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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.

Children's passports
My children have my surname, their mother has a different surname. With alarming frequency she is harassed at Passport Control when travelling with them as she "cannot prove that she is their mother and cannot prove she has permission to travel with the children".

Various Immigration Officers have suggested that she travels either with copies of their Birth Certificates – which do not show parents' names, are "not to be used for identification purposes", and can be obtained by anyone willing to pay the relevant fee – or with a letter from me giving my permission for her to travel with them – trivial to forge. This is to "help prevent child abduction". Neither suggestion takes into account the possibility of a child being abducted by someone with the same surname.

BUT this only ever happens when she is returning with them to the UK, never on departure. It's hardly abduction if she's bringing them back, is it?

If children under a certain age are not allowed to travel without the permission of their parent(s) or guardian(s) then why are those details not in their passports?

This used to annoy my sister so much that she got passports for her children in her husband's nationality.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 11:50, Reply)
I work for a big corporate, and I'm an idiot
I had a meeting yesterday with a woman I'd not met before. Her name is Charmaine (I know) and she works at a different office. We'd arranged to meet in the open area with tables/chairs...

I wandered over at the given time, saw that there was only one woman (quite attractive actually) sitting by herself, so I walked right over and said:

"Hello, are you Saskia?"

"No, my name's Charmaine."

"Of course it is. I've no idea why I called you that. Sorry, I'm Che."

Great start to a meeting...I've still NO IDEA where the name Saskia came from!

Senility beckons, luckily I can ignore it as I've lost my glasses again and I can't see it.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 11:12, 7 replies)
Medical Idiocy

This is more personal idiocy than corporate idiocy but, as the doctor in question does work for a large health trust and it's the end of the week, I'm posting it

To set the scene. I write software for hospitals. Today, I got a complaint that they couldn't load some images up to the persons record. I checked and they were trying to upload bmp files. The system doesn't support bmp files.

An hour ago I sent this email.

I’m convinced that you medical people are trying to break my brain. 3 hours I’ve spent trying to figure out why that jpeg won’t upload. Then I figured it out. That’s not a jpg file – it’s too big. Examining file properties show me that it’s a bmp file that someone has renamed to a jpg extension.


As per previous instructions, open the bitmap file in windows Paint. Save file as a jpg. You can’t just rename a file extension and expect it to magically convert itself. It’s the medical equivalent of taking a packet of drugs, scratching out asprin and then writing viagra on the packet instead. It doesn’t change the contents and it won’t give you a hard on.

Stuff it. I’m going for a drink.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 10:46, 30 replies)
Stands for bandwagon teamwork
Yay synergy of our brain assets to top level blue sky turnkey thinking.
To make an unfunny joke.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 10:11, 10 replies)
My next door neighbour live in an old mill house which they restored from near-dereliction. When they were getting the plans approved, the building control officer for the local council told them sternly that they must ensure that at least 10% of the external wall area had to be windows. If they did not meet this requirement, they were told, they would be prosecuted.

The place is Grade 1 listed, so they needed listed building consent too. The listed buildings officer, working down the corridor for the building control officer, told the that they must ensure that no more than 5% of the external wall area had to be windows. If they did not meet this requirement, they were told, they would be prosecuted.

They told the building control officer that they couldn't meet the 10% rule without being prosecuted by the council under listed building regulations. "Not my problem. Talk to the listed building man."

They told the listed building man that the couldn't meet the 5% rule without being prosecuted by the council under building control regulations. "Not my problem. Talk to the building control man."

Same council. Same department. They restoration project had to be put on hold for nine months while it went backwards and forwards, involving solicitors, architects and stupidity. Finally, after considerable expense, they were told that 7.5% windows would be fine.

My local council. Fucking stuff up since they day they started.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 10:06, 5 replies)
You see? This is an amusing 'play on words' as it were, on the comapny name 'British Telecom'. LOLZ! However, dig deeper and you'll discover it additionally implies that the company staff are of low levels of intelligence, and that they may be partial to jelly.

I'd like to think they'd prefer raspberry flavour, given the choice.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 10:02, 2 replies)
Nobody does it better
than the Germans. Ungersvens sad tale reminded me of this, which happened to my sister a few years back, when she got a DAAD award to spend a year at a German university. She went to the Studentedsiedlung (halls of residence) when she arrived, and was told that she needed to pay the rent to get access.

10 So she went to the university to get her money from the DAAD and was told she couldn't get it until she had a bank account.

