew he was producing very high quality work but since he was independent he didn't think he could charge a proper rate.

              I told him to double his rate: Simple as that. He thought I was crazy. A year later, I ran into him again: He explained that several of his friends and colleagues had told him the same advice, so he did.

              He then told me that the customers who never paid their bills dropped him immediately, but the half who did pay their bills said "OK, no problems" and paid the new prices. Suddenly he had doubled his revenues and halved his workload. Getting rid of his non-paying clients had yet another benefit: They were the clients who complained and demanded the most from him. So all of a sudden his phone was ringing a lot less.

              1. Woodnag

                Re: You get what you order

                The smallish firm that does my personal tax started a scheme that customers prepaid an estimate of the fees at the start of the tax season. Those that couldn't afford that dropped out, and that included the problem non-payers that were the reason for the scheme.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                It seems to be the case that not charging enough gives the impression the product or service is not valuable and the chancers will try to knock down the prices even further or demand more for the same. Good for him for seeing the light when it is pointed out to him.

              3. Snapper

                Re: You get what you order

                Classic business move if you know you are good at your job and provide an excellent service! I did this 20 years ago and never looked back.

          2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            "Well, and if something goes pear-shaped, fess up and correct."

            Ooo this exactly. Tell me what you screwed up and fix it, and I'll have more respect for you. People make mistakes. Try to lie your way out of it though, and I'll wonder what else you're lying about.

          3. AlbertH
            Facepalm

            Re: You get what you order

            It also goes the other way: when I stop doing business with crappy clients and put them on our black list.

            .... We used to call them "Class A Customers" - "A" for A****le, of course. If the customer heard that they were a "Class A Customer", they'd usually preen and become even more insufferable!

    2. Def Silver badge

      Re: You get what you order

      I once worked with someone whose parents worked for an insurance company.

      They refused to buy any insurance they weren't legally required to buy. They knew first hand what a massive scam the whole industry is.

      1. Chz

        Re: You get what you order

        I'd generally agree with not buying any insurance you're not required to, except in the case of travel insurance. It's one of those edge cases where you're extraordinarily unlikely to need it, but if you do you'll be really, *really* glad you went for it and it's rarely even that expensive. Says someone who rang up medical expenses in the United States.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          These days I just book all tickets, cars, and hotels with a credit card. Then I get "free" travel insurance that is no worse, coverage wise, than what I might otherwise pay for anyway.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You get what you order

            If you ever need US medical assistance I think you might be in for a nasty shock. Few of those 'free' credit card travel insurances cover medical issues beyond, perhaps, a repatriation flight. They certainly won't pick up a $200+k bill for major trauma or a heart attack.

            1. Def Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              According to the terms and conditions mine will cover up to 200 million kroner (~$20M) in medical expenses.

              1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: You get what you order

                Not sure if enough for a common cold in the USA

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Given the weird amount of money that an apparent lot of mini Schrekli's are making there of medication that may not be as jokey as you think.

                  I think a country can only call itself civilised if it ensures all its citizens have access to decent healthcare and education. That's also the only way the country has a future IMHO. In that context I think UK's NHS should get more funding, not less.

                  1. cdrcat

                    Re: You get what you order

                    https://randomcriticalanalysis.com/why-conventional-wisdom-on-health-care-is-wrong-a-primer/ is an analysis of heath systems that argues against some of the typical opinions we have - I am unsure how sound the analysis is but it certainly is interesting.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: You get what you order

                'kroner'. That expains it, you're living in one of them socialist countries.

                1. Spanners Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Nope. Kroner means crowns. He has a royal family

                2. Def Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Seeing as you are clearly confused, let me enlighten you.

                  There are five socialist states in the world today, People's Republic of China, Republic of Cuba, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

                  Norway, where I live, is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: You get what you order

                    Woosh! Seems nobody can figure a joke anymore.

                    Maybe if I'd used 'one of them commies countries' you'd have figured it out.

                    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                      Re: You get what you order

                      Since that orange dude in the US and that "upturned leek" guy in the UK were in power there all jokes must be marked as such. No matter what irony you have in mind, once reality has beaten irony it is impossible to distinguish between those two.

                    2. Def Silver badge

                      Re: You get what you order

                      The thing is, there are plenty of people in the world who genuinely believe that countries with strong social welfare systems are socialist. And there are plenty of Americans in particular who think a welfare system of any kind is the first and only step to communism and/or socialism.

                      Also, it wasn't very funny. ;)

                      Posting anonymously didn't help either.

                  2. Dinanziame Silver badge
                    Devil

                    Re: You get what you order

                    I'm not sure China counts as socialist, or even communist these days. They're approaching empire from the other side.

            2. lglethal Silver badge
              Go

              Re: You get what you order

              You have to be careful when choosing your insurer and make sure you spunk the extra cost for the US Specific case (if you are heading to the States), but then you're usually fine. But try to use a standard plan with any problems in the US and you'll quickly find out why you should have paid for the US supplement.

              Insurers aren't stupid they know that US medical bills are many times more expensive than anywhere else in the world. They'll quickly cut you off if you havent paid the extra for the right coverage...

              1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: You get what you order

                Probably easier to just not go to the USA. Plenty of nice destinations available elsewhere on the planet.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Also saves having to pack a bulletproof vest. I'm astonished nobody has as yet set up shop in airports renting them out to non-US citizens (as US citizens will probably have one by now).

                  1. TPHB

                    Re: You get what you order

                    Tell us you haven't spent any time in the USA without telling us you haven't spent any time in the USA.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: You get what you order

                      Four weeks, but I got time off for good behaviour..

                    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

                      Re: You get what you order

                      I spent time living in the US... the US has changed for the worse since I was there. School shootings every week, random people getting shot, trumpists going mental even after it's lost the election

                      1. AlbertH

                        Re: You get what you order

                        I lived in LA in 1980. There were random murders there even that far back. Nasty place. I moved back to nice, civilised Europe after 11 months. to a job that paid half as much, but I didn't run a daily risk of instant death!

                  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                    Re: You get what you order

                    In many US states it's illegal to posses bullet proof vests - it's considered un-sporting.

                  3. Spanners Silver badge

                    Re: You get what you order

                    When I went to the USA (on a KC135), as soon as we got to our destination, each one of us was handed an M16.

                    Conclusion: not as good as an SLR but lighter.

                2. Def Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Yep. I have no intention of ever returning to the US.

        2. John Riddoch

          Re: You get what you order

          Yup, it is often worth it - thing is, using "law of diminishing marginal returns", the loss of say £20 for insurance is way less than the potential cost of £1000 if you don't have the insurance. Depends if you can absorb the cost of an insured loss by simply keeping the cash. Normally, house insurance is worth it, because losing £200k+ is more than most people can absorb, but £200/year is manageable. Travel insurance is the same, it's enough to bankrupt you in many places (not just USA) and often included in your current account.

          On the other hand, I ditched the pet insurance because once you have enough of the furry critturs for long enough, you're likely to end up spending more on the insurance than you'd save in vet bills. YMMV, one friend had £6k vet bills on a kitten which got run over which thankfully her insurance covered.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            Yes, sadly, as my boy gets older the cost of pet insurance gets higher until it's no longer cost effective. (Especially when he gets to the point where significant treatment would amount to cruelty). We won't renew next year, he's 14 and the renewal will be exorbitant.

            1. Dave559 Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              There is also that aspect that, with pets, eventually they tend to get to taken to the vet for one last one-way visit, which tends to put a final total sum on their healthcare costs…

              (Given that, as human beings, some of our own final weeks/months/years can sadly also be really unpleasant if we are unlucky, there is also that similar issue that we should probably have the right to choose when we go to sleep for the final time… (The pets don't get to choose, but it's generally regarded as a mercy if they are, or soon will be, so unwell that it would not help their suffering otherwise.)

              1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                There are countries where humans have the right to choose for themselves.

              2. Old Used Programmer

                Re: You get what you order

                Fortunately, Medicare covered nearly all of bill for the 2.5 weeks my wife was in the hospital just before she died. I have to conclude that her "medigap" insurance covered the rest as no bill has shown up since she died 4.5 months ago. (The rough numbers are $121K and $1600.)

                1. Martin-73 Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Sorry to hear of your loss, but it's very good that you're not being hassled for medical debts ... have one on me -->

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You get what you order

          Depends - we bought travel insurance as my wife is diabetic. There was a problem with her insulin, we rang up the company - had a verbal go-ahead and bought replacements.

          Then tried to claim it back - no record of the phone call and they don't cover lost or damaged medication.

          What we meant to do? Let her get so bad have to go to hospital then claim????

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            OOF

          2. Alan_Peery

            Re: You get what you order

            Put it on speakerphone, and record the conversation with the other phone.

        4. Loyal Commenter

          Re: You get what you order

          As a corollary to this, the purchase of hire car excess insurance (usually at a very small premium if you buy it via a comparison site) will save you that awkward moment, when you go to pick up the hire car at the airport, and they try the "either buy our insurance or pay a large deposit for the excess up front" trick (usually a several hundred quid pre-authorised block on the credit/debit card).

          "No thanks, I've already got this insurance to cover it for the whole week for less than you are trying to charge me per day."

          That really pissed off the chancer at the budget car hire place in Marseilles, but there was nothing he could do about it...

          The thing here, is that the insurance they are trying to flog you, on the off chance that someone drives into you, is a price-gouging scam, and, to be honest, the cheaper insurance you buy to avoid it is essentially protection money too.

          1. Outski Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            Also, take photos of any nicks and dings to the bodywork, plus the fuel and oil gauges, as that's another a favourite - just read the Graun's consumer columns

            1. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              "take photos of any nicks and dings to the bodywork, plus the fuel and oil gauges,"

              Good advice - we did the same in France a few years ago. The hire car had less than a quarter of a tank in it and a big dent in the side, which on return they tried to blame me for and claimed I hadn't refilled the car with fuel as per the agreement. Photos proved very useful!

      2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: You get what you order

        "They refused to buy any insurance they weren't legally required to buy. They knew first hand what a massive scam the whole industry is."

        Liability insurance can be. If the terms are open-ended, you are just paying for someone else's eventual benefit.

        If a visitor trips over a loose rug and takes me to court, in the discovery phase they determine that my net worth is $1 million. They sue me for $1 million. If the court finds that I have a $1 million liability policy, I get sued for $2 million. If I try to hide the existance of a policy, I could end up sitting in a jail cell on contempt of court charges.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You get what you order

          Ouch. Either get rid of visitors or rugs!

          1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            I roll visitors up in the rugs. Two birds with one stone.

          2. Loyal Commenter
            Joke

            Re: You get what you order

            Or make sure that when they "accidentally" trip on your rug, they don't get back up...

            I'm assuming that this in the US, so you could probably shoot them and claim a home invasion.

    3. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: You get what you order

      A long while ago my car was rear-ended by a BMW. My car was fine, but I swapped details with the BMW driver, and told my (very cheap) insurance company.

      I'm not 100% sure what happened next, but I think the BMW driver told his insurance company that the crash wasn't his fault (not sure how he spun driving into the back of a car stopped at a traffic light as my fault, but anyway). His insurance company then contacted mine. Or at least they tried to, but my company apparently never responded to them.

      So, a month or so later, I got a letter telling me that as my insurance company hadn't responded, they were taking me to small claims court. I rang up my insurer, and after a lot of being on hold, I got through to someone who promised that they'd deal with it.

      Then I got another letter, saying that as I'd not showed up to court, they'd found against me, and I now owed £600-something, and had a CCJ against me. After yet another phone call to my insurer, they did actually fix everything, but of course, as soon as my contract was up I moved to the next cheapest insurer.

      A month or so later they called me up, asking why I'd not renewed with them, so I took great delight in telling the person on the other end of the phone the whole story, and finished by informing them they worked for a shitty company, and that they should quit and work somewhere better :)

      The company was elephant.co.uk, and to my surprise, they still seem to be in business.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: You get what you order

        What did you get from the insurance ombudsman?

      2. Dave K

        Re: You get what you order

        Similar situation with a shunt my wife had some time back. Another car reversed into her, but they claimed my wife had driven into them. No witnesses, but suddenly we get a letter through the door from my wife's insurance company saying that my wife was going to be deemed responsible for the crash due to a witness produced by the other party.

        It took less than 2 minutes with Google search for me to find out that this so-called witness was the sister of the other party (and hence inadmissible). Of course we couldn't prove that she was never there in the first place, but at least we managed to get the claim back to 50/50 responsibility, but I was furious that my wife's insurance company had just blindly accepted word of this witness and hadn't done any checking what-so-ever. They hadn't even contacted us to verify anything, just said "oh, a witness - you must be responsible then".

        Funnily enough, we moved insurance companies as well.

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          We were sideswiped by a truck in Europe a few years ago. The driver stopped, apologised and explained we were in his blind spot. Insurance details were exchanged, we had photos of the damage to the car, the slught graze on the truck, and the drivers licence, company name etc etc.

          We submitted a claim to our insurers, who went suspiciously quiet for a while, then asked us to prove that we weren't at fault as the truck company's insurance were claiming we had accepted the accident as our fault. Many emails and letters back and forth later they said it was our problem, essentially. We didn't renew.

      3. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: You get what you order

        That's why, where I live at least (US) the advice is that if you're in an accident that isn't your fault to always call the police so there's an accident report on file.

