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IBM: Customer visit costing £75 in travel? Kill it with extreme prejudice

Anonymous Coward

Hmm

Almost as stingy as Atos

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Stop

Re: Hmm

You don't know the meaning of the word "stingy"

Back when I were perm (Yorkshire accent required) a colleague was required to deliver and install a server from Derby to somewhere near Tyne and Wear and used his own car, looking forward to claiming his 40p / mileage allowance, thinking he was going to make a little extra beer money.

His car broke down on the way back and as he didn't have breakdown cover had to join the AA at the roadside, who couldn't get his car going so had to flatbed him home.

Upon learning this, our mutual boss decided to calculate his mileage based on the outward journey and the portion of the return journey before the breakdown occurred.

As tight as a cats arse, that one.

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Re: Hmm

Not really being stingy, this is just "constructive dismissal" at its best.

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Re: Hmm

Mark Hurd missed a trick there. I once drove from Birmingham to Cobalt (Newcastle) where my car refused to start and was taken home by a series of AA Relay blokes.

I claimed and received every penny of the return trip :)

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Pint

Re: Hmm

Ah Cobalt

What a miserable hole in the ground that was. I can only imagine the panic that set in when the car refused to start and you thought you may be stuck there.

Hope you claimed for the resulting mental trauma as well.

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Re: Hmm

Better than that I got the full 15 months payoff (12 months salary + PILON) and started on a contract within a month of leaving. Less hassle, less stress, nice people and I'm actually learning again. Thanks McKinsey.

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Stinginess is relative

Everyone seems stingy to those of us who were around in the late 90s until 9/11. I used to buy full fare tickets so I could earn more miles/points and have a better shot at upgrades. We used to compete to see who could run up the biggest dinner bill - and broke all previous records with a $7500 tab for six on the last night of one of my contracts. Everything was always reimbursed without question, so long as you saved the receipt.

Having to deal with "per diem" or buying restricted fares three weeks in advance and putting in change fees as an expense if flights needed to be adjusted seemed like austerity had hit! Blanket travel bans are great unless 1) it means working in some crappy cube farm instead from home like I do and 2) that travel wasn't to a place with a beach when you have snow on the ground where you live.

Travel is a royal pain here in the land of the TSA - it looked like I might have to travel for work for the first time in ages last year and I got permission to drive myself even though it was 500 miles away just because I could avoid the airport. Fortunately it was canceled (not due to cost cutting, just changing priorities in the C-suite)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

@Shady "Upon learning this, our mutual boss decided to calculate his mileage based on the outward journey and the portion of the return journey before the breakdown occurred."

I once had to travel to a training course and expensed upgrading my car insurance from SDP+C* to full Business use. I think it was only £20 but it was something I only incurred to attend the course and to their credit my employer did pay up.

AC: Current employer (at time of typing).

*UK-ian car insurance has different usage types:

SDP = Social, Domestic, Pleasure (i.e. anything other than going to work)

Commuting = Travel from home to permanent place of work (usually includes SDP)

Business = Travel for work other than covered by "Commuting" e.g. customer sites. (usually includes the other two).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

That seems like stealing to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

Anyone running a business that allows unchecked travel over £75 is at best incompetent and worse a complete moran

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Bronze badge

The majority of my work is now remote, via VPN/Remote access software. Whilst this isn't a bad thing, nurturing the customer relationship and picking up on small issues which need resolving/could be bigger issues isn't always possible.

I hope customers who rely on IBM ensure they're getting what they need out of their contracts.

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"picking up on small issues which need resolving/could be bigger issues isn't always possible."

Bigger issues = more money from customer.

Welcome to the modern economy.

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Yup, they seem to have picked up Big Pharma's ideology - "healing is a fool's game; treating indefinitely, that's where the money is!"

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Fixing those small issues that cause a lot of annoyance and visibility for the customer is the sort of thing that will get your contract renewed. Fixing their big problems via expensive change orders might keep them satisfied for now, but makes them more likely to look around for a cheaper alternative when the contract term is ending.

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Meh

Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

- In the days when they used to turn up on site to fix things...

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Mk4

Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

That phrase is from a long time ago when IBM was building very reliable computers (mainframes and minis) and indeed as another poster has noted carried out a lot of hand-holding to make sure they worked for the customer (and IBM made a lot of money). Unfortunately IBM didn't adapt as everything moved to PCs and x86 servers so they ended up making very good stuff that no-one wanted any more, and then made a hash of switching to PCs and x86 servers (and so they sold those parts off to Lenovo).

