back to article Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early

Friday is upon us once more, which can mean only one thing: it’s time for On Call, our weekly instalment of Reg readers’ tech support frustrations. This week, “Luca” tells us how his hopes of a chilled-out Friday – and possibly plans to kick back reading this very column – evaporated in the face of an angry boss. At the time …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh so familiar

    Small company, director using card in their name for things (instead of a company registered card) .. cue some payment renewals due while director away on holiday (non automatic renewals, needed confirmation) .. and even better the director had used personal email on that site instead of company one, so person managing their email whilst on holiday was not seeing the messages.

    An embarrassed phone call from said director later that day! .. and a change in policy so company card used and special email created that several "high up" people in company had access to that was to be used for all payments.

  2. Symon Silver badge
    Pint

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Small business? Two words. Direct Debit.

    https://www.directdebit.co.uk/DirectDebitExplained/pages/directdebitexplained.aspx

  3. GarethB

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Not much use if the supplier is not UK based though.

  4. SolidSquid

    Re: Oh so familiar

    But if you automate the payments then you can't delay paying until the next pay cycle ("sorry, there was an issue with the card, we'll get it paid soon. Promise!") so you can show bigger profits when they're calculating your bonus

  5. Rob E

    Re: Oh so familiar

    I've never used a single cloud provider that supports direct debit. Have you?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Direct Debit? better yet standing order, all the benefit of DD but you remain in control

    Having had DD companies take money out when they shouldn't ( one example was the electric who took money out when account was already a quarter in credit and I only found out money had disappeared when I was out Xmas shopping) then it makes is clear why every billing company wants DD, IMHO so they can "accidentally" grab cash and take a long time paying it back i.e. interest free loan.

    Yes you can go through the hassle of getting the bank to return funds but then again with standing order they can't make you the problem in the first place along with the old "we have calculated that your usage is going to be x*2" based upon estimated histories that are themselves x*2.5. (x) being your actual normal usage and x*2.5 is the reason that DD is never a consistent amount month to month.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Yes, I have. Mythic Beasts. UK based and give excellent service.

  8. H in The Hague Silver badge
    Pint

    Re: Oh so familiar

    "Mythic Beasts. UK based and give excellent service."

    Thanks for the tip.

    Here's one for the weekend.

  9. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Mythic Beasts. UK based and give excellent service.

    Seconded. Local people (for me), bloody good techies, very helpful.

  10. Maverick

    Re: Oh so familiar

    may I suggest taking course 101 in GAAP, then you should understand that cash ≠ profit

  11. MrBanana

    Re: Oh so familiar

    At the other end of the scale you have Continuous Payment Authority. They can take as much as they want from your credit card without contacting you for authority, just notifying you of the charge. None of the protection that you get with Direct Debit payments, and if your credit card is declined then *you* are in breach of contract. Popular with money grabbing insurance companies.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh so familiar

    We lost an entire internal domain to that once.

  13. DougS Silver badge

    Direct debit is risky

    A billing error could cause a provider to debit $500,000 instead of $500 or $5000 and suddenly payments for vendors and employees are bouncing, and the good employees will have found another job by the end of the day!

    I'd never do it unless your bank can enforce debit limits on an individual basis.

  14. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Re: Oh so familiar

    "

    Two words. Direct Debit.

    "

    Only pretty large, established companies are authorised to take out a direct debit. Most companies have to make do with a "push" system such as a standing order. Few "Cloud" companies would have the facility to take payment by direct debit

  15. Maverick

    Re: Oh so familiar

    and the downvoters need to take the same 101 class, I qualified as an accountant in 1982 and hence do _actually_ know that cash ≠ profit, the same as people who talk about the profit showing on the balance sheet.

    I wouldn't correct people on here on networking, please allow me my expertise

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Oh so familiar indeed.

    I've had similar happen several times. Vendors not paid, services cut off. Bosses want answers right now!

    Always fun to tell them they need to pay the bills.

  17. John F***ing Stepp

    Re: Oh so familiar (define GAAP)

    Generally accepted accounting practice.

    Probably getting downvoted for being a bean counter; sorry.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Me thinks your stuck in the past.

    For at least 5 if not 10 years there have been many companies that provide DD services to SME's for collecting payments.