        That saved me once when someone tried exactly the same thing, telling their insurance company an accident was my fault and trying to collect from me. My insurance guy sent them a copy of the police report showing it was their client's fault and said he would be sending them the bill when I had the damage to my car fixed.

        I think it may have been because I was maybe 20 at the time, and he was probably 50 and figured I didn't know how that stuff worked and thought he could bluff me. Fortunately a bystander had called the police, my insurance agent said that's what saved me a lot of hassle as otherwise it would be his word against mine. I since learned that's the advice every insurance agent will give you.

        1. Ace2 Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          Mike Birbiglia has an excruciating routine about what happened after the cop who showed up screwed up the report so badly as to make it look like he had hit a drunk driver while running a red light. Never ever sign any paperwork while concussed!

          1. Old Used Programmer

            Re: You get what you order

            In 2000 I had an angiogram done. This involved (among other things), being under a mild sedative. One of the documents they wanted me to sing before being discharged started out with a statement that I shouldn't sign anything if I'd been sedated. I pointed that out and declined to sign that document. They did admit that my decision was sound and seemed to be kind of embarrassed about it...

        2. Eecahmap

          Re: You get what you order

          If you can get the police to show up. Here, it seems to me that they don't like to be bothered with anything that doesn't include blood.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You get what you order

            Couldn't make it up.

            Many, many years ago I had an accident in the car, small slide on a patch of oil in the road took me into the path of an oncoming car. Driver of other car jumped out and ran off. Passing ambulance stopped to see we were ok, couldn't wait but called another ambulance and the police for me. Police turned up a few minutes later, got out of their car and then got hurredly on the radio because their car caught fire! Two minutes later there was a fire engine on site too.

            No mobile phone, but I knocked on a door and called a parent to let them know what was going on and inform them that the ambulance was going to take me to such-and-such A&E for a check-over.

            Half way there, ambulance decided to go to a different A&E in the opposite direction, cue confused parent wondering where I was for an hour.

            Turned out that the driver of the car I'd hit was uninsured, and months later that car was stood on a driveway the other side of town (I happened across it while walking to a friend's house), still bearing the marks of our encounter, long after my own car had been scrapped and I'd bought another.

            It made a big impression on me, and I really don't want to go through that rigmarole again.

            Conversely to other experiences here though, my insurer was pretty good. Gave them all the details and they dealt with pretty much everything. Didn't get enough payout to buy a similar car, but enough to get me on the road again, which was somewhat vital for the job I had at the time.

            1. Outski Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              Name & fame - given how poor/dodgy so many insurers are, we need to know about even the half-decent ones

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                Yeah. I did that for the good travel agent on the social media. Never thought to do so on El Reg ( and it never came up in a story to comment on, more to the point.) And put a compliment on their web page.

                But I'll warn people off Scoot Airlines every opportunity I get. It could so easily have been much more disastrous and upsetting even than it was!

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: You get what you order

                "Name & fame"

                I would, but the clue was in what I wrote - I had no mobile phone. This therefore puts it some time in the mid 1990s. The company in question did well enough, but that was over twenty five years ago and who's to say the company is as good now? Yes, they are still around. I stayed with them for a few years following that accident, moved elsewhere, came back, moved elsewhere. Never had to claim with them again and haven't been a customer for maybe ten years now, so I cannot in all conscience recommend them based on a single data point that old. Frankly, back then, car insurance seemed to be a lot easier. My dad had "any licenced driver" on his car which was very handy for lending it out to needy friends (and offspring) and cost him such a small amount extra on top of the normal fully-comp premium that he'd had it that way since the mid 1970s. Have you tried getting "any licenced driver" on a normal insurance policy these days? Come to that, have you seen how much premiums jump once your offspring transitions from "learner" to "newly qualified"?

          2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: You get what you order

            I was first to arrive at the scene of an accident. Checked that the people involved were OK, then called the police to come deal with it - one of the drivers was ranting that he wanted the other one breathalysed.

            The police response: we won't come out unless the road is completely blocked.

            So I was left to deal with one driver trapped and the other in a rage, whilst also looking out for other traffic, broken glass, etc. I left the trapped one trapped for longer than strictly necessary to give the other one time to calm down a bit - didn't want to deal with a fight as well! I did phone her husband though, so he knew what was happening and that calmed her a bit too.

          3. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            Depends on where you live I suppose, but around here the police don't have anything useful to do other than show up at fender benders, issue speeding tickets, and arrest college students for public intox when they are responsible and walk home instead of driving drunk.

        3. David Nash Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          Happened to me in Spain. A driver hit me from behind when I stopped at an amber which was red by the time I stopped. He didn't expect me to stop and piled into me. According to him it was my fault and he called the police, who just laughed at him.

          1. ElPedro100
            Pint

            Re: You get what you order

            Had an experience in Greece this year when I had rented a scooter. Stopped at a zebra crossing and was rear ended by a truck. Called the police as instructed by the rental company and their response was that if I wasn't hurt then they were not interested. Told the truck driver and he said we had to wait for his boss. When the boss arrived his first question was whether the police were coming. I told him no and that everything was OK. He then thanked me, gave me his phone number and said that if I needed anything when I was on the island I should call him directly. I often wonder what was in the back of the truck that made him so keen that the police weren't involved. I guess his offer of help was the cheapest insurance policy I have ever had though.

            A Magnus beer for the boss of the idiot who drove into me =>

            1. Outski Silver badge

              Re: You get what you order

              I witnessed a rear-ending (titter ye not) living in KL on my way to the pub. The rear-ender had four or five young blokes from the Gulf (it was Gulf holiday season when loads of people from there rock up in KL, it being nominally Muslim, but they can party and get pissed). The rear-endee was local.

              I said I'd seen it and agreed it it was the lads' fault. They disagreed, quite vehemently, when I noted that a rear-end shunt is always the car behind's fault (unless it's been shunted itself, or it's a scam by the front car, which this wasn't). I suggested we get the police, at which point the lads got back in their car and made a hasty exit.

              1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                Re: You get what you order

                What is "KL" ? Here KL on the numberplate is "Kaiserslautern". A bit to the south it is "Klagenfurt-Land".

                1. Outski Silver badge

                  Re: You get what you order

                  Kuala Lumpur

      4. Caver_Dave Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: You get what you order

        1990's I had a 'touch' with the rear bumper of another car when they stopped suddenly 1/2 way across a junction. It had cracked the fog light lens, but not damaged the bulb inside. There was hardly anyone about and no other cars around. I exchanged details with the driver (who was on his own) and heard nothing more.

        2 (two) years later I had a call from MY insurance company insisting that one of their loss adjusters visited me at my work. I rang the company back on their published number as it seemed like a scam to me, but the company said that they could see the booking in their electronic diary.

        The guy came around as was VERY heavy handed wanting to know why I had not spoken to them in the last 6 months to report the accident. Did I know that was a criminal offence, etc.? As I had no accident since that 'touch' it took me a while to work out who I had "rear-ended at high speed writing off the car."

        Obviously, the guy in the other car had another accident and was trying to blame it on me. I argued this, pointing out that the car would have passed at least one MOT since the 'touch' I had, and so I could not be responsible. But this was apparently trumped by the 3 people in the car that I had written off and the 3 people in the car following me, witnessing the accident 6 months previously.

        The ultimatum was pay £300, or be reported to the Police for not reporting the accident and be placed on the insurance black-list and never be able to get insurance again.

        Talking later to people in the insurance business and Police, this sort of fabrication was quite common and with the "witnesses" there is nothing you can do about it. As soon as dash-cams became available I bought one!

        1. Dave K

          Re: You get what you order

          Yep, the shunt my wife had also made me invest in one. I hope I never have to use the footage from it, but it is reassuring to know that I have a timestamped recording I can produce in the event of any future issue.

        2. Helcat

          Re: You get what you order

          There was a spate of this back in the 90's and 2000's: Also with drivers breaking sharply to force an impact that they'd claim caused personal injury to someone who was in the car, honest! (but obviously wasn't as it was a scam).

          So yes, happened to me, too. Someone broke sharply at a junction, claimed I'd bumped them, wanted insurance details so I exchanged details, took photos (they didn't like that, obviously) and reported it to my insurance, in detail, and they inspected my car to find no damage and no claim was made against me at that point. Six months later there was a claim: Different person, different car, and passenger injured. They also had witnesses (obviously). Thankfully the insurance company was on my side with this and they confirmed there was still no damage to my car, so dismissed the claim as fraudulent. I think that there having been a spate of these around that time helped, and that I'd reported the 'bump' with no damage earlier.

        3. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          is this in the UK? " I exchanged details with the driver (who was on his own) and heard nothing more."

          There is no criminal offence, the only one possibly applicable would be "failing to stop" to ascertain no injuries. Which you did.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: You get what you order

            Although strictly speaking I think you're supposed to tell your insurer even if you are not claiming. Not a criminal offence though.

            1. gotes

              Re: You get what you order

              I was involved in a minor scrape, other driver at fault (and admitted as such, only verbally though). I reported this to my insurer, but didn't make a claim. When it came to renewal, my premium went up by about £200 a year, despite no claim being made.

              I don't own a car now, so fortunately I won't have to deal with this kind of shit.

          2. MrReynolds2U

            Re: You get what you order

            For the UK...you must stop and exchange details if there is damage to property (not necessarily insurance if you are handling it privately) and you must inform the police if there is suspicion of injury or a driving offense. Anything else is just bluster.

            From the Met:

            "You don't need to report a collision to the police if you've exchanged details, nobody was injured and there are no allegations of driving offences.

            You must report the collision to the police if you were unable to exchange details at the scene, if anyone was injured, or if you suspect that the other person may have committed a driving offence."

            https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rs/road-safety/collisions/

        4. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          How did your complaint ot the insurance ombudsman go? The compensation must have been substantial, if you're not just making stuff up. That would have been wildly maladministered by your insurer, as you describe things. The first thing they need to do when someone presents a claim is tell you about it and ask for your version of events.

          1. phuzz Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: You get what you order

            I was in my early 20's, and honestly never thought of making a complaint. I'm not sure I'd even have realised I could make a formal complaint without getting a lawyer involved etc.

            Damn, even a few hundred quid would have made a big difference to me then, I'd probably just have pissed it away though ;)

        5. tekHedd

          Dash Cam

          I've been in a number of accidents. Looking back at the ones that were *not* my fault, there is not a single case where the other driver told the truth. Every single driver that has run into me has lied about it.

          So, yeah, I run a dashcam now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dash Cam

            Just be aware that dashcams are illegal in some European countries!

            https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/dash-cam-use-abroad-could-mean-fines-or-jail/

        6. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: You get what you order

          We had something like this many years ago. It's still a sore point. A lad with his mates in the car came came screaming round the bend and knocked the side of our car,coming the other way. He admitted it was his fault, we exchanged details and since we had protected ncb we reported it to our insurance company and thought nothing of it. His insurers were happy to settle. Until he ( actually his dad) then denied admitting fault, because his ncb wasn't protected, and used legal insurance to take our insurance company to court. We were asked by our insurers to go as witnesses ( we were in the car after all). He had a mate as witness, who lied to the judge. And was caught out lying. But then the judge found against our insurer ( in effect against us, even though we had nothing to lose). He just said that he believed the lad and not us- and that was that. even after his witness had been caught lying, by that judge It was probably 25 years ago. And I'm still angry.

          So these days we have a camera.

        7. OldSod

          Re: You get what you order

          Take pictures, preferably with a cellphone so that they photos are internally-documented with date/time and location (GPS here in the US). Always file a report with your insurance company, using these photos. Save a record of filing the report.

          I had the misfortune of being in a low-speed traffic backup "merge" collision wherein my vehicle and the vehicle to the left of me came into contact (by only the other vehicle's passenger side mirror's plastic housing barely touching (and marking) the paint on the driver's side door of mine).

          I took pictures, including a first one of a middle-aged woman emerging from the passenger side of the other vehicle while the driver still her her foot on the brake. I thoroughly documented the lack of damage to either vehicle pictorially despite this woman's screaming at me and her fevered attempt to stop me from taking photos (at first). She eventually calmed down and we exchanged information, despite the young woman actually driving never emerging from the car. After leaving then scene, I thoroughly documented the accident (pictures, location diagram completed using GPS info on pictures) but was unable to file immediately due to a problem on my insurance company's website.

          Several days later I was contacted by my insurance company (which was also her insurance company) with a request for information about the accident, initiated in response to her filing her claim. She stated that I had admitted fault (no, no, never did I). During the conversation the insurance company referred to her as the driver, which I said was not true. They asked if I could prove it. After explaining why I hadn't filed yet (their website had malfunctioned and I didn't have Internet service at my house) I told them I would send them my already completed report, which I did. I pointed out my first picture showing her emerging from the passenger side while the driver obviously had a foot still on the brake (brake lights lit, including third high-mount light). After a couple of days they called and told me it was the best documented report they had ever received, but they wanted to know whether I was making a claim? I said no, the only contact was the mirror housing and my door, which left a colored streak on my paint that I simply rubbed off, so no need. They thanked me profusely and ended the call.

          I don't know what the other person was up to, claiming to be the driver, or what damage she reported to her vehicle, but it was all short-circuited by my photos with date, time, and location.

      5. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: You get what you order

        There is a reason why dashcams are in. Go to court, include your laptop, play what really happened. Then it will switch: The BMW driver lied to the insurance company, and lied on court. Usually you should go ahead for an accusation for disrepute, but that is rarely worth it.

