Author Topic: Engineer's Disease  (Read 13424 times)

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Offline SL4P

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Engineer's Disease
« on: July 11, 2014, 10:26:57 pm »
After 40-odd years, I've ony just realised that I caught a very serious condition some years back.  "Engineer's Disease"

My symptoms are that i can't sit back and watch equipment, processes etc - not work properly.  Whether it's a fault, design flaw, or process failure.
I have to examine and fix/replace or re-create it.   A strong compulsion to make things work they way they should - often in my own time.

f course I learned many years ago - to work where possible with non-destructive development - often in parallel by recreating the problem in a test environment.

The problem for me is - that having been employed for many years here in Australia, and overseas at quite high levels, I'm not working for the last couple of years, and the current risk-averse hiring environment doesn't like people that think independently.  Just do what you're told!

Back in 2001, I created a product, marketed it, and formed a company with a 'colleague' - after we were established with several million in global sales, he was kind enough to swindle me out of my share in 2008  - through two shrewd moves - he's a business man, and I have Engineer's Disease (sucker!).

I have tons of experience, skills and indeed tools and original IP - but that's not what corporations are looking for. Especially over 50 yrs old.

Share your thoughts.
I know this is a it of a rant, but I'd like to know I'm not alone.  I feel it!
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Offline bwat

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2014, 10:40:27 pm »
I have tons of experience, skills and indeed tools and original IP - but that's not what corporations are looking for. Especially over 50 yrs old.

Managers see only problems and they are conditioned to view these as people problems (they are managers of people and budgets so the solution must be better people or better budgets right? God forbid the solution should be found outside their remit!). Can you not pitch your skills as an alternative to their typical employee (young and cheap) who aren't giving them the results they (actually their superiors) demand? That's how I'd attack it.

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Offline 22swg

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2014, 09:11:05 am »
I understand your condition, I always said there are talkers and doers , unfortunately the talkers use and abuse the doers , I was lucky to retire at 55 after 30 years in IT service, ok not EE but the same applies, my advice take up gardening... :)
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Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2014, 09:31:26 am »
Also known as The Knack:


I delete PMs unread. If you have something to say, say it in public.
For all else: Profile->[Modify Profile]Buddies/Ignore List->Edit Ignore List
 

Offline Electronics-Repairman

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2014, 09:43:24 am »
 My only problem is seeing some supposed engineers taking a long time and waffling on with simple easy repairs, making it sound like they've  done something wonderful when they've clearly stumbled on the fault, and clearly having still no ideal what it was , by which time we have all clocked off and gone home :palm: , there everywhere Work ,You-Tube, ,some even have You tube channels   :-DD :-DD you can't get away from tem. :-DD
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 09:47:12 am by Electronics-Repairman »
If it's highly recommended, then  I'm not interested.
 

Offline bookaboo

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2014, 11:10:13 am »
In it's advanced stages Engineers Disease leads it's victims to set up their own firms, producing high quality products and services but having no interest in any of that boring sales/marketing/admin stuff. Meanwhile those infected with the "Greasy Annoying Overconfident Bullshit Happy Know Nothing Salesman" virus do likewise and snap up the whole market.
 

Offline dannyf

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2014, 11:57:24 am »
A few things engineers tend to suffer from:

1) trees vs. forest: to many engineers, engineering is the most important. They don't see nor do they recognize the importance of marketing, sales, industrial design, etc., in the success of a product. They don't understand "big pictures".

2) comprehension: not only they tend to have issues with understanding what's being said, they also have issues with understanding what's not being said.

3) absolutism: to them, there is one way (=their way) of doing things. anything else is just plain wrong. engineering is almost a religion to those folks.

They sound very "common sense" but may not be common sense to some engineers.

That, in my experience, is preventing many engineers to be as successful as they could be.
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Offline 22swg

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2014, 01:34:04 pm »
"the Knack"  :-DD   

Where would we be if not for engineers , still in caves !
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Offline mtdoc

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2014, 10:48:37 pm »
Also known as The Knack:

Very good!

But not to be confused with  The Knack..

« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 10:52:44 pm by mtdoc »
 

Online mrflibble

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2014, 11:18:32 pm »
 

Offline Stonent

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2014, 11:34:33 pm »
I find myself actively trying to find problems or trying to come up with parameters to monitor that could indicate a future problem and addressing it before the problem occurs.

