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Journal NoMoreNicksLeft's Journal: Workplace absuridities as phone support for a DSL ISP. 16

This journal entry isn't about customers that call in, despite the numerous ijits out there that deserve to be mocked.

No, it's about the company I work for, specifically the bosses.

Yesterday, I recieved an email saying that "Firefox is on the list of banned software, and there will be disciplinary repercussions if anyone is caught using it."

Nevermind that all our webapps suck ass, or that I've spent time on and off the clock for the past 3 months, in between calls, trying to make it work with them. Bless you, greasemonkey.

Don't even consider, that on average, my calltimes have to be at least 1 minute shorter because of firefox. I have a single window open, not 20 IE windows. I've not only fixed the webapps, but extended them... when I pull up your phone number, I see all the information that I'd spend the next few minutes (and in a few select cases, the next 15-20 minutes) looking for in a mix of shared drive documents, webapps, and even printed out documents. That one CO location with the abbreviation that doesn't match its name, and since everyone on night shift has only been there 2 months, they can never figure out which... our main webapp now sports a button that I click, to log into it. 15 minutes reduced to 3 seconds.

If you've wandered through our phone menu and gotten lost, I can see immediately if you have our dialup or dsl, or if you're just a telephone only customer... I don't waste the next 60 seconds figuring this out before I transfer you.

So, why would this be a problem? Well, apparently, I let the wrong person test an older version of the greasemonkey script that even makes the webapp work at all. And it opened a ticket, but didn't save the comments. Now mind you, you only have to re-edit the ticket, add them again (and the guy should have noticed, it doesn't whisk you away to another page, it shows the saved ticket there after saving it). Also, consider this: we screw up alot of tickets. On average, a dozen a day, I'd think. Someone using IE forgets to put his comments/notes in, or schedules the wrong person to work on it, or doesn't send it back to the company that wholesales the phone lines when its their problem.

We screw up hundreds of tickets every year. The first one ever screwed up by firefox, because I didn't quite fix the webapp perfectly on one of the earlier beta greasemonkey scripts, and firefox simply can't be tolerated.

So, I go and ask my boss (think her title is Director, never spoken to her before) if she could spare a few minutes to talk to me.

I'm polite, I don't start screaming, or spouting ideological rhetoric. I simply state that this would be a hardship, and would impact my productivity. I explain how the enhancements I've made improve my calltimes, how I've got literally dozens upon dozens of saved passwords in firefox (that IE doesn't save), that I'd spend the next couple of months having helpdesk change for me, or that I'd have to look up in documents no one can find.

What do I get? Do I get anything like the minimal respect that a 30 yr old man is entitled to? That a human being is entitled to? How about because I'm a worker making shit wages who took it upon himself to actually try and improve things there, even just a little? No. I'm treated like a child in grade school. This from a woman that can't be 5 years older than I.

"Now I hate to do anything that would decrease your productivity, but I can't very well let you use it and prohibit it for everyone else."

This is ridiculous. She can say that. She's not giving out candy to kindergarteners, she is saying which workers can use which tools. At construction sites, do you have one guy whining that he wants to use the crane today, that Jimbob got to use it yesterday? Fucking ludicrous.

Side note: She thinks that "E" is the name of the web browser we are supposed to be using, because of the icon...

Finally, I somehow manage to pour more on, without whining (imo). She relents, and I won't be written up as long as "there's not another single incident of it creating a bad ticket".

So, I investigate a little further, after our talk. Seems it was just as I describe, it didn't save the comments (if indeed, he simply didn't forget to type them in). It didn't create some invalid ticket that fucked up the database, and it was caught that very same day.

There are several problems here:

1) A director managing a technical department that knows so litte, she can't name the web browser she uses.

2) The applications department isn't giving us the tools we need to do our job.

3) Making your own tools isn't praised as resourcefulness, it's punished for a single instance of a flaw that is so trivial that the triviality can not be over-emphasized.

4) This proclamation/rule/policy implies that my calltimes aren't important, and the corollary that our abandonment rate is not important either. That has a corollary too, which is that helping our customers isn't important... if they hang up before I can talk to them, then I'm not helping them.

5) It suggests that the managerial groupthink tends towards something I would describe as "militaristic", that is, it is more important I do what I'm told, rather than I've given a problem and left to my own devices to solve that problem.

