People Startle Us With Their Malicious Compliance Revenge Stories
13. She Has To Get Her Maternity Clothes Inspected By HR? They Said It Was Fine
“This happened several years ago.
After onboarding a new job, I was told I could hire an assistant. The HR director, Kelly, handed me a stack of resumes, told me about a friend’s daughter, and bumped “Kat” to the top of my interview list.
Kat passed the tech test with high scores and interviewed well so, I hired her.
Kat showed up to work on time, had a good attitude, performed well on assignments, and was generally a pleasant person all around.
After probation, Kat was excited to tell me that her last raise was enough to get an apartment with her partner.
It was a couple of months after her raise that I started to notice Kelly spending an inordinate amount of time talking to Kat.
The convos sounded personal/cordial and Kelly was friends with Kat’s mom so, I didn’t think much about it… until one day Kelly barges into my office.
“Did you know Kat moved into an apartment with her partner?”
“I might have heard something about that.”
“Well, Kat is pregnant and her mom is devastated…” and proceeds to fill me in on the details of Kat’s personal life.
Uncomfortably, I interrupt acting like I have a lot going on.
“This really isn’t any of my business. If there’s something related to Kat’s performance that we need to discuss, please fill me in but as for me Kat is doing a great job.”
A few months pass.
Kat’s baby bump is starting to show. Kelly is again in my office.
“Kat is not in compliance with the dress code.”
Last staff meeting, Kelly handed out a dress code policy with a collage of various women’s shoes and dresses and suits presumably cut from fashion magazines to assist us to determine what was acceptable from what was not.
I picked up the policy and the Clipart sheets with a stare reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s I’m Of A Mind To Make Some Mookie! Batman/Joker scene.
“Is she wearing something in the ‘not allowed’ clippings?” As I began to spread the clip art around my desk.
“She isn’t wearing maternity clothes,” as Kelly points to the bullet about maternity clothes in the policy.
“Well, the policy clearly says maternity wear is allowed. Kat is clearly pregnant and she is wearing clothes, so…”
“You know what I mean when I say maternity clothes.
Clothes from a maternity store!”
I told Kelly that I would talk to Kat, which I did. Kat filled me in that there was some drama with her mom not liking her partner, that Kelly is involved.
etc. etc. I just told her to read the policy and be sure she complies – and no matter what, to trust me: I had her back.
The next day Kelly is in my office telling me that Kat is again not in compliance with the dress code.
At this point, Kelly knows I’m getting frustrated.
“OK. I’ll talk to her again. This time I want you present because I’m going to give her a formal warning and assign remedial training.”
I bring Kat into my office with Kelly present and formally read off my prepared statement making it clear that it will go into her permanent file.
“Kat, you were given a verbal warning yesterday to comply with this dress code. Because it is not clear to me what is or is not a violation of this policy, you are to report to the HR office 10 minutes early every morning for the next two weeks for the dress code inspection.
Report to me if HR finds your dress unfit. If you are found to be in violation of this policy and are unable to correct your dress before the start of the work day, your employment will be terminated.”
By the time I’m finished, Kat is tearing up and Kelly is staring at the floor, speechless.
I dismiss Kat.
“I hope that this is the last I hear about this because if I do, I’ll fire her” as Kelly, speechless, walks out of my office.
I told Kat not to worry about any of this; we have them where we want them.
So, for a week Kat reported to me that her clothes were fine per HR inspection. At the beginning of the second week she was chuckling, “Kelly told me that I look ‘very nice’ today.” Attitudes began to change and everyone was smiling.
I got called to the red carpet by Jim, the CEO. He tried to keep a straight face as he recited what he heard was going on and asked me to cut the remedial training short because it was embarrassing the HR staff.
Straight faced I said, “Well, Jim, if I stop the remedial training, I’d have to fire Kat. Company Policy clearly states that failure to complete a formal remediation plan is immediate termination. It is very clear…
there is zero tolerance.”
“You can’t fire a pregnant woman for what she wears. I’m asking… no, I’m TELLING you to stop.”
“Stop following company policy?”
Laughing he concedes “Ok. I am rescinding that ridiculous dress code policy effective immediately.””
12. Blame Me For Everything That Happened? I'm Not The One Who Initiated The New Policies
“I am a CO-owner. Not the entire owner. I can make certain decisions and change certain things, however, it is still possible for the corporate co-owners and other independent owners (like myself), to potentially undercut the decisions of others.
Keep that in mind please before you claim I stood by and let people destroy my business, I co-own.
Basically: I work for and partially own a media company. We do everything from video/film editing, audio repair, and forensics, to music production and engineering.
I mostly lead the music production and engineering department and once in a while the show/film/cinema/movie/streaming audio engineering aspects.
We of course have other owners and a board of other department leaders along with consultants and such.
The consultants and other purely business-minded and tasked associates are for the majority absolutely useless and totally disconnected from the actual day-to-day work of the company, and often come up with terrible ideas that seem great in concept (purely to them) and sometimes will attempt to force us to at least try them out.
As this is ongoing, I’ll share how it’s been thus far:
In not a lot, but a few, client reviews and follow-up calls from our also “wonderful” (/s) marketing and sales associates, some clients complained that the environment and mood were too “uptight” and the staff was “too focused on productivity and didn’t let us chill or relax”.
Being a business that is (thankfully) heavily booked, and with our staff always giving their all every day, of course, our daily focus is first of all: Safety and comfort of the staff first, and then clients, since most of the staff (including myself) are women, and we get all walks of life as clients.
As a second, working to ensure the absolute highest quality of production and professional atmosphere, that uses the clients and our time as best as possible.
Which to the sales/marketing and consultant staff, must mean we are doing everything absolutely incorrectly and everything must change, and we still need to maintain our productivity and profit though.
So, they (sales/marketing, corporate heads, etc., Not me or other department leaders), effectively told us about 2 weeks ago that we should try being a lot more lenient with clients. Not just time-wise, but allowing them to eat and drink in control rooms and live room (even though we have a full lunchroom/cafeteria thing with tons of food and drinks available at all times, and of course everyone is allowed water in the control and live rooms), along with also effectively telling us that we can only ask people to not smoke or generally potentially consume illegal substances in the buildings and on premises.
Overall, it went as well as I thought it would.
We had 3 or 4 client sessions.
One went very well and they were extremely professional so there wasn’t a single issue with time management and productivity, and the control room was clean and tidy for them coming in and as they left.
Two other clients also were generally respectful of the facilities, however, did leave the control rooms a mess with food wrappers, and bottles everywhere. We had to pay our cleaning crew for more hours and more intensive work which was a surprisingly high monetary and time cost.
However, it was the last client we had under the new policy that was an absolute terror. They smoked heavily in the control room, consumed large amounts of booze, were running and jumping around as they were inebriated in the facilities, and damaged some treatments and lighting on the ceiling.
All stuff that their deposit and incidentals on their credit card(s) could cover, right? Sure.
The worst was yet to come though, on the last night of their session (after we had to factor in more cleaning time and basically 2 techs to fix everything they messed with at their own leisure since we weren’t allowed to stop them from messing with the patch bays and things in general), they smashed and spilled an entire bottle of something sugary on the mixing console (a recently restored SSL 6K G+, we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.)
Effectively, they destroyed the console since the liquid caused arcing and burnt out the majority of the power supply, and ruined about half the channels irreparably.
That credit card they put down for incidentals? Yeah, turns out the $12k limit on it wasn’t going to cover the tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the mixing console and the room.
Of course, the client disappears without paying or coming up with a payment plan and did not get their final products, so now we have to track them down for claims, while the desk and room are currently under repair.
We have had wild clients before, however, our policy of being intolerant of clients screwing around and potentially hurting staff, equipment, or themselves has prevented any incidents, and even some of the wildest clients we have had, have understood it is a professional environment and been extremely professional while working with us.
Yes, I probably could have shut down the policy changes immediately since I completely foresaw the majority of the issues, however, I maliciously complied, as did my staff, to prove in the immediacy and for the future, that the marketing/sales and corporate heads should have zero say on our methodology and policy unless it truly would benefit our staff and clients.
The ongoing part is now there is to be a several-day review of the policy change so they can waste time attempting to figure out why it didn’t work out and how we lost time and money on it.
Real smart folks in the head offices.
The somewhat long-awaited update:
I’ll basically break it down into days and points.
Last Friday: First day of actually discussing what happened.
We basically went through the entire situation (myself and my personal company legal rep) with the corporate partner/co-owners over zoom.
