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When You Don’t Even Know What You Don’t Know

, , , , , | Friendly | June 1, 2022

We are at university. My friend is hoping to arrange an industrial placement, but the start of the academic year is looming.

Me: “Have you arranged where you’ll be staying next year?”

Friend: “No, not yet.”

Me: “What about [Landlord]?”

Friend: “No, I can’t speak to them yet as I don’t know yet.”

Me: “What about when you do know?”

Friend: “Well, I don’t know when I’ll know, so I can’t say whether or not I’ll know.”

Me: “That’s a lot of ignorance.”

Friend: “There’s not a lot I can do about that.”

Me: “I know.”

Friend: “I don’t.”

Me: “I know.”

Friend: “Wah!”

A few months later

Me: “I mentioned that conversation about ‘That’s a lot of ignorance’ to [His Housemate]. He said it was very like you.”

Friend: “Well, yes, that’s because it was me.”

Bad Management Can Be Taxing

, , , , , , | Working | April 8, 2022

I used to work doing customer service for one of the biggest UK banks. Despite presenting themselves as an equal-opportunity bank where there were promotion opportunities aplenty, favouritism was rampant. Even though I had been there for over three years, I was still stuck on the phones in one of the lowest positions. I kept seeing people with way less experience getting new jobs or promotions because they were friends or drinking buddies with the right people.

My manager was particularly bad. Any time I would have a secondment or a new opportunity, she would inevitably get it cancelled or find a way to get me back on the phones because we needed “all hands on deck.” I kept getting a spiel about how vital I was to the team and what a great employee I was. In other words, she wanted me to be her lackey with no pay raise.

At this point, I was seriously thinking of leaving. One day, I noticed my pay was massively lower than usual with a HUGE amount of tax taken out, so I immediately called our payroll department.

Advisor: “Hello, payroll, [Advisor] speaking. How may I help?”

Me: “Oh, hi. I think there’s been an error with my paycheque this month. Can you take a look, please?”

Advisor: “Can I take your employee ID, please?”

Me: “It’s [employee number].”

Advisor: “Oh, yes.” *Laughs* “I remember this one. We put you on the wrong tax code and we had to change it, so now you are taxed more each paycheque.”

Me: “Sorry… What? That’s not possible. I gave you all the correct information when I started!”

Advisor: “Well, we accidentally put you on a code where you earn very little tax, but now we’ve changed it back. Just to advise, as well… you might have a little tax bill coming, too!”


Advisor: “Look, I’m sorry, but you paid too little tax. You should have paid attention to your pay each month. I’m sorry, but this one isn’t our fault! You’ll need to speak to the Inland Revenue!”

Me: “You just told me you ‘accidentally’ put me on the wrong code! So, doesn’t that mean this is your department’s fault?”

There was a long silence and the guy seemed to realize he’d put his foot in it! 

Advisor: “There’s nothing more we can do here. Call the tax people. Goodbye!”

He hurriedly put the phone down and ended the call. I called the tax people to find out that I owed over 700 POUNDS! I had just moved into a new apartment and needed the money, so this was immensely stressful and meant that I would have almost zero money to spend for months! Naturally, I was furious, but when I spoke to my manager and asked how to file a complaint about this, she just brushed it off and said, “Tough luck,” and that I “should’ve paid more attention.”

This was the last straw. I stepped up my job search and thankfully was able to find a new position soon after. My manager was very disappointed that I was leaving because she realized that she had lost her servant and now she’d have to actually do her own work. In my exit interview, I was quick to point out the issue I had and that there might be other employees that payroll had done the same thing to. The Human Resources person didn’t look amused to hear this and said they would keep an eye out. 

Thankfully, now, I have found a better career where I am appreciated. However, I did have tax issues for several months afterward which took numerous phone calls to solve!

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | January 14, 2022

Back in the 1990s, my IT college tutor was regaling the class with a story about his time working on a helpdesk for his old company.

One client, in particular, kept phoning to complain that he couldn’t get the floppy disks to work. At the time, the huge 5.25-inch actually-floppy floppies were the height of sophistication.

After taking several calls about the same issue, sending and resending batches of the disks to the client, and being unable to make any sense of it, my tutor got permission to visit the client and try to work out what was going on.

When he got there, he asked the client to show him what he was doing when the issue occurred.

To his utter amazement, the client took a brand-new disk from the packet, proceeded to peel the thick protective cover off the disk, and then try to insert the round, thin, magnetic storage part into the drive.

Apparently, the client had wondered why there was so much “packaging” around the disk, and on pulling one apart the first time, decided that the magnetic storage looked so fragile that the additional “packaging” made sense.

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy

A Sign Of Being Bad With Money

, , , , | Right | April 4, 2021

In the days before chip-and-pin, let alone contactless payment, I’m working as counter staff at a major bank in one of our city-centre branches. 

A customer with an account with counter service comes in and wants to withdraw some money over the counter. He’s followed all the rules thus far, and he hands over his card. This is where things go south.

