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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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...

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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.

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Trollface

Re: Korev

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

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Re: Phones too

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 :-)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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FAIL

@LewisRage

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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.

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cd

Re: New depths

They were salespeople.

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Thumb Up

Re: New depths

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

FTFY

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Trollface

Re: New depths

They were salespeople.salesdroids.

Fixed ^ 2.

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Trollface

Re: New depths

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

Fixed ^ 3.

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Trollface

Re: New depths

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

Can't top that!

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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.

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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>"

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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.

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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...

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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...

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Re: Giovanni sounds complicit

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

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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...

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re. 'candour '

I see what you did there :)

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Re: re. 'candour '

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

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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

I had a journalist do something similar with a Reuters keyboard back when those terminals were hideously expensive. It was only after dunking it in a bucket of water that I discovered that under the keystems they had a block of literal foam (about 1/2" thick) with an aluminium foil disc stuck to the bottom. Reuters clearly know how hamhanded the users were.

It was good as gold after it dried out (better, according to the users - probably because I scrubbed the PCB down with hot soapy water to get rid of years of nicotine buildup), but that foam took an age to dry out.

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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

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Pint

has anyone else

killed a keyboard with beer?

three and counting, here...

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Re: has anyone else

one with wine and one with a screw driver.

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Paris Hilton

Re: has anyone else

I tried to attack my macbook with a glass of red wine, didn't work through, the keyboard still works but the space bar sometimes has a few forgetfulmomentswhenyouare typing.

Paris because I'm sure she's caused a few keyboard incidents...

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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*?

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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?

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