AGW #31: The Last Rant
Author: JonnyGURU
Date Posted: April 3rd, 2002

I would like to announce that there will be no more rants.

Some have compared what I had written to Bastard Operator From Hell. I'm flattered, but either these people making this sort of comparison have not really read BOFH or they really haven't read my rants.

Scary as it may sound, the people in my rants are very real. It's hard to believe, but the situations in my rants are real. And just as in real life, I never called anyone a name or expressed that I ever "hated" someone for simply being ignorant or stubborn. There's enough hate in this world, I don't want to add to it. As long as I am under the impression that people understand my rants as an expression of hatred towards people, then I'm going to cease going in that direction.

Sure it bothers me when people feel that they have nothing better to do then to argue with me about something they know little about. I wouldn't be human if this didn't at least bother me. But what good is going to do to "hate" that person. It doesn't even help me to hate what they do or how they act.

If you get mad at getting stuck at a red stoplight, does it turn green any faster?

If you were to get stuck behind an old lady doing 20 MPH with her turn signal on, does getting mad make her go any faster? Of course not.

I certainly have my share of dealing with people that are angry. I deal with people who are upset because their computer parts don't work and I'm the first person that they're going to call meaning I'm likely going to be the first person that they are going to direct the anger of not having a working PC at.

Often, these people are so upset that reason completely flies out the window.

Not long ago, I had a customer that had accidentally received a motherboard that another customer had returned to my work. This was not a good thing.

I don't know how this might have happened, but it's regrettable. Perhaps a customer returned a motherboard saying that he simply "didn't need it" but in fact had used it to some extent and then returned it and the person at work that had received the motherboard back did not inspect it very well before accepting the return.

It really doesn't even matter how it happened, because any attempt to explain it would be a "dog ate my homework" type of lame excuse.

Needless to say, this customer was a bit upset. He claimed that the motherboard was not only used, but it didn't work either. In reality, whether or not the board worked was a moot point. He should've never gotten a used board. Arrangements were made to get him out another board.

Things spiraled out of control when the customer called back claiming that the new board that was sent to him did not work either. He had assumed that because this is the second board that he had received that did not work (no telling at this point if the first one worked or not), that it too must be "used".

When it was explained to him that the board was probably not dead and that he was simply doing something wrong preventing the board from functioning. Of course, to the ears of an already disgruntled customer, the implication that he was doing anything wrong sounded like we were accusing him of sabotaging his own board.

What sense does that make?

If you were to put down the Jack Daniels, crack pipe or whatever your vice is that prevents you from thinking clearly and look at the situation for a minute, why would you sabotage your own motherboard? No reason, right? Ok then, why would someone else accuse you of sabotaging your own motherboard? What would there be to gain from doing so?

Of course there was no point in arguing the matter. The damage was done and this guy was not listening to reason.

This lacking of simple, logical thought process is the same reaction I get when I send a component that I had tested as good (like 60% of the stuff I get back) back to a customer that had sent it to me in the first place because he or she could not get said part to work.

The customer calls. "You sent my motherboard back to me."

"Yes, I did." I answer.

"You didn't replace it!" the customer claims, "It doesn't work!"

"It worked for me." I respond, "Hope you figure out the problem."

"The boards dead! You didn't even test it."

Ok. Stop. Reason has just left the building.

If you're going to send me a motherboard claiming it was somehow defective, what incentive do I have to just bounce it back to you without testing it?

My company still has to pay freight to ship something back to you, so why ship the same board back to you when I can ship you a new board?

Perhaps I didn't have time to really test it so I assumed that there was nothing wrong with it and sent it back?

Because at least 60% of what comes back to me actually works, despite what the customer says, it sounds like pretty good odds to just assume that the product coming back to me is going to work. But when what's at stake is going to be a person calling me on my phone screaming at me that I sent the same dead part back to them, they're not odds I'm going to want to play with.

If I didn't have time to test the board, I'll just send out a new one and call it even. I can always test the board later, and if it works, I can always find a use for it. Knowing a customer is going to call me back pissed off because I sent the board back to them is just going to soak up more time that I don't have.

Another example of people lacking common sense and reason is when a person who is not too computer savvy is on his second or third motherboard and is still under the assumption that the product really is bad and that he couldn't possibly be doing anything wrong. Eventually, this kind of customer wants to return everything and they make the statement, "You guys sell nothing but junk! I'm not buying anything from you ever again"!

Yes. We sell junk. Everyone else sells the good stuff that we just opt to not get our hands on.

I'm being sarcastic if you couldn't tell.

If you think about the customer's statement and know anything about the computer industry or even retail, it doesn't make sense. How is the Microstar brand motherboard, for example, that we sell any different then what any other company sells?

The accusations made by disgruntled customers that simply can't make their parts work are very outlandish. Some people even say things like "you must get all of the returns from all of the other stores." Wow! Then we sure did a good job of making it look like a brand new board! Even if this was feasible, is it worth it for a measly $100 motherboard?

