Out of someone's mind, anyhow

This construction company does work at job sites all over the country, so the engineers have to be supported remotely. "It seems when people do not see you much, then you are out of sight and out of mind," says an IT support pilot fish.

One morning fish gets an e-mail request from an engineer at a remote job site, asking him to install an attached "license file" on a server, so newly purchased software can be used on multiple computers right away.

Fish looks at the attachment. It's a PDF file with an invoice and license key for high-end CAD software. He asks around; nobody in the IT department knows anything about the engineer needing or buying the software.

"So I gave the engineer a call," says fish. "He proceeded to tell me he found the software he needed himself. I informed him that just because the PDF file was located on the server, it would not give him access to it from multiple machines.

"The engineer described to me what the salesman told him: You can install a license for the server and have multiple machines access the software. The rest of the conversation between the engineer and the salesman we will never know."

Engineer sends the software to fish, who tries to install it on the server. First problem: The license key won't work, failing with the error message, "Key already in use." A call to the software vendor confirms that the software had been registered the day before -- by fish's company.

Fish calls the engineer again. Sure enough, the engineer installed the software and registered it on his own machine before contacting fish. Fish unregisters the key and tries installing the software on the server again.

That's when he discovers the license isn't for use on a server. It's for one user on one workstation.

"When we asked the engineer for all of the documentation he had for the software, we found he had spent over $15,000 on the software and $5,000 on software support," sighs fish. "All of which would not change the fact that he ordered a single-user license for one machine.

"Ultimately we told the engineer to pick a machine to use and next time consult someone before spending a lot of money for something that costs more than a vehicle owned by someone in the IT department."

Consult with Sharky about your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. I'll send you a stunning Shark shirt if I use it.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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