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Diary
By duxup (Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 11:58:13 AM EST) (all tags)
Topics: Customers, Women, Movie Talk: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, School Reform, Facebook, Way Awesome Blocks, Cuba, duxup exercises, more Customers, Photos



I've been trying to eek out a Husiary for what seems like ages now.  I finally get one done and you'd think I'd have something to say but I don't.



####ing Customers

I had a list of PIA customers but I settled on just talking about this one.

No Contract, Plenty of Asshole

Typically a customer contacting me by phone goes thru some dudes who filter the calls, setup cases, and send them on to me.  It is a simple process most of the time.  It can annoy some customers that they actually have to tell us what they are calling about, but it works.  I'm fairly sure some customers think they should be able to call a number, fart in the phone receiver, and we would help them with no other info.  Anyway I get a call from the dude who filters the calls and he says he talked to a customer who threw a fit when he told him he didn't have a maintenance contract.  The filter guy brought the contracts folks on the line who said "yeah we've never heard of you, that stuff has never had maintenance thru us" and the dude demanded he be called back by a tech and hung up.  Normally this wouldn't even go to me but filter guy decided to play cowboy and sent it to me.

Anyway this is a grenade waiting to go off.  I chat with my managers and since we're really busy today we decide this dude goes on the back burner until we can deal with him later. 

A while later I get around to this customer again when we're not so busy.  I double check with our contracts people and yeah again "no contract". 

I don't want to make this call but someone has to and passing it back to a filter guy would just create more problems.  So I call him up and get the story.  Dude has some equipment made in the past millennia (yay!), but that's irrelevant.  I find out speaking with him that he is e-mailing back and forth about the contract with our contracts person.  I check with that contracts person and they again report that the dude has proven squat and they have no record of squat.  Now it wouldn't be the first time they're wrong about that but I have my orders to give him the big and rare "no".  I tell the dude that it isn't up to me and until his support contract situation is cleared up.

Some background.  We sell lots of stuff and not always directly to the customer.  We'd rather do it that way, but you can buy our stuff thru a few OEMs.  Those companies are also more than happy to sell customers a maintenance contract.  However, that contract is for service from the OEM, not us, and the service is usually garbage.  We didn't get one dime there so we're out of the picture as far as we're concerned when it comes to support.  It isn't uncommon for customers to realize "dude these OEM people stink at support, let's drop this stuff and buy a direct support contract!" and we're happy to take their money and help them solve the problem that they've been working with the OEM for AGES in about five minutes.  It is also not uncommon for customers to THINK they have support from their OEM AND us but they don't. 

Anyway I explain to this dude my marching orders.  If I'm told by the contracts folks that you don't have a support contract, I can't help you.  It is nothing personal.  I am just following orders, like when I wack a dude from a competing company.  I gotta do what I gotta do, but I still show up at the funeral and order some flowers.  The way to get us working is dealing with our contracts folks.  When they give the OK, we can go at it.

It has been a while since I've had a customer really get pissed off on the phone.  About one minute into his rant it I thought I had him calmed down when I explained to him that I (the only dude being exposed to this rant) am not the one who ultimately decides if you get support or not.  I am not the dude who the customer thinks screwed up his support contract.  I'm not trying to make his life more difficult.  If it were my call I might even fix your stuff but I've got dudes to answer to who are more powerful than me and put my ass in a sling (not really but saying that helps) if I provide support for someone without a contract.  Would you like to speak to my manager?  I'd be happy to get them if you'd like.

I had him fairly calm, but when he realized he'd have to still deal with this contracts person he started up again with the random circular ranting.  I wish he took me up on my manager offer but he wasn't responding directly to anything I had to say.  He went the route of saying the same thing eight different ways getting himself more upset as he went.  Then he went into full threat mode.  I find threat mode amusing.  I'm not sure what most customers think that anyone working at anywhere from a pizza place, to some support job like mine are thinking when the customer threatens to no longer do business with them.  Is the customer's impression that I actually will be personally impacted and I'm suddenly fearful he may in fact never again buy from us?  I could flip a switch that would make everything ok I’d do it, but if I say I can't do something I really can't.  If he was already a big enough customer that it would really matter if he didn't order from us A) The guy who makes that call would never be talking to me.  B) We wouldn't be having that conversation because we don't say "no" in the first place to someone like that.

In the meantime if I'm told to say "no".  If this guy stops buying our stuff I'm not going to feel that impact, and frankly helping a dude confirmed to have no support would likely get me far more grief.

So he just continued to get more upset until he was into full "going off" mode.  He managed to hang up on me before I did on him.  At an old job when I did PC support on the phone that wasn't uncommon but at the job I've had for a while now it is exceptionally rare. 

Despite my aloofness it doesn't matter what support job you work a customer throwing a fit like that puts a bit of a damper on the day, even if I get a short term chuckle out of it.  This is particularly true when I'm used to most of my customers being affable folk.  It doesn't help when I got hit by a couple more the same week.  Damn, wtf.



