back to article Sysadmin's £100,000 revenge after sudden sacking

Here we are again on a bright British Friday morning, which means it's time for On-Call, in which readers recollect their ramblings into the real world to fix things up. This week, reader "James" has shared a story “from my days as a Sysadmin, at the dawn of the broadband area, when I worked for a very well known company …

  1. Grikath

    a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

    in which Edition? :P

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

      Regardless of the edition.

      I bet it is the same fantazy wargaming company which tries to explain that people (the permies) there work not for the money and because it is kewl. They also run 1 day long team pseudo-interviews on all candidates to ensure that any marks are gullible enough to be locked into the Ponzi scheme.

      My discussion with them ended the moment it became clear that I am neither gullible, nor willing to take a 50% pay cut. They are located in the local swamp near the sewerage works. Traditional place for fantasy characters (in most fantasy games I have played the liches and other unded scum).

      1. Wilseus

        Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

        "near the sewerage works"

        Ah so NOT a UK company then? ;)

    2. Mog_X

      Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

      No wonder their figures and kits are so expensive in the last few years - they are still trying to recoup their losses.....

    3. Alien8n

      Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

      Having been involved in the "Space Marine" incident of a few years ago (I was one of the bloggers that helped break the story and show that said "gaming company" didn't have a leg to stand on) I have zero sympathy for them. Heck, the Space Marine incident meant they even got slated by ex-employees, didn't help that one of the old White Dwarf artists happened to be friends with the author of "Spots..."

      1. Super Fast Jellyfish

        Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

        Alien8n - Space Marine incident? Got a link to share?

        1. MonkeyCee

          Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

          Company claimed "Space Marine" was it's IP.

          World points out that the term and idea existed long before said company.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

            Here's a space marine link.

            <arse covering>NB: May be completely unrelated to the "large phone bill" story</arse covering>

            1. Alien8n

              Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

              Yup, that was the one :)

            2. Super Fast Jellyfish

              Re: Space Marine Link

              Thanks Moiety and co, have an upvote!

      2. ps2os2

        Re: a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

        Can't help but to remember recently several items on Disney hiring foreign workers to replace local help at a cheaper rate then getting rid of local workers (after having to train them). Talk about chutzpah.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    So when he put the phone down?


  3. Martin Milan

    James is a dick...

    Yes, it would be satisfying to leave knowing what was coming, and yes, technically this is the fault of management for not handling the exit process very well - had the same thing happen to me earlier in the year...

    But here's the thing - I would have called / emailed them and said "You need to be aware of this...". True, my plans for revenge would be scuppered, but my former colleagues whom I presumably would have cared about would be able to continue to eat.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a dick...

      He was fired... he had no obligation to tell them AT ALL...

      And since his IT director was being a bag of dicks himself and all...

      Yeah, I would have done exactly the same, not my problem...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James is a dick...

        I rather expect that the sudden redundancy was the result of the IT Director taking credit for the solution.

      2. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: James is a dick...

        The phrase that, I think, best describes that situation, is "Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy." Or to translate that, "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

        They kicked him out of the circus before he could wrangle the monkeys. As a result, they wound up covered in flaming poo.

    2. Harry Kiri

      Re: James is a dick...


      Once a company kicks you out, you have no ongoing responsibility to function or plan for them. If a company kicks you out then its up to them to replace your skills or accept they don't need them.

      And presumably he had better phone calls to make to ensure he could 'continue to eat'. I suspect they wouldnt pay him for any information he had.

      1. Natalie Gritpants

        Re: James is a dick...

        Further to this - the second they stop employing you they become the competition, you will work for someone else (probably in the same market segment) and the last thing you should do is reduce your new employers chances of success by helping the ones that fired you.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: James is a dick...

        If a company kicks you out then its up to them to replace your skills or accept they don't need them

        Unless they request verbally or in writing some form of transition support and agree reasonable terms which will not be shot down in court on a non-compete or contract law. These idiots (and I think I know which ones too), did not agree them. Well, tough.

      3. Triggerfish

        Re: James is a dick...

        No he wasn't he solved a problem for them and then they made him redundant not even notice to find time to sort himself out with a new job. If the IT director had phoned me I wold have said "yes I do know", and then told him naff all else unless he paid me or possibly just hung up at that point with a little chuckle.

        1. peter 45

          Re: James is a dick...

          Too right. I had a similar situation where I had written programmes to automate a large part of my job (the job was not a programmer), but because I had now made it easier, the boss reasoned that anyone could do it and replaced me. I was professional enough to document all of the automation and to try to each my replacement as much as i could in the week handover period, but i could tell that nothing was going in.

          Several months later i got a phone call from the boss. The computer had crashed and trashed my programmes. I explained there were automated backups and that the documentation explained how to reinstate. He said that the new person did not have the expertise to do that and wanted me to come in and do it myself.....and that i should do it for free. I told him that my contracting fee was £10,000, paid in advance and was waiting for his cheque.

          I later found out he had to hire two more people just to do the job that I was expected to do on my own.

          1. Felix Krull

            Re: James is a dick...

            @Peter 45

            The exact same thing happened to me.

            About 15 years ago, while studying, I was employed as a coolie in a small municipal institution. My job was to answer phones, type out minutes, write letters, make photocopies, that sort of stuff. Since I had very little actual work to do, I installed a network, built them a home page, designed a client database and wrote an application that presented calendars, address books and database access in a neat, personalized manner. I installed all new hardware, cured their PCs of their inevitable ailments and fixed the printer three times a week.

            It was all strictly amateur league, mostly patched together by blind trial-and-error, but it worked as long as I was there to mollycoddle it. I might not have known what the hell "TCP/IP-addresses" were, but I knew which values they were supposed to be and which parts of the operating system to poke, if the little critters got above themselves.

            Then my coolie colleague got fired for being useless (which he was) and after a couple of months of me having trained his replacement, the boss decided the coolie office was overstaffed (which it was) and fired me. I tried to explain to the one guy in the office who wasn't a useless social studies-type how the whole bag of snakes worked, but I hadn't documented anything and he didn't take notes, so after a few weeks I had my former boss on the phone: their internet connection didn't work.

            So being such a nice guy, I fixed that for two bottles of - admittedly excellent - wine, even if I found it a bit galling. Next time he called I didn't bother to call back.

      4. jelabarre59

        Re: James is a dick...

        Yeah, I had one job where a couple of months after I was sacked, the owner called me and wanted some technical advice. I gave him some vague, useless and sufficiently BS answers (hey, I could be a politician or IT salesperson <g>), I proceeded to send him a bill for 2-hours colsulting time (was a 5-10 minute phone call). Needless to say, he never bothered me again.

      5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Harry Kiri Re: James is a dick...

        "Once a company kicks you out, you have no ongoing responsibility to function or plan for them....." Er - yes and no. You need to make sure you take a very careful look at both your contract and the company's legal history. The contract may include phrases making you responsible for notifying management of all potential technical issues that could cause monetary losses. The company's legal history could reveal a vindictive streak where legal means have been used to get back at employees whether they deserved it or not.

        A colleague who worked as an IT manager got nailed by the contract clause he missed - he gave advice on an equipment purchase and then left the company, only for the purchase to go bad through no real fault of his own (IMHO, the CTO took up the project and trashed it, then looked for a scapegoat). But the company sued to recover costs and settled after two years of hounding my colleague (including ringing up his new employer "for a chat"). Another friend in sales got hounded for years by a particularly megalomaniac ex-boss, who used his company's legal system as a means of hitting out at the many ex-employees that quit rather than work for him. In my friend's case there was no real legal case to answer, but that didn't stop the legal abuse, withholding of wages and commission owed (which he needed to pay his mortgage), and having to explain to his next employer why he was having to take time off to deal with a court appearance!

        My advice would be to at least to offer to document EVERYTHING before you leave a role, in excruciating detail. Depending on your employer, you may bury the information (unintentionally, of course) in tiny text as a footnote on page 30 of your document, that you have left a potential time-bomb in the works, but at least you can't then be accused of having been either negligent, professionally incompetent, nor of having not warned them....

        /mine is the coat with the very slippery shoulders!

      6. TelePom

        Re: James is a dick...

        In fact, if they make him redundant, the CAN'T replace his skills. By doing that, they'd be accepting his skills weren't redundant. There's a time limit I believe. Making somebody redundant is not meant be a way to get rid of somebody without due process, so there are strict rules about how and when it can be done. If they made him redundant, then they don't need his knowledge or skills, so he's under no moral duty to offer his knowledge or skills.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

          Re: James is not a dick...


          You are absolutely right! Redundancy is a very specific thing. By making him redundant they are legally saying they don't need him because they no longer need what he does.

          What's great here is it turned out they did.

      7. ps2os2

        Re: James is a dick...

        This is why you are nice to people even though you are going to fire them.

      8. ps2os2

        Re: James is a dick...

        There was one company here in the US that thought differently and tried to get its workers to sign on the dotted line. After an up roar the company backed down. They thought otherwise.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Martin Milan

      Here's my live reaction to your comment:


    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a dick...

      I would agree with the ongoing responsibility thing IF HE HAD LEFT VOLUNTARILY.

      He was made redundant - that means that the management said "we do not need you, your skills, your experience or your knowledge". So he had absolutely no responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

      I also disagree with the headline thought - this was not a "revenge" thing - again that implies some planning on the part of James.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James is a dick...

        This is not revenge - it's just watching the boss shoot himself in the foot and having a good laugh at it.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge


          I think we need more details of exaclty how it went down to establish if "james is a dick"

          It dosent even say why he was sacked / redundanted

        2. Fatman

          Re: James is a dick...

          <quote>This is not revenge - it's just watching the boss shoot himself in the foot nuts and having a good laugh at it.</quote>


    5. a cynic writes...

      Re: James is a dick...

      Given the company in question has shops in most large UK towns and had a turnover of £123M (~$185M) last year I think 'continuing to eat' wasn't an issue.

      Unless there's another well known Nottingham based games company...

      1. MonkeyCee

        Re: James is a dick...

        It's the biggest (IIRC) company selling little pieces of metal/plastic/resin. It's generally hated by everyone else in the industry, and is very good at lawyering people into submission.

        Considering how derivative it's main product lines are, they are insanely protective about copyight infringement. Because none of their fluff is at all borrowed/stolen at all.

        They are pretty shitty to their staff too, last I checked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: James is a dick...

          and ISTR way back in the mists of time they turned a once entertaining magazine into dross. I never forgave them for that.

        2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: James is a dick...

          > They are pretty shitty to their staff too, last I checked.

          So the first thing you do when you get home or before setting off home is to check that you have been paid properly and not stiffed over anything. After that you can settle in the murk and decide whether you are playing Ultimate Fantasy or not.

      2. sisk

        Re: James is a dick...

        Given the company in question has shops in most large UK towns and had a turnover of £123M (~$185M) last year I think 'continuing to eat' wasn't an issue.

        Now that might be the case. Back at the dawn of broadband their stuff wasn't quite so horrendously overpriced. Though all things considered I don't think the company in question has ever been in danger of going under.

