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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.

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)
This is being used as a test of our internal management structure.
If you're using that line to try and get us to do something we haven't, I'd say the results are already conclusive.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 22:11, Reply)
Oh yes
I have just received a letter from "St. James's place wealth management plc" inviting me to one of three free seminars/lunches held in a couple of VERY nice hotels as a way of telling me about ways to "shield my heirs against inheritance tax" and "secure my savings against inflation and taxation".*

I am 21 and a nearly penniless student. I really, really want to show up to the seminar, sleep through the talk and stuff myself at the meal. "Yeshh *munch munch* it's a *chomp* very interesting series of *drink drink drink* propositions. Maybe in fifty years". The only catch is that the talks are being held when I'm 400 miles away. Anyone in the Suffolk area want to go?

*My first thought was "pyramid scheme" and my dad's was "timeshare". As soon as my mum heard who had been writing to me, she couldn't stop laughing.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 21:50, 10 replies)
Post Office
Grandparents sent 3 year old son 4th birthday present in the post. Unfortunately, they sent it recorded/signed for and addressed it to him personally. Nice touch Grandma! Unfortunately Postie didn't bother ringing the doorbell, so Mrs Nitrous had to collect parcel from the sorting office.

Sorting office informed her that 3 year old son needed to come in person to the sorting office with ID and sign for it himself.

I hope they don't mind it being signed in crayon!
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 21:17, 8 replies)
I was told this story at a training session once...
An NHS trust was facing severe financial difficulties, but didn't want to make anyone redundant.

Apparently they switched off their internet-monitoring system and gave everyone free access to anything online they wanted.

But didn't change their internet usage policy...

...then ran an internet use audit several weeks later and sacked everyone who'd used the internet in an unauthorised way.

Actually, that's corporate arseholiosity, not idiocy... and stretching the bounds of believability... was sworn to me as gospel though
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:41, 10 replies)
Fucking Vodafone
For the last three years or so I'd been on something described as 'unlimited' internet.

I finally got myself a decent smartphone and downloaded a bunch of apps and the version upgrade to Android. Cue text message, email and letter from Vodafone - "you've gone over 500mb of data, we're charging you an extra £5."

Several annoyed phone calls to Vodafone later it turns out that:

By 'unlimited' they mean you are allowed 500mb/month.

Only being allowed 500mb is definitely NOT a 'limit' it is a 'fair usage policy'.

Using 587mb once in three and a half years counts as 'unfair usage' even though it was used setting up a phone they had given me.

The 'fair usage policy' has been superseeded and they now automatically charge for going over the 'unlimit'.

Based on a sample size of about a dozen Vodafone operators, 100% of Vodafone workers are too stupid to explain why being limited to 500mb counts as 'unlimited'.

Vodafone have a 1gb internet package. This is also 'unlimited', it just happens to be twice as 'unlimited' as the 500mb package, which doesn't have any limits.

Vodafone would rather lose a customer who had been with them for ten years and would probably have stayed with them for ten more rather than credit £5 to that person's account.

So now I'm on GiffGaff. Ten pounds a month (without contract) and I get 500 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet. They didn't make a squeak last month when I apparently used well over 3gb of data and, according to my online account, somehow managed to use a data connection on 32 days in January.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:37, 11 replies)
If it moves, and it shouldn't, use
gaffa tape.

If it doesn't move and it should, call Tittish Belicom.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:31, 2 replies)
Tee hee. Tittish Belicom.

(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:20, 3 replies)
Missing the "flaming" obvious

As you are paid to inspect our property every week and report on any incidents that might effect the insurance, then perhaps the fact that the building burnt down 3 weeks ago might have been worth mentioning.

(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:16, 9 replies)
I'm currently drunk at work.
I'm rubbish at my job, but I'm cheap. In accordance with this policy, my employers have made several 'competent' employees redundant to 'cut costs', and they now have me instead.

Makes you feel proud.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 16:04, 5 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)
Slight roast of a pea
I had a conversation with no less than 2 direct line phone monkeys (after insuring with them for 12 years) late last year. My insurance premiums for car and house had gone up by a ridiculous margin (car insurance on a 1.9 diesel Peugeot at 1200 quid for the year anyone).

