Working for a company gives you a peek behind the curtain and lets you see how the magic works. You have access to all of its inside information, from the company secrets to the ingredients in their recipes. While details about its profits and losses might only known to its accountants and bookkeepers, being an employee means knowing about the company's financial well-being.
You also know about the hidden perks and freebies that go unannounced to the general public, as well as the company's sales quotas that might drive employees to push certain products to unsuspecting customers. Unfortunately, you may also see shady business practices being used at a company, forcing you to question your employment there.
Or maybe you get up and close and personal with the jerks in upper management or ownership who create a hostile work environment. Read on for 25 secrets that these folks at Reddit share about their former companies.
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#25 Waste Not Want Not
A specialty grocery store I work for throws away lots of edible produce, deli, and bakery food every day at individual stores, mainly because it doesn’t look picture perfect. It was the most wasteful company I’ve ever seen. There were homeless people stealing food every day and being prosecuted when we could have just given them the food. Instead, it all went into the garbage compactor.
#24 Forever Return Policy
The home goods store I work at will accept a return for any item that is in their inventory. You can claim anything is defective.
A woman once returned a 75 percent burned candle because the wick dipped into the wax and she couldn’t fish it out. She got a full refund. A guy brought in a vacuum he purchased probably nine years ago from a store in another state. It took us about 20 minutes of fishing through an older version of the inventory system to validate that, yes, at one time about a decade ago, we carried that item. He got a full refund.
In the grand scheme of things, your return is a minuscule fraction of their profits and keeping you as a customer is worth tossing away some money every now and then. Also, their coupons never expire.
#23 Applications By The Numbers
Many years ago I worked with a firm that evaluated medical school applications. Medical schools get so many applications (over a thousand per year in some cases) that many of them pawn the initial evaluation work off to outside groups, who then subcontract to temp agencies during application season. Of course, the school makes the final decision, but the initial pre-evaluation is handled by temps who might not even have degrees.
These agencies are paid by quantity and not by quality. There's a strong pressure in the organization to process as many applications as possible, as quickly as possible. It's not a formal quota, but management definitely noticed if your numbers went down.
I don't even want to contemplate how many excellent potential doctors my colleagues rejected simply because they were in too much of a hurry. Some of them likely spent their lives preparing for their med school application only to get preemptively rejected by someone with no medical qualifications.
This was 15 years ago, so I sincerely hope the system has reformed since then.
#22 The Robots Are Taking Over
The big insurance company I work for puts every claim through an algorithm to determine whether to fight and dispute it in court. The algorithm is able to guess the lawyers and judge that will participate and decide based primarily on their records.
#21 That's Not Sanitary
I used to work in the meat department at a big chain market. Our manager was insistent on using past-due meat to make grinds for burgers, sausages, etc. I once got in trouble because I threw out the ammonia-scented chicken tenderloins that had expired two weeks ago, rather than grind them up for chicken patties.
#20 Review The Reviews
After working at a certain marketing agency, I don't trust online reviews. Everyone in our company from the receptionist up to the owner was assigned multiple fake social media accounts. On a daily basis, we were assigned to write fake four- and five-star reviews to drown out the legitimate criticisms of our clients. Some of these clients shouldn't even be in business.
#19 Make That Candy Money
Certain movie theatre chains have something called a "per cap." Per caps are calculated by dividing the attendance by how much concession sales there are. For example, a low per cap is anything under $3, but a higher one is over $4. If there is a 15-cent variance from one day to the next, you had to fill out a report stating why. You couldn't state things that were obvious.
For example, if I manage a theater in Minneapolis, and per cap was low on Sunday because everyone was at the Super Bowl, I could not use sports as an excuse. Instead, I would say something like, "large groups in attendance who didn't purchase concessions."
By the way, nobody cares if you sneak drinks or candy in, just make sure you throw it away after the show so it's easier to clean the auditorium.
#18 Don't Get "Decaffed"
I used to work at a big coffee chain and worked at a variety of different stores during my stint as a barista. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to clean an espresso machine and have found mold. I've only worked in one store that followed cleaning protocol correctly, out of a total of six (all in a major U.S. city).
Also, don't be rude when you place your order, otherwise you will, without a doubt, be "decaffed." I've even witnessed assistant store managers do this to customers.
#17 The Secret Phone Plan
One big cell phone company has secret phone plans, depending on how long a customer you have been and how much you threaten to quit your service. You have to go to their store, not an authorized dealer. Authorized dealers just sell the phones and plans and can't really do much else.
