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Can We Charge Extra For Really Stupid Problems?

, , , | Right | February 23, 2023

Client: “My laptop won’t turn on.”

Me: “It isn’t charged. You have to charge it.”

Client: “I’ve been charging it for three hours.”

Me: “With what? Your charger isn’t plugged into the laptop.”

Client: “I’ve been charging it with my iPhone.”

They May Forget The Password, But The Kindness Will Stick With Them

, , , , , | Right | February 19, 2023

Anyone in IT will tell you the most common calls are about passwords. One way or another, it’s usually a password problem.

At the start of this call, it seemed mostly the same. The person using the device had been losing memory and would forget they’d changed the password, then go through the automatic reset, put in a new one, and then forget it again. So far, so normal.

With this laid down, the customer, their partner, and I went through the latest reset to ensure it was all working properly again when the partner asked a little forlorn question. Could we stop this from happening? They loved their partner and didn’t want them to feel like they were failing again and again with this password issue.

This was where my other customer service attributes came into play. I’d only ever come across it once, but my keen memory told me that there was a feature usually used for parents to stop their kids from doing things they weren’t supposed to. While I’d not looked through its full settings, I knew it did have a few lock features, and to my knowledge, there was no reason that it shouldn’t work for an adult. We checked with the original customer, and they were happy with the idea of using it to save them from the loop.

Carefully, we used the features built into the device to set the partner’s account up as the primary person, with a password they knew, protected by a device code they joked they’d never forget, and set the customer’s phone as the “child” device. While I’d only intended to set it so the one app that usually caused the trouble was set to alert the “parent” if it needed a password, we actually found two other settings that were absolutely perfect for the situation. One was an account-password-change lock, and the other was a device-password-change lock. That, coupled with the other feature, meant that not only would the original person never be prompted to enter a password they’d forgotten, but it would also prevent them from getting into an accidental loop regardless of the app! We also found the security feature that wanted the password and put it down to the right level for the use it was wanted for, almost completely removing the prompts in the first place.

For me, it was a fun problem-solving exercise, but for a couple who was facing down one of them having diminished memory function, it was a godsend. They were so thankful for the time and effort put into the call to make sure their immediate problem was solved, and also that together we had future-proofed the problem.

Check your accessibility features. You might just find something you didn’t know about to be the best thing you’ve ever used on your device!

How To Get Someone At Your Door In No Time

, , , , , , , | Right | February 17, 2023

I have been trying to solve a caller’s Internet issues for about half an hour, but they absolutely refuse to troubleshoot and insist on having a technician sent over. Finally, they explode.

Caller: “Send someone over to fix this right now! I have a loaded gun with me right now, and I will go over there and go crazy unless you send someone!”

Me: “Well, sir, I didn’t realize you were that type of customer. I will arrange to have some people over there very soon.”

Caller: “About f****** time! Tell them to hurry the f*** up to make up for your time-wasting.”

Me: “Oh, sir, don’t worry. I’ll explain the… urgency… of your situation so clearly that whoever I send will probably be running the red lights.”

Caller: “D*** straight!” *Click*

The police arrested him within half an hour.

Too Bad He Doesn’t Have A Backup For His Brain

, , , , , | Right | February 17, 2023

There are few people who don’t seem to understand the need for a backup, but I always thought that people at least understood the concept. Oh, how innocent I was!

The story starts before I get a hold of it, in a retail store, after the first lifting of lockdowns. Many people are stomping into stores to upgrade their phones and move on to later and greater models.

In this particular store, the phones can be traded in, which this person is doing. As part of that, the phone gets wiped in front of the customer to show that their data is gone. (This is to avoid “you stole my data” people.) That is the very last step in this process. The normal thing is to get the phone and transfer the data in the store (if you don’t have a backup) or make arrangements in these plague-ridden times to pick the new phone up, set it up at home, and bring the old phone back in within a time window to get the amount of money off the trade-in process.

I have never stepped foot in one of the stores. I am phone support only. Sales are trained differently in another area, and anything I know about it is calling over to their side and asking.

The final thing to know about all of this is there are SO many ways to back up your data. You can make exports of your contacts, you can save full copies to the cloud, and you can save full copies to your computer. You can save your photos no less than four different ways from the basic software to a non-phone location — way more if you include applications from the store that say they’ll back up in different ways or let you exclude files or whatever. There are 101 ways to save however much, or little, of your phone as you want.

