Support Calls

So I had a failure – Tuesday night last week, which caused me (forced me, really) to write this post:

I Miss the Good Old Days

Now in the grand scheme of things, it was probably a bit snarky, but at 4am I think I legally am not responsible for my actions.

But the bottom line is on Tuesday at about 5pm I called to open a hardware case.  Hardware.  The high-school kid who answers the phone routes me into the Software group.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s kindof the opposite of hardware.  (And no, if this kid was a college graduate, please god tell me what college he graduated from so i can forbid my son from going there)

2 hour wait for the call-back, 2 hours of trading email back and forth before I convince him this is a hardware case and to please route it to the hardware people.

He never does the transfer.

In the meantime, it’s about 2am and I go fix the bloody problem myself, restart my change scripts and all is happy.  I got home about 4 that morning after an 18 hour day.

Leap forward to Thursday night.  Same process, different array, same failure.  Now it’s 10pm and I call in and STRESS to the triage guy that this is a HARDWARE case.  He routes me to hardware.  75 minutes to call-back, 2 hours to fix the problem and step the script through to the end, plus I get handy knowledge like root-cause analysis and a set of steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

My point is this.  So many problem can be avoided if you simply LISTEN to the person who is calling in.  Assess their skill level and if someone asks to be transferred to a specific group (ESPECIALLY if he knows the actual name of the group he wants to be transferred to – means he’s done this before)

Long and the short of it was on Tuesday, a failed drive on the target array was failed when the script started.  This caused it to error out because it saw invalid tracks existing between the mirrors.

Same thing happened on Thursday, different drive, different symm, and out of 4,000 volumes it happened to hit a volume I was working with both times.

I should play the lottery…   You’ll know if I win too because my blackberry doesn’t work on the beach in Cozumel. 😉


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  1. Jesse mate, often the professional services guys working for the vendors and software companies dont even have a back route in to the correct people in support and often have to start by logging a call with the helpdesk and then battling with the first line fools.


    I usually detest opening support calls

  2. Rule of thumb is, if I’ve opened a support call, something has gone very, VERY wrong.

    In this particular case everyone goes through the same support lines and gets the same triage, so the PS guy and the CE get queued in behind the customers and so forth.

    In their defense, this is why the triage guys have it so rough. It’s left up to them to decide which ones know what they’re talking about and which ones are simply trying to sound like they do.

    • william bishop on March 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm
    • Reply

    Support is going downhill all around these days. I’ve got an IBM blade that’s been down for 5 months because I tried 3 times to put in a support call, got inadequate staff two times, the last time, the guy wanted to go through the script to troubleshoot the issue, to which I’m trying to explain to him, the chassis and the blade do NOT show any errors, the firmwares are all up to date, but unlike the other 100 freaking blades I manage, it PSOD’s after a couple of days. This happens to be a blade that they’ve already replaced the motherboard on before. I send him the extracts, and after a month of waiting, I’m beginning to think he’s forgotten…

    What the hell, I have a dozen extra blades, so screw it. I’ll mention it the next time my rep comes by, and he’ll get it fixed…but I swear IBM support has gone down the toilet the last couple of years….when I can understand them clearly enough to hear the flush that is (all of these guys named steve sure have a THICK indian accent).

    I’m sorry to hear you’re having that much grief out of EMC though, my support from them has actually been (surprise) better this year than last.

    • william bishop on March 25, 2009 at 5:23 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, talk about timing, up pops a feed, IBM is shipping a whole lot of jobs to india….Is it to late to move to HP servers I wonder?

    1. There is a reason my “” address has never worked. Someone in India screwed it up so badly that for years, and I mean literally YEARS no one has been able to fix it.

      The last attempt was about two months ago, when one of the managers said “I’m just going to have them delete the (three) seperate accounts you have out there and create one new one.”

      Two months ago.

      To All major tech companies. When you ship jobs overseas you screw yourselves. We can’t take you seriously when you hire people who don’t even reliably speak English to support the Americas. (Hiring Europeans to support Europe and Pacific Rim people to support their regions is one thing.)