So as a result of that I keep everything running smoothly but since nothing is breaking someone could easily say "well why do we have x number of people when there is hardly anything breaking?"

One example is I ran a script the other day that scanned the event logs on all the non-server computers at our site looking for disk or file system errors and scheduled a chkdsk on all of those computers. Now I just need to go back and see if there are still errors being logged and if the computers are in warranty, have the drives replaced.

I'm also responsible for ensuring 95% of all client PCs are fully patched each month so I spend a lot of time running reports forcing computers to check in for patches and e-mailing people asking them to reboot if they haven't since the patches installed. As a result my division (1400 computers across multiple sites) has met this metric consistently for about a year whereas it seems to be hit or miss at other sites.
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Offline silent

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2014, 07:55:55 am »
I believe it concerns every passionate in a greater or lesser extent, younger ones and the older ones. That's what pushed me out of the corpo very fast. I started a work in a big international corporation on my 3rd year of studies and that was absolute opposite of what a future engineer wants to do. A good place to start, learn how to work in teams, see how the corporation works, but definitely not good place for a passionate in a long term. Sitting on the street with a "Will program for food" label on a cardboard or even f*cking gardening would be more interesting than working in the shitty corpo  ;). Maybe that's why we have so many startups or small companies (I also work in one).
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2014, 09:11:51 am »
It's certainly true that engineers regard the technical quality of a product as being important above all else, but there is a good reason for that which I think does go beyond the blinkered stereotype.

The reason? Nobody else does.

Plenty of other people in the organisation are interested in whether it looks nice or comes in a pretty looking box. Others are concerned with whether or not it ticks enough boxes in a feature-for-feature comparison with a competitor.

It's not that the engineer doesn't 'get' this stuff, or recognise its importance. It's that the people who don't understand the inner workings of the product tend not to give it the attention it deserves.

That's not their fault at all, but it does mean that the engineers are the only ones who can champion technical excellence in a meaningful way. Because that makes us different, it becomes the thing we're known for.

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 11:59:46 am »
Plenty of other people in the organisation are interested in whether it looks nice or comes in a pretty looking box. Others are concerned with whether or not it ticks enough boxes in a feature-for-feature comparison with a competitor.
In my previous job, we made an alarm system. After it was finished, we had to sit back because it wasn't HEAVY ENOUGH. We put a freaking sealed lead acid battery in it, then it was ok.
The other (different company) time I saw a customer inspect our goodies.
"Thick steel and nice screws. The labels are also nice"
"Please take a look once at the noise" points the engineer at the scope
"Yeah, it is very silent" after listening for it for a second in the air
 

Offline dfmischler

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2014, 12:30:58 pm »
"Thick steel and nice screws. The labels are also nice"
"Please take a look once at the noise" points the engineer at the scope
"Yeah, it is very silent" after listening for it for a second in the air

This is how it is.  A friend of mine works as an engineer for the local public water authority.  He says, "It doesn't matter how well the system is working.  When the politicians come to 'inspect' it all they want to see is that it is clean and not leaking, and that the people all look busy.  They don't understand the water quality testing, etc."
 

Offline sunnyhighway

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2014, 12:42:30 pm »
The other (different company) time I saw a customer inspect our goodies.
"Thick steel and nice screws. The labels are also nice"
"Please take a look once at the noise" points the engineer at the scope
"Yeah, it is very silent" after listening for it for a second in the air

I guess that's why they are called customers instead of engineers.
If you don't have the knowledge to asses the technical quality, all you can do is try to perceive the quality by assessing the the quality of the product properties you do understand, and hope the overall quality is more or less the same for the entire product.

I tend to look at it as if I were to try to asses how safe a car is by closing the door.
If I hear a nice thud like sound it must be a safe car and if I hear a kloink like sound it probably isn't a very safe. 
 

Offline dannyf

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2014, 12:49:31 pm »
Quote
I guess that's why they are called customers instead of engineers.

Who's paying for the product eventually, the customers or the engineers who designed the product?

Maybe then it will become clear who's really smart, :)
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Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2014, 05:05:10 pm »
The other (different company) time I saw a customer inspect our goodies.
"Thick steel and nice screws. The labels are also nice"
"Please take a look once at the noise" points the engineer at the scope
"Yeah, it is very silent" after listening for it for a second in the air

I guess that's why they are called customers instead of engineers.
If you don't have the knowledge to asses the technical quality, all you can do is try to perceive the quality by assessing the the quality of the product properties you do understand, and hope the overall quality is more or less the same for the entire product.