        No matter how small the crash: In Germany always get police to take the details.

        1. I could be a dog really

          Re: You get what you order

          Ah yes, a friend (driving instructor) told me a similar tale. While stationary at a junction, another driver rear-ended them - but then claimed the student had braked hard without reasons. My mate's solicitor said to let it go to court, where the other driver swore under oath that the student had stopped suddenly. Then my mate showed the footage from the rear-facing camera (dual camera dash cam) showing that they had been stationary for some time before this other car came down the road and rear-ended them.

          The other guy was lucky not to spend some time in the cells for contempt of court.

      6. Colin Miller

        Re: You get what you order

        Elephant are owned by Admiral

        1. bcb2060

          Re: You get what you order

          Elephant lost my business when they were still a new brand name, by sending marketing email to all 2000 of their customers, all in the CC list.

    4. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

      Re: You get what you order

      Currently going through this with AA insurance here in the UK.

      Bought a house, as we went round doing some basic maintenance and making sure all of the windows worked properly... cleaning the rails, hinges and lubricating them... I opened one window and the top hinge snapped.

      Couldn't close the window... called the emergency help line as it's part of our insurance and an insecure window... is a problem.

      They sent some one out... well... they said they would. They never bothered to turn up the first day, but did the second. So this insecure window has been open for 3 days.

      He figures out what hinges are required and makes some notes, manages to pull the window partly back into the frame so it can be locked, but there's still a huge gap around the top half that letting in rain and win and leaking all of the heat out of my office.

      A few days go by... I get a call from the emergency cover firm that came out... the AA are refusing to cover the cost of the hinge and replacement. It's literally a £10 part and they come in pairs.

      I contact the AA... this is where the fun starts. It's 90 mins on hold to actually speak to some one and they then pass me to some one else... Another 45 mins on hold before I get hung up on.

      The next day I try again... 114 mins on hold... until I realise that they've actually gone home and just left customers on the phone waiting.

      I try again... 60 mins on hold and I have to hang up as my lunch is over.

      I fire of a very stern complaint.

      They ignore the complaint for weeks and then say they've passed it to AXA (who own the AA) and we've heard nothing since... 6-7 weeks ago.

      Meanwhile I had the window repaired myself at a cost of £180

      I cancelled my AA breakdown cover and told them why... I'm in the process of cancelling my AA home insurance and switching to another company... those two things alone are going to cost them over £400 over the next 12 months.

      But it's actually going to cost them a lot more... because I will NEVER use them or their parent company ever again... I have a very long memory, I've boycotted companies for decades as a result of their shitty attitudes and incompetence.

      Try to save themselves £180.... so far it's cost you more than twice that and over the coming years... 100X more.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: You get what you order

        I ditched the AA for breakdown cover after I spent the entire morning just trying to report the breakdown and ask for help. Ended up fixing it myself. That was 20 years ago and I haven't touched them since.

        1. Potty Professor Bronze badge
          FAIL

          Re: You get what you order

          I had two punctures in the same day on a trip. The first I changed the wheel and put the deflated wheel back in the boot. Some miles later, a second puncture, but of course, I had no working spare at this time, so called the AA. They said they would be with me in a quarter of an hour. One hour later, phoned again, told they would be with me in a quarter of an hour. And so on ... and so on ... until three and a half hours later, the van appears. He puts his Universal Spare wheel on and follows me home, where he removes his spare and replaces the punctured wheel on the car.

          Next morning, I put a new valve in the first deflated tyre (it wasn't actually punctured, I'd just knocked the valve out on a high kerb), I had to buy a new tyre to replace the punctured one, it was badly ripped in the sidewall and couldn't be repaired.

          I cancelled my AA membership, and when the operator asked why, I told them exactly why, to which they replied that it was because it was a Bank Holiday Weekend. Why keep telling me they'd be there in 15 minutes when they knew that they were busy?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You get what you order

        Wait until it's 8 weeks until you sent your letter of complaint, then refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service?

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    Failed as a manager

    First of all, he failed to notice which customer he was talking to, or didn't care.

    Second, as a manager, you do not immediately defend anything. You get the customer's side of the story, then you tell said customer you'll call back. Then you go get the recording of the call and listen to it with the helldrone.

    THAT is when you can decide to defend the guy, or, as it should have been in this case, drag him over the grill, then call the customer back and be all sweet and helpful and replace the doggone drive.

    He deserved to lose that contract.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Failed as a manager

      "and be all sweet and helpful and replace the doggone drive."

      With a larger one. And throw in some extra RAM. And send a tech to do the work. Today. For free.

      1. WonkoTheSane

        Re: Failed as a manager

        Or just send out a higher-specced replacement machine overnight.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Failed as a manager

      "helldrone"

      Beautiful. Just beautiful.

      Well done! That one's for you ------->

    3. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Failed as a manager

      "He deserved to lose that contract."

      Agreed.

      But isn't 350 laptops a rather small order in the grand scheme of things?

      (Quality of response should not depend on size of customer really should it either)

      Icon: I became grey before my time after involvement with IT purchasing for a smallish organisation.

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: Failed as a manager

        Might be a rather small order in the grand scheme of things, but it adds up.

        350K today's order lost, plus the next, and the next, and before long you're a million lost to you and spent with your competitors?

      2. Christoph

        Re: Failed as a manager

        The commission for that sale isn't small for that sales rep.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Failed as a manager

      "He deserved to lose that contract."

      Of course, he did. But the reasoning of some companies (almost always right, but in this case, blatantly wrong) is the following:

      - complaining person is a nobody peon

      - contract signing person is a big cheese who will never talk with the above peon

      Works 99.5% of the time to get away with this. But sadly for the offender, this time, peon WAS also the signing person !

  4. jake Silver badge

    Now ask me why ...

    ... I no longer do business with a certain company based in Redmond ,,, and another one in Cupertino.

    I'm far too old to put up with crappy customer support ... I pay your salary, you fucks!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now ask me why ...

      I'm also too old to be passed on to phone support with people whose accent is so strong they're barely comprehensible.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Now ask me why ...

        "I'm also too old to be passed on to phone support with people whose accent is so strong they're barely comprehensible."

        Contrary to popular belief this is not racism. Rather it's a real, honest lack of being able to comprehend what the support staff are saying.

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: Now ask me why ...

          ‘Listen to the Welsh kid talk’. I lived in the Middle East for more than ten years and still have a hard time understanding Hinglish. It is almost Welsh to me.

          1. nintendoeats Silver badge

            Re: Now ask me why ...

            I also lived in the middle east, where my best friend was welsh. Trying to talk to him via cell phone was pointless.

      2. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Now ask me why ...

        Hey, leave the Scottish alone. They cant help it...

      3. Evil Auditor Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Now ask me why ...

        Cornish, Scottish? I find your comment slightly discriminatory.

        1. FirstTangoInParis

          Re: Now ask me why ...

          As a young Southerner, I once tried to have a conversation with a Glaswegian naval rating. The conversation quickly failed, since I wasn't yet tuned to the accent. TBH I don't care who I'm talking to on the phone, so long as (a) the phone line quality is good, (b) there isn't a whole call centre shouting in the background, (c) they are addressing my problem in a knowledgeable and efficient manner. Chat is even better. There are people with names I could not even begin to pronounce who I've given 5 stars to because they resolved my problem.

          But if you are cold calling me on a crappy phone line trying to scam me into buying a non-existent iPhone 14, then you get told you should find a proper job.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Now ask me why ...

            I used to go up to Glasgow quite often for various call-outs. I never, ever had an issue dealing with people in the various companies I dealt with, at all levels. One year, my wife and I went on a holiday up by Loch Lomand. Trying to have a chat with a broad Glaswegian in the bar (yes, he'd had a few) was entirely fruitless!! And I thought I was "tuned in" on the Glaswegian accent. Clearly I'd only ever met "posh" Glaswegians up to that point :-)

            1. Caver_Dave Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Now ask me why ...

              One very old story.

              My English grandfather had just captured a German position with his mates near the end of the Second World War.

              I said it was an old story!

              It was pissing it down and they retired to a half standing barn, which just happened to contain some bottles of beer. Having no animosity with the individual Germans they shared the bottles. After a few my grandfather enjoyed watching a very drunk Glaswegian and fairly drunk German carrying on a conversation in their own languages and apparently making sense to each other.

              1. Diogenes

                Re: Now ask me why ...

                In the 80s I was on train from Paris back to Germany, it was the night draftees were heading to Strassbourg for the initial training. I speack English, and am fluent in German but schoolboy French, a big variety of French accents, very little English or German. As I had my slouch hat they correctly identified me as Australian and a serving soldier(Reserve).

                By the time we finished my snake bite medicine(rum, to be taken before being bit), and their various bottles of moonshine were were making perfect sense by the end of the evening.

              2. Outski Silver badge

                Re: Now ask me why ...

                I can't remember whether it was Peter Firmin or Oliver Postgate, but one of them recounted meeting a German who said "of course we love the Clangers, they speak perfect German"

            2. Martin
              Happy

              Re: Now ask me why ...

              Many years ago, in Aviemore, I met a drunken Glaswegian eating a pie. He was incredibly friendly and chatty, but the drunkeness made it hard, and the pie made it harder. I can truthfully state that the only bit I was sure I understood was when I heard him say, laughingly, "Ah, ye canna oonderstand the dialect!"

      4. Stevie

        Re: Accent

        I was flying to the USA in ‘84 on an 18 month contract (that turned into a lot longer but that’s another story).

        Pan-Am, 747, you could still smoke and drink.

        I walk to the back of the plane to use the bathroom and there’s a bloke there with a six-pack of beer standing in the part where the seats stop and the fuselage starts to narrow, one can being swigged, the others dangling from the other by the little plastic harness.

        “Yeeaarrgh argaaa mcvoot jimmeh!” He bellows at me as I pass.

        “I’m terribly sorry, I’m English. I didn’t understand you” I say, ingenuously.

        “ENGLISH? WADDAYA MEAN, ENGLISH? AHM FR’M NOOCASTLE!”

        Absolutely true story.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Accent

          "NOOCASTLE!"

          Only southerners call it "NoooooCastle".

          Real Geordies call it Nyuh-cassle (Sorry, trying to spell phonetically for non-Geordies isn't easy for a Geordie :-))

        2. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: Accent

          I had a college friend who's parents were divorced. He spent his childhood shuttling between his mother's house in Wales and his father's in Newcastle. His accent was unbelievable, not to mention incomprehensible, especially after a few beers :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reputation?

    Someone once told me a satisfied customer tells 1 person a dissatisfied customer tells 10 people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: reputation?

      .. and a satisfied customer will forgive you an error if you put in the work to correct it. What you do when things go sideways often determines if you lose a customer or have one that will stick by you because they feel they're not just a number. That's why investing a bit in properly handling complaints is worth it because especially nowadays it is a massive differentiator with the competition.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: reputation?

        To err is human - I don't care that much if a company fucks up, it happens.

        I really care a lot about what happens next.

        Fix the mistake promptly then all is fine and dandy.

        Double down, deflect, deny, dissemble or one of many things beginning with "d" then it's "thank you and goodbye".

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: reputation?

          I had an error on an order from Rapid Online - the wrong terminal blocks were picked and sent. I put in the "complaint" early on a Friday afternoon, by late afternoon they'd acknowledged the error, arranged the replacements and arranged pick up of the incorrect ones.

          They'll get my continued business,

        2. Dave K

          Re: reputation?

          This.

          I've had mistakes from companies before. Where they have gone above and beyond to fix whilst apologising for the mistake, they retain my business. Had this a bit back with a company who shipped me an incorrect part. After phoning them they were super-apologetic, sent out the correct part via next-day priority delivery and arranged a courier to collect the wrong part *after* I'd received the correct one. None of this "Post it back to us at your expense, then after we've received it we'll think about sending you the right part", just great service to fix the issue ASAP, and I still use that company to this day as a result.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: reputation?

            Let's name some names: Farnell, RS, and Digikey have all, over the years, behaved in similar ways. They are by no means the cheapest suppliers around, but they understand the concept of next day delivery, and that engineers are just as capable of selecting the wrong part as any others - including their parts pickers.

            Which given the volume of their business, is really rather impressive. They don't get it wrong often, but when they do they fix it quickly.

            Kudos to all three of them.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: reputation?

              I would like to add Crucial Memory to that list. Again, not the cheapest, but if you have an incompatible module, or a fault, they deal with it very fast.

              1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

                Re: reputation?

                Crucial are brilliant. Years ago I bought memory (1GB, I think) for my Thinkpad R40e. The laptop worked fine at first, then started playing up. I assumed it was age.

                About five years later I was on the phone to Crucial, ordering memory for another laptop, and the R40e order came up in casual chat - something like "I like Thinkpads and I was sorry when my old one died. "I see you bought memory for it. Hang on while I check", he said. "Oh yes. We had some faulty modules. Sorry about that. I'll get replacements out to you." Two days later a nice new set arrived - and, if I recall correctly, 2GB, which I hadn't been able to afford at the time. It worked perfectly.

                So there we are. Prompt replacement of memory I didn't even know was faulty, at their suggestion. I never buy memory anywhere else now.

            2. Outski Silver badge

              Re: reputation?

