The printer parade
The second replacement printer arrived -- with a damaged paper tray, which was one of the same problems that plagued my original printer. Again, I called and explained the problem and why I couldn't use it. I had them send another printer.
At the same time, I'd thought through a way to get what I needed. When they asked about the return labels and why I hadn't sent the original printer and the first replacement, I replied, "I'm not sending anything back to you until I get a working printer, or enough pieces and parts to build one that works out of the junk you're sending. I am holding the printers hostage until I get one that works. And yes, you can put that in your report."
The next one arrived, and again it didn't work. They asked me to send the other printers back, but again I told them I was hanging onto them until I got what I needed. The next printer arrived, again not working properly but had some pieces that I could use. I did the same with the next specimen. For those keeping track at home, I was now in possession of five faulty printers.
But I was in business by that last unit. I'd finally amassed enough pieces to assemble a working printer out of the tangled messes they had shipped to me. Why didn't I ever receive a printer that didn't need any fixing? That's beyond me and sadly par for the course for this corporate office.
Get the message
Besides getting my department the printer we needed, my multipart plan had another effect on the company. As I held these rather expensive printers "hostage," people in the workflow chain started wondering what was happening and turned their attention to the laziness (these printers hadn't been properly tested and inspected before shipping) and lack of communication (the immediate supervisors were unaware of these failings) that fueled the problem. Supervisors and managers called me to ask what was going on, and they listened to my responses.
This incident rose to the top quickly, and the company took steps to improve operations in the corporate IT office. In addition, I implemented my own measures to make use of my newfound reputation for tenacity and doggedness. I asked one of the IT people to put up a sign that read, "When [location X] calls, just do what he says." They agreed to it, and it saved us all a lot of time and headaches in the future.
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This story, "Hand over your printers if you know what's good for you," 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.