        1. Jared Earle

          Re: James is a dick...

          Now that might be the case. Back at the dawn of broadband their stuff wasn't quite so horrendously overpriced. Though all things considered I don't think the company in question has ever been in danger of going under.

          Given that at that time, my employer (some Merkin bunch who made card games and who just bought the company that made the most famous RPG in the world), was eating their lunch, I suspect you're right; they weren't really in a position to lose that amount of money.

      3. Stoneshop

        @ a cynic writes... Re: James is a dick...

        I think 'continuing to eat' wasn't an issue.

        It's not the company that's wondering whether it's got enough to eat next month

        (and if you're a prudent contractor, neither do you)

    6. SolidSquid

      Re: James is a dick...

      Obviously can't know for sure, but if I were in his situation I'd have assumed my line manager was aware of what was going on with this and was going to be dealing with it. The fact his line manager was made redundant immediately after him (which he might not have been aware of at the time, and I would have to assume *also* without handover meetings) would probably explain why they weren't aware of it and he didn't think he had to contact them about it

    7. rhydian

      Re: James is a dick...

      James owes this bunch of feckwits nothing.

      First off, if the ISDN contract was for £50k a month then someone senior should have known about it. By making both James and his Manager redundant in such an abrupt/backhanded way this knowledge was lost.

      Secondly, having been marched out of the building in such a way, I would also not be in the most co-operative of moods.

      Thirdly, it sounds like the company had their own "cost management" plan in place. Wait until James and the team get the new system up and running, then bin them off to reduce headcount/save money. To see it backfire so amazingly must have been satisfying.

    8. Arctic fox

      Re: "James is a dick..." What part of the way he was treated in being............

      .........summarily dismissed in such a cavalier fashion leading to him having no reason at all to show that company any residual loyalty did you fail to understand? See icon.

    9. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: James is a dick...

      Personally, I couldn't approve of deliberate sabotage but:

      It sounds like it's just not something that occurred.

      Someone else would presumably have to take over his day-to-day responsibilities, someone else would be watching what was going in/out the IT budget, he wouldn't be the ONLY person to know about the existence of such a line - hell, accounting should have queried it a LOT earlier!

      As such, it's a reasonable expectation that someone (maybe even the IT Manager that "left" soon after) was responsible for it and clearing up loose ends. And for that I wouldn't be able to fault them.

      Deliberately not telling them when you're AWARE it's going to go unnoticed until it hits the hundreds of thousands is being just as dick-ish as DELIBERATELY making that happen.

      But I can quite envision that this was unintentional and all those people who walked or were made to walk had responsibilities that were just ignored for the sake of cost-saving, and the accounts department were so unaware of what was happening that they didn't question anything at all. Their incompetence couldn't be his fault. But his deliberate ignorance of a potentially large problem would be. Even if it's slightly more blameless than, say, deliberately running up a huge bill before he left.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James is a dick...

        Even if he hadn't left voluntarily the important thing was they marched him off the premises not giving him an exit interview or allowing him to talk to colleagues. So he literally had no more company time to hand over, and expecting someone who you've just thrown under a bus to have anything going through their mind beyond "How am I going to pay my rent next month" is the kind of person that fires a sysadmin without a debrief.

        1. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: James is a dick...

          It sounds like they called him into a room, had some security goons sack his desk (in the manner of Vikings sacking a village,) and throw anything they thought was personal shit (hope he didn't have any personal Warhammer figurines at his desk that they might mistake as company property!) into a box, handed him his marching orders, then frogmarched him to the door.

          So, yeah. My thought would have been "Well, fuck those guys." Certainly wouldn't have been "I'd better call that guy who just fired me and tell him how hosed he is if he doesn't get appraised of the ISDN situation."

      2. rhydian

        @Lee D

        "he wouldn't be the ONLY person to know about the existence of such a line - hell, accounting should have queried it a LOT earlier!"

        Indeed, considering you're talking about a 50k a month spend accounting should really have been on it, but that isn't James' problem.

        "Deliberately not telling them when you're AWARE it's going to go unnoticed until it hits the hundreds of thousands is being just as dick-ish as DELIBERATELY making that happen."

        Deliberately not telling James that he's up for redundancy as soon as the project's done is also rather dick-ish. If the firm wanted a proper, mature and open debrief then they didn't exactly go about it the right way.

        If I were in the same situation I'd keep quiet as well. If, on the other hand the handover was more mature and, quite frankly, pleasant, then I'd not hesitate in mentioning it.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James is a dick...

        This seems a non-story to me.

        I agree with you: someone would have stepped in in his duties.

        What happened after he left the company has absolutely nothing to do with the fact he was fired, with or without notice, alone or not, and most of all nothing to do with HOW he left the company, and is certainly not a "revenge" nor even a reason of celebration or satisfaction for James, unless he's a petty-minded person. In other words, had he stayed, he'd have avoided that company this mistake, but that would not have been his merit: instead just merely his duty.

        This was simply the mistake of some incompetent person, most likely in accounts. The fact it happened to a company who happened to have fired him without notice, is just a coincidence.

        The implication somewhere in the article that he should somehow have told them, is nonsense: after being fired, he could quite simply, literally have forgotten about it, with looking for a new job etc: I mean he had no obligation to tell them.

        The only issue is whether he _knew_ that nobody else would have done anything about it without him, in which case he has potentially morally done a disservice to his ex-colleagues. But we don't know: perhaps all those who'd be affected were only the same who kicked him out.

        The whole thing doesn't really entirely add up, though, somewhere this story is "adjusted".


        1. Crumble

          Re: James is a dick...

          In my days as a consultant, I was regularly warned about giving advice without a contract in place. I was told that if any advice was to be acted on and went sour, there was no limited liability. Even though I've never seen this happen I was always very careful after that.

          In James's place I might have been in touch offering to come and spend a few hours handover of work in progress subject to a suitable (large) fee. No obligation though. And management should already have been aware of the forward schedule for any significant actions required, so I'd expect them to refuse my offer anyway.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: James is a dick...

            In James's place I might have been in touch offering to come and spend a few hours handover of work in progress subject to a suitable (large) fee. No obligation though. And management should already have been aware of the forward schedule for any significant actions required, so I'd expect them to refuse my offer anyway.

            That is probably the best way forward. By setting a stupidly large fee you ensure you won't hear of them unless it's really a panic, yet you have defrayed the risk of them taking you to court for sabotage or whatever else they cook up to cover up the fact they did not ask for handover information.

            There's a slight segway here which I noticed others have seen as well: someone must have approved this as it involves costs and contracts. In other words, it is IMHO impossible to claim they didn't see this one coming (James cannot be expected to manage the company for them).

      4. RW

        Re: James is a dick...

        "A potentially large problem "

        I must disagree; an unexpected bill for £100,000 is not a large problem, potentially or otherwise, for a corporation of that size.

        He's not responsible in any way for the sheer fecklessness of upper management, HR, and accounting.

        Sounds to me like there's an MBA lurking in the shadows. They are taught (incorrectly, as it happens) that employees are fungible and can be swapped in and out like lightbulbs.

        1. Colin Ritchie

          Re: James is a dick...

          Have an up vote just for the word fungible.

        2. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: James is a dick...

          It wasn't an unexpected bill for £100,000, it was going to be an unexpected bill for £600,000 over a twelve-month period, in 1997, which is roughly £975,000 today.

          GW was also a lot smaller back then, so getting this dropped in their shorts would have been a hell of a lot more of a problem, since as John mentioned, this had apparently blown through their entirely yearly IT budget in under two months.

      5. John Tserkezis

        Re: James is a dick...

        "Deliberately not telling them when you're AWARE it's going to go unnoticed until it hits the hundreds of thousands is being just as dick-ish as DELIBERATELY making that happen."

        Just to quote an important bit of the article you missed:

        "James was escorted from the premises by security and prevented from speaking to his colleagues."

        So now you're complaining that he *complied* with his former employer's demands?

    10. Hollerith 1

      Re: James is a dick...

      No matter how badly you are treated, you are a professional person and should do what an honourable and decent professional person would do, which is to take responsibility. In this case, it could have been a pleasantly-worded email to the Powers That Be reminding them of an expensive time-bomb ticking and what the next steps should be. I think that the said Powers That Be in this case would have done nowt and the results would have been the same, but you could go to your next employers with head held high knowing that your conduct and your commitment to quality were beyond reproach.

      1. rhydian

        Re: James is a dick...

        Professionalism is a two-way street...

        1. LucreLout

          Re: James is a dick...

          Professionalism is a two-way street...

          No it isn't. My professionalism is my own, however lacking my current employer may or may not be in that regard, my professionalism belongs to me, not to them, and they don't get to influence that.

          Having said that, I don't see this as a professionalism issue at all. Looking back with time & hindsight its easy to see what the problem was, but would it have been easy to foresee at the time? I doubt it, because there's just so many potential things that could have gone wrong. Add to that the lack of an exit interview and the purdah regarding colleagues, and how was the guy supposed to get the message across? Quite aside from probably being in a mild state of shock.

          Were I to leave my current gig this very minute, there's just too many potentially destructive imminent risks to convey in an exit interview, even if my manager & hr could follow what I was saying. Would something go wrong? Quite possibly not, but if it does then that really isn't my fault, or responsibility; and it's nothing to do with professionalism.

          I simply don't see that the guy did anything wrong, as he wasn't given a fair opportunity to consider any risks and identify them to the remaining staff. This episode wouldn't prevent me hiring the guy at all - but then I would expect legal to have oversight of any contracts, and I'd expect to have knowledge of them.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: James is a dick...Professionalism is a two-way street

          Yes, it's funny that. People who exploit you call it "unprofessional" if you are subsequently less than polite to them. It's basically just a word used by people who themselves have just behaved badly with no excuse. Cf. Hunt and junior doctors, for instance.

        3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: James is not a dick...

          I would have professionally believed that if the company wasn't stooopid they would have all that covered. Obviously James got told after the event, one wonders if he told the ex-manager why and why he would if it wasn't to gloat.

          There doesn't appear a reason to explain all to anyone. Hence all the downvotes for the righteous

      2. Laura Kerr

        Re: James is a dick...

        Have to say I'm with the majority on this one. The point is, when you're a director or a senior manager, you can and should delegate some authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility. It seems pretty clear that the IT Director intended to toss James and his boss out as soon as the network connection was established - but failing to ensure he or another member of staff knew the details is entirely his fault. He was ultimately responsible, so it serves him bloody well right.

        And if it turned out he had next-to-no IT knowledge then he had no business calling himself an IT Director, no matter how big a mouth and MBA he had.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James is a dick...

        Focus and awareness.

        James' focus would of been on his immediate future employment and the ISDN account certainly wouldn't be in the forefront of his mind.

        His colleagues should of been aware of the high price and step over plan, assuming they all weren't made redundant at the same time.

        So what did he do wrong? He didn't foresee his management making himself and others redundant that would end up loosing knowledge of the ISDN contract.

