back to article User filed fake trouble tickets to take helpful sysadmin to lunches

Hey, hey, it's Friday! Which means frolicsome weekend fun is just a day away … if you can survive work and this week's instalment of On-Call, The Register's weekly column in which we recount readers' stories of jobs gone weird. This week, meet “Wayne”, who has an different sort of story because – unusually for On-Call - it …

"He would put in a (fake) trouble ticket and request me."

Am I the only to think that this sounds like stalking with a nice lunch thrown in?

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Re: "He would put in a (fake) trouble ticket and request me."

Sounds more to me like the customer recognised this was someone who actually put in the effort to find the cause rather than just following the script and wanted to keep him onside in case there were future issues.

Sadly, that level of thoroughness is often discouraged because it takes longer than a Helpdesk reset which makes the problem go away...Time is money you know and to hell with giving the curtomer a real solution

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Re: "He would put in a (fake) trouble ticket and request me."

Admiral Hopper: I believe you are just the type of woman who would deal swiftly and decisively with any stalker.

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Re: "He would put in a (fake) trouble ticket and request me."

I think it stops being stalking once you go to dinner with them.

At that point it's either a date because you went voluntarily, or kidnapping because you didn't.

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Anonymous Coward

Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Sadly, no, never happened to me at all, in 2 decades ...

Nice story, and I suspect not too many colleagues can tell similar stories ...

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Happy

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Yes they have...

After telling me that they wanted to do something in Microsoft Excel that they thought was impossible, and me demonstrating that it indeed WAS possible I got a nice bottle of wine and an apology...

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Yes they have - apologised for it being something incredibly simple that didn't warrant a support visit. You must have had those?

I have learned to subtly act all like "Aw shucks , you wernt to know , that on and off switch can be real tricky to the none professional"

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Working at an ISP I had a customer phone up and ask me to pass on his apology to a colleague he'd unintentionally offended.

It was talked about long afterward.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Once or twice !

The most recent one, we had a customer who's a right PITA - nice bloke, but one of those who doesn't stop talking and thinks he knows more than he does (we genuinely had a customer who used to use a CD tray as a cupholder - and he was it !). On this occasion, there was a problem with billing due to the convoluted way his small local NGO was funded through the council. So I happened to take the call, where he went on and on and on and on while was trying to just get in the words "leave it with me and I'll sort it" - I never got further than "le".

In the end, I just told his to "shut the f*** up and listen for a minute" - not shouting, but a few people in our office heard it and were "a tad surprised" to say the least. The customer was surprised enough to shut up, I was able to tell him I'd deal with it, and so the call ended.

IRC he phoned the next day to say that, while he wasn't accustomed to be talked to in that way, he was apologising for driving me to say it.

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Thumb Up

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

The accounts department at my old job used to pre-emptively bribe me with food ("you don't look like you eat enough, here, have some of this home made cake"), in order that I would prioritise them above other departments.

It worked, and I am always willing to work for cake.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

I am always willing to work for cake.

Questions have been raised in Parliament about that.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Better than that. I had a regular help requester who was a nice bloke, intelligent* (he was a medic) who couldn't stop himself breaking things (as I said, he was a medic). One day, he had a group policy problem so I emailed him instructions on how to generate resultant set of policy to mail back to me. All he had to do was copy a command line instruction. It didn't work of course. Who'd have thought that spaces matter...

I didn't hear from him for a while and when I next did so, I asked what he had been up to. He confessed: "My PC works much better when I don't fiddle with it."

* He persuaded a research body to fund three months in Hawaii to determine how swimming with dolphins affected mental depression. That's smart.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Realization that "My PC works much better when I don't fiddle with it" is also a sign of smarts. Most users only dig themselves deeper and then blame everyone else!

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Cake - Does this affect an area of the brain called "Shatner's Bassoon", which alters the user's perception of time?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

You need to fortify yourself when dealing with all that heavy electricity

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Working at a large supermarket supporting an application that all the trading teams used, we did tend to prioritise requests from the beer, wine & spirits, confectionary and bakery teams.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

I had a customer many years ago, when I worked for an ISP as general support, who kept opening e-mails from her daughter-in-law with a nasty embedded in them. This particular nasty would associate all .exe files with itself causing the nasty to run instead of whatever the old dear had meant to run. Her A/V program was a .exe, which made the fix a bit trickier. I figured out to rename regedit.exe to regedit.com and removed the association.