              Blacks (outdoor-wear firm) were very good a couple of years ago with an order of mine - I ordered a pair of boots that turned out to be a size too small. They agreed to collect & replace them, at no extra cost. The replacements turned out to have been mislabelled so were, again, a size too small, so round the mulberry bush again.

              All sorted inside ten days, and this from a subsidiary firm of JD Sports, who are shit.

            3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: reputation?

              Add Corsair to the negative list. Their support can be understood and is always friendly, but it just does not work. They don't read or look into the support case, the photos, the logs you sent and so on. It required public shaming to get them to actually do something. Luckily I got my money back.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: reputation?

                Isn't Corsair a fancy name for a pirate?

                1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

                  Re: reputation?

                  Aye!

                  1. seldom

                    Re: reputation?

                    AAARR

            4. Pirate Dave Silver badge

              Re: reputation?

              AdTran also has (or had, last I checked in ~2014) excellent customer service, even on gear they long ago quit making and selling. I called them a few times to ask questions about telecom stuff that I'd inherited, and they always graciously (and intelligently) answered any questions I put to them, even on stuff they'd built back in the 90's.

            5. Potty Professor Bronze badge
              FAIL

              Re: reputation?

              I have just cancelled my Amazon Prime membership. It is supposed to give you free, next day delivery, but of the last two orders placed, neither met that criterion. Of a total of 15 items ordered, only five were delivered next day, the rest were either delivered late, to the wrong address, or not at all. I phoned to complain, and was told to return the undelivered item for a refund (like, how?), and I had to parcel the wrongly delivered item up, take it to another courier's drop off point, and pay to have it delivered to its rightful destination.

              I will still probably buy from Amazon, but I have saved myself the £9 a month that they charge for this broken service.

          2. Dave K

            Re: reputation?

            The company in my case above was QuietPC.com. Sorted out the shipping issue brilliantly and I continue to shop with them as a result.

          3. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: reputation?

            None of this "Post it back to us at your expense, then after we've received it we'll think about sending you the right part"

            Had this with CPC a couple of years ago when a mistake at their warehouse sent me the wrong light fittings (two digits transposed in the item code). After a bit of faffing about because the stock computer thought that the correct part had been shipped, so was showing only one left on the shelf - a member of staff actually went and looked at the shelf to see what was actually there (I'd ordered three) - the correct parts arrived and the old ones were taken away at no expense. In a slightly different vein, some years before that I had ordered a ladder rack - that is, two bars and hooked screws to hold ladders on to a roof rack. Instead of sending me one unit, they sent me one box of five units. When I called to explain, they just told me to hang on to them as "spares", or give them away to friends! I still have at least one, unopened, in the shed somewhere...

            M.

        3. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: reputation?

          Indeed. A mistake is a chance for a person or company to show just how good they *really* are.

      2. firu toddo

        Re: reputation?

        Many many moons go a work colleague bought a new Ford in the August buying spree. Promptly went on holiday and to the other end of the country and while away the gearbox failed.

        Ford couldn't get a new box so told the local dealer to basically bugger the cost and sort it. Customer was taken to his holiday destination, dealer took a gearbox out of a new stock car, replace the failed one to get the customer on his way. Car was delivered back to the customer. No car for three days of a two week holiday, a tiny price to pay.

        Yes, he did stick by Ford, yes, he told everyone how good they were.

        So it does work.......

        1. Admiral Grace Hopper
          Mushroom

          Re: reputation?

          I had a Vauxhall. Dealer serviced throughout. Two months after the 50000 service the cam belt snapped and I discovered that it had an interference engine. Since the last service Vauxhall had dropped the replacement mileage for the cam belt from 70000 miles to 40000 miles. The dealer chased this up with the manufacturer and they stumped up for the entire top-end rebuild. I too praised their customer service for a long time afterwards (if not their reliability engineering).

          1. WonkoTheSane

            Re: reputation?

            I had a very similar (used) car, but post the change to 40000 mile cambelt replacement interval.

            After I'd had it 5 months, the cam belt went at 38000 miles, so I had it stretchered back to the (non-Vauxhall) dealer I'd bought it from under their after-sales warranty.

            That dealer took great delight in having shipped to the local Vauxhall dealership for a new engine (refurb block with new giblets) under Vauxhall's own warranty.

            TL;DR - I was in a rental car for a month (no loaners available) at Vauxhall's expense while they waited for parts from Germany.

          2. Potty Professor Bronze badge
            Boffin

            Re: reputation?

            Many years ago, my Dad bought a new Daf saloon, with their rubber band Variomatic drive system. It drove OK, but was very sluggish off the traffic lights. I was an apprentice at Ford at the time, so I ran a few checks on the Daf, and found that there was a vacuum leak in the control system of the transmission, and that the ignition timing was out.

            We took the car back to the dealers to get them to fix it, but they said that their tests had shown no such leak, and that the timing was correct. I repeated the leak test on their forecourt, and proved my point, so they had to admit their failing and replace the vacuum seal.

            I later obtained a copy of the original Dutch workshop manual, which showed that the ignition timing should be six degrees before top dead centre, so I reset it and the car was transformed. I took the manual back to the dealership and compared it with their English version, which had been mistranslated to say six degrees after TDC.

            Every car they had sold had to be recalled to reset the ignition timing because of the mistranslation in the manual, and who knows how many other mistranslations there were?

        2. lglethal Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: reputation?

          My dad had exactly the opposite problem with Ford. He bought a brand new panel van, and after about a week it just lost all "drive", as in it went, but an old woman in a Mini would beat him off the line at traffic lights.

          He took it back to Ford, they looked about since nothing's wrong, despite taking it for a test drive and acknowledging that "It was a bit sluggish". This went on for about a month with him going back Ford faffing around, and giving it back saying nothing wrong. Luckily, my Dad was an Auto Elec, and knew enough Mechanics that through a friend he was able to get a fix.

          When he reported to Ford that he'd fixed the problem, they said "Great, how did you do it?". He told them that he'd tell them after they paid the $2k it cost him to repair.". They refused, and he told them where to go.

          A life long Ford fan, lost for refusing to pay for a repair, that they themselves couldnt fix. And you better believe that every person he knew heard about it....

          1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: reputation?

            I had a similar experience with Ford. Bought a brand new 93 Mercury Cougar (basically a Ford Thunderbird with a better looking body) with a 5.0 V8. Car was beautiful, ran great, but before it hit 1000 miles the transmission would flare badly on a light throttle 3-4 shift, then bang hard into gear. Very repeatable. What's more, the engine was still in its break-on period so I wasn't even driving it hard yet. It was at the dealer more than I it. Finally dumped the car, and I have never been on a Ford lot for anything since. I've bought a number of new cars since, but Ford has not made any of it. Ford HAS gotten decades of advertising from it, and I've talked several other people out of their cars. Not fixing the trans has cost them 150,000 in sales just from me over the years, and probably another 500,000 in sales from people who were planning to buy a Ford before speaking to me and went on to buy something not-a-Ford afterwards. No, make that over 500k as I talked someone out of a Ford just last week.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laptop vendors, double the support costs

    Having managed far too many 1000+ pc roll outs I'm astounded that he had 2 vendors, the issues around getting a working initial build alone for 2 different models from the same vendor increase delivery risk. Running a roll out with different suppliers, initial builds and working out what manufacturer specific software is required and what is just a replacement to a windows driver is a nightmare. My approach now is to purchase all devices for a roll out from the same manufacturing run and warehouse them until required. I've had too many instances where a supplier has changed a component without changing the model number to let that happen again. Most large roll outs take time to get a reliable working build as there is always a mix between the brand new software being implemented, limitations on browser and version allowed, java versions (Yes I know,m but I work with large organisations using commercial off the shelf products) and the legacy applications where the supplier has polished the UI but not touched the internals for a decade.

    Putting different hardware into the mix and then trying to find out which specific video driver works with everything and the hardware introduces different behavior which can take weeks to understand (is it the new app, drivers, interactions with the 4 different java versions installed etc). Supplier provided tools for power management, screen rotation, pen functions etc. just suck in technical resources. Whilst the majority of users can live quite happily with the Microsoft drivers there are apps and devices which do need some of the supplier provided apps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laptop vendors, double the support costs

      I've had that with the Lenovo L13. The older model had a sound chip which was incompatible with the 21H2 company build so it would beep at startup, and when Windows loaded it didn't even spot the hardware.

      I managed to get one "repaired" just before the warranty ran out, the remaining few we used for tests. That repair was a story in itself: support guy dutifully goes through the usual routine (updates, drivers etc), no result. Recommend replacing motherboard, and has it collected for somewhere where they do repair, I think it's Poland. Poland ignores the entire story, sticks standard Win 10 on it, declares it well and sends it back. We get it, re-image it and presto, no sound. Cue call to Lenovo, the whole process repeats itself but this time with a sheet of paper in the box as well as the laptop exhorting the recipient to bloody well do as agreed and not get creative.

      The returned laptop had a new mobo, and thus reimaged well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laptop vendors, double the support costs

      You just touched on another reason why we eventually went the Apple route - we've been through all of that too.

      The amount of money we have since saved over the years not having to faff around with spares and drivers is considerable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laptop vendors, double the support costs

        Regarding Apple's repairs:

        We had a hard drive "fail" immediately (like first boot) after an Apple OS update. It ran at about 1% of normal speed, but I successfully copied the entire drive to another computer (took several days). Apple INSISTED the drive had failed (the GEEneus bar folks pointed out the one-word result of their "diagnostic" test), and made us pay for the replacement. They claimed that OS updates often reveal previously-undetected harware failures.

        Yeah, right. Pull the other one, it has bells on. I know how a failed hard drive acts, even in a couple different failure modes, and this isn't it.

        So we agree to a $150 replacement. I go to pick up the machine - and they want $200. I start getting loud in the store, in front of the other customers, and a manager quickly comes by to calm me down. As I was promised a $150 replacement (which was THEIR FAULT!), the manager agreed to allow that price. Turns out they had put in a larger drive than agreed and were trying to charge me the difference without asking.

        The new drive failed (really, truly failed, system said it didn't exist) a month later, but since it had been replaced in-store they re-replaced it for free.

        It was my wife's laptop, and I've been unable to convince her to not go with Apple devices since then. But I'm certainly never going to buy one for me, with that kind of service!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Laptop vendors, double the support costs

          Yes, I've had that with my son.

          Went in at Brent Cross for a Macbook battery replacement (after 4 years of use that's not too bad), then later they reported some problem with his screen and wanted a lot of extra money authorised. When my son queried why their own tests had not shown a problem when they took in the machine and asked them to return the machine without any work done it was suddenly OK and he got back the machine, fully working and the battery replaced.

          Frankly, that felt like a scam attempt.

  7. I Am Spartacus
    Flame

    I had a similar experience

    Mine was about a software contract, for database applications, with a company that will remain nameless. To quote el reg, "Just understand that this firm is a big name in the business IT world. You don’t need to have the powers of a seer to figure this one out." They had quoted us an astronomical price for a new application. I had tried juggling the setup to reduce the end user count, but finally they told me that "this is the price, and no amount of arging will change it. We don't think you have the balls to change supplier".

    I had to report this to the executive director of engineering. This guy was from the states and not amused whatsoever. Not one tiny bit. So he instructed me to quietly find an alternative supplier, which I did. Again, no names, but this one might turn you blue. I set up the deal: new hardware (a lot of new hardware) disks, database, consultancy, the whole works. It came in a lot cheaper that the first supplier.

    Exec Director had the european VP of the first company in, explained his position, and said we could not afford the price that his team were quoting. VP reiterated the mantra that "You can't change, you have to pay us". So, in hius presence, he called me up and asked if I had the quotes on my desk. I did. He then, on speaker phone, told me to sign them and send them off immediately. All work, not just on this project but all other projects with supplier one was to immediately cease and all project manager instructed to immediately move to supplier two. His final comment to me was to call the press office and have a press release issued to announce that we were terminating all contracts and work with supplier one in favour of supplier two.

    He then turned to the VP of sales of supplier one and uttered the words "I don't think we need you anymore, please leave the office immediately". Supplier one was excluded from all further work. The loss was measured in millions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I had a similar experience

      Yup, pride before the fall. I agree, I would have done the same.

      We follow a multi vendor tactic in almost everything procurement where possible, exactly because we like options and we don't like companies trying to rig license fees to take a bigger slice of our revenue. We even do that with lawyers, which is kinda fun :)

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: I had a similar experience

      And yet another similar experience ... I've posted this before, but I think it fits here.

      Just over a billion years ago as the Internet measures time (call it roughly 1984), I received a brand new Sun 2/160. It was a dual pedestal beast, with all of 8 Megs of RAM and a pair of 380 Meg CDC SMD drives. Roughly 65 grand worth.

      I decanted it from the boxes-on-pallets, plugged all the cables in, and fired the thing up. Into a beautiful new GUI on the Sony Trinitron monitor, just as advertised. Logged in as root, on purpose as there were no other accounts as yet(!!), using the default password(!!!!) ... and poked around. All was well, near as I could tell.

      The plan was to repartition the disks to better suit our needs and then reinstall the OS. So I made absolutely certain I had the correct tapes, and did the one thing I had never done as a sysadmin ... closed the GUI, and from the # prompt ran rm -rf / intentionally. I was curious to see how long it would take to lose it's tiny little mind. It trundled away to itself for a few minutes, but seemingly was still working fine, enough of vmunix and the shell were in RAM and the swap partition to keep doing simple stuff. I was quite surprised, but that wasn't really what I was there for ...

