Future Tech

They call me 'Growler'. I don't like you. Let's discuss your pay cut

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 01 Mar 2024, 06:50 PM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

On Call Welcome once more, dear reader, to On Call, The Register's reader-contributed tales of delivering tech support amidst feuds, foolishness, and folly.

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Corey" who told us of his experience during the dotcom boom of the late 1990s and very early 2000s.

Corey contracted at a multi-bank foreign exchange platform provider - an outfit he described as "classic dotcom: we had 130 employees and only two were involved in tech delivery."

Corey was one of the two, his friend was the other.

Once the dotcom's platform was built and running, Corey and his mate left to start their own company.

Client number one was the foreign exchange platform. Corey and Co offered "very competitive daily rates - not far off mate rates - should they need our help."

The arrangement worked well. Corey and Co got paid, which meant they could start their business without dipping into savings, and the foreign exchange platform got rapid and well-priced help from people who knew it well.

Things were going swimmingly until the forex outfit hired a new chief operating officer, who summoned Corey and Co to a meeting.

"He introduced himself with a name I cannot remember, but followed it up with a snarl and a menacing 'But everyone calls me Growler'," Corey told On Call.

Growler proved his name was well-earned by asking where Corey lived.

Corey named an English city that's not famed for its physical beauty.

"I can't think of anything worse," Growler replied, before announcing he wanted to renegotiate Corey's rates after claiming they were too high.

Corey was annoyed. "I agreed to a low-cost support tier that I knew they'd never need but would allow him to think he'd won, but also a new high-cost delivery tier that was definitely no longer mates rates."

His plan worked. Within days the forex outfit was obliged to pay the higher rate.

"That was the most money I have ever been paid - we're talking Premier League footballer money," Corey told On Call.

Perhaps due to the exorbitant rates Corey charged, but more likely due to dotcom era internal incompetence, the forex platform soon ran out of money and folded.

The CEO took the staff to the pub, and declared the bar was open - a phrase soon-to-be-former employees took as a sign that the last of the investors' cash would be blown on booze.

Instead, workers had to buy their own drinks.

A couple of weeks later, as Corey was looking at apartments to buy with the huge amount of cash the dead dotcom had paid him, his phone rang.

It was Growler. The dotcom had enough of a pulse that it was trying to offload the tech Corey and Co had built. Could Corey help to sell it to a very large multinational buyer with very deep pockets?

Growler admitted the dotcom couldn't pay, but promised that if the deal were done, some money would change hands. All Corey had to do was come to a meeting and talk tech.

Corey suspected Growler's real plan was to slip him a £20 note after the meeting.

But he agreed to attend the meeting anyway.

Come the day, two minutes before the meeting, Corey called Growler to advise him he'd changed his mind.

Growler's wife answered the phone and, somewhat panicked, told Corey she thought he was at this very important meeting.

Corey asked to speak with Growler, whose wife said it wasn't possible - the guests for the meeting had arrived.

So Corey asked Mrs Growler to take a message.

"I won't be coming in to help him … I can't think of anything worse."

"I put the phone down to her squeals," Corey told On Call.

Corey is aware this was probably not his finest moment.

"But knocking a wannabe tough guy down a peg or two still makes me smile," he told On Call.

Have you taken revenge on a horrible boss? If so, click here to send On Call an email and we may serve your story cold here on a future Friday. ®



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