        I think there is a limit to responsibility and it usually supposed go hand in hand with level of pay.

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: James is a dick...

          "would have"


          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. wheelbearing

              Re: James is a dick...

              In theory, often in practice it is all about the individual, "someone" upstairs has decided some person has to go, and the redundancy is just a means to en end.

      4. sysconfig

        Re: James is a dick...

        "No matter how badly you are treated, you are a professional person and should do what an honourable and decent professional person would do, which is to take responsibility."

        I disagree. The key is "effective immediately" and "walked off the premises". You are in no obligation (and have little incentive) to do them a favour at that point. Your contract ended before you even reached the front door.

        They decided that his job and responsibility would end right there and then. No handover, no exit interview, no retainer, nothing. They take responsibility and bear the consequences.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: you are a professional person

        even the fire department will let you burn your house down, if you won't let them near it. That's between you and your insurance company.

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: you are a professional person

          It used to be unless it's to "prevent conflagration". In which case, they can put the fire out. Or knock it down.

          But Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004

          "In particular, an employee of a fire and rescue authority who is authorised as mentioned in subsection (1) may under that subsection—


          (a) enter premises or a place, by force if necessary, without the consent of the owner or occupier of the premises or place;


          (e) restrict the access of persons to premises or a place.



          A person commits an offence if without reasonable excuse he obstructs or interferes with an employee of a fire and rescue authority taking action authorised under this section."

      6. h4rm0ny

        Re: James is a dick...

        >>"No matter how badly you are treated, you are a professional person and should do what an honourable and decent professional person would do, which is to take responsibility"

        I mostly agree and have worked to the best of my abilities for employers even whilst being unhappy with their attitude to me and until I find replacement work. However, I have also been in this situation - terminated without warning and escorted from the building immediately without even a chance to say goodbye to people. It is a deeply unpleasant experience to be treated like that and their reason was that they decided to cut costs by hiring new cheaper people to replace myself and two colleagues. They didn't understand that programmers are not like fuses which can just be swapped in and out as needed.

        James was probably more concerned with how the Hell they were going to pay their rent and it does sound very much like they simply kept secret from him that he was going to be kicked out the moment they got what they wanted (along with his manager).

        I try to avoid revenge for reasons of professionalism but when someone stabs you in the back like that, and especially cuts you off from your chance to reply by summarily throwing you out and closing off preventing you from having a chance to talk with the people you've worked with, I think it's pretty understandable to let them drive off a cliff when they've actively stopped you trying to save them.

      7. hewbass

        Re: James is a dick...

        Except at the time we are talking about, most people's only email account was the one they had at the office.

        He'd just been escorted out of the office with no opportunity to talk to anyone, or indeed read or send any emails.

      8. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: James is a dick...

        Maybe the number of downvotes ought to imply that either we're immoral people, or maybe we think that if you get escorted out the door, screw them and the horse they'll ride away on...

        There are amicable ways to do things. Had they done that, they would have been in the loop. But their way was offensive and unnecessary and made it fairly clear that they didn't want to hear any more from that person.

        Or, put it another way. Decisions made often have consequences. Here's a great example of exactly such a consequence biting hard.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: James is a dick...

          Maybe the number of downvotes ought to imply that either we're immoral people, or maybe we think that if you get escorted out the door, screw them and the horse they'll ride away on...

          There are amicable ways to do things. Had they done that, they would have been in the loop. But their way was offensive and unnecessary and made it fairly clear that they didn't want to hear any more from that person.

          Or, put it another way. Decisions made often have consequences. Here's a great example of exactly such a consequence biting hard.

          I think the phrase you're looking for is "Karma is a b*tch" (or "b*stard", choose whichever version suits).

          I must admit that if I had received a call with the question "Do you know why ..", I would have answered only "I think I may. Happy to consult for a few days for $outrageous_fee, payable in advance. Have a nice day". If they'd come after me alleging sabotage I'd do them for libel and reputational damage as well - after all, it was not my fault they gave me no warning.

          I am under no obligation to work for free for anyone and someone else will take a lot longer to solve the issue (if ever), thus ending up with similar costs but without a certainty that the issue will be found. Solving it is another matter :).

      9. Triggerfish

        Re: James is a dick...

        That would mean I also expected to be treated with proffesionalism and respect if you don't do that then your problem is no longer my problem in that situation.

      10. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: James is a dick...

        Explain where his responsibility was when his employment ended in that moment.

      11. Hollerith 1

        Re: James is a dick...

        Actually, I think professionalism is a one-way street, like honesty or fidelity. Your standards should be your standards no matter how you are treated. To the gazillions who down-voted me: I hope I don't work with you in some future gig.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: James is a dick...

          "Actually, I think professionalism is a one-way street, like honesty or fidelity."

          But I do not think it is always easy to think in black and white terms. Honesty and fidelity have some very grey areas (and you may feel that you are 100% honest and faithful, but how do you treat or regard people who let you down?). The Hippocratic oath is fine, but what about the German Army military oath that led many decent officers to feel that they could not oppose Hitler while the German people supported him? There are times when professionalism can have grey areas too.

          Sacking somebody without warning and failing to do the simplest due diligence on what he might know that was important is a complete management failure. Management cut off the relationship. At that point your responsibility ends and you do not need to consider them further. In the same way, if a doctor tells a patient to give up alcohol and the patient fails to do so, the doctor is not expected to go round every night to keep warning the patient of the likely consequences. The professional duty ends when the patient breaks off the relationship, and if the patient dies of liver failure it is not because the doctor has failed in her professional duty.

          That's what I think, anyway.

        2. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: James is a dick...

          It seems that the standards of professionalism to which James' former employer who may or may not be Games Workshop adhere to are "Be polite, be efficient, and have a plan to sack everyone you meet."

          Since they have all the professional courtesy of a great white shark in a fishery, they have no reasonable right to expect anything but that in return. If you sack someone in the worst possible terms short of having them escorted off the premises by armed police officers, you really have no right to expect them to have any loyalty to you, nor to do anything for you except wash their hands of you.

          As of the moment you use phrases like "effective immediately," then they're no longer working for you. They no longer have any obligation to warn you of any financial disasters you may be facing.

      12. G.Y.

        MIT Re: James is a dick...

        MIT song: "We don't care a **** for anyone that won't care a **** for us!"

        1. rhydian

          @Hollerith 1, LucreLout

          I understand what you're saying, however given this situation I would of course act in a professional manner and answer any questions or queries raised.

          However, in this case, where the plan for using a temporary (expensive) ISDN line until a (cheap) broadband line is available should have been known about (and signed off) at least at the next management level up. Therefore it should not be up to James to remind them of it. At the very least accounts should be keeping an eye on it.

          1. Super Fast Jellyfish

            Re: @Hollerith 1, LucreLout

            Rhydian - So perhaps it was the IT Manager (who was also walked out) who was being the dick, not James...

            1. rhydian

              @ Super Fast Jellyfish

              "Rhydian - So perhaps it was the IT Manager (who was also walked out) who was being the dick, not James..."

              Or it could be that he'd also signed it off with upstairs, who then threw him out as well.

              Sort of a slow motion "you only need to move faster than blame..."

          2. Soruk

            Re: @Hollerith 1, LucreLout

            > However, in this case, where the plan for using a temporary (expensive) ISDN line until a (cheap) broadband line is available should have been known about (and signed off) at least at the next management level up.

            His IT manager was also made redundant - so even if his manager knew, if they treated the manager the same way they treated him, then it's still quite likely this knowledge would have been lost.

        2. Been there, done that, it never ends

          Re: MIT James is a dick...

          The quote is:

          'Cause we don't give a damn for any old man who don't give a damn for us!


      13. gnarlymarley

        Re: James is a dick...

        "No matter how badly you are treated, you are a professional person and should do what an honourable and decent professional person would do, which is to take responsibility."

        Sounds to me like he had already passed this up the chain. He had already taken responsibility when the whole thing was approved some time earlier. Why would I tell anyone about something that I strongly believed they should already knew about?

    11. Chez

      Re: James is a dick...

      Hey, look! Their IT director browses El Reg!

    12. Captain Scarlet

      Re: James is a dick...

      Hangon! When they phoned him he responded and let them know why he thought something was costing that much, he could have just told them to do one (which I am assuming his old boss told them to do which is why they called him).

    13. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a dick...

      Bet those that like to take advantage just love you. Here's your cheque now **@# off and bent over on the way out so we can give you one last shafting.... And don't forget to say thank you.... Gullible or what.

      1. Fatman

        Re: James is a dick...and bent over on the way out

        Do you mean something like this?:

        (From Animal House)

    14. Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a very nice man

      Given the number of times "James is a dick" appears in bold print on this comments page, I bet he wishes he hadn't told El Reg.


    15. This post has been deleted by its author

    16. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: James is a dick...

      Wow, 137 downvotes (and counting) in the 7 hours since this commentardary was posted. Is that an El Reg record?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Downvote record [was Re: James is a …]

        Wow, 137 downvotes (and counting) in the 7 hours since this commentardary was posted. Is that an El Reg record?

        209 now.

        Thinking about situations like this, I'm happy for two things:

        1. No one I've worked for has ever done this, there's been some hand-over time with my position ending a week later or so.

        2. I have sufficient cash in the bank to live my present lifestyle for more than a year.

        Point 2 means it's feasible for me to go "out of contact" for a month or so whilst I take a nice long break, then do some quick re-training if needed and then get back into the workforce. It's really the only true insurance policy against this kind of disloyalty.

        Professionalism and loyalty are both two-way streets. By default, I will show both, and only withdraw if either is shown to be lacking from the other side.

    17. Archie Woodnuts

      Re: James is a dick...

      If James is indeed a dick then said management were surely entitled to eat a whole bag of James' when they came calling for help?

    18. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a dick...

      The whole business of being marched out of the building, and not being able to talk to colleagues, sounds like power politics at its best. It's not like the place is a bloody bank. No, James is not a dick. He merely switched from having obligations to his employer, to having no obligations and no employer, with aplomb.

    19. G.Y.

      No Re: James is a dick...

      Loyalty is a TWO-way street ...

    20. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: James is a dick...

      Wow, 171 downvotes and presumably counting! That's got to be a record. Congratulations!

      BTW, if you ever become a hiring manager, hopefully you'll learn from this lesson and not believe that ex-employees will assist you out of the goodness of their hearts after you've fucked them over.

    21. Vince

      Re: James is NOT a dick...

      Remember what you said when you find yourself unemployed all of a sudden. Without warning. Without doing anything wrong.

      Then see how much you give a damn.

    22. Fatman
      Thumb Down

      Re: James is a dick...

      Sorry, but I had to downvote you on that one.

      THEY WERE THE DICKS in the manner in which they handled his departure, and they deserved everything they got.

    23. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: James is a dick... @Martin Milan

      I would have called / emailed them and said "You need to be aware of this..."


