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The most annoying user type

I honestly think this is what bugs me more than any other behavior:
During design, user asks for [x]. You explain that [x] will cost [y], which they don't want to pay.
During beta, user asks why [x] doesn't work. You explain the costing issue again.
After delivery, user submits bug report stating that [x] doesn't work.

This isn't about contractual spec/delivery issues - it's about the user simply being a complete and utter numbskull. Not "the contract states that the product will do [x]" or having to say "it's not in the specifications" - it's the complete lack of awareness or respect on the part of the user - you've *explained* that they're not willing to pay for the functionality, yet they keep acting like your work is complete crap because this feature isn't implemented.

Yes, I understand specification documents, and yes, I understand managing user expectations. I'm just venting here because sometimes the user is simply an idiot.

If you're cheap you don't get to whine
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Do you have any documentation (emails, etc.) between you and the client, specifiying that X is a feature that will cost $A and that they chose NOT to do this?

If so, have you tried politely showing them the document?


Is the issue that they FORGET that X is a FEATURE they chose NOT  "Buy" or is it that they do not understand this in the first place.

Sometimes, I find it helpful to sort of play dumb and let the customer "explain" to me.  Example, customers who ignore our return policy and then try to return something AFTER the trial period.

I COULD explain our policy.  HOWEVER, it often works better to say "oh, you read somewhere that you could return it, right?  Can you help me find what you're referring to?  Oh, you read that on page X. OK, can you read me what it says, I don't have a copy in front of me. Oh, so it says "you can return it within 30 days, right".  How many days has it been?  Oh, 8 months? Gee, that's more than 30 days. Yeah, you can't return it at this point.

My
$.02 worth.

Entrepreneur
Thursday, December 18, 2003

It's that they forget, and the attitude that "hey this should work" when we have had explicit discussions where I have explained in no uncertain terms the way they have decided things will be.

It would be like buying a car and telling the salesman that you don't want to pay for a radio. "You know you won't be able to listen to music?" he says. "Yes, I know, but I'm not going to pay for that feature."

Then two weeks after delivery, you take the car in to the garage and angrily demand they fix the radio - it doesn't work at all.

I think what annoys me is a combination of the "forgetfulness" of the customer combined with the arrogance that it's *my* fault it doesn't work.

And BTW, it's often not just once - on one particular issue I've gotten FOUR bug reports - "is this going to be fixed any time soon?"

If you're cheap you don't get to whine
Thursday, December 18, 2003

This is common customer behaviour.

Your best protection, as mentioned by the previous poster, is to document all your meetings, conversations, etc., in eMail. Send the message to the person raising the issue, and your key contact in the customer.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Customer: "is this going to be fixed any time soon?"

You: "As soon as we receive a signed check for $20,000. How fast is your accounts payable department?"

Dreaming? :-)
Thursday, December 18, 2003

> - it's about the user simply being a complete and utter numbskull.

Absolutley agree.
I know it is my job to work around ti, and explain it to them etc etc, no need to point this out.
But sometimes it is like a brick wall. No matter how we clear up one matter, up comes another.

I am not writing software for anyone yet, but I am the IT person for a bunch of accountants (inc 3 partners). Partner number 1 quite often comes out of his office telling me he is going to fire the IT company that we outsource to.

Yesterday it was because it took him half an hour for an email to arrive from a client. He came and visited me periodically during this time as if I could reach into that great Information Superhighway and pull his email out.
“don’t we have ADSL?” he would ask, standing at the end of my desk.
“Yes, I would reply, we have it on the network, but our emails come via a standalone computer” I reply
“Well I have ADSL at home and I get emails to our desktops” he explains to me
“Yes” I say and wonder how to begin explaining to him that he accesses his accounts via pop3, and we are in the processing of looking into getting a static IP address so the email can be routed to us, dividing all the email to the correct recipient, but there is much hesitancy because you the partners only what about 6 people in the office to have email, and we are unsure if it is worth tripling the cost of our ADSL service provider just so we can have a static IP address, that and the fact we are waiting on a cisco firewall, which is on back order from the states and trying to sort out where our email actually gets routed to because it certainly does not come from the company that we outsource our IT to, and everyone including them seems to think it does. And I have explained all this to you in simple yet lengthy terms in the weekly computer report, do I have to explain it all to you again when I know that the only thing that will make you happy is reaching into that confounded box they call the Internet and finding your email!!!!!!

I don’t say anything, and he moves away. I go check the emails and it has arrived.

I know this will happen again, because last week after telling me he was firing the company we outsource our IT to, he told me he wanted to throw away the network, and the servers and give everyone a laptop. Did I begin to explain why this would not work? No, because I knew nothing I said would make him listen, ever.

He is the guy, who when we are in a meeting with reps talking about changing the main software we use to another company, he comes in an asks absolutley ridiculise questions, that leave everyone in the meeting thinking ‘what an idiot, does he know what he is talking about’, and me wanting to take him gently by the arm and steer him into another room like you would an ageing grandfather that has made a social blunder. Of course being that he is a good accountant and owns the place he gets this thing called ‘the final say’, we would all tread politely around as much as possible, and are thankful that there are two other partners that we can talk to a little more rationally……

Aussie Chick
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Did I just type all that?

I think it is time for a holiday!

Aussie Chick
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Hmmm.... do you have some sort of performance portion of your contract? I.e., something that says "I get paid when X, Y, and Z are done". Or "the project is done when X, Y, and Z are done" ?

