Saturday, August 16, 2008


As I write this I'm too flabbergasted to be furious. After a little while I'll come out of shock and then get angry and then probably ill, if my previous reactions to this situation are any indication to what my immediate future holds.

I never went into detail much (preferring to be comical about a serious situation) but I left Maryland, fled really, a year and change ago for California. I grew up in San Diego. I left a wife and child behind in Maryland for a number of months while I sought new employment and a place to live.

In Maryland I had a pretty good job and a pretty good life. I wasn't crazy about the people but the area was nice. That life fell apart as a pay error that initially shorted me a few hundred dollars snowballed from a simple accounting error into a series of horrible events that set me back decades. If I had known what would have happened when I sent in the pay error request to be compensated for a couple days of work I would have let it go. The simple error and the attempts of the payroll department to pay me about two hundred dollars turned into not being compensated the following weeks for over a thousand bucks. Then many screw ups later, many thousands of dollars.

What happened was: Back pay via payroll checks were issued to me which I deposited. Accounting then canceled the checks because they thought I was issued them erroneously. They did not tell me they placed a stop payment on the checks. I incurred a lot of returned check fees. Rent payments, utilities, car payments were all returned as insufficient. Then that problem was fixed. Then electronic deposits to my account were made. Then once again without bothering to inform me, the electronic deposits were reversed after I had paid all my outstanding bills. I then went weeks without being paid, was paid back, then wasn't paid again. This occurred again and again. The Union backed me up and ordered the company to pay me. The company agreed and then continued to screw up. Eventually I was given a $50 gift card for my troubles. I was informed I was being sent all my back pay (but would not be compensated for all the related late fees, overdraft fees, court costs and etc.) by express courier. I was even given check numbers. The expected package never arrived and I discovered I was given bogus tracking numbers by the accountants. The checks were never printed. I had enough and I gave notice.

In just a few months the late fees, court-related costs and compounded errors escalated to a point where I lost everything. Already halved by paying my wife's medical fees for things not covered by insurance, our savings were wiped out. The new job I secured after I left the old one didn't bring funds in quickly enough as I was being paid bi-weekly instead of weekly. Right then timing was everything. For example, If I owed the bank $600 by the end of the week or I lose a car to repossession, then payroll would screw it up give me only $100 of a promised $2500. Eventually, not having thousands of dollars available to keep the wolves from the door I was forced to abandon everything and move back to California with a suitcase and $150 in my pocket. It has taken us nearly two years to financially break even from the mess we were in and we still can't buy anything with a check or credit card because my former employer refused to acknowledge they caused my accounts to be overdrawn by wrongly placing stop payments on checks and reversing electronic deposits. The emotional wreck of my family life is still healing even though we have been reunited for over a year.

This is all fall out from a formerly good company which after a famous buyout and merger fell apart organizationally. Employees who had been with the company for decades were discarded in favor of the new companies' young and poorly-trained managers. After only a short conversation with any Manager one could easily determine who had been with the old company and who had been brought in from the parent company. A manager could usually be picked out as a new import because they were the ones shrilly berating employees in public. Many of the Managers were former residents of a cubicle farm who were transferred to the new division after taking a class in retail management and then were placed in charge.

After the merger a nationwide training division, payroll department and printing service was shut down as too expensive and everything was outsourced. Advertisements were routinely misprinted. Pricing was chaotic and riddled with errors. And apparently, the new Accounting and Payroll service was outsourced to a team of dyslexic gerbils who operated out of Afghanistan. I speculate this is what happened because only brainless rodents with difficulty in interpreting a second language because of a reading disability could be so ridiculously incompetent. In less than a year after the merger a large and successful company was destroyed and made marginal. Some say it was on purpose so it could be torn apart and the pieces sold off for profit.

Now what has got me all dizzy from reliving the nightmare is that the same accounting office which I unsuccessfully argued with for over two years to get what was was owed...

This office I talked to on a nearly daily basis and then several times a week for a year (at about 3 hours per conversation, because each call was like the very first and no one, including the accountant I had spoken to several times that week, knew or remembered anything)...

This accounting department which was completely incapable of compensating me for the work I did, plus compounded in a most ridiculous fashion with error after error after error which I would suspect were intentional acts specifically planned to destroy my life if not for the daily evidence that everyone involved in the company from the bottom up were all comically inept...