20 The bank wouldn't open an account until she had a residence permit from the police.

30 The police wouldn't give her a residence permit until she had a receipt for accommodation.

40 The accommodation people wouldn't give her a receipt until she paid.


Luckily we have relatives nearby, who were able to give her a temporary address and break the Cycle of Bureaucratic Inanity. Otherwise she'd probably still be walking from office to office, trying to get someone to crack.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 9:59, 5 replies)
Bhritiche Teliq'om
I hav no stori and also I kanot spel.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 9:43, 6 replies)
British Telecom?!
More like British TelecoN!!!!!!!!!!
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 9:24, 13 replies)
I signed up for the 30 day free trial for Experian after finding out that British Gas had fucked up their billing three years previously and neglected to tell me, just in case there was any other stuff on there. I ended up keeping it for three weeks until I was back on 999 (fuck knows how, I never pay anything on time), then decided to cancel. Unfortunately, although you can sign up with no hassle online, cancelling involves a premium rate phone number and a menu maze, not the kind of thing you want to be calling internationally.

I had a stroke of luck two days later when I lost the debit card it was being billed to, so I got the old one cancelled and got an email from Experian saying:

In order to keep your membership, you must register a new payment card.

No thanks! A month later I get:

We have made a number of unsuccessful attempts to take payment for your CreditExpert membership, but you must update your payment details before your membership is cancelled.

followed by:

We'll have to cancel your membership which means that you will not be alerted to changes to your credit status.

Jackpot! Except, two days later, I got billed for two months of Experian membership. I called up Experian, they said they got my new VISA/CVSS numbers from my bank. I call my bank and they say something along the lines of "Bullshit, that's illegal". Turns out that Experian had called up VISA and they'd sent along updated billing details. Apparently they don't see how their emails constitute them cancelling the membership, and insisted that as I didn't call up their customer service number to confirm I was still a member. So, I gave them a choice, 1) refund the money, 2) I notify my bank that this is fraud and Experian get two fraud chargebacks, taking the money they owe me up from £30 to £130.

They get pretty upset at this being called fraud, and refuse to refund the money, so I offer choice 3) I use Moneyclaimonline and claim for the money they owe me, interest and court fees. They then have to send some of their expensive lawyers down to Bristol to explain to small claims court that I did owe them thirty quid, costing them many hundreds as claiming back costs are capped in small claims court. They went for option 2 in the end. It makes me giggle to know that I got Experian done for banking fraud.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 9:03, 8 replies)
Tittish wankflaps
(more like)
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 9:03, Reply)
More like
Shitish Bellendicom.
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 8:43, 6 replies)
more like
British SMELLicom
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 8:34, 2 replies)
The Post Office
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 8:08, 1 reply)
Courthouse Reminder
An agricultural machinery firm rep. came to see us one day, while we were chatting over a cup of tea I said "While you are here I might as well 'settle up' this month's bill instead of posting it " I got the cheque book out and made some little quip with words to the effect "We don't want to be taken to court by your lot for non-payment of account do we?" With that the guy burst out laughing and recanted the following tale. He had called to see a customer and he was greeted with the words "Oh am I glad to see you! I forgot to pay my last bill and your firm is going to take me to COURT! Let me make you a cheque out now so you can take it back with you, I don't want to go to get into trouble, really" So the rep said "Court? what! I have never known my company take anyone to court!" So the guy replied "Yes , this morning I got a letter from them , a "Courthouse reminder!" The rep replied "Courthouse reminder? What do you mean 'Courthouse reminder? Well I think I had better have a look at that letter myself if you don't mind, I just don't get this at all". So The guy nervously gave him the envelope, The rep took out the letter and began to read it for himself. It began : "Dear Mr. _______ Re your account, this is a courteous reminder......"
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 7:54, Reply)
British Telecom
Did I do it right?
(, Thu 1 Mar 2012, 5:37, 1 reply)
Brother Can You Spare A Dime?
I have a cheap laser printer. A Brother HL-2132. Cost, brand new, $37.94. The toner unit that ships with it prints 1200 pages. A replacement toner cartridge, that prints 1500 pages, costs $59.95. So, my cost per copy is :

37.94/1200 - 3.1 cents per copy

If I replace the toner:

59.95/1500 - 3.9 cents per copy.

So, every time I run out of toner I just buy a new printer. This also saves me having to buy a replacement drum as, if I replaced that when it failed, it would cost me $129.95.

There's something very, very wrong with this pricing model.

