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User filed fake trouble tickets to take helpful sysadmin to lunches

Reg reader was shouted at for a problem the customer created, but won his respect and apologies

By Simon Sharwood, 21 Jul 2017

On-Call Hey, hey, it's Friday! Which means frolicsome weekend fun is just a day away … if you can survive work and this week's instalment of On-Call, The Register's weekly column in which we recount readers' stories of jobs gone weird.

This week, meet “Wayne”, who has an different sort of story because – unusually for On-Call - it ends very, very well.

Wayne's story begins with a trouble ticket asking for help with a server that sometimes switched itself off during the night. The server's UPS was utterly drained after these outages, yet it had been established that power to the building was not interrupted.

A couple of Wayne's especially clever colleagues had already checked it out, to no avail. Which made it Wayne's turn to try a diagnosis.

“I went to the customer and listened to all he had to tell me,” Wayne recalls. “He was really upset and it took me long time to calm him down before he told me what I needed to hear.”

Wayne's own observations could find nothing wrong with his colleagues' assessments. So he started tracing power lines.

The connection from server to UPS was fine. Ditto the link from the UPS to the power board … and then the connection to another power board. Wayne rightly disapproved of this arrangement, but figured it was a necessary kludge and kept following the wires until they went into a lowered ceiling.

So he started climbing until he found a power socket on the ceiling. Which he thought rather odd.

“Then it hit me,” Wayne told us. “The outlet was used for the lights. When cleaners forgot to switch off the lights there was no issue.” But when they flicked the switch they also, unwittingly, cut off the juice to the server.

A quick test later his diagnosis was proven correct. Wayne learned the problem was even the customer's fault – they'd moved the cabling into the ceiling for aesthetic reasons.

Which brings us to the happy ending.

Wayne says his customer gave him a nice bottle of wine and a lunch by way of apology. And then, every month for a while afterwards, “he would put in a (fake) trouble ticket and request me. Only to take me to lunch, knowing what crap I got almost every day dealing with customers.”

Has a customer ever apologised to you? Or offered you a tasty thanks for your services? If so, write to me and your story could become a future edition of On-Call! ®

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