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Influencer Dads Are The New Pageant Moms

, , , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: EstamelTharchon | November 15, 2022

I’m a developer at a marketing agency. Our biggest client is [Bank]. Apparently, banks in our area have a huge thing for raffles, giveaways, and similar marketing tricks to get new accounts opened. Better yet, they are constantly trying to one-up each other, which is great for marketing/developer agencies like ours.

We present them with an idea for their next big thing.

  • We get twenty young influencers to take photos of themselves with some bank cards and stuff. All of them will be some small-scale school-age influencers paid a symbolic amount of money.
  • I create an Instagram clone where people vote for their favorite photo. Each week, a new set of photos opens up, and voting starts again, for a total of eight weeks.
  • Everyone who participates in voting enters a raffle, and the influencer with the most votes gets a reward: a top-of-the-line newest smartphone. That’s a lot for a kid their age, so we expect them to go rabid and get as many people as possible to vote for them and possibly open up a bank account to get those extra raffle tickets.

I am the sole developer for this job, which means I have the opportunity to take out the fanciest tools in my toolbox. I am quite proud of the end product. It is done on time and on budget, it’s well tested, and it can handle tons of traffic.

Then, the campaign goes live. Voting starts, traffic exceeds our expectations, and everything on my side is working great.

On the second day of the campaign, an eighteen-year-old Influencer Girl gets a massive spike in vote count during a one-hour period. Immediately after, we get our mail flooded with cheating accusations from another participant’s dad. This kid is a fourteen-year-old boy with a Very Important Dad who’s somehow involved in politics and completely obsessed with his son’s social media career.

The Very Important Dad starts threatening us in every possible way he can, including negative social media posts, complaining to [Bank], boycotting the campaign by getting other participants on board, and somehow threatening legal action. In the same email, he mentions at least three times how his son is a huge social media personality, how we should be lucky to even have him in the game, how he didn’t even want to participate in such a small-scale event, and just how impossible it is for him to receive fewer votes than Influencer Girl.

At [Agency] and [Bank] marketing department, it’s all hands on deck. While the rest are figuring out if there’s any exposure and how to deal with Very Important Dad, it’s my job to find out if Influencer Girl cheated and to get proof.

While the security was done right, auditing and logs are inadequate for this investigation. Server access logs contain IP addresses and such but contain no information that would allow me to connect HTTP requests to actual users and who they voted for. Authentication is done either via Google SSO, Facebook SSO, or SMS code verification. Database records are consistent, so I end up browsing through the SSO data, trying to spot any sign of multiple dummy Google or Facebook accounts being created just to vote for Influencer Girl.

The best proof I can come up with is the ratio between different authentication methods. If Influencer Girl cheated, the makeup of the accounts that voted for her would be different from the rest of the accounts. In layman’s terms, if the app had 40% of users registered via Google, 35% via Facebook, and 25% via SMS, and the accounts that voted for her had the same ratio — or at least, not different enough for any statistical significance — it would 99% prove that she did not cheat. If she cheated, she would have to know the ratio to fake it.

Although, she could devise an elaborate plan to get the data from another website with a similar target audience, buy hundreds of burner phones, and create thousands of Google and FB accounts, all to get that main reward — a phone. That’s “a most likely explanation” according to Very Important Dad.

The people at [Bank] do not quite understand the mathematics, so my investigation fails to reach any conclusions. So, they do the obvious. A lawyer from [Bank] calls Influencer Girl to ask her how she got those votes. It turns out she is an animator and went to a college party where she picked up the mic and told everyone to vote for her. She then signs a statement that this is true.

For the remaining weeks, we stall Very Important Dad, telling him that the investigation is in progress and that we cannot give him more information without violating our privacy policy. Meanwhile, he has his friends post conspiracy theories on social media and other weird comments on [Bank] and [Agency] pages.

In the end, the campaign exceeds all KPIs, some by a factor of ten, and would be considered a massive success were it not for the accusations of cheating. It puts a strain on our relationship with [Bank] and we receive no future projects like this from them. Eventually, they pull all their work.

Don’t Lie To Tech Support

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: SyphonxZA | November 14, 2022

At my previous job, I worked on the business support desk. One of the products we offered was a SIM/data management service. Basically, you would buy a block of data — say 100GB per month — and however many SIM cards you needed, and then you could assign data to SIM cards as needed via the customer portal. We weren’t the actual cellular network provider; we just sold data and SIMs on their network.

We would often receive tickets regarding SIM cards not working. Ninety percent of the time, it was a configuration issue; you needed to use the correct APN (Access Point Name) to connect. Other issues were signal problems and faulty devices, not the SIM cards themselves; they don’t just suddenly become faulty, bar the odd dud one from the factory.

On this particular day, I received an urgent ticket first thing in the morning about a SIM that was offline and not reachable. The tech who logged it was very insistent that this was an urgent issue and wanted constant updates. I checked our portal and could see that the SIM still had data assigned, so it was not a simple issue of running out of the assigned data.