If you transfer the data in-store and don’t tell it otherwise, the system just duplicates the old phone onto the new one. It’s our job to help people set up from any one of these ways if they’re doing the home method, so I know just how many different ways you can get your data back on a phone.

This call comes in, and it starts with a clerk from the store apologising and saying this gentleman wants to speak with tech support. He says there’s been a “miscommunication”. Puzzled, alerted, and curious, I answer.

Me: “Tech support. How can I help you today?”

Customer: “You can help me get my d*** phone up and running is what you can do.”

Me: “All right, you’re in the store at the moment, right? Have they handed you your new phone yet?”

Customer: “No, it’s at home!”

Me: “Okay, then. We’ll need to have the new phone in order to set it up. Do you have the number so you can call back when you’re with it?”

Customer: “Of course I do, but that’s not the issue. The issue is this guy just deleted my backup!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, sir. Was it saying that it was glitched or something odd? We wouldn’t touch your backups normally, just erase your phone when you hand it in after the trade-in is set up and you’ve set up your new phone.”

Customer: “He erased it! I handed it to him and he erased my backup!”

Me: “Sir, if you backed up your phone, it’s not only on your phone. It’s in the clou—”


I take a small pause to assimilate that and then carry on as if he didn’t just blow up at me.

Me: “…or to the computer you backed it up to. If you went more specific, it’s going to be in—”

Customer: “No! You don’t understand. He erased it!”

Some small tickle of horror starts dawning, but surely, he can’t mean…

Me: “Sir, when you say you ‘backed up your phone’, what do you mean?”

Customer: “My phone was my backup! It was all in there! Everything! And he erased it!”

Me: “Sir… do you mean to tell me that you only had one copy of everything?”

He responds as if glad I’m finally getting it.

Customer: “Yes! My backup! I was going to transfer it, and this idiot erased it!”

Me: “Sir… what about… the primary copy?”

Customer: “I don’t understand.”

I’m wondering how simple I need to go for this

Me: “Well… a backup… is that: a… a copy of the data, onto a second system somewhere, to… y’know, back up the data. One version of everything stored in one place… That’s not a backup, that’s just… well, your stuff?”

I can practically hear him turning purple.


Me: “A backup is a copy — a second copy. Like if you have a ‘backup car’, it means you have a second car.”

The customer is basically imploding. Somehow, he manages to calm down.

Customer: “He mentioned something about a computer.”

Me: “Yes, if you connected to a computer and told it to make a backup there—”

Customer: “I don’t trust computers.”

Me: “Or if you decided to send files—”

Customer: “Don’t you dare tell me about the cloud!”

Me: “I was just going to say ‘off-device’. If you [slightly odd but viable way to save documents], [odd but not hard alternate to save out the photos], or used an app like [three or four different ‘save my data’ apps], then your stuff would be safely with those systems. Do any of those things sound like something you did?”

Customer: “No, it was all in my backup here… and this guy just went and deleted it!”

I try one last, desperate attempt.

Me: “I don’t suppose you set up your new phone before you came into the store?”

Customer: “Of course not. I wanted to get my money back before setting it up.”

I take a long pause.

Me: “I’d check your computer, just in case you did back it up to there without remembering. But, frankly, if you didn’t, I’m afraid your phone has been erased, and we have no way of retrieving that data. I’m very sorry for your loss, sir.”

Customer: “But he deleted my backup! He didn’t even ask me! He just did it when I handed over the phone.”

Me: *With as much diplomacy as I can* “Sir, with the trade-in system, once you bring your old phone back in for the money, we presume you have everything off it. I believe we ask that as you’re handing the phone over, but if you say yes… well, we erase the phone to protect your privacy.”

Customer: “But it was my backup!”

I gently disconnect the call after apologising and explaining that if he backed it up to his computer, we can help, but otherwise, we can’t force people to save things off their devices.

Stop! Being! Helpful!

, , , , , , , | Working | February 13, 2023

I was working at a tech support job. I was very self-motivated, I like solving problems and I like working with computers. I read any SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) I could get my hands on (which wasn’t too many at that time), and I constantly asked questions to senior techs that had been working there for a while.