      Given what was involved in establishing the connection, it would be reasonable at the point in time when James's employment was terminated, to assume James's manager knew about the ISDN connection and even if he didn't, he would of had full access to James desk and paper records, his email account and computer. So for the IT Director to call James sometime later would imply that James's former IT Manager had for whatever reason decided not to draw attention to the ISDN connection prior to his departure and furthermore had probably acted dumb when the IT Director called him about it, and hence leaving the IT Director little option but to call James...

      Which would seem to suggest that what James knew was only one iceberg the IT Director was encountering as a result of terminating the IT Manager...

    24. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NO he is not.

      Sometimes we have to crack the whip so that others hear it. Otherwise people will take the piss and not learn, ever.

      Trust me. I'm a criminal.

    25. raving angry loony

      Re: James is a dick...

      The time to discover what James knew was at the exit interview and debrief, where passwords, active projects, and other knowledge would be passed on.

      The corporation didn't bother. They just chucked him out the door. James owed them NOTHING. At all. If they felt they didn't need the information, any fallout is completely, 100% their problem.

    26. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a dick...

      No he isn't. I was made redundant from a firm when they were downsizing and agreed to stay on an extra day (you were actually supposed to leave immediately, bin liner and security etc.) to do training for the wet behind the ears kid who would be taking on part of my role. So I made it absolutely clear to the head of my department that the extra day was free but as I was going freelance anything else would be charged for at fairly high rates. So 3 months later on this kid calls me in a blind panic because he can't remember how to do something vital. I pointed out that this was going to cost them and did he have management approval to do this. "Yes yes" he says so I sorted out his problem in about an hour. It would have been quicker but he had not only forgotten everything, he was either acting thick or genuinely was.

      I sent in an invoice for my time which was ignored, so I sent another which had the same reception. Talking to my accountant they said send it via registered post and if it's ignored again we have grounds to write it off against your tax as a bad debt. I asked if it was worth pursuing this through the small claims court and they said no just send the invoice again. This is a company that uses a perfectly legal method of exporting a large part of their revenue off-shore so I now regret not having pursued them in the courts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: James is a dick...

        Sorry that should have been 3 weeks not 3 months. Also should be noted that although my job was redundant the things I used to do, everything that made up my role still existed. It was just split up amongst people in the department and added to their jobs.

    27. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: James is a dick...

      Bollocks! Your manager, direct line manager or project manager, should ALWAYS be aware of what you are doing, the projects you are working on and it's their responsibility to ensure they know of any issues. As a professional you have a duty to tell them of any issues they should be made aware of right up to the point at which the money stops being paid. After that, sod off!

      In the past when I've left a job and good colleagues have called me to ask a small favour and some quick info, yes I've helped them out by telling them the info they wanted but I'm under no obligation to do anything for you once I'm no longer in your employ UNLESS my contract states so. I'm thinking here about NDAs, if your contract states you keep your trap shut and you don't take any code you wrote away, etc, yes those are legally binding.

      Sorry but people have worked long and hard to ensure we don't return to the days of serfdom and we all free men and women entitled to pick and choose with whom and where we work.

    28. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James is a dick...

      ... then so am I.

      I departed from a major financial institution on bad terms (though I subsequently benefited from tens of thousands in compensation). I'd over achieved all my targets for the year including bottom line cost savings of ten times my salary, but nevertheless was rated as underperforming. They panicked a week before the end of my notice period at which point I was ordered to: "document everything involved in performing my job including all internal and external contacts, all undisclosed stores of computer hardware and software (!) and all 'spanish practises'". My legal adviser said that as I was still an employee I should comply but pointed out that as the employer clearly didn't know what they didn't know they were in no position to dispute the completeness of my report. He also pointed out that by identifying any spanish practises I risked exposing myself or others to charges of misconduct (there were none anyway).

      The report I delivered was a copy of my job description, a list of names harvested from the internal phone book, a list of suppliers I'd done business with in the last year and (true) statements that there were no "secret stores" and that I was not party to or aware of any "spanish practises".

      I could probably have delivered some genuinely useful information but that would only have been to the potential benefit of the manager responsible for my departure. I use the term "potential benefit" because I doubt their ability to comprehend and utilise that information anyway.

      It would be utterly pointless for me to contemplate any kind of revenge, there's nothing I could do that would cause more damage than the incompetent management continued to inflict on the organisation (share price now down by 50%).

      There are two kinds of employee. The first group is those who are committed to do their best for the company, customers and their colleagues. The reward they seek is intellectually satisfying work, to have its quality and value acknowledged and fair remuneration and working conditions.

      The second group is those with a "political" agenda, jockeying for power and status regardless of the consequences to any but themselves (and perhaps a few cronies - at least while they serve their purpose). The reward they seek is status and astronomic salaries.

      The larger the organisation the greater the opportunities for the latter group to gain the upper hand. They are perfectly happy to exploit the former group. They recognise that heaping praise on them may be all you need to keep them happy but fundamentally they despise them, don't understand what they're doing and regard them as "disposable" commodities, easy to replace.

    29. eblonk

      Re: James is a dick...

      "and prevented from speaking to his colleagues"

      What part of this requires further explanation? Even after being kicked out he probably had a provision to prevent him from speaking to ex-colleagues about work. I wouldn't have tried just to avoid being taken to court by Lawyers Workshop. They have done more heinous and petty things.

  4. Simon B

    Nice to see Karma, good that the sudden sacking ended up with a big smile in the end :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That explains the constant need for price rises/less product from our dearly beloved overlords at Generous Workshop.

    Glad to see that a company that is so lawyer/marketing heavy is about as incompetent as you'd expect behind the scenes.

    Was even going to stock their latest game, but it turns out that you cannot use their publicity/promo pictures on your own site anymore, because only their webshop is allowed to rule them all. Not surprising, since they do the same (and are hated for it) to bricks and mortar stores.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Ah

      Fond memories of White Dwarf & Thrud the Barbarian though. They were pretty anarchic IIRC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah

        White Dwarf used to be amazing. Maybe 20% of the mag would be for the game you actually played, but the rest of the stuff was pretty good.

        Took a downturn in the early 90's (more battle reports, way more ads), and then became the press release and sales news that we now know and love.

        Ah 40k, best way to spend several hours arguing about rules that seem to have been written deliberately to be unclear.

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Ah

          "several hours arguing about rules that seem to have been written deliberately to be unclear"

          They did come up with a rule to solve that pending clarification. the odd/even, flip of the coin one.

          But then a lot of the fun in games is the lawyering. I think I even once found a loophole in Monopoly.

          1. MonkeyCee

            Re: Ah

            Yes. That's a perfect example of a GW "rule fix".

            Each time there is a rules dispute, no matter how weak one side is, it's a 50/50 call. Does this reduce or increase rules lawyering? Imagine that for poker "but I thought two pair beat a flush. Heads I win..."

            You have a game situation with an irresistible force and an immovable object. You could have a rules clarification for which takes precedence (fixed, chosen by player whose turn it is etc). Now you roll each time.

            Then you have shooting at vehicle arcs. Vehicles generally have higher armor at the front, so harder to damage. Rule book example uses rectangular tank for arcs. Many vehicles are not at shaped like a rectangle, leading to wide variances in where there frontal armor extends too. So another dice roll every time you shoot at a vehicle.

        2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Ah

          3rd edition was probably the last good one.I still have my colonel schaefer's last chancers veteran unit lurking around here, a couple of cadian squads and a pair of leman russ, all done up in desert camo. I was pretty proud of that lot.

          Then the dropped schaefer's squad before turning it into that generic shitty "penal legion". Basically every change since 3.5 has been one step or several further into the swamp. I gave up pretty quickly, not having the money to afford their rocketing prices, and abandoned the whole thing entirely for greener pastures. Looked back recently, find out they've completely nuked warhammer fantasy and dropped nearly everything that made the 40K world interesting, and realised that I'd got out at a pretty good time.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ah

        Still have my copy of "Thrud's Graffik Novel" - that's all I need or want to remember about White Dwarf.

  6. Richard Jones 1

    No Option Really

    Since he was given the bum's rush out of the place and all contact with others was directly blocked, I am not sure what options he had to advise the company of anything, he had no responsibilities whatsoever to them.

    He was no longer an employee so no responsibilities and inward communications channels were blocked. Clearly the company was supremely well managed and could sort out the problems they created without recourse to any 'off the street' outsider.

    His force termination instantly made his status 'outsider with no association'. He had no ongoing responsibilities and was forced to accept that they had everything under control. The fact that he later heard, almost by accident, that they had not managed the situation well, simply demonstrated they had misplaced confidence in their own abilities. They were, purely the agents of their own misfortune, a situation they almost certainly failed to use as a learning experience.

    1. Grahame 2

      Re: No Option Really

      IANAL, but given the situation he would probably be best of keeping his mouth shut. (good idea when you don't know the legal situation)

      Given the highly dickish (legal term?) attitude of the company in question, he could risk them interpreting his professional concern as blackmail, 'keep me on, or you will face a huge bill'.

      Of course they would be very unlikely to win in court, but legal troubles are the last thing you want, especially when looking for employment.

      Besides, as has been previously mentioned, the magnitude of an ISDN bill down the line would likely be the last thing on his mind.

      In short not his problem, treating people with courtesy and respect is never a bad idea.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: No Option Really

      Bums rush, can help think of the Simpson's episode Mommie Beerest:

      Marge: Boy, what a night! Moe showed me how to give someone the bum's rush.

      Here, watch.

      Get lost, rummy!

      Homer: Ah, yes, Detroit-style.

      Very nice.

  7. Little Mouse


    I've seen others get caught out by unexpected ISDN bills.

    A regional office of ours didn't sign up to the corporate managed AntiVirus solution and instead installed a "trial" <cough!> copy. And every couple of minutes it polled the internet instead of our own servers for updates.

    Thousands of separate ISDN connections really do add up...

    1. Emperor Zarg

      Re: ISDN

      In the mid-90's, when leased 64k lines were still ridiculously expensive, we set up an inter-office mail relay using ISDN. The hardware was Sonix (became 3com) Intermezzo ISDN30 concentrator at the central office and Sonix Arpeggio Lite ISDN2 routers at the branch offices. The arrangement was brilliant. The mail gateways would transfer any waiting mail once an hour (ha!) and then drop the line - the ISDN circuit then being idle and therefore not costing anything - but the routers would spoof packets to make it look like the line was always up. A nice, cost-effective solution, for the time.

      However... a firmware issue on the Sonix Arpeggio Lite caused it to bring up the link for just a second and then drop it again immediately. Every minute. Nearly 1500 calls a day. From every branch office. I don't think we had per second billing on our Telecential (remember them?) ISDN circuits. Nobody noticed until the rather large bill came in.

      1. Number6

        Re: ISDN

        I got kicked off the Freeserve unmetered internet because a machine on my network kept trying to phone home and kept the link up enough that they got upset. Fortunately Demon started theirs about that time so I just switched. It did spend an awful lot of its time on-line, almost as good as (and much cheaper than) a leased line, and the near-zero link set-up time after the 56k modem made it quite good. I still have the ISDN modem and the spare somewhere around.