The second time she brought the machine in (same problem - dunno if DIL had a grudge or didn't know how to clean her PC) she brought in a lemon poppy seed pound cake. The third time (at this point I kept the regedit.com on her machine and exported the empty .exe association so it was a simple click-to-fix) was homemade chocolate chip cookies. the fourth was some kind of cranberry bread.

My cow-orkers threatened to riot when I told her about the simple click-to-fix solution so she wouldn't have to keep bringing the thing in.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

It worked, and I am always willing to work for cake.

Do you work in our server team? They appear to be powered by confectionaries..

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Yes and recently too. I had a customer who had not charged the batteries on a unit before taking it offsite. Off course when he got to his remote location (no power available) and went to switch on the kit, no joy. So he rang me (support for the kit supplier), gave out and told me he was going to throw the whole thing "out of the window". I did tell him that he could not really blame the equipment for his failing to charge it. Anyway call ended and I thought that was that. Until he rang back the next day, apologised for how he had spoken to me, and accepted that it was all his fault.

My jaw is still on the floor till this day...

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

>I am always willing to work for cake.

This was a triumph,

I'm making a note here, huge success,

It's hard to overstate my satisfaction...

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Devil

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Gaaah...I can hear that playing in my head now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Several ladies around our office will do work for chocolate

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

"Do you work in our server team? They appear to be powered by confectionaries.."

Better that, than being powered by caffeine and hate.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

"It worked, and I am always willing to work for cake."

Baked goods always work for me, too!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

I had a software vendor ask if they could use us as a tester for their new software. As this was a high profile thing (for them apparently) they were going to send someone over to install the whole thing on a spare machine. So day of install arrives and a nice chap pitches up with his laptop and asks to hook his laptop into our network. I said "No that breaks company rules" but I'll ask IT Support if it's possible to just connect to this one machine. No that presented a risk because the machine would have to rejoin our network at some point. So midway through an exhausting morning of assisting this bloke he confessed that he wasn't going to be able to install it very easily without a direct connection.

So much for that but wait he has an idea he'll burn the files to a CD that IT Support can virus check and then install on the machine. So he burns a disc and then it's checked thoroughly but nothing untoward is found so he is given it back to use. He sticks it into the test machine and nothing happens, which he finds annoying - very annoying. I suggest that I'm going to go for lunch and he says he'll buy me lunch and that he knows "somewhere very good". So off we go and we soon turn up at Pret a Manger which was not quite my expected destination. I get a sandwich and we head back to work where he is still fuming about the fact that the disc isn't auto loading. The machine (it was 15 years ago) was running XP and hadn't had autorun or anything like that disabled.

He tries running it manually it won't install it takes all of three seconds for it to give up the ghost each time. So he calls the USA and asks for advice which comes as suggestions but no real answers. By this point I'm bored sh!tless and want to do something else. So I take a look at the contents of his newly burned CD-Rom and I spot something I think he's missed. The CD has got a load of CAB files but only one ZIP file, I pointed this out to him in between his rants at his colleagues in the USA. He looks at the disc contents, snarls at no one in particular and then burns another disc which again needs checking. This one works first time and rather than thanking me or making any comments about my observational skills just starts packing up his stuff. When done he just hands me a manual, says he's off to his hotel and to call America if it doesn't work, doesn't bother to run me thorugh anything. The software wasn't ready for release even as a beta and whilst we did use it as a test we didn't like it at all because it kept crashing/throwing up error messages.

Software vendor number two (also from the USA) who we did use their products in anger also took me to lunch when they came over. They took me to a proper restaurant with table service three courses and booze.* Their software was head and shoulders above the other lot and I made this clear to the bosses (I did this months before anyone suggested lunch). They gave demonstrations and made sure that we understood everything even on beta or test software. They also had a UK phone number, despite being US based, that we could call for technical support. Lunch is now probably banned now as bribery.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

@phuzz,

Years ago I worked in IT for one of the larger hotel/casinos here. Because of the design of the place, the shortcut to the other side of the casino was through the kitchen complex.

People might be surprised to know that large hotels and casinos try to make most food items in house. We had a large bakery within the kitchen complex. Our bakery manager had an old PC that was a total piece of crap. She had been trying to get a new PC for over a year. I was fairly new at my job there, and was just trying to take good care of our users. I've always looked at the job of IT being a kind of internal customer service. So, I went to the director of food and beverage, who for some reason I seemed to get along with very well*, and asked for a new PC for the bakery manager. He approved the purchase, and I ordered her a nice new PC.

The hallways of the kitchen complex there were usually lined with bakery carts (about 5 feet tall with a dozen or more shelves) each loaded with pastries. After getting her new PC, the bakery manager told me to help myself to what's on the bakery carts any time I happen to be taking the short cut through the kitchens. I must have gained 20 pounds while working there!

* I always took very good care of the food and beverage department. Mostly because the director was a really nice guy and always appreciated what the IT department did for him. He started with the company as a line cook, and worked his way up to be the director. He knew what it was like to work hard. He would also comp dinners for my wife and myself at the high end restaurants regularly too,

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There are two sides to the coin

Sure, there are customers who have stupid problems that are their fault but they still blame you and never apologize. There are also customers who have real problems that are not their fault yet they still apologize anyway.

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Working at an ISP I had a customer phone up and ask me to pass on his apology to a colleague he'd unintentionally offended.

I'd claim responsibility for that only.. Well, dealing with the, er, "wonderful and exceptionally well-trained support staff" at many NZ ISP's the offence has usually been intentional.

Though I had phoned other places to apologise for unintentional insults. And sent flowers/chocolates/coffee etc for some of the more intentional ones. (yes, some of us prefer a decent cup of coffee by way of an apology!)

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

The accounts department at my old job used to pre-emptively bribe me with food ("you don't look like you eat enough, here, have some of this home made cake"), in order that I would prioritise them above other departments

Customers of mine would often bribe me with chocolate. Those who brought in the larger blocks got pushed as far up the queue as possible. Those who thought they could bribe me with a small bar sometimes got pushed down the queue.

I knew I was going to have a bad day when I'd get back from lunch and there were 3 or 4 big blocks of chocolate waiting for me. I knew my weekend was gone when I had any thing more than that! (sadly no icon to show how much weight I'd put on in the lead-up to Christmas when customers were wanting their work finished pre-break!)

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Boffin

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

"Do you work in our server team? They appear to be powered by confectionaries.."

Better that, than being powered by caffeine and hate.

I've been researching "alternative fuels" for some time now. Coffee, cake and confectioneries are generally fine, but that hate is such a nasty pollutant! It poisons the environment around it, has been linked to all sorts of diseases including stroke and cancer, and often causes depression.

It's a nasty, toxic pollutant and I recommend all efforts be taken to remove it from the work place and replace it with other tastier fuels, which often work much more efficiently!

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Pint

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

You mean like beer? And you are right. Hate will fuck you up big time.

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Angel

Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

You mean like beer?

Hmm yes... Beer <obglid xkcd>

And you are right. Hate will fuck you up big time.

One of the fun facts about hate and revenge.. All that time you spent reminising and stressing about what they did to you, the times you spend shouting at an imaginary version of them as you're alone in your car, the effort you put into thinking about putting an axe through their head, all the hateful and angry feelings you send their way through whatever means you can imagine - that's just it, it's all in your imagination and doesn't affect them one tiny little bit. You get lots of pain and anger and stress, they don't even have a clue it's going on.

Get over it, you only hurt yourself! (not speaking from experience, honest!)

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Re: Has a customer ever apologised to you?

Had an engineer call me from a substation who couldn't get their laptop to print. No remote diagnostics "back in the day" but I (fairly) quickly established that the engineer hadn't plugged the printer's power lead in. The irony of having no power where many KV was readily available...

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Saying thank-you never hurt anyone

> Has a customer ever apologised to you? Or offered you a tasty thanks for your services?

Many years ago, on two separate occasions I was called in to deal with "issues" that a distributor had concerning systems they had installed in Westminster.

On both occasions, after a speedy resolution, I received handwritten notes of thanks from the end-user (though nothing from the disti in question). One on House of Commons headed paper, the other from the Lords.

I didn't get lunch, but the prestige within my company got me a very nice pay-rise. A benefit that kept on giving, year after year (and was pensionable!).

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Re: Saying thank-you never hurt anyone

Pay rises are the best thank you. Wrote an access database for customer inventory coming in/out to us written in vb, no macros or queries. Took me 3 hours to complete. They made my company so aware of their satisfaction they gave me a £5,000 pay rise, that was 15 years ago so I got, and still getting, my monies worth on that short project...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Saying thank-you never hurt anyone

"Pay rises are the best thank you" Yeah . Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

Dont be afraid to jump to a new job , thats what I've learnt - too late really.

If I dont get this internal job I've just applied for I'm leaving - on principle .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

Weird, all the awesome engineers I know get them....

Are you sure they're not saying awful?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

>Weird, all the awesome engineers I know get them....

Well - the penalty for being really good at support is that, in general, you never get promoted away from support.

