From Fortune 100 Businesses to franchise restaurants, these stories told by employees' of major companies will not only shock you, but may also reduce your faith in humanity.
"I worked for a major investment company, I won't say their name but lets just call them uh 'something-ity,' and for absolutely no reason I'm trying to remember the brother of Raul Castro's first name. Well they worked side by side with a Chinese company that was complicit in the genocide in Darfur. And we were informed that if an investor asked about this fact, we were to tell them in corporate speak, 'If you don't like it, take your money elsewhere'"
"This is true of academia in general but you have no idea how much money textbook companies spend on wooing professors. Just to give a couple examples: the last time I went to the big conference in my field, which was held in Atlanta that year, Bedford-St. Martin rented out the Atlanta Braves stadium, bused everyone at the conference there (about two thousand people), gave us a free buffet that stretched through three rooms (we were up in the box seats) with an open bar and they opened up all the games in the back hallways for us to play. Pearson's party was far more modest: they rented out the Coke museum, gave us all free tours and their free buffet only stretched through one freaking room (but with much classier food) but still had an open bar. Just in case you were wondering why those textbooks of yours are so expensive" (source).
"I worked at Subway, which is franchised, so I doubt this is the same for every Subway you visit. When the meat is defrosted to be used, we had 3 days to sell it. After that we'd have to throw it away. The franchise owner and area manager would often intimidate staff into keeping the meat on sale for up to 7 days to cut costs. I reported them to corporate of course."
"My mom used to be a manager at a Goodwill. Every week, if the products had cycled through the colors and nobody had bought them, they had to be destroyed before they threw them in the garbage so no one could salvage them. Super expensive China or collectible? Smash it. Brand new book that didn't catch any body's eye? Rip it in half. Shatter or bend whatever you could. If you were found gently tossing things in or hiding them to buy for yourself, fired. The only thing they didn't throw out was clothing. They'd tear those into pieces and sell them as rags to companies. Just seemed like such a horrible waste to me"
"So I've had the opportunity to work with in retail with one of the most popular consumer electronics company (I used to work for Apple.). They push for everyone to sell their 'insurance' plan and mostly advertise that they will replace your damaged/broken device with a new one thats exactly the same. They don't. It's a refurbished device one every time"
"I used to work for Google until quite recently. Joined the company as a wide-eyed idealist and quit it (of my own choosing) as a disillusioned, crushed pragmatist. Google's (or Alphabet's) main objective is simple: to drive the stock value up. Whatever will make stock more valuable is the thing that gets prioritized. Whatever does not, gets shelved, forgotten and cancelled. There are thousands of extremely brilliant people working at Google. Many of them come up with ideas that would truly change the world (for the better). This ranges from the simple improvements on existing products to mind-bending 'moonshots' that somebody figured out how to actually make real. Most of these would not make the stock more valuable. They don't get made. Next time you wonder why doesn't Google (or any other tech company, software, or even game studio) do something that's so obvious, simple and easy and would make your and everyone's lives easier - ask this instead: will it generate enough buzz to inflate the company's value further? Here is how Google operates. Every year, typically in late spring the company holds a huge event called Google I/O. During this event it debuts and announces new features, products, versions of operating systems and a bunch of other innovations. What happens behind the scenes is a yearly cycle. Most of the year, things are slow. Except for product launches, most people just coast around, trying not to stick their heads out, collecting their 6-figure salaries, benefits and bonuses and doing bare minimum of work. There are occasional crunches, but generally it is a smooth sailing with steady progress - much slower than what the teams are actually capable of. About 2 months before I/O, the sh--t hits the fan. Teams begin to realize they need to show some stuff. They begin a rapid, chaotic sprint, prototyping stuff, building, coding. The goal is very simple: Create a very impressive demo that's stable enough to last throughout a 5-10 minute, carefully scripted presentation during the I/O. The really cool stuff you see on the conference is usually years from being consumer ready. It's held together