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This is a question Corporate Idiocy

Comedian Al Murray recounts a run-in with industrial-scale stupidity: "Car insurance company rang, without having sent me a renewal letter, asking for money. Made them answer security questions." In the same vein, tell us your stories about pointless paperwork and corporate quarter-wits

(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 12:13)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

Mum's gone to Iceland
Iceland. Row upon row of microwaveable despair. If your mum has gone there, kill her and yourself. It's the only way to be sure.

I worked briefly for Iceland PLC. I was sixteen going on seventeen, and needed to get drunk a lot. My father, ever the pragmatist, took me to his local and introduced me to a staggeringly blubber-ridden golf-tee of a man called Rick. "This," my father proudly announced, "is the manager of Iceland!" Being an obedient little coward, I cooed in false wonder as my insides fucking died. I knew what was coming. "Rick'll sort you out with a job, if you don't fuck up the interview!" laughed father, emphasising the 'fuck' with a matey punch to the shoulder and vigorous, police-trained shake of my neck.
"Ha, yeah. Ok."
Rick looked on, ludicrously top-heavy and grinning with his mouth open. His face said to me, 'I had a shit earlier and didn't quite wipe my arse properly, but I'm ok with that.'
I hated him immediately.

The interview was predictably awkward. Sulky-but-polite teenage prick who secretly thinks he's better than all this, malodourous obese man with sincerely passionate devotion to the retail sector. Somehow I got the job - presumably my father had bought him a lot of pints and he thought I was from good stock. I later found out dad hated him too.

My first day rolled round far quicker than I would have liked. Rick proudly strutted the aisles, acquainting me with Iceland's exciting product range. "We're all about customer focus here," he chuckled at me. His geordie inflection turned the word 'focus' into a glottal stop bete-noire. "Fo-us, fo-us, fo-us! Fo-us!" He'd catch your eye on the shop floor and quickly jab at the corners of his mouth with his index fingers, mouthing 'Smile!' at you.

It was £2.15 an hour for a navy blue t-shirt and as much youthful spite and ineptitude as you could manufacture. We were all idiots there. Being an arrogant little cunt, I prided myself on being reasonably intelligent, but it was amazing how quickly my faculties failed me when it came to remembering which cabinet Mr Brain's Faggots were in. How many Ristorante pizzas could be stacked without jarring the freezer lid open. What the point of 'facing up' was. And at the bleeding edge of this institutional shitness was always Rick. An overweight wave of forced cheeriness and misguided instructions, loathed by staff and customers alike. And his world was soon to crumble in a pathetically unremarkable way.

The shop was bad, and complaints began to pile up. Absent products, a mulch-covered carpark, poor service ... everything was a target. One customer claimed that I scanned goods too fast. My friend's quiet singing was interpreted as ugly swearing. Nothing could go right in those walls; it was an unfortunate place where few wanted to be, and eventually the inevitable happened - the area manager arrived, full of Serious Business, and Rick's door was closed all morning.

Rick came out of that meeting red-faced, red-eyed, mopping at his face and forehead. Poor Rick. No more staff discount on those two-litres of Blackthorn. No more office toilet on which to while away those stale mornings. Pitifully, he insisted on each member of staff coming to his office for an individual goodbye. My co-workers streamed in slowly and out quickly, rolling their eyes and squirming, their lives untouched. My turn came. Rick sat behind his desk, still grinning.
"Well, goodbye then young man."
"Yeah, um, yes. Goodbye Rick. Urm, all the best."
"All the best. All the best."
"Ok. Goodbye."
After a moment's silence I turned to leave. Then Rick spoke again:

"By the way ..."

I stopped. "Yes?"

Rick looked at me with tears in his eyes. He choked back a sob.
"I'm ... I'm not a bastard."

I nodded and left.

Stay in school, kids.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 22:38, 9 replies)
As a fully paid up member of the asthmatical society of Britain,
Every 6 months or so I have to see an 'Asthma Nurse' at my GPs to have a 10 second chat about my inhaler and confirm that I am still alive.

The surgery is about 10 doors down from where I used to work, so I popped in one lunchtime to arrange an appointment. I was informed that they were only arranging appointments over the phone so that people wouldn't have to come into the surgery in the middle of a flu epidemic.

I informed them that as I was standing at the reception in the middle of the surgery already, maybe it would be easier to do it then and there. Nope, rules are rules. If I wanted to make an appointment I'd have to do it over the phone.

I got my mobile out of my pocket and was quickly told that all such devices should be switched off upon entering the building.

So I went outside and made an appointment over the phone with a receptionist I could see through the window standing about eight feet away from me. Upon completion of the phonecall I was invited back into the building to pick up an appointment card, lest I forget the time, day, or even address of the building.

She at no point in all of this gave any sign that she thought this entire endeavour completely ridiculous.
(, Sat 25 Feb 2012, 11:45, 2 replies)
O2 call centre girl...
She didn't sound very old, and obviously didn't read my account info properly when I phoned. Hence I got (not for the first time) the stern "And can you confirm that you're authorised to speak on behalf of the account holder?" line that comes of having an obviously male voice but being called Kerry.

Usually after explaining that I am the account holder, I get profuse apologies followed by "I saw 'Kerry' and assumed you'd be a woman, hahaha". This time though, in an ever diminishing voice, I got:

"Oh, I'm ever so sorry, I saw 'Kerry' and assumed you... were a... woman...
...and now I'm really hoping... you're not... a woman...
...with a really deep voice..."

(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 13:46, 3 replies)
[Wavy lines, back to a time before human memory, when Cabletel still existed...]

Part 1: Cabletel guy on doorstep - "Can we put a cabinet abutting your land? If you say yes, we'll connect you for free and give you 6 months at half price." "No skin off my nose, knock yourself out." "Here's a letter confirming all of that." "Thanks." [Drilling commences immediately, shiny green cabinet installed.]

[Many moons wax and wane. Crickets chirp. Tumbleweed tumbles. Birds crap on shiny cabinet.]