Conversation at Work

Coworker 1 gets off the phone after going over the same thing eight times with his wife before he got an answer.

Coworker 1: Damn how many times do you have to ask for a yes or no answer before your wife will answer?

duxup:  If she doesn't like the question, a while.

Coworker 2: Same here.

The conversation goes on for a while and then.

Coworker 1: Do you think women say things like this about us?

duxup:  Probably, but I don't know what they say.

Coworker 2:  Whatever it is I'm sure it is I'm sure they say a lot of it.



Movie Talk: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I enjoyed this film.  Considering the crappy romantic comedies out there this is practically Sha, well not crap.  If you've seen the trailer you know all you need to know about the story.  Good flick.



School Reform

I hear a lot about the need to change the American education system.  There is even this commercial that really isn't about that topic, but they mention the American education system is broken and needs to be fixed and such.  The thing is every time I listen to a radio show or tv interview about that topic....  There is no presented solution at least not anything like an alternative system, or the framework for one.

Even the usually detail oriented news sites I occasionally run across are woefully short on details and just amount to moaning.  One article I remember basically laid the problem on the shoulders of the teachers union's power over small local school boards.  Now even if I were to assume that the teacher's unions were all the cause of the American education system sucking the solution provided was to organize schools entirely under the federal government.  I thought this was an odd suggestion because there was no apparent reason to think that the teacher's unions presented as evil folk couldn't simply lobby as a large organization at the federal level and hork it all up again. 

Personally I have all sorts of concerns about teachers unions, school boards, and how the education system works.  I also don't have a solution.  I would love to read about them but it seems one of the biggest signs that our education system stinks is that we haven't educated anyone enough to the point that many people can present serious and mildly complete proposals about what to do about it.  It seems like it is just the whipping boy that we all get off as looking socially responsible by complaining about but damned if there are many good comprehensive ideas that I've found.



Facebook

I finally joined facebook just in time for them to claim to own all my information forever.  I had been a long time "I'm not on Facebook" protester.  It wasn't some sort of anti-hipster, or hipster anti establishment action on my part.  Mostly I just couldn't think of a reason to join.  It just seemed like an way to electronically make sense of humanity's messy social system and formalize being friends.  Appalling to many folk I'm sure, but being fairly hermitous I didn't feel the need to do so. 

The reason for signing up was with all the economy in the crapper I figured it might be a good way to make some contacts in case something happened to my job.  There are some good folk around the office and I'd one day like to work with them again if something happened.  In short, networking.

When I announced I had signed up on Facebook Mrs. duxup's response was to call me a "Sellout!" with a pronounced scowl.  She also hasn't found Facebook appealing.  This is partly because her twin sister, a teacher, can not be away from Facebook for too long when she comes to visit.  Many of her students are her friends and some of the info shared seems, unprofessional, and just odd.  Mrs. duxup's biggest gripe seems to be her recent experiences going back to school.  She is getting her masters in an education field and sits in a classroom where most of the young students bring laptops, but don't use them for class.  They spend the entire class clicking away on Facebook and then ask stupid questions because they weren't paying attention and later ask to see Mrs. duxup's notes (she says no) because they were too busy on facebook to take notes.  Many teachers ask them not to surf the net while in class, but it sounds like 90% of the class does so.  Ironically when they take the required "computer skills" idiot course most of those same students still struggle.  They know how to get to Facebook and that is it...  Now granted all those gripes are user related but when it comes to a social network, that is the content so the appeal to Mrs duxup is limited.  The fact that Mrs. duxup's classes are for her masters in early childhood dev and etc.... probably has something to do with the topic above.

Anyway I'm on Facebook now.  I like the fairly clean look of it.  I like the unusual nature of everyone using their actual names.  What keeps drawing me back though is pretty much the games.  I've separated my contacts out with work folk and old friends looking me up and such but aside from the two dudes who had kids there isn't much activity.  Unlike blog centric or forum centric sites it doesn't seem there is really a focus point on facebook that I can tell.  Unlike something like Husi where everyone posts a blog at some time or another sharing a lot, pokes and misc bits of info doesn't seem very compelling.  Mostly I just go back for the games.  We'll see how it goes.


Blocks

These are awesome and my brain hurts thinking of the possibilities: http://wimp.com/toyblocks/

Even with the garbage games aside the Wii has shown there is a big market for different approaches to games and variations on those blocks could be awesome.  Some dudes at Nintendo or whatever company should be making phone calls to that dude finding out who they have to pay to get on board with that stuff.




Cuba

Hells yah!  I maintain my campaign that the Cuban embargo is dumb and we could get more if we just give them a call and say "Dude, wanna talk?"  http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/23/cuba.lugar/index.html

I just hope I can travel there before Holiday Inn and all sorts of other companies jump in.  I'd like to visit Cuba.  I think I can go thru Canada now but not sure how all that works.



