Doesn't that make you feel better about it all?

A few years ago, the company where this pilot fish works acquired another company, and today there are still two networks -- each of which fish must access through a separate VPN.

"In addition, we have an Internet help desk that primarily supports the acquired company's stuff and a national help desk that supports the original company's stuff," says fish.

So when fish's old VPN token for one of the networks expires, he is sent a new one with instructions to call the national help desk to activate the token.

Fish calls and gets an automated menu. But apparently something is broken, because none of the selections actually do anything.

Next he tries the local access number for the Internet help desk. Another automated system offers him the option to connect to the national help desk, where fish gets the same set of options as when he called the national help desk directly -- but this time it actually connects him to a human being.

"I explained why I was calling, and he told me that I had called the incorrect help desk," fish says. "He then transferred me to the Internet help desk. At this time of the day, the calls for that help desk were being handled by staff in India.

"I once again explained what I needed. From past experience, I knew they would not be able to help me directly, because they had access to some of the company's Internet VPNs, but not the one that I needed to access."

After several minutes of explanation, fish is transferred to a supervisor -- still in India -- who finally realizes that the Internet help desk can't help fish.

His solution: Transfer fish to the national help desk.

This is becoming a loop, fish thinks, and the only reason it won't become an infinite loop is because I will eventually give up.

Fortunately, he's wrong. The supervisor doesn't send fish back to the first level of the national help desk. Instead, he transfers fish directly to someone who works with the VPN fish needs to access.

"Once again I explained what I needed done," says fish. "He looked up my information and verified the token's serial number.

"Then he informed me that the token had been activated before they mailed it to me. All this calling had been unnecessary."

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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