I told them everything that happened, reiterated that there was definitely a misuse of power by the sales/marketing team, and at this point, we are going to have to effectively completely reestablish how the power structure and responsibilities break down, since the best interest of the staff and clients, along with the facilities, is not regarded at all by sales/marketing.
I also gave them all the emails and memos we were given, and all personal texts I got with vague threats over suspending funding (which basically means no one gets paid to work, and therefore that suspends my staff since they are not going to work for free).
I also requested our IT department to get all their business emails and business phone communications and I and the partners will go through all that later.
Monday: First meeting with our other independent co-owner, corporate co-owners, and all our legal, and also, of course, the entire sales and marketing team.
Frankly, at this point, I knew that I was going to be totally fine since the entire sales and marketing team, and their remote director who is supposed to be their oversight/supervisor were sweating bullets.
I learned initially this was because all of the legal reps had gone through everything single email, text, and message via our scheduling and e-commerce apps, and they had apparently found some absolutely darning information.
What was presented during this meeting, before the statement (THIS IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING!) was a 2-month long chain of emails and texts about the entire sales and marketing team, along with their immediate corporate oversight, were basically trying to come up with ways to try to increase revenue, and also come up with “innovative” ways to get back at me, for previously disagreeing with a lot of their ideas, and all the times we butted heads over things sales had promised, that we simply could not deliver.
My legal rep also presented to everyone, that the entire sales team also had a group text chat going on that was purely insulting and making fun of everyone who was not part of their little clique and going so far as to using racial slurs and derogatory language about LGBTQ people.
The best part was that they (the sales and marketing team) had made all these communications, on company email accounts, company phones, and web apps, that we monitor constantly, and we disclosed to them upon employment, that we would be monitoring absolutely everything they do on them.
After the initial presentations where we were getting everything out there, things went downhill fast. Like, literally half the sales and marketing team walked out, and the other half who were not “involved”, but knew the entire thing was going down, started arguing with us all that this doesn’t reflect them, and they were apparently just all victims in this entire thing, and perhaps the conspiracy about myself trying to entrap their entire team was true since somehow, they viewed this as a violation of their privacy.
Because why not?
That was all pending what will happen to them in another meeting. Because also, why not more meetings Personally, I’d have fired all of them on the spot.
So, those who left were given the option to tender a resignation, however only 2 resigned and the other few we terminated, but we were far from done and did have all those who walked out, return for the discussion of how we are going to pay for what happened.
Wednesday: Effectively got my hands slapped by the corp. co-owner and the indie co-owner, with them claiming that I was also complacent, and my actions were taken out of spite, whereas I could have gone through the “proper channels,” however, I also brought up how the oversight for sales and marketing was basically non-existent, and being the main person we worked with through corporate, was never present and “delegated” all his duties to sales and marketing who were woefully unqualified to make the decisions they were making.
Either way, just about nothing is happening to me, especially as majority owner, but more so since there were definite issues with the chain of command, and the blame is purely on everyone else involved since I agreed during the partnership to allow certain powers to be held by each co-owner, however, they were misused.
Friday (today): This is when the most exciting things happen.
The 5 major players who enacted the bad policy in the first place were brought back in, they were relieved to hear that we did track down the group that ruined the room and equipment (and we are legally pursuing them, of course, we had to contact one of their mothers we found online to get ahold of the band), however, they are all still terminated (or have resigned), and hilariously, they had collectively hired a lawyer, who had reviewed everything themself, and come to the obvious conclusion that they were not getting their jobs back, were entirely in the wrong, and no matter how terrible my supposed behavior and decision making was, I ultimately had no blame in the entire matter.
The other sales and marketing team members are suspended pending being transferred (dance of the lemons) or terminated, their “Supervisor” was also fired, and we scheduled the entire next week of restructuring absolutely everything, and also, I am supposed to be more “mature” and stop trying to make “powerplays” since I am not (and self-admitted), not a business expert myself.
Honestly, not the most exciting thing, but ultimately it was a true “mess around and find out,” to the detriment to myself somewhat, however, I truly felt like I had no outlet to show what was really happening, and I took a calculated risk.
It could have gone a lot worse, and while tension was high, everyone generally was civil, however, I assume most of that was due to them knowing they were screwed. At this point, I wonder what other crap they wanted to pull.”
11. Refuse To Remove The Charge? Fine, I'll Use It
“In the early 2000s when I first moved out on my own, I rented from a complex that charged you for assigned parking. It was an upcharge of $25 a month. If you didn’t get assigned parking, you would have to fight for a space on the street.
My apartment was in the back of the complex and I was getting over a recent knee and ankle injury, so I opted for paid parking that was relatively close to my front door.
My car was a junker, 3 years older than I am, but it ran semi-okay and the heater worked. As a newly minted adult, I was happy to have it.
About 3 months into my lease, my car went to the great scrapheap in the sky.
I had gotten used to the local transit system and discovered a nearby store would drop off groceries for me. This was long before Walmart and other stores started doing it, so it was cheaper than figuring a month’s supplies on the bus.
So I opted not to replace the car and utilize the bus pass my work reimbursed me for. I went to my leasing office and told them I no longer needed the space, and would you please remove the extra charge from my bill? The manager at the desk was new and had never been asked that before.
She promised to look into it and let me know. I was naive and figured it would be gone come the next month. Nope! It was still there. I paid all but the parking space and called up the complex.
Same girl. She said she was awaiting word from higher-ups and offered me a credit for the charge as a one-time courtesy. I reminded her that I no longer owned a car — I hadn’t just changed my mind.
I told her that the space had been empty for close to a month now and that I won’t be utilizing it. She said she understood “loud and clear” and would get it sorted by next month.
3 days before rent was due, she finally got back to me. Apparently, it was in my lease and couldn’t be removed without breaking the lease and signing a new one. Even if I didn’t move out, the lease-breaking and initiation fees would be charged to me, and my rent would go up to the new current market value.
This would be over a thousand dollars, so not an option for someone freshly on their own. I kept the parking space on the lease.
3 weeks later, I was reviewing my lease to get the phone number for maintenance and noticed the clause for the parking space.
Essentially, I could park “a motorcycle, scooter such as Vespa, car, truck, SUV, or trailer” in the space. Gears were TURNING! For me to be in compliance, I had to have wheels on anything parked in my space.
So I went to my local version of Craigslist and found a wheeled container similar to a shipping container. It wasn’t cheap but it was worth every cent. The complex offered storage sheds at an upcharge too.
Being fresh out of High School, I didn’t have much to store. My neighbor, though, did. I threw a lock on the unit and offered it to my neighbor for half the cost of a shed; $35 a month.
He was able to move his stuff out of his storage unit where he was paying over $100 a month, and the container was available 24-7-365. He was happy with the arrangement and paid several months in advance.
The complex put several tow stickers for “out of compliance” on the trailer, but I called the Tow Company and faxed them a copy of the lease where it says trailers are allowed. The container was registered with the county as a utility trailer, so there’s nothing they could do.
They tried to fine me for improper parking, but again, I had proof I was within my rights. They even offered to remove the charge for parking on my lease if I would relocate the container.
With what my neighbor was paying, I could cover my water bill every month, so I declined.
I stayed 18 months and sold the trailer to my neighbor when I moved out. He had to rent a car to relocate it to his assigned space, but he said it was worth the couple hundred he paid.
He ended up saving over $1000 a year renting from me. Other neighbors even started bringing in their own containers too, even if it meant getting a second space. Sheds were being vacated at such a large volume, the complex tried to give them away for 6 months free.
Few took them up on it. The complex amended the new leases to exclude trailers but could do nothing about those that already had them in the spot. Instead of moving out and giving notice, renters would reassign their lease to new people so they could be grandfathered into the trailer clause.
I drove by the facility 2 years or so after I moved out, going to a friend’s for Thanksgiving. The complex had been sold to a new owner and changed their name. But wouldn’t you know, there were still about a dozen wheeled shipping containers parked in the lot.”
10. Not A Fan Of My Graduation Video? I'll Re-Do It For You Then
You’ll love the second video even more… Not.
“I graduated from high school this year. Big thing… obviously. Now, the thing is that I studied at an international school in Europe, so as you might imagine it’s a pretty small establishment with pretty small classes.
To set the scene, my class (which was the largest to ever graduate in my school) was made up of 18 people in total, that’s it. So, plainly said, we’re a pretty tight-knit group and have shared many memories together not only in high school but some of us throughout middle school too.