with shoe-strings and good wishes. When things fail on stage, it's not bad luck - it's reality of what's being shown. After I/O concludes, it gets really stressful and quiet for a few weeks. The high-level staff evaluates the press response to the demos and how the carefully crafted messaging affected the market's perception of Google's value. Then it is time for so-called reorgs. Reorg or re-organization is a fancy name for a huge shuffle. Teams are broken up, resources are put on projects that made most buzz. Tons of people get fired. Many are offered 'horizontal transfers' with their original teams now dissolved. Then things stabilize. If you are still with the company, the coasting begins anew, till the next I/O crunch. Most of the amazing things announced at the conference don't move at all, or go forward at snail pace, as new people join the teams and collectively people recognize they over-promised and don't know how to deliver. That's the general layout. Due to the sheer size of the company, there is always a very small percentage of projects that actually manage to get made. It's simple statistics. Google can afford to drown millions of dollars on poorly managed, ineffective teams, because the 1% or 0.1% or whatever that small fragment is - will actually generate even more stock value. I have friends at Microsoft and see that things are very much the same there. Not sure about Apple, but I'd guess most publicly-traded tech companies work in a similar way. Inflate the bubble and pray it won't burst. Do a lot of loud press releases, claims, demos - because nobody will hold you accountable if after 5 years you still didn't deliver the product that wowed everyone back then. It's like politics. Heck, it IS politics. In addition to all of this, Google, and other tech companies, hire top talent at very high salaries (I was one of those 'lucky ones') for a simple reason: So that the competition does not. If you ever watched 'Silicon Valley' episode with a bunch of people on the rooftop and nothing to do - it's not fantasy. It is the very reality of this and other tech companies (by the way, this show truly gets how things work). I was cashing in best monthly (bi-weekly) salary I have ever earned in my life and did NOTHING. For months. Nothing. I had a bunch of projects I tried developing but they were 'too out there' and was told not to worry about producing output - the company simply wanted to have me around in case they needed my expertise. They rarely did. After a few years I had to quit - to preserve my mental health, ethical integrity and to actually be able to do something worthy."
"The major gym chain that I worked for actively tries to discourage members from becoming frequent members. How do they do this? They would start by putting treadmills and elliptical out of order, or preventative maintenance. And would keep them out of commission until attendance got to manageable levels where the gym did not feel so crowded and thus easier to sell memberships. And getting out of a membership was darn near impossible."
"I work for a mortgage company. Two things: If you're being foreclosed upon and can afford an attorney, fight it. The number of foreclosures that could have been invalidated if the borrower did something (as opposed to not showing up at all, which is what most do) is higher than one would think. If you refinance, sell your house, or pay off your mortgage, get a copy of your lien release (preferably the recorded one). I can't tell you how many phone calls I get where a sale is being held up because a lien release was never prepared" (source).
"I used to work for IBM. It was well known within IBM that all projects would be significantly understaffed. This meant that the people working on those projects would work their assess off. We were all salaried employees so we made no more money by working 80 hours per week compared to the normal 40 hours per week. IBM did make more money however since most of our projects were billed as time & materials (effectively hourly). When some internal people started complaining about the excessive overtime IBM offered them the option of becoming an 'hourly' employee. This meant that they no longer had access to healthcare, 401K etc, but they would be making significantly more money, in some cases more than doubling their previous salary since they would be getting paid for every hour worked. IBM didn't think many people would choose the hourly option, thinking that their benefits plan was enough to keep people there as salaried employees. Of those that were offered the option, something like 95% chose to become hourly. Every single person that chose the hourly option was fired within one month. That meant that some projects that were already understaffed were even more understaffed. Many projects were cancelled or delayed because IBM chose to use these employees as an example of what happens when you complain too loudly."