I tend to look at it as if I were to try to asses how safe a car is by closing the door.
If I hear a nice thud like sound it must be a safe car and if I hear a kloink like sound it probably isn't a very safe.
I would agree, if it would be a microwave oven. But it was a test equipment, which costs a bit more than the car the guy arrived with.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 05:07:32 pm by NANDBlog »
 

Online HighVoltage

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2014, 07:49:27 pm »
What would our modern world be, without engineers and scientist?

But those who are not an engineer or familiar with science, usually can not even
contemplate what it takes to solve a complicated problem.

I have seen it so many times, that the respect for engineers in general is dwindling away.
And then so many companies in Germany are looking for engineers and can not find enough.



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Offline AG6QR

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2014, 01:40:25 am »
One symptom of one form of engineer's disease...

As an engineer, when I go to Disneyland or any other amusement park, I pay lots of attention to how they do the things they do.  The strobe effects, the use of polarizers, Pepper's ghost, the layout of queues for people waiting, the electrical cables, the locations of restrooms (always nearby, but never prominent), the audio systems, the use of forced perspective, the ways of handling crowd flow, the mechanics of rides, the safety devices on rides, the ways of hiding big rides in big buildings with only a small decorative entrance visible to the public, all the technical details.

Sometimes I wish I could just sit back and enjoy the show, but it's just not gonna happen.
 

Offline Dave

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2014, 04:48:09 am »
I caught The Knack before I was born. When my mom pushed me around in a stroller, I used to lean over the bar and watch the wheels spin. I was intrigued by every single machine imaginable. Steam engines were my favorites when I was in kindergarten, I had the whole mechanism figured out.
I've played with Legos A LOT. I built all kinds of wonderful complex machines and that eventually lead me to Lego Mindstorms. This was the toy that helped me discover that instead of mechanical engineering, I was born to do electronics.

Hopefully my kids (someday) will be into Legos as well, so I can play with them again without being judged. ;D
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Offline pickle9000

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2014, 05:22:25 am »
One symptom of one form of engineer's disease...

As an engineer, when I go to Disneyland or any other amusement park, I pay lots of attention to how they do the things they do.  The strobe effects, the use of polarizers, Pepper's ghost, the layout of queues for people waiting, the electrical cables, the locations of restrooms (always nearby, but never prominent), the audio systems, the use of forced perspective, the ways of handling crowd flow, the mechanics of rides, the safety devices on rides, the ways of hiding big rides in big buildings with only a small decorative entrance visible to the public, all the technical details.

Sometimes I wish I could just sit back and enjoy the show, but it's just not gonna happen.

That is enjoying the show.
 

Offline SL4P

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2014, 07:48:45 am »
One symptom of one form of engineer's disease...

As an engineer, when I go to Disneyland or any other amusement park, I pay lots of attention to how they do the things they do.  The strobe effects, the use of polarizers, Pepper's ghost, the layout of queues for people waiting, the electrical cables, the locations of restrooms (always nearby, but never prominent), the audio systems, the use of forced perspective, the ways of handling crowd flow, the mechanics of rides, the safety devices on rides, the ways of hiding big rides in big buildings with only a small decorative entrance visible to the public, all the technical details.

Sometimes I wish I could just sit back and enjoy the show, but it's just not gonna happen.

I know exactly what you mean - and it can be socially isolating - simply being interested i the 'why & how' - not just the 'what' !  I guess we're nerds.
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Offline 22swg

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2014, 08:34:37 am »
Disneyland...  :--  not for me thanks . could not think of anything worse...
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Offline dexters_lab

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2014, 08:50:37 am »
Similar issues here but i mostly get annoyed with poorly designed websites, way back 10+ years ago used to write them and it bugs me when i see sites that have issues that i could have solved back then!

Classic one in case the other day, site wanted a uk postcode, which is usually two letters, two numbers a space and a number then two letters like AB12 3CD. This site reported an error to the user to enter it without the space. So someone had gone to the effort to code in to check for the space and then report an error to the user! FFS they were just one more step away from removing the space character in code! Just a few lines of code to make life better for the end user.

