Ever suffered a "Bait and Switch"?



  • About a month ago I received a job offer from a web software company.  I had interviewed with them, and the position as it was explained to me was ASP.NET and VB.NET.  They seemed like a great company, and although what they offered was a bit less than what I had made previously, I accepted their offer.

    Surprise, surprise I turned up the first day to discover the following:

    1) In this small company of about 100 people, there were over 60 "developers" (and I use the term loosely, as most of them seemed like hacks) as well as a horde of DBAs, Systems Analysts and QA Analysts.  There were rigid processes to put anything into production, that usually resulted in it going through many levels of "testing", with even minor nitpicks requiring the whole thing to be thrown out.  Despite the owner claiming to have software experience (in VB3 or something, I think, which should say it all), the company gave the impression of being someone's lame attempt to get rich despite having no idea how to run a software company (and the sad part is, they do really good business.  What is it with shitty companies always doing well instead of going bankrupt like they should??)

    2) 95% of the application was written in Classic ASP and had to be maintained as such.  I'm talking HUGE classic asp application, with 13,000+ asp files (I actually posted a snippet from it here a while back).  Blatant mixing of logic and presentation, some required functions buried inside of unrelated include files.  Javascript inside of ASP files instead of JS files, copy-n-pasted logic everywhere.  It would make some of the WTFs here look like shining examples of proper code.  All in all, horrible, stinking, rotting code that could never be modified or properly rewritten since it would take too long.  I have pretty much zero experience with Classic ASP - I played around with it years ago in school, and despised it.  Plus I have no interest in fucking around with legacy shit that will hurt my longterm career.

    Needless to say, I was pissed that I got conned into the job, when the interviewers explained to me that it was mostly ASP.NET (I specifically asked about it).  I figure they told people that because, if they mentioned what it really was, they'd never hire anybody!  I quit the end of my first week in disgust.  Anyone else ever have shit like that happen, and if so what did you do about it? 



  • I've had it happen a couple of times. In 2 cases, the manager flagrantly lied in response to some of my direct questions (How hard is it to get equipment? How is it to deal with the support teams (SA, DBA, etc)? Is there a rigid or flexible release process? What is it? What tools and technologies are used? What are the project's/department's plans for the next year? 2? 5?). 


    In the first case where the manager had lied, I stayed because the place had potential, and in theory, my job was to be the instrument of that change. Big mistake, as the beaurocracy didn't have the stomach for change, and I got laid off after a year because "We just don't want to try these new technologies; it's too much work to change everything".

    In the other place, it was a very small company, and it turned out that one technology (unknown, unsupported, non-standard, no user groups) that they said they used in only a small part of the application turned out to be their entire underpinnings. It was clearly on a collision course with reality, and I quit after a month (if you know you are on the Titanic and you see the iceberg looming large, do you run for the presently empty lifeboats, or wait for the rush after the collision?)

    In several of the other jobs I've had over the years, it was the usual corporate ins and outs, but invariably the job changed after 3 months due to the usual corporate shifting of priorities and restructurings.

    I've learned to walk away from corporate wide stupidity, but to accept seemingly random changes in direction/responsibilities; it just seems to be the nature of the beast.




  • I'm afraid this happens all too often. Interviewers want to present their company as a state-of-the-art butt-kicking bunch of high-professionals, so they only talk about the latest and greatest technology the company allegedly uses. Of course it's not only to trick good people into bad jobs - they want the company to look good (so you don't walk around and tell everyone and his mother how backwards the company is) and they want to hire people who know those latest and greatest technologies, so the company can eventually switch to those.



  • Man, how fuckin' arrogant of you to expect to do work with current technology!  And how in only one week were you able to judge that the whole shop was full of hacks?

    But this happens all the time in I.T. --   the bait and switch.



  • @TunnelRat said:

    Man, how fuckin' arrogant of you to expect to do work with current technology!  And how in only one week were you able to judge that the whole shop was full of hacks?

    But this happens all the time in I.T. --   the bait and switch.

    Yah, I figured you'd sympathize.  how was I able to judge?  Just by the way they acted and talked.. it sounded like none of them knew shit about software.  As if the code wasn't evidence enough 



  • Hah!

     Just keep doing what you doing.
     



  • @TheRubyWarlock said:

    ...  There were rigid processes to put anything into production, that usually resulted in it going through many levels of "testing", with even minor nitpicks requiring the whole thing to be thrown out.  ....  What is it with shitty companies always doing well instead of going bankrupt like they should??)