After about eighteen months at the job, I was promoted from Tier 1 to Tier 2. When I was a Tier 1, I was the official go-to guy for all Tier 1 techs to get information on how to handle issues that all the Tier 1 techs should know for resolving. I was basically a trainer for Tier 1 techs, helping them learn the easy stuff so it wouldn’t get escalated to Tier 2.

Most Tier 2 techs were fairly new employees, but we had a handful that had been Tier 1 techs longer than I had been working at the company. After a few days as a Tier 2 tech, I started to notice that a lot of Tier 1 techs were constantly struggling with a simple task that they should all know how to do based on escalated tickets I’d been doing. It was a task that would take about two minutes to fix and get the customer off the phone fast, resolving the issue.

While I was the go-to guy for Tier 1 techs, I was also trying to alleviate the unnecessary tickets pushed to Tier 2, and this one simple task was a great learning experience for all the Tier 1 techs to know. This way, the actual harder issues that took a lot more time were only coming to the senior techs so we could keep within our SLAs (Service Level Agreement).

I took the time to write up an SOP about the issue and step-by-step instructions on how to resolve the issue. I emailed out the SOP to all the Tier 1 techs, and I copied the help desk manager. I also flagged all the emails I sent to notify me when the email was read because a lot of Tier 1 techs would glance at emails and then claim they had never gotten any email. This way, they couldn’t say they didn’t get the email.

As the day dragged on, I had my list of Tier 1 techs, and I checked off their names when I got confirmation emails that they had read my email. About two-thirds of Tier 1 had read it as the day wound down and I headed home. I figured by the time I got to work the next day, the other third of the Tier 1 techs would have read the email.

I showed up at work the next day, and I saw that almost all Tier 1 techs had read my email. As I was just about to start my day, the help desk manager wanted to talk to me about the SOP.

Manager: “I saw that SOP you emailed out. I like it, but I wanted to let you know that this isn’t your job, and I don’t want you sending any more mass emails out to your team members. If you have something important to send out, you give it to me first, and I’ll decide if it’s something everyone else needs to know.”

Me: “No one else is creating SOPs for problems or helping other techs out… but if that’s what you want, okay. I won’t send out group emails anymore.”

Manager: “I also see a lot of Tier 1s coming to you. They don’t need to be coming over and bothering you. If they have an issue with a ticket, they can escalate it to Tier 2. I don’t want to see them constantly getting up to talk to you.”

Me: “All right, I’ll let them know.”

Manager: “Thank you. Go ahead and get yourself logged in.”

I had worked with enough crappy managers to know that [Manager] wanted to take credit for work he didn’t do; that’s why he wanted me to send any SOPs I created to him first. He was always looking to take credit for something to look good to upper management. I don’t like people taking credit for my work, but at the same time, I was not looking to stand in the spotlight and hope to get an “Attaboy!” I just genuinely wanted to help my coworkers out so I wouldn’t have to bust my butt picking up their slack; it was a win-win for all the techs on the help desk.

Seeing as how I was shot down, I figured I’d do exactly what my manager asked for.

As the day went on, I had a lot of pissed-off Tier 1 techs because they weren’t getting any help on issues like they usually did when they came to me. They’d approach me to ask me questions, and I’d tell them that management didn’t want me talking to them anymore and that they needed to go back to their desks. This meant that easy issues were getting pushed to Tier 2 and not getting handled fast enough for their SLA.

A build-up of tickets and failed SLAs started to plague the help desk over the next few weeks, and [Manager] was getting in hot water with upper management because of it. Now the company wanted Tier 2 techs to put in eight hours a week of mandatory overtime until the backlog was cleared. This happened over and over again for months, and [Manager] was getting reamed about it constantly.

With [Manager] in charge, I never went out of my way again to help my coworkers so they could further learn and grow by writing up SOPs for easy tasks or talking with Tier 1 techs to help them out. I let them flounder and get frustrated, and they would eventually leave because they couldn’t get help with their job.

Management always wondered why the retention rate of Tier 1 techs was so abysmal and why they had such crappy times on their SLAs and metrics for such simple problems.

Eventually, [Manager] was let go and a good manager came in. I ended up being the Tier 2 lead and was given the green light to manage my time as seen fit to help other Tier 2 and Tier 1 techs, and any SOPs I wrote up weren’t questioned.