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Can’t Be Bothered To Babysit Their B&B

, , , , , , | Working | November 24, 2021

My wife and I were part of a social dance group in a large city before being transferred. Whenever we had the chance, we’d go back as we maintained good friends there.

The group had an annual weekend festival that involved dances or workshops on Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday through early afternoon. This was always a great deal of fun and, as you can imagine, tiring.

One year, I scheduled a business trip for the week before the event and arranged to fly back Sunday evening. My wife couldn’t make it so I went stag. I decided to stay in a bed and breakfast fairly near the venue.

I participated in everything through Saturday at 4:00 pm when we had a four-hour break. I was fatigued, so after I had a small meal and a shower, I took a nap. When I awoke just before 7:00, I was groggy and disoriented, explaining what happens next.

My bathroom was not connected to my room but instead was across the hall. I staggered up and went across to use it, only to realize that I had locked myself out of my room. Other than pants and a T-shirt, I had nothing and no way to get to my car key, wallet, and dancing clothes.

No problem. The hosts can help, right? I went downstairs looking for them. Not around. Luckily, there was an emergency cell number posted. The front desk was empty, so I used the landline there. No answer. I called again. No answer. I called at least ten times continually without anyone picking up.

I was going into full panic mode and was considering the cost of breaking the door in when I found that the drawers of the front desk were unlocked with bunches of unlabeled keys therein. I grabbed them all and ran back to my room. The fifth key unlocked the door and I got to the dance on time.

As I checked out the next day, I spoke to the host and told him what had happened. He said they’d been out bowling. When I asked about the phone, he said that they’d heard it ring but, quote, “We couldn’t get there in time.” He’d had it in a coat pocket near their lane but couldn’t be bothered to take it with him regardless of the number of calls he heard. 

I said a few choice words, such as “lazy,” and worse. We did not part friends, and every review I made was negative, pointing out not only the lack of service but also the lax security; I could have gone into anyone else’s room! When my wife was able to accompany me two years later, we were careful to stay somewhere else.

Has He Tried Just Asking For A Raise?

, , , , | Working | November 23, 2021

[Coworker] is always “busy” on the phone, rushing around, and staying late. He never has time to talk, and I always feel bad when I finish on time and leave him behind.

[Coworker] has a car accident and ends up bedridden. He is adamant that he wants to work from home, but the company won’t allow it. They insist that he stays home and recovers; he gets paid sick leave so he should use it.

Manager: “You are aware that [Coworker] is off sick?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manager: “Could you keep an eye on his inbox, field some of his emails?”

Me: “I guess. I mean, I don’t know what he even does.”

Manager: “I’ll authorize all overtime [Coworker] would normally do. Anything you don’t know, just ask me.”

Me: “Yeah, okay. That sounds fair.”

He also hands me [Coworker]’s phone, which is a cheap move, but I take it.

A few days later:

Manager: “How are you getting on with covering for [Coworker]?”

Me: “Fine.”

Manager: “You haven’t asked me anything. I just wanted to be sure you weren’t struggling.”

Me: “No, err, I’ve had one email so far, which was nothing, and two phone calls; both were about work I normally do and give to [Coworker].”

Manager: “Oh, okay, that’s… great, then, I guess.”

A few more weeks pass with the same story.

Manager: “[Coworker] isn’t going to be back for a while longer. Could you take a look at his report? I don’t expect you to do it. If you could just figure out who needs to help you, that would be great.”

I thumb through it. It is a massive document with all sorts of information; half of it seems totally irrelevant. It takes me a few hours, but I go back to my manager.

Manager: “How did you get on? Can you work out who you need help from?”

Me: “Huh? Oh, no. I updated it. Should be good to send.”

Manager: “How on earth? This takes [Coworker] weeks to do.”

Me: “Oh, no, it’s all information that exists on the system. Drag, drop, copy, paste. Was there anything else you needed me to look into?”

Manager: “No, that was everything on my list.”

Me: “Great, I will let you know if anything comes through via email.”

For the next month, most of the contact I get is asking for updates and information other people on the team already create and would be sending anyway. I pass them onto the right person who can give them answers straight away rather me having to figure it out from [Coworker]’s notes and databases.

[Coworker] eventually comes back and frantically wants to know what issues have happened.

Me: “Nothing has gone wrong. It’s been fine.”

Coworker: “What about [Customer]? He is always chasing for figures and hates to wait.”

Me: “[Coworker #2] has those numbers and can get them at a moment’s notice. I passed him to [Coworker #2].”

Coworker: “What about [Supplier]? Did you remember to send them the report?”

Me: “The report I have to send to you anyway? Yeah, I remembered.”

Coworker: “What about emergencies, shortages, issues?”