Also, check to see if you can get a company discount; if your company is decent-sized they have a discount.
Overall, the company will rip you off. They are betting you don't check all the charges on your bill and will try and slip some fees in there. It's not the store that sold you your plans fault, it's 100% corporate's fault.
I sold them for a while the "I got a free phone" and "I have an upgrade" are lies since you are still paying full price. It's just broken down into monthly payments. You might have walked out of the store paying nothing, but you will be paying full price for that phone. The upgrade is a trick to get you another $500 - $1,000 in debt with the company so you remain a customer until that amount is paid off because you can't close your account until that phone is fully paid for.
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#16 Call The District Manager
Every single automotive parts company will let you return anything if you simply call the district manager. I have yet to see anything not taken care of when it reaches their level. You think your battery is under warranty, but it's not showing up in the system? Call the district manager and they'll tell the store to take care of it.
#14 Flawed And Fully Aware
At one company all of the technical staff and employees were fully aware of widespread issues well before they are officially released to the public. They are never discussed at the morning staff meetings with management present but are always a source of discussion in the afternoon technical staff meeting.
For example, it got to a point where I would replace a phone with a display issue and sometimes had to replace the replacement two or three times while the customer was waiting. It was embarrassing and frustrating that the official release statement from the company was that the issue was caused by customer misuse. We all knew the truth and the technical staff with any sort of conscience would do what we could to right the wrongs.
#13 Cut Those Hours!
A big-box retailer would make us work past our shift and then force us to clock in late the next night to avoid overtime. The managers got so paranoid about over time that they started accusing us of going over 40 hours. Once I was docked four hours when I had no overtime so I had to use my paid time off to get back to 40 hours.
#12 Chain Dentist
If you can, try to avoid going to dental chains. They push you to get procedures you don’t need and your appointment times are usually as fast as the doctor can find the first thing that’s wrong. Doctors are overworked and this increases the chance they will mess up. If you can’t pay, they help you finance, but you’ll get hit with a 20 percent interest rate when you miss your first payment. They also overwork and underpay staff, which leads to disgruntled staff who don’t care about you.
The only way it works is when you have caring, skilled staff across the board. This rarely happens due to high turnover.
I had to get out when the new doctor at our office pulled too many teeth in a procedure and had to give a patient a full denture instead of a partial. He blamed the assistant and she was fired. The lab was overwhelmed with extra work from his mistakes. I didn’t feel the doctor cared about anything but money and I couldn’t morally do it. I couldn’t say he was a good doctor when deep down I knew it was a lie.
#11 The Expert Jewelry Negotiator
Most of all jewelry items for sale (the exception would be promotional pieces or special collections) has a “minimum” and a “maximum” price. Don’t believe that the retail price is what you have to pay. Ask the salesperson what is the minimum price on an item. Say it like you know what you are talking about because sometimes the minimum price can be hundreds lower than the displayed price.
#9 Not Made From Scratch
I used to work in the bakery department at a major supermarket. Almost nothing, aside from the bread, is made from scratch there. This shouldn't be too shocking, considering they're a multi-national chain, but really it'd be more correct to say that our cakes are "assembled" in-house.
#8 Paid Private School Education
I worked for a private school where grades were definitely bought. We were discouraged to give anything lower than a B. I had one principal that told a teacher to take the final for a student that went on summer vacation early. She called it a shadow final and said nonchalantly that it's no big deal; just answer how you think the student would answer.
This school was expensive and these kids go on to fancy colleges because of these grades.
#7 Fried Chicken
When I worked at a fast-food chicken place 10 years ago, there were teenage kids cooking with industrial pressure cookers that could take their heads through the exhaust canopy if they messed up. I literally have seen cooks bread their own hands up in flour and dunk them in 175 degree Celsius oil for fun. I have seen kids use boiling hot urn water to clean the caked on-flour and oil off their work boot and that water ran into their boot giving them serious burns.
I have seen kids pick up huge pots of boiling oil and tip them to refill a cooker as a shortcut to the slow melt method. The minimum working age at the time was 14 and 9 months, but they’d hire them at 14 years old with the parents' permission. They could become a supervisor at 17 or 18 years old.
Stuff may have changed in the last ten years, but teenagers watching teenagers with that type of equipment was nerve-racking. I'm not saying teenagers are stupid... just the ones I had to work with.
