The curious case of the angry printer.

The curious case of the angry printer.

Hi all. Some of you might remember me from "I'll take the antenna down and Big Bad Badass Bastard Boss. Since they were well recieved, I thought I'd return with another good story.

This takes place early summer 2002, when I was working at the salt mine call center doing internet support - and first point of contact support for the ISP that did a lot of radio LAN back in those days (same guys as in the watertower story).

This is the tale of the angry printer. And no, not a networked one. Literally. You'll see.

I walk into the office at 07:55 Thursday morning to start the 08:00 shift, and read up on my e-mail. During the night, at about 03:00 to be specific, a customer to [Radio LAN ISP] have reported an issue. His Internet is down. Very well.

Me: "[ISP] support." Printer: "Hello, this is [owner] from [small printing firm FAR up north]. Our Internet is down. I reported this issue during night, but wanted to check if there's been any updates. Our customer number is [XXX]." Me: "Alright, hang on, I will check."

I check in the system. This guy has bought class 1 support. It means he pays a lot extra to have 24 hour guarantee on his connection. [ISP] is required to restore his connection within 24 hours. Not business hours. 24 hours. And we're required to tell him just that, and immediately report it to the technicians. Which we have done during the night.

Me: "Hi, I see that you have 24 hour guarantee class 1 support on your contract. I cannot see anything the techs have done yet, but your connection will be restored within 19 hours - 24 hours after you first reported it."

Printer: "Good. Please ask the technicians to hurry up. We got class 1 support because we need it. You see, we're a printing operation, and we take in all our printing materials over Internet. The files are about 1Gb in size, so our backup modem connection will not cut it. I have seven people standing around doing nothing because we have nothing to print. This is costing me a lot of money."

Me: "I will add this to the case and call the techs."

Printer: "Thankyou."

So, I update the case and give the techs a call. There's no reply, but I leave a message.

I return to work, and after lunch I hear that my collegue has gotten a call from the printer. Slightly more irritated, but till correct and polite.

Come Friday, and I get a call. Note that the problem, according to contract, should have been fixed by now. The case has been updated with 'tested - no contact with the customer's local equipment' but nothing more.

Me: "[ISP] support."

Angry printer: "This is [owner] from [small printing firm FAR up north]. Our connection is still down. The customer number is [XXX]."

Me: "Sorry about that, I'm checking now..."

Angry printer: "And don't tell me it will be fixed in 24 hours, it has already been more than that. I am paying seven people to drink coffee and read the newspaper."

Me: "Looks like they have tried to reach the local equipment..."

Angry printer: "I know that already. Have you done NOTHING since then? Tell them to get their arse out of the wagon!"

Me: "I will contact them immediately. It should be fixed within 24 hours..."

Angry printer: "Well it is not. Get to it! Goodbye!"

At this time, I was a bit agitated, but the customer had been correct and not irate, even if he was angry. So I updated the case, called the techs and left a message when they did not reply.

Then it was a sweet, sweet weekend with two full days of respite from the salt mine call center.

When I get back for the 11:00 shift on Monday, I get called to the teamleader almost immedately.

Teamleader: "[vonadler], we have a very angry guy up north called three or four times a day. You know the [ISP] account, can you check?"

Me: "Sure."

So I check. There has been no update from the techs. We have done our part - we have informed the customer that his connection will be fixed within 24 hours (as we are required to do) which seems to send him off into a spin each time, called the techs and updated the case. One of our guys have also e-mailed the tech lead of the [ISP] to inform him of the case.

Me: "Hey, [teamleader]?"

Teamleader: "Hey [vonadler]."

Me: "I checked the case. We've done everything that the contract say we should do and then some. It is [ISP] that has not fixed this guy's connection as they should have."

Teamleader: "Thanks, I'll call [ISP] and hear what is up."

Yet, the issue was not fixed that Monday. A collegue was thoroughly berated by the angry printer during the afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, the angry printer berated another collegue for quite some time.

On Tuesday afternoon, a tech from [ISP] got into a car to drive the 542 kilometers (337 miles) up north to where the angry printer's business was located. I worked the late shift (14:00-23:00) that evening, and got the call.

Me: "[ISP] support."

Tech: "Hi, this is [tech guy's name] from [ISP], I'm onsite in [town FAR up north]."

Me: "Hi. How is it going? Can you fix the connection"

Tech: "Unfortunately, we have a bit of a... problem. I can't get online. Can you update the case for me.

Me: "Sure."

Tech: "Ok, write this: We have a problem. We're going to need spare parts. BIG spare parts. The antennna has molten."

Me: "Molten?"

Tech: "Yeah, looks like it was hit by lightning or something."

So I update the case and call the angry printer to inform him that they are working on the issue.

Me: "They are onsite now, but ran into some problems at the antenna. They will be needing spare parts, but they are working on the issue as fast as they can."

Angry printer: "Yeah, they checked the equipment here, and it was ok. I figured something like that. They better have it fixed quick, it is Tuesday now, and I reported this issue on Thursday!"

But spare parts like that does not come quickly. [ISP] suffered badly from the dotcom crash and was close to bankrupcy. They did not have those parts on hand, and had to order them. Which took time.

And the angry printer called in. Three to four times a day, angrier and angrier, to the extent that we all feared any kind of call with his regional code. Other people who called in started to wonder why we exhailed with such relief when they brought up normal issues.

Two weeks after the initial report, I got angry printer on a call. The translation will not do his fury full justice, but I will try again.

Me: (cringing in fear) "[ISP] support."

Angry printer: "I am sorry for what I have to do now. You know who I am and what my issue is. When will it be fixed."

Me: "Within 24 hours?"