Edit: I buggered up on how many sheets the original toner prints. It's 700 not 1200 and totally bugger up my maths. It means my printing costs are 5.42 cents per copy and not 3.1. I'm right about the drum though.


P.S. Anyone want a free printer? Just needs toner
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 23:57, 7 replies)
Conversation below about the cost price of glasses reminded me of something else................
When I worked for a different large high street opticians, some bright spark in head office found himself reasoning thus: the cost price of glasses is fuck all, the rest of the price goes into the making of, selling and testing for the glasses. Therefore the bulk of the sale price of specs is nearly all services. If we charge people just the cost price of the glasses and then claim the rest of the price to be services, only the cost price will be taxed. The customer ends up paying the same, but we will make more profit.
So when before a receipt would read like this:

Frame £100
Lenses £50
Total £150

It now read like this:

Frame: £30
Lenses: £20
Customer Service: £100

Total: £150

The receipts went into a folder which explained all this but we would still get phone calls every day wanting to know what the hell they had spent £100 on.
There was an official script for us to recite but it still didn't cut much ice with many people.
What few people knew was that you could sign a piece of paper saying that you don't want any help with the selection, fitting or further servicing (like changing nose pads) of your glasses and you would just pay the cost price.

I think this lasted about 3 months before head office got fed up with the complaints.
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 21:22, 2 replies)
Big Twits
Somehow over the course of a year Big Twits overcharged my direct debit by a considerable amount - enough to completely pay for another year up front. They had an offer on so I called them up and asked to take advantage... but they wanted me to pay the full amount by card and wouldn't refund me the outstanding balance for three months. No matter how I explained that they already had the money their call staff weren't able to navigate whatever system they had in place. I ended up complaining and a few months later got a letter through the door - asking me for feedback about how my complaint was handled. Sigh.
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 21:04, Reply)
The interest on my balance
A couple of years ago I received a bill from barclaycard telling me that from my account which stood at 0.00p I owed interest and had to pay them 0.01p.

Not being one to take the matter quietly I gave them a call. I said to the call center phoneperson that I was willing to pay any interest they wanted on the spot for my balance of 0p. I suggested a comfortable 1000%. I asked her to get a calculator and put percentage into it of Zero and if the result was anything other than nothing I would pay it.

After a couple of seconds she said the balance was reset to zero. I then pointed out that the call I had just made would have undoubtedly cost me more than 1p so they credited it by £5... Epic Win for principle stands I felt.
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 20:34, 2 replies)
Playing Virgin off against Sky
Sky box only has a warranty of 12 months, and they usually only offer a 12 month contract on their deals.

My dads Sky box broke after 16 months, we were advised it would cost £150 for a new box. We refused. We asked if we could get another 12 months contract for a new box. They wouldnt offer.

So I asked to cancel, was put through to their 'cancelation department to 'cancel the account'

I explained my issue, and explained Virgin offer the same sort of deal and will replace any set top box that has a fault.

Man explains he can offer a replacement box, but this time it would be even better with HD and Sky plus at no extra cost....but only if we take out a new 12 month contract.

oooh, thats difficult. wasnt expecting that.

I agreed.

We also got Sky movies free for 2 months for staying with them.

What was the point in speaking to two people for one thing and spending 30 minutes wasting mine and their times in the process?
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 17:54, 7 replies)
Someone should write a really long story in reply to this QOTW.

(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 16:58, 2 replies)
Another police one (I suppose that's copperate idiocy)
When I discovered a large gap where my motorcycle should be, I reported it to the police without much hope of it being recovered. But blow me down, a few days later I found a note pushed through my letterbox, telling me that they'd located the bike on some wasteground about half a mile away.

The note said that they'd "been unable to secure the bike", so had left it where it was. It was a pity that police officers don't carry, for example, some kind of locking metal loops connected by a short chain, which could be locked around things they don't want to be removed. That would be crazy, right?

Not surprisingly, by the time I got to the site, the bike had been stolen again. So, I called them up to tell them. I was told I had to report this as a new crime, and get a new number etc. So, I took the next morning off work and made my way to plod central for the second time in as many days.

After queuing for some time - the delay was caused by them not having anyone able to speak French, despite the town being a major tourist destination - I eventually got to the desk and explained why I was there.

"Oh, you didn't need to come in, it will just stay as an open case."

Never saw it again.
(, Wed 29 Feb 2012, 16:36, 7 replies)

This question is now closed.

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