Keep the lights on, the budget needs it

Going green in a penny pinching world


A friend recently rang me up, almost in tears. His company had just purchased three hundred brand-new laptops. The budget rules are: "Get the cheapest available model." So they'd gone onto a web site, and ordered three hundred, lowest price being for a 20 GB system. But the budget rules weren't created for this situation, because the software they had to run required an 80GB disk. So 300 80 GB disks were ordered. And staff then spent hours pulling the 20 GB disks out, and putting the 80 GB disks in, and re-installing Windows and other utilities and drivers; and the spare disks were disposed of according to budget rules.

Why?

What a very ignorant question! That's how we do it here!

Or take my friend who has a top-rank, privilege, diamond-encrusted contract with a mobile phone company whose name is a colour, and who decided to buy pay-as-you-go phones for his nephews (their mother couldn't afford it) and charge the bill to his contract account. "Put ten pounds a month into their accounts from mine!" he told this mobile company (speaking French, to make life easier for them, of course). And they said yes, that would be fine.

And then they treated him like dirt. Pay as you go customers are, as we all know, chavs in council houses. You don't have to send them the phones they order next day. Actually, you don't even have to send them when you say you will. And when they finally get the phone, they're people with low self-esteem, and they won't complain if you make them dial an 0800 number to unlock the SIM. And having dialled that number (it's NOT free to mobile users!) they won't care if you can't be arsed to actually unlock the SIM till tomorrow. You can tell them that it's not technically possible, and they won't know any better...

Does all this actually save any money for this colourful, French-speaking company?

"Pour quoi faire?" (Eh? What's that got to do with it?)

My friend is planning a rather special revenge, which I'm sworn not to reveal until he unveils it to his account manager. But there's no reason for this behaviour, other than "well, we always did it like that."

We can all tell budget tales. There was the time I was supposed to go to Palm Springs for a convention. The company booked me business class, into a five star hotel (if you've never been to Palm Springs, trust me when I tell you that five star hotels in that bit of California are not budget deals) and the total travel bill came to just over 5K - pounds, not dollars. I decided to take over the travel planning, and, spending just two grand (pounds, again) booked myself and my wife on a round-the-world trip, including Palm Springs, Auckland, Hong Kong and back to London.

Next year, the company couldn't afford to send me to Palm Springs. "It costs five grand, and we've only got two thousand pounds in the budget."

Global warming? There's not the slightest chance of averting it. If it were just a question acting like intelligent beings, and turning down the thermostat when it gets hot outside, we'd have carbon consumption down by 50 per cent in a decade. But what's that got to do with it? We've got a budget... if we don't spend it all, we won't have one next year!

Lights don't turn themselves on; accountants do that.


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