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A Tale Of Cowboy Law And Hollowpoints

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: ClaireBunny1988 | September 18, 2021

I work for a company that supplies Point Of Sale hardware, software, networks, and the works to grocery stores all over the Americas. I have been here for just under a decade and BOY, do I love my job. I am on the support side of the house, essentially the warranty.

This story happened fairly early on.

We had this one customer, a small-time independent grocery store chain with maybe three stores and a tight budget. They were on a contract that did not include upgrades to their hardware and were still rocking Windows XP “Servers” with at most 2GB of ram. We had been having issues on the regular with one store where their poor little engine that (almost) could would lock up running batches on their inventory for price management, and the manager was properly fed up with the situation.

His main file server would lock up, he would call us, and we would band-aid it and recommend to the owners of the company that they needed to have a beefier boy installed. They would deny it every time. So, after about day umpteen million and three of this repeat issue and the manager begging both us and his bosses for a hardware upgrade… I get an automated alert that his server is offline again.

“He’s probably just rebooting it because its frozen,” I think. Boy, am I wrong. I call the store and the manager answers with an audible grin so wide I could practically get a tan from all that radiating smugness.

Me: “Hey, [Manager] this is [My Name] from [Company]. I’m calling because your server is showing offline for us again. Do you have a few minutes?”

Manager: “Oh, buddy, I’m glad you called. You’re going to have to schedule a tech out here to get this server replaced.”

Me: “Well, you know we need owner approval for that, but if you could jus—”

Manager: “Emergencies are covered under contract, right?”

Me: “Um… yes, sir?”

Manager: “And I can assure you that nothing you or I can do from where we are will get this server back online, so this is an emergency, correct?”

Me: “Fair enough, sir. I’ll get someone out there ASAP.”

I dispatch a tech and, as luck would have it, he was already in the area, just coming off working on another store. I get him to go take a look and he calls me about an hour later.

Tech: “Hey, can you schedule another dispatch for this store, emergency, to get their new server authorized?”

Me: “Yeah, I can start the process, but you know how these owners have been about buying new hardware.”

Tech: “Yeah, that’s not going to be a problem this time.”

Me: “What happened? Can we try to get the server back online?”

Tech: “That’s not gonna happen there, bud. Calling it catastrophic hardware failure over here. I’ll send you a pic.”

The tech sent my work email a picture. What I saw was a computer case that had a little hole on one side and a substantially larger hole on the other side. Opened up, the case revealed a penetrated hard drive and a shredded motherboard. The manager got his new computer.

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