Part 2: Leaflet: "Cabletel have been taken over by Virgin. Ring this number to get broadband now!" [Rings] "Hello Virgin, can I sign up?" "No, your address isn't in a covered area." "But I'm right next to a cabinet." "Not covered, computer says no, you'll have to write. Bye."

Part 3: "Dear Virgin, here's a copy of my letter from Cabletel, please connect me." "Dear Mr. Systems, [Paraphrased] That was then, this is now. Fuck off."

Part 4: "Dear Virgin, since you don't seem to have inherited any obligations from Cabletel, neither have I. I hereby revoke my permission. Please remove your cabinet." [Rings] "Oh. How about we connect you next Tuesday?" "Thanks very much. That wasn't difficult, was it?"
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 13:07, 6 replies)
Many years ago I was a manager for a well know high street opticians
it was a busy Saturday and I got called over to the main desk as a colleague was having trouble getting the PDQ (card machine) to work. Nothing seemed to go through. Every time we were having to call card services and get the whole thing put through manually.
I called the PDQ people to see if there was an outage of some sort and they said that they weren't having any issues there, but they had received a number of calls from other stores in the same chain.

A call to another branch proved that they were having the same problem.

Word soon got round that most branches were having problems with their PDQ machines. Me, being the technically minded person I can be sometimes, decided that it might be worth trying the machine on a different phone line. So I unplugged the store phone, plugged the PDQ in and lo and behold it worked. I called another branch and got them to do the same thing. Yes, theirs worked too.

Come Monday morning, when head office came back to work after we had been struggling all over the weekend, we got an email.
It seemed that some bright spark had been looking at ways to make savings in stores. They noticed that nearly every store had a phone line in it that was showing no activity. So they called BT and had them all cut.
You see, calling the bank via a PDQ machine is on an 0800 number and therefore doesn't show up on the bill. Yes, this person had had the phone lines for every PDQ machine in the company cut.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 22:54, 1 reply)
Report! Report!
I used to work with a very pretty and curvaceous young woman. I mention her appearance not to bring out the sweaty-palmed amongst you, but because it is relevant to the tale.

Like many companies, it gradually changed from a funky dotcom startup into something more corporate. One day, one of the suits decided that we needed a weekly Management Report, summarising progress in our department of hairy IT geeks and snarling sysadmins. And it fell to the gorgeous hero of our tale to write this report, and submit it each week.

After several weeks, she started to wonder if anybody was actually reading it. So that week's report contained the now-legendary entry, somewhere near the back: "'Naked Wednesday' was a big success. I've been asked to organise another very soon."

Despite being leering, boorish letches to a man, not one of the management team commented on this. After that, she didn't put much effort into the report.
(, Mon 27 Feb 2012, 17:26, 8 replies)
The 'biflicated rivet'.
Back in the mists of time when I was an apprentice at a large engineering company whose name rhymed with Polls Poyce which made Gas Turbines, it came to pass that I had to do a stint of training in the stores.
Now, in the seventies, the stores were dark labyrinthine places populated with arse-chewingly pedantic fuckwits who delighted in sending requests for parts back marked 'incorrect part number/issue date/spelling/aftershave/bloodgroup' etc. It was known as 'The production prevention department' and its denizens were universally hated.
One day I was asked to get a pack of 'Biflicated rivets' from a location in the stores. The rivets were in a tote bin which had the part number and the words 'Biflicated rivets' handwritten on a yellowing tag. Having collected the package, I noted that the minimum stock level had been reached so I dutifully reported this to the manager. He then looked through his card index box to find the supplier so he could order some more - it had been so long between orders that the company was no longer in existence. This meant that the dreaded 'offer to supply' documentation had to be filled out - it was, with the material spec, the order amount etc etc and these were sent to the approved suppliers.
All but one declined to supply.
The one that did accept the offer sent one of their engineers over to dot I's & cross T's. I was in the meeting where the stores manager looked over the offer and said sniffily "It'd be ok but you're quoting the wrong thing"
"How so"? asked the engineer
"It specifically states BIFLICATED rivets on the offer to supply and you're offering BIFURCATED rivets"
"Hmm, if you look at the drawing you'll see that we are offering the same thing and......"
The engineer rolled his eyes and said he'd "look into it"

The very next day the 'new' quote and drawings came back with the word 'bifurcated' replaced by 'biflicated' - and the price inflated by 1000%.
As I recall, the manager was well pleased with his 'victory'.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 17:53, 4 replies)
B.E.L.M. – Bringing Employment to Local Mongs...

The company I work for are ok. They are professional, courteous, and generally efficient. In fact I would go so far to say that their overall record is exemplary, However, they do unwittingly have one tiny glitch in their otherwise glittering infrastructure which qualifies as idiocy…

They employed me.

I wholeheartedly declare that I am quite possibly the laziest, most unprofessional, least competent, facepalm-inducing spasmazoid this side of the Outer Hebrides. Yet inexplicably, every day I am welcomed back into the building and accepted, with a seemingly cheerful ignorance of the fact that I quite blatantly don't know (or care) a gnat’s glistening scrotum about what I am supposedly doing for a living.

Yep – you guessed it - I work in IT. Here is just the most recent example of my knob-rottery for you to feast yer clappers round.

Six weeks ago I had been tasked by the ‘senior managers’ to compile a highly complicated and legally binding Standard Operating Procedure document on the activities and responsibilities of a certain department (exciting stuff!). The problem was, unfortunately, that I have not at any time had a veritable vejazzled clopper of a clue as to how said department actually works. It's not my department, I've never worked in that department, so fuck knows why they asked me to do this. Anyhoo, I found that there was little option but to do the standard, decent thing. I knuckled down, and then spent the whole time fannying about on B3ta, busying myself by doing utter, blinding fuck all, indulged in some pub lunches, and hoped that the problem would just.go.away.