      So I shut her down, went and got a cuppa coffee, reached for the first tape and went to fire up the machine ... only to discover it didn't ship with a tape drive, despite one being listed on the packing list. It had a lovely bezel that LOOKED like it might be a tape drive, but the space behind it was empty. Oops. So there I was, 8AM and stuck with 65K worth of dead Sun hardware that I was supposed to demo for the Brass at 4PM.

      Fortunately the 1980s Sun had Clues about customer service. One call, and their field service rep had the SCSI tape drive, the requisite cables, and a couple of VMEbus cards, (E)EPROMS and spare OS tapes "just in case" on my desk in under forty minutes. She even hung out and made certain that the system worked properly after we took it apart to install the bits that needed installing, and then partitioned it and re-installed the OS.

      I made the 4 o'clock deadline ... and bought the Rep the first of many well deserved dinners.

      Silly Con Valley was a very small place back then ... Sometimes I really miss it.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: I had a similar experience

        Yeah, DEC in that era was similarly good. We once had a fault with the main band printer in the office. Local support didn't have a spare but asked us to leave it with them for an hour.

        They soon called back to arrange replacement of the required part. Turned out that they'd called the only other customer in the area with that VAX & printer combo and who had the spare part in a cupboard, and 'borrowed' it while a replacement was ordered. They owed the customer a favour, we got the printer back online quickly, and IIRC we returned a similar favour for that customer some months later. That's what customer support should mean.

        Sadly, though, it's probably why neither Sun nor DEC is still with us, good support always seems to lose out to pennypinching bean counters.

      2. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: I had a similar experience

        That's reminded me of another one. I installed a PS/2 network (Model 30 workstations, Model 60 server) about 35 years ago when they'd just come out. A short while later the network card on the server failed. IBM engineer came out, had a look, phoned for the replacement part only to be told there were none anywhere in Europe and they'd take a week to come from the US.

        As it was a college system used for teaching business students it wasn't a critical system but IBM had the answer anyway. The labs at Greenock were able to produce, populate and despatch a replacement which was on-site and fitted in under 48 hours. I considered that decent service!

        1. MrBanana Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: I had a similar experience

          Yes, back decades ago when IBM support was worth having. I was in a customer's machine room and one of the disk packs started acting funny, then the smoke started. We evacuated and called the fire brigade. However, first on the scene was the IBM rep trying to save what he could from the smouldering machine. Fortunately the firemen arrived soon afterwards and literally dragged the guy out of the room to make it safe.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: I had a similar experience

            who didn't understand what "firing up the computer" meant?

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: I had a similar experience

          The labs at Greenock

          If I flip over this Model M I'm typing on, the label declares it was made at Greenock at the tail end of 1996.

          3 cheers for old IBM hardware.

    3. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: I had a similar experience

      For a couple of seconds I put myself in the place of the VP from supplier 1. Just for a couple of seconds, and I am still trying to recover from it. That was one hell of a bitch-slapping the Exec Director handed out; I almost wish I could have witnessed it.

    4. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: I had a similar experience

      I've been in one of those meetings. At a previous job some executive was literally bragging as part of some all-hands meeting about how the company charges significantly more for their products than anyone else. They said something to the effect of, "If someone calls us up and says they can find a better replacement for less, we tell them good luck, but you'll be back, and hang up." I did the math one time, because I had access to the internal cost for making the product, and then saw what was being charged to end customers. It cost something like $10 to make, and they were charging over $500 for it.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: I had a similar experience

        "It cost something like $10 to make, and they were charging over $500 for it."

        That sounds very much like the extended warranties British Gas Energy Centres used to flog to unwary customers - literally pence per warranty from the insurance company to BG, sometimes £100 or more to the customer depending on what they had bought. To be fair the shop staff only got commission from selling the warranties as some bright spark had decided that they shouldn't be rewarded for actually selling stuff, so they pushed them really hard.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I had a similar experience

      "We are your only option" is one of the quickest ways of convincing me to go with a competitor - challenge accepted! And usually means that the chosen competitor is significantly cheaper, too.

  8. TonyJ Silver badge

    And so began my boycott of all things Sony...

    ... I think I've told this story before on here but back around 2000/2001 I had a Sony camcorder. One of those that used the small DAT-type tapes.

    Anyway it went faulty so I duly took it to the local Sony repair centre.

    After several weeks where I had to keep phoning despite promises to call me back etc, there was never any consistent story and it was clear they weren't able or willing (or both) to actually find what was wrong with it.

    And then this particular day, I called and the person who answered didn't put me on hold like he thought. And shouted to the person I assume was his boss "It's that cunt chasing his fucking camcorder again. What shall I tell the idiot this time?"

    He came back all nice and polite and gave some bullshit. At which point I said "tell your boss that cunt as you just called me wants to talk to him.

    Much grovelling later it was agreed that they couldn't fix it, that of course there would be no charge and in fact they gave me something like £150 in compensation as way of apology.

    I sold the thing on eBay I think for spares/repair so ultimately made not much of a loss on it (it was second hand when I bought it).

    I'd already made up my mind to avoid Sony products after that. What they then did with their awful behaviour towards Geohot back in the PS3 days just reinforced that I'd made the right decision.

    1. adam 40 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: And so began my boycott of all things Sony...

      Sony fucked me over with the enabling of a bundled game so the PSP I had bought for my son.

      I had enabled it so he could play it on Xmas day, only to be told he couldn't then have it on his own account.

      Needless to say, they got no more business on that console, or any other.

    2. MrBanana Silver badge

      Re: And so began my boycott of all things Sony...

      My divorce from Sony was when they started producing BluRay players that were not fit for purpose - technical specs out of date before they were being shipped, and bugger all hope of a firmware update. Long gone are the days of Walkmans and Trinitron CRTs.

    3. jemmyww

      Re: And so began my boycott of all things Sony...

      There are reasons to avoid Sony, but some low wage frontline support guy referring to you as a cunt accidentally within earshot isn't one of them. Customer facing staff gonna vent, even if they're in the wrong, and corporate policy be damned. They actually did you a favour, you might never had got it sorted if not for the insult.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: And so began my boycott of all things Sony...

      That is bad service. Never had any service centre that rubbish for anything.

      I had mine repaired with new pickup for free as manufacturing fault

  9. GlenP Silver badge

    Laptop Suppliers

    Back in the day, as they say, out corporate mandated laptop supplier was Gateway 2000 (remember them?) They only had one support line number, typically waiting time was in hours with no apparent queue system so you got through when you got through. One of the PC magazines at the time did a review of them and suggested they would be good, "...for people with low blood pressure!" Needless to say the corporate changed supplier very quickly to one with dedicated large business support. I don't know just how many units were involved globally but this was a $100million+ business over 25 years ago so I would think there'd be a fair number.

    I'm currently in dispute with a UK supplier who sent the wrong keyboard for a Surface tablet. Foolishly they sent me a "case closed, how did we do?" email after several weeks when I'm still waiting on the refund. I haven't yet answered the survey but when I do it will not be complimentary.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laptop Suppliers

      I call that survey spam, and they're ALL at it for some reason (personally I think it displays a worrying lack of self confidence).

      Now for the fun part: reading through GDPR it appears they're breaking the law if they did not explicitly ask permission to abuse your email address for surveys (and I have this now explicitly banned in my email disclaimer, just about the only thing that is actually enforceable in a disclaimer other than copyright).

      So, you might want to file a complaint. First complain to the company, and as their explanations tend to be BS anyway you can then hand it over to whatever privacy protection regulator you have in your country, sit back and watch the fun.

      Yes, I get bored sometimes, why?

      :)

  10. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    Flame

    Heard this one before

    I was working for a crowd who sourced a batch of 100x laptops from a company whose name would patially sound like Haggard. One of the laptops had a faulty display but these PH people refused to fix it under warranty as it was a different model to the other 99 laptos they supplied. Cannot for the life of me think why anyone would willingly buy from that supplier if that is their attitude.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heard this one before

      I did a very short piece of work for CDW. They then screwed me and refused to pay for it despite the end customer signing the work off. I could have taken them to court but I decided the stress wasn't worth the money I would get.

      However, I've since been responsible at three other large retail companies for them being kicked off of the supplier list - either partially or completely - and the best bit is, they usually end up causing the problem that gets them removed from it themselves.

      One particular example would be a quote for 12,000 thin client devices. CDW came in a good 5-6% under the price of the others.

      Hidden in the small print of the quote though - no keyboard, no mouse - these were expensive extras. The other two suppliers included them in the price. The double-blow here being that the units ship with them to begin with so it meant someone in the company had decided to remove them, and add them back in as an optional extra but at a price that made each unit 10-12% more expensive than it should have been.

      I wouldn't usually have been so close to the procurement side of things but whenever I've seen CDW attached to something I go all out to find a reason to bin them and I love that they make it easy and I don't actually have to do anything even vaguely questionable.

      The few £k or so they screwed me out of? Easily lost them a cool half million or more over the last few years just in lost hardware sales.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Heard this one before

        Good for you!

        Wage theft? No mercy. Ever.

  11. Mishak Silver badge

    "Shouting" at the wrong person

    Not quite the same as this, but...

    I remember one guy who used to work for a very large multi-national. He really, really hated working for them - mainly because of the crazy HR policies they had in place and the fact that they insisted on using ancient technology that should have been retired a decade or two back.

    He finally managed to find a new job with another large multi-national, which offered a much better working environment.

    On his last day at the old job he decided to fire off an email to the CEO to explain exactly why he was leaving, and offered some "suggestions" on where he could dispose of the old systems.

    He found out, on the first day at his new, that the multi-nationals had recently merged and had the same CEO...

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: "Shouting" at the wrong person

      "...He found out, on the first day at his new, that the multi-nationals had recently merged and had the same CEO..."

      Did he live with his head in the sand? Mergers don't just pop up complete one Monday morning - especially so for multinationals!

      Sounds like the company may not have been the entire issue here.

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: "Shouting" at the wrong person

        Probably though, the CEO also never noticed....

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "Shouting" at the wrong person

          Probably for one of two reasons. The CEO's PA does all the CEOs email and so the CEO never saw it anyway. And even if the CEO did see it, I very much doubt the CEO would be informed of new starters at the now merged business unless they were C-Suite level anyway.

  12. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    Crappy support? Unfortunately, I cannot change our own IT department.

    1. herman Silver badge

      IT Support Motto

      We are not happy until you are not happy.

      1. Flightmode
        Pint

        Re: IT Support Motto

        Here you go. If it's not yours, thank you for posting it. :-)

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: IT Support Motto

          I always used the shorter version.

          We're not happy until you're not*.

          *Why yes, I do take my support model straight from the BOFH

    2. nintendoeats Silver badge

      We have one guy...earlier this week...

      Me: I was required to change my password to the timesheet system yesterday and now I can't remember it. Can you please reset my password?

      Gonad: I confirm that you are still enabled in the timesheets. Please log in with the new password.

      Me: What new password?

      Gonad: Use the new password you set yesterday. If you do not remember it we can reset it.

      This is not the first time I've had an interaction with this person where I wanted to put my fist through his head, nor am I alone in that regard.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Devil

        The proper answer to this kind of request is to ask for the user with a faulty memory to prove he is himself by sending to the helpdesk his password (original one, not a copy), blood samples (8 liters should be enough), and a request processing fee (in cash)...

        1. nintendoeats Silver badge

          Frankly, that would have been less annoying than what he actually wrote.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Facepalm

        We had a cleaner like that, who had logins for pay, wages etc & they would never work for him.

        When he was able to get logged in, he would click on the link & use his credentials to "authorise a purchase" into a fake onedrive portal (Yeah the moron managed to remember his credentials twice in a row) & once also allowed "Microsoft" to remote in to resolve a issue.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've been on the other side of this.

        Me: Your new account has been set up. It'll make you change your password at first logon. It's an old system, so use only numbers and uppercase letters, no lowercase or symbols.

        Him: I put a $ into my new password, and now it won't work with the old one or the new one.

        Me: I've reset it back to the original one.

        (Two weeks later:)

        Him: I've forgotten my password...

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          I used a system where I’d could change the rules for passwords. The problem was that if your old password didn’t match the new rules, you were stuck.

          1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

            This means your ex-system stored the password either clear-text or in a reversible way. If the system can tell "your old password is too weak" it means that it uses an insecure password storage in first place.

            1. cdrcat

              Password change forms often require validating the old password. That doesn’t mean that the password is stored in cleartext.

              1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                Password change does not require validating the old password, it checks whether the hash has the same result to prevent setting the same password. But her/his wording was "if your old password didn’t match the new rules, you were stuck", which means the old password was checked for the new rules. If you use a secure non-reversible way to store a password it is impossible. This dates back to the first versions of unix with their /etc/passwd and even further back.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  No, it means the code was probably written wrong without having to store it in cleartext. The following workflow would accomplish this bug without storing a cleartext password:

                  Enter old password

                  Enter new password

                  If old password doesn't match hash, report error.

                  If old password doesn't match rules, report error.

                  If new password doesn't match rules, report error.

                  Hash new password and store it in database.

                  It just has to run the rules against the user-entered string, which it already has because it will check it against the hash. For all we know, the coding error could be even more basic. My version has a statement run twice when it's only needed once, but it could also be that it was only being run once but on the old password instead of the new because someone mistyped a variable name. That version could in turn be changed into my version when the "Isn't checking new password against rules" bug was fixed by a lazy developer who put in the necessary statement without removing the erroneous one.