    I think this is a case of someone knowing more about software development than you do.  This is what makes software companies successful when they grow larger than a handful of people.  Testing and following processes.  Everything else is an unrepeatable hack.

    How would you run the show?



  • @LoztInSpace said:

    How would you run the show?

     For starters, use some real development methodologies to avoid huge amounts of files with repeated code, that aren't structured properly but mix business logic, data access logic and HTML.  Second, I wouldn't have 50 developers if I have a small company - ever hear of the old saying, Too many cooks spoils the broth?  Then have an actual upgrade path that didn't involve hacking away at a huge, rotting codebase that's never been refactored by anyone who seemed to have even a passing familiarity with common software concepts.
     



  • I agree that it might have looked bad, and even though it would have taken time, they might have had hopes (and using your expertise) to eventually bring it up to ASP.Net. I know you described the company as a bunch of dinosaurs, but I can tell you from personal experience that things might have changed if you stayed a bit longer (or not). Every company has legacy applications around and sometimes it is harder for some smaller companies to push forward and also support those applications with their userbase. As far as the application layout, it would have done you more good than bad to make sugguestions concerning this fact. It may be simple to you (and most people on this site), but people inside that company probably have limited knowlege about actual application design patterns and got in a hurry to make something that "just works" (somewhat). In a few months you could have turned what they had into a more structured (and maintainable) application that could be easily ported to ASP.Net. I guess we'll never know.



  • @pitchingchris said:

    In a few months you could have turned what they had into a more structured (and maintainable) application that could be easily ported to ASP.Net. I guess we'll never know.

    I agree with most of your post, but I disagree with this last bit.  The farthest he could get in a few months is a start.  Turning the entire application into something maintainable would take 6 months to a year, and would have to go through the aforementioned testing process which (for the complete overhaul) might take another 6 months.  My impression of "a few months" is 3-4 months, so maybe you meant something different by "a few months" than what I interpreted.

    I am not opposed to TheRubyWarlock quitting that job after one week, especially if it was not his only offer.  I've started jobs that I should have quit the first week because I was still waiting on offers from other (and got them during that first week). 



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @pitchingchris said:

    In a few months you could have turned what they had into a more structured (and maintainable) application that could be easily ported to ASP.Net. I guess we'll never know.

    I agree with most of your post, but I disagree with this last bit.  The farthest he could get in a few months is a start.  Turning the entire application into something maintainable would take 6 months to a year, and would have to go through the aforementioned testing process which (for the complete overhaul) might take another 6 months.

    It might take even longer than that. Without knowing the application, it's dangerous to make guesses. At least when someone nails you down on your "estimation". 



  • A total rewrite would never have happened (I asked if there were plans to rewrite it):  They had to keep the older versions for certain clients who didn't want to pay for the "new features" added to the later versions, so they had about four different versions of the same Classic ASP site, some with extra features and some without, and all of them needed to be kept maintained (and, as I found out my third day, sometimes you had to add something to one version, and not add it to the other version).  New functionality was, they said, done in ASP.NET but that was A) added on top of the Classic ASP, not replacing, and B) only the latest and greatest version of the program.

    The main reason I quit in a week is because I don't know Classic ASP very well at all and  I had no interest in wallowing my career away working with legacy things with no chance of it being reworked.   



  • Yep, it happened to me once quite dramatically.  My experience is in a particular non-Windows, non-Linux platform, so I was looking for a new job in my expertise area.  Got an offer from across the country that was interesting:  paid relocation, good salary, the job would be system manager for several large, brand new machines.  I accepted and moved.  When I arrived, I discovered that the machines weren't there.  They promised they'd be delivered soon.  Meanwhile, you can help us with this B2B website.  No problem, says I.

    Months go by with no new machines.  I can't even do management of the old ones because the guy who interviewed and hired me can't let go enough to let me touch them.  So I spend my time doing miscellaneous Linux and Windows management tasks, helping to redesign the B2B site, and surfing the web.  It becomes apparent to me that the company is doing one thing (the B2B website and sales) and claiming to do another (developing this gargantuan internet crawler data gathering thing which was supposed to run on the large machines I was supposed to manage which we didn't have).  They suckered not just me, but some venture capitalists also because they were always going to meetings to get more money using that huge R&D project as the honeyppot.)

    I got fed up and quit after about seven months.  The huge R&D thing apparently never came to be - at least the company went out of business a few months after I left.  (Problem getting my W2 at the end of the year from a non-existent company!)


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