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.