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In Need Of A Connector-Detector

, , , , , | Right | December 23, 2021

I’m working as tech support for a company that sells bespoke hardware amongst other things. One of these items is a pay machine that lets you pay and select the amount/type/colour of copies for MFDs — multi-function devices. It basically lets you scan/print/copy/fax, etc.

A couple of these have been sold for a council (think local county) up in the midlands for them to use in their library, so people can come in and use it as part of a self-serve system for prints. We get a call in the office.

Me: “Hello, [Company] helpdesk.”

Librarian: “Hi. The print machine isn’t working.”

Me: “It’s not working? Can you explain its behaviour?”

Librarian: “The screen isn’t turning on, but the box is on.”

The product requires TWO power connectors: one for the metal box section that contains and takes the money and the second for the screen attached to the box section. The screen is kind of an afterthought, from the looks of it.

We go through some basic troubleshooting steps so I can try and narrow down the possible causes: firm connections, wall socket is switched on, and yes, turn it off and on again.

Me: “Can you please check the barrel connector on the back of the screen for power? Just to check that it hasn’t come out?”

Librarian: “Oh, I’m not confident with touching any of that.”

Since we can’t remote onto these — not yet, that came much later — someone is going to have to go on-site to have a look. No prizes for guessing who goes.

I end up going to the library, which is roughly two and a half hours on the train from London to the site — the roads are worse, so it’s not an option to drive — and I end up leaving at 8:30 am to get there in a decent time in case there is a legitimate issue.

I haul a rucksack full of spares and my toolbox in the middle of summer. I get there, dehydrated and sweating like a pig, only to come in, take my rucksack off, and peek round the back of the screen on the unit to see the barrel connector is loose but still inside the case because of the size of the slot. I sort the “problem” in two minutes and head back to the office. Once in, I flop down in my seat, exasperated, and close the ticket.

Manager: “Did you manage to fix the problem?”

Me: “Yeah, it wasn’t plugged in on the screen’s side.”

Cue laughter from the entirety of the support desk, all eight of us.

A five-hour train ride for a two-minute fix. Honestly…

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