      I also happen to know of at least one BIG deal IBM is going to lose out on as soon as I push the article you’re talking about in front of the right people. EMC will be a shoe-in for the business. Doesn’t pay to alienate the techies. Some of us take this whole recession thing pretty seriously, and it’s obvious by the fact that companies are STILL shipping our jobs overseas that the big companies..well….don’t.

      I hate to sound protectionist, but our economy kind of needs a little protecting right now.

    • InsaneGeek on March 25, 2009 at 10:06 pm
    • Reply

    Anymore I hardly ever open a call via phone. I open it up online via powerlink, attatch copious ammounts of info: attatch EMC grab and symapi logs when I open it (because they are going to ask). Dazzle the guy who looks at the queue with info and they seem to know to either not touch it with a 10 foot pole or go they ahead and they have the info already and don’t need to play the “run a collect script, send it to me and I’ll call you about it later”. I don’t put a bunch of BS in there (as I think the triage guys can sniff those out pretty well) but anything I think they might ask me for I try to get in there when I open it, which you can’t really do over the phone.

    I’ve found this works very well for me, not only for EMC, but any of the vendors that allow online ticketing. I’ve often been directly bounced to 2nd level support without even having to talk to the front line “have you plugged it in” flunky. I hardly ever get the guy who has to push it to backline engineering because he doensn’t know.. (but everyonce in a while I’ll run into the “config nazi” where I have to argue that it’s been working like that for 2 years configed like this and I won’t be able to change that value because it’s going to require downtime)

    What really annoys me is that for the sev 2 call back is basically always 2 hours. I understand that 2 is the SLA max limit for that type of case, but why is it *always* 2 hours. Not an hour, not a hour and half, but two the exact limit of the SLA. I hate opening up a sev 1 without actual downtime, but sometimes I can’t wait for two hours to get a script fixed when I have a limited time maintenance window.

    Also I use my sales team very well when I have a problem, something really bad happens… I open a case then I call my SE, sales guy who shakes all hell and creation for me on the backend. It’s amazing what happens when a sales guy see’s his account at risk due to bad support (i.e. EMC tech when adding drives plugged it into in the wrong DA line, terminating it incorrectly… not a good time). Additionally since support can sometimes go off and be a black-box while they “work on it” for a couple of hours, they keep me informed on the progress of things happening internally. Which keeps my management off my back, since I have something to tell them.

  3. I’ve been accused of using “Sev1” too freely. They say that if data isn’t lost or the system isn’t directly unavailable it’s not a Sev1. My take on that is if the particular bug is going to cause you to go long on your maintenance window, then yes, production is down and open it as a Sev1.

    Keep in mind that emails fly far and wide when a Sev1 goes out, and they will all have your name on them.

    But it gets the job done, and also gets you the hot transfer to a living, breathing, if not necessarily thinking, person.

  4. Companies who are listed on the US stock exchanges and sell to customers in the US and hence make money out of/take from US citizens and US companies have a RESPONSIBILITY to re-invest.

    You cant take take take and not give anything back and not expect to pay a price………

    When my bank in the UK shipped customer support offshore, i shipped my money to another bank who re-invested back in the UK economy (i speak to people in the UK when I call my bank).

    I also make damned sure wherever I work I do my absolute best to make sure that my team and the people I work with are the best, and hopefully the last they would want to offshore. Lazy and sloppy UK workers are prime targets to be offshored as the QOS wont drop by such a large degree.

    However, the people at the top of these companies do not care about the countries that they were born in, grew up in, and have built their companies for them. Sigh

    1. What drove me really nuts, on the note you made about banks ‘offshoring’ jobs. Was finding out that one of the US’s biggest sub-prime lenders, IE high-risk credit card debt, has it’s main call-center in india.

      Doesn’t that involve a pretty substantial security risk? I mean you’re making financial records and information on citizens available to people who can be bought cheap. *THIS* scares me as it’s a recipe for identity theft on a grand scale.

      Same thing with companies offshoring their internal help-desk. These are people who have access to names/addresses, etc of US citizens.

      Just food for thought.

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