Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Willful Incompetence

You know, I deal with a lot of stupidity in my job. Its part and parcel with Tech Support, and more so when your client is a major QSR (Thats Quick Service Resturant BTW which I think you can Parse from there). Hell, most days we joke that its job security. They keep breaking it, we keep having a job.

But if there's one thing that gets my goat its willful incompetence. Either on the part of a client, or on the part a fellow technician. As the head of the blog says I'm a Level 2 technician, what that means in laymans terms is I fix high level software issues, and in general have a very solid idea of how the system we support works, on all levels. Or, I'm very, very good at my job. Thats probably a little bit of pride talking, but there are very few issues I can't fix. And I like knowing that.

We have a few lower level technicians around here who know that this is true, and thusly they try to pull fast ones on me. They give me partial information, that makes it sound like A: they've done they're job correctly to this point and B: that they're completely stumped.

Tonight was an excellent example. Guy came over to my desk and told me he was getting an error message that basically means that the backoffice server couldn't communicate with the POS server (POS means Point of Sale, but if you think it means the less polite term, you'd be fairly correct too). I asked him some basic questions, including if he could ping the POS server from the backoffice server. He nodded dumbly and said he could.

So I headed over to his terminal and checked if he'd run a script we've created that gives you all sorts of data if the POS server is working. Look, he hadn't. So I ping 10.25. No ping.

He gets back on the phone, and low and behold its OFF. Gee - maybe if he'd done some of the most basic parts of his job instead of seeing if I'd do his job for him, we'd be good to go.

So, I head back to my desk, confident that this call will be corrected momentarily. That, was stupid of me. Twenty Minutes later he's back at my desk, with the same store, with the same issue. Site has an error message on the POS server now, which he lists as the "No printer Found" error. Its a legacy error that means nothing, since the software was designed to have a printer connected to that server, but no store does. You hit yes, and it goes away. According to him this is the only error they have and he still can't fix the communications issue.

Back to his desk I go. Terminal window up and I check a few things. Nothing seems to be wrong so I have him have her read the error message thats on the screen. Its a Fatal Application Handler message.

Now, here's where I'll be fair. My L1 techs can't fix that error message. Its not in their job description, its in mine. So at this very point, the call belongs in my hands.

*HOWEVER* This technician took an HOUR to diagnose a problem that should have taken 5-10 minutes, at which point he brings it to me and I fix it in 2 more. And the reason for this? I can only call it willful incompetence. This job is not overly hard or demanding. It IS stressful, and you do need to learn to hear what the store is not telling you, and work out the issue for yourself with the evidence presented. And this particular tech has been around, he's well past the barrier where he's just groping around and completely doesn't know what he's doing - and with some of the willfully neglected steps - the only reason is he felt like being lazy.

As House MD rightfully puts it, everyone lies. Stores do it to you all the time, willfully on occasion because they don't think steps X Y and Z are worth doing so they say they already did them, or because they're afraid that this problem will be their fault and it will lose them a job. (it really won't, we don't care what caused the problem, our job is to fix it. At least 99.99999% of the time, I have gotten someone fired at a client's site before, but thats another story) And sometimes its not willful because there's a language barrier and these folks just don't KNOW.

Stores do it to you all the time. Its part of the job, you learn to deal with it by thinking critically. But when TECHNICIANS do it to you, its extremely frustrating for me, and and moreso, for the client. Me, because I end up doing someone elses job, the customer because they sat around with an issue that should have been fixed an hour before.

Worse, now I have to write him up about it. All because he felt like being lazy - and with yearly merit pay increases coming up, thats going to negatively affect his pay - because it'll still be 'on his record' when they roll around.

But, I didn't make that call, he did - and now he has to suffer the consequences.

*mutters and wanders off*

-Jon

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