back to article Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it

Gather round, readers, as we have a good root in our On Call mailbag for this week’s tale, fresh from one of your fellow techies. This week, El Reg’s tech support column meets “Ash”, who tells us about his rather pointless low-cost trip to a foreign land. “I was fairly new to a software house, with a customer overseas,” said …

  1. jay_bea

    Travelling to client sites

    is fertile ground for stories. The 10 hour round train journey (Cross Country) to a client for a meeting that "I absolutely had to attend" only to find when I got there that they had double-booked and could only spare 15 minutes.

    Or the Saturday morning trip to a Board meeting in London for a "critical presentation". After waiting outside the board room for 2.5 hours because they were running behind schedule, I was finally told that the had decided to postpone my segment, and I was welcome to come to the next meeting instead. They then complained about the invoice for the travel costs and my time on a Saturday because "I hadn't done anything."

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Travelling to client sites

      June 2005 and I was "asked" (as in "you do not have a choice") to replace the Cisco router for a department ... which just happened to be in Wellington, New Zealand. So the itinerary was pretty much set out as, Sunday: fly to Singapore and then wait several hours for a flight to Auckland and then get a flight to Wellington, arriving Monday at midnight. Tuesday spent reconfiguring the router and then "accidentally" missing the evening flight back. Wednesday: evening flight back, arriving in London on Thursday.

      Downside was 3 days spent with the most awful jet lag and I got a reprimand for "missing" the return flight on the Tuesday. Plus side was that I got to see the Lions beat Wellington 23-6 on the Wednesday, one of the few matches that the Lions won on that tour.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        well with every pain comes a little gain...... you will just have to work harder on the reasons for missing the flight in future

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        "3 days spent with the most awful jet lag"

        Are you sure it was all jet lag? After all, you went to a Rugby match.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Travelling to client sites

          It was an interesting flight back though. My wife still refers to it as, “my idiot husband who effectively got a day return to the other side of the planet just to watch a rugby game”.

          1. Trollslayer Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Travelling to client sites

            She knows you then.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Travelling to client sites

          "Are you sure it was all jet lag?"

          Believe me, the jet lag from the UK -> NZ -> UK round trip is brutal, especially if you go back the way you went out. Its less harsh if you continue around the globe in the same direction.

          I've done a few 4-day trips to NZ from London!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Travelling to client sites

            Cure for jet lag: Melatonin.

            Part of my job title was "global network troubleshooter" from the early '80s thru' the late '90s ... at any given hour I could expect to be flying off to anywhere on the planet. 0.25mg melatonin 35 minutes before "local bedtime" on the first night out, and I was fine for the duration of the trip ... until the next timezone. Lather, rinse, repeat ... I experienced no ill effects, could wake up immediately if required, and apparently it's not addictive (all unlike alcohol, sleeping pills, etc.).

            Yes, I know, "studies indicate", yadda yadda yadda. I am not a doctor, this is not a prescription, might be illegal in your jurisdiction, etc.

            1. Darren Sandford

              Re: Travelling to client sites

              I swear by melatonin when travelling.

            2. steviebuk Silver badge

              Re: Travelling to client sites

              Cure for jet lag.....go to sleep. Simple. Never understood the fuss. Experienced it once when went to America. Had a long sleep and thats it. Was fine for rest of trip.

              1. Leathery Hawkeye

                Re: Travelling to client sites

                UK > US is not the other side of the world. Do you have a globe?

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Travelling to client sites

                  Speaking as someone who has spent a lot of time on both sides of the pond, sometimes it feels like the UK and the US are completely separate worlds ... Reading ElReg doesn't do a lot to contradict this observation.

                  That said, London to the West Coast is 8 hours. Most of the time.

                  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                    Re: Travelling to client sites

                    The UK and the US are two countries separated by a common language.

                2. steviebuk Silver badge

                  Re: Travelling to client sites

                  Yes but a simple search shows jet lag is just your body clock being out. Sleeping helps, no medication does, no fancy "cure" does.

                  Not poking fun at anyone. Just has always annoyed me people coming up with all different fancy "cures". But then I am a grumpy fuck so lots of things annoy me.

                  I never knew what it was when growing up. Thought it was this mystical thing only the rich got (as we couldn't afford to fly anywhere). I know it's only a movie but kinda makes my point is the Thomas Crown Affair, the 1999 one. When Rene Russo's character makes out she is super cool and has this magical cure for "jet lag" by drinking some weird shit.

                  Then I had very mild case of it, and realise it was just tiredness due to the body clock being out. Went to sleep for hours and was fine for rest of trip. But yeah, I guess it's worse flying to the other side of world unless you can get some sleep on the plane.

                  Melatonin is also a potential pseudoscience. There are no decent clinical trials that show it helps for Jet Lag or sleep disorders. Much like Remedy Rescue, was recommended to me years ago for my anxiety. I tried it, it was bollocks. It has no effect unless you "believe" it has an effect. As I don't believe in bullshit, it had no effect on me. It has a tiny amount of alcohol in it, that is the only possible reason it could help with anxiety.

                  Anyway. I'm ready for the down votes, but I like this forum as we seem free to speak our minds without to much of a kicking.

                  1. Lars Johansson

                    Re: Travelling to client sites

                    Mind you, there is one working cure for jet lag; it's called "business class" ;-)

                  2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                    Re: Travelling to client sites

                    You want to know the secret to surviving air travel? After you get where you're going, take off your shoes and your socks then walk around on the rug bare foot and make fists with your toes.

                    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                      Re: Travelling to client sites

                      Bring a large box of the soil of your native land, and sleep in it. Or is that just me? :-)

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Travelling to client sites

                        I don't think you can get night soil past customs in most countries ... and if you manage that little detail, I'm certain that your hotel wouldn't allow you to swap out their sheets ...

                  3. balrog

                    Re: Travelling to client sites

                    There is one way to avoid jet lag. And its quality.

                    What you do is get flung half way round the planet to fix some bit of kit in a third world shit hole. But you promise to fix it outside office hours, obviously at a higher rate. So you turn up wherever work 'nights' locally then head home.Of course if you get it right you can time it so you are awake the same times you would be at home........

          2. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Travelling to client sites

            Always go west if you can, you essentially just have really long days which the body is better at adapting to than short ones. Mainly because going to bed 8 hours earlier than usual just results in lying there wide awake.

            I once had to go to Brunei for work. Handily it had to be by the end of the financial year and I'd already booked leave to go to visit friends in the US in March. So in a rare outbreak of sanity they let me fly LA-Hong Kong-Brunei rather than coming back to the UK and going via Dubai. I still didn't feel brilliant when I finally got home but I did manage to go out for someone's birthday.

            1. Graham Butler

              Re: Travelling to client sites

              Lived in Boston for a while and I completely agree. Flights out would just extend the day a few hours. Coming back, however, would usually be an evening flight, but early enough to not be sleepy, then landing at 6am local in Heathrow.

              Along with seemingly every single other flight in the world.

              Now you've got another 16 hours or so to get through. Joy...

          3. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Travelling to client sites

            Honestly never had a problem with jet lag. I get to Singapore/Kuala Lumpur/Sydney/Auckland, and they tell me the time is whatever, and for some reason my brain & body just seem to shrug and say 'OK, so it's that time then'

            I put it down to the fact I generally have little idea of where or when I am, so I simply accept whatever they tell me. I'm going to be a pushover for the deadly mind control rays.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        "Downside was 3 days spent with the most awful jet lag and I got a reprimand for "missing" the return flight on the Tuesday. Plus side was that I got to see the Lions beat Wellington 23-6 on the Wednesday, one of the few matches that the Lions won on that tour."

        I had a similar trip in June 2005 to Wellington, the only difference was that I didn't have to worry about a router and I got to see Dan Carter play one of the best games of his career. :D :D :D

      4. Chronos Silver badge

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        I was "asked" (as in "you do not have a choice")

        There's a word for that: "Voluntold."

      5. BoL

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        By ‘one of the few’, are we to understand that really means ‘only’, if you discount them playing a high school boys selection?

        Wondering why your company doesn’t employ local contract labour, as I do if I need anything doing in London, from Wellington.

        But then, travelling to Wellington is all cool and exotic, travelling to London is a chore to be avoided:)

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Travelling to client sites

          Wellington's 20 minutes south of me, with some nice coastal and in-between roads to ride (any motorcyclist wishing to head over these ways, get in touch (I'm sure El Reg will be happy to make the introductions) and I'll show you roads that make "The tail of the dragon" look like a straight 60-lane freeway).

          Yet I consider it a place to only visit if I really have to. Much prefer to bugger off over to Masterton, which is a couple of hours in the opposite direction and has much much much more fun 'backroads' that I've been exploring for years and have only barely begun to discover :)

          But I'm a country boy, I don't think I'd ever want to see anything bigger or more dense than Sydney.. (Ozzie jokes aside...)

        2. macjules Silver badge
      6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        Nice work if you can get it! But seriously, was there no company in NZ they could have phoned to go and replace a Cisco router? I believe they're quite common

      7. Trixr Bronze badge

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        Seriously? They have Cisco engineers as well in NZ, even back in ye olde days of the early 2000s. Surely they could have had a local on-site support arrangement with some outfit like Datacom or IBM or whoever supplied their computer kit? Not sure when DiData got to NZ.

        At least you got to see the rugby.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Travelling to client sites

      Visited one site for an old employer to do training on an in house built web based software package. When I arrived I was shown the underpowered and ancient computers that they were using. I did manage to give some training but using my laptop and I was bloody grateful i'd taken it. Recommended upgrading the site machines as a matter of urgency.

      Another employer I worked for had offices all over the UK. I was going to watch my football team playing Monday night football in Cardiff and had booked the next day off to get home. After leaving the hotel I realised I was very close to the Cardiff office. So I took a trip to the office and checked my emails and tried to be inconspicuos. Didn't work and ended up sorting out their problems with various things. People there were very pleased to see me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        Sort of penny pinching - Amsterdam for a trade show. My boss managed to get me airline tickets cheap from the local airport, so cheap it worked out that I could stay in a hotel for three days before the show even started and still save money.

        However the MD vetoed this and made me fly out closer to the date of the show. Those cheap tickets - no refunds, so that was a couple of hundred quid on top of the new tickets that meant I had to fly from Gatwick + parking, travelling expenses.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        "training on an in house built web based software package. When I arrived I was shown the underpowered and ancient computers that they were using"

        How underpowered were the computers if they couldn't effectively use a web-based package? (or how shitty was your in house software?)

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: Travelling to client sites

          How underpowered were the computers if they couldn't effectively use a web-based package? (or how shitty was your in house software?)

          The web based software was a 3D graphics system (I'm being slightly vague because they owe me money). You needed a decent graphics card/GPU and a bought in software module residing on the computer. They were using XP on seriously old Dell laptops that were like something out of the stone age. From memory they had more than minimum spec for XP but not by much. There was only the basic onboard graphics processor and that was useless as was the amount of RAM. It was explained to me later that the site was originally going to be just temporary and they'd been given spare & sparce equipment as a result. The sales figures however had justified keeping the place open but no one had given a thought* to upgrading the equipment. *Well it was the arse end of beyond where they were and I suspect nobody had wanted to go there to do it. I just drew the short straw on my training rounds, extremely nice bunch of people though.

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Travelling to client sites

      Ah yes, the "you MUST attend meetings.

      Some years ago the company I worked for managed to get a major retailer as a customer - and we (3 of us, representing 3 roles) had to go to a meeting at their headquarters in south Wales. So up very early for a long drive - which thanks to an accident on the M5 ended up at something like 10 hours. The meeting gets to my part (dealing with EDI) and the entire meeting which I HAD to attend consisted of just 4 sentences :

      Do you already have EDI ?

      Yes

      What formats do you support ?

      Tradacoms 9, or if you need it Tradacoms 8

      Yes, those 2 questions, which could have been handled over the phone or by email required me to travel to the other end of the country for an 18 hour day of which most was spent in the car. All because the customer has this "if you want to deal with us, you must have this meeting face-face" rule.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        "All because the customer has this "if you want to deal with us, you must have this meeting face-face" rule."

        Which seems really daft as face-to-face you can claim absolutely anything, however by email it becomes recordable and legally-binding.

        I never figured this out from people who do sales presentations to my workplace. You can literally say what you like in a face-to-face sales meeting, even without the IT guy present, and everybody will believe it. But when I then send or request an email which says that X is compatible with Y or that they don't charge to do Z or whatever it was that came up, suddenly tumbleweed, and then I'm also told off because "They said it would be in the meeting, so why haven't YOU got it working?!" despite the fact that they promised the impossible.

        Have had this happen with a finance software that claimed to pull all the customer info from our original system. After six months, we literally just started typing it all back in and kept them up-to-date separately and the closest we *ever* got was me playing about with Excel to get all the information out via ODBC, converted to their "import" format, which was then refused by their software consistently despite being in spec (as in, they literally couldn't understand why it didn't import).

        Had it happen with a school management system - promised the world and then half the features they demo'ed literally weren't present in the release version of software... even a year later. Had it from people integrating with access control, CCTV, websites, architects, you name it - even my own workplace promising job descriptions, salaries, making decisions on culpability, etc.

        That's why I think face-to-face meetings are an absolute waste of time. They achieve nothing you couldn't state in an email. An email is binding and recordable. If they *don't* want to put it in an email, that tells you something straight away. And emails can be conducted among even a dozen people, in the middle of the day, with everyone hearing the bits they need to hear, replying at their own convenience, and involving people who may be off-site, at-home, off-sick, or whatever else.

        I can quite understand those billionaires who literally ban meetings in their faddy workplaces. It's the one thing I totally agree with. If you're not prepared to state it on paper, don't say it. Whether that's HR-related, sales, technical, rumours / reports of what's happening in the company (e.g. "Jeff goes next week, so if you stick around a few months, we could have something for you", etc.).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Travelling to client sites

          "I never figured this out from people who do sales presentations to my workplace. You can literally say what you like in a face-to-face sales meeting, even without the IT guy present, and everybody will believe it."

          Let them do the presentation. But it needs to be followed up by a written statement. If it isn't in the written statement it doesn't exist. And be careful that that also applies to stuff they shouldn't do (Microsoft privacy statement - so long, so reasonable looking until you realise that while it might be reasonable for them to keep records of your transactions with them it doesn't actually say they limit their records of transactions to just those).

          Have had this happen with a finance software that claimed to pull all the customer info from our original system."

          I had a salesman at a business I worked for promise that "our" product would be a drop-in replacement for their existing system. It was a major reason for my quitting. The product was to be based on work done for another customer and I'd spent some time looking at the new customer's system. Although it did the same job the data was structured very differently. No way could it be made to look anything like. There was going to be a long haul in getting separating ithe spaghetti out into discrete modules (any user in the existing customer could see and amend any record irrespective of whether it was part of their job or not). I didn't fancy managing customer expectations to be part of my job as developer.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Travelling to client sites

          > Which seems really daft as face-to-face you can claim absolutely anything, however by email it becomes recordable and legally-binding.

          Phone calls are a thing.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Travelling to client sites

            "Phone calls are a thing."

            Not to today's kids ... insist that they call you, and they look confused. It's like they don't know what a telephone is for.

            1. Lee D Silver badge

              Re: Travelling to client sites

              Recording telephone calls is, however, a different matter.

              Though legal in the UK, provided you have permission from one party to the call, it's not at all clear cut - which is why companies always tell you calls are monitored.

              I wouldn't trust a verbal promise in any fashion - proving that they related to what you expected them to, that they are binding, and that they can't be "worded around" is much more difficult than saying "Just send me an email with Yes or No to these questions".

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        All because the customer has this "if you want to deal with us, you must have this meeting face-face" rule.

        Obligatory Dilberts: https://dilbert.com/strip/1996-06-05 and the one after it.

      3. gotes

        Re: Travelling to client sites

        If there's a decent buffet for lunch then it's almost worth it.

    4. vogon00
      Mushroom

      Re: Travelling to client sites

      Back in the early 2000s, I was working for a major UK telecoms manufacturer (Yes, there were a few), and involved in 3 integration projects concurrently, split across 2 gaffers.

      I was out in Italy O.B.O gaffer #1, travelling round various customer sites updating firmware and sorting out network configs to take up the slack in the (less than stellar) controller cards used in our otherwise *very* funky TDM cross-connects.

      Get a call from gaffer #2 on personal mobile phone asking if I can go to Madrid on short notice to...update firmware and sort out network configs in the (less than stellar) radio-linked VOIP gear. "Sure", says I, "just sort it out with gaffer #1, leave tickets at airport and I'll do the rest.." He rings back and says 'all sorted!', so I 'exit SITREP' gaffer #1 - who knows jack about all this.. Oh Joy!

      I travel from southern Italy to the north by train, miss flight thanks to train breakdown, excellent director's PA rebooks flight (Thanks, Sandra!), and I finish check-in to hotel in Madrid about midnight.

      Spanish colleagues collecting me arrived 3 hours late, then 1Hr drive to customer premises...just in time for lunch and Spanish mañana. Planning starts (Project manager conveniently absent).. Me:"How late can we work?". Them:"Up to 4 should be OK". Me:"We'll easily be finished by 4AM". Them (Horrified):"No, 4PM this afternoon". Great - 2hrs to do 10hrs work... Me:"Sorry, no can do. Seeya!".