"I work at Pizza Hut. Here are some things our managers would not want you to know.... We aren't super sanitary, extra cheese comes on a cheese pizza, the ten dollar coupon code is 2155, if you tell them you are an employee and use the ten dollar coupon code, you get a large for 8.80. Most of us do not care about discounts, and sometimes tack them on to be nice. If you really want something cool, ask then to use half toppings, fold and crimp your pan pizza in half before putting it in the oven, and top it with the parmesan parsley mix. Boom, you now have a pizzone. Also, stuffed crust pan pizzas totally exist for employees."
"I worked for 2 years at a call center for Cox Cable doing tech support for Internet and tv. It's more important for the techs to get you off the phone than to actually resolve your problem. Don't blame the techs, they've got supervisors breathing down their necks, and the supervisors are breathing down their necks because customers complain about being on hold so much. When I was doing it 3 years ago, calls had a limit of 7.5. That meant 7.5 minutes to take your info, diagnose your problem, give you a solution, and resolve the call (the CALL, not the problem). If the call goes over 7.5 minutes a supervisor would come over and ask what was going on. I got in trouble so many times for genuinely trying to help people, it was disgusting. One time I spent a good 30 minutes on the phone with a guy in San Diego who was setting up his internet. He was old, slow, and computer illiterate but really nice and patient so I did everything I could and eventually got him going. He was thrilled, spoke with my supervisor to tell them how happy he was with me. I got written up for that because I wasted time helping one person when i could have been fake-helping many others. I've heard plenty of stories just like this from the other cable companies and the call centers they contract out. Basically for an inbound call center the people in charge just care about clearing the calls in the queue, not helping you. No matter what scripted nonsense they make the techs say. And again, don't blame the techs (for this, at least), their hands are tied. Also, cable companies are hemorrhaging television customers and will do anything to keep you from cutting television service. Threaten to leave, name Dish Network or something, and they'll shower you with discounts. Don't say 'I don't watch much tv' but DO mention competitors. Keep pressing for more till they outright refuse. Then cut the chord when those discounts end."
"I used to work for a Tax service. I don't want to get in trouble, so lets call them Tiberty Lax Service. The people that they hire to do your taxes have AT MOST two weeks of training. When I was there, I knew people who didn't even have that- usually only a week. They will charge you $99 PER FORM for your taxes by the way. From my time there, I've learned that the people that are targeted are most often the ones in need, who don't know about the opportunities available to them. I know also for a fact that the call center had specific lists of clients based on what they filed the previous years. So if a client previously had something where they filed and claimed government assistance, they were called at a specific month. If they were in certain income bracket, once again, called at a certain month. The scummiest thing however that I observed was the sales tactic they used. Most often, you'd be offered a free quote. Come in, let them see your paperwork and they'll tell you what you can get. What would often happen however, is that you'd go in, they would go through the entire process of filing your return and at the end, you'd basically be pressured into paying because they already did all the work. And if it turned out that you couldn't pay at the moment, there was also the convenient option of just subtracting the amount from the return itself. Oh, and the return. Yeah, cross your fingers on getting it. And if you do get it, lets hope you're not audited. At the time of me leaving, the franchise was facing a class action lawsuit from a lot of the previous year's clients. But of course, that only happened because this location happened to be in a wealthier neighborhood."
"I worked for a home security company and here are my two big secrets. One, about 90% of the salesmen are lying idiots that will say anything to get you to sign up and then think they can hold a contract against you, but if you complain enough to the right people, the legal department will cancel your contract outright. The equipment is super cheap despite the fact that they tell you that you are basically paying for the equipment over the length of your contract so that you don't have a huge up-front cost. The parts for an average home with an 8-piece system, panel included, only run about $800 at-cost (if that, but it depends on the stuff you get), but you will pay out several thousand over the length of your initial 3 or 5 year contract. Any extensions on top of your initial contract with no new equipment or services is money straight into the pocket of the company. Monitoring ends up costing the company a few cents a day when you break enough systems across enough operators. If 'peace of mind' is worth that to you, then go ahead and sign up. Monitoring service is excellent but the equipment is sh--t."
