A Sudden Surge In Enquiries

, , , , , | Right | June 22, 2017

(I am the technical support supervisor for a game company that was the first to allow multiple players to play games like Diablo. To use the service you have to download the executable, then run it; the server checks the executable to make sure it’s okay (to avoid viruses, etc.) and then you are taken online to match up with someone to play a game. We get a lot of trash talking from people who don’t know we have their home addresses, but this is about a very special customer unfamiliar with weather systems.)

Me: “Hello, you’ve reached [Company]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “My download stopped and I don’t know how to restart it.”

Me: “Okay, that’s a very common issue.” *explains how to restart the download*

Customer: “Thanks!”

(The customer hangs up. Two minutes later:)

Me: “Hello—”

Customer: “I’m so glad it’s you! It stopped again.”

Me: “So you need me to tell you how to start it again?”

Customer: “Yes, please.”

(I repeat my earlier instructions. We sign off. Five minutes later:)

Customer: “Hi, its me again!”

Me: “Ma’am, if I might ask, what keeps causing you to stop downloading?”

Customer: “The power keeps going out.”

Me: “You should really talk to your electric company; you could be getting surges on the line that are harmful to your computer or other electronic devices with the power flickering on and off.”

Customer: “Oh, the power company can’t help me. We’re in the middle of a severe tropical storm.”

Me: “You’re trying to download a game client in your house in the middle of a hurricane?”

(At this point my coworkers hear me, and all start laughing. Loudly.)

Customer: “Yes. Are people laughing at me?”

Me: “No, someone just said something funny.” *technically true* “Ma’am, you need to get off the phone and turn off your computer. You could be getting surges from the storm down your phone line or in your electrical system—”

Customer: “I’m fine! I have a surge protector. Oh. There go the lights again. Maybe I should write down how to restart the download?”

Me: “Ma’am. Get. Off. The. Phone. Turn off all your powered electronics. Huddle in the dark with a flashlight and read.”

Customer: “But I have a—”

Me: “Yes, surge protector. I know. Won’t help.”

Customer: “Can you please just give me the directions so when the lights come back on I can try again?”

Me: *trying hard not to sigh heavily* “Yes, ma’am.”

(I gave her the instructions, having to pause briefly because she couldn’t see well in the dark, and then finished and hung up the phone. My coworkers continued to repeat “In a hurricane?!” throughout the rest of the day.)

Hard To Understand A Soft Problem

, , , | Right | June 19, 2017

(The intersection where our branch is located is under construction. The sidewalks are dug up and there is some utility work going on. We’re a small town branch, and the company headquarters is in another state.)

Customer: “Yes, I’m having trouble with my online banking account.”

Me: “Are you having trouble logging in this morning?”

Customer: “Yes, it says I’m locked out!”

Me: “I see. We’ve just received notice that the system went down this morning. They’re working on it now, but it’s still not operational at the moment.”

Customer: “So it’s not me?”

Me: “No, it appears to be a system-wide problem.”

Customer: *turns and points out the window at the construction* “Do you think it’s because of the construction?”

Me: “No, it’s a software problem.”

Customer: “Are you sure they didn’t cut the lines?”

Me: *sighs*

A Spreadsheet As Empty As Their Brain

, , , , | Working | June 18, 2017

(A colleague contacts me on Instant Messenger to ask about project progress. I need some background so I ask him for the project spreadsheet.)

Colleague: “It’s on [sharelink].”

(I try it out and I don’t have access to that sharelink. So I ask him to email it to me.)

Colleague: “Can’t email it to you; it’s too big.”

(Our mailboxes are limited to handling files of 5 megabytes. That is a h*** of a large spreadsheet if it’s bigger than 5 megabytes, considering the project has barely started.)

Colleague: “Okay, I’ve got access to that sharelink for you.”

(I access it, and see indeed, the file is 9 megabytes big. I can’t open it in situ, so I download it and open it locally. I find that it has one active sheet that consists of 75 lines of actual data, and another 1.7 million blank lines (blank, that is, apart from fancy formatting.)

Me: “Why is this file 9 megabytes big? Why has it got 1.7 million blank lines in it? The f*** are we wasting so much computer space? This is ridiculous.”

Colleague: “Well, if you’re so stupid as to be confused by a simple thing as spreadsheet structure, maybe you need to go on a training course to teach you how to use computers. I have a meeting to go to now. Once you have sorted yourself out and learned how we do things round here, I will contact you again.”

Me: “No worries.”

(I let him get on with it. He never got back in touch with me to ask my advice, which was all well and good, as I was able to spend the rest of the day, uninterrupted, fulfilling my role as technical design authority and performing a code quality review of his (not particularly high quality) code.)