      Toddled off to airport back to Italy, leaving absent, stupidly optimistic, id10t PM to pick up the pieces...with support of *both* gaffers! Result!

      Back in Blighty later, I totalled up the chits for the Spanish diversion (Flights,hotel,calls,transfers etc)... about GBP3,500 even then! What a waste. Credit card balance that month was impressive.

      Icon as hope PMs ears were this hot after corrective discussion!

      Only other story of relevance is this : seconded to Far East arm for 6 months, not enough time to get re-issued an appropriate card (Different legal entity, waste of time anyway, as couldn't submit associated paper receipts etc bi-weekly as required - no dispensation possible)... so finance/travel office shipped me out there with £20,000 in $100 travellers cheques... group FD (no less!) made me sign each one there and then...could hear his teeth gnashing. Actually, may have been the sound of him chewing on his own beans :-)

      Doubt I'll have that sort of trust and freedom again.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Ah penny pinching in travel costs - a complete lack of ability to see the full value proposition - namely that the person travelling's time is best made available for the job that was the point in travelling in the first place.

    Fortunately not an issue at my current job.

    Says this whilst enjoying a 2nd complimentary breakfast beer in the SAS lounge in Oslo airport :)

    Whilst it would have been cheaper for me to fly back to the UK last night that'd mean if anything overran yesterday I wouldn't have been available, so booked one of the last 2 tickets left on the morning flight instead - which just so happened to be a "plus" ticket (unfortunately not proper business class, but does get me into the lounge!)

    1. Joe W

      Ha, but the lounge serves only alcohol free beer, for the real stuff you have to be allowed into the Gold lounge (except maybe for the new lounge in the national part of OSL, unless things have changed).

      Lykke til og god Tür!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I went to the new Domestic Lounge, which was very nice

        The beer definitely tasted good, so I'm pretty sure it was alcoholic - and in fact SAS list alcoholic beverages as a benefit in all the OSLO lounges.

        https://www.flysas.com/gb-en/fly-with-us/travel-extras/lounge-access/

  3. Mattjimf

    Attending a training course at Uxbridge, staying right next to Heathrow airport, yet having to get a train/Underground from Newcastle rather than the faster and cheaper option of flying.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      I can't help but feel instinctively that flying should be more expensive - trains running on the ground are far more mundane, so should be cheaper right?

      This isn't helped by my having worked on developing some systems that were destined to be used onboard aircraft, and seeing all the extra features we had to build in for safety etc.

      I guess it doesn't help that I rarely travel to places with airports either.

      I wonder if similar thinking is behind your predicament?

      1. Ol'Peculier
        Pint

        I looked at the cost difference between getting from Glasgow and London last year. It worked out slightly cheaper to fly, but the time spent in getting to and from the airports made it easier to get the train.

        Did the same from Montreal to Toronto a few years ago. Much easier (and I had a friend meet me at the station to take me to get one of these ---> )

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Snap with Edinburgh to London, although I did manage to waste some days on a delightful train trip from Barcelona back to London once.....

          1. mdubash

            Train travel helps cut the carbon footprint too... FWIW.

          2. Graham Butler

            Particularly with Edinburgh being quite small and Waverley well serviced by cheap buses. I can be there in 15 minutes, hope on the train and get off in Kings Cross onto the tube 4 1/2 hours later.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          I looked at the cost difference between getting from Glasgow and London last year. It worked out slightly cheaper to fly, but the time spent in getting to and from the airports made it easier to get the train.

          Certainly for various destinations the longer 'travel tine' of a train is readily offset by the long wait at baggage check, security check, cavity-searches, etc. And you can walk around on the train rather than folding yourself into a seat that would be too small for Dr. Miguelito Loveless.

      2. ChrisC

        Flying *ought* to be the more expensive option, but since when has reality ever behaved logically?

        Back in my single days when I used to regularly travel between London and Newcastle to visit my family, I fairly quickly realised that given the same amount of advance notice, it was cheaper to book a return flight with BA from Heathrow than a return rail ticket with GNER (yes, this was a while ago...) from Kings Cross. It cost me the same to get from home to the station as it did to get to the airport, and my parents would pick me up at the other end of the journey, so between the cost savngs and time savings (again, this was a while ago when the recommended time for passengers to be at the airport for a domestic flight was a bit closer to the scheduled departure time than it is these days) it was a no-brainer to fly.

        Of course, as soon as I met my wife, the doubling in costs of the train or air options made the cost of a tank and a half of fuel seem like a bargain, so we started driving there instead. And now with two kids in tow as well, the days of us using anything other than the car to get around the UK are but a distant memory...

        Fortunately from the business travel perspective, most of it has been with my current employer who has a fairly pragmatic approach - they still expect value for money, but they realise that the "value" part of that means more than just being able to achieve the lowest cost for the "getting from A to B and back again" part of the trip ignoring everything else, and they also accept that business travel affects the work-life balance so don't demand that we extend our time away from home a day or two just to be able to snag the cheaper fares that include a complete weekend stay.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
          Happy

          Plus, some options are bosses only

          In my youth, I had to drive to Bournmouth from Stevenage for a training thing. I planned to drive, so proposed this to the PTB. All was peachy, until I pointed out that my engine was 3 litre, whereupon a crappy Fiat Punto was rented.

          It was probably more expensive, but the steep slope on the mileage rates by engine capacity was for the bosses in their Jaguars, not PFYs in second-hand Vauxhall Senators!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Plus, some options are bosses only

            > It was probably more expensive, but the steep slope on the mileage rates by engine capacity was for the bosses in their Jaguars, not PFYs in second-hand Vauxhall Senators!

            Ah yes the "bosses barge" rate - exactly why I drive a small car with a large engine!

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Plus, some options are bosses only

            This is rather like when my team were regularly driving between schools, day in day out, week after week, year after year

            We had to claim for detailed journeys on a "casual mileage " form recording the cars' mileage figure before and after each hop.(usually <2 miles)- and then add that to another mileage claim form that summarised the information of the first form. Even though nothing much changed from one year, let alone week, to the next.

            But senior Council officers, who made the occasional ( i.e. casual) journey got an "essential" user allowance, with a lumps sum automatic payment.

            They even brought in a rule that staff who used the bus between schools (which only worked for some routes/times anyway) couldn't claim for travel. Staff had to try to prove that they didn't get the bus in to work so that they didn't already have a travel card. Some said even said "bugger it" and drove in on principle, when they could have used the bus.

            1. Rob Daglish

              Re: Plus, some options are bosses only

              Terry, I think all councils must be the same. The one I worked for wouldn't pay mileage if the journey was over 100 miles, so one day, I had to set off at 5AM to drive to the only place they could get a hire car from (and claim 45 miles to get there...), to travel two hours back to the school in question for 8AM, leave there at 4PM and drive two hours back to drop off the hire car, then drive 45 miles back home. If I'd been allowed to go in my own car, I would have covered a grand total of 102 miles, and saved two hours of my time that they had to give me TOIL for...

              Same council used to send a bunch of us to BETT every January. One year, our excellent admin assistant found some 1st class tickets for £87 return. Council made us book 2nd Class, at a cost of £237 for the _same_ journey on the _same_ train. Best value be damned, we can't let the plebs get above themselves and save money! (and before anyone asks, I've no idea why a 1st class ticket on the same train, at the same time, on the same day, between the same two stations was that much cheaper than second class. You'll have to take it up with Beardy Branson, for it was his train.)

        2. Montreal Sean

          One of my past employers had it right.

          If we were being sent from Montreal to our head office in Toronto (by car, mileage and time reimbursed) for training that lasted more than a day or two, the company would pay the extra occupancy fee and meal costs for us to bring our significant other along with us.

          It was a small thing in terms of cost, but meant a lot to us.

        3. Diogenes

          Wasn't allowed to do the reverse

          Travelling from Sydney to Brisbane, I wanted to catch the train & book a sleeper. ABSOLUTELY NOT !!!! All old timetable from the 90's Could have left the Sydney office @ 4pm to catch the overnight XPT leaving at 4:30pm (literally 500m stroll) , arrival at Brisbane @7am , quick brekky at Roma St Station, then up 13 flights in the lift for my 9am meeting in the tower above Roma St. Total cost <400AUD

          Instead, my choices were 1) leave the office @ 2pm to catch a cab to SYD, so I could be on the 4:30pm flight to Brisbane, cab from BNE to hotel (can I stay in the hotel that is in the next tower over ?(Roma St has 3 towers - no !). or 2). Get up @3am, catch cab to Springwood Station, then 1.5 hour train trip into the city then cab to the airport for 7am flight with potential to be late as Brisbane's Kingsford Smith Drive in those days regularly clagged.

          First option cost >1000 AUD, second would have cost > 600AUD . Not wanting to get up at 3am, I wisely chose option 1.

          To add insult to injury , I had a flex day on my return, and would happily have paid a motel for a night myself and caught the day train home (yes I am a railfan- anorak)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wasn't allowed to do the reverse

            I once got an overnight train from coffs to Sydney and wondered why the locals brought sleeping bags and blankets.....found out sharpish....they turned off the heating overnight....I sat there shivering for hours till the sun came up...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Many years ago I used to go to Monaco to organise conferences. I managed to persuade the finance department that it was cheaper to get a helicopter from Nice Cote d'Azure airport to Monaco than a taxi. And it was true. Provided I was travelling alone. If there were 2 or more of us, the taxi was cheaper. Funny thing was that I never seemed to be travelling at the same time as anybody else from the company.

        1. ActionBeard

          Nice -> Monaco

          I went to Monaco on a business trip several years ago and yes, the helicopter from Nice cost about the same as a taxi. A colleague who had been before recommended taking the helicopter - and with me being a bit of an aviation nerd who had never flown in a helicopter before, this sounded ideal. My BA flight from London was late and I finally landed at Nice about midnight, by which time the desk for the helicopter company was closed. The only option was to get a taxi to my hotel. The motorway was closed thanks to roadworks, so the driver took some obscure country back roads and we descended into Monte Carlo from the hills. It was a spectacular drive. Also it wasn't cheap - about 90 Euros, which used up the 100 in cash that I'd brought "to get me through the first couple of days" (ah, how little I knew).

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > I can't help but feel instinctively that flying should be more expensive - trains running on the ground are far more mundane, so should be cheaper right?

        Many years ago now, there was a special offer from one of the budget airlines, to fly from Belfast to Glasgow then on to Edinburgh by train, which cost less than the standard Glasgow-Edinburgh train fare. Go figure, as they say.

    2. Daedalus Silver badge

      There will be a short delay.....

      Douglas N. Adams (for it is he) related what happened to him taking a flight to the Great Unexplored North instead of a train. After the usual delays, faffing around etc., the flight was grounded for an extended period waiting for vital supplies of biscuits to serve with tea, thus taking far longer than the train ride would have taken.

      This inspired the episode of HHGTTG where a starliner was delayed for tens of thousands of years waiting for "lemon scented paper napkins".

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: There will be a short delay.....

        He noted that at least he got a joke\script idea out of it, which was more than could be said for the rest of his fellow passengers.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge
      FAIL

      A mate of mine was going to a clients in Plymouth for a 9:30am meeting and had to put his travel plans through the travel company that the corporation used. I can't remember if these people were based in the UK or not but I don't think so. The rule was they were only supposed to use the cheapest means possible to get somehwere so Economy on trains and planes. Also the cheapest routing even if this meant changing planes or trains. Staff weren't allowed to travel outside of work hours as that constituted overtime.

      He had proposed to travel down on the sleeper and arrive early morning ready for the meeting coming back via paddington. The travel co said no as that's not the cheapest option you could travel by daytime train both ways instead. So he said okay book me on the Paddington service then and I'll have to waste some of the afternoon travelling. Nope says the rep travelling on the daytime stopping service out of Waterloo is cheaper and saves several pounds over the Paddington service. Then he had to have a room and meal for the night in Plymouth which was more cost. So he spoke to his boss and explained his case in detail especially that he would be using a day of work just travelling. He also pointed out that whilst it might cost less in train fare, the associated costs were going to be much higher than the sleeper. Fortunately his boss saw this was madness and told him to buy the sleeper ticket and Paddington return himself and to just expense this normally which he would happily sign off on.

    4. gotes

      Travelling by train in first class you can set yourself up with a pretty effective mobile office.. The wifi is quick enough and fairly reliable (though I guess this varies between operators), complementary food (ok, a sandwich) and drinks. It may take longer and cost a bit more but the employer can get better value out of the employee, which usually costs more than the train ticket. Though more often than not, company policy is economy all the way. That said, I've still managed to get a fair bit of work done in standard class with just a folding airline type tray table.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice story

    I'm also happy I'm not the only one who once had a totally pointless day in his career ...

    Here is my story.

    My new boss phoned me on a day at 1:00pm. He asked me, in the tone of someone about to be nuked in a minute: "I have something really REALLY important for you. Please drop everything on get onto it".

    Apparently it was a matter of life and death and I had to be on the other side of Europe the day after before lunchtime to meet a customer. I'd meet another dude there who would explain everything.

    It took me the afternoon to book a flight, get it approved etc ...

    The day after, I get up at 4:00am, drive to the airport, board around 6:00am, fly to eastern Europe. Then, I meet the other dude (never seen before), who explained he knew nothing of the story, thought I would ... Oh dear.

    We take a taxi, driving insanely at 150 Km/h for 150 km, to get to the place. We arrive at the place, reception, then meet 2 dudes and start the meeting, trying to figure out what it was about.

    At around 10 mins in the meeting, we both quickly realize we're absolutely not the right people here, and can do absolutely nothing for them, neither our company could actually !

    We explain the whole sorry thing to the 2 dudes, they accept it, we shake hands, and off we go.

    Another crazy dangerous drive to the airport. We have 2 pints with the other dude, waiting for our plane, eat something. And off we go.

    I arrive at 10:30pm at home. I sit down, totally knackered and ask myself "what the f**k have I achieved today ?". I still have no answer.

    1. 9Rune5
      Pint

      Re: Nice story

      "what the f**k have I achieved today ?"

      Well... At one point there were two pints involved, so I suspect you are looking a gift horse in the mouth here?

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Nice story

        Long way to go for two pints though - the BOFH would never stand for that.

        1. Terje

          Re: Nice story

          If you are in the right part of Eastern Europe they can have decidedly good beer, so it may have been worth it!

        2. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Nice story

          Long way to go for two pints though - the BOFH would never stand for that.

          Pretty sure ol Simon deliberately screwed with the GPS of a plane in-flight just to try drinking at a different location :)

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Deja Vu

      That's a situation I've found myself in quite a few times.

      Then I wake up.

      Thanks for the anecdote!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice story

      > I'm also happy I'm not the only one who once had a totally pointless day in his career ...

      Not me thankfully, but a colleague once confessed that he mistakenly sent one of his team to the wrong country!

      (Fortunately it was only Holland instead of Belgium, or similar, so only a couple of extra hours travel, but even so.)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice story

      Had a company audit - and it was necessary for some stock, including a high end scanner to be bought over from Brussels. After looking at costs of transports etc, it was decided that a man in a car could do it. I didn't have much on, so volunteered - a day out of the office and a chance to have go through this new-fangled Channel Tunnel.

      Long story short - Johhny Foreigner had lent out the kit to a customer, didn't tell me until I was there and wouldn't let me collect. Ended up bringing back some floppy disks to show for my European road trip.

    5. vulture65537

      Re: Nice story

      > I'm also happy I'm not the only one who once had a totally pointless day in his career

      I was approached by a manager about Friday lunchtime saying he urgently needed some work done for a customer meeting on Tuesday. His own team were on holiday and he did not know when they were due back. So I did 9 hours (IIRC) overtime on Saturday.

      Monday comes round and his team are back in the office and say they've already done everything for the meeting.

  5. GlenP Silver badge

    I once did a day trip to Paris for an employer, essentially just to deliver a laptop. By the time I'd got there, finally managed to find the person collecting me* and got to the office I handed over the laptop**, helped them with a couple of things and they announced it was time for lunch.

    We had the "quick" lunch option (so under 2 hours), went back to the office and I got a taxi to the airport. Sadly I was just too late to get an earlier flight than planned, my flight was cancelled - effectively amalgamated with the last flight of the day, so I was very late getting back. A whole day spent just to deliver one computer that could have been sent by courier for a fraction of the price.

    *We both thought we knew each other, we didn't!

    **The laptop was, I believe, never used as it had a QWERTY keyboard and the person it was intended for had only ever had AZERTY.

    1. Old_timer

      A few years back we sent 2 flight cases containing laptops and printers to a client in Barcelona. One arrived. The other was found still sitting in the courier company's loading bay. The client needed the kit the next day by 08:00 to use for registration at a conference. There was no option but to get the flight case back from the courier company and for me to fly out to Barcelona with it. Except that the last flight to Barcelona from our local airport had already left so I had to fly to Alicante, hire a car and drive through the night to Barcelona. I got there about 06:00, delivered the flight case, tried to sleep in the hire car and failed, had breakfast and drove to Barcelona airport to get the flight home.

