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.

    1. Symon Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Oh so familiar

      Small business? Two words. Direct Debit.

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

      1. GarethB

        Re: Oh so familiar

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

      2. 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

        1. Maverick

          Re: Oh so familiar

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

          1. 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

            1. John F***ing Stepp

              Re: Oh so familiar (define GAAP)

              Generally accepted accounting practice.

              Probably getting downvoted for being a bean counter; sorry.

            2. 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.

              1. 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!!

                1. RancidOrange

                  Re: Oh so familiar

                  You must be a nightmare to work with.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                since when have accountants been respectful of techies?

      3. Rob E

        Re: Oh so familiar

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh so familiar

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

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

          3. Paul Chambers

            Re: Oh so familiar

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

      4. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

      5. 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

        1. 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.

      6. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

        Re: Oh so familiar

        Standing order. #loop

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh so familiar

      We lost an entire internal domain to that once.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

    4. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    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.

    1. 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,

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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...

      1. 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.

  5. Snivelling Wretch

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

    1. Efer Brick

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

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Devil

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

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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...

            1. 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.

    4. 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.

      1. 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...

    5. perlcat

      Not how it works

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

  6. 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.

    1. 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!"

      1. SolidSquid

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

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

    2. 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?

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

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

          "

          True, but @Mk4 didn't claim it was a hack job

          "

          He did however state that it was written in a language that the company did not permit to be used on their system, so it was an unauthorised (and hence unapproved) modification. So I honestly cannot see that it would have been nicely documented in the appropriate place. Things like that end up being a mess that someone else will have to deal with at some time in the future. Perhaps it was needed to circumvent the consequences of someone else's unauthorised mods ... ?

          1. Stevie Silver badge

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

            He did however state that it was written in a language that the company did not permit to be used on their system,

            The report said that the language was not approved; not quite the same thing.

            Personal example. After trying to get my own enterprise of the day to look at Lotus 123 for some critical analysis type stuff (it was a very long time ago) I got cricket noise.

            A few years later someone from Head Office announced they had just done a report in Excel (which had come along in the interim) and it was the best thing since sliced bread and he was recommending that everyone use it for such purposes.

            I "replied all" to his email saying I quite agreed and could we please have three copies, one for each member of the DBA team.

            His boss then responded that Excel was not an approved product and no-one would get a copy until it was. Notice that the original document had been received with widespread approval.

            At this point in time, excel was the industry standard spreadsheet tool. Our leather ledgers and beam engine enterprise was lagging about ten years behind the rest of the western world in office automation and had not put MS Office products though the approval process.

            Yes the place "did not permit" excel, but only because those with the power to approve it hadn't heard of it and you couldn't put in a PO unless the software was approved. Two years later, once Windows 95 had put a PC in everyone's home, everyone in that enterprise had a copy. By that time I was working elsewhere.

            I came back in mid '96 though, just in time to get caught in the "Let's not install TCP/IP for our state-wide network. Lets stick with our own proprietary protocol with some home-written extensions to make the things it won't do work" six-month-long farcical waste of time.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

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

              > "Let's not install TCP/IP for our state-wide network. Lets stick with our own proprietary protocol with some home-written extensions to make the things it won't do work"

              It was misadventures like this (various iterations of network stacks) which taught me that people can adapt to different networking standards pretty easily - and that the majority of the resistance to IPv6 is because IPv4 "seems to work fine, so why bother changing it?" (for the same reason you changed away from the other cruft at various times, you fucktards!)

      2. Mk4

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

        Hello AC - no offense taken. When we found the problem we tried to have the SQL query changed to correct the problem, but we had to get approval from 6 (count ‘em - 6) mid to senior managers. Just getting them on a call was hard enough, trying to get a proposed change approved did not work as it always expired before we could get the managers to all sign off. Jesus - you have no idea how disfunctional the governance processes for systems like this were. The next step was to try and figure out why the mainframe messages were coming in in the wrong order but that was an exercise in screaming into the abyss. No response of any kind (although I got the distinct impression that the abyss was looking back with a wry smirk on it’s face). In the end I decided that given the graph of order quantity over time (which looked pretty steep) we better do something to keep the system working and give us breathing space.

        The situation you describe is indeed very bad but reacting to the potential for that situation to emerge by making it impossible to fix things also has drawbacks :-)

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

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

          > that was an exercise in screaming into the abyss

          I would have used the resultant "crash" when the script was turned off as leverage on the mainframe guys and the 6 useless managers. Maybe use it to get the attention of whatever SVP was over them.

          "Nope, my script isn't approved... the mainframe folks need to get their shit together"

          1. Denarius Silver badge

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

            Gene, that does not work. The techie is told to "fix it" and just shut up. Or both. It is never the fault of the manglement class. Most of there "processes" are there to allow technically incompetent to exercise power without accountability. Once in a large hellhole IT staff were supposed to have planned months ahead for zero day type exploit patching. Of course scheduled regular downtime was nonexistent because this was a 24/7/365 organisation in name. I have _never_ seen a study of the cost of this official obstruction.

            Most of us have had the irritation of change control droids gloating that about disapproving changes for process reasons. One time I worked with a change control team who understood their role was to ensure the process was done correctly and pointed out problems before the change meetings so necessary work got done on time as scheduled. It was an effective workplace.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

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

              "Most of us have had the irritation of change control droids gloating that about disapproving changes for process reasons. "

              Change control droids like that are control freaks who need their faces introduced to their desks at speed a few times.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

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

          " Just getting them on a call was hard enough, trying to get a proposed change approved did not work as it always expired before we could get the managers to all sign off."

