Tales from Tech Support…

A few years back, I was working for staffing company, on loan to a large company, in a division that provided technical support for their point of sale devices, which were installed at retail locations. The division I was in was entirely POS support, specifically for this particular retail chain.

The company had some odd policies, and seemed to believe that their reputation and the chance to be convert from a contact employee into a staffer was all the incentive required to ensure productivity. The conversion rate was something like 1% per year, so I didn’t exactly agree, and I’m fairly sure I wasn’t alone in that. You have a few who wanted to chase that dream, but most of my coworkers were pretty slack.

I’m an ex security goon, and so I’ve got certain expectations of right and wrong. When I was on a call with one of the employees at the retail store, and I overheard him talking to his buddy about how the manager had left the computer unlocked and they could see all the rates, I passed that information along to my supervisors. Maybe that’s a dick move, but if you’re going to do something like that, don’t talk about it while you’ve got an open phone line that is being recorded.

So, I was the only guy there who had a kill count. (Employee terminated as a result of your actions.) I’m not sure if that was a good thing or not. This relates to the story, because my third kill, was embezzlement and included jail time.

There was an LPO officer from one of the stores who called in a few times, and we developed a bit of rapport. I liked the guy, so when he called in with a strange issue and a gut feeling, I took it seriously.

He’d had one of his employees comment to him offhandedly that a customer had purchased a TV with a $1000 gift card earlier than day, and he wanted me to check on the providence of the gift card.

So I logged into our interface, confirmed the balance had been a grand, and then decided to dig a bit deeper. It was 7pm on a Sunday night, and my supervisor had gone home at 6pm. I gave him a quick ping on his company issued texting account, and then a call on his cell, but he wasn’t picking up. I checked our “manual”, and there was nothing in it that would really qualify. So I took the initiative and decided to see what I could figure out.

I put in a query to our backend team, and got them to provide me with some logs from the terminals. Together, we managed to piece the plot together. An employee had found that there was a way to generate gift cards on an account that was set up for converting grandfathered rewards programs into the new program. In theory, it had been taken offline, but it still existed in the system, and he’d found it and decided to create a few gift cards using it. He’d created a small gift card, less than a $100 and tried it out. A few weeks later, he’d created a larger one. A bit after that, he’d created several more gift cards. After that, he’d started selling the gift cards.

All told, he’d generated about 34k worth of gift cards, and about $1200 had been used before it had been brought to my attention. I’d locked down the account, preventing the remaining 32k from being used.

A week or two later, I heard back from the LPO. The employee who’d accepted the $1000 gift card had been given a 3K bonus, 10% of the embezzled funds that we’d recovered. The LPO seemed rather upset about that, since he felt that I was the one who deserved the 3K, since I’d done the actual work in catching the guy, and the guy who’d received the money hadn’t done a damn thing. But, since I didn’t work for the retail chain and the LPO was expected to recover the stolen funds, we weren’t eligible.

Therefore, it went to the guy who’d promoted the investigation, even if he’d just been laughing about how weird it was and the LPO had overheard him. Still, the LPO thought I’d done a great job and offered me a job, if I’d come work for him. I’d declined, since he was someplace down in the states, and I was a Canadian.

He also let me know that he’d verified which employee had done it, the guy had been fired, and he was recommending that the company press charges.

About a week later, I got let go. I was told I wasn’t Big Company Name material. I was told by the buddy who’d got me the job that I’d stepped on some toes by solving the problem the way I did. Not only had I let the LPO know about the hole in the system I’d found, but I’d also gotten the issue resolved, rather than letting a team from higher up handle it, at their billable hourly rate.

But hey, I’d had no supervisor, nothing in the manuals about it, so I did my best, and I guess I went too far.

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