    2. Ol'Peculier

      Re: ISDN

      I had a photographic agency client that had hi-res images on a server in their office, connected to the outside world via ISDN. The website, search, thumbnails and the like were all hosted externally but called in to get bigger images for logged in users. Looking back, pretty advanced for it's time.

      Then Code Red came along. Because there was no way of filtering calls in, every couple of seconds their IP address would get pinged, opening a connection.

      ADSL wasn't an option then, but they became the first company on their exchange to get it when it was.

  8. Whitter

    Who's calling

    You fired me.

    You have no right what-so-ever to be calling me, or indeed, to have retained my phone number.


    1. Tom Servo

      Re: Who's calling

      I think a better response would be:

      I can tell you exactly why this bill is so high and what you need to do to mitigate it in 1 minute, but to do so you'll have to employ my services as a newly created consultancy company 'FuckGW IT services' at a rate of 5K per day or part of.

      And then put the phone down. And wait for it to ring again.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Who's calling

        And then put the phone down. And wait for it to ring again.

        That has been tried. The way UK computer misuse legislation is formulated you have just made yourself liable for a lengthy court case which you will lose and can kiss your professional career goodbye.

        So just refer the guy that sure, this is expected and it is because he failed to complete the project plan. If he does not have the people to complete the already agreed and written project plan you can consider a reasonable per hour offer at market going rates. From there on it is a matter on how you define market :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who's calling

          That has been tried. The way UK computer misuse legislation is formulated you have just made yourself liable for a lengthy court case which you will lose and can kiss your professional career goodbye.

          I beg to differ.

          For that to happen the company would have to prove malfeasance or they would not only lose this case but even face a far more costly counterclaim of libel and reputational harm. James was just doing his job, and all evidence at the company would prove this.

          Given that James was executing a project plan that someone would have had to approve as it involved parting with money and contracts it would be easy for James to explain that (1) he was sacked and escorted out without prior warning and was thus denied any chance of handover (which would make this attempt to sue him effectively entrapment), and (2) as there had been approval at higher level it would be reasonable to assume that IT management would have seen it coming - after all, that's their job.

          Both points thus also deposit large piles of liability at the feet of the IT Director.

      2. el_oscuro

        Re: Who's calling

        From accross the pond, I'd setup a 1099 chapter LLC and require payment up front. It sounds like the UK laws may be murkier though.

  9. Jelliphiish


    Sounds about right for that particular business entity.

    (Cue Our Tune music) 1996: I was a lowly shop floor 'redshirt' ..The IRA had just done their insurance job on the shabby bottom end of the Arndale, and I was at a loose end due to my normal place of work being just the other side of the breezeblock to the offending van.

    I was shunted out to the provinces and was helping out in another location. The end of the busy half-term week comes and a swift visit from our 'Chaplain' to the manager comes and goes..and 2 minutes later I get called into the office to be told I'd been reported by a customer for swearing in front of their kid.. which I naturally disputed. Some managerial re-thinking ensued and after another ten minutes it's retconned to the manager himself having heard me.. again, some dispute aired about this also. I'd never swear on the shop floor.. I mean, really..

    I was being stitched up as surplus to staffing requirements whilst there was a lack of location..

    The kicker: whilst in this somewhat turmoilsome state of mind, there was a secondary ruccus occurring. A smallish kid had been in the shop all week, being left there by it's mother. And I do mean all week: she was leaving it with a packed lunch. Management appeared OK with this and whilst mildly obnoxious in the way of young teenies, he was a customer (well, his mum was..) However, this particular Friday, after a week of this, he'd gotten into his head that he had some leeway around shop behaviour. It didn't help that the manager and the other redshirt were goading him and appeared to have no concern for his antics.

    Cut to me: pricing paint sprays on the central island, somewhat distracted by my recent conversations with said manager and just a tad wound up. The kid is circling the table whilst kinda being pursued by either of the other staff, hijinks ensuing all over the place. Quite irksome, and to my mind, potentially hazardous.

    So I did the obvious thing: as the kid is coming around the nearest corner, I level the price gun around shoulder hight and give it my best Dredd: Freeeze Punk! .. only to realise the kid is just that bit closer that I'd anticipated and had taken a 3.99 right between the eyes.

    We'd just about gotten him calmed down with profuse apologies and the bribe of some free lead when his Mum arrives.. and he bursts out crying for the benefit of his fresh audience..

    I just fetched my coat. There's just no arguing with the weather..

    1. Aqua Marina

      Re: BAU

      That used to happen to us when I was working as a Manager at Escom in 1996. People would leave their kids in the shop as though we were some kind of baby sitting service while they went shopping. We had one particularly agressive woman complaining to us that we hadn't checked with the abandoned child, whether it needed a toilet break.

      I wanted to implement a "no under 16's without an adult" rule, but was told it was company policy not to qualify customers.

      As a side note, our shop on Deansgate had blast resistant glass installed only a couple of weeks prior to the Manchester bombing. When staff were finally allowed back a few days later, it was the only shop in the row that still had a front, although the front was now concave.

    2. Gareth Perch

      Re: BAU

      Did anyone else hear a film noir voiceover whilst reading Jelliphiish's post?

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: BAU

        Only voice I was hearing was Dave Lee Travis.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    Only once

    I've gotten a phone call, don't come in, again, ever. No reason given. When I called back, a secretary took a message, but they never returned my call... I hope they found the guacamole and yogurt I had left in the employee fridge!

    There is a civil way to let an employee go, and James didn't get it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only once

      "There is a civil way to let an employee go, and James didn't get it..."

      I've been shown the door on a "collect your belonging, don't come back" basis once, BUT the payoff was generous, and whilst being let down a bit more gently might have been nice, I think it pays to take a deep breath, think practically and rationally about any future requests for help based on the any payoff, any need for references. A further consideration is that you'll get asked about the job and why you left. If you harbour ill will and resentment, that's difficult to hide. If you can rationalise and accept what's happened, then it's a lot easier to present your time at that company as a positive experience.

      Mind you after a few P45s you get used to the variety of ways companies throw people out. In fact I'm starting to think that I'd like to be in with the chaff at my employer's next downsizing, as they pay people off quite well.

      1. MonkeyCee

        Re: Only once

        Golly I've been "fired"* a number of times, and no-one has been quite crazy enough to kick me out without trying to find an acceptable compromise.

        If you need someone gone, just offer them a suitably sized sack of cash and go from there. It's also a lot easier to ask them back, or pick their brains, or have them warn you of potential fuck ups if your last interaction was "here's a cheque, now GTFO"

        * Usually asked to leave and negotiated, as being dismissed requires more paperwork and leaves a black mark on your record. Plus contracting, so you get asked back a lot, but you're too expensive to keep on payroll.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: Only once


          It was a smallish family company, no real contract I was in my 20's just out of school and wasn't planning on staying a long time, so I took it as a sign. I landed on my feet, hit the streets running.

          1. MonkeyCee

            Re: Only once

            Small family companies and charities top my list of "feck no" clients. Especially ones run by a couple <shudder>

            Losing corporate politics gets you fired and your career killed. Get the wrong side of someone in a family business and the firing may be more literal.

            It's best to get burnt young, rather than put in your 20 and get shafted.

    2. kmac499

      Re: Only once

      Being marched off site IF done properly is quite sensible.

      The employer has to be aware of the risk a disgruntled employee could do to trash the IT system Ranging from resetting passwords to DROP DATABASe <return>

      The right way to do it, is to state pubicly to the leaver and those that remain, that there is no suspicion of bad intent but to protect both sides an immediate disconnection is the safest thing to do.

      1. NotBob

        Re: Only once

        I got marched out once, best firing I ever went through. Worked with some sensitive systems for big name customers, so they didn't want me to have any access to anything from the moment I was told I was fired. They cleared the area and walked me to my desk to clean it out, I turned all of my notes over to help with the systems I supported. Pleasant exit interview and all...

        ...Didn't hurt that the contract said I was getting paid for the next month even though I wasn't allowed in the building...

    3. Tom 7

      Re: Only once

      I got redundancy once - and the work period involved outlining my design for the software in detail for the outsourcing company in India to take over. Annoyingly this handover period was longer than it would have taken to mostly complete the software and even more annoyingly a drink with a remaining employee a couple of years later revealed it still wasn't complete. He said he amused himself in meetings by mentioning that if they hadn't got rid of me it would have been finished before they got rid of me. They'd learned their lesson by then and didnt get rid of underlings that were an embarrassment because they could wipe the floor with them. And I think they really enjoyed their 4 trips a year to India to find out what was going on with the software development.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Only once

      I hope they found the guacamole and yogurt I had left in the employee fridge!


      Due unforeseen circumstances, I exited a client's office on summer's day in a hurry, having left an unopened Innocent Pineapple, Banana and Coconuts smoothie on the desk - I understand they explode...

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Only once


        I was expecting to return to work, and have said goodies... hidden in an opaque bag in the drawer, so if nobody knows who it belongs to, it may sit for long enough to turn ;-}

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Absolutely marvellous - that made my day.

  12. rhydian

    I wouldn't call it revenge...

    ...As that would involve planning and could be actionable. Having a massive belly laugh at a bunch of feckwits for sacking you and the boss without finding out if there's anything important they should know beforehand is, on the other hand, perfectly fine!

  13. SimonSplat

    It was probably documented. RTFM?

    Any company worth their salt (which this one may not be) would have had a plan document/business case/sign off for something that is hugely expensive (ISDN) and detailing that "In x weeks, before the contract lock in, this benevolent company will cancel the expensive option and order the new fangled cheaper option".

    They probably didn't read it or the people higher up (seeming that this guy AND his boss were booted out) had no idea what it was saying.

    So... RTFM.

    1. FordPrefect

      Re: It was probably documented. RTFM?

      Documented in the early 2000s? Most things even in big companies were on the back of a fag packet and maybe a quick and dirty visio back in those days.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: FordPrefect Re: It was probably documented. RTFM?

        "Documented in the early 2000s?...." As a standard op proc in the 80s and 90s we would offer documentation with every project and fully-commented code, at extra cost. You would be surprised how often even the biggest of companies thought it was a smart move to save a couple of thousand by not taking up the offer for either or both. But, legally, seeing as we had made the offer and it had been declined, there was nothing that could be done against us.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got let go at short notice once, and still had a load of source code on my laptop that id developed but hadn't had chance to check into the company version control system. it was a proof of concept that we'd demoed to a new client, and the client was impressed and signed a deal based on my code.

    They let me go, I didn't get my final invoice paid, so they didn't get the code. I have no idea what happened to the client, but they wouldn't have got the product we demoed!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I didn't get my final invoice paid"

      I always tried to get in a clause to say that IP only belonged to the clients when all invoices had been paid. Never had to use it.

  15. Yugguy


    When I leave a company, by mutual consent, I do everything I can to hand over as much as I can, as I know it won't be the teflon managers that bear the brunt, it would be my ex-workmates - they'd have to keep the service running, and I don't mind if they give me the odd phone call after I've left.