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      Keyboards

      You can load the AZERTY keyboard driver for a UK QWERTY keyboard, and it will work fine (at least, assuming you can touch type .....) I run emulators for various 1980s systems and the

      You can't use any other keyboard driver with a US QWERTY keyboard, though. You'll soon find out why ..... more or less ..... ;)

      1. ICPurvis47
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Keyboards

        When I was running the Technical Manuals department, we had to get some instruction books translated into Swedish. The main body of the books was translated by an outside source, but we had to add some last-minute corrections, so I talked to the translators by phone, and then had to input the text myself. I downloaded a Swedish keyboard driver, and experimented with pressing each key to see what came up on the screen. I then prepared some sticky labels and stuck them on the relevant keys so that I could hunt and peck through the text. Afterwards, reload the qwerty driver and peel off the sticky labels. Customer never said anything about typos, so I assume I did it right.

  6. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Pint

    Similar experience, but more costly

    I was once sent to Vancouver for a meeting as a junior engineer. Wasn't told why, or given objectives, or even what the meeting was about. Was given a business class ticket on BA, got to Canada, went to the (nice) hotel in time for bed, got up, nice breakfast, taxi to the meeting with my stuff. Sat through it nodding vaguely, then got the taxi back to the airport to get on the same plane with the same crew.

    I enjoyed it, but it was rather pointless.

  7. MarkET

    Japan...almost

    Back in the day I was due to go to Japan to look at a SCSII interface / software issue at our parent company. I was literally in the queue for boarding when an announcement directed me to contact an airline representative. My company had cancelled the trip as the software problem had been resolved. Got back home to find a message saying that the problem had re-occurred, can I go tomorrow...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driving staff away

    I've seen companies that have taken extremely stringent approaches to travel before. I once saw an engineer's lunch receipt being rejected because he could only claim lunch as an expense when at a customer site more than 50 miles from home, and his manager calculated the distance to the customer site as being 49.6 miles. On more than one occasion, I've seen engineers grow increasingly disenchanted with having their expenses queried over the tiniest of details and end up leaving as a result.

    Always great to lose a skilled and experienced engineer, and to know that quibbles over the reimbursement of a £5 lunch were partially to blame...

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Driving staff away

      the key being partially - with a regime like that there will have been a *lot* off other things - take IBM as a terrible example.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Driving staff away

      Sometimes the reason is people who took advantage of travels for personal gains - and I knew some, unluckily. I.e. people sleeping at relatives/friends but asking to be reimbursed hotel stays. One was caught asking cash in advances, than cancelling than travel and keeping the money. Many companies are bastards, but some employees as well.

      Then some companies start to employ silly draconian rules - instead of proper and quick checks - which then get applied by HR drones without any good sense - and that's the real issue - as honest people then are caught in the middle.

      A few years ago I was denied a reimbursement for fuel because I made it the early morning following the travel instead of the day before. Just, I arrived home very late under heavy snowing and after many traffic jams because of it - just wanted to eat something and go to sleep. The amount was about the same requested for the same travels did previously, and there was the gas station receipt - the date of which triggered the refusal. No way the could even try to understand.

      Since them I avoid to travel for them any time I can.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Driving staff away

        True, but there's a difference between clearly fraudulent claims, and claims that may violate a rule but which are made in good faith. Your fuel one is a classic example of being submitted in good faith, but rejected due to a technicality.

        Those that fraudulently claim things however deserve to be caught out and fired IMO...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Driving staff away

        > Sometimes the reason is people who took advantage of travels for personal gains

        Yes, one company I worked for suddenly started asking us to keep boarding cards and attach them to claims for flights. I later discovered that a couple of salesmen were caught booking flights, cancelling and keeping the refund.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Driving staff away

          Never trust salesmen.....

        2. Lilolefrostback

          Re: Driving staff away

          I've encountered the reverse. My very first business trip ever was a short single day trip for a meeting in another city (specific details omitted to protect the guilty). Got up, ate breakfast, caught the red-eye (90 minute flight), took a taxi to the meeting, took a taxi back to the airport, had lunch (burger, fries, soda) at the airport, flew home, had supper at home.

          My expense report requested reimbursement for two taxi rides, 8 hours parking at the airport, and lunch. And I got yelled at. For not claiming enough. I was told I should have claimed three meals for a total of at least $50 (this was mid 80s), not one meal for $6. I was making my coworkers look bad.

          I claimed exactly what I had receipts for. When it comes to restaurants, I'm a paper napkin guy, not a cloth napkin guy.

          1. Tomato Krill

            Re: Driving staff away

            Which is fine on occasion but if you're aware all the time then something decent to eat, more akin to your domestic diet is not an unreasonable request

        3. creature.shock

          Re: Driving staff away

          Never trust sales people. Had a married couple would take clients to a restaurant owned by their family and purposely run up tabs and be charged for things they never got including for an extra person that was never at the meeting, sometimes thousands a week.

    3. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Driving staff away

      The policy doesn't even makes sense. Are you not supposed to eat lunch unless you are 50 miles away?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Driving staff away

        "The policy doesn't even makes sense. Are you not supposed to eat lunch unless you are 50 miles away?"

        The reasoning is that you don't get paid lunches at your normal workplace, but can claim them if travelling on business. However, due to some people travelling to a site just down the road then trying to claim lunch, the 50 mile rule was implemented to stop people taking the piss. Of course, it then causes problems when the engineer travels a sizeable distance to another site on legitimate business, tries to claim lunch, and has it knocked back over an argument as to whether the distance was definitely 50 miles or not. To be fair, other managers here are more flexible and realistic when approving expenses, however some are sticklers for triple-checking everything and rejecting any expense that might not exactly hit every single rule.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Driving staff away

      I used to delight in driving the cashiers at FCO crazy with expenses claims. Submitting Israeli shekel claims with an inflation request, since the claim would have devalued by the time they paid it or the time I handed a claim for Zim$ 400m .. or £2 and worth £1 by the time they paid it.

      1. G.Y.

        Re: Driving staff away

        The shekel has been much more stable for the last generation+-

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Driving staff away

      We're peons. Manglement has different rules for themselves. Yet, they don't see anything wrong with this kind of stupidity and then wonder why John Engineer left the company.

    6. Cederic

      Re: Driving staff away

      On the flip side, who the hell claims for lunch? What, you were forced to eat because you were offsite? You weren't going to eat anyway?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Driving staff away

        "who the hell claims for lunch?"

        Everybody but you, apparently.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Driving staff away

        Because when at the normal office job you have the chance of bringing your own meal. When off-site you are pretty much forced to spend $$$ to eat.

      3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Driving staff away

        When working locally, you bring your own lunch from home. Total cost to you, maybe £2. When travelling somewhat locally, you (probably) get fast-food somewhere, probably costing £5-10. When staying away, you will be expected to eat a proper meal in the evening, which means a restaurant and the costs inherent with that vs cooking your own meal at home.

        You're not really claiming the cost of the meal, but the difference in cost compared to eating your own food. As it's not practical to assign a value to home-prepared food, that's assumed to be £0

  9. DailyLlama
    Facepalm

    While working in Uxbridge, I was sent down to out office in Newton Abbot (Devon) to have a look at a server that wasn't working. So I got in my car, and set off at 8am. With traffic and roadworks, I arrived on site at just after 2pm. Walked up to the server, moved the connected mouse, and got no response on the monitor, so I restarted it. Everything was fine after that. So I got in my car and went home. I was in the office for precisely 10 minutes, and spent 10 hours driving.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      WTF?

      Seriously, your front line Helldesk people didnt ask them to "turn it off and on again" before you got sent out???

      Sounds like you need a new Helldesk...

      1. DontFeedTheTrolls
        Facepalm

        I've driven 2 hours to "Press F1 to continue" on the POST screen following an unexpected overnight reboot. Neither First or Second line support had managed to deduce the problem.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          doesn't invalidate the 'new support staff' argument though

        2. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

          I have been there more times than i can count, i now keep cr2032's in my toolbox for older headless systems :/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've had a similar experience - 12 hr round-trip with car. Someone had removed the patch cable in the back room network cabinet. No-one confessed, but the client paid the expenses without any complains.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "While working in Uxbridge, I was sent down to out office in Newton Abbot (Devon) to have a look at a server that wasn't working. So I got in my car, and set off at 8am. "

      Well there was your first mistake. Who in their right might leaves the M25 area for Devon at 8am on a working day (or any Saturday in Summer)?!

      Regular Londinium-Devonian commuter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Well there was your first mistake. Who in their right might leaves the M25 area for Devon at 8am

        I DO. For I am THE MIGHTY THOR....

        <Okay, that sounded better in my head. Gets coat...>

    4. Trygve Henriksen

      What you need is ILO / iDRAC or whatever other companies calls it.

      Many servers comes with it as standard, and most others could be fitted with it as an option. Or even fitted later.

      It really doesn'ttake that many hours of travel before such an option is cheaper. Particularly if you count lost income or wasted vages by other employees just sitting there and not getting any work done.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        iLO, etc.

        What you need is ILO / iDRAC or whatever other companies calls it.

        Many servers comes with it as standard, and most others could be fitted with it as an option. Or even fitted later.

        Presuming they aren't too cheapass to purchase the chip/module that enables it, DESPITE the cheapass company being the MANUFACTURER of the server, and it being located in a product evaluation center for said company.

        Won't name the three-lettered company, only that their name starts with "I" and ends with "M".

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Everything was fine after that. So I got in my car and went home. I was in the office for precisely 10 minutes, and spent 10 hours driving."

      I'm a field engineer. I do that at least once per month. Although to be fair, it's often an actual physical fault that needs parts replacing, but a hard disk, psu or cooling fan is a 5-10 minute job. I've even done jobs like that so far away that it includes an overnight stay.

    6. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Pint

      Rudely awoken about 1 o'clock in the morning being told that there was a major problem with the comms link at a remote mining site.The usual reboot scenario didn't work. OK Fine, Quickly organise my flights from sydney to perth. head down to the airport. board the flight a enjoy a 5 hour flight to perth. Then hop across to catch my flight to port hedland. about another 3 hours.

      Here's the fun part, link up with a driver that was about to start his 4 day drive back to the mine site (on/off road ore train). (Couldn't get a flight, way too expansive apparently to charter a flight for a single person). After 5 days ( extra day due to corrugation of the road and bruising of my arse ). I finally arrive at the mine site at 10pm. Couldn't gain access to the comm's shed locked up by the site manager. Finally next day I gain access. I was about to start my step through on diagnostics when i noticed the power cord hadn't been set and locked properly into the Base unit.

      A two week round trip because someone couldn't be bothered going through the usual fault guide.And to top it all off, the mine sites are dry sites, no booze allowed at all.

      1. Wexford

        That's one of the saddest tales I've ever heard. I flew out from Perth to Kalgoorlie two weeks ago and was back in the same working day, with a beer at the airport before returning. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!

  10. OGShakes

    Travel and other wasted things

    So I had a boss in the past who required first class travel to do any work at customers international offices and a 5 star hotel. When they opened a new office in the UK and realised any of us could do the basic network fit out, he was shocked when they got local contractors to do all the network install for us and told him to set up the servers remotely. He blamed us for stopping his free holidays!

    I had several wasted days working for him, he would regularly require us to 'spend face time' with customers for issues that were easily fixed remotely and I had to do a 300mile round trip to check that a cable was plugged in right, weirdly the customer made it clear they were not paying us for my day when I 'wiggled the network cable' and everything started working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Travel and other wasted things

      > weirdly the customer made it clear they were not paying us for my day when I 'wiggled the network cable' and everything started working.

      There's your mistake right there: you should have replaced the cable. :-)

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Travel and other wasted things

      For future reference, they don't pay you to "wiggle the wire", they pay you for knowing which wire to wiggle, how to properly wiggle the wire (in 4D!), and when to stop wiggling it for the best effect.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Travel and other wasted things

      'spend face time'

      We had a marketing wonk who liked to use all the "in" buzz phrases and during one memorable meeting after he mentioned "face time" for the zillionth time, straight-faced I piped up with, "I only have an Android phone, is it ok if we use Skype instead?" The completely uncomprehending look on his face (all marketing wonks have iPhones, naturally) brought the rest of room down in tears of laughter. My boss bollocked me, couldn't hide the smile, and asked me not to do that again because it's never fair to play mind-games with the unarmed.

  11. tiggity Silver badge

    cheap skates

    Had to go for a tech / dev oriented training course on some software in the USA (I'm in UK)

    We were UK reseller / customizer of this software and it was a new product, still rapidly evolving based on feedback

    Also attending that course was dev guy from one of our customers and a reseller from another country that ur company occasionally worked on joint projects with.

    Instead of booking me on direct flight to USA, company booked me on flight to Dublin, then there was huge wait (about 8 hours!) before Dublin to USA flight.

    They had also booked it so I arrived in USA late at night with course starting next day

    I was up at stupid o clock to drive to mainland UK airport as long travel to airport 1 for Dublin flight.

    No chance of sleep in long wait in Dublin airport and did not really get proper sleep on Dublin - USA flight.

    So upshot was, got to hotel massively sleep deprived / jet lagged, late at night and was in no fit state for anything the next day and really struggled on the course day one due to being jet lag zombie.

    Also missed out on valuable chance to bond with tech guy from customer before course started.

    Both customer & other reseller guy thus had awful opinion of my company for its cheapskateness in not getting me there early and on a one hop flight, regarding it as very unprofessional as in addition to missing out on "bonding" also meant I was not on top form for crucial first day of course (which was obviously massively counter productive when it was new software to get to grips with)

    So end result was one customer and another reseller thought people who ran company I worked for were ****** (choose your own expletive) - not great when these were people company would be dealing with over the years.

    Huge negative company image ramifications from penny wise pound foolish approach of saving a few hindered quid.

    1. uccsoundman

      Re: cheap skates

      > Huge negative company image ramifications from penny wise pound foolish approach of saving a few hindered quid.

      Yes, you are forgetting that for the bean counters of your company, the only number they are measuring is expenses. Customer happiness (and the profit that would bring) is on another account that is not measured.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: cheap skates

        Yes, you are forgetting that for the bean counters of your company, the only number they are measuring is expenses. Customer happiness (and the profit that would bring) is on another account that is not measured.

        Back when I was doing frontline PC repair stuff I got a chewing out from the boss over doing a quick over the counter fix for an old dear who had a non-working laptop. Some simple fault like a physical wifi switch turned off or a Toshiba laptop's physical volume control turned right down. Took 20 seconds to diagnose and fix and I didn't charge the old dear.

        Anyway, boss was livid that I didn't book in the laptop and find some other excuse to charge the customer money. I bet him it would be worth far more in the long run.

        Sure enough, within a few days we were sending some customers to our competitors, as all the old ladies friends had heard how I'd fixed the job quickly, hadn't tried to rip her off, and had been polite, spoken to her in a respectful (not demeaning) manner, and was "downright friendly" (or words to that effect). In a week that "freebie" generated more profits than the previous few weeks.

        Bosses and bean-counters see $$$ signs. Sensible people see other people, and treat them as people, not profits to be made or losses to be avoided.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: cheap skates

      "saving a few hindered quid."

      That was either very well played or a hugely appropriate auto-correct error :-)

  12. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    Moving countries but no-one knew

    I was once on secondment working in India (from the UK), when that particular project was cancelled. I was told that I needed to move to a suppliers office in Malaysia to take up work on another project. Could i be on the flight this afternoon (it was already about 11am at this point). I said No, as i had to sort out leaving my rented apartment, etc. But I could probably make the one tomorrow afternoon, which would get me into KL about 6am the next day. I was told fine, but I HAD to go into the new office that day, as there was so much work on.

    So i dutifully got everything sorted out in India (and set up for coming to Malaysia), caught the flight the next day, arrived at 6am in KL, got to the hotel, showered, jumped in a taxi for the 1 hour trip to Cyberjaya, and promptly fell asleep. Surprisingly, I arrived at the office without any problems. And proceeded to enter.

    I was met with a "Who are you? And what are you doing here? We havent been told anyone's coming!". This was followed by the info that a) there was no workplace for me, b) no computer for me, and c) no one had any idea what I was supposed to be doing, and d) they really werent happy to have me on site with them.

    So i managed to get some space on an empty desk, and used my personal laptop to send a few emails, and basically surf the internet. No-one back in the UK could tell me what I was supposed to be doing (the manager who had sent me off in such a hurry had gone off on holiday) other than to say that I was to "supervise but not manage" the supplier. Whatever that meant.

    I worked a few more hours, caught a taxi back to KL (fell asleep again), showered at the hotel again, went to the pub, met a lovely young lady i spent the next 3 months romancing, and promptly went to bed.

    Not a bad 24 hours, all in all, but not something I'd really recommend... ;)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Moving countries but no-one knew

      "tthe manager who had sent me off in such a hurry had gone off on holiday"

      Cause and effect.

      "I'm going on holiday as from tonight so I'll spend the rest of the day without time to think properly making all the decisions I should have spent the last two weeks making and I'll screw them up." Seen it before. In fact it was the stress experienced from that at the hands of a client project manager that made me decide that once the current projects were done it was time to retire.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Moving countries but no-one knew

        This-seems-a-common-occurence.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Moving countries but no-one knew

      >young lady i spent the next 3 months >romancing, and promptly went to bed.

      Not that promptly, rather a heroic late night

    3. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Moving countries but no-one knew

      caught a taxi back to KL (fell asleep again), showered at the hotel again, went to the pub, met a lovely young lady i spent the next 3 months romancing, and promptly went to bed.

      Hmm, my dealings in KL were educational, with the local expats taking me on a tour of the more 'interesting' nightspots, and providing tips on how to spot the ladyboys. I was half-expecting your tale to have a surprising conclusion.

      One of my (long) trips to KL was pretty much a wash out as the IT manager for Asia region did not understand the concept of network latency and why character-oriented applications developed on VAXes that assumed/relied upon remote-echo didn't work very well on long (international) network connections*. Unfortunately the fix was not simply turning on local-echo on the terminals. He simply could not or, perhaps, did not want to understand why the IBM 3270 block-oriented terminal based applications worked fine when the character-based terminals (with remote echo) didn't.

      *It did not help that the aforesaid connections were 'capacity challenged'.

  13. jake Silver badge

    My favorite two

    The first one I was flown into LAX when it should have been BUR ... landing at 4PM on a Wednesday.As it was "an emergency" for a big client, I had to hire a helicopter to get to my destination. Almost on time (I was two hours later than I had guestimated). Naturally it was my fault, despite not knowing the name of the destination company until I was on the ground in LA ... and despite me not being the person who booked the flight! You think last minute airfares are spendy? Try booking a helicopter at the last minute ...

    Second one, I got a 1AM call from the CEO of a company I did consulting for. The home genset I had installed for him as a side project didn't work in a power failure. He was completely impervious to answering questions intelligently over the phone.

    His company was a rather large account, so I told him I'd be there as soon as I could. (I was in North West Palo Alto, he was in Half Moon Bay) It was raining (naturally), so instead of one of the bikes I drove the Taurus SHO. 40 minutes (ish) later, I arrived.

    I discovered that said CEO was a) legless, and b) had managed to actually fire up the genset, but couldn't figure out the simple transfer switch. I had even labeled it "Genset/OFF/PG&E" ... He was flipping it between OFF and PG&E when I arrived. Somehow the concept of a three position switch eluded him, despite having been walked through the simple procedure not a month prior.

    So a late-night mad dash in the rain to flip a switch for an idiot. I stopped doing personal favors for corporate clients after that, no matter how lucrative.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My favorite two

      You went 27 km in the dark and the rain IN A CAR for a customer? Poor muffin!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The opposite experience

    At my workplace, travel plans are usually in such a dither, that by the time it's decided, the only tickets are top business class.

    I had the experience of walking by the co-worker I was supposed to assist in cattle-class, on my way to the executive section.

    To say he was taken aback would be an understatement.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: The opposite experience

      Well in a similar line, we travelled Virgin Premium Economy on flight to and from the West Coast (from the UK). 4 of of us and two were selected for an upgrade to first class (not me). The ugradees took the piss and c/o Virgin played a rather good joke, with champagne brough down from above followed by a bill (game) after we had quaffed.

      My fellow traveller (in Premium econom) was outraged that he had not been offered and upgrade and have as his reason 'I wasn't't looking scruffy, I had my new Next shirt on....... (for those who know Next in the UK)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The opposite experience

        "'I wasn't't looking scruffy, I had my new Next shirt on..."

        If he thinks Next is his upmarket best bib and tucker, he must be a right chav in his "normal" clothes!

  15. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    The other extreme

    One of the engineers where I used to work was booked to go to India to re-commission a printing press that had been bought second-hand and shipped across. The reason it was our guy who was asked, was partly because some of the control system was our design, but mostly because the manufacturer wasn't interested. Anyway, the plan was that 'John' would fly out, then get driven to site on day 1, do the commissioning on day 2 and return on day 3 - all at the new owner's expense.

    The first day went exactly to plan and John was ensconced in basic but comfortable accommodation. Next day was a nightmare as the press hadn't been reassembled. Nobody had a clue how it all went together so most of it was still in crates. After frantic international phone calls and hurried conferences it was agreed that John would remain on site to oversee the reassembly. This took over two weeks as he had to fast-track train people in engineering techniques. The upside was that they were keen intelligent guys and soon became his 'gang'. Commissioning itself was then very fast as not only did John know the machine had no obscure modifications, but his workforce also had a pretty good idea what to do.

    The good news.

    The new owner paid in full with no questions asked.

    John was asked to do two other similar installation/commission jobs (and now had a bunch of friends working with him)

    The bad news

    John won't touch so-called Indian food in England - says it's nothing like the home-cooked food he had over there.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: The other extreme

      "The bad news

      John won't touch so-called Indian food in England - says it's nothing like the home-cooked food he had over there."

      That makes him a gentleman with excellent taste, good for him.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The other extreme

        Shirley you mean *any* food you eat in the UK once youve tried food in nearly any foreign country?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The other extreme

          "Shirley you mean *any* food you eat in the UK once youve tried food in nearly any foreign country?"

          TBH, the best meal I had when I was in England (my one-and-only trip) was Pizza Hut. *sigh* Spoiled American, I know... :P

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The other extreme

            England has long been known as "The country where good ingredients go to die". Idiots like Nigella, the Oliver prat and Fuckhead Ramsey don't do a lot to rectify this reputation ...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The other extreme

            Strange - A friend of mine from California seems (having visited several times) to rate the local food here in West Wales rather highly. I think the trick is to avoid the flashy/expensive/celebrity chef "swill of fare" and find a proper individual pub/family run eatery in a rural area where they survive on a good reputation for great food rather than being "in vogue".

            Personally I wouldn't touch any of the gunge served up by celebrity chefs, especially the stupidly tiny portions served in a ludicrously oversized dish/platter.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Kiwi Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: The other extreme

              Personally I wouldn't touch any of the gunge served up by celebrity chefs, especially the stupidly tiny portions served in a ludicrously oversized dish/platter.

              I've always been the same. Country pub or local bakery etc over a flashy restaurant any day. Have seldom been disappointed with such fare, as the country pub or bakery survive only by being the best at what they do. The flashy places survive on being flashy, being 'the in place'. Some shouty turd spewing out tiny portions of pretentious garbage doesn't matter, as it's "cool". Much rather pay less for better quality than pay more just to "be seen in the right place" and forced to eat some revolting refuse to keep up appearances.

              As to you Californian friend, yes even the worst of ol Blightly Blandness is much better than the gunk the yanks eat! :)

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: The other extreme

                "As to you Californian friend, yes even the worst of ol Blightly Blandness is much better than the gunk the yanks eat! :)"

                There is bad chow to be had everywhere on this muddy rock. I should know, I've had more than my fair share of it. But over the years, I've learned a thing or two ... eat wherever it is the working class eat, wherever you are in the world. Peasant food is generally cheap and plentiful ... and above all, tasty!

                Having spent a good portion of my life in Blighty, I'm fairly certain you would change your mind should you have the opportunity to sample proper "Yank gunk". And no, I'm not talking about the swill from places like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and the like. That shit is shit world-wide.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: The other extreme

                  eat wherever it is the working class eat, wherever you are in the world. Peasant food is generally cheap and plentiful ... and above all, tasty!

                  Also generally much simpler in nature. It is amazing what a couple of handfuls of rice, some cheap sausage and cheap tinned tomatoes will do when you're poor, especially if you add in a few cheap spices or an oxo cube etc.

                  If I must go to a 'restaurant' then the closest to some of the more pretentious places you will get me is to a McD's and the like. I'd rather eat on the beach or do a home-cooked meal if it's with someone special.

                  As to Pizza, been doing them from scratch for a while now. One day wanted pizza but didn't want to go from scratch so visit PH. Must say my worst is much better! I should've gone down the road and got a frozen base from the supermarket and put my own toppings on it, at least that would've been a much better start. PH's "garlic bread" is also the worst I've ever come across

        2. H in The Hague Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: The other extreme

          "Shirley you mean *any* food you eat in the UK once youve tried food in nearly any foreign country?"

          Hmm, that joke might have some merit three decades ago but these days I find there are lots of places in the UK that do good food and are often a bit more imaginative than traditional gastronomic countries which can be rather conservative. And the UK caters well to veggies and vegans.

          Have a good weekend and a glass of ->

          (Actually, could we have a wine icon? More my thing, though I don't mind a pint of bitter.)

          1. osakajin

            Re: The other extreme

            Caters well for veggies? Erm, if you like cheese and onion or variation thereof, or chips. English food is overpriced tripe.

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: The other extreme

      Absolutely. "Indian" food in the UK does not have "the taste". I dunno what it is, but it doesn't have it. Takes a few months for your tastebuds to forget, so you can eat UK Indian food again.

      1. David Woodhead
        Pint

        Re: The other extreme

        That's because 90%+ of UK 'Indian' restaurants are in fact Bangladeshi. They've also learned, from long experience, to keep it fairly bland as that's what people expect and it causes fewer problems in the long run.

        Cobra or Kingfisher icon: take your pick. However, chances are that what they give you is brewed under license in the UK.

  16. DontFeedTheTrolls
    Facepalm

    I've had the opposite of keeping the costs down.

    Was booked on the last EasyJet flight of the day from Stanstead to Edinburgh, but had realistically finished the job the day before so merely had to check in to the customer in the morning to make sure everything was OK before heading to the airport. Got to the airport about 11:00, and there was an earlier flight at 14:00.

    Phoned the outsourced "travel desk" to change the flight - was told "while the ticket price would be the same, EasyJet apply a £10 charge to change the flight, which was against the travel policy, so no, you can't change it".

    Customer was on a fixed price contract, so it may no difference to them, but it did mean I was getting paid overtime and expenses for 6 hours in the bar, which I can assure you came to significantly more than £10.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Having sorted the office in Sao Paulo, stopped in Rio to see the family, got a phone call saying 'can you stop at New York on the way back please'.

      No huhu, checked with BA (company preference), cheapest way was a business class offer instead of a peasant class seat. Saved a hundred quid or so.

      Got to NYC, in mid windter, looked outside at the nice blue sky, saw the local weather forecasting 20 degrees... what idiot invented Farenheit?

      Got back to the airport for the trip home, tried to check in, discovered BA had lost my reservation. Stuck me on standby, ended up on the back row middle of a 747, completely surrounded by people who had done the New York marathon earlier that day and hadn't taken time to shower, or change...

      Then got bollocked by Finance for not obtaining Directorate approval for a business class flight.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "what idiot invented Farenheit?"

        Daniel of that ilk.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Or one hell of a coincidence

        2. Syn3rg

          It is a more sensible unit of measure, consider:

          0 degrees F == cold; 100 degrees F == hot

          0 degrees C == chilly; 100 degrees C == dead

          0 kelvin == dead; 100 kelvin == dead

          1. Daedalus Silver badge

            Exactly. As a former Chemist, I can testify that there is zero importance to the fact that there are (almost but not quite) exactly 100 degrees Celsius between the boiling and freezing points of water. Of course, we used Kelvins anyway, but the degree is the same size. Fahrenheit is a much more intuitive scale for talking about ambient conditions.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "Fahrenheit is a much more intuitive scale for talking about ambient conditions."

              Only if that's what you are used to. We switched from F to C in everyday usage when I was about 10 or so and now after a further 45 years have to really *think* what a temp in F means as opposed to the obvious and "intuitive" sense of what a temp in C is.

              1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

                Fun fact...

                Fahrenheit gets ribbed for having a cold "on the day" that he set his scale, with the result that the average human body temperature is 98.7 rather than the 100 he supposedly measured on himself.

                The reality, of course, is that it took rather more time than the duration of a short cold to define his scale rigorously. Fahrenheit actually chose the upper value of his scale to be 96 so that the set points of 0, 32 and 96 were multiples of 2, which allows the scale sub-divisions to be easily marked mechanically.

                The scale was later redefined to set the upper point to 212 - the boiling point of water - again deliberately 180 above the freezing point of water at 32, so the scale is still easily sub-divided mechanically.

                But that redefinition caused the average human body temperature to go up a couple of degrees and almost ever since people have claimed that he had a cold.

                1. Tomato Krill

                  So, save me the bother of googling - what was the reference point for 0?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    IIRC 0 was the coldest he could get with a mixture of water ice and salt in his lab.

                  2. Alpine Terrier

                    I seem to recall that it’s the freezing point of the salty Baltic sea.

                    1. NorthernCoder

                      The Baltic has low salinity, especially in the Gulf of Bothnia.

              2. M Mouse
                WTF?

                F vs C

                For myself, just a few years older (60 last month), I can convert Centigrade / Celsius back to Fahrenheit and do, because while I can work as easily with metric equivalents, I still "think" in "old" measurements 99% of the time.

                I really don't think of 5°C and do think 35°F (no, intentionally not a conversion), when considering weather or equipment, working conditions, etc.

                I don't think C is any more "intuitive" especially when cooking directions show both. YMMV

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: F vs C

                  When I first got to the UK, school kids were still being taught both metric and imperial (just before sixpence became 2.5p, a whole 'nuther kettle o'worms). I still think in either, or both, depending on the situation. It's not difficult. Strangely, I weigh myself in stone ...

  17. Caver_Dave
    Flame

    Corporate travel bookings

    The worst booking from corporate I've had was after a direct flight from the UK to Lviv, Ukraine. The return trip had me doing an 11 hour stopover in Krakow, having to eat two meals at 'air side' rates. When I investigated later, the flight back had been $1 cheaper than the flight out, but at my lowly grade in the company, the rule was the cheapest flight on that day.

    My other trip for that company saw me flying to Boston (USA) at 1.5 hours notice, arriving in a night time thunderstorm, driving for an hour and finally arriving at the hotel at 02:00 GMT (bearing in mind that I was in the office at 07:00 GMT that morning). The guys I was meeting were surprised that I made the 07:00 local time the next morning.

    I also had a VP tell me to take a satellite phone on vacation in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. "I told him that I'd rather be sacked than take a company phone on vacation!" The Yank was informed by my manager of the employment laws in the UK and only then did he stop shouting at me.

    Corporate travel rules stink, for everyone except the bosses!

    1. Saruman the White

      Re: Corporate travel bookings

      Of course you could have taken the satellite phone with and just left it swiched off (with the excuse that you did not have LOS to the satellite due to the mountains)

      1. Brenda McViking
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Corporate travel bookings

        You're likely to be arrested trying to take a sat phone into Morocco at customs anyway... or was that India? Anyway, because Terrorism (what else?), satphones = prison in many parts of the world.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Corporate travel bookings

          Heh, times gone... years ago I took an Inmarsat digital satellite link - about a quarter million quid's worth, at the time - into Jordan for a broadcast. I was told, though I can't confirm, that it was the first 'high' speed digital broadcast via satellite.

          I can confirm that being met at the gate by the minister of technology doesn't half speed things up; having an armed guard over the kit was enlivened when I pointed out that standing in front of the dish probably wasn't the best idea in the world.

          On the other hand, I was returning from Delhi via Tashkent in 1996 when a Saudi and a Kazak jet collided. I arrived at Tashkent with a case full of electronic tools and spares and two passports, which did not at all amuse immigration at Tashkent. Prince Charles having a state visit that day was a mere courtesy detail. I arrived back in the UK and my boss was already filling out my death in service forms...

    2. uccsoundman

      Re: Corporate travel bookings

      American, working for an American company. I have to carry my laptop with me at all times on my vacation. Calls from operations must be answered by the 5th ring, and if called (remembering I'm on vacation) I must be online within 30 minutes. Needless to say, my wife and kid go a lot of places while I sit in the motel room on standby. If I refuse? Don't bother to come back.

      1. Andre Carneiro

        Re: Corporate travel bookings

        You need to find yourself a better job...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Corporate travel bookings

        If they aren't paying you per hour of having to carry the kit and being on-call, you are being taken to the cleaners. I wouldn't bother coming back ... if they really need access to you 24/7 for the rest of your life, you must be good enough at something for somebody else to want you on board. Probably at a much higher salary, and definitely with real vacations.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Corporate travel bookings

          I couldn't remember the exact numbers, so out of curiosity I just eyeballed my tax returns from around three and a half decades ago ...

          At a company in California, about 8 of us were presented with a new-fangled DynaTAC and a couple spare batteries/chargers, and told that we were to stay connected 24/7 ... at which point we all said "more money, please". With threats of quitting en mass. The company finally agreed, and we were compensated the princely sum of $1.75 for each hour of "out of the office" on-call hours. Doesn't sound like a lot today, but in the mid 1980s $11K/yr wasn't chump-change. Especially for essentially doing nothing. So speak up. Squeaky wheel & all that.

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Corporate travel bookings

        If you're not paid you're not on the job. It's exactly people putting up with the crap like this companies pull that make the US such a shit place to work. I've looked into working across the pond as I quite like the country and the opportunities, but I quickly determined it's not interesting at all unless you can do it for a limited time on a (in my case) Dutch contract with Dutch health insurance. Too many people just shrugged their shoulders when I explained to them how insane their work hours and expected work ethics were.

    3. Wapiya
      Happy

      Re: Corporate travel bookings

      > I also had a VP tell me to take a satellite phone on vacation in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. "I told >him that I'd rather be sacked than take a company phone on vacation!" The Yank was informed by my >manager of the employment laws in the UK and only then did he stop shouting at me.

      Just after a merger our new department head (yank from new parent co) ordered me to take the on call phone with me on my vacation. I went poker faced and required a written oder for the possible expenses because I left the EU and that was not allowed in our procedures.

      He wrote the order on company stationary, I thanked him and went on vacation.

      2 weeks later I turned my on call bill for full 14 days on call (day, night, weekends and two local holidays) in at HR. I then requested full refund of the vacation time, because on call != vacation as per procedure and time in lieu for 2 missed weekends with a certified copy of that order.

      They payed without blinking an eye.

      2 days later he left the company "to pursue other opportunities". I can't imagine why. 2 week vacation diving in egypt on company time.

  18. Mike Lewis

    Nokia

    When I started working at the Melbourne branch of Nokia, they flew a bunch of us to Finland for training. The trip up was fine, not so much the trip back. It took me 36 hours to travel from Oulu in northern Finland to Melbourne. I finally arrived at 4:30 a.m. and the company rules said I had to be in the office by nine.

    One of our programmers was told to fly to California, rent a car then drive to Petaluma. She wisely decided it was not a good idea to drive a strange car on the wrong side of the road after a 14-1/2 hour flight and at 4 a.m. her time so she spent a night in a hotel. She got into a lot of trouble for that with Melbourne and Petaluma having a pitched battlle over who was responsible for her hotel bill.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Nokia

      I wouldn't call Oulu "northern" Finland any more than I'd call Texas a "western" state ...

      1. DontFeedTheTrolls
        Coat

        Re: Nokia

        I guess if you're from Melbourne, pretty much all of Finland is Northern

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nokia

          Likewise, being from the US east coast, I'd call Texas "western"...

          1. A.P. Veening

            Re: Nokia

            "Likewise, being from the US east coast, I'd call Texas "western"..."

            It still is east of San Andreas and will eventually drop in the Atlantic ;)

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Nokia

              "will eventually drop in the Atlantic"

              The Atlantic pushes stuff away. It might eventually fall into the Pacific but well after what's west of the San Andreas does. The Yellowstone supervolcano'll probably get it first.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Nokia

                Whoosh

                Another one who doesn't get the reference to that old standard Californian joke the everything east of San Andreas will ultimately drop in the Atlantic.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Nokia

                  "everything east of San Andreas will ultimately drop in the Atlantic"

                  Common misconception. Actually, everything East of the New Madrid / Wabash Valley seismic zones will fall into the Atlantic. The rest of us will party.

                2. Tomato Krill

                  Re: Nokia

                  I would think there are a lot of those 'ones'

              2. jake Silver badge

                Re: Nokia

                Yellowstone's not really a threat at the moment. Long Valley, on the other hand ... The Long Valley caldera is probably the biggest threat to humanity that nobody has ever heard of, with a threat potential of "Very High". Yellowstone only has a "normal" alert level.

                See also:

                https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/long_valley/

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Valley_Caldera

                1. cdrcat

                  Re: Nokia

                  Re: long valley caldera - Wikipedia: "The declining volcanic activity and increasingly crystalline lava extruded over the last 650,000 years, as well as other trends, suggest that the magma reservoir under the caldera has now largely crystallized and is unlikely to produce large-scale eruptions in the future."

                2. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Trollface

                  Re: Nokia

                  https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/long_valley/

                  WTF? Why to they use a picture of Mt Taranaki on their site, as viewed from maybe around Urenui? Don't you yanks have enough mountains of your own that you can make pictures of?

                  1. Trixr Bronze badge

                    Re: Nokia

                    That's from the logo for the California Volcano Observatory (there's more than one around the US), and represents Mt Shasta. I did a double-take as well.

                    But I suppose stratovolcanos all look pretty similar to each other if the landscape around them is sufficiently open.

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Nokia

                    It's an artist's representation of Mt. Shasta and environs from the North. See this pic:

                    https://snowbrains.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Shasta-Road.jpg

                    1. Kiwi Silver badge

                      Re: Nokia

                      Yah sure? Certainly looks like you guys did a poor knock-off of Taranaki! :)

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: Nokia

                        Well, seeing as Shasta is over four times as old as Taranaki (and nearly twice as tall), I'd say that you lot were saddled with the knock-off.

                        I've climbed Shasta (and Shastina, on the way back down). It was cloudy when I got to the top of both, naturally. What's the view like from Taranaki (and Fanthams Peak, of course)?

                        1. Kiwi Silver badge
                          Pint

                          Re: Nokia

                          Never done Fantham's Peak.

                          The view from the top is another matter. One of the few experiences I will never forget, nor will my family. A small slip during the descent nearly added my name to the rather high death stats on that mountain (even though you can climb it without any special gear). Despite a true "near death experience" it was well worth it, and I've just this week convinced my brother to start training for another go next summer (we are on the wrong side of 45 and a life of 'rough play' has not left our bodies in the best condition!)

                          I've put some pics of the view from our climb ( family group some years back) up on postimg, you can see them at https://postimg.cc/gallery/2r0rn9shy/

                          Don't worry, none of my ugly mug are present!

                          The file named MtNaki9 (the last one) is over where I grew up. You can see the house I grew up in from there, though it does share a single pixel with several dozen other houses :) (You can also get an idea why, when learning to drive, hill starts were a bit of a problem if you weren't prepared to drive a half hour or more away :) )

                          Oh, and on the far right coastline on MtNaki5 - those dots are the highest I'd climbed a few weeks before we did this climb. That is also where the city of New Plymouth lies. (well, it's what passes for a city in NZ....)

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Nokia

            "being from the US east coast, I'd call Texas "western"..."

            By that logic, Vermont is a Western state to the folks in New Hampshire.

        2. Glen 1 Bronze badge

          Re: Nokia

          Like calling Manchester UK northern.

          In reality, they are both about halfway up.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nokia

        Texas is a western state - it's full of cowboys!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Odd version of "cost cutting"

    During a bit of work we had to do in the Netherlands, there was a quota on the number of flights, not the total cost. Net result, a load of us wound up staying 2 or 3 weeks rather than flying back out every week and got to spend a weekend (or 2) in Amsterdam at the company's expense. I suspect the cost probably wasn't much more than if we'd flown in & out (hotel+food costs vs plane costs), but we had fun with it.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: Odd version of "cost cutting"

      That wasn't really a matter of cost cutting, but two different reasons.

      First, it made sure you were in the office at about the start of the business on Monday morning and well rested at that, or if you weren't you yourself were to blame, not the ungodly hour you had to get up to get to the airport on time.

      Second, it was good practice from an environmental point of view (and depending upon the company, this may have been the primary reason).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Odd version of "cost cutting"

        "Second, it was good practice from an environmental point of view (and depending upon the company, this may have been the primary reason)."

        If environmental considerations were paramount the job would either have been done remotely or subcontracted to someone local.

  20. A.P. Veening

    Expensive ticket

    That customer made some serious mistakes in his calculations. A same day return ticket on a plane is usually (just about always) a lot more expensive than a next day return ticket plus a night in a decent hotel.

  21. a pressbutton
    Pint

    Reverse Penny-Pinching

    Based in Bristol.

    Between 2006-09 I did a lot of work for clients in london

    We had to book the cheapest train ticket.

    Quite a lot of the time (well, ok, about 30%), a first class ticket was the cheapest option on thetrainline.

    free tea and biccys all round! (there is no cuppa tea icon)

    (I drive now but saw this effect dry up after 2012)

    1. Andy A

      Re: Reverse Penny-Pinching

      At one of the sites I used to support, a lot of the higher-ups had to wander the world to their various sites. The official corporate line was to use major airlines rather than the cheapo budget ones.

      So staff ended up flying to London and then off to Stockholm. Of course they could have travelled a lot cheaper from the local airport to Vasteras. In fact it would have cost even less than the 70 mile taxi ride from Stockholm airport to their site - in Vasteras.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Reverse Penny-Pinching

      2001 - 2006, saw me working around the M25 for a Pharma Co as a contractor, I got tired with the whole drive there Sunday - Drive to Devon on Friday (especially after some spectacular delays on one occasion both on the Friday & the Sunday) & so I said sod it.

      Started booking on the trainline in advance, having sussed the weekend fare worked out better than Mon - Fri & claimed the mileage. On a Sunday with train overcrowding, alternative longer rail routes, Glasto etc I would take the weekend First Upgrade for a tenner, one BH weekend actually saw the return journey in first cheaper than the standard.

      I think on that journey home on the Friday I shared it with The High Sheriff of Devon, one Mr N Edmonds of Crinkly Bottom.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Reverse Penny-Pinching

        "I shared it with ... one Mr N Edmonds of Crinkly Bottom."

        Serves you right for being a cheapskate.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Reverse Penny-Pinching

        "having sussed the weekend fare worked out better than Mon - Fri "

        This is an asymmetry you have to watch out for. I had a few weeks freelance gig in NI. It was cheaper to take a single out the first day, get a weekend return for each weekend and then a single back rather than a weekly return. Freelance you can make these decisions instead of being stuck with some company rules.

  22. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    We have to book our flight with one particular travel agency, in the name of saving money, and always end up spending more than if I just booked through any of the sites like budgetair or cheaptickets. Our brilliant travel agent has its own search engine, which invariable doesn't have the flight you want, or alternatively does list it, but booking it invariably borks the website. The usual procedure is to look up the best/cheapest flight on budgetair (which is generally pretty fast), then log into our corporate portal to the travel agent's search engine, and find out they don't have the flight you want available, or if they do have it available, and you fill in all your details, and press "book flight", it sits there for a while and then states that something is wrong with my credit card. The latter cannot be the case as it is the university's credit card, so it is their own internal system that has gone TITSUP yet again. In either case the official procedure is to phone the travel agent, explain once more in detail which flight you want (once you have navigated their menu system and waited for somebody to respond), and then get charged 30 euro per flight for your pains. There is clearly no incentive for the travel agent to get their web system in working order, as they earn more whenever it fails.

    The procedure for me to book a flight, which used to take me less than 15 minutes as a rule, now typically takes the better part of an afternoon, and a considerable increase in my blood pressure. The last time I was so fed up that I couldn't get the 118 euro direct flight, which couldn't be found on the travel agent's site, I opted for an indirect flight which cost 469 euro, but at least got me to the location at the time I wanted. Some savings. So now, whenever possible, I go by train, which I can just book myself, and has the plus that I do not have to go through the usual security theatre at airports

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Ah yes, university travel companies....

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    RAF Northolt had occasional flights to & from N Ireland for ministers and senior London based staff. They were ad hoc based on the travel requirements of those people but anyone else travelling between the two was supposed to use any spare seat if there was a flight due. It tended to have effects such as arriving military side, Aldergove, car still parked at Belfast City.

    I rolled up for one of these journeys to discover that the VIP had cancelled but the plane still had to return to Northolt. Along with me were some engineers from Wang who had a contract for WP kit with NIO. NIO weren't going to pay airline fares to them when there was space on the VIP flight. When we got to Northolt there was a slight confusion as the VIP needed to justify the flight wasn't on it. In the end I, a humble SSO, being the only NIO person involved, had to sign some sort of receipt for the aircraft - or maybe just the flight. I can't remember but I think the official car to central London was still available - ISTR the Wang guys leaving separately.

  24. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Here's my contribution...

    Back when I worked as a PFY for an American telecommunications company with dreams of becoming an international one, they wanted to send me from my home in California to a European training facility for a bit of software we used. I'm not senior enough in the company to be able to book my own tickets yet so they get to do it all & I've just got to live with it. They book me on a "It's too fekkin' early for this shit" flight to $Layover1, there's a layover of about ten trillion hours (all spent in the general public food court surrounded by things supposed to be food but that looked like it might kill me if I tried) before my next flight is due to arrive. There's some "severe weather" somewhere along the route & my flight is delayed on the tarmack with me inside. Add an hour of "No you can't get up to use the bathroom we're on the runway waiting to take off!" "Yes but either you let me piss in a toilet or you get to clean everything in front of me when my bladder explodes & showers the cabin in-" "YUCK! Go! Go use the bathroom!" "Thank you." agony. The flight eventually takes off & I get to $LayoverPoint2 with about five nanoseconds until my next flight is due to leave- they are calling "last call" as I'm exiting $PlaneA & need to get to $PlaneB on the other side of the concourse. Because I'm an international passenger there are laws that will bite the airline hard for leaving me stranded (especially if they separate me from my luggage) & I hustle but not sprint for the other gate. They have to call back the plane so I can get on the fekkin' thing & can't seem to understand why I'm laughing. Get on the plane, fly to $LayoverPoint3 & have another hours-long layover until next flight is due to leave. Spend it in the general area food court surrounded by smelly hippies playing hackysack in the aisles. Plane arrives, I head for the gate, only to find out that the "stinky hippies" I'd just been watching this entire time is on the same flight. Spend it listening to folks playing hippy instruments & singing pot head songs until we land at $FinalDestination. The cab the company had booked to take me to my hotel is nowhere to be seen. Call cab company & get told "That was for yesterday. You were a no-show." Ummm, flight delays? Did anyone bother to check the fact that my flight didn't land until just now? "No. We're not paid enough to do that shit. Sir." They send a cab out for me, I get to the hotel, check in & go to my room... Which is nestled in among those same damned noisy stinky hackysack footin' hippies. WTF? Turned out they were on some sort of religious pilgramage & were going to $FamousReligiousSite in town. Sigh. Fine. Whatever. I get up nice & early to catch a cab to the training event (the one my company sent me to, remember?) & get to the facility... Only to get told "What training course? There's no training course scheduled. Are you sure?" Call my boss & tell him what I've just learned. He says he'll check & call me back. I sit in the lobby to wait & wind up falling asleep on a couch. Boss calls back *six hours* later & tells me to come home on the next plane. My tickets have been changed to get me home sooner than expected. Fine. Whatever. Thank the desk jockey for letting me sleep on their stuff ("No problem. I know jetlag when I see it!"). Back to hotel, collect my stuff, back to the airport, check in at the ticket desk. They supposedly have no record of any flight I'm supposed to be taking. As in my previously good tickets on $LaterDate have *not* been updated to $EarlierDate but *canceled altogether*. Call boss, update him on ticket situation. He offers to call me back & hangs up. I get my "useless" tickets back & go sit down in some universal torture device claiming to be a chair built for Humans. Boss calls me back in just over an hour & asks "You have the corporate card we gave you for use on flights, right?" No, I'm not senior enough to qualify for one. "Ok, shit. Tell you what. Put the cost of return flight on your own card & submit that for reimbursement when you get back. We'll cover it." (If you can hear warning klaxxons screaming then you get a cookie.) I say fine, we hang up, & I call the number of a local travel agent. Explain the situation, that I would like to get home inexpensively but not "luggage class". She says she understands, does some rapid fire keyboard clicking, & asks "Will a flight leaving in an hour on a direct to LAX be good?" A *one hop* flight direct into Los Angeles International? "Sure! How much?" She names me a price that makes my brain hurt. "That will be perfect. Book it please." She does, I check back in, & I am now on a First Class direct flight into LAX. That one way flight cost less than everything else the company had bungled, AND it got me to my destination feeling more Human than zombie. Get to work the next day, present all my reciepts for reimbursement, and boss says they'll cover them "no problem". (More warning klaxons.) It took nearly six months of wrangling with the bean counters to get paid for all the shit. Quibbling over every packet of peanuts or crisps, much less the cost of food in the overpriced food court. Baulking at the cost for my "missed" cab. Having an absolute appoplectic cow when the cost of my return flight is found. Point out that my return flight cost less than the entire debaucle of my outbound flight. "But you're not senior enough to get first class!" Am I senior enough to call the tax man & let him know you were refusing to pay for an employee's international flight home? "Ummm... No, that won't be needed I'm sure." Yeah. Fine. Whatever. I finally got my money about a month before I quit. I don't know if they ever realized their dream of becoming an international telecomm company, but if the way they treated their employees was any indication then they weren't looking up into the sky to dream them, they were face down in the toilet & preparing to flush. =-/

    1. Outski

      Re: Here's my contribution...

      One word:

      PARAGRAPHS!

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        Re: Here's my contribution...

        I would love to have them. I don't allow scripting (especially not JS) & while the site claims to allow HTML tags it always fucks them up for me.<br> There was a BR tag right there. Did it drop this part down to a new line? All my screen reader hears is that the page says "LessThan BR GreaterThan" instead of the actual HTML working as intended. Ditto with paragraphs.<p> There was a P tag there. Is this a new paragraph? My reader says "LessThan P GreaterThan" which tells me the code isn't being acted upon.

        *Shrugs, smiles wearily*

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Here's my contribution...

          while the site claims to allow HTML tags it always fucks them up for me

          Aah, that one's easy. It only allows a subset of tags (and <br> isn't one of them). You create paragraphs just by pressing "return", as you would with a text-only comment. It doesn't matter how many returns you put between paragraphs, they are always changed to one double-space to leave a gap.

          There's a FAQ here: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/23/el_reg_forums_faq/ which, among other things, lists the tags that are allowed.

          I've no idea how vital Javascript is for the system, I know that you get a slightly different editing box if you disallow it altogether - the "normal" one has tabs for "Enter your comment" and "Add an icon" whereas the JS-less one is all on one page. Or used to be, been a while since I've tried.