For many years IBM has been just another IT vendor with all the same problems as other IT vendors.

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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

To be fair their Servers PC's and Laptops were also mostly great products - just Dell and HP made "good enough" ones.

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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

Actually they still make mainframes and minis but their marketing is quite effective in hushing it up.

For example, at pub400.com you can get a free account to play around with IBM I (aka AS/400, what IBM calls their "midrange" OS). Now this is cool, but it is hosted by a company called RKZH, *not* by IBM.

So why doesn't IBM hand out some free accounts for non-commercial use to nerds like me? Hey IBM, you know, if more people actually *knew* about your products you might sell some more.

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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

I saw an early HP PC clone when my company was evaluating for inclusion in our product. 1980s. Pre-Compaq. It was frikken amazing. Solid build, gold plated EVERYTHING. No corners cut, it actually weighed more than the other clones.

The HP I was running in the 1990s was constantly breaking down. I frequently had to pull the cover off to reseat the memory. It was awful.

HP used to have a well-deserved reputation for quality.

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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

I remember doing an evaluation on an HP PC back in the early 90's with a touch screen ... 20+ years later Microsoft seem to have gotten around to using them too.

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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

IBM's network (here in the states) has a lousy uptime number. The Mainframe keeps chugging along at .999999 percent uptime. Of course IBM is using INTEL now and it is showing (and not in a good way).

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JLV
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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

Perhaps, but I also seem to recall that in their early days HPs had a well-deserved reputation amongst PC enthusiasts about being less compatible than most. BIOS, extension cards, chips, that kinda thing.

Kinda like Sony.

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Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM-

"IBM ... carried out a lot of hand-holding to make sure they worked for the customer"

For sure. Back in the day we operated quite a bit of AS/400 kit, and the IBM rep swerved by regularly, probably once a fortnight to check in, and chat with us and the head of service.

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Anonymous Coward

Given the great privatised British train system, isn't £75 equal to about 20 miles?

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as opposed to the public owned train service, where was a case of "I'll be there sometime in the next week.....hopefully. Please excuse the smell of diesel, vomit and piss when I arrive"

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Anonymous Coward

"Given the great privatised British train system, isn't £75 equal to about 20 miles?"

Due to the wonderful nature of advance rail fares, it can be cheaper to travel 150 miles from point A to point B going via point C than to travel 40 miles directly from point A to point C. And if you buy an advance ticket from point A to point B, but get off at point C instead, it is possible to be prosecuted in a civil court....

Aren't train fares brilliant!

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@Lost All Faith.. Plenty of vom & p on privatised train system, diesel a plenty too (lots of journeysl nowhere near electrified lines), just costs a lot more (& the trains I get are often delayed & standing room only)

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I'm not sure I noticed the difference between this description and now.

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"as opposed to the public owned train service"

Like East Coast, which were far more successful and gave far better service than the privatised lines, and were therefore embarrassing and got sold off to Virgin?

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Anonymous Coward

>Like East Coast, which were far more successful and gave far better service than the privatised lines, and were therefore embarrassing and got sold off to Virgin?

Being Pedantic, Virgin East Coast and Virgin West Coast are two distinct companies. West Coast is owned by Virgin Group (51%) and Stagecoach (49%), while East Coast is 90% Stagecoach and 10% Virgin Group.

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Anonymous Coward

"as opposed to the public owned train service, where was a case of "I'll be there sometime in the next week.....hopefully."

British Rail - "We're Getting There [eventually]"

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My return flight to Hamburg next week is £42 (Easyjet MAN-HAM). My return train ticket to the airport at Manchester is £47 from Shropshire.

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If you think that you can fly to Hamburg and back for £42 and that someone down the line isn't getting screwed, you can't really criticise the prices of British railway providers.

I hate advance tickets on railways because I'm neither a pensioner nor unemployed so can't book years ahead to get the cheap rates.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Pirate

KZZZZZZZT!

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Silver badge

Wasn't IBM's reputation built on rock solid hardware and hand holding when things went wrong?

