“Tenacious” Is A Polite Word For Stubborn

December 4, 2006 | Filed Under Computers, Work | No Comments

This week I ran into a problem with a particular Microsoft desktop product. A certain feature wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. Everyone in our office group had the same issue except for the one person who was still at service pack 1.  It was patently clear that there was some kind of bug. (What, you say? A bug in a MICROSOFT product?! Say it isn’t so!).

So I went looking on the newsgroups, and found out that many other people had run into the same problem, and that lo and behold, there was a “hotfix” available for it from Microsoft.  Was this hotfix available for download?  No. You had to call MS support to get it. 

ARGH.

So I went to the MS support website, and followed the maze o steps to get my “one free call” from support (otherwise one has to shell out $35…) The site graciously checked my product ID and announced that MY support had to come from my laptop supplier because the version of the software I had was an “OEM” version – installed by the hardware vendor. That supplier was IBM.

So, I called IBM at the number listed – they were good enough to provide that.  And got punted around to the PC support group (who said they didn’t support desktop software -only hardware), and then to the Server support group (who said they only supported server software and not desktop software), only to be disconnected in the middle of the conversation.  I then called back and got ping-ponged several times again, before I gave up in disgust.  If Microsoft’s slogan is “Where do you want to go today?” then IBM’s must be “You can’t get there from here.”

I called the Microsoft support number directly.  I was not foolish enough to select that keypad option for “if you have software that came pre-installed on your computer, press 1″…. Ah no – I know where THAT would get me – back at IBM. No, this time I went directly to the option for help with a Microsoft product.  After giving all my particulars to the person who answered the call, I explained the problem.  They put me through to another support person who asked that I explain it all over again.  It was really clear he had NO idea what I was talking about and was about tell me to do a series of pointless tests. I ran circles around him verbally and convinced him that I needed a particular hotfix.  He opened a case and sent me an email with details on how/where to download it. 

I installed the hotfix only to find it didn’t solve the problem. 

Double ARGH.

But I wasn’t about to give up. Armed with my trusty-rusty “case number”, I called Microsoft back.

I got through to someone who, after hearing my very lengthy tale of woe, made me call the Canadian support line, where I was introduced to yet another Microsoft person who got to hear the story all over again.  When she took the call and opened with the perfunctory “How are you today?”, I responded, “I’m in technical support HELL”.  There was a long pause.

“Well, let’s see if I can help you.”

Now, to their defense, most tech support people have to deal with complete and utter idiots phoning in.  As one instructor put it, “the only people who call customer support are LOSERS and POWER USERS.” (In case you were wondering, I fall into the latter category).  So when my latest MS support person started asking what I knew to be irrelevant questions, I cut to the chase, explained exactly what the issue was, and made it clear that I had already tried everything she was about to suggest.

From there, we went through a round of emails and voicemails, where I followed various instructions in an attempt to find something that might rectify the problem. I had to satisfy her that I had tried all of the prerequisite reboots, restarts, patch removals and other sundry tests.  Of course, SHE didn’t have the same problem with the software, so it made it even worse.  The one thing that impressed me, however, is that for the first time in my dealings with a customer support organization, I received an email with the person’s full name, her office extension, and the same detailed information for her manager.  I have had to demand a manager’s name on more than one occasion from other companies, but this is the first time someone gave that to me willingly, and without my asking. It was just a standard part of her email signature.

At this point my boss became convinced that it was not something that could be resolved. He made a bet with me that I couldn’t get it fixed before 5pm on Friday.

I don’t think he has any idea how bloody tenacious and persistent I am. ESPECIALLY about software, and especially when a bet for honor and a bottle of wine is on the line.

At 3pm Friday, in the middle of a training course, I received another email with another hotfix.  I installed it, restarted, and LO! the feature we needed finally worked! Of course I let out a loud “YES! YES! YESSSSS!” cheer, which only received groans from my co-workers, and a strange look from the instructor – who later said that people in our particular profession have the attention spans of a ferret on cocaine. (We didn’t disagree). 

To my boss I sent an IM saying “I like Merlot or Shiraz.”

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