back to article Trainer regrets giving straight answer to staffer's odd question

Monday morning can mean only one thing. No, not a general sense of foreboding – it’s Who, Me?, El Reg’s way of easing you into the week ahead with tales of other people’s mistakes. This week, “Giovanni” writes in to tell us about the time his candour had his bosses fizzing with rage. “In the early ‘90s – the era where Dot …

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  1. Korev Silver badge
    Gimp

    Phones too

    We had a rather senior guy who claimed his iPhone had been stolen mysteriously soon after Apple released a new model. The Service Desk asked him for the Police report number, at which point he said "He'd have a another look at home"; oddly enough it turned up that evening...

    1. Aqua Marina Silver badge

      Re: Phones too

      We have a period of several years where all our sales dept kept breaking their phones, and getting new ones on the insurance we were paying a premium for. Eventually we said enough is enough and sent round an email saying we were cancelling the insurance, everyone was responsible for keeping their hardware in good working order, and that we would be deducting from their wages the cost to replace them. We also provided Otterbox cases throughout, so there was no likelyhood of accidental breakage by dropping.

      No-one believed it and many phones were removed from the cases because they didn't look good.... until the first breakage occurred, and sure enough he got a brand new latest model phone, and the cost deducted from his wage. Suddenly all the phones were back in their cases and we never had another breakage. Saved a fortune in yearly insurance.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: Phones too

        Never going to happen in the UK, employment tribunal would be the first stop. Deducting from wages for something you can't prove wasn't accidental would land the employee with a nice bonus compensation for loss of earnings.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phones too

        "Eventually we said enough is enough and sent round an email saying we were cancelling the insurance, everyone was responsible for keeping their hardware in good working order, and that we would be deducting from their wages"

        Seriously, if I got this shit I would be saying have it back, I'm not taking that risk, if you're not prepared to insure it, I'm not prepared to use it.

        1. Havin_it
          Boffin

          Re: Phones too

          ProTip: It's actually quite easy to keep personal electronics in one piece if you can't afford to replace them.

          1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

            Re: Phones too

            Not here it doesn't. Accidental damage is a real problem for me although it might, just might, have everything to do with the sheer amount of technology around me. It's rather a lot!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Phones too

          "Never going to happen in the UK"

          It's very easy in the UK. The law says as long as the agreed employment contract says you can recover costs from the employee, then wages can be deducted at no more than 10% per wage period until the debt is paid

          .

          The second way is to deduct from a bonus. Bonuses are usually paid on profit, if the sales droid makes a mistake and that mistake has a cost, then that's less profit, and a smaller bonus or even no bonus.

          "Seriously, if I got this shit I would be saying have it back".

          As an employer I can say that you probably wouldn't have a job in the first place. What you're inferring in your sentence is that you prefer getting a free phone annually by lying to the company about breaking it, and doing so at the companies expense. We try not to employ openly dishonest people, and sack them if we find out we have.

          1. Just Enough

            Re: Phones too

            "What you're inferring in your sentence"

            * Implying

            And he's not implying that at all. He's saying he is not going to cover the risk of damage to company equipment. It's their phone, not his, so they're the ones who should insure it. If they're not prepared to insure their property, why should he cover it for them?

            So he's saying he would refuse to accept the phone and the liability for it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Phones too

            "Seriously, if I got this shit I would be saying have it back".

            As an employer I can say that you probably wouldn't have a job in the first place. What you're inferring in your sentence is that you prefer getting a free phone annually by lying to the company about breaking it, and doing so at the companies expense. We try not to employ openly dishonest people, and sack them if we find out we have."

            No what you're doing is you're assuming I have criminal intent and are starting from a position of lack of trust, so I probably wouldn't want to work for you in the first place, you've probably got crap, legal minimum employment contracts anyway.

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Phones too

        where all our sales dept kept breaking their phones, and getting new ones on the insurance

        Many years ago, I recall a visiting sales person telling me how his company had slashed the company car accident rate - they bought an old (IIRC) Skoda and the rule became :

        Anyone having an accident gets the Skoda for a month. Since their street cred was in jeopardy, no salesman wants to be seen in a Skoda, so they took a lot more care with their cars.

        1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

          Re: Phones too

          Yep, I keep a couple of iPhone 5's around with the worlds crappiest batteries and loudly tell people that if they break their new iPhone they get the punishment phone for the remainder of their contract.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Phones too

            "Yep, I keep a couple of iPhone 5's around with the worlds crappiest batteries and loudly tell people that if they break their new iPhone they get the punishment phone for the remainder of their contract."

            Luckily, I never broken a mobile phone before. On communicating the fact my battery was finally near as dammit knackered, I asked the boss if I should be a new battery or would he just replace my ancient Samsung with a newer model. He strongly suggested I get a battery and put it on expenses as the new batch of phones being handed out to those who needed them were pretty shite and to look after my decently sized bit old phone for as long as possible :-)

        2. LewisRage

          Re: Phones too

          My dad had a very minor accident in his Porsche and it needed to spend a week at the garage. The replacement car they gave him was a lime green 1987 Austin Metro.

          He didn't crash the Porsche again.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Phones too

            The replacement car they gave him was a lime green 1987 Austin Metro.

            He didn't crash the Porsche again.

            I don't know, some of us Yanks are intrigued by quirky Brit cars like that. Some 30+ years ago I had a handful of Austin America's. None of them was on the road, so no problem with breakdowns either. Had to go for the closest-looking alternative, which was the Ford Festiva (don't know if they ever sold under that name in the UK, it was also the Mazda 121/Kia Pride).

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: Austin America: 4 jelabarre59

              The Austin America appears to be a rebranded 1100! Learn summat every day.

              I have an 1100 story you might enjoy on my "celebration of incompetence" blog.

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Korev

      I'll have to try that...Does it have to be a work phone?

    3. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Phones too

      Some police Depts in the US won't take reports for stolen phones.

      1. LewisRage

        Re: Some police Depts in the US won't take reports for stolen phones

        Many years ago (in the UK) I lost my phone. I reported it to the insurance and they needed a police reference number.

        I went to the police station and reported my phone was missing. They got a clipboard out, wrote down a description and gave me a number. I go back to the insurers and got my new phone a week or so later.

        Skip forward ~18 months I lose my phone again. In anticipation of the question from the insurers I went to the police station and asked to report a missing phone. The copper behind the desk said I couldn't.

        "If there hasn't been a crime there isn't anything to report to us".

        Fair enough I say, but you did this not that long ago. He re-iterated the line about there not being a crime. I explained that without it I can't claim on my insurance. He reiterated the line about there not having been a crime.

        This repeats a couple more times before I give up, pause, look him in the eye and say...

        "I'd like to report a stolen phone please"

        If his eyes had rolled any harder I would have got the jackpot. He proceeds to take out a form and record the details that I was *clearly* making up on the spot about how it was on the table in the pub and how it was suddenly not there.

        He doesn't look too happy about it. I get a crime reference number.

        I report it to my insurers who go away to process it, 2 days later I'm in bed when my phone rings(!)*, I fish it out from down the side of the bed where it must have fallen when I drunkenly collapsed into bed on the night it went missing.

        It was the insurance company telling me that my claim had been approved and where did I want the new phone shipped too?

        I told them I'd found it thanks and they could cancel the claim.

        *This was a while ago when a phone would last 4+ days without a charge.

        1. Ryan 7
          FAIL

          @LewisRage

          You hadn't bothered to try calling it? I can't quite bring myself to believe you're not just telling porkies.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Some police Depts in the US won't take reports for stolen phones

          Many years ago (in the UK) I lost my phone. I reported it to the insurance and they needed a police reference number.

          If you are insured for accidental loss, rather than theft, your insurer will not need a CRN. If you tell them it has been stolen, they will. If you are not covered for accidental loss, but lose your phone and claim theft, then this, my friend, is known as insurance fraud. If you make a false report of a crime to the police, you are probably on risky ground there as well, for wasting police time.