However, earlier this morning my Outlook calendar reminded me that today was the day I had to present my work to my bosses. To be honest I had even forgotten that the meeting was even scheduled for today, such is my ‘finger-on-the-pulse’, go-getting conscientiousness. One way or another, I rapidly came to the conclusion that I was inevitably plunging armpit-deep into a shitstorm of biblical proportions.

So there I was...nursing my hangover and desperately trying to conjure up excuses to wriggle my way out of the bollocking I so richly deserved. In the midst of this panic, I remembered that I also had to do another tiny piece of work that I was actually capable of doing. My task was to conduct a brief security check on an ex-employee and plough through the crap he’d left behind after being recently made redundant. This poor bastard was called Sanjay, and he had apparently suffered quite badly with stress while he was here, and in time honoured tradition the company eventually…*ahem*…’managed him out of the business’ i.e - paid him off and got rid. I didn’t really know him very well but he seemed an alright guy, so it‘s a bit of a shame nonetheless…

Part of this ‘check’ I had to do involved having a quick shufty through his computer files. As I bumbled through the now unemployed chap’s folders, bleary-eyed, and trying to focus (whilst increasingly bricking my britches with fear of the impending kicking I was going to receive)…I happened across something truly magnificent.

Sanjay had a file called ‘Standard Operating Procedure’. I was intrigued. So I had a peek.

It appears that some time ago, Sanjay had written an almost identical document to the one I was currently expected to do. And when I say ‘almost identical’, I mean that it was exactly.the.fucking.same…except for one, subtle difference. Just one, single word difference in fact. Hmm…

This thing was a motherfucking work of art. Concise, professional, brilliant…in the name of whiskey soaked fuck, I considered it worthy of some sort of award. However, I must mention that when Sanjay was here, although I thought he was ok, he wasn’t a particularly popular guy with everybody else, bless him. Although he had obviously worked his arse off quite diligently on this masterpiece, I remembered that when he presented it at the time to his managers it was barely afforded a glance, was simply dismissed as ‘completed….meh’ and quickly forgotten about, in order to enable another metric fuckload of work to be dumped on him.

This opportunity, however, presented me with a choice – and it took about an eighth of a nanosecond to make my decision…

Oh yes…In B3ta tradition I decided to sort of ‘pearoast’ his shit. Hard.

Quick as a flash I activated the ‘find and replace’ function on MSWord, and changed every instance of the word that was not relevant to me, to the one that was. I then signed my name at the bottom and handed it in as the hard earned fruits of my labour.

The whole process took just a few seconds. It must’ve taken Sanjay weeks. Not my proudest moment.

For reasons I cannot quite fathom however, (especially considering my performance), I appear to be relatively popular with my colleagues and managers, and so subsequently this comprehensive, 48 page, in-depth document is now cheerfully considered by all and sundry to be entirely of my own creation. All day I have sat here; being woken up and bothered consistently by colleagues thanking me for my efforts, and praising me for my writing prowess to put together such a wonderful piece of well-crafted corporate bollocks, which in turn will no doubt be archived away to the electronic equivalent of that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the lost Ark.

I know it’s just a matter of time before I get rumbled for being the procrastinating, incompetent fuck-knuckle that I undoubtedly am, but in the meantime, I choose to enjoy these small victories.

Even twats have to have jobs. I’m sorry that so many of you seem to have encountered the likes of me on so many occasions…you genuinely have my sympathies. But in the meantime, despite my conscience not exactly being ‘crystal’…I promise you I will not be running back to payroll tomorrow and insisting that they take back my salary.

Beer doesn't just buy itself, you know.
(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 16:50, 9 replies)
Team demotivation
Years ago the company I worked for invested a huge proportion of its annual profit for a "performance consultancy" to take the sales team off-site for a 2 day motivational course in Brighton. The sales team consisted of eight people of varying age and experience.

Legend has it that the senior management team had full disclosure of the agenda and had approved it prior to the trip.

The first day and a half was bog-standard fare, so team-building exercises, presentations and strategic planning and a heavy night on the piss. Nothing offensive, but also nothing worth paying an outside company for.

The final afternoon was the stuff of legend. Every person was sent away for an hour to compile a dossier on every other member of the team. Their profiling should include two things they liked about each person and one thing they disliked.

After the hour was up we regrouped and took it in turns to say our piece to every other member of the team. Two things became quickly apparent:

1/ It was clearly hard for people to come up with two things they liked about their colleagues.

2/ People were not content to only list one thing they disliked.

It was a horrible session that culminated in three people taking the train home early and four people resigning the following Monday morning.

Money well spent.
(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 15:39, 13 replies)
Want to borrow some money, sir?
A few years back I was having a pretty tough time - not as tough as some (I'm always aware that my troubles are not the worst in the world), but still pretty poo. I'd separated from my fiancee and she had moved back in with her folks leaving me struggling with the bills etc for the large flat we had bought together. We were in the process of selling the flat so there was light at the end of the tunnel, but cash was seriously fucking tight for me at the time - walking 3 miles to work and 3 miles back whatever the weather because I couldn't afford to catch a bus, eating only Tesco Value food, never going out or seeing friends - hell, even feigning injuries towards the end of the month to avoid paying £4 or £5 to play football because I didn't want my friends to know how skint I was. Even though the flat was on the market, it could have been months until it was sold and I was already at financial breaking point - I couldn't slip any more into debt.

And then, one glorious sunny sunday afternoon, the phone rang. It was the AA financial services. One of my 'debts' that I was servicing was a £200 a month loan repayment, which I had taken out to do up the flat. The shiny, happy person at the AA had called me to ask if I would like to extend the loan amount at all?


Trying not to spaff in my pants at the prospect, I talked through my options with lovely, lovely lady on the phone. I could basically borrow a couple of grand more, increase my outgoing by only £20 a month AND you get a three month holiday at the start of the loan so I'd be freeing up £600 over the next three months IMMEDIATELY. I'm no mug - I was aware I was increasing my debt but over the dismal nature of the short term, it was an absolute god send - I could actually do something crazy like order a takeaway or GO FOR A PINT. And once I sold the flat and downsized I could either pay off the loan or manage the repayments easier - the choice would be mine.