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Anonymous Coward

Yup. They stopped doing most of the hardware a while back, and now they're not going to be doing the hand holding either. Not that IBM's X86 stuff was actually all that rock solid, but it certainly wasn't the worst available.

IBM now seem to be solely focusing on the business area with the biggest margins - price gouging their clients for managing projects. They've even stepped back from providing technical staff to deliver these projects - mostly they're delivered by third parties now. The executives don't seem to realise that they only got the cushy contracts of yesteryear because they used to be able to offer the complete package within one vendor - hardware, support and project delivery.

The way they're going, in a few years all IBM will be useful for is as a case study about what happens when beancounters overwhelm a company.

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A case study which will unfortunately be mostly ignored.

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Not really. IBM was a highly successful marketing firm who sold computers.

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Around 1995 I was working for a company that had decided to buy a new MainFrame. I needed some numbers for a report I was doing for management, so I called our "local" IBM rep. He informed me that in order to get the numbers I needed we would have to get a contract for IBM to supply the numbers. It went down hill after that. The people IBM brought in were non IBM types and wouldn't talk to the customer unless we signed anoth contract. I brought this issue to my boss and he almost had a heart attack. He called up the IBM rep and was told the same thing. IBM came withing an inch to loosing a sale over that.

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Silver badge

Mainframe, not MainFrame.

Downhill, not down hill

another, not anoth

Within an inch of, not withing an inch to

Losing, not loosing.

Sorry, an otherwise excellent post which made me squint trying to understand it. On a related note, I'm fun at parties.

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Holmes

@ ps2os2 "IBM came withing [sic] an inch to [sic] loosing [sic] a sale over that."

Frankly, the reason IBM did all that shenanigans and pissing about is it didn't change the eventual outcome - they still got the sale no matter how close it may have been.

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Anonymous Coward

"The way they're going, in a few years all IBM will be useful for is as a case study about what happens when beancounters overwhelm a company."

Fun thing is that now the beancounter companies (the Big Four) are the ones hoarding technical resources. Not that it will last for long, it's in the beancounter very nature to shake off anything not beancounting-related, but meanwhile it's interesting to see them recognize that after all, not all tech things are a money waste.

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Devil

@LordElpuss

On which kind of parties, if we may know?

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At, not on.

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So they want customer friendly engineers to turn up to corporate shindigs but won't pay travel costs? Probably won't be paying overtime either!!!

It's strange (not !!) that higher-ups on their over-inflated salaries and company cars think that the lesser beings (yes, those who do the actual work and bring in the money) should use their own money to benefit the company so the directors get a bigger bonus.

Seen it in various banks that I worked for - why am I putting in an overtime bill for working all day Saturday and Sunday when a senior manager/director hasn't? Er, cos they're paid enough you feckin' moron !!!

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Anonymous Coward

Overtime? What's that? In IBM land you get time in lieu but not one for one. Time in lieue is at manager discretion and it's not uncommon for them to offer 1 hour time in lieue for 8 hours work. That's assuming you can actually take it nowadays with so few local staff it hurts the rest of the team if you take the time you have accrued. I still have a week's worth of time (at the going rate of 1 hour for 8 hours labour) from 2016 and I've seen people RA'd who have had far more time owed to them because they'd been working ridiculous hours trying to keep projects afloat.

At the moment, there is a freeze on contractor renewals (we are told it's global) so we've lost 3 people in as many weeks. The resulting escalations from the customer resulted in the manager (and two levels above them which had to then be approved by my geographic region head) getting approval to pay overtime (capped at 20 hours) for three weeks worth of work for a team whose members are already working up to 80 hours every week. We had approval for two additional contractors that had nearly completed before the freeze hit and just made our offers when we were told we couldn't hire them. I've heard of other local teams who also had new contract hires about to start get canned including one who got canned the night before he was due to start.

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"Overtime? What's that?"

"1 hour time in lieue for 8 hours work"

"seen people RA'd who have had far more time owed to them because they'd been working ridiculous hours"

"freeze on contractor renewals"

"getting approval to pay overtime (capped at 20 hours) for three weeks worth of work"

"working up to 80 hours every week"

"got canned the night before he was due to start"

IBM is fucked. You're fucked. Get out while you can still get a good reference.

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Happy

Get out while you can still get a good there's still someone left to give you a reference.

FTFY

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All I can say is your manager definitely deserves a hefty pay rise for making you and your team work for free.

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