  19. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Re: Oh so familiar

    @Maverick

    ”I wouldn't correct people on here on networking, please allow me my expertise“

    I think people are downvoting you less for your ‘expertise’ and more for your condescending tone.

    Suggest you follow course 101 in respectful commenting.

  20. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Standing order. #loop

  21. Paul Chambers

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Me too....but I use paypal with them, so I can control the back end source of funds.

  22. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Because some people NEED to be told they're -I-D-I-O-T-S- !!!

    As the head honcho in my field of expertise! I get the lovely task of OBLITERATING much of the newbies current training because it usually IS SO BAD !!! Most Gen-X's, Gen-Y's and Gen-Z's are LAZY and STUPID not willing to learn or even TAKE THE INITIATIVE of TAKING TIME to learn new stuff for themselves!

    Me? If I need to learn something NEW I just go out and buy the book, lesson or watch videos and then PRACTICE HARD AND LONG which is WHY I now know HOW to code in Assembler (multiple CPU's and GPU's), Delphi C/C++, JAVA, HTML, COBOL, JCL, Ruby-on-Rails, do a LAMP setup, setup Windows Server 3.1 to 2016+ multi-domain network and do MANY Linux client and server distros! Then add in my Maya, SoftImage, Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD, various CAD/CAm system G-code programming, VHDL hardware design, FPGA burning! AND these aren't just dabbling either but rather FULL PRODUCTION experience where my designs and products go OUT THE DOOR to customers working SOLIDLY for sometime MORE than 25+ years!

    If you ARE lazy and stupid you will STAY lazy and Stupid....LEARN --- AND I have no problem telling

    AND SHOWING what OTHERS what they DON'T KNOW!!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    since when have accountants been respectful of techies?

  24. RancidOrange

    Re: Oh so familiar

    You must be a nightmare to work with.

  25. jcitron

    Re: Oh so familiar

    It definitely is.

    In a former company I was at, the internet services were turned off rather suddenly one day. My boss blamed me for not checking the routers, etc., and I told him everything was fine.

    He said "Call AT&T and find out what's going on. Yeah I know... AT&T, but anyway I called. After waiting a few minutes on the phone, the representative tells me that the services will work fine if you pay your bill!

    Oops!

    The boss didn't say a word and the next day we were up and running again.

  26. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Re: Oh so familiar

    Particularly domain names and hosting stuff - I spend a good few months in an old job (2007 - sub prime mortgage lender) identifying all the various domain names owned by present and former sales or IT directors and getting them transferred into one company account. The main company website nearly went because the domain was registered as a personal registration to the original sales director when the company started up and had never been transferred - he left nearly a year before my work started.

  27. Aqua Marina Silver badge

    This happens so frequently that one of the first troubleshooting questions the helpdesk now asks clients is "could you check with your accountant if your hosting invoices have been paid up to date."

    The answer is always an immediate "Yes it has", but half an hour later invariably we get a "the credit card expired" call back.

  28. GlenP

    I had a nightmare untangling logins and credit card details for a number of domains that all appeared to be personally registered to someone who'd left the company. Fortunately he had used the company email address and the registrars concerned didn't look too closely when I changed the details.

    I've had what could be worse in the distant past, a Finance Manager who decided she would take an extra 30 days to pay all invoices, without telling any body and without considering that some invoices, such as ones for resold maintenance cover on a client's system, must be paid immediately. I managed to fudge round the inevitable breakdown whilst they weren't covered.

  29. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "a Finance Manager who decided she would take an extra 30 days to pay all invoices"

    This happens frequently, and the larger the company the greater the liklihood that they'll do this for up to 90 days,

  30. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    At least the supplier had sent out emails. I had an email supplier sit dumb for about 3 months after my card expired before sending a final demand email threatening to cut me off. It couldn't have been so unique a situation that they felt no need to develop a reminder process.

  31. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I had a provider send their "we're dropping this service" email to the ancient dail-up address that they had terminated when they transfered me to non-dial-up.

  32. FIA

    The 'chosen for price not anything else'* provider of my home SSL cert sent me an invoice that said 'Paid', which was very confusing when my SSL cert never got renewed. Turns out my credit card had expired and I'd forgotten to update it (well, ignored the email as I thought 'I'll do that when they bug me at renewal date').