          Of course, with something like NoScript at home I can selectively enable JS and just enable theregister.co.uk and regmedia (IIRC).

          HTH

          M.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Here's my contribution...

            Just a thought, but ShadowSystems is blind and might not be using the same form of input as you and I and also won't be able to see what the results look like.

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Here's my contribution...

              Just a thought...

              Yes, I realise that. I was trying to give the detail he asked for. He knew that HTML tags were allowed but then complained that they don't seem to work. I pointed out that only some are allowed and pointed him to the documentation, all of which should be eminently screen-reader-able. The bit about the JS / non-JS edit box may not be entirely relevant to him, but it adds detail he may not be aware of.

              M.

          2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

            At Martin, re: allowed HTML tags.

            Thank you for the link & explanation. Go enjoy a pint or twelve on me & try not to get arrested for drunken debauchery... until I get there to join in the fun! =-D

      2. Groaning Ninny

        Re: Here's my contribution...

        Yes, it was a wall of text, but still good to read :-)

        1. Outski
          Pint

          Re: Here's my contribution...

          oh, indeed, got a thumbs up from me as well :o)

          Friday -------->

      3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Here's my contribution...

        Gave up reading it....

        I'm sure it was highly amusing & worthwhile though, thanks for sharing.

        The sentence's today were brought to you by use of the enter key.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Here's my contribution...

          The sentence's whats today were brought to you by use of the enter key?

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Here's my contribution...

          And the misplaced apostrophe?

          1. Swarthy Silver badge

            Re: Here's my contribution...

            Brought to you by the grocer.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Here's my contribution...

      Because I'm an international passenger there are laws that will bite the airline hard for leaving me stranded

      I was sitting at Chicago airport waiting for my flight when they actually forced an Air France plane to circle and land again immediately after take off as 6 passengers from a connecting flight hadn't boarded. I'm guessing the threatened penalties were higher than the cost of refuelling, etc.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Here's my contribution...

        Or the risk that the passenger's bags were chemically exciting

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At YAAC, re: luggage.

          My uncle was flying home from South Korea with a pot of kimchi in his luggage. Wrapped in plastic, mummified in Duct Tape, placed inside a ZipLockFreezerBag, & another swathing of DT to make sure it stayed together.

          At some point during the flight it broke open & the fumes triggered a panic landing at some back water airstrip barely long enough to handle the plane. Evac the passengers via the slides, quarrentine the plane with BioHazard teams, & search the hold for the bio weapon.

          Cue one sheepish uncle when the "WMD" turned out to be his shattered pot of kimchi that had *eaten through* the wrappings & leaked all over the plane.

          The airline cleared the plane, refueled it, put everyone back on it, & flew it on to their original destination... and promptly banned his ass from ever flying with them again.

          Man, those were the days! =-D

      2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        At GlenP, re: international passengers.

        *Nodding like a Bobblehead doll on rough terrain, grinning like a mad scientist*

        I don't know what the fines are now, but back then they were something like $10K per person per piece of luggage. One passenger with 5 bits of luggage might cost you the yearly salary of the pilot. The other five passengers on that flight might make the total multiplier enough to create a fine larger than the cost of the *plane*.

        You Do. Not. fuck around with international passengers & their luggage. Chicago O'Hare has been known for calling back planes over halfway across ThePond to come get their passengers because the airline would rather pay the fuel costs than the fines.

        And THAT means those are fines doing their job as a deterrent to bad acts. When even the threat of such a fine makes them sit bolt upright & DoTheRightThing then you know it's doing its job.

        *Cackle*

        I had my bag of personal clothes/toiletries, a bag of suits, a hard case with all my electrical kit in it (the stuff needed for the training), & my laptop case. I only had my laptop case with me as carry on which meant the rest was in the belly of the plane they called back. =-j

        1. Tomato Krill

          Re: At GlenP, re: international passengers.

          Any citations for this legislation?

          I cannot find anything anywhere.

          I also think you underestimate the cost of a plane by a couple of orders of magnitude

        2. Leathery Hawkeye

          Re: At GlenP, re: international passengers.

          I think you might be underestimating the Pilot salary and expense to the airline of a plane not being in the air. A cheap 787 goes for at least $120m An A380 more like $350m. Don't forget that a significant number of passengers on the plane doing a U-turn over the Atlantic/Pacific/Indian Oceans might also have connecting flights...

      3. Tomato Krill

        Re: Here's my contribution...

        Chicago airport were very verbose with their announcements that day went they?

        Remarkable amount of information to be given out to the general public?

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Here's my contribution...

          Chicago airport were very verbose with their announcements that day went they?

          Remarkable amount of information to be given out to the general public?

          Well y'see there's this place called an "international departure lounge" at most airports that have international flights. People who've passed through any security checks get to mingle at said places.

          So it's quite possible that one or more of the mentioned waiting passengers were able to talk to GP while he too was waiting.

          They can be an interesting place to talk to people from different walks of life. Gits ya sum larning talking wid furriners.

          Been a while since I've flown internationally so this may be outdated information.

  25. DuchessofDukeStreet

    Travel Policy

    Where do I start....?

    With the company that decided that domestic flights weren't going to be permitted? So when I tried to book my regular flight from middle England to central Scotland for a day trip (it was in the early days of budget airlines so flights were cheaper than getting to the airport), told me I had to go by train instead - which would have turned it into a 2.5 day trip involving spending at least one night on a station platform.

    Or the same company that decided hire cars were prohibited also? So having finally won the argument about the flight, I asked for a hire car to get me from Edinburgh airport to the site in a very small very remote village, they suggested I get a train. Would you like to have a look at the rail network in Scotland? Ah yes, but you still can't have a hire car. Their solution? They could book a car with a driver to collect me from the airport and deliver me to and from the site... So I cant have a hire car but I can have a chauffeur?

    Or the companies (several) that insist on a maximum rate for a hotel room? So I can't stay at *that* hotel which is across the road from the office but is £3 a night over rate, but I can stay at *that* hotel which is within rate but will involve a £10 cab fare each way between hotel and office?

    Or the company (singular) that applied the above but decided there was no need to apply a London uplift. I might possibly have been able to find a room at the rate available, but it would probably have been renting rooms by the hour. Alternatively I could stay in the home counties and get a peak rate train into central London.

    However the absolute prize has to go to the company that decided staff below director grade were not entitled to private accommodation when travelling and booked everyone else into twin rooms. The first time that happened (we'd been the shafted part of a "merger"), half my particular team refused to check in, walked out of the hotel and drove home. Our director (I was told later) was told to start disciplinary proceedings against the people concerned; whilst he no doubt used more than two words in his response, you can probably guess that nothing happened....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Travel Policy

      I think all this is the revenge of staff who are office bound but think it's a great privilege to be allowed to travel on business.

      It doesn't help that the only thing that makes administrative work like that possible is treating every little thing as disconnected from everything else. If they didn't they'd realise how repetitively boring it is. It's necessary to have people like that to do that sort of work but it does inhibit the capacity for joined up thinking and ask themselves what the best overall arrangement would be.

    2. DuchessofDukeStreet

      Re: Travel Policy

      The other one was a programme where the initial PD had a policy that travel was to be conducted out fo hours and he was happy to pay for peak rates flights/trains/overnight accommodation on the grounds that the additional cost was far outweighed by having the expertise available for full working days. Nobody took too much of the proverbial and mostly everyone was happy.

      New PD comes in and decides to adopt the wider corporate policy of insisting on people travelling off-peak, lower cost which invariably meant during the day. So an afternoon meeting in London meant you then spent much of the morning travelling, a couple of hours in the meeting, then travelled back at 8pm having spent 5-8pm in the airport bar. Some people (mostly those with a vested interest in the speed of completion of the project) made up the hours on another day. Others (mostly those who were interested in extending their expensive assignment for as long as possible) did no such thing. Thursday afternoons you could tell who the employees were (as opposed to the contractors) by who was still in the office after lunch and not "travelling home". The programme was still running six years later and hadn't delivered fully. It might even still be going.

  26. Valerion

    My 2 stories

    One was flying London to Edinburgh, then driving to Dundee, only to find out that instead of Windows 2000 it has Windows ME, as it was "basically the same thing" according to their IT expert. Despite me calling twice beforehand to check it had 2000 on it and pointing out, repeatedly, that it absolutely needed it. To make it even better I was sick as a dog and spent the entire flight throwing up in the bathroom. So after discovering that, I went home again.

    The other one was when the incredibly dimwitted bimbo who was the MD's PA (hired for one specific reason. Well, technically a pair of specific reasons). Gave her the flight details of the one I wanted from Gatwick (25 mins from my house) to Glasgow, departing at 10am and the return flight departing at 7pm. So instead she booked one from 6am - from Stanstead, which is about 2 hours from my house - and returning at 10pm, because it was £20 cheaper. To say I got a little cross was an understatement. I had a new boss start that day - and I was out of the office - so my first dealings with him were me flatly refusing to go, and him then threatening to suspend me. In the end I went as I didn't want to get fired, but when he found out the full details and spoke to his boss - who basically said - we can't lose him, keep him sweet - I got overtime for the extra hours and the company paid for a meal out for me and my family as a thank-you. Turned out to be a good boss in the end.

    1. druck

      Re: My 2 stories

      If anyone suggested saving the company £20 was more important than 10 hours of my time, I'd have walked immediately. A family meal also sounds like little recompense for what must have been at least a 23 hour day.

      1. Valerion

        Re: My 2 stories

        You're not wrong, but I was young, naieve, and flat-broke with a young family and a wife out on maternity leave.

        Leaving a job, voluntarily or not, would have been a very bad move then. Several hours of 1.5x overtime was actually very welcome in the end, as was the meal out given I couldn't afford one!

  27. LewisRage

    I was sent on a 100 mile round trip...

    ...to install a new mouse at a customers site.

    The mouse on the reception machine in a fancy hotel had gone awry and there was no-one on site who was willing to stick their arm round the back of a PC and swap a USB plug over.

    I was happy enough to do it though as it was the beginning of spring and we were enjoying the first real rays of warmth and happiness of the year, and I'd just bought a convertible car so I was extremely happy zipping down the A140 with the wind in my hair to do the job.

  28. RealBigAl

    It looks like

    it was more than just the customer penny pinching.

    4am flight, no overnight stay? No thanks. Life's too short.

    1. Brenda McViking

      Re: It looks like

      Did that precisely once (flight to a meeting in an airport hotel lounge before a flight home, 22 hours in all) before I said "never again."

      I still travel a lot, but my rule is on company time, not my own, particularly if you get one of those jobs where airport staff recognise you more easily than your colleagues because they see you more...

      1. Groaning Ninny

        Re: It looks like

        ...more easily than your family...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I may have mentioned this one before

    The client was in South Africa. It was Tuesday. How soon could I get there?

    The internal travel department told me I could travel next Tuesday, change at Lisbon, because that was the cheapest flight.

    "The client is paying"

    No, they had to follow their internal rules about travel. So I told the client.

    Apparently their MD phoned up and demanded to speak to the travel department. His version of it was that he had "had words". The upshot was a direct business class flight on Thursday, and a happy client who insisted on entertaining me all Sunday because production had resumed on Friday lunchtime. I was booked for a week so I visited another client on spec, who paid for a general system check and some training, and came back to be paid lots of overtime, which was a thing in those days.

    I never had any trouble with the travel department again except that the head of the department would go down a side corridor to avoid me.

  30. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Sort of the opposite, and not computer-related

    Worked at a radio station that was collateral damage in a series of acquisitions*. I was very much a low-ranking worker at this place. Once got a Christmas Award as "Best Station Support (runner-up)".

    It was a two-man department.

    Anyway, in previous years we had done outside broadcasts from the local "Party in the Park" by obtaining a feed from the excellent Front of House engineers, using a little mixer to allow talking over by our own talent on-site - and operable by them - and sending the result over an analogue pair (or ISDN in later years) back to the studios.

    New owner said "we don't do things that way" and insisted on clean feeds of all the on-stage gear, microphones etc. into their own stage-side desk which therefore required a decent engineer to operate (they parachuted one of those in too) and a lot of hassle setting up.

    New owner said "you can't hire a desk locally, we have our own". But said desk was in Cowes (Isle of Wight) doing an OB for the sailing boats until the day before our PitP. So I got to drive a van from Cardiff to Portsmouth, stay overnight, catch the ferry to Cowes (first ever time I'd been there), help to dismantle and stow the OB kit and drive all the way back.

    On the upside, local talent was able to use their high-powered radio microphone / headphone combo.

    Also had to laugh because Peter Andre was one of the acts (does that date it?) and needed to use a piano on stage. They had to bring a piano in from London - the only one he was happy to work with because it was small enough for him to look over the top. IIRC he also insisted that the other on-stage performers (mostly miming as far as I remember) sat down to do their jobs so that they wouldn't be taller than him.

    If I didn't think I'd get shouted at, I'd post a story about someone else I know who has a still unresolved dispute with "management" about travel costs, where in effect they are saying "we should not be travelling to the client, the client should be travelling to us". It isn't computer-related, but exactly the same "management really doesn't understand the job" symptoms I see in a lot of the comments here.

    M.

    *just because I'd be wondering if I were you - I was at Red Dragon & Touch Radio in Cardiff which was owned by EMAP, who wanted to buy another station, but doing so would put them over the allowed percentage (ownership rules were odd), so as their furthest outpost - all their other stations were in "the North" - Manchester, Preston, Leeds etc. - they sold us to Capital Radio. Capital promptly sacked all but three of the AM station's local presenters, syndicating instead, and turned it from the best-performing AM station in the country (in terms of hours, reach etc., even beating national FM stations locally) to among the worst. They also syndicated overnights on the FM station which does make it rather difficult to "nurture" new talent on the graveyard shift.

  31. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I got sent across town because our building there was on fire, and the firemen wanted someone from I.T.

    Got there to find the 4 story building fully ablaze, and was completely unable to advise firemen of any UPS batteries , microwaves or other scary I.T stuff as my job wasnt high enough up to get involved with any of that ...

  32. Vometia Munro

    Not quite that, but I have been compelled to work on site where the customer didn't want to pay for my travel time nor accommodation and my employer didn't want to pay me overtime, so they decided amongst themselves that I would do the travelling in my own time and cover any costs over and above the rather threadbare expenses offered for overnight stays out of my meagre salary, which was about 10% of what I was being hawked out at. Of course the people who made these decisions got to travel during work hours and had all expenses paid while I was waiting for the tardy expenses department who would take weeks to bounce an entire claim over the most innocuous thing.

    I've also been variously shouted and sworn at over the phone by managerial and admin types for not being compliant enough with their cosy arrangements.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Thats ok.

      Just help yourself to any servers or furniture or company cars you find.

  33. Steve Cooper

    Interference

    I had one many moons ago where I had to go to the CEO's second home in Paris to fix his home WiFi, so off I go onto the Eurostar, traipse across Paris and find his amazing 'apartment' (floor of a huge building) and see his hilarious outdoor WiFi antenna (complete with lightning arrester) and he's there complaining it's got no range. As I test I find it's an amazing signal, walk down the corridor still amazing, then all of a sudden it drops to zero. Confused I look up and see I'm now in line of sight with a large window and filling the view out of that window is the rather large transmitter (bit bigger than his router and even his outdoor antenna in the hallway) - the Eiffel Tower. Then he proceeds to tell me taxi's radios don't work here either and even TV/radio is hit and miss.

    Not much I can do apart from tell him try installing cat5 everywhere and put at least one access point in every room on that side of the property!

    I was on holiday in Dublin a few hours later so three capital cities in about 12 hours.

  34. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Devil

    So many stories...

    Like the chief accountant who asked why we were paying staff overnight subsistence when surely they could "sleep in their cars".

    We killed him on the spot, then burned his body in the car park as a warning to all those who put money above all else.

    In our heads anyway.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: So many stories...

      Surely he could be replaced by Excel?

  35. fran 2

    Another pointless day trip for you: I was working for a global courier company who had a sub-contractor in Belfast, was assigned a task to push a button to test an ISDN backup. Yep, a round trip of 170Km to push a button.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "was assigned a task to push a button to test an ISDN backup"

      What would happen if the test failed? I'd guess part of the expectation was that you'd be on site to fix the problem/take the flack if it did. What would have been the consequence if it had failed and the trip to fix it only started then?

  36. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Real conversation with a bean counter about an expense claim for a two week training course in which I was not allowed to stay over the intervening weekend but had to travel up on Sunday and back on Friday for each week:

    "I'm calling about my expense claim for my two week training course."

    "Yes"

    "You rejected my claim for my second trip back to NY"

    "The train ticket wasn't attached to the claim"

    "It was when I sent it in!"

    "Well, it must've become detached en route. Sorry"

    "Wait a minute! You agree that I was in Albany for those two weeks because you've accepted the claim for lunches."

    "Yes, the receipts were accepted"

    "So you *know* I was in Albany for both those weeks."

    "Yes"

    "And you have the tickets to show I went, came back to New York and Went again"

    "Yes"

    "And I am speaking to you from NY so you accept that I actually did return"

    "Yes"

    "And isn't it true that if I drove to Albany I could claim the gas without receipts?"

    "Yes, but we only reimburse the price of a return train ticket in that event"

    "The same return train ticket I actually bought and used?"

