On-Call Welcome back to On-Call, our Friday glimpse at readers' tales of being asked to fix the ridiculous.
This week, reader “Alien8” shared a story about “One of the worst jobs I ever had” doing “IT support at a fulfilment house.”
The big problem here was his boss, the IT manager, who Alien8 says just made stuff up all the time.
Among the boss' claims were “I have a Cray supercomputer in my barn” and “I'm friends with Richard Branson.” He also claimed to have been picked for the UK's Olympic archery team and to have studied six degree courses concurrently, and to have won prizes for all. Oh and it took just 18 months to study those six degrees.
“All this from a guy who lived in a two up two down on a new build estate in the middle of nowhere and created the biggest financial reporting disaster I have ever seen,” says Alien8.
Two things Alien8 thinks the boss wasn't lying about were that he was a classically-trained pianist and the assertion that he smashed his collarbone in a car accident.
“Surgical titanium is quite distinctive,” Alien8 wrote.
But we digress.
Alien8's tale concerns “an aged fulfilment and billing system that had been very heavily modified” by said mostly-delusional boss. As a result each overnight billing run would create multiple errors in the system, generating tens of thousands of pounds of erroneous charges and payments on the accounts.” That app ran alongside an Access database.
Both pieces of software were so slow they could only spit out a result after running all night. Alien8 says sometimes they needed 24 hours, after which “I was forced to point out that I wasn't able to create reports if I'd collapsed from exhaustion.”
Alien8 eventually tracked down the fault in the IT manager's code that was causing the billing errors. And at the same time “discovered all our financial reports were wrong due to the IT manager not knowing how to calculate value-added tax.”
“When pointed this out I was told quite succinctly that it was myself who was wrong as he clearly must be right as he was a genius with an IQ higher than Einstein.”
With the software vendor's help the code was fixed and Alien8 was able to complete his final billing run at the company. But the fix had quite rightly reset the entire billing system, but as the new financial reports no longer matched the old a client queried the new report.
At the instigation of the delusional IT manager, Alien8's boss.
At which point Alien8 was asked to leave the company while his conduct was investigated, and the IT manager “lied through his teeth about everything.”
Alien8 says things then went up a level and his IT director called to explain the situation and that “the only way to save my job is to drop the IT manager deep in the proverbial.”
Alien8 wasn't senior enough to survive but says his IT director did manage to score him a month of gardening leave and made sure the whole company “understood how much of an idiot the IT manager was.”
Have you had a boss even more horrible than Alien8's? If so, write to me and it could be your thinly-disguised name in a future edition of On-Call. ®