                  1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                    Ah, thanks for clearing that up!

      4. Terry 6 Silver badge

        There are so many like that and worse. They respond not to what you've told them, but to some key words and/or what they expected you to tell them. They just don't fucking listen to what people actually say.

        1. nintendoeats Silver badge

          I would put it down to that, except for one of my previous experiences with the same person.

          I was trying to install some software we wanted to test, and it was one of these things where the "installer" is just a shell that downloads the real assets. The installer was unable to do its job from within the corporate network.

          He spent AN HOUR remoted into my machine, preventing me from working, doing things that made absolutely zero sense (I had nothing to do but watch him try things). At the end he concluded, "I think our firewall is blocking the installer."

          NO SHIT.

          All this to say, I think this person is not just lazy, but profoundly stupid.

      5. swm Silver badge

        I had to create an account for something. The website suggested a 'secure' password of 16 characters. The system rejected it because it didn't have a 'special' character. So I added a # and then the system accepted it.

        Pretty soon there will be only one unique password that meets all of the password requirements.

  13. Luiz Abdala
    Megaphone

    Hell hath no fury...

    ... like a disgruntled customer.

    One good review begets ten new customers.

    One bad review scares one thousand.

  14. El blissett

    Amazed that you would bother accusing a client this size and risking it over one drive? All the Greeks in Delphi could have seen it coming but apparently not at this laptop company.

    I guess there really is one of all sorts under the celestial body in the daytime sky.

    Hope that the unnamed company in question learned to place contracts with suppliers that have professional approaches to working with large enterprises, not just supply the cheapest laptops.

    1. Jonathon Green
      Boffin

      “ Hope that the unnamed company in question learned to place contracts with suppliers that have professional approaches to working with large enterprises…”

      Or better still one which takes an equally professional approach to customer support whether you’re a small business (or end user) buying one widget or a large corporate taking 20,000 a year…

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        "Or better still one which takes an equally professional approach to customer support whether you’re a small business (or end user) buying one widget or a large corporate taking 20,000 a year…"

        TBF, the supplier in the story apparently did take the same _un_professional approach to all customers regardless of size...

      2. nintendoeats Silver badge

        I had a couple of Dell monitors malfunction. Got bounced around with their "customer service" people who were totally clueless and didn't understand anything I was saying, until somebody accidentally transferred me to the enterprise department. Guy was super helpful and professional, until he asked for my business account and I'm like "what?"

        I could hear the regret in his voice as he punted me back to the pleb system.

        In fairness, Dell eventually gave me 4 monitors for the price of 2, so it wasn't all bad.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          I won't touch Dell since I last bought a laptop from them about 4 years ago. I'd phoned and asked, specifically, would there be room in the chassis for me to slap in an extra hdd ( and the connectors). Oh, the customer support assured me, there would be. There wasn't. And they wouldn't accept any responsibility for mis-selling me the machine,

          So when my Dell PC needed replacing last year I didn't get the new one from Dell. It had been a really good PC, but I don't trust Dell anymore. And the new PC, like the old one, is a bloody sight higher spec/more expensive than the laptop (I recommend Chiilblast- which is what I did get).

        2. Shred

          Even Dell Enterprise support can be pretty special. Working for a university about 15 years ago, we had the misfortune to buy a hundred or so Dell GX270 desktops for our department’s labs.

          The machines started dropping like flies with bulging capacitors on the motherboards. In the USA, Dell extended the warranty to seven years for this fault. In Australia, they did nothing. Worst of all, the replacement motherboards also contained faulty capacitors. One machine was on its fourth motherboard at the end of the three year warranty. A bunch of machines that would normally have auctioned off at the end of their life simply went in the rubbish skip.

          The worst part is that unlike what happened to the vendor in the original story, our organisation kept buying Dell, despite them knowing selling us faulty gear and not fixing it properly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Dell in the UK

            A very large British Telecom company had a Dell engineer onsite, whose sole job was to replace motherboards in their many thousands of PCs that had this fault.

            I think Dell were told to fix it or lose the contract at next renewal.

  15. Archivist

    In the last century

    We bought a lot of identical spec workstations from a medium size manufacturer (yes they existed in those days). As soon as they went into service the HDDs started failing. The drives were all the same IBM model.

    Upon contacting the manufacturer they would only advance replacements as and when they failed - we were losing 2 a week at that stage. Almost all did fail eventually but by then we'd bitten the bullet and bought some drives ourselves.

    I can't remember the manufacturers name but I do remember smiling to myself when they went bust.

    1. dhawkshaw
      Happy

      Re: In the last century

      hhhmm, IBM/Hitachi D[esk|eath]Stars by any chance ?

      I unfortunately experienced their 'click of death' all too often.

      1. Archivist

        Re: In the last century

        Yes, those are the ones.

  16. darklord

    Hmm missed a trick

    They still had the business as you still had there laptops which had already been rolled out. Id have returned every laptop already delivered and asked for a refund as breach of contract and warranty as well as any extended support payments made.

    1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: Hmm missed a trick

      Beat me to it! I was going to suggest this too, if they had a 30 day return policy or or the like I would have considered returning every single machine to them.

  17. Terry 6 Silver badge

    I've had this oodles of times

    At work, buying stuff for a local authority team, and personally

    Companies that would rather lose my custom- and that of anyone I speak to- rather than sort out some kind of problem with an item they've supplied. It ranges from refusal to accept responsibility to refusal to believe anything a customer tells them. I just don't understand this attitude. Why jeopardise £100s or even 1000s of worth of future sales for the sake of a few quid for a replacement item or component.

    As opposed, as stated above, to guarantee customer loyalty by responding well.

    1. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: I've had this oodles of times

      In fairness, fraud is real and the customer service people are the ones who have to look out for it. But that said, if your customer comes from Delphi you should probably eat a little fraud if it comes along.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I've had this oodles of times

      "buying stuff for a local authority team,"

      Isn't there a legal requirement to buy from the cheapest supplier? Without some creative purchasing skills, that could mean buying from someone trying to undercut the bigger fish and making pennies per unit on the sale, relying on volume and no further warranty costs.

      Speaking to one local authority customer, he confided that they will sometimes purchase a "base" device without any optional extras, then separately purchase the "extras" which are actually required, so as buy from a supplier they know they can trust and not from one they know they will have a poor experience with and will actually cost more in the long term.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: I've had this oodles of times

        This is about resolving issues. And so they will have been an authorised supplier that I'd bought stuff from. (Or just long enough ago that those rules didn't apply)

        It may be that they got local authority approval by undercutting sensible prices, or by being rather, err, friendly with one of the high ups of course. We certainly had some supply contracts that were rather more pricey than you'd expect.

        But the reality is that if I'd had crap service I'd not keep it to myself. Other senior frontline staff would hear about it pdq. And colleagues in other authorities when we had meetings. And anyone else I knew who bought tech stuff (luckily it happened infrequently enough for me not to become a bore about it).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've had this oodles of times

        I work for a public sector org in the UK and we have to go through a full tender process for anything over £50K.

        The spec we provide usually ties it down enough that there are only a few (reputable) suppliers that meet the spec.

        One company removed themselves from the process of a 60 laptop (plus screens and docking stations) refresh by just ignoring our CPU requirements. They just listed what they wanted to get rid of (i3) and hoped we would not notice. 14 companies responded to this tender.

        The company that did get the tender then ignored the "delivery within 10 working days after award" and were sacked after about 6 weeks of leading us on. I could give you some insight into their name...

        The second-place company had the required kit delivered within a week of being awarded the tender.

  18. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A (still) current problem that may not go away

    As a field sound recordist, I use a Roland R-44 recorder. The lithium coin cell that supports the clock is finally giving out but there are no instructions available on how to open the kit up to change it. This may not be obvious as (from the service manual) there are apparently several EMC filter strips that are critically placed, so for safety it's a job for someone who has done it before.

    This is professional gear, originally in the GBP600 bracket (although, sadly, now discontinued) but multiple attempts to contact Roland for guidance have elicited no information and the Roland help portal is one of these silly ones that only works on a narrow range of the latest kit (and doesn't work for me). The new Roland Store that's just opened informed me that they would only service kit actually bought in the store, as I bought this long before the store opened thy can't help me.

    I finally got through on the phone to the UK Roland office recently and was told of their "official" service subcontractor. I contacted this service, and the guy who answered the phone quipped that he'd never opened up an R-44 but he had a hammer that would probably do the job for a fee of GBP50.

    I think It's time to complain officially writing to Roland HQ (supposing that makes any difference). In the meantime I have a perfectly good professional recorder that's out of service purely because Roland don't give a damn (or would prefer I scrapped it and bought a new model).

    1. Oglethorpe

      Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

      At the other end of the scale, I was trying to repair some entry level KEF speakers from the 90s with a failed tweeter. KEF apologised that they didn't have stock of replacements for a 25 year old speaker but dug out and sent over the original technical drawings and specs for that tweeter. I was able to reroll the crossovers and make up adapter plates to fit another one before the different tweeters even arrived.

      1. JollyJohn54

        Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

        A good place for KEF parts for their older speakers (and many others) is https://www.falconacoustics.co.uk/

        I'm currently thinking of replacing my IMF TLS50's (lovely but after 40 years very worn out) with their IMF200 speakers.

        1. Oglethorpe

          Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

          I went to Falcon for their 104/2 capacitor replacement set but, in this case, used Willys Hifi for some inexpensive Monacors. Fun fact: 'race track' drivers like the kind used on their IMF 200 originally came about because of asinine British tax laws on speaker cabinet width (attracting a higher tariff for wider cabinets) and those drivers let KEF tiptoe around the tax band.

        2. BeefEater

          Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

          I bought a pair of IMF speakers while at University (50 yrs ago) - think that they were Super Compact II s - and they used KEF units.

          After a couple of years one of the tweeters failed and they replaced it without question.

          I forgot to mention that I had been using a self built 75W amplifier even though they were only rated at 50W. Probably not a factor.

          They have been in the loft for the past 20+ years because SWMBO said that the stands were ugly. Now using KEF free standing units.

    2. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

      Another one along similar lines. I have a Denon 3808CI A/V receiver (this cost somebody 1600 bucks 15 years ago). I have rigged it up with a ThenAudio SHARC so that it works with my 4K TV. Obviously that TV also supports CEC. If the receiver supported that, I could reduce my number of remotes by a third.

      There was, at one time, a firmware update that added CEC support to the 3808CI. Unfortunately the firmware update servers are down for that machine (it would barely cost them anything to keep those up, but fine). I contacted them to ask if there was a way to obtain this firmware. I have heard...nothing. I'd accept "sorry, no". But simply no response. What does one do?

      Bastards.

      1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

        Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

        Unfortunately the firmware update servers are down for that machine (it would barely cost them anything to keep those up, but fine).

        Does archive.org have a clone of the relevant server page that held the firmware updates?

        I contacted them to ask if there was a way to obtain this firmware. I have heard…nothing. I’d accept “sorry, no”. But simply no response. What does one do?

        Try, try again? Look for Denon enthusiast sites to see if another 3808CI owner can provide the relevant firmware updates to you?

        1. nintendoeats Silver badge

          Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

          Firmware was downloaded straight to the machine, it wasn't provided as a blob that you installed from a thumbstick.

          1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

            Re: A (still) current problem that may not go away

            I see your choices as the following:

            • Periodically contact Denon with a repeat request to provide access, even if temporarily, to the relevant server.
            • See if anyone else has had this problem and figured out a workaround that you could duplicate for your receiver.
            • Find the relevant firmware update blob somewhere, and create your own server to host it, configuring your local network so that your receiver treats your server as being the relevant Denon server.
            • Do nothing, and continue to live with your current number of remote controls.

            Only you can decide which choices are worth pursuing.

  19. Electronics'R'Us
    Holmes

    Slightly different

    Quite a few years ago, I was the technical lead [0] for electronics at an aerospace and defence site of a $BIGCORP.

    One of the big suppliers of power converters (among a great deal more) was asked if they had some devices rated for military temperatures; in this specific case the answer was 'No', but they said they could set up a screening programme (which would set us back about £100k one off NRE).

    We were considering this but then the vendor stated that after the screening was in place (which we would be paying for), they would sell the same parts at the same price as our price to anyone. Hmmm.... We decided that we could get by without the screening. We had other methods of achieving the same result and at least the money would be with local suppliers rather than a large corporation.

    Strike 1.

    A year or so later, we were performing fault testing with some of the same vendors point of load regulators (switching devices) and they were not meeting the datasheet; we would short the output (the devices had a statement that it could be applied continuously and would recover once the fault condition was removed). Problem was that was not happening. 5V output would not recover properly, and the -5V would recover to -15V! Much more weirdness abounded. Interestingly, for power inputs set for 4.2V [1] or below, the devices worked perfectly.

    After we had spent several hundred engineering hours (may well have been more) on the issue to properly document it, we presented it to the vendor. After a few months, they eventually admitted it was a silicon error but they would not change the datasheet or the silicon.

    My next action was to decree they (that specific division) were now 'persona non grata' in our designs as we could no longer trust them - they were also designed out of all existing designs [2].