    Even if I was summarily sacked I'd still keep in touch with the ex-workmates I liked.

    HOWEVER - in the above case from what I read there were no service issues, no downtime, it just cost management a hell of lot more than they realised.

    And in that case, I'd have laughed down the phone at them and then told them to get stuffed.

  16. Bbbbit

    The hidden victims

    I completely agree with James' decision; he was bang on, but what about the hidden victims? What about the poor children* who had to pay extra for their Space Marines as Generic Wargames probably passed the costs onto their customers? The children...will not anyone think of the children?*

    *middle aged long-haired gentlemen wearing 80/90s metal t-shirts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The hidden victims

      On the other hand, perhaps James went off and worked for BT, headcount budget having being increased because their ISDN division having unexpectedly picked up an extra £100k.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just looked up the OED definition of Karma and it was this story!

  18. kmac499

    The ingratitude of some employers

    A friend working for a financial company was doing the QA for a project being done by a consultancy.

    My friend was taken ill needing urgent surgery and nearly three months of recuperation. On returning the project was inevitably going a little pear shaped, with much haggling over responsibility and cross charging between senior staff on both sides. Said friend dug into their backlog of corrrespondence and found documents from senior staff in the consultancy taking responsibility to fix the items currently causing the grief f.o.c.

    Net saving to my mates employer 300k.

    Net reward from said employer zilch

    Maybe my mate should have approached the consultants first..

    1. Super Fast Jellyfish

      Re: The ingratitude of some employers

      No - I mean 3 months sick pay isn't bad?

  19. AustinTX

    Sacks Are For Groceries

    I got fired unexpectedly from my contract job at the world hq for an, em, "comprehensive food" corporation here in Austin. The mean lady from the corner office whose name I never caught, materialized at my elbow growling "collect your things together and come with me". Quite without thinking, I squawked out loud "You're firing me? WHY?". I'm certain everyone heard it. *chuckle*

    I was one of two contractors hired to work sharepoint tickets, and set up or update employee accounts on active directory. Lots of clicking around in the MMC snap-in. SP ran so slowly that sometimes it took 5 minutes to open and save a ticket. I timed it. The AD server was slow as tar, too (overburdened citrix desktop). It didn't help that they kept firing the drooling idiots hired to partner with me. We were falling days behind in getting tickets done. So I wrote a dandy little tool to assemble powershell commandlets, and this soundly doubled my productivity. I could have done the whole job myself at that point. My non-mgmt handlers were very impressed and I showed them how to use the tool for emergency requests.

    After being fired, I watched with interest how use of my tool started escalating. You see, the tool was web and javascript based, and was hosted on my own server. I let them use it a couple of weeks, and then stuck an .htaccess file in the directory, with a pleasant "Access Denied - Contact your Admin" message embedded in the AuthName field. Every morning, for several more weeks, someone would give it a try. Knowing their office culture, they probably thought the 'server was down' or such, and were waiting for word that someone had worked the ticket to fix it. Not a ticket I'd have been responsible for, but someone who surely had no idea what the tool was.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Sacks Are For Groceries

      You should have varied the error message a bit...

      Out of Resouces, reboot server.

      (If this one is used, let a script enable the tools again, after an hour or so, but only for the next 66.6 minutes)

      Badly formatted request.

      Name not found (This one is good if you can filter it to tools working on usernames)

      System unavailable because of planned downtime, see recent email.

  20. wayne 8

    Management Error

    Who was tracking the project and making sure milestones and deliverables were being met? Thus knowing what was outstanding and needed to be handled if at anytime James was hit by a train, bus, or lorry.

    Who decided James was redundant without knowing details of James' responsibilies?

    I bet they also have an extensive Disaster Recovery Plan. Not.

  21. thx1138v2

    Programming by witchcraft

    In earlier days we used the term "programming by witchcraft" to identify cases where adding a line of code that apparently did nothing, like "a = a", but triggered something in the compiler or OS that caused the program to run differently. You could move the code to a different position and the program would change how it functioned or put it back in the correct location and the program would run as intended.

    We were under a serious dead line when all of a sudden one of the modules didn't work. Someone else who obviously wasn't a witch had removed some code that had a comment above it saying DO NOT remove the following line. I had developed the original code and my boss came to me and threatened to fire me if it wasn't fixed in an hour. So I go wading back through the code and since the comment and code were both removed it was a bit hard to find - it's hard to see what isn't there. Running a diff on the previous and current code it jumped right out. I put the code back in but not the comment and went to lunch. I don't take well to being threatened.

    I was laid off three years later in the same manner as in this article when another company bought the original company. Of course the new managers cleaned house and brought in their own programmers. About a year later one of the programs wouldn't work. Apparently no one could determine what the problem was. I knew immediately what it was when another employee from the company contacted me to see if I knew anything about it - someone had removed the witchcraft. My reply? "Programming by witchcraft - Google it."

  22. earl grey

    What goes around

    Many, many years ago i was let go from a rather largish company after working there just short of five years. I had to fight for my unemployment, but determined to do so since my performance reviews had always had "highest" ratings for quality and quantity of work (although not so much for sucking arse). The manager who I think had been pressured into releasing me showed up for the appeals with a company lawyer, but the case was decided in my favour. I heard later from prior workmates that he had been let go by the company as a result.

  23. M_W

    It's not unique in the world of ISDN

    A cellular comms rental company I worked for (as an NT/Exchange engineer) decided they wanted to open an office in the middle of the continental USA.

    However, the date for go-live of the site didn't match with the date estimated by Sprint for the connectivity to be successfully installed into the site. But the site in the US had a few ISDN lines in, and the site in the UK also had some ISDN lines in.

    My boss then went out and bought a pair of Cisco 2500 routers with ISDN cards in and suggested I configure them. Bearing in mind, at this time, I hadn't actually touched a Cisco device before in my life. (for my sins I'm now a Cisco CCSP).

    Cue boss standing over my desk whilst I stuggle to configure the devices, although the early days of internet allowed me to at least search the cisco website and understand what I was doing.

    Boss - 'Make sure it drops the calls when there's no traffic'.

    Hmm. Can't find that IOS command anywhere, can't find any settings in the config.

    Me - 'Can I please go on a basic Cisco course because I'm struggling a bit here'

    Boss - 'No - no time and no budget'.

    Me - 'I'm worried that this will be expensive as the ISDN calls between the UK and the USA and vice-versa will be huge'

    Boss - 'Can't do much about that with the timescales'

    Ok then...

    So I configure the router the best I can, set up a dial up modem at each side so I can get into the routers remotely. The router lands in the office in the USA and I'm flown out to set it all up (at a cost probably close to the cisco training course including hotels). Never set up a large network before, but I get to work setting up the LAN and setting up the router. Remember - I'm a Microsoft server engineer never having touched network kit before.

    Anyway - by luck or judgement, it all works swimmingly, office is open on time, happy faces all round, and I get to visit the museum where John F Kennedy got shot during my downtime before my flight home. Nice one.

    Then the Sprint circuit gets delivered, we switch over to their managed routers, and disconnect the ISDN router. Yay.

    Till around 3 months later when my boss drags me into the office with the CEO and pushes a phone bill in front of me and asks what I know about a £50k phone bill for one month.The router looked like it was dialling up every few minutes, which is what you'd expect to be honest.

    I said that will probably be the sum total of your ISDN calls from the continental USA to the UK. They threatened me with the sack, but I argued that I was only doing what I was asked, that if they'd trained me I may have had more clue, but in the position I was put in, I was working with limited resource.

    I ended up keeping my job, but it did teach me to make damn sure that everyone up the chain knew if they were making a decision that could have been financially disasterous for the company. And I got to go on lots of training courses for Cisco and Checkpoint :)

  24. sisk

    What kind of moron terminates a tech mid-project without a debrief? Hell, around here they don't even let us leave for a week long vacation without making sure someone knows enough to step into our shoes till we get back.

    1. Jess

      Re: What kind of moron terminates a tech mid-project

      The way I interpreted it was that the decision maker wrongly believe the project was complete, and so Karma bit him on the arse.

  25. Tom 7

    Not the first company to save a couple of thou a month on salary

    only to find they have to pay out some 10's of thousand as a result.

    Oh and a bonus to the twat who cost the company a fortune.

  26. IT Hack


    This here is a prime example why security not just something to do with encryption and access control lists.

    One might wonder how this could be a security issue if it is a matter of someone leaving the organisation, willingly or unwillingly. If your company does not have a defined leavers policy then I would be hard pushed to say that it was a professional organisation. That leavers policy includes the process for immediate termination. In that process there has to be a section that ensures handover of work or an equitable agreement to provide a handover. That this was a redundancy means that this action was planned to happen. Why is it security? Well...the company just spunked its yearly budget on one item. A hundred grand loss can sink some companies, impact harshly on others. If that is not a security issue...(yes I am one of those that believes security cannot be segmented by operation. Security must cover any scenario that has a negative impact on the business).

    If neither the IT Manager or Director (or deputy) did not ask for project or work updates, well that is inexcusable.

  27. Midnight

    I have that T Shirt too.

    Many years ago I worked for the distribution side of a Major National Retailer. My main responsibility was running the warehouse management system that made sure that hundreds of people were able to pack and store the thousands of shipments that went through the great big building every day, each one of them on such tight timetables that so much as an hour of downtime on the management servers could cost the company millions in missed shipments, even if it happened on the weekend or in the middle of the night. My team took it pretty seriously and worked on designing a fairly bullet-proof system with multiple redundant hardware for everything, and it worked pretty well.

    One morning I found an issue with the system which was causing some irregularities to show up in the daily reports. I have officially forgotten everything about it by now, but somewhere at the core of it were a number of scheduled jobs which exported data from the main database, pushed it from machine to machine, and made sure that every part of the system knew what every other part knew. If it didn't run then there would be slight inconsistencies on the first day, slightly more on the next, and if it hadn't run by the weekend then the application would completely fall over and someone who knew how it all worked would have to be called in to fix it. And it would have to be fixed _right now_ because of the costs associated with any down time.

    I identified the problem and jumped right in to get it fixed. The first thing I did was set a "do not run" flag to make sure that nothing happened to make things worse before I was finished, and then made some notes which I would later enter into the incident ticket. Shortly after that my new manager dropped by and asked if he could see me right away.

    "Um, okay. I'm kind of in the middle of something, can I drop by your office in about five minutes once I have this cleaned up?"

    "No. I need to see you right now."

    "Well... All right. I really have to get back to this once we're done."

    As expected, the conversation was short and final. I asked what I could do to ensure a clean handover to whoever was getting stuck with my job after me, but told that I was being terminated immediately, would not be replaced and there would be no need for anything more and could I please just get out now and stop wasting time. Shortly after that I was escorted back to me desk accompanied by a security detail who were to make sure that I collected my things without touching my workstation in any way. The rest of my team had been conveniently pulled into a meeting so that they wouldn't be able to see what was happening and I ushered out the door without even being able to say goodbye.