          The trick is to arrange for men in balaclavas with sawn off shotguns to be standing behind their desks until they do.

          Or just disable their networking.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Back in the days of dumb terminals talking to Unix servers we had an accounts package that had to be fed a new re-licensing key at intervals and it would simply issue a reminder that that was falling due at the start of every terminal session. I'd cobbled together an arrangement (in modern parlance, written an bot) that enabled our order processing system to make account enquiries on it. That got into trouble when it first encountered the reminder. Eventually, because back then our database system, Informix, shared a C-ISAM base with the accounts package, it was possible to persuade it* that the accounting files were database tables and read them directly.

    *Create a database with tables corresponding to the structure of the foreign package, delete the data and index files and replace them with links to the files you want to read.

    1. MrBanana

      Tetraplan by any chance? I used to do custom development of their accounts package using their weird conversion of BASIC to C via convoluted macros. The C-ISAM link to I-SQL trick was a common dodge so that a real forms entry system and report writer could be used instead of the horrors of the Tetraplan code.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        That wasn't TetraCS (ERP) was it?

        The name sounds is very close but can't find anything on Google. (Tetra CS which used to use CISAM data files before going SQL before being brought out by Sage to become Sage Line 500)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Back in the days of dumb terminals talking to Unix servers ...

      I think they're called "HR staff", "sales droids", and "management" these days.

    3. MrBanana

      Oh, and you needn't have bothered so much about problems with renewing license keys. Once you'd figured out the relationship between the modules and their keys, it wasn't difficult to clone a valid key for one module and activate any other module you wanted.

      [ In a future On-Call, I could tell the tale of how we managed to got hold of the Tetraplan system source code. ]

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was a dark and stormy morning...

    ... some time in the early 90s, and we're hacking out C code in a semi-abandoned warehouse somewhere in Docklands.

    Our company had just been taken over, and our shiny (as in 'freshly polished by Andrex') new CEO had this particular morning just been spammed by something called the Federation Against Software Theft, and being one of those types who believed everything he read, he called the tech boss (who we'll call Simon, for that was his name) into his office, where he told him 'Look at this... illegal software, humph... will not be tolerated... inspect the underlings' computers at once... harrumph', etc.

    Simon (emerging from the CEO's office) : "OK, everyone, stop work at once. Nobody is to do any work until further notice."

    CEO (following him out) : "What? What on earth do you think you're doing? I told you..."

    Simon : "I heard what you said. Actually there isn't a single legal copy of the C compiler in the whole company."

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: It was a dark and stormy morning...

      I posted elsewhere about an ex IT Manager boss, but this just reminded me of yet another idiot moment he had.

      FAST somehow managed to persuade him that open source software was ILLEGAL. The argument being that to be legally used by a business you had to apply for a license to use it. And that involves paying for said license. As there was no way to apply for a license to use free software it must therefore be illegal to use.

      Completely ignoring the fact that open source software that is free to use in a commercial environment comes with a lovely little box when you install the software that informs you of the open source license agreement that you accept to continue installing. That or it's just in the T&Cs on their website...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was a dark and stormy morning...

        FAST and FACT, both media distributor funded extortion rackets

        I remember the old "video piracy, daylight robbery" that came on every video even if retail. My sympathies were always with the market trader such that "(suck teeth) tracking is touchy", " said's no good mate" and "verbal contract? not worth the paper its printed 'on" became my favourite support phrases.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: It was a dark and stormy morning...

          FACT... an organisation that lies so badly they even made their name a lie.

          It is rather hard to steal copyright. It is, however, relatively easy to violate copyright through making a copy of something that is copyrighted without prior permission to do so or without being able to rely on one of the various standard acceptable use clauses.

          Theft is taking something and depriving the owner of the use of it. Making a copy of something, even where making money off the copy is not, and cannot be, theft. The same goes for boarding a train without a tickt - this is not theft either (looking at you, Thameslink, although who would want to use their shoddy, randomly cancelled services if they had a choice I don't know).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was a dark and stormy morning...

          I remember the old "video piracy, daylight robbery" that came on every video even if retail.

          I prefer the more recent ads they showed at the start of films, supposedly to stop teenagers from downloading movies.

          The problem is, the ad is a limited length, show it shows the miscreant teenager downloading a whole Blu-Ray quality feature-length film in about 3 seconds.

          Wouldn't that be more ENcouraging? "Look how quick and easy it is!!!"

          Torrents, and the pre-web internet protocol that I shall not name (1st rule, etc....) never give me those speeds! [Ignoring the fact my downloads seem to top out at about 24Mbs]

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was a dark and stormy morning...

        That sounds just like the guy that came into a municipal authority I used to work for and ripped out all the shiny new open-source-powered servers, firewalls, etc. that his predecessor had rolled out, citing concerns over the legality of OSS. He migrated them all back to Windows and also issued a decree that all schools, etc. must replace all their open-source systems with Windows ones.

        This process was completed just in time for SQL Slammer to come visiting via his wonderfully secure IIS firewall, followed a few months later by a friendly visit from Blaster, to which he responded with an emergency plug-pull on everyone's WAN/internet connections until a team had visited each site and scanned & cleaned all the computers.

        A few of us had resisted his pressure to remove our non-Windows systems. Funnily enough, we were the only ones whose networks turned out to be completely clean when the team came around.

        He didn't stay for much longer after that.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: It was a dark and stormy morning...

          ...having accomplished his mission.

  9. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Beancounters...