I asked if my address had changed to downtown Basra or perhaps i had unknowingly taken up ram raiding my own house. Perhaps, i postulated they had mistaken me for a 19 year old ratboy with a penchant for driving my motor at 90 mph on winding dirt roads off my tits on disco biscuits?
I was assured that this wasn't the case and that although i hadn't made a claim my insurance had gone up due to a spate of fraudulent whiplash claims in the country and lets not forget because of inflation. My plee for a cheaper quote in the name of customer loyalty fell on deaf ears and i now pay around a half of what i was paying to a different company (and my daughter and son each have a shiny new meerkat toy to boot).
Fuck you direct line. I hope your head office burns down and your CEO gets syphilitic aids.
Slight edit to please Scarpe bless his little cotton socks
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 15:58, 6 replies)
Penny wise
I used to work for a rather strange charity which ran summer holidays for children. One of the things I did was arrange the travel, which meant that I spent hours on the phone every summer buying many hundreds of rail tickets and packaging them up in bundles for the escorting staff.

One year I felt very pleased with myself for getting everything done and dusted several weeks in advance, and handed the sealed, addressed envelopes over to the CEO (and founder) for posting.

Later, when the shit hit the fan, I discovered that he had decided (a) to send them second class to save money and (b) to wait until the last moment before sending them, "last moment" being "two days before travel day".

I stopped counting the cost of the replacement tickets we had to buy when it got to £400. I am sure it ended up at least twice that. Almost all the delayed tickets were advance purchase, so no refund possible.

And how much did the dozy old fool save by sending them second class? In total, about one pound and sixty pence.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 15:49, 1 reply)
please, for the love of mono!'s bumhole,
stop calling it 'tittish bellicom' or variations thereon. it's making my teeth itch.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 15:28, 16 replies)
those damn corporations
what a bunch of fucking cunts
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 15:25, 1 reply)
Recent corporate communication
Went something like:

"The intranet page for [latest big thing] can be found at [link]. This communication to be printed out and placed on department noticeboards for colleagues without intranet access."
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 15:00, Reply)
Hanging's too good for 'em

which has introduced me to the word "gamification" which I initially took as meaning "making the business gammy" but it's even worse than that.

"Millennials are different from previous generations largely because of their exposure to video games. These have really changed their expectations of how work should be. They actually think work should be fun."

(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 14:58, 7 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)
I can't claim to be able to verify this tale, but it's worryingly believable
A large multinational company had a documents archive. Every design document that was written had to be produced as a pair, with one copy sent to the archive.

After several decades in the job, the archive warehouse manager was retiring. A keen young replacement was found, and sent down to learn the ropes. He was shown how the documents arrived, and how they were signed in.

"And now, son, I'm going to let you into a secret which will help you have a long, happy career. After I'd been doing this job for a few years, I noticed that no-one ever asked to see the documents once they'd got here. So, for the last twenty years or more, after they've been signed in, I've just chucked them in the bin. Every last one of them."

(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 14:35, 4 replies)
More Tittish Bellicon stupidity
Back in the day, I worked for them for quite a while. On one project, every month we had a meeting in the Midlands - a central enough location given how spread around the UK everyone was. The meeting was held in an upstairs room in a pub with sandwiches - so top marks at least for keeping the costs down.

However, in the group of around 12 of us, there was one guy whose presence at the meeting was something of a mystery. I imagine that at the planning stage, someone thought we needed the input of XYZ team and so he got drafted in.

I noticed after about the 3rd meeting that this bloke never said a word all meeting, bar the initial introductions and then the grunts of assent that would go round the table at the conclusion of the proceedings.

I attended those meeting for at least 18 months, and it got hard not to laugh with my boss at this guy's presence there. He literally contributed nothing, apart from a "Fine by me" at the end of every session. Still, it got him out of the office one day a week, but with travel and time, must have cost say the profits from a village of BT subscribers to send him there once a month. Hey ho.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 13:28, 2 replies)
Call centre mind fuckery.
In a massive moment of poverty and desperation I took a job in a call centre. Worse, this was tele sales and double glazing at that. Turning up properly dressed, looking people in the eye and shaking peoples hand immediatly put me on the back foot.

We were given a large book of numbers to call. This wasn't the a carefully selected directory of numbers, just a group of numbers in ascending order starting with the area code. Easy to dial in, but I got bored of doing all 11 digits. I quickly realised I could get the phone to redial the first 8 and I'd tap in the last 3. Good for the day basically. Saved me a few minutes I figured so I just carried on as normal. Eventually one of the 'seniors' noticed I was only dialling three numbers. Snatching the phone away she listened to the other end of the line to check I was actually doing some work. 'Your only pressing 3 buttons?' she scowled at me. 'Yeah I'm using the redial button to do the rest'. Silence, the whole room is looking at me.

I presume her thougth process was thus

'good idea'
'wait, that's obvious.'
'fuck, it's so obvious, why haven't we done that before?'
'fuck it he's making us look stupid, let's stamp on the smart arse'

Hence I was ridiculed for 'using my alevels'. I also failed to partake in the working hours drug consumption which further set me apart. Gone within the week.

