back to article BOFH: My HELPDESK HELL - lies, phones lines and statistics

"I'm just a bit worried about these statistics," the Boss says, lurching into Mission Control with yet another swadge of meaningless numbers. "Told you so," I respond. [FLASHBACK TO A WEEK AGO] "I'm a bit worried about these weekly statistics," the Boss says, lurching into Mission Control with a swadge of meaningless numbers …


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  1. Colin Brett

    Lies, damned lies and statistics

    Says it all, really.

    Oh BTW. Why didn't the episode end with Kzzzerrrt?


    1. Corinne

      Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

      It didn't really need to end with a "Kzzzerrrt", it was pretty obvious by inference.

      1. Code Monkey

        Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

        It didn't really need to end with a "Kzzzerrrt", it was pretty obvious by inference.

        Yes it's definitely there, between the lines.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

        Oh, I dunno. I got; <THWACK>, "Aaaargghhhh", <THUD>, <roll, roll>, <heave>, "Brrmm, brrmm, brrmm", <shovel, shovel shovel>, <sprinkle, sprinkle>, <heave>, <KerFLUMP>, <shovel, shovel>, "Brrmm, brrmm, brrmm", "Six pints of lager to celebrate a job well done please barman".

        Not "Kzzzerrrt".

        Then again, there's always the diplomatic option. E.g. a mysterious Active Directory glitch remapping the CEO's shared spreadsheet directory to "the Boss's secret porn stash". A.k.a. a folder full of foetid filth with everything owned by the Boss's user ID and which the server logs and backups show has been there and actively added to for some time.....

        1. TractorBoy

          Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

          you paint a wonderful picture, made I laugh, beers all round methinks

        2. skeptical i

          hmmm, perhaps a soupçon of poetic justice [was: Lies, damned lies and statistics]

          Instead of <THWACK>, try <ring ring>, "Hel- ", <KZZZEEERRT>, "AAAAAAUUGGGHHH!", then <THUD>, <roll, roll>, and so on. Since this particular boss seems to be on about snappy phone response, connecting his handset to the leccy main (or the PFY's "induction tester") should serve that purpose.

        3. Fatman Silver badge

          Re: mysterious Active Directory glitch remapping the CEO's shared spreadsheet directory


          Just remap his folder to /dev/null.

    2. Cynical Observer

      Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

      Statistically speaking, that Kzzzerrrt is imminent.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics


  2. ukgnome
    Thumb Up

    Ha ha ha - When I worked on a helpdesk, almost a thousand years ago we used an aspect phone system. Simply by dialling a number and hanging up I was placed at the back of the queue for available agents.

    This helped maintain my call statistics for over a year. What I found more surprising is that the fellow drones had not worked this out. But then again, they were typical helpdeskers without a hint of BOFH about them.

  3. Chris007

    new keyboard pls

    Changing a row to 'calls abandoned when the user realised they were being a slack lazy bastard who should have done what they were told two weeks ago' doesn't help

    Genius and so godamn true

  4. Roger Varley


    "No, it's statistics with a very high margin of error" - brilliant! I *will* be using that line at some point in th enear future.

  5. Andrew Moore


    Dabbsie AND BOFH on the same day!!! A great start to the Paddy's weekend.

  6. Bottle_Cap


    A *slam* moment? :)

  7. earl grey Silver badge

    it's about time

    i missed the "Kzzzerrrt"; was expecting the "Kzzzerrrt"; the boss needs the "Kzzzerrrt". let's get on with it.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    Can We Reschedule for Next Month?

    What more needs to be said?

  9. Simon Round


    I wonder where the BOFH redirected the calls to? Perhaps a premium rate line taken from a card in a phone box.

    Or perhaps a premium rate line that the BOFH owns!!!

    1. perlcat

      Re: Hmmmm

      Helpdesk caller: "I knew that there was something strange about the helpdesk girl, but she was *so* convincing when she asked me what color my underwear was."

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      "At the third stroke..."

    3. <shakes head>

      Re: Hmmmm

      if you read to a 4 digit number with 9's in it but he can miss count, so ........ 999

  10. Annihilator


    "Projects for which the proposer had a serious workplace accident prior to implementation"

    I'm considering proposing that for one of our new KPIs in the office... Would be happy to contribute to it too!

  11. Why Not?
    Thumb Up

    as always a pleasure anticipated

    Bring back Kzzzerrrt - are you onomatopoeia -ist ??