Most places I've worked, the way to get promoted is to go out drinking with the Right People.

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Vic
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Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

Most places I've worked, the way to get promoted is to go out drinking with the Right People.

Most of the great opportunities in my life have come about because I went drinking with the Right People. Even if I didn't know they were at the time...

I forget the exact stat, but it's something like 2/3 of all jobs are never advertised. You pick these up with unrelated discussions in pubs.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

"I forget the exact stat, but it's something like 2/3 of all jobs are never advertised. You pick these up with unrelated discussions in pubs."

Yeah that didnt work either ,and not for lack of drinking!, even in the type of establishments I thought it would . They all seemed to prefer some "fair" system of boxticking which means some kid who knows fuck all and has 0 years of service invested at the place will get he job you thought would be a obvious career progression for them to give you because he's got a fucking badge from the scouts.

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because he's got a fucking badge from the scouts.

Wow, I didn't realize they were so progressive in the modern age.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

More or less, same here.

I think what landed me where I currently am (server/infrastructure team) was because of my ability to impersonate a deity in the support arena, and basically was all like "I need the server admin to do x,y, and z in that order, because I don't have the access to do it myself" in the desktop support group.

To wit, I was 'strongly encouraged' to apply for the position even though I was lacking the appropriate paperwork. interview went well, and I was called back in a couple weeks later and basically told that I was the only one they had seriously considered to begin with.

anon to protect that paycheck.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

"Well - the penalty for being really good at support is that, in general, you never get promoted away from support.

Most places I've worked, the way to get promoted is to go out drinking with the Right People."

So So True !!!

The worse thing you can do is to be 'Very Good' at your job and require minimal management WHILE also being invisible at the regular 'Boozy Networking'.

You get stuck in the job you do so well, more or less part of the furniture :(

Get visible and promote yourself and how good you really are !!!

Also beware the 'Office Politics', visibility attracts people who want your job and worse. !!!

[From experience gained too later :) ]

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Re: Never had one, despite being fucking awesome.

"Get visible"

Sometimes you only become visible by handing in your notice.

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Apologized to? Sure.

I've come in on emergency calls and been on the receiving end of spleen venting on numerous occasions. I usually ignore it, and get on with the job. To date, I've almost[0] always been apologized to. Once things are running properly, and the client calms down enough for an explanation of what went wrong, they can see that it was hardly my fault. Never got offered a monthly free lunch, though. Wouldn't have accepted it if I had. Collusion is an ugly word.

[0] Drunken fumbling leading to breakage being an exception ...

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Re: Apologized to? Sure.

It depends on who is paying for the support call.. If it were costing my employer money, I wouldn't do it. If, on the other hand, the guy buying lunch was the one paying the bill (per hour charge and he is the signer) then it's all good.

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Re: Apologized to? Sure.

"If it were costing my employer money"

This is not necessarily a simple issue. In the example in TFA it might be Wayne's perceived value to the customer that keeps the customer from going elsewhere. Even if it were nominally costing the employer money in the greater scheme of things it might be making money. If Wayne's job title was sales, business development or the like the only worrying thing would be that it wasn't Wayne paying the bill.

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Re: Apologized to? Sure.

True, but then it is best to make sure one's employer is informed so they can decide if it's worth it.

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Anonymous Coward

I use to be an IT tech in schools

One particularly remote school with a handful of pupils and literally 3 computers plus a server had the worse setup. They were treated appaulingly by the department as nobody wanted to drive out ( 2 hours each way) and the head teacher was a grumpy ***hole.

However the same week I started they got a new head teacher who, having started and seen the state her schools IT was in logged a ranting ticket with the service desk. As the newbie I was sent up to take the flak.

Upon arriving I was met by a very polite and friendly lady who showed me the problems, I phoned my boss and said "I'm going to need some new kit and time to sort this" and he agreed, thinking he'd finally found some mug to deal with the site. So over the next couple of days I rewired the entire sites LAN, new switch, new PCs, cleaned the server up and even got the backup ADSL line fixed.

When I went back to the office a few days later I claimed it had been a nightmare, where as in reality I'd spent the previous day playing snakes and ladders with the kids, drinking tea and having cakes the staff had made to celebrate having computers that worked for a change.

They'd always log a call asking for me, even if it meant waiting until I returned from sick/annual leave. This went on for 5 years, was great as the drive up there took me through some amazing scenery and if I was finishing up there on a Friday I'd take my tent and fishing gear and camp near one of the lakes over the weekend.

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Pint

Re: I use to be an IT tech in schools

Lucky bastard.

Have a pint.

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