I'm sure other people here have had worse money problems, but they are always horrible. I had been surviving like this for months - nothing to look forward to, no little luxuries, desperately eking out around £60 disposable income per month to keep myself going. all in the immediate aftermath of a breakup which is hard enough to deal with mentally anyway. It really was grim, a horrid time, a shadow hanging over me the whole time.

But not today! Today I was going to have some extra money in my pocket, a bounce in my step for the first time, the security that I had at least a little extra behind me to lighten my load. A-MAZ-ING.

My reverie was interrupted by the phone centre lady. "I'm terribly sorry sir, but you've failed our credit check and we will be unable to offer you an extension on your loan.'


I took it like a man - hung up, cried, then blew my last tenner on three bottles of wine and went without food for three days.

All better now, in case you are wondering. But I'll never forgive the fuckers for raising my hopes when I was at such a low ebb, only to shatter them in the next breath. Bastards.
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 10:59, 12 replies)
I once paid cash at a GAP store or similar
And the retail drone held every note under his UV light to check if they were real.

So when he gave me my £15-ish change, I just bent over the counter and checked them as well.

If you don't trust me, I don't trust you. Simple.
(, Mon 27 Feb 2012, 14:57, 17 replies)
"Hello Mr cs1ca"
"Hello Mr email. To what do I owe the pleasure? Have you come bearing news of an exciting or informative nature?"
"Not really, mr cs1ca, you are at work, after all. I come bearing the dictates of the head office of the bit of the branch of the government you work for"
"Does it relate to people in fluro jackets painting railings?"
"No, mr cs1ca. It has come to their attention that people it employs are using social networking and other internet sites in a way that might bring the organisation into disrepute, or worse put them at risk of possible reprisals, due to our justice-dispensing ways. Here's a list of rules they've come up with"
"Hmmm. It would appear that this set of rules is rather draconian, and, if followed, will severely impact and limit my internet use. 'Don't display or make prominent where you work, for your own safety'? I don't do that anyway. Looking at this, you might think that they thought of the internet as a dark, sinister mass of anarchy and nonces"
"Yes, you might. Bye now!"
"Bye, mr email"

"Hello mr cs1ca"
"Hello again, mr email. I haven't seen you for a couple of months, not since you turned up with that bunch of rules. What do you have this time?"
"Well, mr cs1ca, I bring news. Head office has discovered social media, and now has a facebook page and a twitter feed. I come bearing instruction that you are to 'like' the organisation and forward their output to your friends, whether they care about what you do or not"
"Have they repealed the rules on internet usage?"
"So I'm forbidden from using my facebook account for anything I want, but I'm compelled to spam my friends with their dreary PR?"
"Essentially, yes"
"Mr email: Go back to head office and tell them to fuck right off"
(, Sun 26 Feb 2012, 0:40, 5 replies)
Letting Agency Stupidity
Before my wife and I bought our first home we, like many others, rented a nice little two bedroomed house close to the town centre but on a nice quiet street. Our landlady was very young and inexperienced and it transpired that she had been given the house as a gift from an elderly relative and have decided to rent it out. It became quite clear, quite quickly that she had no idea what she was doing. When we phoned her to tell her that there was a water leak and water was coming through her kitchen ceiling, we thought we were doing the right thing. She thought we were difficult tenants. Eventually she realised she couldn't cope and hired the services of a letting agency. Which leads me on to the corporate stupidity part.

You see our landlady had forgotten to tell us that she had hired a letting agency. Normally you would expect an official looking letter informing you that they were taking over the property and how and where to pay the rent in future. We received a hand written note pushed through the door saying "I am AngryScottishGuy from your new letting agency" with his phone number and bank details to pay the rent. At first we thought it was just some scam as the note was written on a scrap of torn paper and written like a spider had crawled over the page. This was until two days later when my heavily pregnant wife opened the door to an angry, red faced Scottish man, who told her he had come to do an inspection. My wife stood her ground and told him she had no idea who he was and he had not given notice. He threatened to have us evicted, we slammed the door in his face. We then caught him in the back garden and he had climbed over the back gate. I went out and politely asked him what the fuck he thought he was doing. "Inspecting the garden" was his reply. I threatened to call the police and he left. We wrote to our landlady informing her of all this and heard nothing back. When rent day came we paid our rent as normal directly in to our landlady's account. a week later we had a visit from an even angrier, even more red faced but also Scottish, man demanding to know why we hadn't paid our rent. We told him we had paid our rent to our landlady and would continue to do so until she told us otherwise. Cue more threats of eviction and another hand scrawled note through the letter box saying he would be back in 24 hours to do the inspection. He returned the next day and we again refused to let him in saying we had A. No idea who he was and B. 24 hours notice was for emergency access. More threats of eviction made worse by the fact I laughed at him. He told me to contact my landlady and ask her if his agency was managing the property and I told him that it wasn't up to me to do anything and that we would continue to pay our rent on time in the way specified in our contract until our landlady tells us otherwise. He could not understand why we would not just take his word and a hand written note from himself as proof. We were in fact contacting our landlady after every occasion to inform her that a group of Scottish men with anger management issues and a faces of rouge, kept coming over and demanding money and access to the property. As we were not getting any replies it just reinforced our belief that he was trying it on.

It turns out that they had told our landlady to forward all correspondence from us directly to them to deal with and despite my wife at times writing letters pointing out that she was a heavily pregnant woman alone in the house, being bullied by men who would appear in the garden on more than one occasion trying to get in to the house, she would still just forward the letters to them. Eventually after three months and rent payments directly in to our landlady's account and the guy coming over several times a week our landlady finally got in touch. She came over and confirmed that they were in fact from the letting agency and to pay our rent to them. We informed her that they were bullies, who did not care about the law and were using threats of eviction to try and get their way. We handed our notice in and left after the next rent cycle.