    Never once got a communication saying payment was declined, but hey ho, turns out Lets Encrypt wasn't much faf at all... their loss.

    * shame really, as they were easy as 1....2... 3...

  33. eldakka Silver badge

    Turns out my credit card had expired and I'd forgotten to update it (well, ignored the email as I thought 'I'll do that when they bug me at renewal date').

    Never once got a communication saying payment was declined, but hey ho, turns out Lets Encrypt wasn't much faf at all... their loss.

    If a new CC was issued with a new expiry date when the old one expired (that is, the account wasn't closed/cancelled/card declared lost), then the new card will have the same number, but different expiry and CVV.

    But in requesting a payment via the CC payment system, I don't believe the date is passed along to the payment processor with the CC number, and in many cases neither is the CVV. It is more an honour system that a biller will not bill a CC after the expiry date. However, if the biller does bill the CC after the expiry date, but the number is still valid, the payment processor will still honour the payment.

    I've had several re-occurring payments continue even tho my CC has expired and the institution has issued a new CC with the same number but different expiry. And I've had others fail when the expiry has passed for the same CC account.

    It could be a bit more subtle than not passing the date. Maybe it's something like that when a re-occurring payment is first set up maybe the date is checked for that initial payment, but future payments are not expiry-checked by the processor.

  34. Snivelling Wretch

    To give the boss his due: at least he owned up and apologised, which is more than most do...

  35. Efer Brick

    Not enough, should shave his head and grovel at the feet of each client begging for forgiveness.

  36. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Devil

    Yeah I'm suspicious, did they manage to survive the PFY's iot controlled smart desk?

  37. shedied

    The boss owned up? Apologised, even?

    Two questions, then.

    1. Was he ill? When did he last see his doctor?

    2. Are your affairs in order. The world ends tomorrow.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exactly

    I read that and thought "Wow, in 20 years I have never seen a boss own their mistakes"

    Most recent example was a boss who sent a capital laden email to the whole team accussing us of slacking because financials were down on the previous month... after we spent a month working our butts off at her request, pulling work forward and begging customers to let us close off projects and invoice early, so that she could get a good year end result with zero benefit to the rest of us.

    When it was pointed out to her that it was impossible to sustain in to the next month, and that the next month was still well above average financially, she said that her email was just encouragement for the team.

    It was encouraging. It encouraged two of her staff straight in to the arms of competitors.

  39. perlcat

    Not how it works

    Usually they find a way to get rid of you after, they don't like being held accountable.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Encouragement

    Those who consider themselves "higher-ups" will never understand where people who do actual work get their motivation.

    It can't be just the money...so you must love your work, which is a despicable thing obviously - the only lovable things are peronal delusion, bank balance and the amount of grief one is able to bestow upon all those gauche interlopers who actually get a job done...

  41. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: The boss owned up? Apologised, even?

    I actually had this happen when I was in the military.

    I was on a submarine for about 4 years. At the time, I was one of the most senior people on board. The boat was a fairly new class of submarine, and had a different kind of propulsion plant than most of the rest of the fleet. Our engineer had moved on (with a promotion) and so we had a new engineering officer who was pretty 'green' with respect to our power plant. Some of his decisions reflected that, telling us NOT to do things we've always done before etc..

    Well we were running engineering drills for the upcoming annual examination, and because of a stuck valve, I was told (by the engineer) to do something that violated a procedure. It posed no actual danger, but it violated the procedure. So I told him that (but I couldn't remember where in the procedure it said NOT to do this, I just remembered it). He said to do it anyway. I offered alternatives that were allowed by procedure. He said "I'm not going to XXX because of YYY". I asked for a watch relief. He got angrier, said we weren't going to do that in the middle of yotta yotta yotta. So I logged that the engineer ordered me to do that thing, and I made DAMNED sure it didn't pose a danger to human lives or equipment (it was only for about 10 minutes anyway).