    Just back from holiday- before I went away, I put in an order for some critical infrastructure; I'd done everything, identified kit, found supplier, got quotes, pro formas, everything. All Accounting had to do was arrange a bank transfer to pay for it and the jobs done. I get back from holiday and everyone's running around like headless chickens. Our client is up in arms because the equipment we are meant to install this week hasn't even arrived. So, because I was away, the blame got landed in my lap in-abscentia. Until I provided the paper trail, and a statement from the supplier, all pointing the fingers at the Accounts Dept not paying for the order yet.

    Now I need another holiday...

  10. kmac499

    Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

    Not being experts in Hosting and unified comms the small company I was in had a shared hosting resource with a partner company (aka 'Kev'' the unified telecomms guru) . For some unknown reason 'Kev' had a falling out without the actual hosting company and closed his super account without telling anyone else.. Which of course cast all our sites adrift as well.. 'Kev' remained in a huff and out of contact, so we had to mad scramble an alternative hosting platform recreate the sites and wait for DNS's to catch up. An interesting Monday morning..

    (BTW Always make sure you have ALL the passwords from your supplier\support guys to your unified comms IP voice data PABX box.)

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

      Which makes me wonder - what if somebody outsources all IT services, then neglects to pay the outsourcer...

      1. Clockworkseer

        Re: Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

        Well, that would be an Interesting Day.

        1. DuchessofDukeStreet

          Re: Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

          Only for the user community surely as there would be no "IT function" in the company any more? And no IT system would mean no finance system and no means of tracking or paying anyone....?

          It probably depends on the size of the respective parties but outsourcing companies are probably more likely to tolerate delayed/lack of payments than an employee would.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

        Do businesses that use AWS use a credit card to pay the bill like us mere mortals do?

        I was curious, after reading all these comments, how it works at Netflix. Maybe there's someone in Netflix' accounts payable department who has the mother of all credit card bills every month...but being an accountant, is also using one of those points/cashback cards so that they never need to pay for a hotel or airfare again.

        1. EdFX

          Re: Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

          No, once you reach a certain bill size AWS (and Rackspace) will invoice you... Guess rest do too.

      3. Shadowslayer

        Re: Rug Pulled by pissed off third party..

        I worked for an outsourced IT company and a client didn't pay their bill for four months. We tried desperately to get ahold of them, but they claimed they wanted to switch providers. So we simply deleted their virtual servers, and the backups. When they called foul our lawyer mentioned that based on the contract we could have done it without notice after the first month. So they just had to deal.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had a fairly similar situation a few years ago.

    We provided and hosted the ticketing website for a prominent Train operating company, and late one Friday night the website disappeared off the internet.

    Turns out the TOC still controlled the company domain name on which the site was hosted, and they had steadfastly ignored all the renewal letters and emails from their domain registrar, so the registrar suspended the domain.

    Come the Saturday morning, and a veritable shit-storm of abuse is hurled at us from just about every senior member of the TOC staff, threatening all sorts of reprisals up to and including legal action.

    They were slightly hampered by the fact that the same domain was used for all their company emails, but they still blamed us anyway.

    When we tried to explain that it was out of our control - and in fact only within their control to fix it, we were met with demands - not requests but demands - that we do something about it immediately.

    So, given that our agreed support contract was only for office hours, Monday to Friday, we chose to ignore the increasingly desperate threats and cajoling for the rest of the weekend.

    On Monday morning I rang the TOC's grandly named "Head of Technology" and slowly and carefully explained the situation. Again. After further investigation, it appeared that the member of staff responsible for managing the company domains had been "let go" and had been the only person who had the log-in details for the domain registrar account.

    It took until the Wednesday afternoon before the site was returned to normal operation.

    1. AndyMulhearn

      GWR?

      It took until the Wednesday afternoon before the site was returned to normal operation\

      If I recall correctly GWR went thought this a while ago. Attempts to access their loathsome site resulted in a domain not registered, or some such similar “they fucked up” page.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

    From (bitter) personal experience.

    You work for MegaCorp, where it can tale a geological age to get a purchase order examined, approved and actioned. Which is your project put back 6 months.

    So you try and speed things up by using *your* credit card and claiming back on expenses.

    Which works fine. Everyones happy. And now, of course, because it's all working, why bother to switch payments. Just carry on submitting the invoices and getting the money back on expenses.

    Until you're made redundant, and lose access to the systems to remove your card details. And now you can't even claim the money back on expenses (as that can only be paid to employees).

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

      Bill the company (+ a nice%) you're a 3rd party supplier now. :)

      1. Valeyard

        Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

        you phone up and request a new card. that one dies and the company gets a little redundancy karma

        Really though, no project is important enough for me to use my personal payment details. If that means a 6 month delay then so be it

        1. Sixtysix
          Pint

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          > Really though, no project is important enough for me to use my

          > personal payment details. If that means a 6 month delay then so be it

          Whilst I usually agree, when:

          - the goods required (MS Surface3, not 4 as Win 7 was essential) are not available new

          - the user is the new CEX, who started today and wants "new" shiny tomorrow

          - Company (government) credit cards are not approved on Auction/Second hand tat sites

          ...sometimes it pays to be able to wander into town and visit local CEX with personal card to preserve employment. I had no issues getting that expense pushed through ;p

          1. Jason 24

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            " the user is the new CEX, who started today and wants "new" shiny tomorrow"

            If he has CEx is his title he will have surely have a personal card with a much much bigger limit than my own, he can damn well buy it himself.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

              "If he has CEx is his title he will have surely have a personal card with a much much bigger limit than my own, he can damn well buy it himself."

