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This large organization has two kinds of workstations, reports a pilot fish there: the regular ones, and high-security workstations that, if they go down, people can die.

"Our contractor rolled out a change, possibly two changes, that broke the ability to log in to the high-security ones," fish says. "Customers are screaming. To make matters worse, the help desk is so backed up on other failed upgrades that the average time to answer is measured in hours instead of minutes as required by the contract.

"When customers are in the help desk phone queue, after 30 minutes a recorded message tells them they can send an email instead of waiting. Now the email queue is over 30 days long.

"We keep hounding the contractor to get the high-security seats fixed as soon as possible, but there seems to be no priority to the contractor's work.

"But we keep trying. One day we get one of the contractor's senior executives on one of our recurring calls. When we press them for some resolution, or even an indication that they are trying, the senior exec pipes up, 'This is nothing compared to when I was in the Navy and dropped a submarine in a dry dock.'

"Well, that was helpful. Can I use that line when it comes time for contract renewal?"

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