About a decade ago, I worked in IS. I did everything from programming nifty reports in an antiquated, DOS-based language to fixing toilets (because the IS department had screwdrivers handy for dissecting both PCs and toilets). Then I changed jobs and hats, and became "Just a User." Unfortunately for IS departments everywhere, that automatically makes me a Difficult User.
In my current Difficult User position, I work in the health care industry and run lots of reports from lots of software tools and morph them into something useful for upper management. For a particular vendor with whom we do business, my rep, "Johnny," would send me this specific E&P report monthly. The report contains historical spend volume data for all different lines of business with different manufacturers and is an integral part of knowing whether or not we're saving money. It got to be a big report, needed to be zipped, and subsequently got hijacked by our company spaminator on a regular basis. Because of our (highly legislated) sensitive data, our IS department does not bend very easily on security.
Now being a Difficult User, I began to resent the time I wasted just opening the report and decided to find a better solution. I talked to Johnny, who said, "you know, most of our clients go to our Web site and download it themselves." Well, OK! How come you didn't tell me that before?!
The E&P report has lines of detail that include four date fields. These fields should either be blank or have dates, based on the files Johnny provides from their system. The report was available for download in CSV or PDF. Since the PDF was huge and did not include the date fields -- which I needed in the first place -- I downloaded the report from the Web site in CSV format.
The date fields all said "NULL." (Not null as in blank, but the actual text characters "NULL.") But there really were dates for many of those lines, and they were present all over the vendor's Web interface as well as in Johnny's report. I told Johnny, and he said "e-mail Solutions@Johnny'scompany.com, there's nothing I can do." Ahhhhh, Solutions. What a great name for a department!
I e-mailed Solutions, with a copy of the downloaded report and a copy of Johnny's, noting explicitly what was wrong and in which fields. I followed up for 2 months. I finally got an e-mail that said pretty much "don't call us, we'll call you." I raised a stink, then my boss raised a stink, and we got it escalated to the VP of business development, who escalated it internally. Solutions then sent me an e-mail saying they'd sent the problem to their programmers. A week later, I got an e-mail from Solutions saying the programmers noted that the reports are the same, and that the only difference is that I'm getting more information.