Me: “There haven’t been any. We’ve been fine. Don’t stress; I’ve told everyone that they need to let us know earlier so it’s not been such a big deal.”

[Coworker] clearly wasn’t happy that I had managed so well without him. Without being busy for no reason, he was able to finish on time. But it wasn’t long before he was trying to take back the reports he didn’t need to send, becoming the middleman again to justify his many long hours.

Eventually, the customers weren’t happy going back to the delays and waiting for [Coworker], so they made an official request to change it back.

[Coworker] eventually got moved to a different project where he was managed a little bit more and had an eye kept on him. I heard he was very lucky not to be disciplined. He claimed overtime frequently even when the company was struggling to pay its suppliers, so I don’t feel too bad about accidentally catching him out.

Someone Dialed 867-5309

, , , , | Right | November 24, 2021

Me: “[Company], this is Jenny.”

Caller: *Bursts into song* “Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?”

Me: “Today, you can turn to me!”

This got a big laugh, and we moved on with the transaction. The caller had no idea, but I was having an absolutely terrible day up until that point, and his song cheered me up immensely.

Annoying Times Call For Annoying Measures

, , , , , | Working | November 24, 2021

A couple of years ago, I received an email from the UK branch of an American travel agency, informing [Stranger] that her new account with them had been created successfully. I had received similar emails in the past, always addressed to [Stranger], and the last name was always different, so I suspect a bot was creating accounts in online services that don’t verify email addresses before activating accounts.

I sent [Travel Agency] an email informing them of the fact that I had not created the account and saying I would like them to remove my email address from their systems. No response, and I kept getting emails from them addressed to [Stranger], so I decided to call them.

After talking to a guy who promised to take care of the issue, nothing changed until, one day, I received a confirmation of a flight booking from, let’s say, Manchester to Amsterdam early in the morning on [date]. At least they had had the common sense to not include the entire credit card number used for the booking in the email, no doubt as a result of earlier blunder(s) featuring stolen credit card number(s) and irate customer(s).

That’s when I decided I’d had enough. I went to the site and used the “recover password” function to gain access to the account and deleted the account, after which I blocked the agency’s domain name from my email. The deletion of the account shouldn’t have affected the booking, and even if it did, it’s not my fault they didn’t take action when they had the chance, is it?

Besides, since my email address does not contain the name [Stranger] — or anything even close to it — there is no way that half a dozen [Stranger]s from the UK, all with different last names, have all accidentally entered my email in account registration forms instead of their own, so I doubt than any real [Stanger]s were harmed in the process.

I hope the aftermath caused them at least as bad a headache as their incompetence caused me.

Scammers Making Things Harder For Themselves

, , , , , | Legal | November 23, 2021

Scammers have thought up a new scheme while more and more people start working from home during the height of the current health crisis. They call people at home pretending to call from their companies’ tech support to fish for data.

I’m sitting in my home office working when my private phone line rings. I route it to my headset and answer without looking at the caller ID.

Me: “Hello?”

Scammer: “This is tech support. We’ve been compromised! Please boot up your station and follow my instructions.”

He has a heavy accent, but we hire diversely, so having an accent isn’t immediately alarming. But he didn’t say the name of our company or his own name and I don’t recognize the voice at all.

Me: “What’s your name, please?”

Scammer: “I’m [Name I’ve never heard before]. This is urgent! I’m from tech support! Get into—”

Me: *Interrupting* “No, you’re not from my company’s tech support.”

Scammer: “I assure you, miss! I am from your tech support! You’ll need t—”

Me: *Interrupting again* “No! I know for a fact you’re not! I’m our tech recruiter. We have currently exactly twelve internal tech supporters working for us and I have personally recruited every single one of them! You are none of my recruits. You don’t work for our company. Get lost.”

Scammer: *Click*

If they’d reached one of our less tech-savvy employees who had just been set up for home office, they might even have succeeded. Since we’d just gotten a lot of people into the home office, there were indeed situations where tech support had called them to smooth out bumps, so this might have slipped past one or the other, especially if they were waiting for a call back from our real tech support anyway. The employees couldn’t do much since we had pretty sharp security systems in place, so it was unlikely that the scammers could log into our workstations remotely even if they got passwords. But still, they might have gotten sensitive information concerning our clients that way, and in the end, no system is foolproof.

I immediately got to work on a new process. After running it by our head of human resources, who agreed to it, I gave all our employees exact details they now had to request for verification.

Within the day, I had all divisions answering and agreeing to the new arrangement. Our data is very sensitive and data protection is taken seriously, so there’s no one complaining. We’re well used to double- or even triple-factor logins and strenuous verification processes anyway. 

No, you won’t get anything from us, scammers! Not on my watch.