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 porn. 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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