#6 The Bad Quality Assurance
I used to work for a large smartphone company. During development, we used to go through phases. Each stage had checkpoints in order to ensure that the final product was built with good quality and any known bugs would be able to be ironed out before the product launch. Any bug that was not resolved would potentially have the ability to delay the launch.
Except that there was a thing called Waivers. So the project manager could request that certain bugs be granted a waiver delaying the fix of the problem to a later date. No big deal, every project has a few minor bugs, right? For each stage, there would be hundreds of waivers. Some would be minor, but sometimes they were definitely not minor.
I will never buy an electronic device in the first three months of mass production. I wait for the second wave of production since the quality of the product increases tenfold.
#5 Tech Workers
Most of the people that are tech workers at a big box electronics retailer aren't really technical at all. We usually just walk it over to a bench, hook it up to a corporate virtual LAN, and run some software. If there are real issues then people remotely connect from India or somewhere else and figure out the problem. We are basically just salesmen with a clip-on tie.
#4 Keeping You Busy For Public Relations
Cleaning up animals after an oil spill is feel-good propaganda to make the public think they are helping. Ninety percent of those animals will pass within a few days or weeks. They've ingested enough of the oil that they are moving corpses, they just don't know it yet.
Real oil-spill work is done by trained professional crews, not volunteers. If you ever tried to help, you were given busy work to keep you out of the way.
#3 The Ticket Scam
The ticket agency I used to work for is corrupt. It's not a little thing here and there, they are just a bad company all around.
They will take your money for tickets even if they have none of those tickets, assuming they will eventually have tickets to sell you. If they don't get them, you get the ticket money back. An example of this was when a guy in the United Kingdom bought tickets to the Super Bowl in 2013, booked his air travel, flew to the states, booked his accommodation, was staying in a hotel he paid for and was calling us every 15 minutes to ask where his tickets were.
We were told to lie to him and say someone will meet him at the stadium. We let him know 30 minutes before the game started that he wouldn't be receiving any tickets. The agency refunded the ticket cost, but the travel, accommodation and time loss? Nothing at all. And they never had the tickets.
It's the same for festivals: I took loads of calls from people who were told to get to the middle of the wilderness in Eastern Europe for a dance festival, having booked time off work and prepared for a five-day festival. When they got there they were told there were never any tickets.
They were told just go home, write off the time off, write off the ticket costs, write off the transport, write off the preparation and deal with feeling bad for five days because they were ripped off by a company. And it isn't that simple because now they are in the middle of a field in Eastern Europe for five days, the bus that took them there has gone and they have no admittance to the festival. Essentially, this agency was responsible for just dumping around 100 people in a field in Eastern Europe with no provisions and no way of getting back.
If you buy a ticket from them, I would honestly say you have a 40 - 45% chance of getting it.
#2 Customer Star Ratings
It has been several years, but when I worked at certain satellite TV company, they had a value system for customers.
You are valued at 1-5 stars, based on how much you spend, and how much they value you as a customer. If you are are a higher star value, they will do basically anything to keep you. You will get a ton of services and equipment for free, and they will bend over backward to keep you from canceling. Also, there are special phone lines for people they consider VIPs. They never have to wait on hold and only special employees are allowed to take the phone calls.
If you are a one- or two-star customer, they don't care about you. Especially one-star, because it usually means that you are late all the time or that you don't spend very much. If you call in asking for deals or credits, they won't give it to you. If you threaten to cancel, no one cares.
#1 Happy Employees, Happy Burgers
I worked at a fast-food restaurant from 2000 - 2003. It was clean. Nothing super disgusting at all. All of the equipment got a thorough cleaning every 24 hours. The floors were mopped regularly, walls were wiped down, everything was clean.
The food was always fresh. If the burgers cooled enough for the buns to get hard, they were trashed. If fries/sides sat under heat lamp for 15 minutes, they were trashed. We threw away a lot of food. We had to track it all for inventory purposes and filled up a couple pages a day of stuff we threw out.
Even when the bulk of the crew was teenagers, we really were trying to work fast and do a good job. Every year or so, they made us get timed on the griddle by a regional manager. Everyone had to do it. Starting with a clean griddle you had to fully prepare, box and bag 30 hamburgers as fast as possible without cutting any corners.
I know not all locations are like that, nor are all fast food restaurants, but when I was working there, we did a really good job of everything.