    4. Waseem Alkurdi
      Mushroom

      Re: Phones too

      We had a rather senior guy who claimed his iPhone had been stolen mysteriously soon after Apple released a new model.

      As IT manager, and as the iPhone is for work, you can deploy a centralized corporate iCloud account on the device and use Find My iPhone. Then tell the luser that the phone is being actively tracked in case it was stolen.

      Icon: his rage xD

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Geekpride

    New depths

    This story reveals a worryingly poor level of tech skills at company. Usually users can at least figure out how to break stuff on their own.

    1. cd

      Re: New depths

      They were salespeople.

      1. Fatman
        Thumb Up

        Re: New depths

        <quote>They were salespeople weasels.</quote>

        FTFY

        1. Waseem Alkurdi
          Trollface

          Re: New depths

          They were salespeople.salesdroids.

          Fixed ^ 2.

          1. bobajob12 Bronze badge
            Trollface

            Re: New depths

            They were salesdroids^Wthe people who find the revenue to pay your wages.

            Fixed ^ 3.

            1. Waseem Alkurdi
              Trollface

              Re: New depths

              They were salesdroids^Wthe people who find the revenue to pay your wages.^C^C^D

              Can't top that!

              1. Stevie Silver badge

                Re: New depths

                Sales Revenue pays wages? I thought the real revenue came from the service contracts sold to new owners and renewed by nagware. Salesthings need not apply.

  3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    Giovanni sounds complicit

    How could anyone not know that the question “What should I absolutely avoid doing to my 24-pin DMP so I don’t break it?” really means "How can I break it?"

    The answer should naturally have been "Absolutely don't stick your 'finger' in <there>"

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

      We all started out bright eyed and utterly naive at some point. Plus, very naively some of use are just more trusting of others. Takes a while to get that spirit broken.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

        I thought that kind of viewpoint was swiftly corrected by the midwife slapping you to get you crying (and breathing) shortly after you've left your mother...?

        Rather sets the trend for life for the average helldesk or trainer minion...

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

      I'm pretty sure it's a "spectrum" thing, even on the mild end. I still do this kind of thing all the bloody time - faced with a question I automatically return the appropriate reply and only much, much later (if ever) realise that it probably was the completely inappropriate one considering all sorts of out-of-band signalling, social subtext and ulterior motive it never occurred to me to check for / notice at the time the question was asked. I got slightly better over time about catching some of it on the spot or shortly after, but I realise I'll never not be hopeless at it no matter what I do...

      1. Sixtysix
        FAIL

        Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

        Yep - I've been guilty of a retrospective gulp or two...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

      The answer should naturally have been "Absolutely don't stick your 'finger' in <there>"

      If they were salesdroids, he perhaps should have suggested sticking something else in. Need to keep the gene pool clean and all...

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    re. 'candour '

    I see what you did there :)

    1. Havin_it

      Re: re. 'candour '

      I think we all did, Frank. They did kind of telegraph it with the whole italic thing.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Coke in a printer? Will that not leave a sticky mess and give some Clue?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      We had a secretary spill her hot chocolate over her Apple keyboard (original Mac Plus). The repair guy came out, cleaned it up and stuck it in the dishwasher. After it had dried out, it worked just fine.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        I wish I knew that 15 years ago

        One of my kids spilled something orange and very sticky over one of my two IBM Model M keyboards (Tizer or Irn Bru, they did not own up to it so I never knew for certain).

        At the time, I had not heard that Model Ms could survive a dishwasher, so I went through the entire process of stripping it down (boy, you need some deep sockets), and cutting off the melted plastic rivets that hold plastic case that contain the rockers, springs and membranes, and then suffered the problem of the conductive tracks peeling off when I opened the membrane up to wash it.

        I cleaned, attempted to repair the tracks with conductive paint, and reassembled the keyboard, adding small nuts and bolts to replace some of the plastic rivets, but unfortunately it never completely worked again, so the keycaps, space bar and cable were salvaged, and with deep reluctance, it was consigned to the recycling centre.