    Then later, it really bugged him that one of his senior people would be so insistent (even though nobody else was) so he went looking for where it said NOT to do that, and discovered that we were supposed to shut down the reactor under the condition he told me to operate it under [remember there was no actual danger, I made sure of it]. Well, somewhat embarrassed by this, he did the right thing: he called me in personally, apologized, and then held 'all hands' training on it. No doubt an 'incident report' was also filed. [again there was no real danger, it was just a violation of the procedure, which was intended to protect against a different possible condition that wasn't present, and would NOT be with my hand on the controls]. And of course, we didn't get the engineering 'E' award that year, either [but didn't fail our annual exam].

    Yeah, oops.

    Unfortunately, the engineer wasn't any easier to work with after that. He was actually a bit [more] overcautious. He should have trusted his people more. But I was the _ONLY_ person in the engine room that understood that what he wanted us to do was against the procedure. Had I said nothing, we would have FAILED the annual examination, which is a _LOT_ _WORSE_ than what happened.

    And it wasn't THAT bad of a situation, because if it WERE, the engineer would've been 'fired'. He wasn't. He actually got promoted on schedule, from what I understand. So yeah no danger, just an "I *blanked* up" on his part.

  42. Cpt Blue Bear

    Re: The boss owned up? Apologised, even?

    "I actually had this happen when I was in the military."

    I've seen two bosses apologies publicly. Both were ex-military so I presume it was something they are taught in officer training. Take it on the chin, clear the air and move the !@# on is a pretty good management strategy.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The boss owned up? Apologised, even?

    A military leader doesn't want to find out that his / her people don't trust them at the time the bullets start flying all around the place. Owning up to cock ups is important lest they Foxtrot Oscar when things heat up. There's also one's own staff reporting to worry about: "His men follow him purely out of curiosity to see what happens next" is a classic from the British Army's archive...

    It's harder to walk out on a boss on a sub; you can't exactly jump overboard and swim to the shore into the tender care of a friendly bar...

  44. Swarthy Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Re: The boss owned up? Apologised, even?

    A military leader doesn't want to find out that his / her people don't trust them at the time the bullets start flying all around the place..not because the troops may advance to the rear with haste, but because some of the bullets heading toward said office may originate from "friendly" weapons.

    Not to mention that live grenades, minus their pins, make for lousy bedfellows.

    Military troops can/will take a lot of grief, but if it gets to be too much, they tend to lodge their complaints ballistically.

  45. Mk4

    "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    Working on the national broadband wholesale system at a large telecommunications provider about 15 years ago, I had written a python application that automatically fixed a problem with a SQL query that regularly collided with a mistake in the order in which mainframe messages were sent to the system. The collision, when it happened, blocked all outstanding broadband wholesale orders (so every order for broadband in the UK). It was running very nicely for about a month when a busy-body noted that Python was not an officially supported language at this telecommunications provider. So my boss told me to turn it off. At this time we were seeing a huge increase in broadband orders and so after 3 days of a support team frantically trying to correct the problem manually I was asked very nicely if I wouldn't mind turning it back on again. Please.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    "Sorry, no can do - I deleted it as Busybody said it wasn't allowed!"

  47. SolidSquid

    Re: "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    What, you expected me to keep unauthorized software on the company servers? Are you mental?!

  48. Ryan 7

    Re: "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    "the national broadband wholesale system at a large telecommunications provider"

    Does that rhyme with TokenPeach by any chance?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    No personal offence here, but actions like yours installing something non standard without going through test procedures or documenting how it worked to the people responsible for supporting that system are what gets infrastructures in a mess of fudges and fixes if its allowed to continue, then in x months or years, it falls apart and nobody really understands why or dares touch anything lest they wreck some little undocumented fix because they've just become masses of uncontrolled band aids over band aids over time.

  50. bobajob12 Bronze badge

    Re: "Can you turn it back on. Please?"

    True, but @Mk4 didn't claim it was a hack job. For all we know, they could have documented it up the wazoo, pointed out it's criticality, and even gotten sign off from a Higher Being...but that's no guarantee that a busybody in another part of the org couldn't insist it be taken down.

    Being real life, of course, this can go both ways:

    A: "Ach, I'll just roll my own crypto". Busybody: "Hell no" - BB probably saved the day there.

    A: "Ach, I'll just write some glue code" Busybody: "Hell no" - BB probably cost the company $$$ as now the swarms of IBM/SAP/$expensive consultants arrive to tear apart the business.

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