Cheap chinese products also annoy me, when they needlessly skimp. That $1 they save by not fitting a couple of extra components can make a good product a complete fail.
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Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2014, 12:06:11 pm »
I find myself very irritated when someone comes to see me at work to "tell me about their products" but who clearly just wants to sell them and has no idea of what he can offer other than the spiel he has in front of him.
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Online mrflibble

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2014, 12:17:15 pm »
Sometimes I wish I could just sit back and enjoy the show, but it's just not gonna happen.
But you are enjoying the show, it's just a different one.
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2014, 04:41:56 pm »
I find myself very irritated when someone comes to see me at work to "tell me about their products" but who clearly just wants to sell them and has no idea of what he can offer other than the spiel he has in front of him.
I think one can still keep his honor after hiding under the desk from a salesman.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2014, 05:23:12 pm »
Well had a guy pop in on his way to london who kept banging on about their ability to make custom military switches when all I was asking about was standard switches that did not cost the earth and had decent lead times.
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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #29 on: July 16, 2014, 05:38:15 pm »
Well had a guy pop in on his way to london who kept banging on about their ability to make custom military switches when all I was asking about was standard switches that did not cost the earth and had decent lead times.
So tell him the switches are budgeted at XYZ. If he can provide custom blah switches within that budget then great. If not ...  :-//

Why let a random sales droid enthusiastic sales representative be your problem when there are much more interesting problems to chose from?
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #30 on: July 16, 2014, 05:39:29 pm »
Well in my definition of a problem, he's not a problem, just a nuisance  :-DD
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Offline SeanB

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #31 on: July 16, 2014, 05:49:46 pm »
Cold calling salespeople are always there, the trick is in getting to the point, then disengaging. Those who call from call centres tryimng to seel insurance or credit cards i tend to have very short shrift for though, especially if calling from a private number. A special pox on those who are using junk VOIP with echo, delay and a bandwidth close to zero and a high noise floor.

A placing into an iron bull for those scammers trying to install malware on your computers, and who call you at 11PM. I have learned a few Urdu swear words for them.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2014, 05:51:26 pm »
This.

I don't think most people understand that some of this are more or less doing this ALL THE TIME with everything around us.

I can't even remember ever going to a rock concert without giving some thought to the sound system. The other day I was on BART (the local transit system) and was wondering about the power electronics and control system, especially given the different sounds the motors made at different power levels. I actually Googled it and learned more when I got to my desk.

I do wish I could turn it off sometimes.


One symptom of one form of engineer's disease...

As an engineer, when I go to Disneyland or any other amusement park, I pay lots of attention to how they do the things they do.  The strobe effects, the use of polarizers, Pepper's ghost, the layout of queues for people waiting, the electrical cables, the locations of restrooms (always nearby, but never prominent), the audio systems, the use of forced perspective, the ways of handling crowd flow, the mechanics of rides, the safety devices on rides, the ways of hiding big rides in big buildings with only a small decorative entrance visible to the public, all the technical details.

Sometimes I wish I could just sit back and enjoy the show, but it's just not gonna happen.
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #33 on: July 16, 2014, 05:52:48 pm »
Part of the job is working out who to invite into your office and who to refuse, and doing so in a way which doesn't offend or close off avenues which you may need to explore in future.

Normally I simply explain that I prefer to meet if, and only if, I have a specific product requirement at the time. I often give the potential visitor something to go away and research - like, for example, what switches can you offer that fit an envelope X x Y x Z mm and are rated to 100,000 actuations or more - and make it clear that the objective of the meeting is to discuss that specific product.

You still get the waffle, of course, but sometimes it can be helpful, especially if they know enough about your business to identify what's likely to be useful and what isn't. And at least you've spent a significant proportion of the time on the actual problem you need to solve there and then, which won't be the case if you've not allowed your visitor to come prepared.

Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #34 on: July 16, 2014, 05:58:08 pm »
oh it was an invited call, my tech director put him onto me as the person to speak to about electrical products but then he turned up empty handed so i listened, gleaned all I could, there we some interesting sidelines they do but as it was left to me to write to him and tell him specific part numbers of another supplier i need matching, well I'm way to busy to do that right now, so if and when I get time I'll send him the info.
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Online AndyC_772

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #35 on: July 16, 2014, 06:00:24 pm »
Those who call from call centres tryimng to seel insurance or credit cards i tend to have very short shrift for though, especially if calling from a private number.