Hence why it’s a tradition that someone makes a “graduation video” to commemorate all the years shared by the students throughout the years. Me being the masochist that I am, I decided to volunteer to make the video, thinking “how hard can it be…
it’s just five minutes worth of video with photos and video.” Boy, was I wrong.
From the get-go, I asked my classmates if they could send me photos and videos as well as if we could vote on a song that everyone would be happy with.
Of all the people in my class, about three sent me what I’d asked them to and pretty much nobody replied about the song. I tried pressuring them on the class group chat, but it was all in vain.
At this point, it was Thursday the 2nd of June and I had a pretty busy weekend ahead of me, the graduation ceremony was set to be the following Friday (10th), and the deadline for the video was Tuesday the 7th.
So I got working:
On Thursday, I started drafting the structure of the video (I’m quite serious about video editing and wanted to get into some practice, so I decided to do things seriously). Then I had to stop cuz my 11-year-old cousin was visiting.
So at this point, Thursday’s gone by, and I now only have Friday and Saturday morning to work on it. Great. Friday, I took the photos I received from my classmates and found some older ones on my pc/yearbooks/school archive, then proceeded to transfer all these files to my computer, and downloaded a song I thought was appropriate to put in the background (“Rocket Man” by Elton John).
Then, between late afternoon and 3 AM, I proceeded to edit 90% of the video. Saturday morning, I wake up rather annoyed, jump in the car and keep editing for another two hours while I’m in the car with my family as we’re driving to Milan to go to a concert.
Finally, I’m done. I give it one last look and correct a few details here and there. It was excellent, cuz me being the perfectionist masochist that I am, not only did I ensure to make the video a nice commemoration of my class’ memories, no, I went above and beyond to have all the photos make sense chronologically, have it well-balanced between photos and videos, have smooth transitions and even have it be perfectly synced with the music.
So, I export the file, upload it to my google drive and share it with my classmates on WhatsApp.
I wasn’t expecting anything, especially because I could have decided not to send it to them in the first place and leave it at that, but let’s say that I would have appreciated a “thank you” at the very least.
Nope. All I got in return was people complaining about the video being “too serious” and not liking the music. That made me mad slightly, but I was nice about it and asked them what they would have wanted to be changed.
What I received in return was a series of requests including “change the song” and “include more partying.” Now, you need to know that despite the small size of my class there’s still somehow an ever more tightly-knit group within it that are pretty much the “party animals,” who coincidentally were the ones who complained about the video being “too serious.” Good for them, I asked them if they wanted me to redo it.
They said yes. So I complied, but you see, I had an ace up my sleeve.
So Sunday night, as I returned from Milan after spending the day with a friend whom I hadn’t seen for over a year, who also went to see the concert, I get home at about 1 AM and get back to work, I took the song that they wanted and the photos and the videos that they wanted and just dumped them on a timeline on the video editor.
It absolutely sucked: it was absolutely random and featured only the party animals, there was no glimpse of me or of pretty much half the class in the entirety of the video. But hey, it just took me half an hour, and if that’s what they wanted, then good for them.
Now, obviously, the video needs to be approved by the diploma program coordinator, and given that the second video I made featured quite a lot of drinking, partying, and literally only half the class, it got rejected immediately, as I had anticipated.
So, I told the coordinator that I also had made another video, which was perhaps more appropriate for the occasion. So guess what was shown and got a standing ovation at the graduation ceremony? Obviously, the original video I made.
Boom, like that.”
Another User Comments:
“I had a friend making a similar presentation. He’d asked for photos, quotes, and anecdotes for weeks and only half the people replied.
So he made the presentation anyway. He drew stick figures for the missing photos, made up nonsensical quotes, and chose the most embarrassing stories he could remember about the people who didn’t respond.” Newbosterone
9. Just Stay At A Receptionist's Level? I'll Stop Offering To Help Elsewhere Then
“I worked the front desk at an optical store for 2 years. I had no experience and knew nothing about eye health when I started. Over time, I learned to do contact lens training, how to work the machine for glaucoma testing (Visual Field Testing), how to adjust glasses, and a little bit about sales.
There was a fire and we had to relocate, which brought on a lot of stress to boss lady (we’ll call her Mam). We ended up losing our tech who did the contact lens training and visual fields and our lead optician.
Being the type of person who doesn’t like to see others struggle, I always offered to help whenever I could – especially if the patient was nice.
When we reopened, Mam’s husband came to work at the office as manager, which at the time I thought was nice because I’m sure she needed the extra support (we’ll call him Sir).
He knew nothing about optical so he was also training while managing. The problems started on opening day with Sir and me. He wanted to play meditation music and forest sounds, everyone else wanted general pop and regular music.
Since I had access to the speaker I would adjust it for them. He loved the new space, I missed the old space but never spoke badly about the new one. If the office was busy and a pair of glasses needed to be adjusted, I’d offer or be asked to help, and in front of the patient he’d yell “do you know what you’re doing?” One time I turned to him and said “I’ve been doing it longer than you,” I’m sure he didn’t like that lol.
We had a meeting where he had no bad comments about my work but told me I make him want to leave lol. He would report every word and minor mistake I made to Mam, and she would send me random texts about them outside of work hours.
I never got in trouble for anything but it was annoying as heck.
On one particular day, I was doing mostly contact lens training and a patient called about a contact lens being stuck in her eye.
These were considered emergencies so I told her to come in and see the doctor (Mam). When the patient came in she looked really uncomfortable and asked how long until she was seen. I offered to take a look until she could see the doctor.
When I took her to the back I tried taking out the lens and couldn’t find anything. I told her this, and she looked discouraged. I said to her “I don’t see or feel anything so you’d be better off waiting for the doctor, and that ain’t me!” She laughed it off, I told her I’d been doing training all day and was hoping to help her and apologized.
She said it was okay and sat in the front. Apparently, she went into the room and Mam told her there were no contacts in her eyes. The patient said that the “Nurse” told her there was a lens in her eye and she wanted Mam to double-check.
Mam was really upset about this because she had to spend extra time explaining to the patient that I was nothing more than a receptionist. When she came out, she made sure to berate me in front of the patient and my coworkers.
I just nodded and apologized. Even after work she pulled me aside to ask what I said to the patient and I told her every word. Still she felt the need to tell me that I make her job harder by misinforming patients.
She said I should stay at a receptionist level and not help anyone because it causes trouble. I was shocked by how she spoke down to me and still believed that I told the patient I was a nurse and she had something in her eye, all I could muster up was “Okay, I’m really sorry about that.”
After that day, I no longer did contact lens training, so now appointments are 4-5 weeks out instead of 1.
I no longer assisted in visual field tests, I put them all on her schedule, now we don’t have any availability for regular appointments until a month and a half later. I stopped offering to help opticians, so if 1 person was scheduled all patients will have to wait for that 1 person for all adjustments, orders, and dispenses.
That one had patients up their butts with complaints lol. If anyone had a question about anything unrelated to the front desk I couldn’t help them. Even when she would ask, I just told her I didn’t feel comfortable doing anything outside of reception anymore.
I eventually quit and now work somewhere with much higher pay and benefits. They’ve lost a total of 5 out of 11 employees in the span of 1 year, and I heard 2 more are quitting before the end of the year.”
8. Enforce Strict Rules Over This Business? See How That Works Out
“Many years ago, I worked for a company that hired an incredibly obtuse financial department who took over when they first organized. It used to be a loose collection of managers, but the year after I started, they went for a more organized and separate structure.
To be fair, this is more about my boss than myself.
We had a travel team: a group of volunteers from sales and IT who would go, en masse, with equipment and techs to do setups, displays, and network at trade shows.
We had a booth, some sales guys would be there, and networking would commence. There was always a set of volunteers from the IT department because some of the shows would be in big cities, and you’d get to attend vendor events, parties, and hang out with the sales guys who were mostly gay intoxicated folks for some reason and super-fun.
There was a kind of seniority to who got to volunteer, but nobody really complained, and everyone got rotated who got to go. “You got to go to DEFCON last year, it’s my turn now.” “Okay, fair.”
The “travel team lead” was also a volunteer position, but commonly someone high up, like a manager.
Their job was to orchestrate equipment, rentals, expenses, travel plans, convention center fees, and shipping. They also ended up getting a lot of free stuff, too, from sales and our partners, which they’d pass along to the travel team.