        About 6 months after I had failed to repair it, I heard about the dishwasher trick (and now I know that Unicomp sell replacement membranes as well), but it was too late. I was mortified. Needless to say, there is a no-sticky drink rule whenever the kids come anywhere close to my remaining Model M.

        But I know all about how a Model M is made

        1. Ikoth
          Coffee/keyboard

          Keyboard Cleaning

          Many years ago, I was the engineering buyer for a factory that produced various liquid and powdered products. Occasionally, we'd have visits from prospective customers, who came in for a tour of our state of the art, automated production facilities.

          Over time the some of the production areas could get quite dirty, so the customer visits were always proceeded by a big clean up around the factory. One such day, a recently employed production assistant was tasked with cleaning up the office areas, including the process control booths.

          Noticing the state of many of the keyboards attached to the various DEC VT100 terminals (I did say it was MANY years ago), she decided they'd all benefit from a good scrub and proceeded to do just that in the sink in the factory break room.

          A couple of frantic phone calls, and several called in favours later, we had a taxi full of replacement keyboards on the way from the local DEC distribution centre. I forget the final bill for the episode, but it was well into four figures, not counting lost production time.

          1. Mike Lewis

            Re: Keyboard Cleaning

            Back in the day when keyboards were too expensive to just throw away, one of my programmers was having problems with the keys. I told him to open it up and spray it. I meant with Freon; he used WD-40. He spent the rest of that morning cleaning it out.

        2. diver_dave

          Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

          Old BT M3710 turret.

          User (By phone on next desk): My turret isn't working

          Me: What's it doing?

          User: Display is black and it's not giving a dial tone when I select a line.

          Me: Has anything happened? Has cable been knocked out? (Long shot but not unknown)

          User: No nothing.

          Me: Ok let me test line. (I get nothing so turret is DOA)

          Me: On my way with a replacement. (Down 5 flights of stairs)

          On arriving, turret is definitely dead with black LCD screen. I pick it up to change it and....

          Get a sleeveful of cold coffee.

          User: Ah, would that stop it working.

          Of course 8AM on a Monday morning.

          Probably worth noting the user was one of my more challenging customers.

          DaveA

          1. diver_dave

            Should have added

            Same 'client who wanted us to re-cable every desk in the building because she

            shoved her bag under so far it kept pushing the phone cable out.

            I *really really* should have expected the worse.

            Did I mention *really*?

          2. ScissorHands

            Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

            Re: M3710 turret

            * Google "BT M3710 turret"

            Lots of mobile phones

            * Google "BT turret"

            Oh, trading systems!

            Find a result for "BT Meridian M2216/D turret"

            * Google "BT Meridian"

            Finally find a "BT Norstar Meridian Handset M*73*10N"

            Is this it?

            1. diver_dave

              Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

              That's the one.

              Not fueled by caffine!

          3. The Oncoming Scorn
            Pint

            Re: I wish I knew that 15 years ago

            Not only but also, when the coffee didn't kill the phone, the user deciding to wash it did.

      2. tony2heads

        Coca cola contains nasty amounts of phosphoric acid and the sugar glues the keyboard (drink unsweetened tea if you must do it next to a keyboard

      3. Martin an gof Silver badge

        We had a secretary spill her hot chocolate over her Apple keyboard

        Had someone spill hot chocolate over a 3.5" floppy disc and not own up until some weeks later when the data on that disc absolutely had to be read immediately and the chocolate had dried out and glued the whole lot together. Cracked the actual disc out of the plastic case, ran under a tepid tap for a bit, left to air-dry, fitted it into a new case (sacrificed the disc from that one) and I got almost everything off the thing - IIRC it was just one small file that failed.

        Still count it as one of the best recoveries ever, but all I got in return was something along the lines of "I suppose I'll have to re-type that [document/spreadsheet/whatever] will I?"

        M.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Still count it as one of the best recoveries ever, but all I got in return was something along the lines of "I suppose I'll have to re-type that [document/spreadsheet/whatever] will I?"

          She could at least have made you a hot chocolate.

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