              A little sucking up can be in order until you find out how much this new lobotomy patient can impact you job. Visit their office and tell them you have already found the best price on this item (a lie, pick the one that can deliver the fastest) and come prepared with a laptop you can use to place the order with their card right then and there. You hand them back their card and the next day visit them again with their new toy all set up, charged and ready to sit on the side of the desk gathering dust.

          2. PerlyKing
            Meh

            Re: Personal payments

            > the user is the new CEX, who started today and wants "new" shiny tomorrow

            I wasn't there etc, but I hope that in a similar situation I'd get the new CEX (what's a CEX anyway?) to shell out from his own pocket before paying from mine.

            I'm sure there's an adage about never lending money to anyone richer than yourself - an amount that matters to you probably seems petty to them, to the point of genuinely slipping their minds.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            "- the user is the new CEX, who started today and wants "new" shiny tomorrow"

            That new CEX should have a shiny new card or at least some pull to get a check cut or some other CEX's card to purchase the gear.

            You always want a paper trail. You want that paper trail on paper. You don't don't want to justify that purchase of new shiny 8 months down the road when there is a department audit with that CEX having left the month before and not around confirm that they requisitioned the kit and it wasn't just you buying yourself a nice new toy. They probably took the device with them when they left too if it was a portable device. It's not like the firm is going to chase after a departed executive for a few hundred quid worth of used tech.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            So an S3 is essential to their work , however they do not own one and are incapable of acquring one.

            How long have they been negotiating for this position? How long have they worked in some kind of business situation? When were they planning to learn to "think one step ahead"?

            If I call a plumber I expect them to have at least a plunger and a wrench of some sort...

            It baffles me how some supposed hot-shot can be taken seriously if they can't even be arsed to acquire the very device that they claim is so vital to their ability to work.

        2. psychonaut

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          actually, that isnt true.

          credit card numbers dont die. even if you get a new card, there is still an authorisation to use the old number and it cannot be blocked (at least not by amex and lloyds, cant vouch for anyone else) . i was gobsmacked when i found out.

          you have to put a block on a particular supplier on that account.

          this is from experience for a client, who was having hundreds of pounds a week spent by one of his kids' friends on xbox crap on his amex and lloyds cards

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            @pschonaut - "credit card numbers dont die. even if you get a new card, there is still an authorisation to use the old number and it cannot be blocked"

            I found the same thing when I was changing ISPs. Fortunately, I was planning ahead, I didn't want the ISP to 'forget' to stop charging me, so I called my bank and told them I was de-authorising the ISP. They told me I couldn't revoke the authorisation and I tried explaining that I could: I signed the form authorising it, so it was me who could revoke it. They didn't agree. So I cancelled the card. All complete before the ISP's next billing date.

            A nasty trick is when you find you've taken a loan for future service. A friend was pressured into buying a course of beauty treatment, "pay with your credit card and it's only this much a month". She had the first session, found it painful and didn't want to continue. When she tried to cancel, it emerged that the beauty company had already been paid up-front by the credit card and she couldn't back out (note: your applicable consumer protection laws may be different).

            TL;DR: credit card companies will collude with anyone to screw you over... whether by paying when you don't want them to like this, or by not paying when you do want them to, like in the On-Call story.

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ... 4 Allan George Dyer

              Yep, that "never-ending charge" scam was widespread in NY in the mid 80s with gyms, most infamously Jack LaLanne's franchise.

              The "put the charge on a card that you are willing to cut up and not replace" technique was for many years the ONLY way to sever financial ties with them.

              Of course, in those days you could get a credit card simply by waiting for an application to drop in the mailbox. They fell like maple leaves in autumn.

              When we bought our house we had about a dozen cards for that reason. We made a terrible mistake and cut most of them up as "unused". Closing out the cards dinged-up our credit rating (because the model assumes if you close an account it is because of debt consolidation and hence you are a bad risk).

              1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ... 4 Allan George Dyer

                @Stevie - "Closing out the cards dinged-up our credit rating (because the model assumes if you close an account it is because of debt consolidation and hence you are a bad risk)."

                If I were cynical, I'd suggest that your behaviour had flagged you as the sort of person that manages their finances so that they don't end up paying high interest rates for years, so, yes, a bad risk of the bank not making enough profit.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ... 4 Allan George Dyer

                  @Stevie - "Closing out the cards dinged-up our credit rating (because the model assumes if you close an account it is because of debt consolidation and hence you are a bad risk)."

                  @AllanIf I were cynical, I'd suggest that your behaviour had flagged you as the sort of person that manages their finances so that they don't end up paying high interest rates for years, so, yes, a bad risk of the bank not making enough profit.

                  I closed out our a couple of unused cards at USAA several months ago. My credit score as reported by USAA dropped from 730 to 690. USAA's suggestions as to how to improve my score was 1) get a mortgage (I own my house outright) 2) get consumer loans (I have none) 3) take on revolving credit (nada again). I use a CC to get a cash kickback (2.5%) and pay my bill off every month via autopay from a savings account. It would appear that I am not one of their favorite customers.

                  I bought a new car (Subaru) giving 0% loans w/o dealer participation (couldn't get a better deal for cash - tried at 4 dealers), put 3K$ down on cc (the max CC down the dealer would allow) and have the rest earing 2% as I pay it off. Screwball...

                  .

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Re: spent by one of his kids' friends on xbox crap on his amex and lloyds cards

            Which is fraud.

            Charges will be reimbursed and kid will be ... well if my experience is anything to go by, the kid will be ignored because it turns out the bank won't initiate action with the police.

