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I'm currently an apprentice software developer working on my first project. The project, which I took over from the previous apprentice who left after getting sick and tired of the customer(s) constantly changing their mind on things and adding things, is nearing it's conclusion - I've been working on it for almost a year even after taking it over from the previous developer.

The changes being made now aren't too major. It's more validation, tweaking functionality here and there, and just refining the smaller details whilst the system is installed and tested in parallel with the outgoing system.

In the project, I'm using controls developed by Infragistics and there's a specific issue with the UltraGrids which I have been aware of for a while but has been marked as a low priority job by the customer.

Each release I send over for testing is marked with items on "Fix List" spreadsheet that they created with priority of jobs. Every single time I get an email with feedback, new things seem to come up or get added, which in some cases is understandable, but one thing in particular really irritates me.

The customer ALWAYS adds to the bottom of the list "Item x (The issue with the grids) has still not been fixed. I've tested again and it's still the same. Low priority".

I am fully aware this is an issue; when I'm getting free time I am researching why it's not working properly, but there are now 4 or 5 items on the fix list stating the exact same thing isn't working, when I've never updated the list to show that it's been changed. Whenever I fix something, I'll fill the cell in yellow to show it needs testing, but I have never marked this item in yellow.

This is really bugging me (If you'll pardon the pun) and I don't know how to deal with him doing this. At times, it makes me want to send him a strongly worded email telling him to stop adding it, I know it's still there to be looked at, but of course I can't do this for obvious reasons.

What is the best thing to do in this situation? I'm not sure whether to just ignore it, if I should reply, or even how to word a reply if I did.

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    Are you getting paid for this David? (You've just described every single software job which has or will ever exist; I'm not sure you had to go in to such detail? All you had to say was "this is a software job".) – Fattie Jul 3 '17 at 13:09
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    Yeah, I'm being paid for it. I'm not sure which details here aren't relevant? – David Jul 3 '17 at 14:37
  • What I mean is: the general situation you describe, is, absolutely commonplace in software. It is normal. – Fattie Jul 3 '17 at 14:44
  • The only thing I can think of that can be removed are the specifics mentioned in paragraph 3. Also paragraph 2 doesn't add much to the question, can be removed... Both minor issues (hehe), you don't do it anywhere else, so I didn't bother leaving a comment before. Now I'll just keep commenting until you do something about it! – rath Jul 3 '17 at 14:45
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    NOT "every software job." In some shops, requirements are approved before design, design is approved before code, code is reviewed before testing, and the customer is not the tester. – WGroleau Jul 3 '17 at 15:05
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A polite prompt might help:

Hi customer

I notice you've added the grid issue to the latest fix list with a low priority, despite it not being marked as ready for testing.

Please can you confirm that this is, in fact, low priority as you seem to have added it multiple times? If this needs addressing sooner, please let me know and I will update the log accordingly.

Thanks

This is the most polite way I can think of to call them out on their petty behaviour, while remaining professional.

  • "Petty behaviour", yeah, that pretty much sums it up! Thanks, this seems the best sort of response and what I was looking for. – David Jul 3 '17 at 9:11
  • Also consider setting up a short skype or phone call to discuss this in person, as your communication about this issue so far seems to go unnoticed. – skymningen Jul 3 '17 at 9:32
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    That issue must be really easy to test. – rath Jul 3 '17 at 9:35
  • @rath Yeah, haha, it is. It's just some input validation of one of the cells in a grid, so this customer seems to just want to keep trying! – David Jul 3 '17 at 11:17
  • it's an extremely bad idea to do what it says here. OP is saying OP is "annoyed" because: an item is appearing 6 times in the bug tracking software. Solution: don't be annoyed, have a beer and a laugh at yourself (or get another career). – Fattie Jul 3 '17 at 15:38
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The obvious solution is just to ignore the problem. If it's really annoying you (and I don't see why it should), just send them a helpful smiley e-mail informing them that they don't have to keep on testing this issue, because you promise to let them know as soon as it has been fixed.

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There is a difference between "priority" and "importance". Priority is about what needs to be done first. The customer doesn't think this fix needs to be done first. However, by reminding you every single time that this needs to be fixed, they make it very clearly that this is important. Someone called this "petty behaviour". I'd think someone is very badly mis-reading the customer here.

If you don't want some totally outraged customer eventually talking to your boss and taking you apart for not fixing this problem that they mentioned every single time, I would strongly consider actually fixing it.

Unlike TonyK suggests, don't send messages with smileys. The customer might be very, very annoyed if you do that. Don't "promise to let them know as soon as it has been fixed". Promise to fix it.

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This is fairly common.

It could be for a number of reasons. They could be being pretty, out they may have had issues with things falling off the radar in the past so are making sure it doesn't get forgotten.

Don't take it personally

Clients can do any number of strange, inexpiable and downright crazy things. You as the contractor, should always be professional though it all.

Sometimes clients will do things where you have to flag it to them and deal with it. Like asking for two completely contradictory requirements. If it makes the work impossible you need to tell them.

This isn't a time like that. This is just a client creating duplicate issues. If it makes them happy let them and then tidy the issues up. It really isn't a big issue.

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