I haven’t worked a real job for about six years. I just found my old forum posts about my last six months at the old job, and it reads like a descent into a Kafka bureaucratic nightmare.
I’m going to start re-posting them here. It’s a story in four parts. Please, enjoy. And if this reminds you of your current job, quit.
A bit of background: I worked for a software company. We did inventory control software, in Australia. Our head office was located in Overseasland (almost 20 hours behind us), and there was also a support crew, in a third country, operating on Overseasland time. The Overseasland crew did all the development, we were basically a long-forgotten arm of the company operating on our own for so long most staff back in head office didn’t realize we were more than just dealers. We wrote most of their documentation, and for a long time our boss was a third of the company – back when it was a three man operation.
So, there’s a history. We thought we were part of the company, they thought we were pains in the ass.
Let’s get going.
May 26, 2011
So the company I work for has completely lost its shit. Please allow me to regale you with random tales from behind my desk…
We recently launched a beta, and it’s got some staggeringly basic bugs in it. I mean, we do accounting software, and out of nowhere the system is taking all the old, paid invoices and adding GST to them. Again. So invoices from three years ago, fully paid, are showing up again with the GST amount unpaid.
I reported this bug and the programmers canceled it, saying it was fixed in version X. I was using version X when I found the fucking thing, it says so right fucking there in the report.
A new report sorts by date by default, but if you click the Date header again it randomizes the list. Click it again and it reverses that random order. I submitted another bug report, saying in part “Also, It does not sort by date, except accidentally.”
I followed that up with a screenshot, described thusly: “This screenshot illustrates the reverse-random list of wrong numbers…”
I’ve gotten in trouble for making light of bugs before, as if maintaining a sense of perspective in the face of overwhelming idiocy and incompetence is a bad thing.
One time I suggested a company-wide wiki for managing all this crap, because we were using one in Australia and it was great. The next day I received a fairly rude call from the Overseasland CEO telling me to STFU and stop meddling in things I don’t understand.
A year later, one of his staff called me, saying they were installing that wiki, and could I assist?
Then they set it up and wouldn’t give me access to it.
A few years ago they launched a product specifically for our market, but without our involvement. It more or less died on the vine ’cause it was never finished and didn’t do a few things that we really needed here. They decided that no more work was to be done on it because it wasn’t selling, despite us not being able to sell it ’cause it didn’t work.
When we pointed out years later that we’d actually sold hundreds of them, more than enough for a full-time programmer to maintain and update and fix the damned thing, they decided to start development on a new product instead.
So they developed a new product specifically for our market, without telling us they were doing it, and without asking us what we wanted it to do.
When we asked management why we weren’t involved in the planning process, we were told that they discussed it and agreed the project would take longer if the Australian office was given a chance to participate.
Well, yeah, we’d have wanted it to work this time.
Our software is developed in another country, OverseasLand. A few things that are important there are not important here, and vice versa, but we’ve always punched above our weight and sold more units for a greater profit than the head office, considering the much smaller staff here.
When we recently asked for a credit card surcharge feature to be added to our software to bring us in line with literally all of our competition, they were adamantly against it ’cause this was just not done in OverseasLand, and furthermore as a customer they’d refuse to shop anywhere that did this.
The fact that it was accepted and common practice in Australia wasn’t important.
Head office had an e-commerce solution that suffered a lack of development for a year as the main programmer jumped ship halfway through and didn’t leave a lot of documentation or source code behind. Customers can’t do much with it, as the new programmers have been basically starting over with it, and besides, they wanted simple and not complicated, so customers had a limited set of features by design.
One day one of our newest customers, the nicest people you could possibly meet, finally had enough of waiting for a simple problem to be resolved, and emailed the CEO in OverseasLand.
The CEO then called me, and we had what I thought was a one-sided conversation where he ignored what I had to say and demanded I follow their established procedures for reporting customer issues, as if the customer going direct was somehow my fault.
After one brief, failed attempt to explain myself (I’ve set up a wiki and several other tools for our local office, which head office won’t even read, let alone participate in), I capitulated on every score, and shortly thereafter I sent Head Office everything they asked for, all the required issue documentation, in the required format. Except I screwed up the URL, so they couldn’t download it.
I went to bed, and in the middle of my night the staff in Head Office – a world away, in a different timezone – rolled into work only to find I’d prepared documents they couldn’t find. That’s about when the CEO went batshit insane.
I admit it, I should have checked the URL, mea culpa. Rather than call and wake me up, they (I imagine) ran around screaming and beating the shit out of each other all day until the next morning I came back to work to find an email from the CEO that said: our Australian server is crummy, I have a bad attitude, I’m sarcastic, I’m rude, I denigrate Head Office and make myself look good to the customers, I had to be begged and pleaded with to use proper procedure, and our entire office was hereby officially cut off from the E-commerce stuff, and could no longer sell it at all.
Years later I’m responsible for writing a working E-commerce interface to a popular web platform that works fast and efficiently and theirs is still nearly ready.
They wrote a new system for our customers who wanted to do email marketing, but it barely integrated with our software, is only a little bit better than a mail merge using free tools already available, costs more and more money as more emails are sent, and doesn’t fucking work. Attempts to make it work have been fruitless, the people responsible for fixing it go on holiday seemingly every month, and head office keeps asking us why we’re not selling any.