It never did occur to either of them why we were "being difficult"

tl:dr - Letting agencies are run by cunts.
(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 13:15, 6 replies)
I used to work in a lab
for a small company. You've probably heard of at least one of their products. Very nice company, absolute arse of a director.

You know when you get medicine you sometimes see 'B.P.' after the name? That's short for British Pharmacopoeia - basically a list of tests which the product/ingredient legally has to pass if you want to use it in any sort of pharmaceutical.

We needed a new FT/IR machine in the lab (basically you prepare a sample, it zaps it with a spectrum of infra-red light and tells you if it's the right stuff).

We had a choice:

The obvious choice was to get the FT/IR machine which was certified as being B.P. compliant. i.e. it was certified to run the test exactly as specified in the B.P. using reference standards which were themselves B.P. certified and output graphs in the same format as the standards in the B.P.

The less obvious (i.e. stupid) choice was to buy the machine which wasn't B.P. compliant. Don't get me wrong, still a good machine but it needed a lot more work to commission it for our needs and it was less easy to run the test and compare the results to the B.P.

The stupid option insisted on by this director cost us about £900 less...but took two extra months to commission it, cost us several hundred pounds setting up our own reference standards and meant we had to pay for a different graph printer as we didn't get the B.P. compliant software. It also took slightly longer to prepare each sample, about 30 seconds longer to run the test and a minute or so more to print and evaluate the test. Doesn't sound much but it all adds up when you're running 100-200 tests per week.

Two years down the line, when we got inspected by the Medicines Control Agency, they noted that the calibration standards we were using were not B.P. compliant either. It turned out the same director had changed the order (after we'd placed it) to ones which were about £30 cheaper.

The upshot? I had to dig out all the retained samples from the previous two years and run them again, having calibrated the machine with the correct calibration standards. It took me three months to do them all.

Apparently, using the wrong calibration standard may also have accounted for the fact that we needed to replace the IR lamp on the machine about twice as frequently as we should have done...at a cost of £500 a pop.

The reason why this director had been so keen to save money?

Shortly before buying the new machine, we'd had the lab refitted. This director didn't like the basic but perfectly serviceable black plastic handles supplied with the new cupboards so he'd ordered them changed to lovely shiny metal ones.

22 handles:

Six. Thousand. Pounds.

TL:DR - company director spends £10,000 in attempt to save £900.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 14:44, Reply)
Cold Caller fun
It's only loosely related, and it's too easy a target really, but I fielded a call the other day that went as follows:

~Telephone rings~

Me: Hello?

Woman with Indian Accent: Hello Mr Ousgg, my name is Julie* from PC Solutions**. I am calling about your computer. We have received an error message saying you have a virus.

Me: Oh dear. We'd better fix...

WwIA: We can fix your problem and help you scan your PC.

Me: Excellent. OK. Before you do, could you just confirm my IP address for me?

WwIA: What?

Me: My IP address.

WwIA: Your address is 14 Station Rd...***

Me: No. Not my home address. My IP address.

WwIA: I don't understand.

Me: You have received some data from my PC, right?

WwIA: Yes, we have received an error message saying you have a virus. We can help...

Me: Yes. If you have received data and you know it's from me, then you must have my IP address****

WwIA: ~Long Pause, paper rustles extensively~

Me: Hello?

WwIA: Hello, Mr Ousgg, my name is Julie from PC Solutions...

Me: Yes, you've told me all this#

WwIA: I'm calling about your computer...

~At this point I put the phone down, open a bag of crisps##, and wait patiently.~

WwIA: ...can you see your computer now?

Me: ~having finished crisps~ Yes, but I'm not letting you do anything to it until you confirm my IP address.

WwIA: Your address is 14 Station Rd...

Me: Not my home address. My IP address.

WwIA: Your address is SW15 4...

Me: Not my postcode. My IP address.

WwIA: Oh! Just one minute, sir.###

WwIA: ~sotto voce, to Boss~ What is... "IP Adress"?

Boss: ~sotto voce, to WwIA~ IP Address is his network location####. Let me take the call, Anjum!#####

Boss: ~to me~ Hello, this is Derek+ from PC Solutions...

~I go and get another bag of crisps and we cycle round much the same conversation~

Boss: I can confirm your IP Address is

Me: Well, that would be my Internal LAN IP, yes. So which part of my network are you connected to?


I must teach my wife to do this as well.


* Why do they do this? Who do they think they're fooling? Do they assume we're all racist because we won't talk to women called Anjum or Madhur?

** Or some other singularly unoriginal bullshit company name.

*** This is not my actual address. I had to change that to stop Amorous Badger poking shit through my letterbox.

**** Note how the conversation has switched from her interrupting me to vice versa. Very important for dealing with prats from Madras pretending to be prats from PC World.

# Daft bat has lost her place in the script and decides to start again, That'll help.

## Walkers' Roast Chicken, if you must know

### At this point I'm having slightly small kittens just in case she does come back with a relevant string of digits, but not to fear...

#### I was marginally impressed at this point

##### See! I knew it!

+ Really???!!!

++ Again, I'm ever so slightly impressed by this man's capacity for utter bullshit in the name of trying to install data harvest software onto my PC.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 17:26, 17 replies)
Employee of the month…

A while ago, I'm sure you’d be quite staggered to find that I had a billing issue with a certain media monstrosity whose hymen is still completely intact. I won’t go too much into the problem as that is not why I’m posting. No, this is all about the complaint call.

This was not the first time I had called them regarding my being-royally-fucked-about-ness. As so often seem to be the case, I had previously endured being dragged through the soul destroying ‘first line’...i.e. being promised the absolute earth just to get you off the phone, whilst refusing to confirm anything in writing because it’s 'not company policy’. What does appear to be 'company policy' however, is: 'Don't even bother to note down the customer complaint, as you are far too busy nudging your bumchum in the next seat, pointing to your earpiece, belming, and making the universal hand gesture for ‘wanker’...