Me: “Sir, this card isn’t signed.”

Customer: “Yes, that’s right. I don’t want other people to be able to use it.”

Me: “Pardon?”

Customer: “Yeah, if I don’t sign it, they can’t copy my signature, and then they can’t pay with it as the signature will be wrong!”

Me: “O… kay, but how will they know it’s wrong without the signature on the card to compare it to?”

Customer: “Because it will not match the one I have on file with [Bank]!”

Me: “Sir, you do realise that we don’t keep your signature on file? That’s not how card security works!”

Customer: “That’s horribly unsafe! Give me my card back!”

Me: “I’ll need to see some ID first.”

Customer: “Why?”

Me: “This could be anyone’s card, since it isn’t signed. I have no way to tell it’s yours.”

Customer: “Here!”

The customer signs his signature on the back of a deposit slip.

Customer: “There, that will match the signature on my file. Look it up on your computer.”

Me: “Sir, again, we don’t have your signature on file. That’s why this is very unsafe and a major fraud risk. I can compare this to the signature on your card, or I can compare your card to any class one ID.”

Customer: “Just look it up on your computer.”

Me: “Sir, I don’t know how else to explain this to you. It doesn’t work that way. Banks, shops, anyone really, will only ever compare your signature to the one on your card. Doesn’t matter where you go or who you bank with. If you don’t sign the card, anyone can find it, sign it, and then freely use it without being questioned.”

Customer: “Well, that’s not right!”

The customer pulls out a driving licence. Thankfully, it’s a newer photo-ID one.

Me: “Very well, sir, here is your card. I can’t do anything with it, though, unless you sign it!”

The customer signs his card and we complete his transactions. On his way out, he evidently wants the last word.

Customer: “I’m going to complain about this! I can’t believe how insecure this is!”

After he stormed out, my supervisor popped her head over and commended my remaining calm. Seems some people are just idiots!

The Fates Aligned To Bring You Dinner Twice

, , , , , | Working | December 2, 2020

It’s a Tuesday night and my husband and I don’t feel like cooking, so we order fish and chips for delivery from a local place via a well-known app. We pay on the app as normal and get a delivery estimate for around an hour’s time.

About fifteen minutes before our delivery estimate, a car pulls up and a delivery driver with a bag of food knocks on our door, hands my husband the bag, and asks for cash payment.

Husband: “But… we paid on the app.”

There have been some power cuts in the local area. Our house has been mostly unaffected, apart from some flickering lights but social media has been awash with people complaining of having no power at all, so it doesn’t seem unusual when the delivery driver explains.

Driver: “Actually, the app’s payment system is down because of the power cuts, so you’ll have to pay in cash. But don’t worry; in the event that you are double-charged, you can simply come down to the shop and we’ll refund us the cash.”

He even hands us the delivery note with our order details and the price to pay so we’ll have something in the way of evidence if we need it. It doesn’t occur to us to check the items on the receipt, as the price sounds about right, so we pay the cash and take the food inside, looking forward to our cheeky mid-week treat.

As we begin to unpack the food, it becomes clear that this isn’t our order. Not even close. My husband jumps straight on the phone with the restaurant to explain that our order must have been mixed up and we’ve received someone else’s food. I only hear one side of the conversation, but it’s clear that there’s a lot of confusion while the restaurant and my husband try to figure out what’s gone wrong and where our food is.

It’s then that I start looking at the food we’ve received, along with the bill the delivery driver handed us, and I’m pretty sure some of this food isn’t even on the menu of the place we ordered from. From what I can glean from my husband’s side of the phone conversation, it sounds like they haven’t even sent our order yet so the restaurant can’t understand what food we’ve received.

I start looking through the bags and the receipt to find anything that confirms the name of the restaurant this food has come from, but there is nothing. I whisper my suspicions to my husband, but he seems to have reached the same conclusion as me; this food hasn’t come from the place we’ve actually ordered from. He makes his apologies and hangs up with the restaurant.

It then dawns on us that we’ve been victims of the strangest series of coincidences we’ve ever experienced: on a day and time when we so happen to be expecting a food delivery, a completely separate fish and chip shop mistakenly writes our address on a food order made by someone else, where the bill came to roughly the same amount as what we’d ordered, at a time when there was a plausible explanation as to why online payments were failing.

Our actual takeaway arrived around twenty minutes later — exactly as we’d ordered it — and we ate it in confusion surrounded by food that we didn’t order, and didn’t want, but had still somehow paid for, with no way of knowing where it had come from so we could ask for our money back!

We tried for a while cross-checking the items on the receipt with other restaurants on the app but couldn’t find anywhere with the same menu items at the same prices as what we’d received ,and the few plausible restaurants that we called up denied any such order. Reaching out to the app’s customer service was futile, too, since we’d paid in cash, had no order number, and couldn’t even tell them what restaurant had sent the food! We’ve since written off the extra money we spent on our second, unwanted takeaway that night, but at least we’ve got a great, albeit confusing, story to tell!