Then, if they complain about a bug, ask what part  (X, Y, Z) they are referring to. "What specific THING did I promise you that you did NOT get?".

Perhaps, though, this is the general problem that the client doesn't realize that he's paying for STUFF (features). He thinks he's paying for a solution to a problem that is in his head.  "Keep working on it until I'm happy".

Entrepreneur
Thursday, December 18, 2003

The ability to translate complex technical issues (like Pop3 Email) gives you HUGE added value in the eyes of your employer.  It also helps tremendously with problems like this.

If the problem stems from your employer's ignorance, and you can enlighten him, you'll solve the problem, make him feel better about the problem, and increase your ability to guide him to solutions you want.

Most technical people can't do this.  It's a source of a LOT of problems.

You're writing on JoS, which indicates a willingness, and ability, to C O M U N I C A T E.  Now, if you turn that towards communicating technical issues to the great unwashed, it'll help EVERYONE involved.

Entrepreneur
Thursday, December 18, 2003

oh yes, I do agree.
Hence my weekly email reports to the people I answer to. It is me explaining the technical stuff that they are all paying for, in simple terms that they can understand.

This works for all but the partner in question, and while I always do my best, I think this is a long road. Also remembering that it is two sided. ie Its no good me talking if they won't listen.
While that may sound like an excuse, I think anyone trying to deal with real people knows people like this exist.

Though you make me wonder whether it would be worth booking some time in his diary to have a chat with him. Would it sink in???

Aussie Chick
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Just reread your post, it is interesting, I sort of slowly took over the IT role, and everntually spent a week in the IT cupboard throwing out old papers (ie an email saying that 10 years ago one of the partner's sons turned off a computer by mistake), and in doing so I found a couple of emails that an early person had sent to one of the partners.

I decide it was a great idea, and decided to send a weekly report to the people above me. (about 6 of them). Every other week on of the partners sends a reply (including the partner I mentioned in my previous post) telling me how wonderful the report is, and thanking me for all the work that I have done etc. One partner in particular, who never has anything to do with IT matters, but he always thanks me for the report, and even replies with comments sometimes. I know he feels 'in the loop' and he likes having an understanding of the situation.

The report did alot to life their opinion of me, and also helps stem any ill feeling when things are going wrong, as they can see all the work I have put in.

Aussie Chick
Thursday, December 18, 2003

So how's that shareware program coming along Aussie Chick?  (I think you were writing a program for college students?)

All I can say, Is that my life is pretty plain
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Its coming along well.

Surprisingly, since my darling workplace stuck me won’t give me any time off (despite the overtime I have pulled to get the computers up to scratch after being lumped with reception duties for 6 weeks)

Funny how easily setbacks come.
I had 5 days off work, and got a lot done, but without taking time off work it is very hard. Add to this I had my widsom teeth taken out, and the fact that we don’t have air-conditioning in our house (think aussie summer and you realise unless it is raining I am not going to get any work done after 12am), plus I have only been married six months so I want to spend time with my family.
Even that I spent last weekend rereading the first four books in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ so I could read the last two and then I would have read it before I watched the movie, I mean I could have been working, but really….

I don’t say this to whine (aussie’s are renowned whingers!!), just that is surprised me.

I am working on the project between Christmas and new year.
My goal is to be able to set up a stall at ‘Bond week’ a local university that has its orientation 6/7/8th January 2004.

Probably a bit close, and I had hoped to spend christmas planing marketing and checking on the progress of the website.

However I have found that having a tight (but generally realisitic) goal has helped me stay focused.

I mean, I could really set a goal of six months from now, or stay stuff it, it will be done whenever, and I think I would quickly find that I spent more weekends ‘vegeing out’, so the tight goals keeps me on the ball.


Probably a topic for another thread, at any rate, hopefully in a few weeks I will even be able to give you a look.

Aussie Chick
Thursday, December 18, 2003

Why do the 'typo' police never attack me? I always wonder this.

Aussie Chick
Thursday, December 18, 2003

They don't dare attack Aussies, Aussie Chick.

echidna
Friday, December 19, 2003

yeh! (Is this where I yell 'aussie aussie aussie'?)

Aussie Chick
Friday, December 19, 2003

So long as you do oi oi oi as well.

AJS
Friday, December 19, 2003

Just to commiserate with the original post....

The issue around here is the department heads will decide not to do [x] because of the cost or time involved.  We deliver the program as agreed and then spend months responding to the "Why doesn't it do [x]?" and "Shouldn't [x] be available?" which we get from the users.

Different constituents with different measurements of success.

Rob H
Friday, December 19, 2003

Is it the same person coming back to you as made the original agreeement.

What you oftens see, even in small organizations, is that somebody, often the IT guy, agrees to a specification, and then when the stuff hits the end users they play hell because the application doesn't do what is necessary.

I've been in a situtation where we perpetually had a spec thrown at us whenever we pointed out that the app didn't work. Our IT department and the contractor were in cahoots over this.

I just kept telling them what they could do with the spec because we, as the end user assessing committee, had never agreed to it and had been told that any spec shown to us was consultative and would be changed according to feedback.

Stephen Jones
Friday, December 19, 2003

These users are SMART. By acting stupid and being stubborn, they often get what they want.

njkayaker
Friday, December 19, 2003

njkayaker is on the money.

Just play dumb as well.

Tapiwa
Friday, December 19, 2003

Mark the bugs as not repeatable and ignore.

pdq
Friday, December 19, 2003

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