Not A Picture Perfect Way To Advertise

| Right | March 11, 2015

(I’m new a programmer at a company that sells high end hardware for scanning, printing and capturing images. This is back in the DOS days, before it was common to do that. We have written a utility to convert images between different formats, to display them on PCs. This was also before the Internet has really taken off.)

Me: “[Company]. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Yeah. I was wondering where I can get some more pictures.”

Me: “Pictures? Do you mean you’re looking to purchase a scanner? I can transfer you to a salesperson.”

Caller: “No. I’m looking for some more pictures. Like I found on the BBS.”

Me: “BBS? I’m not sure what BBS you’re talking about? Our company doesn’t run a BBS.”

Caller: “I downloaded these pictures, and this phone number is on a bunch of them.”

Me: “I’m afraid I don’t know what pictures you’re talking about.”

Caller: “So, you don’t have any more pictures?”

Me: “Hang on. Let me ask around. I’ll see if anyone knows what you’re talking about.

(I put him on hold and walk across the hall to a coworker’s office.)

Me: “I’ve got this guy on hold who’s asking about more pictures, like he downloaded from a BBS. Do you know what he’s talking about?”

Coworker: *sighs and shakes his head* “That’s him on line one? *picks up the phone* “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t have any more pictures. No, sir, we actually have nothing to do with them. Yes, I’m sure. Goodbye.”

Coworker: *to me* “A couple of years ago, someone negotiated with [Company Owner] for a free copy of our image conversion utility. In exchange, the guy agreed to put our phone number on every picture he converted with our software. Unfortunately, [Company Owner] had not bothered to ask what kind of pictures he was converting. It turned out, this guy runs one of the largest BBS systems in the country, filled with p*rn. Over the years, we’ve gotten calls from as far away as South Africa looking for more pictures of naked women.”

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