"He'd take a printer down, and when the employee called to get it fixed, he'd do it from his cube and look really smart," the manager says. "He was doing this stuff every day, so he could spend most of his time either reading comic books or talking with his friends. We wouldn't have caught on, except one day he decides he really needs to be a hero."
The fatal flaw: "He thought he was really good at SQL, but he really wasn't," the manager says. "He tried to set up a problem on our financial database that he could then fix -- and he did it right as we were going through an audit, so he could look particularly heroic. He screwed up and corrupted the whole database. And because he was lazy, he hadn't been doing full backups for a while. We lost quite a bit of data, failed the audit, and had to spend a whole bunch of money getting everything fixed in a big hurry."
Moral: When your IT guy is reading the latest issue of Batman on the clock, you might want to double-check his work.
Stupid user trick No. 9: Let's get redundant in here
It pays to do more than just read the box.
"Four years ago, a few buddies and I decided to try our hand at running our own small-biz IT support company. It didn't work well, partially because we let our customers get away with too much just to keep the business," says one IT pro, now with a larger IT shop.
"A perfect example was this guy running a small real estate management office. We sold him on Small Business Server and made some decent per-hour money setting that up. But he was really tight and the SBS install was more than he expected. So he turns us down when we offer to set up extended services, like unattended backup, shadow copy, and shared files."
Instead, our real estate maven heads off to Staples to solve all his backup needs with a 500GB home network drive.
"He starts backing anything he thinks is valuable up to that drive manually. On top of that, because his company is pretty small, he doesn't have a lot of critical data to back up. So he makes one folder for his critical backups and tells his two bookkeepers to use the rest of the drive for 'live' data -- this with another 200GB just sitting open for file shares on the SBS server he already paid for. But hey, he's the client."
Yeah, the thing crashed.
"All of a sudden he loses all his backups and everything his employees were doing for three days prior, since he doesn't do his magic backup operation more than once a week. We get the phone call demanding that we fix the problem because it was our outrageous fees that forced him to do this. It shouldn't be hard, he says, because the drive was redundant."
On the drive over, our IT crew begins wondering why the real estate guy's second drive never kicked in.
"Once we get there, we find out that the box says the drive could be used as a redundant drive to other drives already on the network. Whoops. Now the drive is dead and all his data is gone," the IT pro says. "We sent the thing out for a platter-level recovery but only got back 60 percent of the drive and that took two weeks. And cost him another $1K, for which he blamed us -- right before he fired us."
Moral: It's not easy, but if you don't want to be blamed for user error, sometimes you need to lay down the law or walk away. And maybe not charge for every little thing just to chisel as much money out of your customer as you can. What? Did I say that out loud?
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This story, "Stupid user tricks 6: IT idiocy loves company," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.