Life as a customer

I love the company I work for and support the services we offer so much that I am also a customer.  Until recently there has never been an issue with my provided internet service until a week and a half ago.  Tower started dropping traffic randomly.  Fortunately for me I got to see the work that was being done behind the scenes to diagnose the weirdness that was going on but as an end user it was very frustrating to have your internet just die for anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours randomly…  Turns out to have been a piece of hardware that failed, hardware that has never failed on any other tower that we know of, some of these devices have been up and running for over 7 years…  but it’s fixed.  But tonight I get to play self entitled customer as I’m calling in to complain and get a credit since I had to actually drive into the office 2 extra times this week.  I’m looking forward to being the demanding customer tonight but I know I won’t be able to take it too far because I know what the care agents deal with.  Not to sure if I won’t be able to hold back my evil laughter when demanding a months free service…MHAUAHAUAHAU!!

Typical calls…

Since moving to my new team, here’s a short smattering of the kinds of calls I’ve been getting…

“Hi, I don’t know if I got the right group but… (proceeds with the Lord of the Rings in length version of her password problem)”

“Hi, I have a major incident, I can’t log into $program all of a sudden”

“I need a new monitor for my computer”

“Hi I need to reset my password”

Bear in mind, ours is the very last option on the call tree and very clearly states that we only handle major incidents affecting multiple sites, states, regions or the whole country, and not problems with individual computers or user issues. People up the food chain have sworn up and down  since March that they will remove our number from the help desk call tree, but have yet to do so, and on a hunch, I called in a few times to one of the other options and the shortest wait time I was quoted was 90 minutes. And when I tell these poor souls they have to call somewhere else, I’m usually met with a mix of indignation, resentment, resignation, requests to be transferred (which we can’t do since our phones have no transfer button), and outright anger since they confuse our inability to help them with an unwillingness to help them. In fact, some local IT shops specifically tell the users to call us directly and avoid the other options entirely, even though we have no way to help them due to our lack of access to many systems.

And yet, between this, the new management that has little to no clue what their doing, the utter lack of direction, being pulled in a half dozen different directions to do things I was never trained to do with programs I didn’t even know existed, the complete absence of anything resembling SOP’s, call lists, or any other written policies on how to perform this job (as well as many other things I haven’t mentioned), it’s no wonder most of the people in my group are actively looking for outside positions, dusting off their retirement papers, or otherwise loooking elsewhere for gainful employment.

The months of Hell

The last few months have been nothing short of baseball-bat-to-the-testicles hell at my day job.

Reason being, someone higherup the food chain than our division chief got it into theit head, without notifying us, clearing it with us, or even bothering to do much of anything else, that our entire department should be transferred from our current duties, and begin working major incidents. This all was because the contract for the people who were doin it previously wasn’t being renewed and they needed someone to take it over immediately, and hadn’t planned on anyone actually taking it over.

So you can imagine the chaos that took place. Literally, we all came in and discovered that the links to our normal dashboads were working with “Access Denied” error messages, we weren’t getting any of our normal email traffic, we couldn’t even log into our phones to contact each other. Our division chief gathered us together to let us know of the change the day after it happened, since no one ever bothered to even tell us (even our division chief until 9PM on the day it happened). So we were dead in the water as a department for a whole day before anyone even told us what happened.

And here’s the best part… the major incidents group was, and still is, a section of the Tier 1 Desk Monkey contractors that remained and were able to renew their contractors. So in essence, all of us who are full time employees working for the Uncle are essentially answering to contractors, ones who have proven time and time again that they have to rise multiple levels before we can consider them utterly incompetent. Currently, my direct supervisor is a contractor that’s been detailed to my shift, and he’s instituted policies which have been roundly groaned at. For example, every single call we get, we have to put a ticket in for it. The problem is, 99% of the calls we get, we have to tell the poor souls to call back into the Help Desk because they picked the wrong option on the call tree, all because these people want their passwords reset, they want a new mouse, their $hardware is broken, they can’t log in, and our team has no access to their accounts or to anything else at the local level.  The only reason they call us is because we’re the only people who pick up the phone in a quasi-reasonable amount of time, because local IT told them to, or because they think a password reset really is a Major Incident. But still, we have to put a ticket in for all of them, even if we just tell them to call the help desk back to pick Option 1, and not us. In fact, in the three months we’ve been doing this, call times to get passwords reset have gone DOWN to just over an hour. All because of the chaos that resulted from this whole contract kerfuffle.

And when we do get a call that is a justifiable major incident, whoever gets the call becomes the “Incident Commander”, even if they have 30 seconds left on their shift. And even though our team primarily consists of people who live in the Southeastern United States, the incident in question could theoretically be in Alaska, Guam, or any other US territory that has an office of ours. Oh, and did I mention that nobody even bothered to give us a list of anyone (or their contact information) that works for any of those other offices? And when our division cheif asked for it from the powers that be, he was told rather tersely to go find it himself.

That reminds me, we were literally given no SOP’s, no training, no lists of callbacks, no nothing on how to do our new jobs, and some of the issues we had to deal with have had a national impact, and in the case of one item I had to deal with just this week, cost millions of dollars in lost revenue, which doesn’t even take into account the sheer amount of overtime requred to get it back up and running.

This entire thing has been universally despised by our entire group, and two people have already quit. Three more are threatening to do the same, and another is in the process of retiring six months early. The only reason I haven’t left is simply because my side business isn’t making enough regular income to justify leaving just yet. Once I do though, I’ll be leaving with a quickness because this is definitely not what I signed up for…

And why do you think it would be overheating?

Client of mine, one who actually seems to understand about computers to some extent, got a machine about five years ago. Within a week it started overheating, so it went back to the builder. The builder couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it, he ended up holding onto it for about six months, trying to diagnose it. Eventually he just bolted more fans into it and called it a day.

About six months ago this client contacted me to build her a new machine. Basically a performance box with a nowhere video card… knowing the problem she’d had with her last machine, I loaded up the Mersenne Prime search program and ran that non-stop for a week. No problem, and the fans never seemed to get up past about half throttle. She was amazed at how quiet the machine was in operation… particularly since the old one had at least four big fans screaming away at full blast, and the new one was pretty much idling along with two.

Last week, the old machine finally died – apparently blew up a semiconductor in the power supply. She wants it repaired, so she can use it as a backup machine… so the first thing I do is yank the heat sink to see if I can figure out why it’s so hot. And it turns out it’s really easy to see – the builder had left the tension springs out. So the cooler was just sort of floating about a sixteenth of an inch above the CPU. How do you even do that?

So I got a new heat sink as well as the new PSU, and now she’s stunned at how quiet it is, how quiet it should always have been I guess…

I wish I could say the builder has since gone out of business. But no, he’s still handling computer needs for the company where my client found him…

Things you don’t say if you like your job

Apparently today some techs got fired. First one a 20 year veteran of the company was talking over an open radio channel and when he was asked to divert to another location, he asked why, when told it was due to management request he said over the open channel “I don’t give a crap what management wants”. Guy was escorted out by the owner less than 2 hours later this morning.

Then these other techs at our 2nd location decided at lunch today to swerve and almost hit someone, then swear at the person, call them names and flip them off. They were in the company car. Bad call guys, they were within a week of getting hired onto the company from the temp service, they were also escorted out personally by the owner today. Normally there is someone else that does that sort of thing, but the owner was at the office today and decided to take out the trash personally.