Friday, August 14, 2009

Stupid service calls

I work in the service industry - the high-tech service industry. Part of my job is to provide support to all our users out there, people who are just trying to do their job when the computer system causes a hiccup in their daily routine. When a user has a problem, they open a support ticket. My job is to solve this episode of the hiccups, and if possible, prevent further ones.

Sometimes the issue in the ticket is so simple that I am left shaking my head wondering why the person with the 'problem' could not figure it out on their own. Sometimes the problem is already resolved by the time I see the ticket - in those cases, it was usually a matter of rebooting the computer to get things back to normal. And sometimes it's a 'local' issue, something that never should have been sent up to corporate to start with.

Thinking about all the types of problems I've dealt with, and the knowledge level of the users, it usually boils down to two things: a) inexperience and b) not taking the time to understand the issue. Many of our users have hectic days and heavy workloads, and they simply don't have the time to ponder on something and try to figure it out - it's much faster to open a ticket and let someone else handle it.

I'm just like our users in some things. I've innocently called service people to fix a very simple issue (in some cases it wasn't even an issue, I just thought it was). Here are some examples:

1. One night we were watching tv when we heard an intermittent squeak coming from the area of the tv. We got up and turned the tv off and back on (in those days there were no remote controls). The squeak continued, even when the tv was off. Must be something inside that was making the noise. So the next day we called the tv repairman, who came to the house. While he was working at taking the back off the tv, we heard the noise. The repairman looked up at the clock above the tv. The clock had a second hand, and every time the second hand moved over the '12', it rubbed on the number and made a squeak. 'Problem' solved. Sheepish grins and apologies, made worse because we knew the service guy personally.

2. One year we were doing a total renovation of the one and only full bathroom in our house. Somehow the hot water tank got completely drained in the process of turning water on and off. I used to soak brushes and combs in very hot water, and one day I noticed floaters on top that appeared to be swimming around. Geez - we had transparent bugs in the hot water! I guess I panicked and called the water company to come and check the hot water tank. Someone came to the house and I showed him the 'bugs'. The guy just looked at me and said it was residue from the tank that had been stirred up when the tank went dry. It wasn't bugs, it was specks of residue that made swirls on top of the water as they moved around. It would go away in a few days. He was right, and my face was red. But they did look like bugs!

3. Several years ago I called the service company because the central air was simply not producing cold air and was not shutting off. I figured it was out of coolant as it was old. The guy came out and tested the box - the coolant was fine. He checked the outside filter, and it was clogged with dirt, dust, grass, and bird feathers. The material blocked the flow of air into the machine, and the guy explained that the a/c unit was choking and could not work properly. The grate was one that could not be removed, and so the guy did his best to brush and scrape between the small openings, and left me with instructions to keep it clean. Then he checked the filter on the inside, and it was dirty too. The a/c is so old they don't make replacement filters any more, so all we could do was vacuum it and put it back. (before anyone says why don't I just get a new a/c? - it's a condo and is a combination furnace/air-conditioner that I don't know if they even make any more). The service call to have dirt, dust and bird feathers removed cost me $100.

4. When I bought the house in Mexico it came with a gas stove. I'd never cooked with gas in my life, and frankly, I was scared of it. One day we were having a party, and I was making scalloped potatoes. The first few steps of my recipe are done on the stove-top, and the final cooking is done in a pyrex dish in the oven. I preheated the oven as I prepared the first part of the recipe, then plopped the potato dish into the oven. I checked on the potatoes a few minutes later and was surprised to find the oven barely warm. With 20 guests coming, I needed the potatoes to serve so they were hauled off to a friend's house to be cooked (that is a whole other story). That night several of the men present took a look at the oven but none could figure out why the oven wouldn't work. With all their fiddling around, I was just glad nobody blew themselves up during the process. The next day I called the service man. I didn't speak Spanish, and he didn't speak English, but after quickly checking out the oven and seeing that it was working fine, he spoke enough English to tell me, "Up - Fire"..."Down - No Fire". The oven does not work unless the lid on the top of the stove is up. It's a safety thing. Explains why the oven worked fine while I was cooking the potatoes on top of the stove and preheating the oven - the lid was up. Being the efficient person I try to be, after I'd put the potatoes in the oven, I closed the lid, which promptly cut the gas to the oven. Santiago was not going to charge me, but he'd hauled all his tools into my house for nothing, and so I paid him a nominal sum just so he would get something out of it.

I'm sure Santiago returned home to tell his wife - "it's a local issue".


Life's a Beach! said...

Sue, I'm a confessed mechanical idiot. My brain just does not work that way! No way I would have figured out that oven without someone telling me!

Sue said...

Beck - I didn't feel that bad because quite a few people looked at it the day before and none of them figured it out either. I did try to look in the manual but it was in Spanish, and at that time it might as well have been 'Greek'.

Bennie said...

I remember that last one where the oven didn't work. I'd have never figured that one out on my own either.