And lo, after another month had passed and I came to the gruesome realisation that I had once again been spoon-fed a pigs trough of reconstitued bollocks, it was time to call again. Now, usually before I call in these situation, I like to have a quick run through in my head of possible scenarios, so I can get my shit together in accordance with my meagre expectations of how these kind of calls usually go. If you’ll indulge me, this is what I expected:

I dial the number.

Recorded message: “Thank you for calling Mega-bastards who-have-yet-to-have-one-slid-up-‘em Media. For sales press ‘1’, to give us more of your cash that we frankly don’t deserve, press 2..." and so on. Ten minutes drip by, even the voice on the recorded message is bored by this point, but then you eventually stumble across: ‘For billing enquiries or complaints, press 7362534i4594733'. I press the number.

Recorded message: “We’re sorry, but there is a queue, Your call means fuck all is important to us, please hold the line". Several years pass by, my clothes are now tattered rags and I have a long straggly beard like Robinson Crusoe before finally, A ‘human being’ decides to answer:

'Human Being':“You're through to a drone from Money-grabbing mong-monkeys whose cherry has not yet been popped Media. Please give me your name, account number, the name of your great great grandfather’s Labra-doodle, and 17 independently scrutinised samples of your DNA". I comply.

Me: *Complain, complain, whinge, bleat, moan, bitch, plead, beg, gibber, wibble, etc.*

Call Centre Cretin: "Of course sir, Please allow me to promise you the earth".

Me: "Oh no you fucking don’t dearie…NOT THIS TIME!"

CCC: "Oh bollocks, fair enough."

Hopefully, we would then proceed to lump ourselves kicking and screaming to some sort of compromise. I know, Naive aren’t I?

So with this ‘rehearsal' in mind, I dial the number and it transpires exactly as I envisioned, right up to the point where I finally get put through to the Call Centre Cretin, and I brace myself for a deluge of corporate branding and fake, ‘faux American’, sugar-flavoured snot scmaltz...

Fuck-a-doodle-do, I was so wrong...and in no way prepared for what happened next.

CCC: "HIYAAAAAA!!!!" *exudes outrageous happiness*

Me (somewhat taken aback) : "Hello, I’m calling about my bill".

CCC: You whaaaat?

Me (now quite flabbergasted): Erm….this is ‘billing enquires’, isn't it?

CCC: Naaaah!

Me (Now wondering which parallel dimension I have been mercilessly thrust into: "EXCUSE ME??"

Brief pause…

CCC: "Oh......hang on…..I mean, yeah it is! Hahahahhahaaaaa!, I forgot!….you see, I used to work with Dave!..."

ME (struck completely dumb): "Mmmmf!"

She then chuntered on for about 5 minutes, completely oblivious to my seething, explaining how she had previously worked in a different department with the (apparent 'legend') that was ‘Dave…you know…BIG DAVE!’ before she was transferred (what a surprise). As I rummaged around the house looking for a gun so I could end it all, this talented exponent of utter fuckwittery then divulged that she had actually been transferred TWO FUCKING MONTHS BEFORE, yet she still could not remember where she was or what she was doing.

I just hope she was hungover or something, because I don’t want to live in a world where anyone could be quite so window-licking, downright thick with just the one head.

Then again, by now she probably fucking runs the place.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 10:16, 10 replies)
Had my wallet stolen
So phoned Egg to cancel my card

"Hello Egg how can i help"
"Hi i would like to cancel my card"
"ok can i take first and sixth letters of your password"
"Hmmm... i have know idea, can you give me a clue?"
"it's an animal"
"M and Y?"
"no sorry, you have two more try's"
"C and E?"
"No sorry"
"Hold on! what happens if i keep getting it wrong?"
"Your card is canceled"
"Fucking genius!"
(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 21:55, 3 replies)
Short version of a story I've probably told before.
CEO of a company I used to work for that I won't name (even though it's very tempting) stood in front of her assembled workforce and, after a turbulent time that left us fearing for our jobs, tried to reassure us by proudly announcing that, "Yes, we have reached the edge of a cliff, but I stand here before you and promise you that I am the person who is going to turn this round three hundred and sixty degrees and take that next step forward'.
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 15:00, 2 replies)
Absolutely 100% genuine.
"From: [email protected]
Sent: 07 Mar 11 16:19:52
Subject: "Total network outage in TW1 area for five days - no signal whatsoever!"

Dear Mr , we have tried to call you on your Three Network phone regarding your complaint several times today, but have been unable to reach you."
(, Mon 27 Feb 2012, 12:13, 2 replies)
Corporate Reorganisations.
Not for a company I worked for but an ex-colleague swears that this is true.

The company he was working for was going through one of those reorganisations that corporations like to do on a regular basis to justify the existence of certain middle managers.

The manager in charge of this was both incompetent and lazy and passed the reorganisation work onto his underlings, including the powerpoint presentations but taking all the credit for his hard work even though he wasn't even reading the reports, just passing them off as his own and claiming overtime for all the extra work he was putting in.

Anyway, the minions decided to organise the company into Business Units, each with its own manager.

The piece de resistance was with the naming of the units themselves with Computer Unit: Northern Territories.

The manger went to the reorganisation meeting with a powerpoint presentation reading John Smith: BUM CUNT.

Bit of a bugger considering that John Smith was his manager. Of course he tried claiming that it was his team who'd done it, forgetting that he'd put in expenses claims for doing the work himself.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 20:32, 2 replies)
Happy Birthday / new pet gerbil / catching the bad aids / whatever…LEAVE ME ALONE!...

Rant alert.

I realise that this post will not exactly cover me in glory. I am also aware that it’s only a tenuous link at best to corporate idiocy, as it is the general workforce and not any ‘Corporation’ per se that I consider at fault here. However, I can stay silent no longer.