It was all kind of a “perk,” to be fair, for everyone involved. But when the new Director of Finance started, she put in some new and strict policies. Some of their policies started with:
The travel team is not allowed to get reimbursed without explicit approval, and nobody was approved post-event.
The travel team does not get a credit card of their own or even a company card.
The travel team gets gift cards for a set amount (like $150), which was to be used for all expenses.
Sadly, places we needed it for like airlines, rental agencies, hotel rooms, gas pumps, and toll booths do not accept gift cards. Finance denied these were “gift cards” and even specifically disallowed people in meetings to refer to them as such (“pre-approved credit balances” I think we had to say), but to the rest of the world? They were 100% exactly the same as gift cards with gift card restrictions.
No matter how early you asked for it, often Finance waited until the very, very last minute (and usually after half a dozen reminders) to get anything approved, which incurred a lot of unnecessary costs, like expedited shipping, same-day rental penalties, or inflated airfares.
If they forgot, it was your fault or your manager’s fault for not “reminding them enough.” Okay, you reminded them 4 times to buy the team airline tickets and it wasn’t done? Should have reminded them 5 times, so, your fault.
This was ALL in response to the Director of Finance’s claim it would “reduce fraud,” an issue that, as far as anyone could tell, had never happened. The director had this Dolores Umbridge approach that somebody, somewhere, “might get away with something.” She was a patronizing git with a smug grin and this annoying head waggle when she “down-splained” something to you.
So we’ll call her Dolores.
Before her, the travel team would just submit receipts and get reimbursed. Dolores put an end to that, specifically saying the previous lead of the travel team was “just going to spend all the money on steaks and wine.” He, understandably, told her to go screw herself and quit the company when the dust settled.
In his wake, Dolores used his “free stuff from vendors” as a shining example of stolen opulence and schwag hoarding that she put an end to.
Oh, behold the mighty on his throne of Airborne Express stress squishies and free Uline catalogs!
That left my manager to take over his duties, and he’d never done travel team, so he wasn’t really sure how it all worked and didn’t push back on Dolores at first until he was forced to travel with the team.
He was surprised he didn’t have an expense account or corporate card, and when he asked for one, he got the gift card. When he tried to use it, it was rejected pretty much everywhere he needed it except various restaurants.
He paid for everything else on his personal American Express card, including stuff for the rest of the team, and was rejected for reimbursements because he didn’t ask for it beforehand. He was on the hook for $40k+ in various things from two week-long trips.
Of course, he complained to the top management. Dolores threatened to quit if she wasn’t allowed to do her job, and the top managers never had to deal with her before, and were kind of wishy-washy about “being the bad guy here.” Like, “well, she says she lets you use gift cards, so…” and when my manager said they were rejected, Dolores said, “he’s not trying hard enough; he’s afraid of confrontation.
He needs to be a big boy and fight back.” But in the end, the top management reimbursed him under pressure from the legal department.
After that happened, Dolores “settled” on having certain things “pre-paid for,” like hotel, travel, truck rentals, and shipping.
But they waited so long to do them, that often they tried to get hotel rooms or truck rental the day of a popular event (sold out), or got the wrong hotel (Washington DC is not the same as Washington State), or waited so long for shipping, it cost $250 to send something overnight that would have cost $40 to send it a few weeks prior.
They also didn’t understand how much ANYTHING actually cost, and how we saved finances by doing things ourselves. And in some cases, Finance did everything wrong, so the team would arrive at the right hotel, and found out that Finance didn’t submit an authorized approval for a card (for, say, incidentals, a requirement for most hotels for trade shows), and nobody could reach them, so again, people got dinged on their personal cards.
Again, Dolores said, “they just can’t accept what the hotel desk, convention center union, or dumb minimum wage bunny at the toll booth tells them, they have to fight back! We can’t spoon-feed and coddle these guys because they are too scared of conflict!” Ever fight with a Jersey Turnpike toll booth collector? Yeah, neither had she.
After two of these disasters, my manager said, “Just stop. Stop volunteering for these events. I will not approve time off for it.” He declined being travel lead for future trips because he just couldn’t afford it.
This was an unpopular move, at best, but he told us “just wait. Let her do things her way.” He was a master at malicious compliance, and with no resistance, Dolores went into 5th gear with the smug grin, “Now we’re going to act like a REAL company.”
That leads to the next issue: some of these travels were in major cities, like Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, etc.
Dolores, again, said that people “were just going to these events to get the company to pay for a drinking vacation.” Management was like, “uh, yeah? We wouldn’t get volunteers, otherwise.” Well, Dolores didn’t like THAT idea.
So she decided that she would hold a “staff lottery” and you could enter your name, and she’d have a drawing on who got to go “to be fair to everyone.” This “fairness” seems awfully slanted on her own staff, by the way, which we’ll get to shortly.
The point of these trade shows was NOT to take a vacation, something Dolores made absolutely sure to point out, but she didn’t grasp the entire reason we went: to increase our business. It had to be IT folk for setup, and sales folk for the schmoozing, but that concept never got past her ears into her cognitive understanding.
Well, since those IT and tech folk who already couldn’t go didn’t want to pay for it, we didn’t volunteer. So the travel team ended up being other company staff who had no idea how to work, act, or deal with trade shows which was a horrific expense disaster.
Imagine the administrative assistant for Marketing on the 5th floor winning a ticket, only to find out she had to pay for everything. Plus, Dolores ALWAYS sent one of her own to keep “an eye on everyone” but none of them knew how trade shows worked either.
They only knew how to kowtow to Dolores and her control issues.
“What is a union fee? What is corkage? No, we did not approve some union to give us power, you plug your booth stuff into an outlet or something.
They won’t let you? Who is THEY? Well, then stop using TV screens in the booth. You don’t need them, we do not sell TVs, anyway.”
Did you know that if you have a conflict with an event center union and declined their “help” they charge you anyway at the max rate? Yeah, Dolores and her team didn’t know that, either.
And let me tell you, paying those guys a few thousand bucks ahead of time is a LOT cheaper than just letting them charge you fines afterward. Oh, she tried to fight back, because she was “not afraid of a little conflict,” but lost heavily.
Ironically, despite Dolores stating otherwise, at great length, the non-IT-or-salespeople who went actually thought it WAS company-paid vacation-ish, just like Dolores warned about, making it a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact they had to work was surprising at first.
Then after that word got out, NOBODY would enter into the “lottery,” so now they had NO volunteers. So Dolores assigned them to interns. INTERNS. I could write an entire novel from that disaster alone.
Imagine sending a bunch of college kids to Vegas, telling them they had to pay for things, and putting them in a job conflict situation where they were guaranteed to lose? I am sure many laws were broken.
Dolores then had to send along “chaperones” to manage it, who were more of her finance department flunkies, and our company ended up with massive fines for various issues, including paying bail for the interns.
Because the interns got into so much trouble, Delores started hiring room monitors for the hotels and fully legal adults had to go to the show, work the entire day at the show on their feet, then check back into their rooms.
She also put 4-6 people to a room, too. Like they were a high school band or something. She even had breathalyzers bought for it to make sure nobody was drinking. Adults. She treated adults like this.
This was brought up by the sales teams as a PR nightmare, and my boss said, “just wait. Okay? Let her hang herself.”
The first year of this, the travel team’s expenses increased by over 4000%.
You heard me, four THOUSAND percent. Trips that used to cost $3,600 were now costing $144k or more, often because of late-minute fees and penalties. The travel team expenses went from $110k annual on average to over 2-point-something million.
Because crap was so badly mishandled, we lost a lot of our booth slots and booth renewals, so we lost half our trade shows, and looked like idiots to our clients. But the main reason we went to those trade shows in the FIRST PLACE was for networking, so there was literally no reason to go anymore.
This was pointed out to Dolores multiple times by the sales team, so she doubled down and “canceled” the travel team after just one year.
Finally, top management got involved, who actually fought with Dolores for a year until she “retired for personal reasons/to dedicate herself to her family.” Then it took nearly two years to rebuild the travel team from scratch.
People got corporate cards, the travel team lead became an actual job, and when we hired one, she handled all the financial stuff for us, so it was much better, and saved the company a TON in her first year.
And there was much rejoicing.”
7. Vote With My Feet? Don't Mind If I Do!
“In my old role (compliance for a financial institution) we used to be split into two groups – Investigations and Alerts. Alerts did the first level of processing of items that came in and then determined whether they should be escalated for further review (sent to Investigations) or closed out.