Third-Party Pooper

, , , , | Right | June 16, 2017

(I am working at my store on Black Friday and it has been extremely busy throughout my entire shift. It is so busy that I can’t get anyone to cover me for my lunch and just as I am about to clock out for the day, a man and a small child come to my register. He silently puts a popular MP3 player, that recently just came out, on the counter and I scan it. He is quiet for the whole transaction until he sees the total price.)

Customer: “No, that’s not right. You do price matching. This [MP3 Player] is 99.99 on Amazon. I want that price.”

Me: “I will be happy to help you, sir, just let me pull the [MP3 Player] up on Amazon to double check.”

Customer: “Can’t you just give me the price?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but since it’s on Amazon I have to double check to make sure the price is not from a third party seller.”

(Throughout the whole time I am pulling up Amazon on the computer, the customer does nothing complain about the horrible service he is receiving and how ridiculous it is to check to see if he was telling the truth. I pull up the MP3 player and see that the one he is talking about is indeed from a third party seller. When I show him this, he completely flips out and complains about how we are scamming him out of his money.)

Me: “I am so sorry, sir, but that is our policy. Unfortunately, we can only price match items if they are sold and shipped from Amazon. Would you still like to buy the [MP3 Player]?”

Customer: “No, I don’t, and thanks for ruining my kid’s Christmas.”

Me: “Okay, sir, I am so sorry about that. I hope you have a great rest of your day and a wonderful holiday season.”

(The customer is turning around to walk out the door and when I say that. He abruptly turns around and glares at me.)

Customer: “GET ME YOUR MANAGER, NOW!”

(I called my manager and when he arrived, the customer told him how I was treating him rudely throughout the whole transaction, refused him service, and told him how I made his son upset and was ruining his Christmas. When my manager asked me if what he was saying was true, I said no and told him the situation and even brought up the webpage to show him I was just following the store policy. The customer started yelling that I was lying. To my surprise, my manager gave him a gift card as a way to say sorry and pulled me to his office. When I tried explaining that he wanted me to take more than 80% off the MP3 player to price match the third party seller, he didn’t believe me and told me he was going to let me go. Looking back, I realize that it was their loss because I was only doing what they were telling me to do and I am now working at an office job that treats their employees a lot better than that store I used to work at.)

They’re Not Running On Full Charge

, , , , | Right | June 15, 2017

(A thirty-something woman comes into the camera shop, pushes past some other customers, and slams a camera bag onto the counter, brandishing a receipt.)

Customer: “I bought this camera yesterday! AND IT’S BROKEN!”

(She thrusts the receipt in front of my face, and jabs her finger at the date. It’s worth noting that when we sell a camera, we always open the box and check that it’s working before the customer leaves the store.)

Customer: “I want a replacement, and an upgrade to a better camera!”

Me: “Sorry to hear that, ma’am! May I please have a look at the camera?”

(The customer issues a massive sigh, opens the camera bag and shoves a little point and click camera at me. I turn it over at I notice that the battery door is ajar. I open the battery door.)

Me: “The battery is in upside down.”

Customer: “What?!”

Me: “The battery is in upside down, and so the battery door won’t close. One second.”

(I used a bit of tape to remove the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, turn the camera on, check it’s working, and then hand it back to her. It has about 50% charge.)

Customer: “So you’re not going to give me an upgrade?!”

Me: “Sorry, madam, but I can’t do that. If it were broken, I would happily give you a replacement, or a refund, but I couldn’t give you an upgrade. As it is, the camera isn’t broken. When you removed the battery, you put it back in upside down.”

(She does a job of looking over the camera, takes bunch of photos, and finally seems happy that the camera is working. I think everything is sorted. It wasn’t. Just before closing time, she comes in again, and makes a beeline for me.)

Customer: “IT’S BROKEN AGAIN!”

Me: “How can I help?”

Customer: “When I turn it on, It gives an error message, and then turns off again! I want you to UPGRADE me to a better camera!”

Me: “Again, sorry, I can’t give you an upgrade, but I can replace or give you a refund. May I please see the camera?”

(She hands me the camera. I turn it on and it says “battery exhausted.”)

Me: “Oh! This message just means that the battery is flat. Once you recharge the battery using the charger, or plugging the camera in, she’ll be right!”

Customer: “What do you mean, I have to charge the battery? Doesn’t it just take photos?”

(I stare at her for a long moment.)

Me: “No, madam. Like your mobile phone, you need to recharge the batteries when they go flat.”

Customer: “You mean I have to plug it into the wall?!”

Me: “Yes, that’s right.”

Customer: “But it just takes pictures.”

Me: “…and that uses electricity. When the battery goes flat you need to charge it.”

Customer: “I wasn’t told that when I bought it yesterday! I want a camera that doesn’t need batteries or charging. Now are you going to give me an upgrade, or do I need to speak to your manager?!”

Me: *sigh*

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