This is the same accounting department which previously had no record of paying me, agreed they owed me money, yet dissembled, denied and ignored me...

This office contacted me yesterday by letter and disclosed that I had "several unclaimed payroll checks" in their office. I was informed in the letter that my money has been sitting in their accounts with funds owed me from the beginning of July to December 2006. The letter also tells me If I do not respond and claim the money owed me within 30 days the funds would then be presumed abandoned and turned over to the State Treasurer.

I'm sending the response today overnight via FedEx. Believe me, these tracking numbers will not be in the least bit bogus.



  1. Sweet jumpin monkeys.
    I was once working at a bank part -time in addition to my fulltime job. The bank ended paying my for a full 80 hours and treated my part time work as overtime.

    I explained their mistake and they couldn't fix it. I had to go 90 weeks without pay for every thing to even out!!!! I took all the money out of my account and told them I quit.

    They were astonished and I told them I was walking unless they fixed it. They tried for 3 weeks to figure out how to correct it and finally gave up and let me keep the extra cash. I kept working there, waiting for them to screw up again so I could come out ahead.

  2. Dear fucking lord -- "given a $50 gift card for my troubles"?!? After weeks of horrifying mistakes, and a gift card is just insulting. Aren't corporate overlords just the BEST?

    Hope things continue to improve for you. At least they didn't send a notice that you owed THEM any money :)

  3. A jaw dropper of epic proportions.

    Have you considered retaining a lawyer and suing the bejeebers outta these bozologists?

  4. Mister ‘Stack,

    I am an avid reader of the League of Melbotis and have been reading your site since having been linked here by The League.

    I have great pity for your situation. It truly sounds hellacious but I think you've done a great job ( being a LTMS reader silently lo these last several months ) keeping an upbeat site and message despite the horrible feel of “Brazil” in your story.

    Best of luck to you, Mr. Buttle. Your reader,

    Steven Harms

  5. Thanks to everyone.

    I often thought during all that I was going crazy, because no one would get off their butts and cut a check and I kept talking to these people and getting the same results every time.

    Someone also asked why I stayed with the company for so long. It was only a few months and jobs in my pay grade were scarce. But that's all it takes to render someone homeless. Something would happen just every two weeks. "Didn't get paid? Okay, we'll have it fixed next week."

    It would be fixed, then reversed the following week, then fixed, then made worse. By that time rent is late, I owe another $500 in court fees for the eviction filing, the cars are two payments late getting caught up with electricity, food, phone, late payment fees and reconnect fees, etc etc etc.


    And FYI, suing them would cost about the same as I recovered. Not worth it except for the satisfaction.

  6. Sweet Christmas...

    I thought my problems with the LA parking violations department were bad (a city I had never been to, but in which a car I'd long since sold earned a parking ticket).

    Reading your tale leads me to see, I know nothing of bumbling bureaucracy and the personal shake-out.

  7. Here's hoping that the "unclaimed payroll" checks get to you, at long last, without any more problems!

  8. Oh God, that's awful.

    I sincerely wish you the best in getting a new job and putting this... this insane idiocy behind you.

  9. seriously, though, short of suing them a nasty letter from a lawyer might do wonders. these shitbirds are bullies and cowards and count on nobody ever challenging them.

    good luck....

    tex lebeauf

  10. Nice picture of the "Grand Nagus Zek" Ferengi actor. I guess you were dealing with some soulless greedy human Ferengi's here.

  11. "And FYI, suing them would cost about the same as I recovered. Not worth it except for the satisfaction."

    And don't think they don't know it, my dear. That's why the tort reformers go after class action suits.

    And in another stunning catch-22 people who argue against regulations say that we have a strong court system.

    I, too, am amazed at how upbeat you've been here through all of this.

    You are one amazing sleestak!

  12. h0ly fcku.

    hope you have the entire history of the matter for the art installation.

    oh yeah. and you know to give them exactly and only what they ask for, and to say or write nothing additional, either - right? you want to be a number that they fill into a fire off a synapse in the skull of one of the squirrels.

    in fact, make your mind a blank until the checks have cleared. i shall do the same.

  13. what happened to *that*? want to be an number that they fill into a "blank. you don't want to make any noises that might fire of a synapse in the skull of one of the squirrels."



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