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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two Humorous End-User Stories

On the heels of my last post I wanted to share these two stories about end users doing foolish things.

The first is from one of my earliest jobs in technical support. I worked for a manufacturing company that was contained in a single LONG building. IT was about a quarter of the way into one end. My first Wednesday on the job the IT office phone rang at 8:03AM.
No one moved to answer it.
I looked around the room and noticed everyone else looking around the room. After the third ring one of the other guys said "That's Debbie" and stated that I should take it as my first call.
I took the call.
Debbie's computer would not turn on. I went through the normal trouble-shooting steps starting with "is it plugged in?" and moving from there.
Nothing worked.
I told Debbie I would be right down.
It turns out Debbie's workspace is the farthest possible workspace from the IT office. Debbie, literally, faces the exterior wall of the building on the far end of the building from the IT office. I had to walk through every department except engineering (including the manufacturing floor) to get there.
After my nice 10 minute walk I arrived at Debbie's cubicle and looked around.
I immediately looked under her desk and found that her computer's power plug was hanging loosely from the outlet. I pushed it into the wall and *poof* the computer was able to boot.
I walked back to the IT office.
The next Wednesday, at 8:03 AM, the IT office phone rang. It was Debbie. Her computer wouldn't boot.
For the remainder of my time with that company my Wednesday morning routine was to walk to Debbie's department and, literally, plug her computer in for her.

The next story is several years later.

I was responsible for the technology department in the organization I was working for. Part of that responsibility was to attend meetings with all of the other department heads for one morning every other week. We ALL hated these meetings. They cut into our productivity and returned us nothing for our time. Our collective boss LOVED these meetings. But I digress.
At one of these meetings the performance of my department as it related to one of the buildings arose. The problem we had in that building was that no one would enter a help request when something broke. They, instead, would complain that it was broken to each other for two weeks then complain for another week to the person in charge of the building who would, eventually, email one of the tech support staff to complain that it had not been fixed (note: still NOT submitting a proper help request). We would then create the proper help request and go fix the problem that day.
The discussion was entirely focused around our lack of responsiveness in that building. I stated that we serviced the items as soon as we received word that our services were needed and reiterated that we are unable to fix broken equipment until we know it is broken.
The person in charge of the building stated that my department was ALWAYS notified as soon as something was broken and that we just ALWAYS took three weeks to fix it.
Then the boss asked for a recent example of something that did not work.
The person in charge of the building answered, without hesitation, "my printer."
I replied with "did you submit a help request on it?" and received an affirmative.
I looked in the help request and pointed out that no such request had been received.
I also did a search on ALL of the email from that user and verified that I had not received a help request via email (not the proper method of submitting a request).
I also emailed every technician in my department and asked them if any of them had received word. My reply for all of them was nearly immediate: "no."
I pointed out that we hadn't fixed the printer because no one knew it was broken until just then. I also promised to go take a look at it during our mid-morning break but I first asked "did you check to make sure that the printer is plugged in?"
The user was furious and flabbergasted that I would DARE to ask such a question. OF COURSE they knew to check and make sure it was plugged in. That is the first step of troubleshooting technology. EVERYONE knows to check to make sure it is plugged in. Surely I didn't think that they were stupid?
I replied with the excessive response with a "Sorry. I did not mean to offend you. It's the first thing to check and even my staff have found that they were caught in things not being plugged in."
The break came.
I went and looked at the situation.
I noticed that the printer was on and it had several status lights lit up.
I also noticed that the USB cord coming out of the printer had transparent insulation.
I looked at the user's laptop. It had two USB cords plugged into it. Both of them were black. One went to the PalmPilot sync cradle and the other to an external keyboard.
I reached back and pulled on the printer's USB cable. It came out from behind the desk without resistance to show that it was plugged into nothing.
I then unplugged the user's PalmPilot sync cradle from the laptop and plugged it into the spare USB port in the side of the external keyboard. I then plugged in the printer.
As soon as the printer's USB cable was plugged in the printer sprang to life and starting spewing paper.
I opened the print queue for the printer and found more than 10 copies of the same document in the queue as well as multiple copies of other documents.
I took the first copy of the first document with me when I went back to the meeting as proof that the printer was now working.
My statement was, simply, "You're all set now. It's printing out the things you sent to it."
The user, of course, was not satisfied with that and HAD to ask "well, what was wrong with it."
I simply answered "It wasn't plugged in to your laptop."

EDIT: both of these stories were expanded upon and made into singular instances later on and appear in later posts

1 comment:

  1. HAHA...that is awesome...and very typical. :)