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Repair Your Attitude Before You Repair The Part

, , | Right | January 31, 2022

We’re a husband-wife duo running our own small business, sometimes selling, but mostly repairing very specific medical equipment for a specific group of medical professionals in Australia. We receive equipment from all over the country via courier or post, and because of the cost of this, we like to do some basic troubleshooting where possible as often customers can send the handpiece without having to send the entire unit as it will save the customer a little bit of money.

I take a call from a new customer and establish we only need the handpiece. I give him instructions on how to ship it to us and end the call. It is all pretty standard, and I think nothing more of it.

Fast forward to yesterday, when my husband asks me what I know about a handpiece that has arrived. It has come with no note or contact info, save for a mobile number. Thankfully, I know this to be the new customer who called a few days ago. He calls the new customer and I overhear his side of the conversation. He fills in the blanks afterward.

Husband: “Hello, this is [Husband] from [Company]. We’ve received your handpiece and found it will require [repairs] at [cost].”

New Customer: “But it’s only new. I’ve only had it less than a year.”

Based on our experience, it looks approximately four or five years old or like it has been otherwise treated incredibly roughly.

Husband: “That’s strange; it doesn’t look particularly new at all and I can tell there has been an unreliable attempt to repair it in the past.”

New Customer: “It hasn’t been repaired before. Our clinic has only recently opened and it’s barely been used.”

Husband: “Again, that’s peculiar, but I am afraid I don’t know what else to say. This is the repair it requires in order to function again.”

New Customer: “But shouldn’t it be covered under warranty?”

Husband: “I can’t speak for the people who sold it to you, but unless there’s a manufacturer’s defect, then it’s not generally a warranty item. It’s a wearing part, like tyres on your car.”

New Customer: “Well, how long would the warranty last? Because it’s obviously a defect. It’s only less than a year old and it’s barely been used; it has to be warranty.”

Husband: “I would assume a year, but you would have to talk to the company who—”

New Customer: “I bought it from you. You should be offering the repair for free, under your warranty. I only just bought it from you, and the clinic has only just opened and I have barely used it.”

Husband: “Huh? Can you give me the serial from the bottom of the unit? I’ll look it up. I am not familiar with your company name at all, and I haven’t sold any units to anyone in your area.”

New Customer: “It’s [serial number].”

Overhearing this interesting conversation, I am already searching for the serial number for him. It isn’t in our system.

Husband: “No, I am sorry, but I have not sold nor seen this unit before. You haven’t bought it from us, so I can’t provide any warranty, and I can assure you, it isn’t covered under—”

New Customer: “Yes, I bought it from you.”

Husband: “I am sorry, but until today, I had never heard of your clinic, and I have no record of this handpiece nor the main unit in our system. I have never seen it before.

New Customer: “But, I—”

Husband: “And, as I mentioned, it’s a wearing part, showing incredibly high wear on it. It looks several years old, which aligns with the usual lifespan of the part, so whoever did sell it to you would not provide warranty on it, either. You cannot claim warranty on a wearing part that is several years old from a company that didn’t sell it to you in the first place, and which, for the record, has some incredibly dodgy attempted repairs done to it which would have totally voided the warranty in the first place.

New Customer: “Well… I… I’ll find the invoice for it and prove you just sold it to me, and I’ll get back to you.”

I laughed. I told him that the guy was, until a couple of days ago, a new customer who had been referred to us by a medical company we assist from time to time, so I don’t know why he suddenly thought we’d sold it to him. I also Googled his ABN (business number) and the clinic was six years old.

Today, he called back and said meekly, but with no apologies, “We’d like to go ahead with the repair.”

Currently Seeking Translators Fluent In Geek

, , , , , | Related | January 31, 2022

My girlfriend’s parents have arranged a Christmas-before-Christmas event so that their relatives will be able to attend before the state borders get shut down for lockdown again. It is a full formal Sunday lunch — the good china, placemats, arranged setting, that sort of thing.

My girlfriend’s mother is a fantastic cook, so I jump at the chance to attend. I’ve met most of her family, but she does have an uncle and some cousins who are coming from across the country specifically to visit everyone.

My girlfriend’s mother sits me beside one of the cousins, although until we introduced ourselves, I thought she must have been an aunt. [Cousin] is the oldest of the generation, so she’s nearly middle-aged while my girlfriend and I are still in University.

Cousin: “It’s nice to meet you, [My Name]. So, I think [Girlfriend] said you were studying at [Local University]?”

Me: “Ah, yeah, I’m studying IT there.”

Cousin: “Oh, that’s a good field. Just general IT, or are you doing one of the specialty degrees?”

