Saturday, December 14, 2002

Yes, I do wear clothes

I swear this happened. I just looked up a book on Amazon, and of course it had to pitch some other stuff to me. But then I saw "Customers who wear clothes also shop for:" Methinks a programmer is having some fun.

A buddy and I worked in billing for a large firm once and had made some modifications to a module that applied federal, state and local taxes. For testing, we created some dummy taxes in a test environment. Originally they had names that were, uh, highly partisan, and we laughed about it. Then a supervisor allowed that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. So we changed them to "competence tax" and "gratuitous tax". We had also set the rates very high so we wouldn't have to finagle a lot of data to make their effects show up.

And it's a good thing we did, because some moron grabbed those dummy taxes and put them into production. Next thing we know account managers are getting calls from customers asking about $50,000 of "competence tax" on their bill. Most of them were amused by the names, which I would hope that any idiot could recognize as BS. We let people know what had happened as quickly as we could, and near as I can tell no lasting harm was done. We did thank our lucky stars that the original names had been changed though.

There really weren't any repercussions for my partner or me because we hadn't done anything wrong (we didn't even have access to the production file in question). But we kept our heads down for a while and got very busy cleaning up the data and creating the right accounting entries for reversal.

And when nobody was watching, laughing our tails off.

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