"Used to work at a car dealership. Don't buy the first times you step on the lot. Negotiate the price of the new car before you tell them you have a trade in. Most people negotiate the price of the new car AND what they want for their old car but when the sales manager gives the go-ahead for more money on your used car, it comes off the price of the new car so it seems like you are getting more for your trade in. Always ask what the 'on the road' price is. This is exactly the total you will pay with fees and taxes included. Every dealership is different and 'fees' can mean anything. Our dealership had a sticker on a bunch of different parts of the vehicle so if it was stolen you could trace it. The fees were like an extra $400. The dealership wants you to buy their current inventory. If the vehicle there isn't exactly what you want, you have more room to negotiate the price so they don't have to bring one in from somewhere else. If you're buying a used car, always ask how long it has been on the lot for. If it just got there, it is marked up a LOT. Every couple of weeks my boss would drop the price by $1000 until it sold. The most profit salesman make is in used cars, remember this. The best time to buy a car is at 0% financing, near Christmas time as it is almost the end of the year or the end of the month as they are trying to hit certain quotas. A lot of people are only concerned about having a low monthly payment. Put you in a brand new car for $150 a month? Sounds good right? Not if it's over 8 years as you will pay nearly twice as much total for the car in that time. The shorter the term, the better total cost of the car."
"I work for a Fortune 100 financial office. I wouldn't trust 95% of the people with a cent of my money. There are a few decent people, but the rest don't care at all, they want the commission and the policy count. And a ton of them have either been sued, given strikes on their records, investigated for fraud and/or are not allowed to use wording due to their past behavior."
"Anesthesiologist here. A large part of my job is to protect you from the surgeon who doesn't care about your 5 heart attacks, unstable angina, and the fact that you ate breakfast when instructed not to. If your case is cancelled or delayed there is almost always a good reason. The surgeon will make it seem like it is anesthesiologists fault but it is because they likely didn't care enough to ask about your medical history, didn't do the proper preoperative work up, or just don't care. Other then that I have no secrets to report. Intraoperative awareness is exceedingly rare (1:20000), I won't let people make fun of you or talk inappropriately while you're under, and we take physician medication diversion/ addiction extremely seriously."
"A long time ago I worked in a pet store at a mall. The company's motto was 'The customer comes first' which is a kind of messed up motto to have when you're selling live animals. They obviously cared more about sales than the animals' welfare, and would push rabbit sales around Easter even though buying a rabbit just because they're cute around a particular holiday is a terrible, terrible idea. They also sold a number of exotic small animals that I'm pretty sure would have actually made terrible pets due to being nocturnal and high-strung. In short, don't shop at pet stores. Your local animal shelter has your new best friend waiting for you, for much cheaper or maybe even free."
"The 'garlic butter' we put on our pizza crust is, in fact, garlic margarine. There's no dairy in it at all. I'll get customers calling in every once in a while who ask for soy cheese and no garlic butter, and if I'm feeling nice I'll let them in on the secret you they can enjoy that garlic-y goodness without worrying. 'Garlic butter' just sounds more appetizing than the truth."
"I work for a large disaster relief/ blood donation company ( Hint: The big red plus sign). When you donate blood to get your free chipotle voucher, or to get a ticket to the zoo, the company thanks you for the donation. On the back end of things, we break the blood down into different components (red blood cells, plasma, platelets) and sell each of them. Leukoreduced Red cells get sold to a local hospital for 150-400 dollars, plasma for 100-175 dollars, and platelets can be processed and sold for a few thousand, depending on blood type, and need at the time. I get that it does save lives and it is necessary, but it doesn't sit right with a lot of people the amount of money that is made from a donation."
"I worked in a milk bottling plant, and part of my job was pulling full bottles off the line right after labeling. The difference between a $5 a gallon premium milk and the $2.00 'value' brand is only the label and occasionally the cap color. The milk comes from the same tank. There were only 8 tanks total. Whole, 2%, 1%, and skim, plus the organic counterparts. Despite knowing this, I've had people tell me that they can taste the difference. Human senses are easily fooled" (source).