The office that I work in is quite large – there are a few hundred people here. To put it another way, it’s just the exact right amount of people to result in there being some sort of daily ‘event’ …that requires the inevitable whip-round and the subsequent, oh-so-hilarious comments on some fucking flowery oversized card that will be chucked away within five minutes.

‘You’ve had a baby!’ – that’s wonderful, I get it, jog on. ‘You’re sitting in a bath of beans for charity?’ – hilarious… good on you , now move along. ‘Oh, your twice-removed auntie Hilda has vet bills mounting for her limping tortoise?’… - Deepest sympathies…now please piss the cunt off.

I don’t think ‘desensitisation’ is quite the correct word here, but I hope you get what I mean. My once proud spirit of generosity has slowly been reduced to a mere cynical sneer when I am approached by constant requests for me to put my hand in my pocket and drain my precious beer fund just so I can contribute towards some random bollocks that is happening to some useless twunt that I probably don’t even know.

I understand…I disgust you. I’m tighter than a crabs’ arse at a thousand fathoms. Don’t get me wrong here, I realise that I’m not going to be up for the Nobel peace prize anytime soon – yet at this moment in time I don’t care.

Take your begging and fuck right off.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 16:25, 13 replies)
'Blue Sky Thinking'...

I could cheerfully recite quite a few examples of times when I have been properly shafted by corporate cuntishness (I’m in the middle of a dispute with a company as we speak.) However, for a change I thought I’d just leave this list here of pretty much everything I hate about modern corporate culture…

The robotic voices that answer our calls
And make life as fun as a kick in the balls
‘Security questions’ each place that I go
Taking 26 passwords to just say ‘hello’

The Jobsworths and policies make me so tense
With their stubborn refusal to listen to sense
If they had a brain they’d know things were amiss
But they ‘don’t make the rules’, and it boils my piss.

The skilled employees who are losing their jobs
While the ‘senior managers’ fiddle with knobs
The money that’s spunked on those ‘team building games’
and the call centre 'forriners' with fake English names

The wankers whose only concern is the ‘sale’
Before they hand over to ‘team epic fail’
Consultancies costing us squillions of dosh
To botch up shite logos that look like old Tosh

Big corporate bonuses backslap away
While blame culture vultures will shaft you next day
Buzzwords and catchphrases hide the inept.
By the carpet where insider scandals are swept

When I think about it, I just can't believe
How some companies guess that we’re all so naive
When all is considered it’s not very hard...

Just give us respect …don’t be a fucktard.
(, Fri 24 Feb 2012, 12:41, 5 replies)
Worked nights at Royal Mail over the Christmas period.
Did so the year before, employed/paid by RM, and it was fine.

This year the recruitment and payroll process was
done through Angard, an agency set up by RM and
staffed by people from Reed. Pay rate was £1.13/hr less.

None of us were paid on time, it was over three weeks
before some of us got any money at all. This was
happening all over the country, forcing them to send
Royal Mail execs to appease us (no-one from Angard, who
were completely unaccountable from the get-go). RM
eventually had to dish out cashable vouchers to those
who'd received nothing by week 3.

One girl I worked with had no money to cover bills, food, her
dad's 50th or Christmas, and had to wait until the contract
ended (24th) before she could start to sort things out. She
was reduced to tears at points - by the last week, of twenty
or so of us recruited for that shift, only four or five were left.
Everyone else had walked.

Another colleague got this payslip after three weeks. The
account details weren't even his. Tomorrow, it's the NHS.

(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 13:12, 6 replies)
Invoice of the Beehive…

Where I work, It appears that we have consistently been paying BT for a WAN service that we had disconnected in September. Duh, for a start, but in order to get our collective shit together for the backlash, I have been given the frankly gleeful task of ploughing through the invoices to see what cash we can scratch back. Once I got over the initial shock of being asked to do something, I leapt into action like the highly efficient, work-a-holic beast that I am! (In other words, I muttered under my breath about how this was going to interrupt ‘nap time’, and 'If I got grumpy later on it would be all their fault').

My hopes for a swift and successful conclusion were not exactly high when I asked the finance department for said invoices. The mongaloid I spoke to shuffled about a bit, said ‘errrrm’ a lot, and then proceeded to inform me that they didn’t really know where such invoices would be kept. Awesome.

I then contacted BT, and their accounts genius (who was either part of some ‘care in the community’ scheme, or had just been dropped off by the sunshine coach), proudly declared "I dunno, I’ll see what I can dig up..."

I have just received this information now. In order for me to get a full picture of the situation, I required all invoices, credit notes, and a detailed breakdown of every charge incurred from the period of 1st September, to end of Jan. That is what I asked for…This is what I got:

A summary sheet from November. Just November. (asking for a metric fuckload of cash).

Five pages of an eight-page breakdown document, featuring charges that seems to span space and time willy nilly, adorned with lots of randomly scrawled doodles, including a simply darling ‘crudely drawn cock’.

A 60+ page document highlighting full credit note details…Brilliant, if it wasn't for the fact that they're all for another company - one that I've never heard of.

Realising I’m pretty much fucked here, I attempted to bumble through what there was to see if there was anything I could remotely make head or tail out of. Jesus-H-tapdancing-Christ! You’d need a degree in hard sums just to get your head round the Reference numbers for fuck’s sake, let alone the descriptions of services...For instance, we were charged £540 In October for ‘IPC Ac ch Sand 512 COS’. What the oinking fuck? The whole lot of it is like that. Yegods - they’ve picked the wrong guy to sort out this bad boy. I haven’t got a blinking Scooby.

Now, I’ve never professed to be a veritable Brian (Isaac) Cox or anything, but honest to murgatroyd, aren’t these things supposed to make some sort of vague bastard sense?

With my tinfoil hat securely in place, I ask: Is there some sort of conspiracy going on?. Do companies deliberately make invoices so buggeringly boggling, in order for terminally spacktarded folks like me to just 'give up and pay up'? (or let them get away with fucking up?)

because I think that’s what I’m going to do.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 12:18, 11 replies)
Mail Order wine for everyone
Mail order wine company intent on sending their catalogue to every address in the country. This frequently led to hysterical, angry, abusive people phoning the call centre demanding to be removed from the mailing list.