    Prod less episodes need killer robots. (can they make a come back?)

    agree it needed a destination for forwarding I was expecting a booking line for colonic irrigation that demanded details & credit card or the aforementioned executive stress relief with a backhander to BOFH.

    but minor criticism's apart it was the usual amusing observations.

    When are we going to have the king / pirate treasure under the server room, offshoring the accounting team etc.

  12. Dave 32


    Oh, such as the boss's phone line becoming short circuited with the 68 KV electric transmission line that runs down the road outside the building? Can't imagine how that might have happened. Perhaps it was one of the neighbourhood kids that was flying a kite with a wire instead of a string, a wire that just happened to be anchored to the boss's phone..


    1. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: boss's phone line becoming short circuited

      Actually, I would rather see about 500g of semtex hidden inside his desk set, with a detonator wired to the buzzer. Ring his extension, and .......

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like our new helpdesk ;)

    Hehe made me smile, sounds like our new "help" desk. Whenever a call gets close to going out of SLA, they just close it. They dont resolve it mind you, but they hardly ever breach SLA on paper :) ;)

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Sounds like our new helpdesk ;)

      Ours have come up with a slightly more cunning approach than that.

      They look at it and decide that, yes, that is a problem. Having figured out that there is a problem in there somewhere they convert the service call to a problem ticket, which doesn't have a TRT........

  14. Herby

    Question to ponder...

    Is a "Help Desk" ever helpful? Are they just annoying fountains of script readers?

    Analysis follows.

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Question to ponder...

      No and Yes.

      Analysis complete.

  15. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    perfect pacing

    As I was reading this (chuckling along the way) I glanced down to see how much more there was to read, finding only a few more inches to go with no "next page" link. I was worried that the ending was going to be unsatisfactory given the scant few lines remaining. However, I was not disappointed! Top episode--Chin-chin!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We also had...

    The actual line "50% of you are performing below average, if you don't sort it out we will apply a disciplinary". Well, numbers may have been different, but it was the same meaning (10% of you are below the 10% mark). I tried to explain that we would just be playing musical chairs all the time instead of actually getting any work done if we tried to "fight" over who had the below average call durations etc. :P

    1. Colin Millar

      Re: We also had...

      Well - if they really meant "average" you could solve the problem by just having one really crap person - you could take turns.

  17. Marty McFly

    It's always a better Friday with BOFH!

    Another happy reader!

  18. tony trolle

    we had five levels of "logged calls" back in the 90's

    had call loggers take the call and type it in and give it a level of "hurt".

    Very good on first level SLA's

    Saved so much time for the "techs"; think 30% of calls cound be fixed faster than the time it took for the call being logged and even better if the call loggers were slow and we could get them to call back to clear.

    The rest were harder

    When I left that company we had a manager just to deal with SLA complainers

    Two most used replies covered about a 1/3 of complainers

    " We started fixing problem within 20 mins of calling logged" aka total fuck ups take longer to fix

    " Your end had connection problems for us to dial in" aka you removed/diconnected/unpluged the phone line

  19. The Grump

    He, he, he...

    I would be suprised if the BOFH didn't the phone system with a maze of user data inputs (employee number, password, hat size, etc), make the responses 160 levels deep with random recursive dumps back to level one, and any user error would dump the user back to level one, where they would have to start the process all over again. Be sure to put in 6 level deep confirmation scripts (User presses #1. "You said yes, is this correct? You said yes is correct. Is this correct?" etc.), and vary the "YES" response so it isn't always the number 1 - sometimes it would be 2 or 3, with 1 being NO and 2 being I DON'T KNOW (dumps user back to level one).

    Ninty-nine percent of users would give up, and never actually reach the hell desk at all.

    1. Alex in Tokyo

      Re: He, he, he...

      Did you design my local telco's IVR "customer support" system, by any chance?

  20. Rick Giles

    I worked at a place like that....

    They started 'measuring' the break-fix group. We met all our SLA's every time. SO they changed the metric. We still met our SLA. They changed it again. We started missing a few, then corrected. They changed it again. We started failing again. Then they *really* changed the metrics.

    We looked like complete shite after that and they had the nerve to tell us so. Which was reflected in our yearly eval. I told them that you can't apply a performance metric to the number 'unplanned maintenance', only on the work performed. They didn't like that (as evidenced by the 0% bump in pay I got that year).

    ...Mine the one with the 12% pay increase in the pocket to go to another company.

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