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What do Microsoft and the Harvard Student Telephone Office (HSTO) have in common? They both had lots of steaming customers calling their help-lines, and lots of steaming customers getting no help whatsoever.
Just as Microsoft should have known that the release of Windows 95 would result in a deluge of calls even to their non-toll-free customer assistance lines, HSTO could have been much better prepared for the annual move-in. But no. Problems were manifold for yet another year on the Harvard grid, and the solutions were hard to come by.
Returning students had to confront deactivated PAC codes (with no phone bill delinquency to hold accountable), rooms without even common-room lines activated and incorrect directory information that was impossible to change in time for the publication of the student phone book. Some students, lacking any working lines in their rooms, resorted to Centrex phones for on-campus calls. Unfortunately, a few of these were out of commission and in need of repair.
When phone-hungry students called HSTO, many were greeted with long periods on hold, some of which ended in sudden and inexplicable disconnections. Only refusing to answer the touch-tone menu guaranteed a conversation with a live assistant. To HSTO's credit, however, those students who managed to reach assistants received prompt activations of lines and services. But because of the log-jam of complaints, many students are still waiting for lines.
There's no excuse for the yearly tide of HSTO-related problems. By this time, the telephone service's administrators should have some idea of what to expect from the annual ritual. Perhaps next year will be better. Of course, some of us won't be around to enjoy it.