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What does a Ring have to do with Hanging up on Callers?!

You will be surprised at one administrative assistant's problem, the answer, and how one company solved the problem using an ESD specialist.

by: Elizabeth Nelson

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Have you ever had "one of those days" when everything seems to go wrong? First, your alarm doesn't go off, then you're stuck in a traffic jam on the Interstate minutes (now hours) from the office. You finally get in the office, in a bad mood because you didn't have time to stop at Starbucks, and your day doesn't seem to be improving.

Your boss tells you he's waiting for that all important call from Mr. Doe and before you sit down, the phone rings. You quickly answer it and sure enough-- it's Mr. Doe. You page your boss: "Mr. Doe's on the line" and before you know it your boss pages back "no he's not." Next thing you know Mr. Doe calls back and says you hung up on him. You thought you were being careful and you end up blaming it on your lack of morning coffee. Until it happens again, and again, and again.

You start to get butterflies each time the phone rings in fear that you will inadvertently hang up on you husband, your boss's wife, a new client that is being difficult. Telling your boss may make you look inefficient and careless, when you know that's not the case.

I am telling you this story for a reason and the reason will shock you. A similar situation occurred with the administrative assistant for the vice president at a major corporation. She knew that she was following the correct telephone procedures, but the phone would glitch-- it went into a power failure mode and would have to be reset. Strangely enough, the problem usually occurred when she was on the phone with the VP's wife or the President of the company.

The problem persisted no matter how hard everyone worked to correct it. The phone was replaced-- yet she still hung up on people. The wiring was redone in her office-- yet she still hung up on people. The wiring was redone in the whole building-- yet she still hung up on people. The central wiring was redone-- yet she still hung up on people.

Finally, as a "last resort" ESD specialist Ted Dangelmayer was called to investigate. This problem had been going on for over a year. It took Ted about one day to determine the cause was ESD. The phone was static sensitive and the administrative assistant's ring made contact at the point of entry where the wires enter the handset and thus caused the malfunction. Strangely enough, Ted discovered that the assistant was prone to charging easily.

To solve the problem Ted recommended the following changes: The chair pad was replaced and grounded. The carpet was sprayed with a solution to reduce ESD. And amazingly, the phone company redesigned the unit that the assistant used so that the phone is now immune to ESD.

Thank goodness this assistant no longer has to dread the sound of the phone ringing. This story shows that ESD lurks in mysterious places. We in the ESD community can sometimes even be SHOCKED!

Do you have a similar story to tell? E-mail the ESD Journal with questions, comments, and your own stories!

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