Our first response in this sort of situation was to have the user check the physical SIM — take it out and reinsert it — and confirm that the correct APN was in use. Our terms and conditions firmly state that this is the user’s responsibility, as the SIM could be anywhere in the country.

Not long after I asked the above, the tech responded:

Tech: “The checks have been done. Can I get an ETA on a resolution for this?”

I was pretty sure that they were lying and had not checked anything — I get a sixth sense about these things — but I had no proof.

At this point, our next option was to have the cellular network provider check the SIM, which takes at least a few hours. With the tech continuing to hound me, I ended up escalating the call with the provider, who confirmed that there were no issues in the area and that the SIM was offline.

By now, it was mid-afternoon and I was getting very annoyed with how the tech kept asking for escalations and time estimates when I knew they were lying about performing the requested checks from their side.

If they had done the checks, this would mean that the SIM card just failed after working for months; that just doesn’t happen.

I decided that it was time to comply with the tech’s request to expedite the issue. I drafted an email confirming:

  • The tech had performed the requested checks.
  • The cellular network could not find any issues.
  • The SIM had sufficient data available.
  • The next step was a SIM swap, which I would ensure was done immediately.

As soon as the email was sent, I called the individual responsible for SIM swaps. By the end of the call, the swap was complete. For those that don’t know, a SIM swap is irreversible and renders the old SIM completely unusable. It might TECHNICALLY be possible, but this was not something we offered; the network provider didn’t allow it.

Shortly after, the tech’s manager got involved.

Manager: “Please postpone the SIM swap; we want to check the device onsite.”

This confirmed my suspicion that this had never been done.

Me: “[Tech] informed us that all onsite checks were done already, and we expedited the SIM swap due to his insistence.”

It turned out that the SIM was in some networking equipment in a mine in a remote province of the country. The tech’s company now had to send someone to our office to pick up the new SIM and then drive all the way to a remote mine to replace it — potentially a two-day job.

I am not sure if the tech received any disciplinary action, but he never asked to escalate a SIM issue ever again. There was no fallout for us as we were covered by the terms and conditions.

This Is Why People Stereotype Car Salesmen

, , , , , , | Working | November 13, 2022

I didn’t buy my first car until after I graduated college in the mid-2010s. I was in a situation where I had the cash to buy a decent used one. I’d done some research online and found a local small dealership that had a car I thought was decent — a 2001 Dodge Intrepid — and asked my dad to come along because I’m no car expert.

When we arrived at the dealership, the owner started talking about the car and showing it to us, and then he allowed us to take a test drive. I got in, put the key in the ignition, and started it up. Immediately, my dad and I both heard something off.

Dad: *Glancing at the owner* “That doesn’t sound good. It sounds like there’s an issue with the timing belt or chain.”

Neither of us knew for sure if it was a timing belt or chain on this specific model, and it was in a spot that you basically had to take the engine apart to see, so we couldn’t verify even after opening the hood.

Owner: “Oh, we just got it. The woman who we got it from assured us that the timing belt was just replaced. It’s fine.”

Both my dad and I were wary, but we took it on a test drive and everything went fine. We negotiated with the guy, and I wrote him a check and drove the car home. I liked it a lot; for my first car, it wasn’t bad even for its age, and it suited my needs at the time. 

Exactly a month after I bought it, I was dropping my mom off at work before I went to work one morning and the car just died. No alerts, warnings, or lights, just flat dead. I’d just barely started the turn into the parking lot where she works, so I popped it into neutral and managed to get it into guest parking.

I called my dad, who drove me to work and helped arrange things with a tow truck so that we could get the car back to the dealer. The dealership also had a small shop, and when I bought the car, part of the deal was that if anything happened, the owner wouldn’t charge me for labor.

It took a couple of days and he reached out to me.

Owner: “It looks like your timing chain essentially disintegrated. I can try and fix it, but since I’m not charging you, this could take a while.”

Me: “What kind of time frame, and what are you thinking is going to be the process to fix it?”

Owner: “I’m going to have to see if I can find a new chain and get that on there.”

I went to a friend who happened to own a mechanic shop and asked their opinion on the situation.

Friend: “It’s not going to be cheap, but your best bet is going to be a new engine. Honestly, on a car that old, I’d see what you can get for it and just wash your hands of it. Unfortunately, you’re going to end up putting more into it than you paid, and with the way he brushed off your questions initially, I’d be worried about what else could potentially be wrong that they either didn’t verify or didn’t bother to fix.”

I ended up reaching out to a junk place and sold them the car for like $150. In the interim of getting that handled, I went to an actual car dealership and got a different used car. When I showed up to transfer stuff to the junk people, the dealership owner then tried to convince me to buy another car from him. I just told him I’d gotten my car situation handled and left.

CopyWrong, Part 3

, , , , , | Right | November 13, 2022

My dad put me in touch with an old friend who’d just written a book, which needed some illustrations. Working with him was very casual so, because I was a naive college graduate, I didn’t make him sign a contract. The topic of copyrights didn’t come up at all until he brought me the first draft of the printed book. I was excited to see my name as the illustrator, but my name — and my copyright — was nowhere to be found.