Alerts was expected to get through 8-15ish items per day (depending on referral channel and other factors), while Investigations was lucky in some areas to get through 2 per day (some cases could take days or weeks to do).
I worked in Investigations, specifically within Treasury, which was considered the most complex area, and I primarily dealt with high-scrutiny/high-complexity items like law enforcement referrals. I was also the main trainer for Treasury, particularly complex cases, and created all of the training materials and processes.
Additionally, I worked as the point of contact/representative on the procedures management group, so I knew them inside and out. What it boils down to is that I made myself the keystone species of the department, albeit inadvertently.
As happens with any organization, there was an ebb and flow of employees in our area, but for the most part, we stuck around because we were treated fairly, enjoyed our work, and had senior leadership who actually tried to understand what we did and why we do it.
We weren’t dealing with people who thought they knew better and who would make arbitrary decisions for the sake of implementing change and saying that they did something. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it worked pretty well.
That all changed when they decided to merge Alerts and Investigations together and make everyone do everything. Things went downhill quite quickly, especially because the leadership that was given control was from Alerts. As far as they were concerned, a case is a case is a case (it’s not) and you should be able to get through all things quickly (you can’t) and they’re all created equally (they aren’t).
They put undue pressure on folks to get through the caseload far faster than was feasible (if you do it right, anyway) and removed all specialization, which made it incredibly difficult to get into the groove of the work because different areas had different expectations and procedures.
To add to that they promoted people who had no business being elevated (Peter Principle, anyone?) and ignored tenured investigators who should have been first up. All that did was anger the good employees and create a whole bunch of Post Turtles in leadership roles.
As one would expect, attrition skyrocketed. They weren’t paying us nearly enough to deal with the bullcrap, so people left for both internal and external roles at alarming rates. A few years ago, for the most part, things stuck.
Hiring freezes galore, and there’s always a fear of leaving and then getting screwed and being jobless during the disaster that was (is) the world.
A bit more background – at work, I have always had a reputation for honesty and for speaking my mind, sometimes often to the chagrin of senior leadership.
As far as I’m concerned you can’t complain about something if you don’t try to fix it. So when everything was at peak awfulness I said something on a call with the aforementioned senior leadership, knowing that it was unlikely anything was going to change but at least I would know I tried.
I was later pinged by one of the managing directors in our overarching department (not up my direct reporting line but in the same organization); we’ll call him C. I worked with C a number of times over the years.
He had a rocket strapped to his butt and was perfectly content to ride that puppy until he could go no further. He is definitely a bit of a Yes Man but that’s what generally happens when you’re in that type of role.
I am unlikely to ever become a Yes (Wo)Man because it’s not my personality but it takes all kinds, and you never know what might happen in the future.
When C pinged me he asked if I could chat and give him some more details about the situation.
I knew I had nothing to lose (see: keystone species) so we got on a call and I explained the problems and my opinions on proposed solutions. More staffing, revert back to specialization in case types, pay industry standard, have leadership work on acquiring a better understanding of the job so as to be able to make more informed decisions, etc.
Nothing unreasonable, though I knew that it was unlikely any of it would be done. C’s response? “Vote with your feet.” About what I expected but I was impressed that he went right out and said it, especially because we both knew the whole department would be screwed if I left.
I’m sure he figured I would never leave (after all, I had stayed for almost 8 years already, even though the awfulness didn’t truly start until fairly late in the game).
Fast forward a couple of months to summer 2021.
I had been focusing on finding another role (I had been even before talking with C but that gave me renewed incentive); I was being particular about what I applied for because I didn’t want to leave for the sake of leaving, especially knowing that any internal move would mean I was stuck for a year and I didn’t want to risk screwing myself out of something perfect by jumping the gun.
My caution paid off and I was offered an amazing internal opportunity that pretty much fit me like a glove. I kept my move quiet for a variety of reasons, only telling my manager, but I knew it would eventually make it up the chain.
I just wanted to keep it as quiet as possible for as long as possible.
Well, a week or so before I was scheduled to start in my new role I got a ping from C asking me to hop on a call.
He had seen the leave report and wanted to ask me why I was going and whether they could convince me to stay (they couldn’t). I got on the call, video, and when he asked me why I was leaving I looked at him and said “Well, C, I’m just doing what you told me to do!” He gave me a cocker spaniel look, complete with a head tilt, and I just smiled and said “I’m voting with my feet!”
The satisfaction I got from the look on his face when he made that connection brought me so much joy. He was so crestfallen. It was just… chef’s kiss”
6. You Need My Uniform Back Tomorrow, No Excuses? Here You Go!
Even if they’re filthy?
“Ok so, a little backstory first. I am a 20-year-old college student full time and doing 23+ hours a week on top of classes to make ends meet. I live paycheck to paycheck and have a car I am/was paying off.
I use to work at a McDonald’s in my home town but since I moved to live on campus which was 45 minutes away from my old job and I wasn’t willing to make the commute.
So I decided to apply (and got accepted) to a small sandwich shop 10 minutes from my college which was a blessing. It started out great – plenty of hours, easy work, and fast days.
Till the old manager decided to switch stores.
The new manager was one of the biggest Karens you have ever met. Like bad and when I say bad I really mean it. She completely changed the procedures and made things so much worse.
And when I’d have to stay over sometimes 2-3 hours after closing, she’d burst in the next day yelling screaming at the top of her lungs “STOP STAYING LATER YOU HAVE TO BE OUT BY 8:30; WE WON’T PAY YOU FOR ANY TIME PAST THEN!” I had no choice because the list she gave me to do to close the store alone every night may I add was extremely time-consuming, especially with no help I was expected to stop serving at 8 and do 5 people’s worth of work in 30 minutes.
It simply wasn’t doable. Hearing I wasn’t going to be paid for the time I worked, time I spent making sure everything was done on the list before I left otherwise I’d be fired for not doing all of it, would go unpaid, as well as I’d be fired if I stayed longer than 8:30.
There was no winning. On top of that, the moment management switched they decided they were “giving people too many hours” and cut me to only 3 hours a week! That went on for 4 weeks till I decided enough was enough $45 work weeks weren’t even worth putting in the time and effort to even show up.
So on one of my weekends I was with my parents off campus I was due to work that day, 3 hours of course my only day that week. I was shopping near said sandwich shop (it’s located inside a Walmart).
My mom and I were discussing for the last week how I should just quit since it seems they are trying to fire me without saying they are firing me wanting me to leave on my own so they wouldn’t need to fill out paperwork.
Right then and there I decided, know what screw this job and screw my entitled Karen boss. I sent her a text that I quit on the spot and to not expect me to come in that night for my shift.
She texts me back ranting about how since I’m not giving her a 2-week notice I’ll never be able to work at one of those sandwich shops again. At that point, I didn’t care.
I already had to give up my brand new car of only 4 months because I couldn’t pay my loan and insurance, it was a nice car, a white shimmery 2016 Hyundai senate. I loved that thing.
I told her at some point that week I’d try to get the brand new uniform that funny enough they had just given to me the week prior a whole 3 1/2 months after I started working there.
But I warned her my classes run till right before closing so I didn’t know when I’d be able to do so. She texts back in what I could only imagine the snarkiest tone possible “NO I REALLYYYY NEED THAT UNIFORM BACK TOMORROW!” I told her I’m sorry but that may not be possible due to my school schedule and I’m not willing to ditch a class to drop off a few pieces of clothing.
She said “NO YOU WILL BRING IT BACK TOMORROW DON’T EVEN TRY TO LIE TO ME YOU WERE SEEN IN STORE THE DAY YOU QUIT! NO EXCUSES!”
Ok then. She said no excuses. I didn’t wanna go into an argument with her over it.
And knowing she herself would be closing that day and my classes ended at 8 exactly I happily complied.
I made sure I’d arrive right as she was closing the lock on the gate. I was bringing the clothes in my reusable shopping bag, I had no throwaway bags and since she can’t take and claim my bag as her own I was just going to give her the clothes one piece at a time.
Knowing she would have to carry them out of the store juggling them back home made me happy.
When it came time to deliver my uniform to her, all the stars seemed to align perfectly.
I arrived at 8:30 and caught her on the way out with the outfit not even in a reusable bag, to begin with. As an extra touch of sweet unplanned irony it was raining outside, hard rain, the sidewalks I guess were extra slippery and muddy cuz on my way in, I slipped and landed chest first into the mud.
