So we have a contract here with a major north american photocopying/printer company who provides us with all our all-in-one printer/photocopiers. I won’t buzz market the name, but let’s just say I know you’ve heard of them.
These machines (excuse me, units) are really fancy. They scan to email, they photocopy, they print from public and staff computers, colour or black and white, you name it. They even have a little sensor in them when a tray is getting low on paper or if a toner cartridge is about to run out. Huge improvements over our old units, and we couldn’t be happier.
The only thing is that the whole “returning the cartridge” thing is kind of messy.
Let me explain.
The copier notices it’s getting a little “low” on the toner, and so it sends an email to the mother ship to let it know. Now, we’ve gotten smart here and ordered an extra cartridge in the mean time, so that when our machine dries up, we can slip in the new one right away, and then wait for the replacement one to come in the mail automatically, and the circle of life continues. Magic!
All we need to do is print a shipping label and call a courier to have them come and take the old cartridge away to a recycling facility. “Couldn’t be easier!” I can hear you exclaim, and you would be almost right.
The thing is, this shipping label can be a bit of problem sometime. You have to go to this special “portal” a.k.a. “website” set up just for our organization. You need to login. I tried this. I tried this twice, then three times. Each time it said that it was an invalid username or password. Now reader, you must believe me when I say that I KNOW that the password was correct. Without giving too much away, I sort of have a method to my madness when it comes to work related passwords, and it is fail-safe (or pretty darn close to fail-safe, since it sure as heck was failing on this occasion.) So I clicked a “forgot your password” link, the one reserved for old ladies and the deranged, (two of my favourite demographics here). And sure enough, they emailed me a new temporary password. You know the kind: “zu8^b9i3” for example. Well I typed this in once, and I got the “invalid username or password” warning. So I double-checked to see if the caps lock was on, or if I was hitting shift at the right time or what have you, and it didn’t work a second time. So I said, “Screw this” and I hit the “forgot your password?” button again. I didn’t forget my password. YOU did. YOU forgot it! I found myself thinking to myself as I typed in the second temporary password. Guess what, friends? You’re fucking right. “Invalid User Name and Password”, my old nemesis popped up again. Will you believe that I clicked that “forgot your password?” link again? Remember this all this was to do was to get into the “employee self-service” portal and print out a stupid shipping label. No luck again. I had two thoughts at this point. I was going to take a huge fucking magic marker and write in big block letters right on the box “TO THE RECYCLING FACILITY IN CALGARY, ASSHOLES!”. My second plan was even less useful, but way more satisfying. I was going to just take the box and go outside in the rain and through the whole thing, cartridge and all into our dumpster. Problem solved!
But I didn’t. I refused to be beaten by a fucking “customer service portal”. Portal my ass. More like a glory-hole of frustrated keystrokes, am I right?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that I clicked the “forgot your password?” button one last time like I was Guy Pearce or something and guess what? Yep. Fourth time’s the charm. It took it. I was in. But then the next step was that I had to immediately change my password to something more familiar. “With PLEASURE!” I thought to myself, and I changed it to EXACTLY the password that I tried in the first place; the one that the portal told me was no good. It took the password, so I’m good for another six months when another cartridge needs replacing.
I’ve been at this for about 20 minutes now, you understand. 20 minutes which I could be doing something actually useful, like helping a customer or weeding the art books or reviewing the schedule or something. The thing is, they like to keep this portal pretty tight, so only one person in the branch can have a username and password for it, and that’s me. Just one of the many perks of being the boss, I guess.
You’d think I’d be done, but this was just to get into the portal. Once in, I still had to figure out which shipping label was the most appropriate, and find the serial number of the machine, etc etc. What ever happened to just sticking a stamp on something? Oh, and I should mention that once I actually got to the shipping label section of the portal, I had to login in again. Secondary security or something. I mean, come on. You’d think they had Rob Ford’s crack tape hidden in there with all this security.
So to make a long story short, (too late! I hear the fan base shouting), I got the right label up on the screen and was about to hit print, and then I had a brainwave: why don’t I just print like 20 of these and then I’ll never have to “enter the portal” again, as it very much were? Brilliant! So I did.
I was gloating over my recent “man vs. machine” accomplishment to a co-worker and then she said, “Um, could I see those labels for a sec?” and I took one off the top of my stack and handed it to her.
“Um, these are customized, Trevor. Look: there’s the date, and the cartridge type and the time it is going to be picked up. You can’t reuse them, I’m afraid.”
So just like my password, I whispered “zu8^b9i3” under my breath (or something similar) and proceeded to make a whole bunch of scrap paper for the information desk.
Well-played, portal, well-played.