Me: "I will put this in the case."

Angry printer: "YOU DO THAT! BYE!"

This went on for another week before they managed to fix his connection. Three to four times a day. The worst part was that the customer was right. He had paid a LOT of money to have a secure connection with 24 hour guarantee because he knew he was dependent on his Internet working. The relief was massive when we got an e-mail from [ISP] saying the issue was fixed. Then, another week later, a call.

Me: "[ISP] support."

Angry printer: "You know who this is."

Me (cringing in fear): "Yes."

Angry printer: "Don't worry. I know it is not your personal fault. I just wanted to call and tell you I have terminated all contracts with [ISP], so you will not hear from me anymore. Bye."

Me (with extreme relief): "Thanks for letting us know. Bye."

We did the human wave to massive cheering all over the office. So loudly that even the managers came out of their offices wonering what was going on.

I can fully understand why that guy is pissed, he calls on Thursday with 24 hour support and doesn't get a tech out til Tuesday the next week?

I can understand the replacements taking time, but the poor guy didn't even get a diagnosis for 6 times his SLA.

Yeah, no kidding. All the guy wanted was what he paid for. And he was very reasonable about it, which is practically unprecedented.

He should have sued the crap out of that company. By any objective standard, he got ripped off.

Sounds like your colleagues really dropped the ball.

The case has been updated with 'tested - no contact with the customer's local equipment' but nothing more.

A premium paying customer whose service should have been up and running within 24h and you test once, notice there's a problem and do nothing about it? C'mon!!

Completely agree. Nothing OP could've done, but I surely would've been super mad as well. Could relate to the "We're downloading our files" "We have 7 people doing nothing" stuff.

It was the techs at the ISP. We were only the single point of contact for the cases. We did no tests or trouble shooting.

So they don't do their job but you eat the shit? Aw man... You should have passed on the poop: fling it at them!

If I ran a small business like the guy in the story, I most likely would have pursued legal action against ISP for breach of contract and lost revenue.

Yeah, we should have, but our managers would not allow it, of course.

"[ISP] suffered badly from the dotcom crash and was close to bankrupcy."

Although messing with your customers paying for premium support is certainly not the way to get yourself out of the hole...

I can understand that, pay for a premium service contract and get the runaround for 2 weeks ? I'd have cancelled that after 3-4 days personally.

Oh, this guy never wanted anything to do with [ISP] again, that much was clear!

I would have been furious, too. Calm, level-headed, working as best I could with what I had, but furious.

I've dealt with both sides of this one. I've had users, understandably frustrated, because their SLA was violated; I followed that ticket like a hawk, calling every 10-15 minutes to the proper areas if there weren't updates to the ticket (a ticket, I should mention, that the customer could see). I'd call the client back hourly with whatever information I could get. Saved my ass big time when they finally came back up, and there's a book of notes from me, and zilch from the other groups except what I pried from them.

Working for a client once with a similar SLA, it was like pulling teeth to get status updates. I was on-site for 4 hours (after their ISP violated SLA by 24 hours) calling constantly, and actually getting hung up on. Finally said screw it and kludged a Virgin Mobile wireless card and Cradlepoint router just to get them back and (minimally) operational. They didn't get really 'fixed' till 24 hours later, and I came and pulled down my kludge.

Requested the ticket log concerning the situation. The ticket I got was "Found Issue" 72 hours later "Fixed Issue". No indication of what the issue was.

Switched ISPs for them in 24 hours, as well. Had they just given me a legit ticket, detailing the problem in full and what was done, I could probably have saved my client as a customer for them; instead they shit on the customer, then insulted me.

So they basically paid to be told it would be fixed in 24 hours, regardless of reality?

Both. Combined with not really wanting to go up north to deal with it - I suspect the case was passed around as a hot potato.

But look at how long it took them to discover the antenna was down.

In this case, unfortunately. And the ISP would be responsible for breach of contract and could quite easily be taken to court for lost revenues due to said breach. The antenna having been hit by lightning... idk.

The fuck with the techs? Understaffed and busy or what?

I think he did, and he got some money out of it.

With that kind of attitude it is no wonder they were going bankrupt.

I'm also a printer. And know first hand the stress. The level of insult that was heaped onto this poor guy is hard to fathom. Paying all that money, not even getting a response for days too late. And not fixing it for several more days. I very well may have dug up an address somewhere and driven several hundred miles to wring someone's neck.

The ticket I got was "Found Issue" 72 hours later "Fixed Issue"

I hate this. Shows a real lack of respect for other people.

Because we had absolute instructions to say just that.

Sounds like what my parents would do (that last part about terminating contract) my parents think support will somehow rope in a deal for them when they say those "magic" words...I always face palm/head desk so hard i'm surprised my head isn't bashed in yet.

Definitely some terrible managing as well. If it was that bad, and you knew it, you should have had someone proactively sending that guy updates every day rather than making him call.

Nope, in Sweden.

Screw whoever the salesguy was, what they sold to the customer was impossible.

Why would you keep telling him "Within 24 hours"? Do you personally dislike this guy?

Totally agree with you. I feel this would have gone over a lot smoother if they had identified the problem within the 24 hour period, and then been apologetic about needed to get another antenna in. The customer already had massive patience in the first place, considering they were paying for this service.

But 12 days to finally get a tech out to discover the problem when paying for 24 hour guarantee? I'm not surprised he cancelled that contract.

This. I do callbacks all the time to let my customers know "well, we still need information from $groupname" or "here's the status on that outage, here's the situation". Most of the time when I'm proactive like that, my customers are happy.

Maybe for the time to get the parts and the repair, but not for the initial diagnosis and trip on-site.