I was mostly spared though because the clothes were there to break my fall and absorb most of the filth. Dropping off the muddy loose clothes and seeing her reaction watching her stomp her feet, wrench in disgust holding the clothes 10 feet away from her body huff and puff marching out of the store in pure shock and disbelief.
She didn’t even have words for me. It was the sweetest revenge I had ever seen. This did mean I had to buy a whole new set of clothes and change in the Walmart bathroom but it was all worth it to see her reaction in the end.
After I had returned to my dorm that evening I sent her a text saying simply “enjoy” and I blocked her number.
Safe to say karma really did pay out on my end.”
Another User Comments:
“Here are some pro tips.
Lots of what they said is illegal. Report her, and always report moving forward. You are not a slave. Use this as learning. When some petty tyrant starts yelling walk away, you aren’t paid to be mistreated. Don’t ever put up with this crap. Also always document everything. Do more than just hand her clothes; report her too.” DirtyPenPalDoug
5. Can't Seem To Do Anything Right? I'll Follow Company Policy To A T
“About 6 years ago I decided to join the adult world and picked up my first real job doing technical support for a communications company. This place was awesome, great environment, and loved everyone on my team, couldn’t have asked for more.
A short while later I get promoted and have to move to the other side of the office.
Enter Villain. The villain was an account manager that I hadn’t really had to interact with much in my previous position but she was friends with some of the other account managers I got along with.
Her desk was on the opposite side of mine with a cubical wall between us. We would have a monthly beer tasting and a separate wine tasting each month (did I mention the job was awesome?) and our group of friends melded.
The villain was super friendly and I thought we were on good terms.
A few months go by and I get called into my boss’ office. There were some reports about me that I was vaping in the office.
I was (along with about half of the whole office), but at no point was I obnoxious about it. I made sure to blow what little vapor there was down beneath my desk and out of anyone’s way.
Anyway, I was like “Eh whatever, smoke really bothers me so it’s probably the same for whoever doesn’t like vapes.” So I quit. The next week, the same thing… get called to boss’ office with another report of vaping.
Told him I wasn’t doing it in the office. He said unfortunately I’d have to get written up next time if it continued. So the following day I still take my vape into the office and set it on my desk but I leave the batteries in my car so it has no way of even powering on.
Get called into boss again asking what is going on and why do I keep vaping. My boss vaped himself so I told him to come with me, took him to my vape, and showed him I had no batteries and that whoever is reporting this is lying.
He said he’d take care of it.
The following week, yet again… into boss’ office. This time there was a complaint that I had clipped my fingernails at my desk. Which is not against company policy.
I did clip a nail every once in a while if it would get broken or whatever and always did it over my trash can. We both kind of just laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and I say “Okay come on this is so silly.
Who is the one that keeps reporting me?” Well if you guessed it was Villain that was reporting me you guessed right! It was just so ridiculous I ignored it for the next few weeks.
The reports ranged from me cursing on the phone to clients (our calls were recorded, and I wasn’t lol) to I have too many inappropriate things on my desk (I think I may have been the only one in my office with literally nothing on my desk besides a Magic the Gather playmat I used as my mousepad).
Finally one week I had a pretty rough one and was already a bit agitated. This time it was “I was eating cereal too loudly at my desk”. I started to think “maybe I really am real obnoxious to sit by” so I asked the other people by my desk if I was too loud, obnoxious, or whatever at my desk.
Everyone else kind of just laughed and asked what I was talking about and that they could barely hear me on the phone talking to clients let alone me eating too loudly. Alright, Villain wants to be petty I can be petty.
Cue the petty revenge. I brainstormed for a little while about all the things I could eat at my desk that would really annoy her. I thought potato chips? Would be loud and annoying but not very sustainable.
Too unhealthy and I’d get full too fast. Apples maybe? Kind of a hassle, washing it off, dealing with the core, and can’t really buy in bulk. I went to the grocery store for more ideas and there was a sale for family-size Cheerios.
3 for the price of 1 clearance! Jackpot, not super unhealthy, real crunchy, and I could just snack on them all day long. Gave my other friends I sat next to a heads up and then proceeded to eat these cheerios for a good 4+ hours as loud and as obnoxious as I could for the next couple of days.
Of course, Villain loses her crap and reports me every single day. My boss and I have a good laugh about it. The next week word spreads around the office and turns out almost no one likes Villain in the office.
Multiple people I had never even talked to had approached me and said how hilarious they thought the situation was. 3 other people brought me things to eat at my desk to annoy her…
carrots from one, celery from the other, and corn nuts from the last. Can’t believe I didn’t think of carrots or celery, they were both amazing, super loud, and could eat them all day.
After a few days of the 2nd week of me doing this, I guess she caught on that reporting me for something not against office policy was getting her nowhere. So she decides to report me for clocking in early and going to get breakfast from the kitchen.
Mind you, almost everyone on my team did this. We would clock in about 10-15 minutes early, start checking our emails, and agenda for the day, and then go grab some cereal or fruit from the kitchen and head back to our desks.
I actually got written up this time but now everyone lost the privilege and they cracked down on clocking in and out. The few friends she had left did not really like her much after this.
One day she walks by and says “Well I guess you’re not above the rules after all huh? That’s what happens when you don’t follow policy.” After this, I realized “okay this back and forth is actually starting to put my job in jeopardy.” So I quit with the crunching of food and tried to follow company policy to a T.
She was still reporting me for the most ridiculous stuff (none of which was against company policy) but it was bi-weekly at this point compared to the multiple times weekly before.
A short while later I get an offer from another company that I couldn’t refuse.
So I put in my two weeks’ notice. The next day, she again walks by my desk and casually says “Guess I win.” Smirks and walks off. Okay, screw that. I’m a pretty competitive person, I don’t like losing.
Even though I didn’t see it like that previously I did now and I hadn’t lost. I still had two weeks left. During this time all the data breaches and companies selling data were becoming mainstream.
So our company had a lot of new policies and training in regard to data. Guess it’s time to follow policy… For the next two weeks, I kept a log of when Villain would get up from her desk with time stamps and then a time stamp of when she would return.
She would never lock her computer, not one time. This was a BIG no-no according to the new company policy! Over the course of two weeks (5 work days each week), I had two pages full of policy infractions.
On average during an 8-hour work day, she was away from her desk (aka not working) 3 hours per day. 3 hours per day of compromised customer data! As I was doing my rounds saying goodbye on my last day I spoke with my boss and the director of the office who oversaw all the teams.
Filed a report and then went to Villain’s desk, she had already left for the day. I had made it through 2 of the 3 cheerio boxes and figured I’d leave her a parting gift.
Not too long after a friend I worked with messaged me and said she had been fired. Hmm… Guess I win.”
4. Fire Us If We Deviate From The Flowchart? Okay
“About a decade ago I had the misfortune of working in a call centre for a company which provided phone, broadband, and satellite TV channels. This was the days before fibre, so the setup was (slightly) different from what you see these days.
To begin with, I worked in customer services doing things like booking pay-per-views, changing billing dates, and upgrading packages. After a year or so the powers that be decided the whole call centre would be trained on phone and broadband tech support and we would take those calls instead.
Lots of people complained because they weren’t technically minded and found the idea of fixing tech issues daunting. I was not worried because I’m a massive nerd and was building my own computers from age 12 (my dad started teaching me when I was about 8).
This new type of call sounded much more interesting and I was looking forward to it.
The staff was told, “don’t worry, we will train you, it’s simple really.” To be fair to them, they were right…
For those who don’t know, the original Internet connection, Dial-Up, was an issue because the phone line was totally used up by the Internet connection, meaning you couldn’t make calls at the same time as using your glacier-like connection.
Broadband revolutionised this system because it allowed both phones and the Internet to be used at the same time and it improved the connection speed to allow for more data to be transferred.
Think of Dial-up as a country road; slow speeds and only one kind of traffic at a time or you end up with a massive queue of cars, lorries, and tractors clogging the road with no filtering space for motorbikes.
Broadband is the equivalent of a dual carriageway; two lanes of traffic in each direction means you can get more traffic into your city at higher speeds.
The issue with more traffic is that you need to add more road signs to direct it to the correct destination: phone signals to the phone, and broadband signals to the router.
To do this, you needed to have a microfilter as the first thing plugged into every single phone port in use in the house.
The TV installation, which happened first, did not include a microfilter, and customers would assume the TV installation wouldn’t need to be messed with so they didn’t add one when they set up their router.
