No, I will not pay the bill. Why? Because we pay you to fix things, not break them

Just because the client touches a computer doesn’t make a mess their fault

On Call As the holiday season nears, prepare for the smaller celebration that is the end of the week with another edition of On-Call, The Register's weekly walk through the worst of the world of work.

This week, meet "Brad", who sent in a story he says has haunted him for over 25 years. Such is the anguish he suffered after the email server he oversaw started to slow down, and a warning light suggested one of the drives in a RAID set was the reason for the freezin'.

Brad's workplace had engaged the then newly combined Compaq/Digital to provide hardware support. When the warning light was followed by a dead disk, he invoked the support contract and waited for a technician to appear.

Said worthy arrived and Brad was appointed his chaperone, so showed him to the stricken server in the expectation that replacing the deceased drive would see the RAID array rebalance itself.

The Compaq chap asked Brad to pull out the disk – an act Brad obligingly performed.

Note, dear reader, that this story is more than 25 years old. And in those far-off days, when plug and play was young, just yanking out a disk was not recommended procedure.

Brad did exactly what he had been asked to do. That he should have done something else first was something that should perhaps have been made more explicit.

Things went well … for about 20 seconds.

"The server then promptly fell over, as in shut itself down, taking all our email services with it," Brad recalled.

Brad asked what happened next, at which point the visiting tech absolved himself of all blame.

"It was you that pulled the drive out!" cried the person who had ordered the drive to be pulled out, who then failed to provide a fix.

Poor old Brad ended up pulling an all-nighter to restore email service and his colleagues' inboxes.

Fast forward to a week into the future, when someone from Compaq/Digital called with a job reference number and a question: "To whom should we send the invoice for the work carried out on your email server?"

Brad replied with the strongly expressed sentiment that he should be billing Compaq, not the other way around. He then observed in clear and succinct terms that when one pays for tech support one expects support personnel to know, remember, and implement disk dismount procedures.

"We never heard about that invoice again and never saw that Compaq engineer again," Brad recalled. "And the room got really quiet when this happened. I think I raised by voice a bit."

Has a tech support incident ever made you bellow with rage? Or have you ever dodged a bill for terrible service? If so, revisit the moment with a bit of digital primal scream therapy by clicking here to send an e-mail to On-Call and your take might appear here on a future Friday.

No tale is too small as we plot the return of On-Call snippet roundups for the silly season. ®

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