            The last time this sort of thing happened to me one of the store assistants being presented with my number called me because her spidey senses were tingling when the name on the shipping and the name on the card were different and the address on the card was in NY and the shopper was in California (several other businesses didn't figure that out, sadly for them). She told me that she had the name and address of the idiot trying to buy scuba gear from her and if the bank would care to contact her she would be happy to share.

            When I told the bank this I was informed that *I* would have to file a police report. In California, which is the other side of the country from me.

            So I just said "okay" and let the bank issue me a new card and rescind all the dodgy charges those less astute had accepted.

          3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            @ psychonaut

            That sounds wierd to me. My personal experience in card renewal is that my MMORPG subscription is cut every time my VISA card gets renewed.

            I always have to wait until getting my new card to get the situation back to normal.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: @ psychonaut

              In the UK the law is now that ongoing credit card payments must be cancelled if the cardholder says so. Admittedly last time I heard a BBC consumer program go at one of the banks on this, the bank were still trying to claim that this wasn't what the law said and refusing to comply. But then some banks still try to claim that you have to get refunds for incorrect Direct Debit transfers from the company that took it. Which is also a lie. The banks must refund you on the day you ask them to, and then sort out who the money belongs to later.

            2. Alistair Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: @ psychonaut

              @Pascal, And this is why I hunt down WoW time cards rather than give them a CC number. Damn I can't wait for Blizz to get the BlizzCash cards out......

            3. kain preacher Silver badge

              Re: @ psychonaut

              "That sounds wierd to me. My personal experience in card renewal is that my MMORPG subscription is cut every time my VISA card gets renewed."

              Visa and mastercard have program that allows vendors to charge on expired and dead cards. Of course they charge for this

          4. Maverick

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            Amex is not a credit card, it's a charge card so even if it is fraud they don't give a $&%*% as the UK Consumer Credit act does not protect you

            I know had it twice, the joy of cancelling my CorpAmex card when I left was a highlight of my year

            1. David Neil

              Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

              That's quite a blanket statement, AMEX do offer Credit Card products as well as Charge Cards

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

              Maybe in the past it was only a charge card, but you will find nowadays they also provide credit cards in the UK.

            3. Sherrie Ludwig

              Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

              "Amex is not a credit card, it's a charge card so even if it is fraud they don't give a $&%*% as the UK Consumer Credit act does not protect you

              I know had it twice, the joy of cancelling my CorpAmex card when I left was a highlight of my year"

              Actually, it is now a credit card, at least in the US. Amex realized some years back that they were missing out on all that lovely interest per annum and most, if not all, amex cards are now credit cards. Don't know if they still issue the old green "charge a Lamborghini? Sure, just pay it off in full when the bill comes", as a merchant I haven't seen one in years.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          Really though, no project is important enough for me to use my personal payment details. If that means a 6 month delay then so be it

          My corp has a way around that. They supply a corporate card which you use when you go on a trip. You, however, have to pay the bill. They will refund you a month or two later after you hand in your expenses sheet.

          Presumably everyone who works in this blessed corp is lucky enough not to have cashflow problems.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

      And now, of course, because it's all working, why bother to switch payments.

      And this, simply put, is where you f*$%ed up. Why in the world would you perform payments like this from a personal card. Especially ongoing payments. (Personally I wouldn't even do single payments with a personal card. If the company can't bother to get my payments processed at anything faster than glacial pace it's not my problem a project doesn't get finished at anything faster than glacial pace. Keep records/proof and get your boss to talk to finances)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

        IT bod at NHS here....

        I used to pop into the local Maplins on the way home to get small stuff like batteries, and then get reimbursed from petty cash when I produce the receipt.

        Then the beancounters decided that we weren't allowed petty cash, and so had to order through procurement at f**k knows what markup that would take several days to arrive. It's just reminded me, gits still owe me from last time.... (only a few quid, but a principal is involved!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          I still have four boxes of USB modems here that I bought for work, then the job finished before they were needed and they won't refund me for them. So, they sit here until I can think of what to do with a pile of 56K dial-up USB modems.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            Build a dial up BBS, obvsly

          2. kmac499

            Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

            When the Brexit apocalypse hit's, you sir will be rich beyond your wildest dreams.

            I reckon one 56k modem will be worth 17 cans of spam...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          Same thing in local authority. I used to buy small items and claim back costs. All receipts submitted and explained. Even if I wasn't carefully making sure I got the best prices (I was) it was still cheaper and quicker than the official route with three levels of paperwork even for items <£50. So one day they stopped it. And increased our costs. But added to that we had to let the purchasing officer choose the items. He hadn't even heard of TCO and never did any research. So we never got the most appropriate item/brand/model. In fact his official orders always came from a supplier that we'd been expressly forbidden to use, always a famous, if not particularity good, brand but somehow at higher unit costs than I could have got the same items.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          "Then the beancounters decided that we weren't allowed petty cash, and so had to order through procurement at f**k knows what markup that would take several days to arrive. It's just reminded me, gits still owe me from last time.... (only a few quid, but a principal is involved!

          That's when you start ordering in bulk along with a new lockable storage cabinet to put it in. Need AA batteries, buy the 48 pack instead of a 4-pack when needed. Also, learn where everybody else stashes what they start squirreling away so you can raid their stores whenever you need to.

        4. RancidOrange

          Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

          Hopefully, you mean a principle rather than a principal, but who knows in the NHS.

        5. CRConrad

          And a principle.

          Also, the principal was apparently rather small.

    3. G.Y.

      virtual card Re: gets worse, the bigger the company ...

      Capital One lets you create per-supplier virtual credit cards; can be killed as needed.

      (I am just a satisfied customer)

    4. ICPurvis47
      FAIL

      Re: Usually gets worse, the bigger the company ...

      My wife used to work in the Collections and Credits Department of a large midland electrical manufacturing company, whose SOP was to pay bills at the end of the month in descending order of size. When the money ran out for that particular month, those small companies who hadn't been paid were pushed on to the next month's list, where, of course, they ended up at the bottom of the pile, so were pushed again next month, and so on, and so on. Another part of the department, which dealt with incoming payments from customers, would sometimes issue threatening letters to those customers which hadn't paid their bills, culminating in court summonses. Three times during the five years my wife worked in that department, they took small companies to court, only to have the court rule in the debtor's favour on the grounds that $BigCo owed them more than the bill in question, and they had withheld payment pending settlement of their own claim. In each case, costs were also awarded. Manglement simply couldn't get it into their heads that they were the cause of their own grief.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just small companies

    Working for a large global outfit a while ago, This was a regular message on a sites VISITOR WLAN setup due to corporate beancounters arbitrarily deciding to pay all small (as in invoice amount) suppliers 45 days (up from 28) after billing and issued revised T&Cs to all.

    Telco contract said pay in 14 or cut us off after 30, re-connections happen the working day after payment received, (Revised T&Cs? > toilet paper)

    Oddly enough (/sarc) most of the actually small suppliers upped their prices after this according to the local purchasing staff, so the net effect was to cost more money and look bad in front of clients.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Not just small companies

      One of our customers was Lehman brothers, before they went tits up. We used to offer terms on our software - 30 days I think - but after 6 months Lehmans still hadn't paid. We were in the UK, they were in the US, it was only a few hundred quid so all we could do was email, email, call, email. Eventually they paid up.

      As a result we changed our policy to pay up front - it's just a license key we issue, the software runs with a DEMO stamp without it. When the time came for renewal Lehman, very importantly, said they don't do that and always require terms. I had the pleasure of explaining to them that we had changed our policy as a direct result of them not paying their bill for six months.

      They paid up front, then went to the wall a few years later.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes...

    I remember waking into the office one bright Monday morning to find that all of the phone lines were down... Expecting it to be JCB related I called our line provider of the time (lets call them Oxygen...) and asked what was up only to be told that we hadn't paid our bill and had been cut off had we not seen the reminders? No we never got them... One quick credit card payment later all was well.

    Then there was the time that our spam filtering company turned off our late payment notifications because we were receiving requests for invoices that we had actually paid. Guess what happened when the person who sent the money transfers was off on long term sick....

    Ah the joys of IT!

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Ah yes...

      (lets call them Oxygen...)

      Could they also be called dioxygen?

  15. Khaptain Silver badge

    Porn Fest

    I was developing CTI interfaces quite a few years ago and as such was using the companies phones lines to do testing.

    Boss came into the office and told me to stop testing as the latest invoice was extremely high.. As my testing was aony a few phone calls using local numbers I was a little dubious at being the cause of the high amounts.

    As anyone would do I then inspected the bill and call up our provider in order to have further details..

    Reality hit : The expenses were in fact associated with a mobile number within the company that was using SMS texts to pay for Porn..

    Guess who's mobile phone was being used, oh yes it was our favorite Pointy Haired Boss...

    I confonted him with the fact the someone was using SMS to pay for Porn access without mentioning the number that was being used. He quietly dismissed me from his office and said he would investigate himself as to who was using the companies resources in a such a manner.

    I also had the logs from our Firewall which left no doubt about the time spent browsing Porn from his office machine.. ( I didn't tell him about that though)

    I was allowed to continue my testing and next months bills were already back to normal....

    ( I don't now if SMS are still used to make payments because that was several years ago, about 12 and thing have moved on since, thankfully)

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Porn Fest

      Simon? Is that you?

      1. ssharwood

        Re: Porn Fest

        No

  16. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    Vuja De?

    This just happened where I'm at. The day before I went on holiday! I sent my boss screen shots of the offending service which was failing or flailing due to insufficient valid licenses, and went on holiday. Oh, how I wanted to be in the office when he read the message ;-}

  17. joewilliamsebs

    I had a client with a graphics design department, back in the days when designers plugged an ISDN line into their Mac in order to transfer files between themselves.

    Once internet speed had reached a point where SFTP was a viable alternative, we helped them cancel the line.

    When the next quarterly bill arrived, the accountant saw that it still had a charge for "ISDN lines", so called the phone company and tore them a new one, wanting to know why they hadn't cancelled the line when requested and demanding that it be done immediately.

    Later that day, their PBX, fed by 3 x ISDN2 lines, stopped receiving and making calls...

  18. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Domain name expired

    Automated notice ignored. My email ignored. Squatter pointing domain to a page of ads. You can guess the rest.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Domain name expired

      Heard that last line in my head in Bryan Ferry's 1975 voice.

  19. Laughing Gravy

    Working for a multinational PC / Laptop builder pre-internet days we started to get virus infections likely introduced by folks loading up games via the floppy drive. A networked anti-virus solution was installed which notified me via email that a virus had been found on xyz PC. Login passwords were introduced so no excuses like 'it wasn't me somebody else accessed my PC'. Senior manager who was a bit of an arsewipe sent out a company wide email stating that anyone found with a virus would be instantly fired.