(ignore the fact I didn't make many(any) sales. please?)
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 13:24, Reply)
Just thought of another one
A couple of years ago, before the NHS cash crisis really started to bite, people were talking about ways to save money. One of my colleagues told me about the secondment her friend was currently on, where they met once a week to discuss ways to save money...

...at a four-star hotel about 40 minutes drive away, with all catering laid on
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 13:05, 1 reply)
One of the managers here...
...gets involved in every project going, even though they're nothing to do with him, and knows enough about everything that's going on to think he's on top of it all, when in fact he's the epitome of (to paraphrase) "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". Some of his "highlights" include:

-Telling the technicians that they couldn't have fans in their office during 2009's really hot summer as "they actually make the room warmer due to their motors" and "the cables are a trip hazard" - this even though they were desk fans, plugged into the sockets the technicians have on their desks

-Vetoing a project (that he'd signed off initially) for community staff to access our systems on laptops, using remote access tokens. The network had been set up, the staff had been trained, RAS tokens were purchased, the laptops were ordered... and then he decided that it was "dangerous for people to have access to the systems while they're not on site". Even though we all have remote access for on-call purposes

-Getting someone to do a little task for him, ranging from half a day's work to a couple of weeks... and then giving someone else exactly the same job to do, both victims blissfully unaware that they're duplicating work until they try and access something at the same time and realise what's happened. He's done this at least three times that I'm aware of

-He's currently got me trying to eradicate an EIGHT SECOND delay in opening one of our systems. Surely with all the problems the NHS is currently facing, an eight second delay is the least of our worries?

The worst thing is everyone knows what he's like, all the other managers think he's a twat, and no-one does anything about it. Why? What has he got over them?
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 13:02, 3 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)
Enterprise Inns
I deal with them on a daily basis.
There aren't enough swear words to describe what an utter bunch of useless fuck-tards they are.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 12:17, 4 replies)
It's official, you're scum and must die.
Seatbelts. Used to be optional, now they're compulsory. That was the situation with cars in the 80s.

The same happened with HGVs in 2001. They were optional before, but most manufacturers put them in as standard. If they were fitted, they became part of the MOT after 2001: if broken, they needed fixing.

With me so far?

A local haulier bought new vehicles in late 2000. He told the dealer not to put in seatbelts. Between the order going in and the delivery date, the manufacturer had changed from optional seatbelts to standard.

When the vehicles arrived the transport manager went round them with Stanley knife and cut all the belts out: "they'll drive more carefully if they think they'll be killed".

Of course when the first MOT rolled round in a year (HGVs are tested a year after registration rather than 3) all the vehicles failed on the spot.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 12:06, 2 replies)
Not sure if this is corporate idiocy, or just
how life is, but there is a tried and tested phenomenon, which has even been distilled into a snappy phrase, that ruins good businesses.

The problem is genetics. There are many examples, I have worked for two of them in my time.

Generation 1 builds the business.

Generation 2 enjoy the results

Generation 3 haven't got a fucking clue and ruin it.

Rags to riches to rags.

'Course, one of the logical factors that create more problems is multiplication - One smart Grandpa builds a big business, which is passed to 4 kids, who pass it to 13 of their offspring. The trough gets a bit crowded.

It's all very noble to want to pass down a family business equally, but if you don't look for the right one of your kids to pass control to (or if none of them are capable), there's no guarantee the business will survive.

I worked for a company that was founded by a man revered in our industry, his son, who was my boss was a charming but hopeless businessman. His kids were obnoxious spoilt brats who we all loathed.

I left in 1999, they stopped trading in 2005.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 12:05, 4 replies)
BT vision
get BT vision and receive a box that can pause and record live TV - for free.

You quickly realise that BT vision is basically Freeview.

and once you have left BT, the £200 recordable TV box now becomes useless, as it requires an activation signal from BT for it to work.

So i go to sell it on Ebay - and find they are going for pennies. The same spec box bought on the market goes for £250. So i found myself throwing it onto the tip along with its "advance wireless router" which also was unusable after I migrated away from them,

Waste of money in ever aspect.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 11:56, 4 replies)
Monster Munch reminded me of something....
In an effort to 'trim the fat' an edict was handed down to the cleaners that bin bags were not to be binned. They were to be emptied into the skips, washed and reused until they can no longer be used.

It's a weird one. And they say the NHS doesn't know how to make savings...
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 11:32, 3 replies)
I resent the implication, found in many posts this week,
that CEO's and other senior managers are stupid.

Remorseless psychopaths don't like being called stupid any more than anyone else.
(, Tue 28 Feb 2012, 10:35, 7 replies)

This question is now closed.

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