    "Yeeees ..."

    "So you don't care *how* I make the journey, just that if I do I either submit the train tickets or tell you I drove and let you assume a train ticket was used instead?"

    "Yeeees ..."

    "And you don't actually *have* to have a train ticket if I drive?"

    "No ..."

    "So then. Why don't we say I rode the train up and drove back and you can send the train fare for the ticket that got lost with an easy mind?"

    "Okay."

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      "So then. Why don't we say I rode the train up and drove back and you can send the train fare for the ticket that got lost with an easy mind?"

      Alternative version: "Why don't you assume I'm still there and you can pay for another ticket for me to get back?"

    2. The Real Tony Smith

      Re: Bah!

      If only I could upvote you a thousand times

    3. David Woodhead
      Happy

      Re: Bah!

      And this person was presumably being paid a 5 / 6 figure salary to be an incompetent administrator, a total idiot, antagonise the staff bright enough to analyse what was going on, and probably cost the company serious amounts of money in the process.

      Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not in that world any more. So glad.

  37. Big_Boomer

    A friend used to work for a vehicle security supplier. One Saturday he got a call from a difficult customer whose Jag refused to restart after he had stopped at some motorway services, and he wanted one of their people to come and sort it out RIGHT NOW! So, my friend decided to take his 10 year old son with him and drove half way around the M25 to get to the customer. On arrival he discovered that the customer was using the security system correctly, but had his cars automatic gearbox in Drive. He put his foot on the brake, moved it to Park, and hey presto the car started. At this point his son piped up LOUDLY "Dad, did we just come halfway round the M25 on your day off to put someones car into Park?". My friend wisely swallowed his laughter, stayed silent and sent the customer on his way. He later billed him for half a days travel and work and the bill was paid with no complaints.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Bill for the full day. At 2x rates.

  38. jonathan keith

    Back in the day...

    My dad used to work in Shell's aviation fuels department. One day his boss came in to the office and asked if anyone had their passport with them. Dad and another colleague did, whereupon the two of them were told to get to Biggin Hill pronto. Turned out that the company's new BAe 125 needed a few more passenger flight hours to receive its safety certification, and there was no way that the lives of Board members would be risked flying in an uncertified aircraft, so off they were whisked to Stockholm and back for the day.

    1. ICPurvis47
      Happy

      Re: Back in the day...

      When I worked as a development engineer for a large electrical manufacturing company in the UK, we were developing a line of electrical switchgear for use in chemical works. One such was in Runcorn, and I was sent to oversee the installation, no problems except the switches had been stored overnight outside in the snow, so we had to thaw the liquid metal out before we could operate them.

      The other installation was in Dormagen, a few kilometers north of Koln, Germany. The twelve switches were too large/heavy/fragile to entrust to a shipping company, so a special body was built by Dispatch and Transport to fit on my trailer chassis, and the switches loaded into it and hitched to my Mk3 Cortina.

      Drove down from Rugby to Dover on the Sunday, and boarded the Hovercraft, lovely sunny day for a trip across the channel to Calais. Disembarked and set off up the coast towards Belgium, but stopped at the customs post by officials, who demanded to know what was in the trailer. Try explaining (in a foreign language) that there are NO electronics in the switchgear! Eventually allowed on my way, only to have the same problem at the Belgian/German border. By now running several hours behind schedule, so arrive at hotel too late for evening meal, but kindly chef fixes a nice steak for me.

      Monday morning, present myself and cargo at chemical factory's security, no-one aware that I am arriving that day, they were expecting a lorry or similar, not a car and trailer. Eventually (about lunchtime) find someone with the authority to let me drive onto the site, and back the trailer into the basement of the chemical plant. Taken to company canteen and force-fed Sauerkraut. Spend pleasant afternoon making short tour of historic local village (Feste Zons), and drive back to hotel for another steak.

      Tuesday morning, introduced to a Foreman and two Fitters. None of them spoke a word of English, two of them were called Uve, and one spoke with a lisp. Schoolboy German to the rescue, and we managed to communicate sufficiently to get four of the switches installed that day. Incidentally, the busbars were fifteen feet above the concrete floor, running at 400V DC, and about 80°C, so standing on a wobbly wooden ladder to work (had to be non-conductive), and if you put a spanner down on the concrete supports, the huge magnetic field would swing it round and either poke you in the ribs or it would leap up and stick to the busbars. Back to the hotel for another steak.

      Next day, same performance, but as we now knew what we were doing, managed to install the remaining eight switches. Thursday was spent commissioning and recording the voltage drops and currents, and Friday morning was spent doing the necessary paperwork.

      Saturday morning, hitched up empty trailer and set off back to Calais, hovercraft to Dover, and drive back to Rugby, arriving at my home address late afternoon, early evening. Sunday, drive back to our factory to unload test equipment, tools, and trailer body.

      All in all a good week, steak for dinner every day, nice drive across northern Europe, and all my expenses covered by the customer, although I probably made a bit of a loss on the petrol costs.

  39. TomPhan

    I was being sent on a training course and the big debate was whether I'd fly early on the morning of the first day, rather than the day before, in order to save paying for a night in the hotel.

    Reason prevailed, which is why I was watching the events of 9/11 while eating breakfast, rather than being on a plane which was diverted to the nearest safe landing spot.

  40. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Half a million miles.

    Understood boss, I’ve a got young persons railcards. #thisweeksfigures

  41. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    You couldn't make it up!

    I flew from London to Warsaw and during the LOT flight bought a can of Pepsi for 5 Zloty, which is about 1 pound sterling. The finance department bounced my expense claim because although I had the foresight to get a receipt it was not what they considered to be a VAT receipt.

    There then followed a six-week ping-pong battle to get my claim paid, which I finally won when I was able to prove that VAT is not payable on a flight between UK and any EU country (HMRC VAT Notice 709/1 section 2.5). I think finance's mission statement is something like "protecting our corporate wealth with financial excellence"...

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: You couldn't make it up!

      I think finance's mission statement is something like "protecting our corporate wealth with financial excellence"

      That's rather an unusual MS for those crowds. Isn't it normally "Diverting everyone's wealth with financial excrement" or somesuch words?

  42. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Travel related....

    Not a travel disaster story but...

    I once did some work in the States for the same client - first two weeks, then back home for a month then another few days back in the States. Everything went well and all was fine except for one quirk: the invoice for one of the stints in dollars was exactly the same (to the penny) as the invoice price in Sterling for the other stint. This caused no end of problems between each company's finance systems as each would reject it in turn as a duplicate (as they would auto-match on the monetary value).

    It was only when they eventually came to me to ask exactly how much time I had spent was I able to spot what had happened.

  43. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    The best company

    Best company I worked for owned a Cessna light twin aircraft. So I got a pilots' license (PPL) on company expense, and "drove" myself to all on-site visits around UK, Germany and other places. There are numerous small airfields all over Europe, and bound to be one within a taxi-ride of where I'm visiting. There's no waiting around at small general aviation airports and no fixed departure times or cancellations to cope with. Plus I love flying. Bad weather meant I'd have to fall-back to car or public transport, but that happened surprisingly infrequently - visit dates were usually arranged with the customer after seeing the 5-day weather forecast. Also impresses the client when you tell them you are coming by private aircraft.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the joys of business travel

    Don't get me started.

    The time I was working away on a large project a fair distance away from home, had been on it for a year, and turned up one Monday after the usual awful 4+ hour drive to get there and the boss tells me the entire project is cancelled with immediate effect (but of course no-one bothered to let us know) and could I go home again. I think the look on my face persuaded him agree to me staying overnight and then going back!

    Or the time I was working away when the company decided I had to break off to fly out to Sweden on an extremely urgent job for a different client. I pointed out that I was in London, my passport was at home in a northern town and the only flight I could get was in a matter of hours and I had very little chance of making it. No, try, they said... so dash to the hotel, cancel room, grab bags, dash to station, catch train, arrive in home town, taxi home, grab passport, taxi to airport, arrive 10 mins after flight departs... go home, let boss know, return to London next day...

    Or the time I arrived at a client's office far from my home on the Monday, work all day, drive to hotel that the travel department has booked me into - only to find no hotel at that address. Of course travel department is closed by this time. Much head scratching and p*ssing about and eventually track down a phone number for the hotel and call them from a callbox (this was before mobile phones) and ask for directions. Turns out the travel department have booked me into a hotel in a village with the same name as the one I'm working in, except this village is 150 miles away. As it's getting late by this time I checked into the first decent hotel I could find, and to hell with the rate!

    Ah, the joys of business travel.

  45. x-IBMer

    A few travel stories

    Working for the International Brotherhood of Magicians, at a reasonably senior level, as high as you can get without becoming a mangler basically, and in the sales side of the business though still a technical consultant - so I was a pretty expensive resource to waste my time on nit picking. We booked all our travel via Amex, just call them, tell them where and when, they get back with a itinerary, approved hotels (there's a list), approved travel class, management approval is pretty much automatic. So this one trip I get back home and the expense claim, I had spent three nights of the trip in a hotel in the Philippines, 4 star place, I recall about 80USD per night (cheap). Expense claim people a refusing the re-imburse, because the hotel had charged $1 per night more than the agreed rate. The amount of time I had to spend arguing with the process workers cost IBM at least a dozen times more than the $3 over the limit that had been incurred.

    Next one, in Hong Kong at the final leg of a six week trip through Asia Pacific, all client facing, all sales generating, two countries per week, three or four client meetings per country, really exhausting - but I had figured easier on me and the family than many smaller trips over a period of months (all long haul, as origin was Australia). I'm standing in the lobby, in a queue to pay my hotel bill, get a call from a mangler about two levels up, he shouts down the phone at me "How dare you spend 20 grand of my money on this travel" - it was him who had approved the expense request 2 months earlier when we had planned this big sales tour. I always thought it was a bad sign when a mangler begins to think that the company money is actually something they personally own.

    Last one, first trip with this company, my colleagues explained the lurk to me. Business Class is permitted if traveling more than 8 hours. Sydney to Singapore is only 7 or 7.5. Hong Kong though is closer to 9. So always book an Asia Pacific tour via HK first, then wherever you need to go next can all be short hops, but the Business Class will stick with you through the entire itinerary. That was a nice time to be traveling, even got bumped to First Class once on a 14 hour to Bangkok - champagne and caviar on being seated. All this ended in 2008 though, none of the actual workers got BC after then, beginning of the end for me...

  46. Pontius

    Had a call from a customer in Switzerland near the French border and had to get there fast to sort out a problem. Got off the plane at Mulhouse after flying business class (all that was available at short notice) , to find two of our company directors and two salesmen getting off from economy. They were visiting the same customer and their flights had been booked well in advance. If looks could have killed...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same experience. I needed to book a flight on a specific date and only Business Class available. Boss agreed. Then the travel date was postponed one week, and when I boarded the flight (with the same BC ticket) my boss and CEO went to the tourismo class - with most of the other passengers being rather loud football fans travelling to a European cup match.

      Indeed, if looks could kill...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Have not yet forgiven a colleague who I bumped into (hi Julius!) in the UN building in New York who casually announced the only flight available for him to perform some urgent task had been Concorde... at least the bugger got to go back peasant class, like me.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another haste trip

    Had a fairly useless trip as well. Needed to inspect the new data center. After 5 minutes, we saw it was nothing and that the search should be restarted.

    However, I had lots of fun. We needed to be there absolutely noon on Monday. As things go in the holiday season, everything was fully booked, so we ended up going there on Saturday, and alas, there were only first class tickets available. We ended up doing tourism for most of the Sunday and at noon on Monday we were in the office.

    The fun part is, that there were also compatriots who made a point that they were more important than us tech-guys. You know, the first taxi was for them, etc. But they booked their flight in time, so when we met them again at the airport we had all the first class joys, and they sat between the tourists. Which made the champagne taste even better....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30 years ago - (unemployed), Became new hire at last minute to manage a store for national retailer; regional director books me on a two day trip to Tahoe for training. Fly out early am after panicked call to have spouse bring me tickets I forgot (bad on me). Arrived late afternoon, spent two hours reading a manual that made no sense without a few weeks minimum floor time - hit casino for a few minutes (before crashing for 6 hour sleep before being back on location for a half day of floor training).

    All I learn is that this is a store, you sell things that you've been selling, and oh by the way the store manager there was in love with his lead sales person. Spent the next 4 months in actual on the job training - and was just feeling up to speed when the regional director walked in and told me I was no longer needed. Feedback I got from the back-channel manager's chain was that they had someone they were training for the position at another store, and I was just a stop-gap.

    Lucked out into a better paying job a month later, thankful that I had chosen to commute until I was sure about this "last minute" thing.

    PS: the store ended up having 4x the sales that they had forecast; I'd like to think that at least they got their money's worth out of me, and then some!

  49. grumpymike80

    Not on such a grand scale but...

    Our retail service engineers are regularly found pretty much passing each other on the way to each other's home towns for a call... Or we end up with four engineers at different jobs on one town, with loads of un-allocated jobs further afield

    Also, the travel company we use to 'simplify the travel process' can /only/ book corporate rate rooms at Premier Inn. So, even of there are rooms available, at say £5 more than the corp rate, they can't book them, but will still book you into the local Hilton instead, at at least double the cost!

  50. EVP

    Their cockup, my pleasure

    Many many moons and monsoons ago I was asked to move to Japan for severals months to do development work with a customer. Signed the documents, took the plane there and got to my company’s local office. All good, except after a couple of days there I realised there is an IPR issue, i.e. they had set up a contract with the customer which would have leaked our IP to the customer. I informed my boss about that, he was like “oh, really” and never got any other feedback. Surprisingly (not), things didn’t move forward with the customer but I more or less did the same work I would have done back home. Well, I didn’t mind, it was a good stay in Japan.

    Beat that.

  51. aregross
    Thumb Down

    Where's the rest of the story?

    What finally happened? Was the issue resolved?

  52. Michael 66

    Winter travel fun

    Late to the party here, but...

    One day trip from Washington DC to Minneapolis. In February (-10 F). Return flight that afternoon. Company was famous for that.

    Got to the airport, went to use the toilet, looked down and found my tie soaking in 4 inches of water. "Used" water.

    Spent 30 minutes in a sales meeting without saying a word, went back to the airport, got sloshed with the sales rep. Somehow lost my driver's license at security, had to spend a full day later that week to get a new one at DMV.

    And that little company that nobody loved? IBM.

  53. kokoro

    Halfway around the world for a new career

    Ok, this tale dates way back to when I was trying to escape Australia to work in the film industry in Europe. Leaving town with $2.5k to my name after blowing the other half on a video camera. I had such a good one year exchange in Sweden doing shots of skane akavit and self-teaching me highend 3d Softimage and Alias Power Animator on SGI's with 64mb of RAM that cost about what I make in a year that I wanted to return.

    So I'm in contact with this guy in Potsdam who is looking for staff for a pioneering kids tv series and it is 1998. I have German and UK family so it was not utter culture shock or anything. Right before Maya is released on PCs and the floor crashes out of SGI's stock price and they vacate that funky purple building in Mountain View, CA for a certain expanding search startup. It is Sunday night 1am in Sydney and he says on the phone to just get there, don't worry, he has a job for me. I think I left on a one way Thai flight to Copenhagen, British passport in tow for my new life round about the Monday and I'm at Kastrup early the next morning, taking a train to Goteborg via the old booze boat crossing to stay with friends before starting my new job.

    Wednesday I book an overnight train ordeal - Goteborg - Malmo - Trelleborg - train goes on boat 4hrs to Sassnitz and from 3 to about 8am rolls on to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. At the time there was no crosstown except the sBahn. I'm in Potsdam fried but chipper for 9am after a taxi out to the company which was near the Glienicke Brucke. They have no idea who I am but tell me it has happened before so just go sit with some of the other artists and the boss should be in by lunchtime. No one can find him but he finally gets there at 3 and agrees to see me at 4. Thankfully they were kind enough to pay for a decent pension.

    So I noticed around the office that most of the staff were women which was a tad unusual in the 3d biz and most of them were Vancouver film school grads. They told me a little about how they were all in salary arrears with those there the longest owed 3 months pay. Funny cause the gig was heavily funded by the German government and there was a mountain of overpriced SGI kit everywhere.

    I then went to one of the strangest interviews I will probably ever have. The boss is a short man, a bit overweight with thin wirey hair, long and slicked back. Everything I might imagine a cliched porn director might look like and hey it was Berlin. There's a big cage in his office which was for his rottweiler that he went everywhere with. He says he wants me to do a trial and the other bit was that he wanted to be sure I noticed how many women were working there. To be sure he had scoured the world for them and the clincher was as he told me he did not want me sleazing on them. Not remotely my style but a first real life example of projection in action looking back.

    So of course my trial started the next week so Friday night overnight back to Gothenburg as I barely brought anything with me cause I thought I had a job to confirm and then back on the same train train boat train the Sunday night. I was then joined by a Norwegian guy in the same boat and they put him in the same pension. The next 3 days of trial confirmed everyone had not been paid. The boss was nowhere to be seen the whole week, the main PA obviously wasn't paid either and had apparently done a runner with the petty cash box and the company car and the future of the job was in doubt.