6) It never ocurred to her that if it can reduce my calltimes, with as much experience as I have (seniority in just 6 months, kind ridiculous eh?), then it might also improve calltimes all-around, especially for the new guys. Not only would I not have to put a customer on hold every 30 seconds to answer them when they ask which CO an abbreviation is (they'd just click that button), they wouldn't have to put a customer on hold to ask me.

7) They're (by this, I mean the director and 2 supervisors) concerned with calltimes and abandonment rates, but only have managerial talents at their disposal to solve those problems. Not only do they not have the technical talent to solve these problems, they can't even recognize technical solutions when they see them.

I don't work here by choice, I'm paying down 5 figure credit card bills from when I was unemployed. Last payment is this month, after which my girlfriend and I will be debt free. My other job pays better, is telecommuting, and I can work in my underwear if I so wish. I don't know if I will continue to work the second job (would be nice to actually put away some savings for once), but the real question is, how can I?

Next time you're on hold for an hour because your DSL is down for the third time in a month, remember that your ISP chases away workers like myself.

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Workplace absuridities as phone support for a DSL ISP.

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  • Could you possibly explain what a PADT tag is and why a D-Link router I have to support keeps droping connections because of them?
    • PADT is something we don't deal with. Has to do with PPPoE. My guess is that the Dlink PPPoE implementation is buggy as hell, but that's just a guess. For static IPs, Dlinks seem to be the best around. Linksys routers on static tend to stop passing traffic after a few weeks or months of uptime, I suspect they do so even more than I've seen, but it's random drops here and there, so less noticeable. One call I took, was failing to pass any 6x.x.x.x traffic, no idea what was going on there, reboot fixed it tho
      • Thanks for the reply.

        I was thinking that it was a Dlink thing as well. That's what most of the web has been concluding.

        Unfortunatly, I don't really have the time to figure this all out. It's volounteer, and they are switching to my companies point to point wireless service anyway.

        Thanks again!!!
    • Because I'm not a lawyer, and I'm uncertain just where the line is drawn for libel or other similar actionable things.

      Even if I knew where the line is drawn, it seems companies manage to sue and win well before it is reached.

      And, if you really, really must know, shouldn't be too much trouble to figure it out. But I'm not going to help.
  • Hey there- Just a note of support. I work in IT as well, but in a consulting position unrelated to your field. I've been impressed by the few phone reps I've encountered in my life that resemble you. The funny thing is, their defining trait isn't even the technological prowess you seem to possess. It's just their demeanor and their ability to meet my needs. Plain and simple.

    I get DSL service from my phone company, and couldn't be less satisfied. I have dealt with a constantly-dropped connection for

  • That sort of behavior isn't unique to helpdesk. Humans are, after all, just large primates. You have an alpha male brain and that is threatening to all of the also-rans that end up in managerial roles. They will *always* prefer failure to listening to someone with a slot lower than theirs on the org chart.

    Nine days ago I was standing in an office with no DSL service. The company had been down for four days, the technician had just told me that we were 20k feet from the wire center, the test set would
  • I had similar problems, and I was working in a freakin' PUBLIC LIBRARY...

    I was the one and only, sole, lonely tech person in the place. I was underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated. Never mind that I taught myself my whole job (went from neophyte to self-taught Linux/OSS evangelist, etc.), even before my job existed officially. Ack, so much I could bitch about...

    Anyhow... Not much I could do about any of that, so when my frustrations finally spilled over into an email to my fellow adminstrators (libr
  • I worked for a Transportation Company in the Operations Department. It has alot of the same management issues. I ended up leaving due to illness after their FMLA obligations were fulfilled. Not saying much coming from a "Christian" based business. It's hard to work for something you believe in when the rest of the team including the top tier execs don't want to actually help anyone besides their pocket. I wish I could work jst in my underoo's, but I haven't been able to find a job yet that can pay the
  • Next time she's out on vacation, install Firefox onto her machine and install FireFoxIE [] which makes it look and act pretty damn close to IE. Change the icon so she gets her "E" back, and wait. After a couple of days, you have two choices:

    1) Saunter into her office one day while she's browsing the web, and happen to "notice" her IE doesn't look right and do a Help->About to reveal it's really Firefox. Make a big to-do about how she's using a tool banned by the company. Make sure your coworkers can

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson