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Even With The Phones Back Up, Communication Is Down

, , , , | Working | September 20, 2021

This takes place around 2012. I have been at this help desk, tech support job for about four years now. I am the lead Tier 2 technician. Since no management works on the weekends, I am in charge of the half-dozen other technicians working with me. There is an escalation list of managers to contact should any issues beyond my scope come up.

One day, on what starts like any other Saturday morning, I arrive at work about ten minutes early. The two guys that work third shift are just leaving and everyone for first shift is coming in to get logged on the phone system to and to start working any older tickets.

The morning progresses like it usually does: a few calls early in the morning but nothing pressing. About an hour goes without any calls and we’re approaching the pre-lunch rush, but the phones aren’t ringing and any outgoing calls we’ve tried to make, no customers are picking up. About another thirty minutes pass and still no calls. We find this odd.

I grab my cell phone and dial the help desk phone number; it just goes to a busy signal. Oh, s***! Phones are down!

I grab the escalation list and see what manager is on call for the day and I call him using my cell phone. About twenty minutes later, phones are still down, but the manager is on the floor and he’s calling out to the phone company and then to his supervisor. With the phones being down, we cannot call out to customers to work with them on issues and we certainly can’t get any inbound calls to help customers with any current issues. So, the help desk techs and I just sit and wait for instructions from management.

Another thirty minutes go by and in walks a couple of the owners with our in-house techs to check phones on our end while they are still working with the phone company. Management and owners are trying to figure out what actions to take next because we cannot have downtime like this.

Pretty soon, one of the owners comes around and tells the help desk techs that they are working on getting some burner phones so we can start making outbound calls because it could be a few more hours before the phone company can fix the issue. In the meantime, the owner tells us that we need to start using our personal cell phones to make outbound calls to customers. They say they will reimburse us and pay us $50 to use our personal cell phones.

A couple of guys think it is a good deal, but I don’t. 

Me: “I am not using my own personal cell phone to make outbound calls to customers. Once customers get technicians’ cell phones, they are relentless and constantly call them. So, I am not going to be using my cell phone for any work-related calls to customers.”

Immediate Manager: “I understand, and I don’t blame you. I have customers who’ve gotten my number constantly trying to call my personal cell.”

About an hour goes by. The phone company resolves the issue and phones are working again, just about the same time that one of the other owners shows up with a dozen burner phones to use. With the phones up, we continue on with the workday without any other issues.

Along comes Monday, and after I get into work and to my desk, my manager tells me that his supervisor wants to see me. I head into the head manager’s office and he sits me down across the table from him.

Head Manager: “Why wouldn’t you make any calls with your cell phone on Saturday? You knew the phones were down and we needed to make calls to customers to work on existing tickets in the system.”

Me: “I already told you guys that I wasn’t using my personal cell phone to make calls to customers.”

Head Manager: “The owners said they would pay for your cell phone bill for the month, so I don’t understand why it was an issue.”

Me: “It’s my cell phone. Not a work phone. You guys don’t pay for it nor own it, and I don’t want customers to have my number to call me on my personal cell phone. If you want me to have a company-owned cell phone to use and make calls from it, I’ll be more than happy to do that, but I won’t use my personal cell for work-related calls.”

Head Manager: “Okay. Fair enough. That’s all.”

I head out to my desk and do my work, and after a few days, I forget about the incident and life moves on. Or so I think.

The following week, I’m once again asked to talk with the head manager for the help desk.

Head Manager: “The owners want to know why it was such a difficult thing to not use your cell phone a couple of Saturdays ago when the phones were down.”

Me: “I already told you. My phone. Not a company phone.”

I glare at my manager. If he can’t tell that I am pissed about being questioned about the same thing we went over about me using my personal phone for work, he needs to find a better position, because reading people isn’t one of them.

Head Manager: “They offered to pay for your time using your phone. We just don’t understand why it was so difficult for you to do. The other guys on the help desk used their phones to make outbound calls.”

Me: “I already told you! My personal f****** phone!

People outside his office can hear me yelling at him.

Me: “You guys don’t get to tell me what I can and cannot do with my phone and my property. I don’t appreciate you harassing me about it again.”

The manager sat there with his mouth slightly open and eyes as wide as can be. He took a moment to collect himself. Then, he thanked me for my time and said I could go back to my desk.

The issue was never brought up again, and a new policy was put in place that personal cell phones were not to be used for contacting customers. They would keep burner phones on hand should the phone system go down again.