Of course, the real answer is that this particular customer has no clue as to what he's doing and will run into problems where ever they go, but the truth is that they thought this would be an easy endeavor and it wasn't and I was one of the moving targets working at the first place he decided to buy computer components from.

I'm not saying you have to be a brain surgeon to figure this stuff out. But at least have some common sense.

Sometimes the answer to our problems is right in front of our face and we don't even know it. This happens all of the time, but is not a big deal if we simply know how to handle it.

This week, I had a customer that was complaining of their PC locking up during POST. They had sent the motherboard, CPU and RAM back to us. The power supply and video card were bought elsewhere.

Needless to say; when everything was here, everything worked fine.

When he got the product back, he was still having problems. He called and I walked him through a few things.

First off, he had PCI cards installed in the machine, all sorts of drives, etc...I told him to unplug everything. He fired it up the way I told him to have it and the PC still locked up.

Fair enough.

So now we've got the PC down to a motherboard, CPU and RAM that was tested good and a power supply and video card we know nothing about. Let's try the video card first and then the power supply.

Swapping out the video card didn't help, so it was on to his power supply. He had to set the phone down to swap this power supply out with one from another case that he laying around.

As the phone was lying on the customer's desk, I could hear him talking to his wife. "I think there's something wrong with this motherboard, but this guy wants me to try all of these other things. I'm just going to humor him until he's willing to admit that there's something wrong with the motherboard."

I don't honestly think he knew I could hear him. I mean, here I am insisting that the problem is not the board because we tested it and it worked here, but he's telling his wife that despite this, the problem is still the board and that he is merely going to "humor me" until I am willing to admit this.

He swapped out the power supplies, got back on the phone and fired up the PC.

Sure as shit, it locked up.

I told him to hold on while I thought a moment. We tested the motherboard, CPU and RAM and it was all good. He just swapped out the power supply and the video card. The hard drive works in another PC. What's wrong? What is wrong?

The heat sink!

"Sir," I begin to ask, "isn't it true that we have eliminated all part except for one and that one part is the heat sink?"

"I suppose." He replies, "But it's installed correctly. I've already gone over that with one of your guys."

"I know. But if you have a different one, I would like for you to try it instead."

He does try another heat sink and it actually fixes the problem. "This is great! It's booting up into Windows and everything! I guess there's something wrong with the surface of this heat sink I was trying to use! I'm in Windows and everything! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!"

Meanwhile, I'm whacking myself in the head with the handset of my phone because I just spent the last 30 minutes troubleshooting with a guy and his problem turns out to be a $20 heat sink fan.

At least the problem wasn't the motherboard!

I had another customer this week that was worth of ranting about. He had bought one hard drive enclosure and three caddies, just over a year ago. This drive enclosure and the caddies were made by a different manufacturer then the ones my workplace currently carries. They are physically interchangeable, but apparently are somehow wired differently.

This customer bought three more caddies for this "older" enclosure. Needless to say they did not work. Now, I don't know who gave him the RMA to return these, but the customer exchanged these three caddies for three more.

I had the pleasure of speaking with him after the sixth caddie did not work. Unlike the person that spoke with this customer before, I knew that the problem was that the caddies were not defective, but rather not compatible with his older drive enclosure. This took a bit of convincing for the customer has he was honestly under the impression that he had received six bad hard drive caddies in a row!


I also get the type of customer that is hopelessly incompetent but keeps coming back for more.

One gentleman in particular stands out with me. He's a very egotistical gentleman, but has every right to be as that he really is very intelligent. He writes software and manuals about writing software for a living. I'd say that makes him more accomplished than I.

When it comes to computer hardware, however, he's a little less than competent then the average bear and him and I always butt heads because he has to prove that because he is so much smarter than I am, that I couldn't possibly tell him how to do things.

Then why does he bother calling?

Unlike my previous examples, this gentleman doesn't place blame on our company selling faulty parts or that tech support ships product back to customers without testing them first. He's already bought parts from 50% of the vendors on Pricewatch and still manages to return 25% of what he buys.

All by himself, this gentleman has come to the conclusion that computer components simply have a 25% return rate by nature. When I try to convince him that the actual failure rate is only actually 3% across the board in this industry, he starts giving me examples as to how he is smarter than me and that I must be wrong because I am inferior in intelligence.

I've learned to not fight him anymore and actually look forward to his calls as a source of humor in my day.

Basically I'm saying that I believe that people just need to think before they react.

Most don't.

I admit that I really have to do the same myself. I have written what rants I have written as a way to release stress. I didn't mean for people to think of my rants as a sign of hatred of my job or of people. I've gotten used to the customers and have been able to turn most situations around with a simple, "what's it going to take to make you happy" before the situation explodes into something that is worthy of rant material.

Perhaps this is the "last rant" because I don't want to be conceived as an angry person anymore. Perhaps this is the last rant because I am managing to eliminate the source of all of my material...