    Some weeks later, I had a call from our procurement saying the rep had contacted them asking why their volumes had dropped to almost zero. I explained the situation and thought no more of it until the sales manager called me directly demanding very loudly that they be reinstated and that I had overstepped my authority and he would call the director etc., at which point I politely explained that the decision had been made and I hung up. I did get a call from the engineering director (who was already fully briefed) to say they agreed with the decision to drop them and had told them so.

    I understand that there was a bit of a 'reshuffle' in that department after that.

    We were a 'key account' (as are all the big mil / aero outfits) and losing the entire site (we made a lot of different stuff) was rather a blow apparently.

    We eventually started using that division again about 8 years later.

    [0] I was not a manager - as the lead I had responsibilities for which vendors, which parts, etc.

    [1]. That is the voltage of a fully charged Lithium Ion battery so the parts worked perfectly for consumer equipment although the datasheet stated otherwise.

    [2] Fairly simple to do for equipment in the design / pre-qualification stage. Older equipment had been designed with very high reliability figures and we already had sufficient spares for the life of those contracts. Some contracts have a 'technology refresh' planned in and the designs were updated with a more customer focused vendor at that time.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few years ago I was driving along at 30mph in a 30mph zone, and had a builder's van constantly tailgating me, dropping back, then running right up behind me. Once there was nothing coming, he revved the balls off the Transit and overtook me, shouting 'c**t* out of the window as he did, brake-checked me once he'd pulled in front, and then tore off in a cloud of blue smoke into the distance.

    It gave me great pleasure to ring the owner of the building company and tell him why I was cancelled the £20,000 contract I had been on the point of signing with his company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Please, please tell me he was the one driving!

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Please, please tell me he was the one driving!

        That would really put the icing on the cake.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slightly different

    I had requested that a free magazine company not drop the magazine through my door as I was not interested.

    The delivery man was outside my house contemplating this as I came back from my lunchtime walk yesterday.

    The expletive ridden tirade he produced as I entered my house was relayed to the magazine editor.

    I don't expect to see him around again.

  22. adam 40 Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    British Airways

    Work-related business trip...

    "I was sitting in seat 32K, in a Boeing 777.

    While I was having dinner the chap in the seat in front of me reclined

    his seat. This knocked the glass of red wine straight off the tray table

    onto my lap and a textbook that I had bought only a few days previously.

    My jeans and the book were fairly extensively stained and I am trying to

    clean them, but I don't know if the wine will come out.

    There seems to be a design problem with the seats in economy in the 777,

    in that firstly the seats have no damping mechanism (unlike most other

    aircraft) so when the seat is reclined it happens very fast. There is no

    time to react.

    Secondly the seat back interferes with whatever is on the tray table and

    can cause things to fall off, what if this were hot tea or coffee? There

    is a safety issue here.

    I will let you know if I cannot remove the stains,

    yours sincerely, Adam 40."

    ----------------

    The stains did not come out, so I asked for £50 in compo.

    BA refused.

    For the next 5 business trips, if there was a BA option, I said no. I also copied BA Customer Services saying, you know that £50 you didn't want to pay. Well, here's another £1500 business class ticket I made sure you didn't get.

    -----------

    Cut forward a few years, and a new job. Now I have a distinctive surname... My new company made me go on a business trip, with BA, there was no other option, and it was now cattle class.

    When checking in, I got upgraded. BOTH WAYS.

    Sometimes, it pays to be a pain in the arse....

  23. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Are there really companies which would allow someone to change supplier for a $350k order without going through any sort of procurement process, and just because of a personal disagreement with someone at an approved and signed-off supplier? It sounds very dubious.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      I could see it happening for a few reasons.

      First, it wasn't "just because of a personal disagreement", though that definitely didn't help. If the change needed to be sold to someone else, it could be done as "failure to make repairs specified in the contract, necessary to continued functioning of the equipment, and after repeated requests". That sounds a bit worse and can get others to accept it.

      Second, it's a big figure, but that's about 35 laptops. We're not talking a massive company here. The person doing this could already have been at a high enough position that cancelling the contract could be in their authority. If they couldn't find anyone else to provide replacement laptops at a comparable price, there could be problems, but they're often interchangeable and with multiple available suppliers. They may already have planned for multiple suppliers and the change just involved switching some orders from approved supplier 1 to approved supplier 2, which would likely have gone through without issue.

      1. cdrcat

        “Larry was running a project to replace the laptops in an entire division of 500 staff, and decided to split the deal between two PC makers.”

        "This wasn't a dozen machines, or maybe a couple of dozen. This was 350 laptops in total, at $1,000 a piece – not counting peripherals, docking stations, bags, and other doodads the company ordered depending upon the department and seniority."

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          You're right, I did that wrong. Still, with 350 machines instead, it's still not a number where finding another supplier if your other accepted one couldn't would be difficult. If you were refreshing thousands of machines at once, it might be a bit harder to do at short notice.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Second, it's a big figure, but that's about 35 laptops.

        $10,000 each? Must be Apple.

    2. Malcolm Weir

      Yup. There's a guy in our outfit who can do just that, and who _cannot_ be overruled by anyone, even the CEO[1].

      He's the Quality Manager. If he nixes a vendor, they're nixed.

      Now, because we're on the same team, if we _need_ that vendor, and can justify the need, he works with us to come up with a compromise, which usually involves a more rigorous inspection procedure, discussions with the vendor as to how and why they're on thin ice, etc. He's not stupid, and won't shut down the business frivolously!

      [1] The CEO can fire him and get another quality manager, of course. But our quality certification does not permit anyone to override the quality guy.

  24. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    An incident like this..

    .. was what made me finally drop Demon Internet..

    My DSL connection (yes, it was quite a while ago) was, at that time, connected via a connector under the pavement - a connector where the flap that was supposed to make it waterproof had a large chip taken out of it - which meant real, sustained rain would eventually seep down into the cavity and surround the connector. Which, over time, would corrode the connectors and I'd lose my DSL connection.

    So, about once or twice a year, I'd have to call Demon to get a BT engineer out to look at it - I'd have a quiet word with them when they arrived, they would clean things up and close the call with a 'connection cleaned up' message. All were happy (except me because I had to do it at all, but at least happy that there was a known, simple fix).

    Then Demon got borged, not once, but twice. The nice friendly techies on their helpline got replaced by script-reading robots that either didn't have the power to diverge from the script or, more likely, lacked the desire to do so.

    So my connection went down again so I duely rang the helpdesk (ha!). Went through the rigmarole (no, it's not a single computer, it's several of them connected to a switch, behind a firewall. No I can't reset the firewall. No, I can't unplug the affected computer because it's several. No, none of the computers are running Windows[1]. Yes, it's a known issue that should be on my customer record. So please raise a call to BT for them to come to check the cabling).

    Sometimes it would work, sometimes not - depending on the helpfulness of the individual concerned.

    Then came the final day. I'd called the helpdesk three times, trying to find out what was happening to the call I'd logged two days ago, each time going through the same rigmarole and getting more and more annoyed each time. So, expecting nothing but disappointment, I phoned them again and came up against someone who was obviously either having a bad day or a severe case of entitlement..

    I went through the rigmarole again but, as soon as I tried to diverge from his pre-prepared script he started to panic and told me that I *must* give him the information (which was utterly meaningless in the context) or he wouldn't continue. I asked to speak to his manager - at which point he started to scream at me that I was disrespecting him and that he was the one controlling things. I asked again to speak to the manager. He put the phone down on me.

    I waited 5 minutes and called again. My ill-fortune continued - I ended up in his phone queue again. As soon as I started to speak he swore at me several times and put the phone down.

    So I called the Sales team (still UK based at that point) and asked for a transfer code (can't remember what it was called - this was before the new provider could request for you). When they asked why (with a resigned sigh - I suspect that they were the busiest team left at Demon) I explained what had happened with the helpdesk.

    They provided me with my code without any argument. They also asked me whether I wanted to raise a formal complaint - which I did. I moved away from Demon with dome regret - it was my first proper ISP and it had been a really good one until the borging.

    IDNet was my next ISP, then I eventually settled on Zen which is my current ISP. Only a total of 3 ISPs in my personal internet life!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An incident like this..

      I used to have CenturyLink DSL. One time my support call was something like this:

      (10 minute wait, then)

      Me: I'm having trouble getting my external modem to connect. I think it's noise on the line.

      Tier 1: What? It's hard to hear you over the noise on the line.

      Me: (Repeat myself, then) The modem's DSL and Internet lights are off. I've restarted the modem, with no effect.

      Tier 1: I need to you restart your computer.

      Me: The lights are out on the MODEM. Rebooting my computer won't help.

      Tier 1: I need you to restart your computer anyway.

      Me: Fine.

      (Five minutes waiting for the computer to reboot)

      Me: Nope, same issue.

      Tier 1: I need you to restart the modem.

      Me: I already did, no effect.

      Tier 1: I need you to restart the modem anyway.

      (Five minutes waiting for the modem to connect.)

      Me: Nope, same issue.

      Tier 1: I have to transfer you to tier 2. Please hold...

      Tier 2: What's the trouble?

      Me: Modem DSL and Internet lights are out. Restarting it doesn't fix it.

      Tier 2: I hear some serious noise on the line. Do you know how to get into the modem diagnostics?

      Me: Yes, already there.

      Tier 2: Read me line (x) on page (y).

      Me: (Series of hex digits)

      Tier 2: Wow. No wonder - WAY too much noise. We'll dispatch a tech to fix it.

      They ended up running a new phone cable, which dramatically improved it. (Except for the 60Hz hum, probably caused by putting the phone pedestal 6 feet from the neighborhood transformer.)

      How can I talk to Tier 2 to start with?

      1. nintendoeats Silver badge

        Re: An incident like this..

        Possibility 1: This person can do some stuff, but it was obvious they couldn't solve this problem. They are required to have you do at least those two things before elevating.

        Possibility 2: All they do all day is tell people to restart computers and modems.

        Depressing thought #2...

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: An incident like this..

          Probability #3: they deviated from The Script one time, got utterly reamed out by some petty help desk supervisor for Not Following The Script Exactly, and now, no longer having any desire to do anything that's actually helpful, will not deviate from the script one iota for fear of a second reaming.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: An incident like this..

            That #3 is the reason it is usually called the helldesk and why it doesn't have competent staff (and does have utterly incompetent supervisors and managers).

      2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: An incident like this..

        How can I talk to Tier 2 to start with?

        Shibboleet.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: An incident like this..

          I believe that Andrews and Arnold are XKCD-compliant, though I have never had to test this, because everyone I have every talked to there, in sales and support, has been technically clued-up and helpful.

          When I got FTTP it was their sales people who suggested that I dump the copper phone line and go VOIP, which I did, at a significant saving. Neither the Phone Co-Op nor BT ever mentioned this - both wanted me to continue paying ~£20 per month for a completely unnecessary phone line.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: An incident like this..

          Interestingly, it is trivially easy to set up a Teams Voice switchboard to be shibboleet-compliant. I may or may not have done this with ours.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: An incident like this..

        How can I talk to Tier 2 to start with?

        You can't and for good reason. Tier one is to fix the EBCAK (PEBCAK) problems and keep the techs who have real skill from being swamped with idiots.

        The things that irritates the hell out of me is when this they pull this crap internally on me when I need to talk to the department heads to resolve the problem.

        No, you can't fix it, this is way above your pay grade. I need to talk to your boss. I could fix myself, but I don't have the admin access.

        Fortunately, as time goes by, I end up with the dept heads contact info, but sometimes I still have to submit a regular trouble ticket. Procedures and CYA, you know? But even then, I have full admin control over the ticket if it goes sideways and I've taken over quite few support issues from the lower tiers in my time.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: An incident like this..

          And that's fine. And plenty of times level one has been what I needed. But sometimes they go through those steps and then just say they can't help anymore rather than going higher.

          And sometimes you provide the evidence that it's not several of the possible issues ("I tried it in a couple of other PCs and it still didn't work") but they still insist on working though the level 1 script before referring it up. Or both of the above.

      4. Old Used Programmer

        Re: An incident like this..

        When I had my first DSL line put in, I specifically asked (and got) the phone company to run new wire from the pole. My reasoning was that it was an old house with the existing wiring in place for many years.

        As for Tier 2...

        I did an 18 month stint as Tier 2 DSL support at AT&T. If someone was a frequent caller (5 or moer per month, IIRC), they'd automatically get routed to Tier 2. One way to do that was, call and hang up before getting a live body on the phone repeatedly. IIRC, after three hangups like that, the next time went directly to Tier 2. Or, of course, you could start by asking Tier 1 to transfer you to Tier 2. That had a moderate chance of working.

        Mind you my time doing this was a decade ago and even then they were cutting back on what Tier 2 was actually allowed to do to really help with. They were cutting out permission to do things like walking people through configuring a modem/router or actually debugging connections between PC and modem.

        What was always a joy was when you got a customer on the line who obviously knew what he was doing...used the right language, knew what the various bits were, had a spare CAT-5 cable. Then one could cheerfully get down in the weeds with him, find the problem and fix it...or--if needed--open a ticket to send a tech or have someone make the fix in the CO.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: An incident like this..

          I don't have a problem starting with tier 1, but I expect to be transferred to tier 2 once tier 1 can be sure I know the subject better than they do.

      5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: An incident like this..