    Yep, you know what's coming. A couple of weeks later I got an email stating his PC was infected, I kicked this up the chain bypassing him of course and later that day was escorted off the site by two security guards with the contents of his desk in a bin bag. Oh how we laughed...

    1. Scunner

      So... what method did you use to get the infection onto his PC? </BOFH>

  20. Greg D

    I wish our cloud systems could respond that quickly

    It's 2018 and we're still worse off with Office365 than we were with on-prem exchange. Performance for cloud is appalling.

    1. EdFX

      Re: I wish our cloud systems could respond that quickly

      Really? We used for 300 staff from initial days of BPOS to latest O365... Never any issues to speak of about service as such.

      What problems do you see?

      1. Greg D

        Re: I wish our cloud systems could respond that quickly

        Problems? I didnt say problems. It's just terrible performance.

        Think about it - we have a 10Gb backbone in our DC's. Everyone was using that to access our exchange cluster, which was awesome and fast. Cue the move to 365, where that MASSIVE database of emails and calendars gets shipped out to some unknown server in some country no where near where our people are located.

        Top that off with every single user using a single internet gateway with a 350Mb internet circuit on it (which at the time was more than enough for general internet traffic) and you get shit performance. Specifically Outlook and Skype - and in Outlook the problem is made worse for PA's - where they have multiple very busy calendars open. Never a problem on-prem - on 365 however, its the #1 complaint! Multiple calendars take far too long to open.

        And thats not even the fault of the 350Mb bandwidth available! Checking our throughput graphs, we're not even pushing it! It just sucks.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and there is another reason not to cloud

    lol fucking cloud shit again..

  22. JulieM Bronze badge
    Pint

    To borrow from the late, great Douglas Adams

    Ely m. The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.

    Wembley n. The hideous moment of confirmation that the disaster presaged in the ely (q.v.) has actually struck.

    Godalming n. Wonderful rush of relief on discovering that the ely (q.v.) and the wembley (q.v.) were in fact false alarms.

    Beer, for everyone else who needs one right now because they have gone from Cambridgeshire, to Middlesex and then out to Surrey at least once today.

  23. JulieM Bronze badge

    I have actually done this to somebody

    Way, way back in the heady days of dial-up modems and Windows 98, "Some Bloke Who No Longer Exists" knocked together a custom 404 page that included, among the reasons why the page might not be available, "The customer might not have paid their website hosting bill", just to teach a particularly recalcitrant customer a lesson. It worked, alright. They paid up within a matter of minutes.

    You probably would not get away with a stunt like that nowadays; broadcasting the fact that somebody owes you money is almost certainly a breach of the GDPR.

    Anyway, the moral of the story is: If you want to play Silly Buggers, don't take on an opponent who is a black belt in that sport.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I have actually done this to somebody

      It's one of the possible reasons and says 'might'. No problem I would have thought, unless it only appears when the customer hasn't paid their bill.

      Whether the customer would want to use a hosting provider which could accuse it of not paying when it has is something else.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could You Just Fix It?

    Some of my favorite calls were from irate managers that could not access services hosted well beyond my routers. "Sorry, Sir. I don't really have any administrative authority over Facebook. We'll just have to wait for them to fix whatever problem they're experiencing."

    I snuck into work one Saturday with plans to get in a few hours of uninterrupted work. Hah. Phone rings. Apparently the senior managers were all at work as well, and were unsuccessful in their efforts to send important documents to their new partners. Our rather unpleasant CFO expressed his frustration over the situation and ordered me to fix our email system.

    Puzzled, I ran some quick tests, did some quick checks, and everything on our side looked fine. A quick scan of the logs revealed the problem. I called the conference room where our managers were assembled.

    "Are you on a conference call with our new partners?" I asked.

    "Yes," the CFO tersely replied.

    "Good," I said. "Inform them that their domain registration has lapsed and suggest to them that their IT Department address the situation."

    So, for once, I did actually manage to fix another company's Internet service outage. Never did get any acknowledgement from the CFO. Oh well.

  25. I'm Dugly

    No automatic payments for me

    Some time ago there were reports of a utility billing a customer billions of dollars, and when customer service was contacted they couldn't seem to understand what the problem was. Imagine if that had hit a no-limit credit card and how long it would take to work it out. Bear in mind that some wealthy people but huge transactions on their Amex Centurion cards - there was a recent report of a Japanese man who put $100,000,000 on a work of art bought at auction.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: No automatic payments for me

      The titanium one?

      I knew the engineer who developed that (sadly, now deceased). He had his own personal one, for testing, of course.

  26. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    I use prepaid gift cards in restaurants esp while travelling, and for monthly type payments which you might want to drop. They *always* get declined when the money is gone. Like an Oyster card: no money, no ride.

  27. MachDiamond Silver badge

    A company with auto-payments?

    Every company has somebody or department to do payables. Why would it be thought prudent for a recurring invoice to be charged to an executive's or employee's card whether on a company account or not? Those cards are there for misc. expenses, travel and out-of-band purchases. A/P should have no problem with something that bills regularly and should be the department that handles all of that in the first place.

  28. pkolding

    Graciousness doesn't pay

    Back in the Nineties, I bought a domain name for testing purposes. Kept a web page up permanently. A couple of years later I got a demand letter from a Swedish lawyer claiming that the domain should be transferred to his client immediately because its name was the name of his client's company.

    I didn't fall for this and replied that his client could have the domain for $5000 (I had bought it for $35). He countered with an offer of $3500. I accepted with alacrity, gave him 30 days to pay, and offered to point DNS settings (I ran DNS for this domain) to any IPs he wished and to transfer the domain on receipt of payment.