    Myself and Norwegian colleague became good friends, decided there was not much chance of a job and enjoyed the hotel and meal + drink expenses and bailed to await the outcome. He kept chasing them and eventually got offered a role a month later he didn't take. I couldn't cause I had no cash. Flew to London and holed up with family friends and eventually got a foot in the door. So all I can say is anyone who got expenses for all the trips above is lucky they never chose to work in broadcast and film. I think the only other junket I ever got was a SAS business class flight to Norrkoping for a game company that later wanted to hire me. Once they had, it was one more on economy from there. Lol, but at least it wasn't on the early days of Ryanair to Skavsta I was later to endure.

    The production I later heard from a couple of the ladies went bust and there was a German government investigation into where the money went. Germany never did really become a major centre for the 3d entertainment industry and bits of the gig, the Stevie Stardust Show were sold off around the world, desperate to make some return on all that effort. My Norwegian friend went on to work on Free Jimi which was about a drug addled elephant in a failing circus which to the Scandinavian students I teach 3d to today back in Sydney became a bit of a childhood cult classic.

    Thanks for reading!

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personal service

    I had a client in Germany once, when I was Glasgow based. My route was originally Glasgow - Brussels - Dusseldorf with Sabena as the cheapest option. Unfortunately I soon realised that they never made the connection because Brussels ATC were measured by on time departures and would have the incoming flights hold so those leaving got off early. I'd then rent a car and hammer it down the autobahn. Fortunately(?) Sabena went bust inside a few months and I switched to British Midland via Birmingham.

    My employer had just started its cost cutting plan by opting out of the company diamond club plan, with automatic upgrade to business class. On the small flight between Glasgow and Birmingham that meant I was usually the only passenger behind the curtain with a fully loaded business class stretching 2/3rds of the way down the plane. Business class got their own cabin attendant. So did economy. With just me and some dead heading pilots I always got served breakfast and coffee immediately and usually got slipped the business class buns too.

  55. herman Silver badge

    Idiot unwritten Finance and HR rules

    I refuse to travel for my current employer. I never got reimbursed for a lengthy overseas trip, because my passport was not stamped. I went through the electronic gate - tickets and boarding passes did not count. So, never again.

  56. Kiwi Silver badge
    Pint

    "Couple of years" back I had a customer complain about keyboard issues on a new system. It was their claim that we were at fault and they demanded a site-visit, though they were some hours drive away from home base.

    It was made clear to them that they'd pay for travel costs and any other associated costs. More demands, threats of taking us to various legal bods (consumer affairs, fair-trading to name a couple) and an assurance that if they were shown to be wrong...

    They claimed urgency but, as it was late, I agreed to head up early the next day so I'd be there the following morning.

    I loaded up with spares and set off to their place, leaving something like 4am. I got to the office and found it locked, so I waited. And waited. And waited. and waited. Did some other remote work, kept trying to reach the customer... Turns out they had a team-building exercise and had forgotten all about it. Lots more demands about job being done and us being sued for lost earnings and so on so to appease the customer I booked into a hotel for the night so I could get a start first thing.

    Bowl up to their office next day, meet some rather nasty person who is absolutely pissed at the lost production. I am assured that their highly qualified "technician" (who, of course, happens to have a very close familial relationship with someone high up in the company) has done nothing wrong, everything is connected properly and has been checked and re-checked. They demand the right to film what I am doing with the computer for legal reasons, and I agree.

    First thing I do is turn the machine on. I confirmed immediately that the keyboard was non-functional. I confirmed on camera that their tech had replaced the provided PS2 keyboard with a bog-standard but slightly nicer USB keyboard - though I did question why the need for a keyboard with media controls on what is effectively a server machine (IE I suspected that the machine was being used for more than it's intended purposes).

    So on camera I proceeded to check over the machine, diagnosing the fault quickly.

    I got to charge them the night's stay, travel costs, and several hours labour. I also let them know that they could've been charged a lot more as I lost more productivity than just the time away from the office - I could after all have multiple jobs running at once.

    I wish the faces of certain people was visible on camera when the fault was diagnosed and explained. I did get a nice apology from the firm's owner. On camera I turned the machine so that it's back panel could be seen, and promptly pointed out that the reason the keyboard wasn't working was that it was...

    ...plugged into the spare network port on the dual-LAN mobo. Their "tech" had assumed that because he'd plugged a network cable in already, he could not possibly have plugged a USB keyboard into such a port. Of course, if he'd stuck with the provided PS2 keyboard............

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...plugged into the spare network port on the dual-LAN mobo. Their "tech" had assumed that because he'd plugged a network cable in already, he could not possibly have plugged a USB keyboard into such a port. Of course, if he'd stuck with the provided PS2 keyboard............

      ......he would have plugged it into the PS2 mouse connector?

  57. HmmmYes Silver badge

    Fuck travelling on my time.

    I travel on work time. Book me a flight after 8.40.

    I ecpect to down tools znd be at home by 6pm.

    If you woant a physical presense in <where?> id suggest you oprn an office and employ someone, by whatever you cannot fire snyone, ever rules.

    1. Groaning Ninny

      I guess you either work from home or don't work.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do work through two agencies. One will send me from, ahem, a city in central England to another one near the borders on the day of the call-out. The other will book me a night in the local Travelodge the night before.

    1. Tomato Krill

      Ok I'm taking it we're pissed at the second one yeah?

  59. john.w

    Weekend Breaks

    I used to travel to the West Coast quite a bit and would always make sure that I had to stay over the weekend else I would end up loosing two of my weekends in the UK. One memorable trip I arranged meetings in Portland on Friday and Seattle on Monday. Arranged car hire (only A or B class cars allowed) and at collection informed that they had three brand new Mustangs available that happened to be in class B as they were unpopular due to high fuel consumption, what colour would I like?. Lovely trip including drive up Mount St Helens at 4 am in mid summer still no UK time.

    1. Graham Butler

      Re: Weekend Breaks

      Tangentially related - I was backpacking for a few months and decided to hire a car on Vancouver Island to get from Port Hardy down to Victoria. I went for the basic of the basic (budget was tight) but when I got to the Hertz or whatever it was, they said they had a Mustang that needed to be in Victoria and would I mind awf..../grabs keys

      1. MrBanana

        Re: Weekend Breaks

        I hope you got a good one. I hired a Mustang in the US that was truly awful. The pedal on the right didn't seem to be properly connected to the engine - it generated a lot of noise but not much in the way of forward motion. And thankfully the roads were straight enough so that the woeful suspension wasn't overly taxed.

        No comparison to the 1965 Mustang Fastback that I brought back from the US after a spending a couple of years there on secondment. Unfortunately, that was worse. Even after rebuilding the entire front end, the steering seemed to be arranged via rubber bands and the fool who first spec'd the car picked the 287 Hi-Po V8 with an uprated carb and straight through exhausts (yay!) but thought that unassisted drum brakes all round would be a good accompaniment.

  60. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    I'm not complaining

    Back in the 90's I was at a January conference in Washington, DC when my company boss told me that their installation engineer was sick and I needed to fly to Melbourne Australia to install a system that had just been delivered. Installation and training would take about a week - I said that I'd only bought a coat and a change of clothes to the conference, he said, "No problem just get what you need."

    So I switched my tickets, flew down to the Australian summer and bought a new summer wardrobe - it was hot, so I picked up a couple of Akubra hats too - they have lasted so well. When I returned I submitted my expenses with a note that the instructions had come from the company director. No problems for me.

  61. cjmpe

    Some years back I was scheduled to do a packing line startup in Vietnam for a multinational. We talked on Wednesday and confirmed that the line would be ready on the following Monday for the startup. I duly took a Taxi to the Toronto airport on Thursday for my flight - Toronto - Tokyo - Saigon. Monday morning I arrived at the plant as scheduled and asked for my host. He showed up and said the startup had been delayed for a week and could I take a week vacation then come back the following Monday. A bit of a drumming of fingers here and a strained smile......that's not really the way we do things and I usually take vacation with my wife.

    I offered the customer the option of paying our standard layover fee for non working days + expenses or I could try to fly home that day and do the whole thing again on Thursday, or I could look into flying my wife over on their coin (business class of course). Oh, no, said the customer we can't afford any of those options....

    I don't know what the negotiations were like, but I ended up with a week in Saigon staying at the Intercontinental, paid by the customer - during the day I billed against other jobs where there was work that could be done remotely and in the evenings I enjoyed the sights, sounds and foods.....

  62. creature.shock

    Traveling on other people's dime is fun.

    I was working as a contractor for a company here in the Washington DC metro area. After about 3 months onsite for a US government client, I was asked to go up the Newark, NJ to over see some testing of new systems they were using. Well, the company's rules state that travel has to be done using a company credit card and I'm not allowed to have one because I'm a contractor to the company being contracted out to the client. Fun times. Manager gets me a room and pays for a full tank of gas for me, including a $200 pre-paid gas card to use with his favorite gas station chain. All good to me. Get up to the hotel, get checked in, everything is good. Only supposed to be there for a couple weeks, no big deal. Week two comes, on Wednesday the client asks if I could stick around for another week. No problem. Another week after that? Not a problem at all. A fifth? Sixth week? Sure! All approved by my manager.

    By the time I was ready to leave, my manager's company credit card had been maxed out. Six weeks of hotel rooms plus eating on the company's dime had maxed that sucker out. I couldn't leave the hotel because they needed it to be paid off. My manager had to drive up with another manager and split the bill between two credit cards, and they couldn't do that without the credit cards there along with the people who signed the bill. And it was funny as hell to me because my manager and his co-worker had to 5 hours, thanks to traffic, and 4 hours back to get me out of the hotel. They desperately tried to do everything over the phone, and I damn near got arrested because of it. All company credit cards had their limits double the next Monday because of this to, which was hilarious to me.

  63. silks

    Not Penny Pinching, but Opportunity Pinching

    In 1999 as a very junior network guy I flew to Dublin with two much more senior management colleagues as part of a project meeting to a prominent client which was an Irish bank. I was a bit nervous for various reasons, but the anticipated upsides were free flights, a decent 4* hotel and a night out in Dublin which sounded great.

    It transpired that we were staying in the suburb of Ballsbridge and my more senior colleagues only really wanted to stray as far as the local Italian restaurant and go to bed early. All I saw of Dublin was a view from the taxi window.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Not Penny Pinching, but Opportunity Pinching

      Such is the life of the Field Dude ... The first five or six times I went to Hawaiʻi all I saw was an airport, the inside of a taxi, and the inside of a data center. No hotel, even, just a couple hours watching computers reboot after a hardware replacement/upgrade. The first three times, it was night on arrival and when I left, so I didn't even see anything outside the aircraft and taxi windows.

      1. Caver_Dave
        Big Brother

        Re:Travel, but not seeing the area

        I spent a little time in Formula 1 racing as the first guy to do in car telemetry (with Arrows), but generally working with all the teams at the time (except Maclaren) on timing, electronics, radio data links and computing projects. As with Jake above I very rarely got to see anything of the local area.

        My worst trip was driving overnight from the UK midlands directly to the Monza circuit in northern Italy (with plenty of snow on the roads in Southern France), work all day at the circuit and then drive to the hotel - eat, sleep. Another full day at the circuit, until the team had blown up all their engines! Check out of the hotel and drive overnight back to the UK - last on the Channel ferry and first off saved some time and I managed the whole journey back the Midlands in 14 hours. You couldn't do that now they time you between toll booths on the French Motorways, the long bore Granada would do 130mph quiet easily - Oh the speed limit is in kph :-)

  64. red floyd

    I once got put on a plane to flip a single DIP switch.

    This was back in the day when PCs were configured by them. Our program used the COM ports to send and receive data. The customer was having an issue where it would write data, but not read.

    So I packed up my briefcase full of everything I could think of -- breakout box, adapters, wire, dykes, screwdrivers (yes, this was WAAAAAY before the 9/11-you-can't-bring-anything-useful-on-board days). I fly from Los Angeles to Monterey (just south of San Francisco, for you UK'ers), and get to where the client is I look at his machine, and he has both his COM ports configured as COM1. I flip a DIP switch so that the second port is now COM2 and everything works. This occurred within the first 15 minutes. Now I have six hours to kill before my return flight....

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I once got put on a plane to flip a single DIP switch.

      Back in the day I worked on a lot of T-carrier stuff. I can't tell you how many times an owner/client ranted about a shiny new (fractional) T1/E1 link being down, how the equipment was shit, the field guys were incompetent, and how pretty much everybody involved with the installation should be taken out behind the barn & horsewhipped. Only to become red-faced when I casually reached out[0] and toggled a loopback switch, thus fixing the link. Seems bosses in general can't resist flipping switches ... and can't read blinkenlights.

      [0] When was the last time you saw "reached out" used properly?

  65. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    In 1999 just after y2k day I submitted an expense claim. One item was for a dinner on 31/12/99 with four of us on the Y2K team. It was £350 - everywhere in London appeared to be charging double or more. Also on the expense claim was £8.50 for a takeaway meal I claimed for a day when I worked till 9pm, got home at 10 and thought I’d get something to eat on the way home.

    My boss queried it. She asked me “what’s this for?” . I thought she meant the £350 meal. She said “no, not that one, that’s fine, the £8.50 one”. Apparently I wasn’t allowed to claim for a meal I’d eat when I get home. I was allowed to claim for a takeaway consumed at the office of a restaurant near the office.

    1. TSM

      "In 1999, just after y2k day"? I think you might have an off-by-one error there.

      I was expecting the story to be that the expense claim was rejected because 31/12/99 wasn't considered a valid date (one of the classic Y2K issues that had to be sorted out before the day...)

  66. Wexford

    Should have charged more to my room

    Off I went to a tech conference hosted at a resort for three nights in 2001. Dutifully charged only meals to my room while paying for beers myself. While exploring the technical and TV services early on I noticed an "interactive" check-out option on the telly, which I used on my final morning to settle all my expenses which I'd then claim back at work. It was for a technical conference, after all.

    As I left, I handed the key to the concierge, let him know that I'd checked out on the TV, and could I please have a receipt. I got a look of confusion in response, which eventually led to the manager coming around. Apparently the TV check-out had only just gone live that week and nobody knew how it worked yet. I confirmed that I'd entered my credit card number, verified all the expense items, and my receipt number was XYZ to present at the reception desk.

    The manager shrugged, instructed her staff to issue me a receipt, I was gone. Back at work I was duly reimbursed and I kept an eye on my credit card statement. 18+ years later and I was never actually billed, but the reimbursement sure was nice.

  67. jsmith84

    Cost arbitrage and company policy

    A long time ago, I was supposed to take a flight to one of our office at investment-bank-of-far-west.

    The flight was booked long ahead the trip, and for once, nice-airline was cheaper, with the extra benefit of free chauffeur transport in and out of the airport, both legs of the trip (so 4 trip in and out of airport, maybe worth about £200-300 at the time).

    One week before the trip, the flight was changed to crappy-airline, because their flight was £50 cheaper (no transport included), and it was company policy to take the cheapest flight (without any consideration of the other transports).

    I told our team assistant the taxi alone would be far more in excess of the £50 difference and she did her best to try to convince the expense department... with no success.

    [names have been changed to protect the guilty]

  68. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    The same boss who reprimanded me about my £8.50 expense claim (see earlier post) managed to rack up a £2000 set of phone bills when she couldn't find her phone in her hotel room during a trip to Hong Kong. She rang it from the hotel phone, found it, and promptly went to sleep. She forgot to hang up. So she ended up with a few hours long call from the hotel phone to a UK mobile, a roaming call from UK to Hong Kong (as it got busied out) and a call from Hong Kong to the UK from her mobile as the phone diverted the call back to voicemail in the UK. And a very long silent voicemail.

  69. Shout, Shout, Let It All Out

    Cost savings?

    Had a trip to Belgrade for a project with flight home suggested for me on (very expensive) Friday lunchtime

    I requested that they book my flight to Sunday so I could spend the weekend there and, of course pay for my own accommodation (in a better place than the flea-pit they had booked for me)! The Sunday flight was at least half the price of the Friday one!

    Nope, not possible! Why? Because the Friday lunchtime flight meant that I would still be able to 'get to the office' before my official end of day time of 5:30! Even IF everything went to plan I reckoned the best I could do would be just after 5!

    Flight was delayed by 2 hours, made a point of going to the office anyway, signed in/out at 7:30pm. Charged them 2 hours overtime!

  70. Graham Butler

    Wasn't a penny pinching thing, just a pointless day. Back in the heady contracting days of the late 90s, I was working for a company that provided telephone switch management and logging software. We'd provide a PC with the programs on it, connect a terminal to the RS232 on the switch and link them together over the existing LAN.

    One such customer was a "leisure facility" famous for their red coats and this particular instance was in Pwhlleli, north west Wales. Basically, any further and you're in the Irish sea and onto Anglesey.

    So I drive up there with the relevant kit from Reading. It took me 6 hours thanks to flooding - this was the year Shrewsbury got badly hit - and when I get there....no BT Switch. It was a new site and they hadn't had that installed yet. So, turn around and come home it was. I actually decided to visit my girlfriend of the time, as she lived in Cardiff. It STILL took me 6 hours to get to hers because of the lack of decent roads in the middle of Wales (in retrospect I should have left the country and taken the M6 down to Bristol).

    Driving over Snowdonia was nice, though.

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