    To this day I have no idea just how much damage $FORMER_EMPLOYER did to themselves by handling everything this way, but that's really their problem, not mine.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oil pipeline routing + computer operator error = multi-million dollar bill.

    Pah! Unless you've remotely written off several million dollars of pipeline due to sending the wrong (higher viscosity) oil down a pipeline narrower than ideal, you haven't really made a mistake.

  29. Asterix the Gaul

    The half-wit's above him probably knew nothing about how to achieve what they needed without him & when they thought they had the changes in the bag decided to terminate his employment.

    They,not knowing that a small incendiary fuse was burning,thought that the cost of employing him was no longer cost effective when everything was 'fixed' to 'their' satisfaction.

    As they say,"he who laughs last,laughs the loudest".

    When they called him,he was no longer employed by them,he was entitled to laugh his arse off after what 'they' had done to him.

  30. Stevie

    Goons Wonkshop

    Well what do you expect when you put art school grads in charge?

  31. Andus McCoatover

    Ooh! Should've been quicker!

    Look at all those lovely upvotes to my silver badge I'd have got!!

    But, thanks "James" - serously good example of why most managers shouldn't.

    (In the same way as when I write code, often my variables don't and my constants aren't)

  32. Suburban Inmate

    Never be afraid to walk out of a job, best move I ever made!

    I am also reminded of this.

  33. herman

    Yes, I do know why and for $10,000 I could write you a neat report and recommendation about it...

  34. Just Enough

    I call bullshit.

    So absolutely no-one is going to question just how dubious this story is? OK. I will.

    Why is the IT Director phoning the sysadmin? He doesn't work for them any more. What does he expect him to say/do, except perhaps gloat? Why didn't he phone the IT Manager first? Someone other than the sysadmin must have approved this contract. Is the IT Director incapable of reading an invoice? Would the IT Director not be better asking the telco? It's their bill, and surely they must have had some kind of sales contact who had had discussions with the company prior to setting up the ISDN line. Or maybe he could have talked to any one of their other IT staff. Surely the IT Director would have done absolutely everything possible to find out what was going on, before embarrassingly going begging to an employee they just fired?

    It's believable that this kind of screw-up occurred, but the way the sysadmin discovered the glorious revenge doesn't sound true at all. Which leaves a shadow over the rest of the story.

    1. IanTP

      Re: I call bullshit.

      Back then Gnomes Wandering was a pretty small company, and yes people back then (and probably still are) were that clueless.

    2. Whitespace

      Re: I call bullshit.

      The one-time and fixed recurring costs of the ISDN lines would have been peanuts - especially in Germany where it was not at all uncommon for domestic phone lines to be ISDN instead of POTS.

      Most of the 100k would have been the cost of two international phone calls connected 24/7.

      “This was massively expensive, but was only needed for two weeks before we could place the order for broadband...."

      James doesn't mention it so we know neither if his budget mentioned 12.5 k weekly communications costs nor if he had the plan and wherewithal to bring down the connection outside business hours.

      For me the fishy bit was that there were only a couple of weeks before he could ORDER the broadband connection. The provisioning time for any corporate quality line that I worked with during that period was measured in weeks, not days, even for SDSL. So unless his planned solution was something like domestic DSL he was probably lucky that he was let go and his former IT Director took the heat for the phone bill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I call bullshit.

        In the UK there was only domestic ADSL.

  35. The Vociferous Time Waster


    Still wouldn't hire him.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    The manner of James' leaving is irrelevant

    You gotta separate the layoff/schadenfreude part from the not-knowing-about-the-ISDN part.

    No employee should ever be the sole holder of knowledge. Employees need to communicate up and out and management need to make sure knowledge is spread around the team. People die, get arrested, have accidents, and get laid off all the time, so it's just bad practice to not have continuity plans.

    Assuming James did his part, and then his own boss did theirs, the fault is all on the upper management for not having continuity in place.

  37. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Never close the door.

    How to do it properly. I was offered early retirement from $BigCo for lacking both personal qualities of which one was a minimum requirement to deal with management: the ability to suspend disbelief and the ability to conceal disgust. Anyway, good terms were agreed - finish at end of year, several months away and best possible terms under IR regulations so no hard feelings either way.

    Of course under these circumstances one gets lumbered with the odd project nobody wants, in my case one which had come down from national management. I would do phase one & my line manager would then take over for phase two.

    So at the year end I started off for what turned out to be 10 years freelance. This got off to a good start because a few weeks into the year when I'd just got the first short contract finished when they rung up. Line manager was leaving, would I come back on contract & do phase two? After phase two there was a follow-up to start on the no-longer-project-but-new-business-as-usual work until some victim could be found to off-load it onto.

    So, because everything was done in a friendly fashion I got 6 months freelance work & $BigCo got its work done.

    1. C Yates
      Thumb Up

      "the ability to suspend disbelief and the ability to conceal disgust"

      I'm going to use this :)

  38. crabbybag

    The chap and his manager were probably fired *because* of the huge contract, which was then not terminated.

  39. Triggerfish

    A Karma tale

    So many years ago fresh out of uni and working on a helldesk, run by a sadistic call centre manager and cabal of trusted middle managers. If you ever have worked under it you will need no more explanation of how awful and unnecessarily stressful the job was. The sort of guy who used to persuade staff to work bank holidays by showing them how many people applied for positions. His gf from the company call centre had been promoted to desk supervisor above other guys who had worked hard to try and get that position.

    The company announced massive profits, making people travel in on their own time in the evening for the annoucement with no compensation and black mark if you didn't, pay was shit, lovely place. A few months later Velcro badge company change and redundancy time. Not being popular ("work bank holiday mate? threaten me, yeah right"), and being on the unpopular Unix software desk (they wanted to sell the NT over Unix solution which made up 95% of the companies business), I was up no worries, but they actually screwed me for it with a contrived dismissal so no redundancy pay. They also screwed the old guys who acted as our Unix consultants and who were a year or so away from retirement.

    wavy lines

    One evening sitting on a beach in Thailand as the girlfriend had been made redundant from another company a few months later, so we said stuff it and went traveling. Having a mortgage and credit card bills being paid for at a greater amount by PPI :). I called a friend still burning off his karmic wheel working for them, and this is what I was told:

    Some of the board members were being investigated by the fraud squad.

    The consultants had been brought back in to run the company, they waited for a rainy Manchester day, got our friend the software call centre manager to pack his stuff across and with the impression he was moving across to the main HQ building, which involved him packing his office and moving boxes across the carpark. Once he finished they gave him his notice.

    The day after his gf dumped him.

    Some days are just great.

  40. DeliberatusFreeman

    St4aling Defeat out of the jaws of victory

    The people in this article did it to themselves, and they deserve it. The man terminated is not liable or criminally chargeable.

    Not so large, but i have seen people shoot themselves in the foot by being stupid, overbearing, officious, and/or simply dishonest, robbing their managers and other employees. Here is one small business implosion self engineered by the owner, who robbed the people who prospered him.

    This man cheat his workers out of commissions for selling alarm systems and installs. Wonderful package deal, the finest electronics available at the time. Cheated mercilessly on sales commissions. Manager after manager put together a paper trail system to track appointments and the status of the meeting, payments, all that- and get fired, and the system vanished, so the new one had to start over. But NOW, we sales staff were suspicious and watching; When the last one went out the door, all the sales staff walked with him. YIPES.

    Said GM and overlord boss/owner went frantic, tried to get us back. No deal, SEEYA. So he hired new and continued in his ways. He could not keep good sales people, and the ones simply milking the $8/hr (AD1995 this event) weren't worth their keep.

    In time the ads in the paper stopped, so I drove by for a look see. Empty, evacuated. BBB reported the firm as closed.

    Therein is the tale of the end of Network Security, stealing defeat out of the jaws of victory due to greed and dishonesty, and the destruction of employee trust.

    Karma, it's a beautiful thing.

  41. DeliberatusFreeman

    Stealing Defeat out of the jaws of victory

    The people in this article did it to themselves, and they deserve it. The man terminated is not liable or criminally chargeable.

    Not so large, but i have seen people shoot themselves in the foot by being stupid, overbearing, officious, and/or simply dishonest, robbing their managers and other employees. Here is one small business implosion self engineered by the owner, who robbed the people who prospered him.

    This man cheat his workers out of commissions for selling alarm systems and installs. Wonderful package deal, the finest electronics available at the time. Cheated mercilessly on sales commissions. Manager after manager put together a paper trail system to track appointments and the status of the meeting, payments, all that- and get fired, and the system vanished, so the new one had to start over. But NOW, we sales staff were suspicious and watching; When the last one went out the door, all the sales staff walked with him. YIPES.

    Said GM and overlord boss/owner went frantic, tried to get us back. No deal, SEEYA. So he hired new and continued in his ways. He could not keep good sales people, and the ones simply milking the $8/hr (AD1995 this event) weren't worth their keep.

    In time the ads in the paper stopped, so I drove by for a look see. Empty, evacuated. BBB reported the firm as closed.

    Therein is the tale of the end of Network Security, stealing defeat out of the jaws of victory due to greed and dishonesty, and the destruction of employee trust.

    Karma, it's a beautiful thing.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got sort of on the other side of this once. I was working for Big PC in the days long before WiFi and the Big Phone rep came by to sell us on bundling wireless "Cell Modems" with our PCs. A dinosaur today, but back then a PCMCIA card with an antenna and glacially slow internet was new shiny, and the rep told us to try it out so we passed the card around the office and used it... and used it... and used it. Anyone going on a trip would borrow it and leave it on overnight to download e-mail (14.4K, on a good day).

    One day at least 2 or 3 years later it stopped connecting, so I called up Big Phone to see what was going on and the customer service person made a noise and said "This is the largest bill I've ever seen". Seems our Big Phone rep forgot he'd been comping the account a few months later when he got sacked.

    "er, thanks, bye."

  43. krakead

    SOP for this outfit

    I worked for this gaming outfit back in the mid-90s and this was very much Standard Operating Procedure for them. I witnessed several 'nights of the long knives' where whole swathes of employees were escorted off the premises, often once the naive wide-eyed youngsters realised how they were being taken for a ride and started grumbling about being paid so poorly. Only true believers got to stay.

    I left before it inevitably happened to me.

  44. FordPrefect

    Reality is you're responsibility ends at the end of your employment. The IT director is an idiot and should have handled this properly by ensuring that other people within the organisation were aware of the system and could support it going forward before sacking anyone. If that wasnt possible then he should have had the guy work his notice to ensure a proper handover.

    Also given the costs involved it points to lax internal controls that would allow someone to order something that was that costly without senior management sign off.

  45. IanTP

    I know the company well and I remember their place in Eastwood before the move to Notts, as many have stated, he was escorted from the building, ergo, not his problem, I am only amazed that they are still in business, loved White Dwarf back in the day :)

    Downvotes commence in 3..2..