Me: “It’s all fun, but I’m actually specialising in security. It’s all very technical and complicated.”

Cousin: “Oh, that must be pretty challenging. Anything in particular you’re enjoying or having trouble with?”

Me: “It’s all very complicated; I don’t really know how to explain it to a layman. Uh. The design evaluation I’m trying to do now is hard, I guess? That’s when you’re looking at a system and trying to put in security before you even build it. They don’t really explain how you find things.”

Cousin: “For a uni course? Try starting with a STRIDE threat model. It’s an older method and it’s a little high-level, but that just means there’s lots of information online about it. In real life, sometimes you need a different method, but a lot of threat modelling techniques were alterations on STRIDE so you can’t go wrong getting familiar with it. Also, make sure to check the relevant standards and whether there was a CC evaluation.”

Me: “Uh…”*Laughs* “What?”

Cousin: “Oh, sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve had to train a new grad. Let me grab my phone after this and I’ll explain what you need to do. My day job is cyber security director over in [Major Government Organisation]. Some pentesting, some SOC, but mostly GRC these days.”

Me: “…oh!”

Cousin: “Auntie takes her dinner parties really seriously and thinks really hard about how to seat people next to each other, didn’t you know?”

Well, now I do. And I got a High Distinction on that security design course.

“Hey, Hun! I Want To Tell You About This Cool Business Opportunity!”

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 30, 2022

I have seen Multi-Level Marketing in action. Even without realising the pyramid underpinnings, I do not like their business practices. I instinctively guessed they would tell you to lie to your friends.

A school friend is studying at the same university as me, but we are in different faculties, so we only see each other a few times a year — usually at mutual friends’ parties or campus groups we are both a member of. This is before mobile phones, let alone social media, so calling someone requires some effort, as we both have to be home and no one else can be using the phone. A call from her is not shocking, but a little surprising.

Friend: “Blah, blah, business opportunity… Blah, blah, presentation at my house Wednesday… Blah, blah…”

Me: “It’s [MLM Company], isn’t it?”

Friend: “No, it’s not [MLM Company]. It’s an excellent opportunity you will be excited to be involved with.”

She continues with further entreaties and cajoling.

Me: “Okay, I’ll come. But if it turns out to be [MLM Company], I will immediately leave and never talk to you again.”

Friend: “It’s [MLM Company].”

Refunder Blunder, Part 58

, , , | Right | January 28, 2022

I’m the acting service manager at a major supermarket. It’s 3:00 pm on a busy Friday afternoon and I’m attending to the customer service desk. A lady walks up and I can tell by the look on her face that this is not going to be great.

Me: “Can I help you?”

Customer: “Yes! I came through before and bought this banana and the stupid girl charged me twice.”

Me: “I’m sorry about that. Let me fix it for you.”

I take her receipt and scan it to do the refund.

Customer: “Don’t you guys ever answer your phone? I’ve rung six times to try and sort this. Now I’ve had to waste my fuel and come all the way down here!”

Me: “I’m really sorry, madam, but it’s down to us here at the service desk to answer the phone and it’s been a really busy afternoon, so I haven’t been able to answer the phone.”

Customer: “Hmph… ridiculous!”

Me: “I’m really sorry about the hassle. Here’s your refund. Have a nice day.”

The customer snatched the money and stomped off. The total amount of her double-charge refund? Forty-five cents! Lady, the cost of the phone call and fuel would be more than that refund!

Refunder Blunder, Part 57
Refunder Blunder, Part 56
Refunder Blunder, Part 55
Refunder Blunder, Part 54
Refunder Blunder, Part 53

A Todd In The Hand Is Worth Four Johns In The Bush

, , , , | Working | January 28, 2022

I ended up working in a team with three Johns for a while: John Jones, John Wang, and John Patel. To avoid confusion, each of them went by their surname. This worked out perfectly fine until we hired a fourth John: John Todd. At this point, the great debate over what to call an existing team member, Todd Black, began.

For some reason, Human Resources got wind of this and worried about potential hurt feelings and bullying. They continued to worry until they came down and demanded that John Todd be addressed as “John.”

This was a completely logical solution, which was why no one agreed with it.

And so, the response came back from the team that they couldn’t possibly call Toddy-J “John,” as that was what everyone called me.

Yes, the solution to having a team of eight where half the team members’ first names were John was to give the name to the only woman on the team.

When I left a few years later, all the other Johns had already moved on. And yet, my farewell gift was a mug with the name “John” on it, and all my farewell card messages were addressed to “John” — except for Todd Black, who remembered the history and addressed it to “Johnita”.