'I need a new smartphone! My old one, uh, broke'

When IT hinted it would replace BlackBerrys, employees at one company turned into clumsy, scheming butterfingers -- then reality hit

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The IT department would log our observations and send the report to the purchasing department. The user's request was approved if their complaints were legitimate -- some of the 4-year-old BlackBerrys actually had issues. However, if the user couldn't make a good enough case, their request was denied, forcing them to play hardball to get their precious smartphone.

"Yeah, I dropped my BlackBerry in a glass of iced tea, and it doesn't work anymore. Can I have a new one?"

"I accidentally ran over my BlackBerry with the lawn mower and now it doesn't work. Can I have a new one?"

One device looked like the user had deliberately smashed it with a hammer: "I accidentally dropped it. Can I have a new one?"

Such blatant scheming and destruction took the purchasing department by surprise. At the same time, users needed a functioning device, so at first their requests were granted. The purchasing department started planning its own counterattack, but the situation worked itself out soon enough.

To put it succinctly, the new carrier sucked rotten eggs. Despite the optimistic coverage maps, even right in the middle of the city their service was horrible. Rooms in the building where the old carrier worked fine were now dead zones. Salespeople in the field had to drive miles out of their way to get a signal.

En masse, users quickly realized they had made a horrible mistake and begged IT to be switched back to the old carrier. This involved an early termination fee, plus the expense of setting up a new line and new device with the old carrier -- entailing about $500 for each person.

Low-level managers who couldn't make a good enough case for switching back had to deal with the inconvenience for the duration of the two-year contract. However, the company had no choice but to switch back high-level execs and field salespeople who lived and died by their BlackBerry. In the end, what was intended as a cost-cutting measure took a toll of at least $10,000 on the company's bottom line.

For the IT department, we were glad the tech envy had subsided, leaving us to slog through the workload that had piled up. But some important lessons were learned. For the director of IT, it was to negotiate a better escape clause to a contract. For the purchasing department, it was to revise the policies of using company equipment. And for users, it was that newer is not always better.

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This story, "'I need a new smartphone! My old one, uh, broke'," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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