        You can't. They are front line support for a reason - filtering the chaff of people with easily solvable problems from the wheat of people with real problems. Just accept the need to run through the script readers before getting to one of us actual technicians. And don't take offense as it isn't a slight against you. Out of 100 calls, the script readers (annoying as they are) do fix about 97 of the problems because most folks are not technical in the slightest. I've even had them resolve the occasional problem for me, although I usually wind up with a Tier 2 or Tier 3 tech working on problems I report for myself.

        Just give the script kiddies what they need without arguing about it, it's the fastest way to get past them. Consider it to be like a Chinese Kung Fu movie where the hero has to battle the horde of faceless lackeys before he can do battle with the big boss. "You are not.. worthy to report an outage to me!!! until you defeat my gang of.. 100 page readers!!! and their... Scripts of Doom!! (Mouth continues moving for 10 seconds)"

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: An incident like this..

          Heh- then there's one of my co-workers. When he has to call a certain vendor for software issues, the conversation goes something like this:

          [Support]: Thank you for calling [Vendor] support, how can I help you?

          [Coworker]: Hi, this is [Coworker] from [RedactedCo].

          [Support]: Oh, Hi [Coworker]! Let me see who's open on tier 2 or three to assist you today.

          The reason for this? [Coworker] knows the software as good as their tier two and three staff, so when he's calling in a ticket, it's usually because of a bug in the application, or some other issue that only the vendor can actually fix.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: An incident like this..

            That would assume a company that has a consistent team of level 1 staff......

  25. Marty McFly Silver badge
    FAIL

    Once upon a time...

    We were a pure Verizon household. Verizon local service, Verizon long distance, Verizon DSL, and two Verizon cell phones.

    In the process of fixing a billing error that was 100% their fault, they disconnected our DSL service. After hours of calls and hold times, I was finally told it would take 4 weeks to reconnect because the modems were on back order. It was working yesterday, I already have a modem, turn the damn thing back on. Utter refusal and I had no immediate options.

    I did have a long term option though. Our household has been proudly Verizon free for 20 years now. Literally decades of lost revenue. Go pound sand.

    1. Outski Silver badge

      Re: Once upon a time...

      Probably still better than Comcast though - I remember back in the noughties, they started rate-limiting port 1352 (NRPC, ie, Notes) for domestic customers. Now, Notes is designed for remote working. People complained. Serious technical people who knew how to use Wireshark, amongst other tools.

      Comcast denied it. IBM did some tests, as some of the people complaining were major technical contributors to IBM's conferences, business partners, BIG customers.

      Comcast stopped limiting 1352.

  26. Joe Gurman

    Going to take a wild guess….

    ….that hardware vendor No. 2 (the epic c.s.fail) was Dell.

    Back in the days when I was still working, I worked for a medium-largish US government agency. Somewhat unusually for that sector, nearly all of my group’s desktops and laptops were from a fruit company in Cupertino, California, but our servers, running Linux, were purchased from the likes of Supermicro and Dell. No one made it harder to get pre-purchase assistance (critical for our particular contract vehicle), often by having the voicemail for key personnel on the contract respond with an out of the office more or less forever message, and vectoring is on to another indefinitely absent employee, lather, rinse, repeat. I finally got a helpful person who worked only from home — this was half a decade before pandemic-induced work from anywhere, and made me think Dell was much nicer to its employees than its customers. But we did get the kit in short order once the order was booked, and were quite happy with it.

    The service issue came on a RAID unit a clever fellow in the group who’d gotten his own grant funding and decided to purchase it on his own. Took Dell two years to replace the unit and drives completely, after several iterations of the “Must be a bad controller” …. Wait four months for a replacement…. Must be the drives…. Must be a cable cycle before they decided the hardware was obsolete and just shipped a new unit. They never evinced the slightest regret at delaying a customer’s project by two years.

    As I used Fruit Company kit at home, too, I couldn’t help but wonder why their pre- and post-sales support (usually instant, and when not, staying with you until the issue was resolved) was so much better than the big server-shipper’s. Appears to have been reflected in FruitCo/Dell market cap growth of ~ 30:1 in over the last four years.

    Stupid tax my left foot.

  27. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Suppliers just don't seem to understand they have corporate customers, paying them millions of zarbles. When working in the NHS we were supposed to be able to return unworkable brand new kit, but the contact line to return DOA kit treats you as a PC World consumer. "I need to return this laptop for DOA replacement". Have you tried to turn it on? "I've taken it out of the box, it's DOA". Have you tried pressng this when... "I've taken it out of the box, it's DOA". Please try plugging in a different monitor "I've taken it out of the box, it's DOA". Please try... "Look, I've got 499 other laptops to image, I'm not shitting about with ONE laptop trying to get it working, LET ME BOOK THE DAMN DOA!!!!"

  28. WolfFan Silver badge

    Many years ago

    I was assembling a nice new desktop computer. It had the latest and greatest, a 3.8 GHz Pentium IV Prescott Extreme Edition (yeah, right) and had lots of RAM, a vast 300 GB hard drive, and, wonder of wonders, a DVD burner. A HP DVD burner.

    So I cruised along doing Official Work with the big shiny… and then, less than five months later, it would read and write CDs, and read DVDs, but not write them. Ok, I get on the phone to HP. HP doesn’t want to admit that maybe there’s a problem, but finally replaces the drive under warranty. And then, three months after that, the new drive would read and write DVDs but wouldn’t do anything to CDs. HP was very unhappy, but sent a second replacement. And six months later, this one died completely. HP says that it’s out of warranty, I only had a year’s warranty. Apparently the replacement drives did not extend the warranty.

    So I bought a new DVD burner, a LG. That drive lasted ten years, until Big Shiny was retired. I took it out of the case and got a USB to PATA converter, and used it for several years after that.

    I replaced it with another LG, an external USB 3 unit. That one still works.

    Bite me, HP.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Many years ago

      I have a similar experience with LG DVD burners :). In generally, as I observed, the devices die too soon even if they are rarely used. Solution: Unplug from power, so the computer runs, but the DVD burner does not. Reconnecting when needed works for ATA/SATA too, as long as "Rescan for hardware" works - most of the time you don't even need to rescan.

  29. wyatt

    The company I work for had a customer in the City of London. Every time something didn't go their way they'd involve their lawyers. As you'd expect, we dropped them as a customer, along with everyone else in the market.

    They've recently asked us why we didn't respond to RFP they put out, same people are still in charge- do they think that people don't remember how they behave?

  30. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Play nice or get shamed.

    I just read a story earlier today where a couple of female models were denied entry to a club after waiting in line for some time. The doorman looked them up and down and said "not tonight, ladies". The one I saw that raised the hew and cry was very pretty. She had also been a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. The issue was they are both considered "plus size". As I said, the one I saw was very pretty and I expect she and her friend(s) were dressed very nice as well. That club isn't predicted to do very well this weekend and might consider closing up or changing the name and only catering to the all male crowd.

    Really smart companies offer their best customers a separate service line or route calls based on caller ID to more experienced staff. It's not a good idea to put the trainees on with the most important accounts. One company where I managed production for a while had a policy of giving away free product to certain customer's staff. The return was far better than what we were able to gauge from trade shows. The freebies we made when it was slow using mostly off-cuts. The company made racks and cases for the entertainment industry.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Receptionist on the phone

    I saw an argument on the internet years ago about whether or not you must be polite to a front desk receptionist that's on the phone when you arrive.

    We were in the lunch room discussing a friend-of-the-CEO candidate that we were supposed to "give another chance." We were pretty sure he'd 100% fail a second try. He was rude to junior engineers and extremely rude to female engineers. The head of office operations was curious and joined in.

    This company had nobody staffed for the lobby front desk. The person you saw there was your contact or somebody's else's contact. Hot-shot friend of the CEO comes in for a job interview and walks up to the reception desk. The woman there signals to wait a moment as she talks on the phone. Applicant tells her to get off the phone because he has an interview. That was the head of operations coordinating important business.

    We didn't have to give the applicant another chance.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Receptionist on the phone

      How dumb can someone be. The receptionist may appear to be a lowly peon but they are the gatekeepers and along with the mail room people hold a disproportionate amount of soft power in most businesses.

      The Big Bang Theory sit-com had throughout it's run a single piece of Yoda like wisdom: "Never annoy people who handle your food". One could easily add never piss off a receptionist (or for that matter a librarian - ook).

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Receptionist on the phone

        In schools it's the school secretary and the caretaker. And yes, I've seen what happens to staff members who are gratuitously nasty to either.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Receptionist on the phone

          "In schools it's the school secretary and the caretaker. And yes, I've seen what happens to staff members who are gratuitously nasty to either."

          And the chemistry teacher. I was doing an extra year of independent study and one of my assignments was a pretty fiendish ketone synthesis. It smelled like buttered popcorn and was exceptionally potent. The last part of the assignment was to sneak on campus in the evening and put a few drops on the HVAC fresh air intakes. The next day the offices, library and media center smelled like a movie theatre. I got full marks for that one.

      2. nintendoeats Silver badge

        Re: Receptionist on the phone

        I'm not sure about that, what do you think Jennifer?

    2. Outski Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Receptionist on the phone

      Any receptionist on the phone when you arrive is doing their job. It's really that simple.

      CEO's friend couldn't do that job, probably not any other either, apart from maybe Tory whip

  32. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

    This is support on the same basis as the Monty Python no pay insurance policy. It's a warranty that's only valid as long as you don't claim on it.

    Back when I was in a huge organization with massive buying power we used to tender for our hardware contracts. We were very thorough when it came to checking out tender submissions. We came across quite a few vendors who were big names but had virtually no presence in the UK. Basically a sales office. Sometimes these were overseas companies who had set up a UK branch office and the hardware was shipped in direct from the factory. In other cases we had what was a pretty well known name that was in reality just a rebadging operation.

    In either case the "support" function was usually just one person answering calls and fobbing people off. These companies didn't have the facilities to repair the stuff they sold. As such if they wanted to repair something they would have to send it off to a third party. Or more usually the only option was to replace the whole thing. Neither option fitted in with their business model as the model was to cut margins to the absolute minimum and as such fulfilling warranty claims ate into the sales staff's commission and as they only really employed sales staff warranty claims simply weren't happening.

    So there was the first line of defence - simply fob off the customer and try to discourage them from making a claim. Then the second line - "inspect" the hardware and tell the customer they had actually caused the damage and therefore the repair would be chargeable. Only in cases where legal action was threatened would these cowboys consider repair or replacement.

    I never came across shouting at the customer as a line of defence. However I suspect that this company fit into the above description.

    1. Scene it all

      I used to work for a Very Large software company. They were so big that they were "self insured" for the employee medical coverage. But they did hire an insurance company to actually run the process, field claims, and so on. This company (named after a mountain) was quite clever in finding ways *not* to make payments. One I ran into personally was denying claims for a lab test performed by a hospital's in-house blood lab because the pathologist who read the results was not personally "in network". I complained that the HOSPITAL was "in network" and I had no control over who they contracted with. They grudgingly paid. Then the next year, same thing. So I complained about this to my company's HR department. It turns out that a LOT of employees had been complaining about this insurance company and how it was like puling teeth to squeeze money out of them.

      So the company HR department cancelled the contract and switched to a different insurance company for processing claims. Everything went smoothly thereafter.

  33. toejam++

    On the receiving end

    I once worked in the support center for a large IT firm. One of our largest accounts often liked to throw its weight around for freebies. Those of us in support would just roll our eyes and kick it up to management for approval, which was generally given.

    One evening, I received a call from that account asking for support for a box that wasn't under an active support contract. I knew it was likely a mistake and that they'd bring the support back up to snuff afterward, but I still had to clear the work with my supervisor. The person calling wasn't happy with that response, so he threatened to yank a few million dollars in kit and throw it from the roof of the datacenter.

    Without missing a beat, I wryly responded: "sir, that damage would not be covered by your support contract."

    Silence.

    "Fine, go ahead, call them".

    And that account was still with the company when I left years later.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good Customer Service

    Some years ago, for my small business, I bought an Apple Mac Mini Server, and took advantage of the remarkably affordable "server level support" package they offered at the time. (This was the era of Snow Leopard, for those that care)

    Cue big problems - I can't remember exactly what now.

    So I called server support. Could not get past level 1. The support guy clearly didn't understand what he was doing, was wasting my time pointlessly, and refused my requests to talk to someone else.

    So I emailed Tim Cook (got email address from Google) and explained the situation.

    The next day I got a phone call from a very polite and helpful pixie, who was apparently tasked with helping people who had emailed Tim Cook about their problems.

    And they put me in contact with a top level server support guy who really knew his onions, held my hand, did absolutely everything he possibly could to help, and stuck with me to the bitter end.

    That, I thought, really was good support.

    (Its a shame that Apple no longer wants business customers, but that's a different story)

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Good Customer Service

      ...That, I thought, really was good support...

      But somewhat negated by the very poor support you first encountered. It should not be necessary to go over the heads of the support drones to get service.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Good Customer Service

        Sometimes, as previous posters have said, I'm sure it's needing to triage the simple stuff.

        But some is, I'm sure, part of the "dark patterns" approach.

        Just as with the websites, Where they hide or remove phone numbers and email addresses. Instead there's a web page with a tab that says "Contact us" that leads to a page of FAQs that have no relevance to anything that anyone would care about. followed, possible only after you've clicked on one of these, by a link that says "Need more help". This takes you to a generic Help page. On that page, carefully hidden, will be a contact us link. Which leads to the FAQ page...

        To just get rid of customer support costs.

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