    His client's website came up within days. DNS for mail worked fine. But after 45 days, and an unanswered request for payment, I still hadn't been paid. So I reconfigured DNS to point to my webpage, which had a single, large-font message: "Pay your bills!" And then all hell broke loose.

    Frantic voicemails and e-mails, faxes directly from the client, as well as his lawyer. I ignored them. Within 24 hours my PayPal account had a deposit of $3500.

    The lesson? Businesses don't want to spend money on services that they already have. They have to feel the pain before taking the medicine.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Graciousness doesn't pay

      Oh it does pay. With them accepting your offer of pointing your DNS to their IPs before payment was received, they couldn't really choose not to pay later on.

  29. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Using a shit card.

    Double miles, go on then. Partner commission, missed that one. #yesbossrightonit

  30. ps2os2

    Data Center relocate

    The company was always looking for cheaper rents, so our NY office after 40 years got elected to be moved. I was brought in to make sure everything (software/hardware) was working. This process took me about an hour, and I signaled everything was OK, The boss said to me are you sure? I said well I could get to every IO device and the software is working as it should be, He said how about testing out some production jobs? I said well if you want to, my tests although did not execute user code but standard OS interfaces. We got production control to try jobs out and of course no issue. I asked if I could go home and the boss said not until tomorrow as that is when the tickets were good for (typical cheap company). Somebody said lets order pizza. I said no thanks I wouldn't say I like NY pizza. I got razzed on by the group. I asked for a menu and chose a salad. Everybody was gorging themselves on PIZZA. I suggested the network people made sure all the network connections worked; they looked at me like I was asking them to work. The network people came back in 3 hours and assured us that everything was OK. I said fine let's start the lines up between Chicago (HQ) and New York, and we stressed them, and everything was OK. I said well there is nothing left for me to do, I am taking the next flight out, anyone, want to join me? I got a silent stare from the boss. So I took the next plane out and charged the fare difference to the company.

    Fast forward two days. There were some strange issues with the lines between NY and Chicago. The hardware said it was a software issue. I started to run traces trying to figure out what was going on. I got IBM involved as we were doing some network stuff that IBM said should not cause any issues. My boss said to up the severity to 1, I looked at him and said I don't think so, he insisted, so I did. When you up a problem to severity 1 with IBM, things happen like people are dispatched from where ever they work to your place. I have seen 10 IBMers show up for severity one issues. IBM took its time, but at least I had a live IBMer on the phone for a solid 8 hours. IBM could not figure it out, but they were leaning towards it being a hardware problem. The biggest issue is that it seemed to happen at random times. One of the NY network people asked if it could have anything to do with the elevator?

    That is what is called a bingo moment. We set up a test to see if that was the case (elevator door opening). Sure enough, NY AT&T did not use shielded wiring (although they were supposed to). Once they put shielded cabling in the elevator door did not cause the line to go berserk. I was happy they found it, but it was an exhausting 16 hours for me, and I needed a drink. I went down to the bar in the building and had two drinks and came back up to get my winter coat to go home. I looked in on my boss and told him I would be late coming in the next day. He said sure, and I went back. The following day at 8 AM I got a call from my boss saying I had to get into work as there was going to be a finger pointing meeting and I had to be there to keep any fingers pointed at the software group. I was pretty tired but went in any way. The meeting was held in the boardroom, and people were fidgeting as they didn't want to be blamed. The meeting started, and everybody froze, so the CEO of the company launched the finger-pointing. Some of the people that were in attendance were on the phone. After 3 hours I was finally in the spotlight, and they started in on me. I asked if everybody had their say about the software. They said yes, so I launched into what I did and the results I had gotten, all were positive and no error. Then someone asked why we haven't seen this error before but if we had why wasn't IBM able to fix it months ago? I looked t them and said watch the problem was NOT on my side it was a hardware/network issue that occurred because of a wire not being shielded properly, and that was not a software issue, but a wiring issue and I suggested they blame AT&T. That sort of shut down the meeting and I asked to be excused and left and went home for some much-needed sleep.

  31. thomas k

    re: the photo

    He manscaped his pits?

  32. Just a geek

    Seen this far, far, far too often. However, why was luca the only one able to logon to the portal to see the big alert?

    Did no one else bother (Seen that too!).

  33. ssharwood

    Classic

    Classic On-Call. Great to see Rebecca nailing it

  34. John Lilburne Silver badge

    In another time ...

    ... I was working in the night shit production control in a chemical factory and senior trade unionist I'd been called in early as the afternoon shift was ill so I'd been there since about 9pm. At about 0745 I was shattered and part dozing on a stool, and waiting for my relief to come in at 0800.In walks the deputy works manager, whose first words were "I thought you said you were really busy." Cheeky bastard is going to pay I thought. Shrugs shoulders and said "Oh I'm glad your here I've got something to show you." Walks into other office and show him some floor tiles that are coming loose. "Those need attention before they become a trip hazard." So he's down on his knees pulling them up, and I'm standing over him smiling and thinking: I may be dog tired but I can still get you on your hands and knees like the bitch you are. He looks up sees the smile realizes what has happened and mutters bastard.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A boss who admits their mistake - you lucky b*!"$£%d!

    Had a similar story, but in my case, I told my boss they were paying for an ISDN line they were not using, so rather than cancel it, they didn't pay the bill - which killed the call centre telecoms for 3 days while BT took their time to switch everything back on!

    My boss blamed me for highlighting that we didn't need to pay for the line!

    Obviously the company didn't last long after that!

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