    It's Friday and | have just enjoyed a classic BOFH! So Beer!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've no experience of them myself

    But I find it interesting that everyone knows exactly which company this is about.

  47. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Back when I was surplused from an IT job, I was given the requisite 60 day notice, an opportunity to put my documentation in order and train my replacement.

    And they still buggered things up.

    With some people, you buy them books and more books. And all they do is chew on the covers.

  48. ianken51

    SImilar thing happened to me

    Many years ago I worked as Sysadmin / IT Manager for a government accounting office in Western Australia. After working there for over 10 years the Director decided it was time to outsource all IT functions in the name of lower costs. Remember the mythical 15-20% savings one automatically recouped by outsourcing IT?

    Well after 12 months of massivly increased workloads, harrassment and bullying I finally broke and had to leave for health reasons. The Management likewise made it clear they wanted me gone immediately and locked me out as soon as I took leave.

    I'd just finished a complete overhaul of our IT backup and recovery systems, and was just 2 months from proving we were immune from the dreaded Y2K Bug. Furthermore, I'd just concluded liaison with a national IT company for implementation and maintenance of the organisations key IT Auditing package (our core business).

    As soon as I took leave it was made clear I was "persona non grata" and staff were warned to have nothing to do with me. All discussions regarding my health and career prospects were conducted through our respective solicitors. An amicable financial settlement was concluded, but I was given a gag order and told I was never to contact the organisation again.

    Luckily I soon healed and found other employment with the Federal Government and soon forgot about my sad experience.

    The 2 years after leaving I received an urgent call from an outsourced contractor pleading for any information regarding Disaster Recovery Plans and the principal Audit Systems Software I'd helped place into production previously.

    It seems that the Director and Deputy Director had considered themselves IT specialists and berated and demoted all remaining IT staff, and replaced all contractors who'd developed our systems with cheaper parties. They'd also managed to insult the CEO of the IT company that developed and maintained the Audit Systems.

    I was offered an obscene amount of money if I would drop everything and return to resolve their dilema. Nobody had any idea where any paperwork was, of staff/contractor contacts or responsibilities. In 2 short years the Director and Deputy Director had entirely lost control of all IT functions.

    My response was as terse as my dismissal. 'Thank you but I've rebuilt my career and established full-time employment and had absolutely no interest in renewing our aquaintances!"

    For them to have come to me, they must truly have been in a mess. However, I wasc not about to jeapordise my new employment for a quick Buck, and after 2 years I could imagine what a complete dogs breakfast they must have made. I declined. Eventually the political powers that be noticed the mess and Karma took a hand in their careers.

    Yes. Some of you will think I'm a dick and to some extent I feel I am. However, I knew the reality of the offer and that should I not be able to recover for them, yet again I should be their dupe. In the event of success they would garner the kudos; in the event of non-success, I should be the scaoe-goat. F,ool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me!.

    I have never regretted declining their offer.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: SImilar thing happened to me

      ??? Why do you feel a dick? You got the boot and rebuilt your career elsewhere. You'd have been a dick if you dropped everything and ran back to fix their mess.

    2. toughluck

      Re: SImilar thing happened to me

      Absolutely not a dick move. They were the ones who completely severed all ties to you. They contacted you unsolicited. You had a different job at that time and they could not have known your T&C. For all they knew, your new T&C could prohibit you from ever contacting or working for your former employers.

      Besides, you handed over as well as you could. It's absolutely not your fault, they did that to themselves. And whatever money they offered, well, don't you feel it was too little? You didn't know the extent of their problems and it could well turn out that even the obscene amount of money was too little for the trouble.

    3. Soruk

      Re: SImilar thing happened to me

      I imagined something like this:

      "By calling me you are forcing me to be in violation of your gag order and to never contact the company again. Goodbye." *click*

    4. C Yates

      Re: SImilar thing happened to me

      I can only echo what the previous people have said: it wasn't a dick move.

      If it were me, I would have asked for the Director to phone you personally and beg... it would have made telling them where to go even more satisfying :)

      Good job!

  49. martinusher Silver badge

    James is *not* a dick

    What's called 'redundancy' wasn't redundancy at all -- he and his manager were fired. James was walked out as if he was dismissed 'for cause' (as they say around here -- such dismissals are usually the result of theft, assault or other criminal behavior). James hadn't given them any cause to dismiss him, he was kicked out because they didn't need him any more. The people who made this decision are responsible for the consequences which in this case were somewhat expensive. So what.

    Professionalism cuts both ways. Treat people with respect and they will treat you with respect.

  50. wardster

    Treat those with great knowledge with respect!

    Years ago was a IT Co-Ordinator for a manufacturing firm, had the priviledge of working with some good hardworking lads. Shame the management in later years couldnt run a piss up in a brewery and threw away people with years of experience just to "get their pals in a top job".

    Said firm made furniture, but lots of competition meant the MD and his wife wanted to play a bit sneaky, which, fair enough, it happens.

    Due to contract rules etc individual schools couldn't buy direct - they had to go through co-operatives (see ESPO for an example).

    So, MD and wife and Sales Manager decide to conjour up a new company, no connection to the manufacturers, and lets base the company at a home address.

    Said folk aren't exactly brightest buttons in the box though. Any berk can log into companies house to see that MD was MD of "We make chairs out of polypropylene and sell in bulk!" Ltd.

    This new company can therefore sell to any buyer they want, with preferential prices as they can "buy direct" from the manufacturer.

    MD and co ask me to design and dev up the new website, but it can't be "registered" under any official company address, so the old Financial Director, a fine pipe smoking fellow writes up a contract stating that I will do the work, I pay the hosting, and I own the website, all for a invoiceable amount each month that I was paid as a "bonus" into ones wages.

    Nowhere in this contract states that if I leave said employment, I had to hand over ownership of the website to the employers.

    Anyhoo, the old FD gets unceremoniously booted out for a new chap who would shiver with excitement at the mention of a pivot table, and life goes on.

    After a while, I think time is enough, I'm off for pastures new, so new job starts and because said website is mine, after a couple of months where my invoices are ignored, and very pissy phone calls demanding hand over or else, I simply change index.html to "This Website is up for Sale! Contact me for details!"

    MD and new FD turn into raging monsters, but I play cool. Previous FD took legal advice, and its my website alright, if they want it, they will have to cough up.

    A few months later, negotiations etc and I'm back in the reception of the firm which USED to be a leading manufacturer of educational furniture signing a Nominet form handing it over and being handed a nice big fat cheque for my efforts.

    Cheers :)

  51. Tezla P

    Late to the thread, but with an idea...

    First off, IANAL and don't know much about employment law, but does the moment the IT Director calling James somehow 'reverse' their argument for that redundancy to have occurred in the first place and given him a credible argument to sue them for wrongful dismissal? As another El Reg commentator mentioned, the moment of being escorted off the building in such circumstances meant that the company should have never called him again, or had legal access to call his number other than admin in dealing with his P45 etc.

    1. toughluck

      Re: Late to the thread, but with an idea...

      Could be, but they could have also been calling to determine if they had any grounds for accusing him of sabotage by means of a poison pill, so slamming the phone or giving an unfriendly response would have worked against him.

      Since it was already after the ISDN contract could be cancelled, he could explain exactly what was the problem and how it was meant to be handled. I suspect his manager knew all about the project, but since he was given the boot at the same time, there was no possibility of a handover to anybody higher up the chain. And even then, it was probably documented, but nobody was arsed to look at that since everything was working.

    2. Number6

      Re: Late to the thread, but with an idea...

      There's a time limit on there. I think if you make someone redundant then you're not allowed to hire for that position for six months, although I might be well out of date on that. Asking if he knew why the phone bill was so high isn't really anything to do with the supposed redundancy of the job, that just shows a degree of incompetence and lack of proper records in some departments.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happened to me once

    Having worked for a company for ~£15,000/yr (not in the UK), I was laid off in a most unfriendly manner, no handover, no severance, I didn't even get my belongings returned.

    I found a new job soon after, managing devices made by my previous employer. They were reliable, but getting long in the tooth and two years later we needed to make a decision. Continuing with the same was out of the question since we were informed that end of service life was imminent and we couldn't accept the risk. We could spring up for a new solution by the same company, which cost quite a bit (over £10m, plus continued ~£2m per year in licenses and support which was more than the earlier running cost of some £1m/yr), but would be fairly straightforward to set up and manage. Or, decide on a cheaper solution (£2m plus £250,000/yr) that would cost us a lot of headaches in the transition period. All in all, I would be the one most affected and I would probably get the boot since I was the only one who knew the old systems well enough (that was the reason I was hired in the first place).

    To my amazement, the managers told me they are partial to continuing with the more expensive option since we know it works. That would keep me my job, too.

    However, that would be completely unprofessional. I decided that we make the switch, and I take full responsibility for getting it up and running and training other admins on it. The transition went unbelievably smoothly.

    I was called in by my manager soon after the new system was up and running. I went to his office, saw him seated there and some other guy that I haven't met before. I fully expected the same treatment as at I had before and after the initial niceties (good job and all that), he said that it's a shame I won't be working for him anymore. I asked on what terms are they letting me go. He said shocked that there's no way they will let me go after such a great experience and that I got a promotion (the other guy was my new boss) and a new project to manage.

    I found out later that my manager at the previous company as well as his boss were both fired over this debacle when they found out how exactly they lost their biggest contract in the country.

    1. Captain Badmouth

      Re: Happened to me once

      Excellent, well done, you're an inspiration to all on here.

      Have an upvote and a Sunday afternoon pint-although there's a bit too much head on this one.

  53. Charles Smith

    Been there, done that ...

    As an IT Manager I'd negotiated a big discount on some hardware circa £85K, but almost immediately afterwards a new IT Director came in to the company. The signs were obvious, I was not invited to some meetings etc etc so I cleared my desk of personal stuff, sorted out outstanding admin issues and waited for the call. Sure enough within a week I was out with a redundancy settlement and a don't contact the staff agreement. Three months later I had a grovelling call from the new IT Director "...could I give details of the discount agreement?"

    I had the pleasure of telling him that as requested, I'd mailed it to the Finance Department as I left my desk to go to the redundancy meeting. My spies told me the Finance Department denied all knowledge.

    1. Wilseus

      Re: Been there, done that ...

      Forgive me if I'm being thick, but why would the Finance Department have denied all knowledge?

  54. Heff

    "we need to do a full test of the fire system"

    "A full test?"


    "That's a lot of Halon"

    "A- what?"

    "Well In the Data Ce-"

    "I dont want your excuses. A full test"

    Yes, Mein Kapitan. #justfollowingorderssir #godblesstheorgchart

    1. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: "we need to do a full test of the fire system"

      Cautionary tales for all would-be "superiors."

      Just because you're paid more than somebody does NOT mean you KNOW more than somebody. When they try to talk to you about a potential issue, you should listen to them, they may be trying to cover YOUR ass and not just their own.

      (Attempting to cover YOUR ass is exponentially more likely the less you treat them like disposable cogs in the machine.)

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