Those who took the time to write in were far more polite. My favourites:

A long letter on notepaper in old granny cursive with extensive details on the elderberry and blackberry home-made wine she was making at 16p a bottle and therefore had no need to buy any wine.

The I-think-you-want-my-Dad letter from an eight year old who bemoaned the fact he only got 50p a week pocket money and proudly added he was too young to drink alcohol.

The scary, child-like scrawl from an inmate of HMP Wakefield who was very grateful at being offered the promotion but regretfully informed us that wine was not allowed in prison and even if it was the governor was a right stingy git who wouldn't buy any anyway.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:00, Reply)
The marvels of contracting
Some years ago I was working for an agency that was sending people to Braintree (a small town in North Essex, about twenty miles away) to distribute wheely-bins to homes on behalf of the council. They came back after the first day saying there hadn't been any work for them to do. It turned out that, due to the council sniffing out the cheapest labour it could find, four different companies were involved in getting these bins to the people of Braintree. As a result, it wasn't the most co-ordinated effort going on over there.

Now, you would probably assume, like I did, that wheely-bins and their lids, being made of the same kind of plastic and being part of the same finished product, would be made in the same factory. But no, the bins were made in Birmingham, if I recall correctly, while the lids were being made somewhere in the south of France. On a Friday, the driver with the bins had apparently driven to a town with a similar name in Yorkshire, not realised his mistake until it was too late and only had time to head back to Brum. His error had then not been handed over, and a different driver set out on the Monday and done the exact same thing. The lid delivery men from France on the other hand, despite having to come a lot further and apparently not speaking any English, seemed to have no trouble finding Braintree, and a lorry was turning up every day (including the weekend) full of lids. Meanwhile, there were three blokes from Cornwall who were supposed to be there to attach the lids to the bins. But what with the cock-up, all they had done was spend five days living in a caravan, with nothing to do but stare at an ever-growing pile of wheely-bin lids.
(, Sun 26 Feb 2012, 17:02, 4 replies)
I applied for a temp Christmas job with Royal Mail and they insisted I apply online, as they refused to accept postal applications

(, Sat 25 Feb 2012, 0:08, 7 replies)
Once upon a time
There was a corporate system known as "banking". This system at its core involved lending money to people and then charging them a percentage of the value.

Of course, "money" is simply an abstract concept used in lieu of bartering, so as there is a finite amount of any given resource there is also a finite amount of "money".

However, this "banking" system ignores this fact and pretends that money is a real thing in its own right.

Inevitably and hilariously the system began to collapse when there was more "money" owed than there were resources available in the world. Of course the "bankers" didn't care about this because as long as people continued to believe the lie that this "money" had some intrinsic value outside of the abstract, the bankers could spend this imaginary resource on real things like speedboats and cocaine.

Just like the Emperor and his new clothes, nobody wanted to come out and say that they could see the elephant in the room, and certainly nobody wanted to have to give back their speedboats and cocaine, so everybody carried on trying to prop up this worldwide Ponzi scheme to absurd degrees. Soon some countries owed eleventy basquillion dollars, but apart from alarmist headlines in newspapers, nothing really changed.

To be continued...
(, Thu 23 Feb 2012, 14:28, 31 replies)
My girlfriend's dad (GFD) worked for a well known high street jewelers
they were in the process of closing one of two stores in Perth, Scotland (this bit is important). He has been called in as manager of the other store to help pack up and take note of all the stock as it would be getting moved to his store.

There was still a fair amount there so they called in a courier to take all of the jewelry to the other store in the same town, Perth. It all gets collected by the courier who's name escapes me but might have been DHL, and everything's fine. it'll take a day or two to be processed by the warehouse and sent out says the guy from the courier.

4 days later it's still not arrived, so he phones the courier and gets their central call centre. the woman pulls up the delivery on the screen and says that they tried to deliver it that day but the street didnt exist in Perth. It clearly does replies GFD, I'm standing in it. Oh says call centre monkey you dont sound australian...

Yep that's right, they'd sent it to Perth, australia 9119 miles from its intended destination
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 9:08, 18 replies)
A good few years ago I worked for IBM.
Mostly what I did was what amounts to 2nd line tech support for EPOS equipment - people in shops would ring up their helpdesk, who would ask them to check it was plugged in and that there was paper in the receipt printer, and then on discovering it was actually on fire would raise a ticket with us (yes, someone really did call the helpdesk who raised a ticket with us for a till that was *actually on fire* at the time, instead of maybe ringing the Fire Brigade). You could often tell when a store had just got a new manager, because you'd get a rush of tickets for "silly" things, like cracked little plastic brackets for the customer display. Or, in this case, little flappy plastic covers.

Anyone else here old enough to remember video recorders? Right, well, you know the little flappy plastic cover over the buttons you didn't use very much, like the tuning controls and clock setting buttons? Well the tills that WH Smith use have a flappy plastic cover like that over the disk drive on the PC part of the till. These get broken off, because they're mounted at knee height and constantly get battered until the little plastic flimsy clips break.

So, this new manager decided he wanted all the little plastic flappy covers replaced, all eight of them. There was a bit of discussion, and it was decided that since this was customer damage, they weren't covered by the maintenance contract so they'd have to pay. In the end I rang him up, gave him the price per little flappy cover and asked if he wanted them posted out?

No, send an engineer.

Right, okay, but that's going to be an engineer callout *per ticket*, to fit a little flappy plastic cover that just clips on.

Don't care, want an engineer.

So that is how a WH Smith manager managed to talk himself into paying £1.50 for parts and £500 for labour, for each of eight tills, to replace a little flappy plastic cover that covers a blanking plate for a disk drive that isn't fitted.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 23:08, Reply)

This question is now closed.

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