Monday, March 14, 2005

Help Desk...

I just had a Dilbert moment...  You see my IBM notebook has been acting strange so I figured I'd submit a case to the Borland Helpdesk.  Well we've outsourced our IT operations to an external vendor (why?  I won't go into that...), so I go to the help desk website which promptly redirects me to an external site. 

So I try and log in using my normal user name and password.. unknown user.  I try my email address.. unknown user..  Different email address... unknown user... “Forgot my password” selected, enter email address... unknown user..  rats..  so now I am forced to call the help desk.

If you read my post about a call to MS support, then this tops that one.

Support (with Indian accent):  Hello. Borland Helpdesk.  Last name please.
< normal identification handshaking sequence now takes place >
Support: So, how can I help you today.
Me: I can't seem to log into the helpdesk site to submit a case.
Support: Have you logged in to the site before?
Me: No.
Support: Hold on, please.
< long pause >
Support: I need you to submit a case to the server team to get your password reset.
< Did I just hear that right?  I am suppose to submit a case to be able to submit a case??!! >
Me: Uh... excuse me.  Who is going to submit a case?  You are submitting a case for me or am I suppose to submit the case?
Support: To the server team, yes.
< Panic beginning to set in... Infinite loop ahead, please divert now! >
Me: OK, I need to clarify this because it is just sounding way too Dilbert for me!  I can't submit a case because I can't login.  Or are you submitting the case for me?
Support: No sir, I've submitted the case and the server team should contact you shortly.
< Whew!  I was about to have coniption.. >
Me: Oh. OK.  That sounds fine.  Thanks.
Support: Thank you for calling the Borland Helpdesk.

Now I don't know if the help desk dude caught the Dilber reference or not... or even if Dilbert is even widely known over in India (I'll have to ask Ramesh..).  But as soon as I heard “ need to submit a case to the server team..” all those “no company can be that stupid” Dilbert comics came flooding back into my head... I mean, I even have one such Dilbert comic just like that taped to my door with the smug indication of that “never will that happen here” intent.  Clearly, there was a communication gap here since English was not this supporty guy's native language.  What I think he meant was that the “proxy” me needed to submit a case, not the actual me since it was clear that I could not.  Nevertheless, it was a jarring experience..

Next up... the server support team calls.  Tells me to use my email address as the user name... I thought I did that... Oh.. use my new “official“ email address, not the one I'd been using for over 10 years!  Arghh!!

Fine, I entered that email address and it sends me this funky mess of a password.  I enter it and am now greeted with a “your password has expired“ message. So I need to change it.  Fine, I enter my normal email password.  Wrong!  It doesn't meet their requirements.  Grrr..  Ok... hmmm... must be eight characters, at least one digit, and no character can occur more that twice... ok.  My normal password fits that... no wait... it violates one of those rules.  Great!  Now I have to enter a new password that is some strange variation of what I normally use, but it will be one that I'll never remember.. so what do I do now? I commit the cardinal sin of password rules.  I write it down! How secure does this stupid thing need to be?  We're about to find out...

Next screen.  Please select six (count them, six!) challege/response questions!  Huh?  Holy cow!  This system is turning into Fort Knox!  Fine.. so I start.  Hmm.. Mother's maiden name... check.. Brand of my first car... check... High school I attended... check... Favorite color... check... Favorite author... check... Favorite holiday... check.  Submit... grind.. grind.. grind... wham!  Same screen comes back with an error.  “Responses to the challenge questions must contain a minumum of five characters“  But my favorite color is “blue!!!“  Who decided on these rules?!?!

I'm not kidding!  This is going on right now as I write this post!  So, now I need to change my favorite color... How about “grey“!  You stupid site!  Try red! @#$^%!!!!! Arrrrghhhh!!!  How about...  Azure! That's blue, right?  Right.. and I'll remember that... yeah, sure...  Pardon me while I go do something more fun and productive... like go slam my hand in a car door!!  Geez...  Oh, yes.. its Monday...

Oh.. BTW, I went ahead and syndicated the entire content of this post based on some reasonable feedback from folks regarding only syndicating excerpts.  I still would request that you at least hit the actual site often as well.