The number one complaint on the tech support line was caused by that filter being missing. It resulted in slow or intermittent broadband connections and static on phone lines and dropped calls. People would phone up and scream at me because “the connection was fine to start with, but the phone line has always been bad, and now the connection keeps dropping”.
As I mentioned, most of the staff were upset at being moved from a customer service role to a tech role, so the higher-ups had a troubleshooting system created. It was basically a glorified flowchart with a pretty interface.
The issue is that whoever created it didn’t think it through.
No matter where the problem was with the tech issue, the chances were that the customer would need to be calling on a mobile phone so that the right steps could be followed.
Most customers did not call on mobiles because in those days calls from mobile phones were expensive, even calls to landlines, and especially calls to 0845 numbers like call centres.
This information was missing from the flowchart and it meant that if the customer tried to change the way their equipment was connected or if we ran a line test it would result in the call dropping because they were disconnecting their landline handset or we were stopping all signals down the line for a couple of minutes to do the test.
It was assumed that we would call our customers back if this happened because it was pressed into us that the point was to resolve the tech issue. If the customer has to keep calling back and speaking to different people then it slowed this process down.
The flow chart did not say “call your customer back”.
The thing with me being kind of techy was that I could usually identify the fault in the first minute of the call based on the symptoms described by the customer and I seem to have a knack for being able to explain tech issues using accessible language so the customer understands what is happening without feeling condescended to.
This meant that my calls were shorter and more efficient, and my customer satisfaction survey results (CSATs) were high. What’s not to like?
Well, you know how I mentioned that the powers that be decided to take non-techy people and put them in a tech role? It went about as well as you would expect.
The flowchart worked to a point, but people who had no tech knowledge tried to cut corners and it resulted in problems.
Free replacement routers were issued for external line fault problems (which is like replacing the roundabout on an interchange when the problem is a tree on the road 10 miles from there), engineers were sent to resolve “external faults” caused by dead master phone sockets (about as useful as doping roadworks the next town over in an attempt to get more traffic through a flooded slip road at your towns boundary).
Repeat calls were up, resolutions were down, and customer satisfaction was low for the call centre as a whole.
There were about 20 of us who were doing well because, of course, I wasn’t the only nerd in the call centre.
We used our common sense and tech know-how to get results and my team of about 15 was around 50% tech nerd. Our manager loved it because we had the best results of the whole call centre and she looked amazing (despite being a Luddite herself).
The head office kept trying to get the rest of the call centre up to our level. They couldn’t figure out why people hired to be glorified phone concierges couldn’t fix phone lines.
Obviously, the problem must be the staff /s
Word was issued from on high: THOU SHALT NOT DEVIATE FROM THE FLOW CHART.
I foolishly thought that they only meant the people with CSATs which were through the floor. I thought the people who knew what we were talking about would be left to it.
Slowly but surely, the rest of the call centre’s scores started climbing out of the toilet.
Our team was still constantly the highest, but the gap wasn’t so embarrassingly massive anymore.
Others were resisting using the flowchart. People at the peak of mount stupid on the Dunning Kruger graph fought the idea that they didn’t know enough to act without the dubious support of the (admittedly quite bad) flowchart.
Upper management started thinking of ways to make them use it.
A new score was added to our stats: adherence to process.
Quality Control started failing our work if we deviated from the flowchart.
My manager started writing me (and the others) up for it.
We tried to explain that the flowchart worked for the people who didn’t know how computers actually worked because it methodically went through every possibility over the course of about an hour and a half.
If you don’t know where the fault is then eventually you will stumble over the right fix, but when you have some knowledge and can tell within the first 5 seconds that Mr Smith has accidentally turned off his wireless card, surely it’s better customer service to jump right to that?!
She said that if we deviated from the flowchart again she would start the disciplinary process (which always and without exception resulted in the person being fired sooner or later).
Ok then. No more using our brains.
All of us stopped using our prior knowledge to fix the faults quickly. I stopped explaining the issues to the clients. We literally just read the flowchart instructions in all their mind-numbing and typo’d glory.
I also stopped calling customers back when the line dropped due to flaws in the flow chart.
Every time this happened I would leave a note on the client’s profile: line dropped when doing X test.
I have been told never to deviate from the flow chart or I will be taken to the disciplinary stage. There is no instruction to say I can call my customer back, so I didn’t.
If a customer calls back in, the test result was Y.
One of my colleagues delighted in telling his customers “yes, I know exactly what the problem is and it will only take 5 minutes to fix, but first I’m required to do these other tests.
It will take about 40 minutes to get to the point where I am allowed to fix your issue… why? Well, Manager has threatened me with unemployment if I use my brain so I have to go down the list here and it will take 40 minutes to get to the one that I know will resolve your problem.”
Suddenly our team was at the bottom of the CSAT board, our repeat calls were through the roof, and we were the worst-performing team in the call centre.
Our manager was being questioned by upper management about why our scores had plummeted, the head office was going to take us off tech and put us onto debt management lines if we didn’t start getting our score back up to where it was.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Most of the techy people left the business.
I stuck it out long enough to see the tech role removed and the debt lines instated.
Just before I started my new job with my current employer Head Office sent out their annual feedback survey.
I ripped them a new one in brutal feedback, from the micromanaging, to inappropriate staff roles for the people hired, to predatory upselling to vulnerable customers and unethical debt management practices.
I heard that some of the managers were fired so it seems other people spoke out too, and there were some top-down changes which fixed some of the superficial issues.
Oh, and that terrible flowchart? They prettied it up, added the fibre options, and put it on their website so that people with mobile data can fix their own broadband issues. At least they got rid of the typos first.”
3. Want The Original Article? Here You Go!
“So, when I started high school, we had a professor that a lot of people disliked. His grading was unfair, he didn’t make an effort to pronounce our names correctly and his exams didn’t make sense (even the principal said so once we brought it up).
This story is about a bunch of assignments that he requested from us. Every month we were supposed to submit 2 reports about different scientific articles. It was allowed for several people to make a report on the same article but not for one to repeat it.
He never explained how his grading worked. It looked completely random. Like he didn’t even look at the contents of the reports. Sometimes it seemed like his grading consisted in throwing the pile of assignments in the air over the desk and the ones that would land on the desk would pass and the rest would fail.
A few months before the school year’s end, we were about to submit our assignments. I checked with my friend and we happened to write one of the reports about the same article. They consisted of the same parts.
The information included in them was basically the same just phrased in our own ways. So there were no worries about plagiarism.
A week after submitting the reports we got them back, and my friend got a 6/10, I was quite happy, since we had the same content, I should have the same grade.
But when I got my report I had a 4/10. How? I asked myself and stormed to my professor’s desk.
I confronted him, and he was just making excuses, telling me that it was missing crucial parts, that it was missing basic information from the article, etc.
I called his bluff and asked my friend to bring his report. I put them side by side and pointed out they both have the same information, they both consist of the same parts, and they both follow his own instructions.
So how is it possible that one has a 6 and the other a 4?
Well, he said he didn’t care. That the grades stay the same and, next time, use an article from its original source, make a glossary with words you don’t understand, and, if you do understand everything, write it in the glossary.
And that we shouldn’t challenge his grades because they’ll not change.
No one was happy with what he said. My friend asked me if I was going to bring this matter up with the principal.
I told him that I was not, that I had a better idea. He wanted a report about an original article? Well, he’ll get a report about an original article.
The moment I got home I put myself to work.
I knew he was very bad at English. So my high school mind started to think. Where do most of the articles we find on the internet source from? SCIENCE.com and so it happens they are in English.
What. A. Shame. I searched for a few hours for the longest article there was. Found one that consisted of 15 pages. Perfect.
Pasted it into the report, and started writing about what it explained, and who wrote it.
He wanted a glossary? “There’s nothing to be written here because the language used in the article is easy to understand.” After a few hours I had it, 20 pages of a report about an article that my professor will have a very hard time reading.
I made sure that it had every single thing he requested. He would hate it but couldn’t do anything because it had everything.
So the day of submission came. All my classmates had a laugh when they saw my masterpiece and all of them were waiting for the grade.
Especially since it had everything. The following week we got them back, my report was the last one to be returned, he came to me kinda defeated, handed me the report, 10/10, and asked:
Him: Very detailed report, but why did you choose an article this long and in…
Me: I mean, you did say you wanted us to use original sources, so, I did, it just happened to be in English but very easy to understand.
Him: Yeah.. it was.. interesting to say the least to work with it.
Me: Did you see my glossary? Was it correct?
Him: Well, there was no need for the glossary.