I just hang up. It feels oddly empowering; when we speak to friends and colleagues on the phone, there's a certain etiquette to ending the call which we all observe. We close down the conversation, say goodbye, wait for the other party to acknowledge, then terminate the call.

On the other hand, simply cutting someone off mid sentence is, IMHO, sufficiently rude to make the point, yet at the same time, quick and inoffensive. My time is not free, and if someone cold calls me to try and sell a credit card / PPI claim / ambulance chasing service / whatever, without at least knowing my name, they can't expect me to devote any of that time to them.

I like to hope that, just for a moment, the caller is sufficiently surpri<click><brrr.....>

Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #36 on: July 16, 2014, 06:07:11 pm »
yep likewise, I keep getting calls asking for our finance director or MD, they even have the audacity to ask for a mobile if i say they are unavailable. These companies now won't tell you who they are, I say they are not available, if they are genuine they will tell me something of what it is about, give me a message or ask to be called back on a number, if they say ok I'll call back later I try to hang up before they do just so that they get the message, after a few runs of this I find the phone line cutting as soon as I answer it. I am not the bloody receptionist and why mine is one of only two in the office to ring on the general number I don't know. As it happens I really have no time for these people and that ringing in my face all day is damn annoying.
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Offline bwat

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #37 on: July 16, 2014, 06:20:33 pm »
Don't hang up, just put down the receiver on the nearest surface as soon as you realise it's an unwanted sales call, then merrily go about your business. If there's one thing sales people hate, it's silence. You and I may have the saying "silence is golden" but sales people are taught "silence is brown". Actually silence is a great weapon in any conversation you just want to kill. Try it sometime and see how quickly the conversation spins 180 degrees from dialogue, through monologue, to silent confusion on your interlocuter's behalf.

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Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2014, 06:25:15 pm »
Well unfortunately it takes a bit too long to determine if it's genuine or not so i have to play half safe incase i upset the wrong person but a no name caller from a no name company, with no reason to call just tries to slam the phone in your face so I aim to do it first to get the point across and what little satisfaction I can
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Offline Neilm

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #39 on: July 16, 2014, 07:02:35 pm »
Back in the late ninetys I had one of those cold calls expanding on how the internet was revolutionising sales. He didn't let me get a word in after I said we did engineering. It was all, "think how many people could buy your products" - not that I minded as it was almost home time.

After about 10 minutes of this he finally asked what sort of products we did. I could hear him deflate when I said we developed weapon systems and I couldn't tell him more than that as it was all classified. >:D
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Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #40 on: July 16, 2014, 09:36:34 pm »
haha, yea we play that one from time to time.
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Offline Dave Turner

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2014, 09:59:14 pm »
One of the best salesmen I encountered used to leave an advance message to say he would be in the area on xday in the local pub at lunchtime. He got his lunch and anyone who wanted a meeting could arrange one. No time wasted on either side. Note that this was before mobile phones and current politically correct policies.

That man got more sales by not being pushy. The only time he ever asked for a meeting was when he due to retire and wanted to introduce his successor, who did not benefit by his instruction.


 

Online HighVoltage

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #42 on: July 17, 2014, 07:22:25 am »
If I get an unwanted sales call, I turn it around and try to sell something to them and have a little "fun"
And I tell them, if they want me to listen to what they have to sell, they first have to listen to me.

At one time I was successful in selling something to a young salesperson but I did not buy
anything from him. A few hours later I got a nasty phone call from his mother.

Well, usually these people will never call me again and I don't even have to tell them to take
me of their list.
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Offline Simon

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #43 on: July 17, 2014, 07:36:46 am »
Bit hard to sell a sales rep a huge radiator for a military vehicle or rock crusher
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Offline alanb

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #44 on: July 17, 2014, 11:07:22 am »
Well unfortunately it takes a bit too long to determine if it's genuine or not so i have to play half safe incase i upset the wrong person but a no name caller from a no name company, with no reason to call just tries to slam the phone in your face so I aim to do it first to get the point across and what little satisfaction I can

This is what you need to do with unsolicited phone calls
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Offline Stonent

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Re: Engineer's Disease
« Reply #45 on: July 17, 2014, 11:10:34 am »
Reminds me of the 80s British Comedy "Open All Hours" where there was a vacuum salesman who never lost a sale left and drove off with a box of groceries and no sale.
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