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I work in IT, and recently received a work request from someone higher up on the company ladder. Their message was pretty much:

"I received a tablet from a previous employee. I can only find one identification number on it. Please advise. My boss wants me to use it."

How do I politely tell them that this isn't really a question, and I can't do anything with the information they've provided? These devices don't have specific ID numbers attached to them, and they aren't locked to a specific employee.

Edit: When I said the devices don't have IDs attached to them, I meant my workplace doesn't use any ID number to exclusively assign the device to an individual. They simply use the numbers to keep inventory.

closed as primarily opinion-based by IDrinkandIKnowThings, scaaahu, Dukeling, gnat, Mister Positive Mar 25 '18 at 17:52

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • As far as I know, every device has a serial number. Would you please explain why you said These devices don't have specific ID numbers attached to them. Thanks. – scaaahu Mar 25 '18 at 5:51
  • Usually the best approach is to ask what they want to do. – Simon Mar 25 '18 at 6:28
  • "What have you tried?" or "VTC as unclear" – IanF1 Mar 25 '18 at 7:05
  • You might want to avoid telling them how bad they are at giving the necessary information, and instead just ask for the necessary information. – Dukeling Mar 25 '18 at 8:13
  • The person probably doesn't know which information to provide, which is ok for a user. Of course you'll have ask them for the details you need to know. This is better than flooding you with useless stuff that you need to filter out. The first step is to identify the problem. Start asking what the person wants to do, well ok ..."use it". Now what have they tried, what doesn't work as expected? – puck Mar 25 '18 at 8:33
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Pick up the phone and call the person and ask for any details you need to know. Or, if your offices are near to each other, call and ask to see the user and device.

Lots of ordinary users have strange ideas and terminology about IT. They want to say A but they are saying B. You could exchange a couple of emails and get more (mis)information or you get right to the point and ask the user directly (on the phone or in person). That saves both of you time and headache.

Edit: After some comments I like to add: Obviously call that person only at work on a work phone and don't do that if this is against your company's policy.

I work with IT and sometimes I get strange requests per email. If the email was sent just minutes ago and I know this can't be easily solved with one more email then I call that person. At that time the called person knows right away what this is about. And because they have a problem to solve they are normally happy to talk about it.

  • Thanks for the advice. I was planning on it, but I work the evening weekend support shift. As I haven't been in this scenario yet (new employee), I didn't know if it would be frowned upon to call a superior at that time or just leave the issue for someone else to handle – ntjess Mar 25 '18 at 18:05
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    No; It’s not appropriate. Call during office hours, make an adjust to your schedule, to handle the problem or find someone to ask the questions during a day shift. – Donald Mar 26 '18 at 1:25
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'Hello, I need more information or access to the unit please.' Then set up a time to check it out.

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