Me: “I think you made a mistake here. It says you own the copyrights to my illustrations.”

Client: “Oh, no. I purchased the copyright when I paid you.”

Me: “No, you didn’t.”

Client: “Yes, I did. We talked about this.”

Me: “No, we didn’t. Ever.”

Client: “Oh. Well, it must have been because I was so sick recently. But they are mine, anyway.”

I argued with him for days that, as the artist, I maintained copyright privileges and that I just wanted the right to be able to display my work in my portfolio online, but he was paranoid about it. I think he thought that if people could see the pictures on my website, then no one would buy his book. Finally, we agreed that I would sign away the copyright on the condition that I could use the illustrations on social media to promote my work.

A week later, I get a threatening letter from a lawyer saying [Client] would sue me if he saw any of those illustrations on said social media. I didn’t have the money to try and see if I could call his bluff or if he really meant it, so I took everything down. I did over sixty drawings for that man, and my name and credit didn’t end up anywhere in the final printing.

CopyWrong, Part 2

Timing, Like Their Dogs’ Health, Is Not A Priority For Them

, , , , , | Right | November 12, 2022

I’m the manager of a pet grooming salon for a corporate chain. Our setup is annoying only because the outside wall (facing the parking lot) is all glass, as is the inside wall (facing the inside of the store). We also have both an internal and external door.

I have a pet parent with two dogs who’s a no-show. After ten minutes or so, we call to see if they are on the way. As it’s a packed day, we warn them that we might have to reschedule them.

We try to be understanding that we have three stores within fifteen minutes of each other and sometimes people go to the wrong store.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] from [Pet Chain]. I had Fluffy and Fido for a 10:00 am appointment. I was just wondering if you were still on the way and running late or needed to reschedule?”

Pet Parent: “Oh! I’m on the way! We went to [Location ten minutes from us]; that’s normally where we go, but they were booked out six weeks, so we forgot we booked with you!”

Me: “I understand; it happens. You should be only ten minutes away, so as long as you can get here by 10:30, I can still get your pups handled. It might take me a little longer, as they’re going to bump into my next appointment due to being late.”

Pet Parent: “That’s fine. We’ll be there in five to ten minutes at most. Thanks.” *Click*

I go about preparing for them to try to make sure I can keep my day on track. At 10:30, they still haven’t arrived. I call and get no reply.

At 10:35, the phone rings and it’s the pet parent.

Pet Parent: “Hi! We are almost there! You can still do my dogs, right? I’m not sure how you expected me to be there by 10:30 when I was coming from [Location thirty minutes away]! I’ll be there in two to three more minutes!”

Me: “I’m so sorry, but I was very clear about you needing to be here by 10:30. It’s now 10:35 and you’re not here. You said you were coming from [Closer Location]; otherwise, I would have warned you that you wouldn’t be here in time. I can do one dog still, but I can’t do both. I suggest that you reschedule a day that works better for you, or you can have me just do one today and the second tomorrow at [time].”

Pet Parent: “This is stupid! I went to the wrong store! There is no f****** way I could make it there! This is horrible! My dogs need this! They’re so bad they look homeless!”

She did not disclose that they were matted when asked when booking.

Pet Parent: “I’ll be right in!”

Me: “Ma’am, if they are matted, I will absolutely need to reschedule you. As advised when you booked, we need extra time so we can take the care and time needed for the safety of your dog.”

Pet Parent: “This f****** b**—” *Click*

I think this is the end of it, but no. At 10:45, she comes in with severely matted dogs. I feel insanely bad for them, and I would take care of them if it wouldn’t cause issues for me and my other clients who didn’t lie to me and showed up on time.

Pet Parent: “I spoke with someone on the phone. They know I went to the wrong store and said they could still—”

I cut her off. I’m not trying to be rude, but I see where she’s going already.

Me: “That was me; I’m the only one working today. And yes, I spoke with you and advised you that I could only do your dogs if they got here by 10:30, and when you called back, I advised you that I could no longer do them. I can reschedule them, but I am due for another client in fifteen minutes, and it would be unfair to them to take your dogs in now. Plus, you did not tell us when asked originally that the dogs are this matted; we have to reschedule them so we can take the time and care needed for their safety and health.”

This leads to her blowing up and stomping out after a short back and forth about going to the wrong store (not my fault) and about how there was no way to get to our store in time from that other store (still not my fault).

She calls back right at 11:00. She’s in the parking lot staring at me and clearly sees that no one else has come in yet.

Pet Parent: “Did they show up?”

I slowly turn to look at her in the parking lot. I lie.

Me: “Yes.”

She hung up without saying anything else. She then sat in the parking lot for the next hour, staring into the salon, at some point pulling out some fast-food French fries and feeding them to the dogs as she waited. She waited until she saw both my 11:00 (who came in at like 11:02) and 12:00 appointments show up before she tore out of the parking lot.

I felt horrible for her dogs, but giving in would have only led to her pulling that stunt again. For the sake of my staff, I had to stay firm on what I said so next time she hopefully respects her groomer better.