Years and years ago, my home state decided to make a special Tax-Free week on computer purchases.  This was to help students, stimulate the economy, blah blah blah whatever.  As you can expect, the fish went nuts over this, and anyone who intended to buy a computer ever tended to wait until that weekend to do it.

What was it like?  I dunno, I didn’t work at Circuit City then.  But I did have the pleasure of being employed there several years later.  As in, well after the practice had been stopped and a new governor had been elected.  Fish could never get the concept that they’d missed the boat.

“So, when are you doing that Tax-Free thing again?”

“Probably never.”

“No no no!  You do it every year!”

“There hasn’t been one in several years.  Not since the new governor was elected.”

“Well, they should!”

“…Take it up with your elected officials.  They’re the ones who control sales tax, not us.”

“Maybe you should ask your manager.”

“My manager has nothing to do with it.  Unless the state says otherwise, we collect sales tax.”

“I’m pretty sure I saw something about it happening next week.  You should check.”

“Our computers automatically collect sales tax, so if a Tax-Free week was coming, I can guarantee you there would have been a notice pushed down.  But just to make my point…”  I open up a web browser and do a search for Tax-Free computer sales.  There are conspicuously NO mentions of it from any point less than three years earlier.

“Well… that don’t make sense.  I’m pretty sure there’s gotta be one.”

“Well, if one ever happens, I’m sure we’ll be ready for it.”

“Why don’t we just ring it up and you deduct the cost of the tax?”

“How about you show me where you’re going to find a better price on this computer in the first place, tax or not, and then we’ll talk?”

“Hey!  Well, if I don’t wanna pay tax, I can just get in my car and drive to Delaware to buy this exact same computer.  I won’t pay tax then!”

“That’s true.  And if you feel like gassing up and spending all day driving, feel free.  I can give you directions, if you’d like.  I can even check to see if they have it in stock.”

And with that, they’d go off to sulk about how I wouldn’t give them a huge discount on a computer they weren’t going to buy anyway.

Terror Calls, Chapter 3

You get used to a lot of moods when you talk to customers on the phone… anger, frustration, resentment… but it’s not often you get to talk to someone who’s just oozing pure dread.  This woman, from the start of the call, sounded as if a root canal would have easily been the better choice for her.  I wasn’t sure why, this was a fairly straightforward problem, seemed to be some kind of a signal issue.  I can even tell by the notes that she’d called in before and already did the troubleshooting, so I’m more than willing to bypass a lot of the basic steps and escalate her issue.  I’m thinking that by cutting to the chase and getting her a repair faster, I’d put her at ease.  Poor, stupid me.

“Okay, Ma’am.  I’d like to get someone out there as soon as possible for you.”

*sigh*  “Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Just give me the next available appointment.”

“Tomorrow between noon and two?”

“Sure.  Can you please specify that I get someone OTHER than the last tech who came?”

Aha!  So that’s the problem!  The last tech visit didn’t go well.  This isn’t a common request, but in these situations, the protocol is to list that in the notes and dispatch will take it into account when they schedule the day’s tech visits.  Now, allegedly, dispatch was pretty good about honoring special requests like that, but it was never supposed to be a promise or guarantee.  Given the extreme hesitation in the woman’s voice, I feel inclined to tell her this.

“Okay, I can put down a request for another tech.  Now, I don’t personally schedule them, but in most cases, it’s not a problem to get a different tech.”

“No, I NEED to have someone else!  The last guy made me feel very uncomfortable.  And I don’t want it to get back to the last guy that I’m asking for this!”

…. Yeah, okay, THAT’S going to be a problem.  I can request a new tech with a 99% success rate, but I don’t have anything at my disposal that would keep the old tech from knowing the request was made.  I can get her a new tech, or I can be discreet.  I can’t do both.

“Well, Ma’am, I’m happy to do whatever I can, but if I’m going to pull the tech off his route, I will have to talk to his supervisor.  There’s really no way around that.”

“The last time he was here, that guy made several comments about me, and how attractive he thought I was.  He kept saying he wished he had his digital camera so he could take some photos of me.  I don’t want to get him in trouble, but I don’t ever want him in my house again!”  Ummmm… why the hell wouldn’t you want this guy in trouble?  I’d want his termination papers framed on my wall.

“That’s very alarming.  I understand why you don’t want him back… and I’d be happy to accommodate you, but there’s no way I can do that without someone else knowing that the request is being made.”

“He upset my four-year-old by saying he wanted to take their mommy away.  Do you know what that sounds like to a small child?!!?!”  Um… yes, I do.  And again, why is it you don’t want this guy canned?  I wasn’t even there, and I want him canned!

…”Please hold while I speak to my supervisor.”  And my lead.  And dispatch.  And legal.  And the motherfuckin’ Justice League.

“Thank you.  Because I like having your service, but if you can’t absolutely, positively promise he won’t be the one who returns, I’m going to have to cancel.”

My supervisor eventually came to the solution of calling dispatch directly, and noting the account on the ISP end, rather than on the work order.  This wasn’t SOP at all, but it seemed to resolve everyone’s concerns.

Ugh… some people are too damn nice.

Guess you didn’t get the memo…

Today, I got a call from a Tier 3 Desk Monkey, stating a site was experiencing a major disruption and they wanted it elevated to my level for support. The Desk Monkey stated (and I quote), “A fax machine is down, and they’re claiming it affects patient care & want it fixed immediately.” I almost spit out my water when I heard that. I had to get the Desk Monkey to explain to me why a single person experiencing a problem with a single fax machine was of sufficient merit to warrant a call to Tier 3 Region-level support. He said the user dropped the “patient care” phrase, and even if it’s a bald-faced lie, they have to proceed with it. He went on to say the user was trying to send a fax to a number and the number was busy, so he called support, claiming it was a patient care issue. To his credit, when the Desk Monkey asked what the user was sending, the user replied that he was faxing a takeout order to a local restaurant.

Yes, boys and girls, you read that right. A single user faxing a takeout order to a restaurant called for help when the number was busy, instead of… oh, I dunno, calling the restaurant to place the order, or using this handy-dandy thing we know as the Internet to place an order online, and then claiming this was a patient care issue when their fax couldn’t get through. Guess they didn’t get the memo that we now live in the 21st century…