This is a collection of thoughts and statements about things that annoy me. I am a big, angry man. Hear me roar, or piss off and give me peace.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tell them lies, tell them sweet little lies

The Register has a wonderful piece on crap Technical Support, where they tell us that "Power Users" are frequently frustrated by scripted help-desk calls.

I can only agree...

I have been known to (occasionally) work (don't tell my boss) in IT. (I am not a techno-weenie, so don't do front line). (And if I did, I'd probably tell people to reboot and fuck-off).

The Reg tells us that there are a few common approaches to dealing with the typically fuckwitted people on the end of the phone.

  1. Direct Approach - just roll with the script

    • Fake the answers to their questions

  2. Evasive Approach - try to find a work-around

    • Don't you know who I am? (Tell them you're a techno-god, and they are not).

    • Intimidation / Surliness - (Yes, for the third time, I have already fucking well tried that, you incompetent techno-weenie)

    • Immediate escalation - proceed directly to level 2, do not pass go, do not tell level 1 anything else


Here's a run through of a call I made to *Enterprise Support* with a company who make a server or two. Let's call the company IQ. (People who have seen 2001, A Space Odyssey should be able to work that one out).

Me - I have a $server which has powered its self down, and refuses to power up for long enough to boot the OS, I should have 4 hour support on this.
Them - Can you log in to the system
Me - No, it doesn't stay on for long enough
Them - Can you access the BIOS
Me - No, it doesn't stay on for long enough
Them - can you tell me what happens when you press the power switch
Me - It tries to start up and then shuts down again
Them - Can you try booting off a CD
Me - No, it doesn't power on for long enough
Them - Try some other things
Me - None of this works
Them - more stupid ideas involving powering the machine up, spinning up all the disks with a production database on them, and letting the machine power off several times.
Me - I have 4 hour support on this machine, it is a critical system, send me the engineer I am paying for.
Them - mumble, but he might not have the right part
Me - Tell him to bring an entire machine then.
Them - He'll call you shortly.
Me (Under my breath) - Wankers.

This is the level of support I have come to expect from that company for almost all their systems - with the notable exception of their Enterprise Unix boxes, where the Engineer is on the way almost as soon as you're off the phone.

For normal desktop PCs, you seem to require a magic incantation to get them to send you replacement parts, with or without an "engineer" to fit them. Even for something as simple as a dead hard drive - the OS is reporting the disk is failing, a disk diagnostic tool I use reports bad sectors on the drive - but no, they need an error code from their own diagnostic tool. (I now have a list of diagnostic codes for all occasions).

Another company, let's call them "Dull", seem to have pretty reasonable support, even for the desktop machines we have. Shame we don't have many (any?) of their servers. I can't think of any serious issues with their support people, who seem to be quite amenable to me saying "I do this for a living, here's what I think is wrong, can you just send me some parts?"

I work with computers because I hate working with people. Dealing with tech support lines, which are invariably outsourced to Ireland (so they can knee cap you if you become disagreeable) or India (so you get so fed up with not understanding a word they are saying you hang up). What I want, is some sort of password that would tell these people I do this for a living, so we both can then pitch our conversation at the right level, and have a laugh about out users being stupid, and get on with our lives. Until then, there's always whisky.

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