Exercise

I've taken up doing some regular exercise lately.  Mrs. duxup has some exercise DVDs that are about my speed.  The first two workouts I did left me crippled for a few days.  I just don't move around like that quickly very often (let alone slowly).  But after that it has been smooth sailing.  No real weight loss yet but I need to adjust my diet some too.  I do feel a lot better, more energy and such.  It certainly hasn't done anything to my body's amazing ability to sleep in insanely late.  I swear I could hibernate if allowed to.


Customer E-Mail

For the most part the work I do has been with customers over the phone.  They call in all urgent like.  I fix their problems. 

Now more often customers are using e-mail.  I do not like this.  It just seems to create more problems with customers not providing needed info.  Cases are automatically opened if the customer has precious little info.  This means I’m usually sending what amounts to a form letter that boils down to "How the hell do you expect me to help you if you don't even know what is wrong, just that it is!?!?!"  Honestly, that wouldn't be so bad but I'd say 60% of all my requests for info from the customer include the customer omitting a good portion of what I requested or simply not answering questions, or acknowledging that they didn't answer those questions. 

They are however quick to fire off a "Where do we stand this is important." e-mail.  "Still waiting on you asshole" would be a nice response but I don't think it would work well.  I'm a bit more diplomatic but still irked.

I'm not sure if it is the people who are inclined to fire off these e-mails, or just the medium, or what.  I guess most phone customers don't call in with much info either but unlike e-mail when I say "I need X to help you."  The progress of the conversation doesn't go far if they just ignore what I said.  It is a rare customer who tries that when talking over the phone, on e-mail though they're a dime a dozen.



Photos


I consider photography my only constructive hobby.  I have all these photos but I rarely share them so I joined Flickr.  I'm slowly but surely putting crap up there.

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Teachers unions by Phil the Canuck (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 01:31:47 PM EST
Are part of the problem.  Parents are the biggest part.  As both a parent and the spouse of someone who deals with parents, I can honestly say that today's parents suck balls.

Yeah by duxup (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 03:37:08 PM EST
I agree that there are multiple issues.  Family members and friends are all teachers.  I hear all the stories.  Then from the other side where I talk with parents who give lip service support to the educational system until the moment their little angel is treated in what they think is a less than satisfactory manner and then it all goes to hell.

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[ Parent ]
I'm glad I'm off the hotline by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 02:36:44 PM EST
the customer's who have my cell number I can count on one hand, and they never call (usually a second shift operator when I'm on a site visit).

Local representatives, OTOH.


Cells by duxup (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 03:33:35 PM EST
I almost never give my cell out to customers, that is just crazy.  The only dudes who have that know that calling the 800 number is the way to go.

I don't mind taking the calls, heck you get more cooperation than via e-mail.

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[ Parent ]
well.. by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 04:23:50 PM EST
I like dealing with professionals. Competent sysadmins who lay out incident timeline, provide the logs you're going to ask for, and ask for help to figure out what they didn't know offhand.

But I only get like 1 of those a week, if I'm lucky.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
flickr by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 04:28:08 PM EST
ah, I was wondering who that new contact was.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

On the social networking... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Feb 23, 2009 at 11:00:25 PM EST
for the job angle, people tell me LinkedIn is a good place to be around when you become unemployed and are looking for the next job.


I second this by riceowlguy (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 03:57:53 AM EST
Linkedin is for professional networking.  I refuse to use f8 for that.  Anytime somebody I know only professionally tries to friend me on f8 I say "find me on Linkedin."

[ Parent ]
It seems like the latest S*P by riceowlguy (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 04:00:39 AM EST
was made just for this diary: http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp02212009.shtml

Heh by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 05:52:10 AM EST
About one minute into his rant it I thought I had him calmed down when I explained to him that I (the only dude being exposed to this rant) am not the one who ultimately decides if you get support or not.  I am not the dude who the customer thinks screwed up his support contract.  I'm not trying to make his life more difficult.  If it were my call I might even fix your stuff but I've got dudes to answer to who are more powerful than me and put my ass in a sling (not really but saying that helps) if I provide support for someone without a contract.

"I'm the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude!"

Or better yet:

"This is the guy behind the guy behind the guy"


(Comment Deleted) by duxup (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 06:05:22 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by duxup



[ Parent ]
Another option by duxup (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 06:05:57 AM EST
"You’ve mistaken me for someone with power to do anything other than exactly what I’m told."

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[ Parent ]
I got the support contract runaround before by lm (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 03:40:13 PM EST
Vendor B bought Vendor A and lost all the data on support contracts. Well, maybe not all of them. They did lose ours. We had to fax the paperwork to get a live body on the phone.

The real fun came when our clients would call and assume that we were Vendor A whom they at some distant point in the past had had a support contract with.

Now that I've quit, I've no worries about that sort of thing. I'm free. Free and paycheckless.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Oh yeah by duxup (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:44:23 AM EST
That certainly happens.  I hardly ever say "you don't have a support contract".  I tell them that I'm told by contracts that they don't have a support contract or something like that.  Hell if I really know.

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[ Parent ]
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