Me: Oh, there was, otherwise you’d have had an excuse to lower my grade, wouldn’t you?
Him: Great work next time, just don’t use English okay?
Me: Will you start grading fairly then?
The class snickered and giggled.
He just looked at me and walked away. From then on he hasn’t complained about a single article from any of my classmates, and especially no comments on my reports. I wonder why?”
2. Call A Bunch Of Staff In To Work During An "Emergency"? Pay Us Overtime
“This happened about 2 years ago at a company I no longer work for. I work in infrastructure, specifically in communications. My job in this particular company was the oversight and maintenance of the network, and I mean the physical network, posts, cables, servers, equipment, etc.
Now, where I live (PR) we get a lot of thunderstorms/rainstorms, and with the territory being almost all rain forest you can imagine that mountainous terrain and storms make for a lot of broken or fallen-down cables/posts and landslides.
So on this particular day, I was off work (it was a weekend) but there was supposedly a thunderstorm being predicted for my area. Whenever that happened we were supposed to enter a sort of stand-by where if anything broke down or got damaged, my team and I would have to go on the field immediately and fix it.
I had seen the news and the chances of such a storm were at 10% or less (can’t remember exactly but it was stupid low) so low in fact that I was planning on hitting the beach with my son and husband.
Now there are two types of stand-by, you either 1) stay home and are “on-call” all day or 2) go by the office, prepare for an emergency and stay there on 12-hour shifts waiting for the worst.
When my boss called that morning I’m thinking he’s gonna ask me to be on-call all day so I’m already telling my husband we can’t go to the beach and such in case I have to go in, but at least we’ll all be home all day and relax.
So imagine my surprise when my boss says it’s gonna be an emergency stand-by and everyone is to report for a 12hr shift. I tell him the chances of this becoming a major storm were almost null and there was no need to bring everyone in like this.
He responds by saying that his information is different and that it will most likely be bad and he wants everyone in immediately. I try to convince him one last time by explaining that doing this would mean OT pay for everyone who has to come in on a Sunday (my team alone was Me and 13 other people).
Of course, Boss doesn’t care, he says he’ll get it approved by the high-ups and to do as he says.
Cue MC: I call all my guys to tell them that they have to be on-site for 12 hours, it’s gonna be OT pay ofc but their Sundays are ruined.
I also tell them to bring stuff to do since we are all most likely gonna be stuck there with nothing to do. I tell them to bring games, snacks and coolers, and even sleeping bags.
My plan was to hang out with my team all day and get paid double to do so. I even said to go all out with it and if anything happened it was on me.
By the time I get to the office some of the guys have already arrived and are setting up the office TV with a Playstation5, coffee is on the pot, and one of the guys is already napping in a sleeping bag in a corner.
Throughout the 12 hours we played Monopoly, PS5, Dominoes, cards, and chess, we talked, we joked, we took turns sleeping and we cooked a big meal for all of us and just basically enjoyed ourselves.
Around the 10 hour-mark, it had only drizzled a little for about 30 minutes and my boss decided to call off the stand-by. (Later I learned that he got his ear chewed off for making us go in in the first place.)
Now when a stand-by gets called off, per union rule, if it’s been at least half of the total hours we get paid in full.
Meaning my boss had 6 hours to call off the stand-by so he didn’t have to pay for all 12, it had been 10. So the boss calls, asks what we are doing and I straight up tell him “Nothing, just here waiting.” He is ofc furious, he tells me that the emergency was now over and we could all leave.
I explain that since he had to pay for the full shift and we were already here, wouldn’t it be best if we just stayed? It’s only 2 more hrs after all. He says no, so we all pack up all our stuff and head home.
In the end, we did absolutely nothing but hang out for 10 hrs, and my boss had to figure out how he was gonna explain OT pay for 14 people on a sunny day. Suffice it to say he got chewed out so bad that he quit the following week.”
1. Make Me Do The Work Of Two People? You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone
That’s one way to get them to appreciate you.
“So a couple of weeks ago right around the Independence Day holiday my fiancee and I weren’t feeling the best. No big deal to me, just a bit under the weather, but she had it worse.
She started worrying a bit about it, and working in health care as a receptionist at an Urgent or Acute clinic, deals with a lot of people worrying still about being sick. So Wednesday she decides to do an at-home test for herself: lo and behold she tests positive and texts me about it to see when I get off of my second shift job.
Now for me, I work 6 days a week for a food manufacturing company that is perpetually short-staffed (bad enough I’ve been doing 2 people’s jobs for the past 3 or so months, but at least getting paid accordingly.
Made sure of that) and with the product that apparently the world can not get enough of. So anyways I get home and she just about pins me into my chair to give me the nose swap test (not really, we were just clinging to our dorky sense of humor while being sick).
The test says it’d take up to 15 minutes for results, but it’s already shown as quite positive after only 2 or 3 minutes. Sigh fine, I’ve caught the darned bug. So I call in to verify what the current policy is with the 3rd shift supervisor who can’t recall since it’s changed a few times, and it’s an HR problem at this point.
No big deal for me, I call in the morning to check in with them.
After talking over the phone they tell me I have to come in to do a confirmation test with the in-house visiting nurse.
Cool, I’ll come in at 11 am for this test to make them happy when I have a 1 pm shift start. No malice yet, just covering my butt and trying to do the right thing.
I come in the door after badging in and as soon as the receptionist sees me (and is fully aware of what I’m there for) she immediately directs me back outside into my car.
The fault of the HR guy, he didn’t give me much direction, I took no offense and waited in my car for the nurse to pop out to do the test. I get swabbed like an Egyptian mummy again and she let me know she will let HR know and give me a call with the test results within the next 20 or so minutes.
Yet again, results are back lightening fast and we get a call within 3 minutes (fiancee and I were watching a cool video I wanted to show her in the car before leaving with how long it’ll take for the set up for our trip this fall to a Rammstein concert we are going to.
She didn’t believe me that it takes a whole week to set all of that up this year, even with a miniature army just for that.) Saying I am definitely quite positive and to head home, HR will discuss with me what’s going to happen from that point forward.
So the head HR guy calls and we have a discussion about what’s going to happen, contact tracing, all of that paperwork stuff. Now due to policy with starting symptoms on Tuesday, I would be mandatory off of work for the rest of the week (5 days) and to see how I feel for the next 5 days, masking up for the 5 days I would be back.
Unfortunately, my sick pay had ended a few months ago, but at least there would be no attendance points against me for the entire time gone due to illness.
Cue Malicious Compliance.
Just a day later of rest and fluids, and I’m feeling fine enough, I focus on helping my fiancee feel better and just try to work on the housework we’ve neglected while feeling under the weather.
Monday morning rolls around, and I feel just fine but just not like going in. Again, mandatory 6-day work weeks are standard still. So I shrug, say screw it, and dial up the automated call-in system to report “nope, not coming in; I’m ‘sick.'” My fiancee learns about it and tries to be upset with me since it’s not like me to call in sick when I’m not.
But she can hardly be upset really once she realizes I’m staying home to spend time with her. Once that sets in, I go and open up the box for the small inflatable pool that I got before everything started and got it all blown up and filled up, some root beers chilled in the fridge, and a couple of unnecessary but fun inflatable inflated and put in the pool.
Bringing her out on the back deck of our rental house, she was beyond thrilled that we did a fat load of nothing but soak up the sun and sip on her favorite soda.
All in all, while she was still a bit under the weather, it was still the best day for us in a long time.
While Tuesday still would’ve been sanctioned had I chosen to call in, the only problem was that I wasn’t getting paid this whole week, so I did end up going back in.
But the company saying no penalty for this round of sick time? Heck yes, I’ll take it and sleep darned good. In the end, HR didn’t care I called in on Monday, but I wasn’t paid, and here we are a few weeks later dealing with just another regular day of stuff going wrong and losing an intoxicated employee on top of it all.
Side note, the boss was none too thrilled as I called him directly on that first day as HR was already aware of my absence, I didn’t have to do any calling in those first few days.
But HR being HR, I had very little faith in their ability to inform proper management even by a simple email that an employee would not be in for the rest of the week.
Lo and behold, call in 10 minutes before my scheduled start time, get ahold of him, and he had no idea. I could hear a small amount of worry in his voice as he had to find someone to cover my 2 positions while still keeping everything else running. When I finally came back on Tuesday, he was beyond thrilled I was back and people could (more or less) go back to where they belonged and maintain our skeleton crew.”