When penny pinching gets really annoying...



  • In the 1990s I worked in a small software company writing software for a very specialized market.

    The company had a bookkeeper who thought of himself as the CFO. He kept a very tight hold on anything that cost money (except our time, which he obviously thought was free!). He even had the stationery cupboard in his office, and every item extracted required justification.

    A lot of systems had been upgraded from custom hardware to networked PCs, and as usual with these things the code wasn't really ready to be shipped when the upgrades were done.  This meant that support calls were un-ending and the users were not best pleased.

    Never mind - we finally got the software in much better shape and started shipping it out to the users as quickly as we could do so. 

    After making a couple of sets of upgrade discs (probably something like six or seven 5.25" discs in each set) I ran out of discs. And of course, the discs were kept in the stationery cupboard...

    So, in I go:

    Me: "I need a couple more boxes of discs please"
    Bookkeeper: "I gave you some last week"
    Me: "I know, but I used them and I need more"
    Bookkeeper: "Well they're expensive, you'll just have to do without"
    Me: "But I'm making software updates to send out to all the customers and I will need loads of discs"
    Bookkeeper: "Well you'll have to find a way to do it without using lots of discs - it's a waste of money"
    Me: "...?"
    Bookeeper: "Hang on, what do the customers do with the discs after they have installed the upgrade?"
    Me: "The should just hang on to them in case we need them to reinstall the code."
    Bookkeeper: "I know, send a set out to the first customer, and get them to send them back when they are done. Then you can send them to the next customer etc.!"
    Me: "Erm, firstly with nearly a hundred customers that's going to take about a year to do; and secondly do you really expect me to explain to a customer who has paid £7000 for a set of software that he needs to send the discs back to save us about £20 ?"


    After about half an hour of arguing he finally relented and gave me more discs - but with the parting comment of "It's the last time I want to have to do this - you will need to find a better way next time!"



  • Oh dear God I'd have hit him or something. Such idiocy needs to be punished. I'd probalby have gone to the manager and told him shipment has been delayed by the bloody idiot and got him the telling off heso obvioulsy deserves!



  • When I first started at my current company (nearly 10 years ago) I was handed an office supply catalog and told to fill out an order form for the stuff I needed.  Typical office stuff - scissors, stapler, tape dispenser, "in-out" trays, etc.  3 weeks later they unloaded a pile of tape and dispenser, some post-it notes and some cheap Bic pens on my desk.  Everything else was declined for budgetary and/or "need" reasons - why would someone need scissors?

    I subsequently inherited my own stapler and scissors from outbound employees.  They come in handy, particularly for lording it over poor newbs who don't have their own scissors...  🙂

    Oh, and you can't imagine the pain I went through to get a permanent marker...

    They now stock most of this stuff in the copy room...  Except scissors.  They're still rare as hen's teeth around here.



  • Back around '88 I worked for a company that had a network group who were much in demand. But due to the nature of their work, no one could ever find them.

    So they requested pagers (this was a government contract, so every purchase was an adventure in paperwork); word came back that no, they were too expensive, so they'd just have to make do.

    A year later, an admin approached the team lead and the following conversation ensued:

    admin: "Do you want to renew your pager contract?"
    lead: "What pager contract?"
    a: "The contract for service for your pagers - it's up for renewal"
    l: "But we don't have pagers"
    a: "You don't?"
    l: "No, they were too expensive"
    a: "But you have pager service"
    l: "... but no pagers"
    a: <Thumbs through file> "Oh. The *pagers* were too expensive. The *service* wasn't."

     



  • In '98 or so, I was working for a military contractor in the desert southwest.   It was a small company, on small plot of land about 20 miles outside of town.  They housed a lot of us in large metal office trailers.

    In the desert.

    They were brutally hot in the summer, and for the life of them they just would not buy more than one tiny little $100 air conditioner per trailer.  It was baffling and smelly.

    -cw



  • They housed a lot of us in large metal office trailers.

    In the desert.

    Were they white?
    Being white *really* helps a lot in staving off sun's heat.


  • @CodeWhisperer said:


    In '98 or so, I was working for a military contractor in the desert southwest.   It was a small company, on small plot of land about 20 miles outside of town.  They housed a lot of us in large metal office trailers.

    In the desert.

    They had obviously read a pre-release of Cryptonomicon, and were following Avi's plans to increase shareholder value.



  • This company I worked for a while back was pretty good with finding money for resources -- developers got new machines every two years or so and we usually had all the software we needed.  But we were branching into a new field of development, potentially very lucrative but still sort of risky.  My boss, sort of uneasy at buying anything sight unseen, arranged for me to get a huge stack of 90 day demos of all the major players' software, so I could try it out.

    I made some really whiz-bang stuff off the demos, and wrote out what we needed to start working in the field.  The number was pretty big (around $25k or so just for the software), but my boss agreed it was necessary if we were ever going to break in to the market.  He just didn't want to spend all that money unless there was a pressing demand, so we dropped it.

    About a year later, when somebody offered us a nice sum of money to be the pilot of our new software (the stuff we had only just played with, for 90 days).  My boss assumed I could just use what I had -- the barely working, unpolished project I'd thrown together 270 days earlier with no experience and hardly any knowledge.  I informed him that this swine would not levitate, and he'd need to buy at least half of the licenses so we could start working and more importantly start testing.  I then went on vacation.

    When I came back, there was a book on my desk.  It was an introduction to the field of development, puzzling since I was already pretty well acquainted with it.  Luckily, the accompanying post-it explained everything: "Book comes with a CD and 180 day academic license of everything, and it was only $40!"

    (I think they're all licensed up now.)



  • @dhromed said:

    They housed a lot of us in large metal office trailers.

    In the desert.

    Were they white?
    Being white *really* helps a lot in staving off sun's heat.


    The contractors or the trailers?

        -dZ.

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