terse answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Applying for a job at a company whose customer service I’ve complained about in the past

A job I’m interested in just opened up at a large telecom company based where I live that shall remain nameless. We’ll call them BT&T. I’m well qualified, the salary is quite a bit higher than my current salary, and I have an in at the company — one of my good friends is a manager. Seems perfect, right?

Well…the only hold-up is that in the past I have had HORRIBLE relations with customer service at this company. I’d like to blame it all on BT&T – and to the best of my knowledge all of my past troubles have originated with them — but I can admit I’ve lost my cool with the service reps multiple times somewhere during the 85th minute of being on hold or being transferred around. So, is it possible that these conversations would affect my chances being hired here? Do they keep files on this kind of stuff? I know they record conversations — so I just wondered if that meant I was in some sort of database of “angry BT&T customers.”

It’s pretty unlikely. I mean, I’ve never worked for a telecom company so it’s possible that something like this goes on, but generally speaking, it would be very unlikely. Hiring is a separate function from customer service. Unless you were a truly notorious customer, you’re probably in the clear. Anyone know otherwise?

2. How do I know if I’m being paid off the books or not?

I started working for a company in January and was hired for Sales/Marketing with a salary and commission. I get paid on time, I get a check, but no pay stub. He gives us a check and a handwritten break down of the taxes. I know he has two people employed off the books and I don’t want to be taken for a fool. How do I know for a fact that I am on the books?

You don’t. It’s entirely possible that he’s handling this all correctly but not using a payroll service and doing the calculations himself, but of course you don’t know that based on what you’re receiving. I’d imagine, though, that you could contact the IRS and your state tax agency to confirm that they’re receiving taxes on your behalf.

3. Should non-exempt employees be paid for time at non-mandatory work dinners?

Recently our entire department was invited to a dinner with staff members from an outside vendor. I believe the purpose of the dinner is to thank us for our business, as my company is their biggest client, and we do work with them almost daily. Our department head hasn’t said the dinner is mandatory but he cleared the date with us all ahead of time. As a non-exempt employee, am I entitled to be paid for my time spent attending this dinner? If so, how do I go about asking whether I’ll be paid if I attend? I’m an introvert and will likely find the dinner stressful so I don’t want to commit to attending if I’m donating my time. I do worry, though, about the impression it will give if I decline the invitation.

Say this: “As a non-exempt worker, how should I handle my time for this dinner?” It’s a reasonable question to ask. If you’re told, “Oh, since it’s voluntary, you won’t be paid for the time,” then it’s fine to decline to attend.

4. What to say at the end of an interview

I’m a recent graduate who has been trying to find a job in this tough market. Since December. I’ve applied to about 18 entry-level positions in my field, and have only had two interviews. Most recently, my dream job has come up (it’s a year-long internship in the cultural sector; I could care less about the “intern” title because frankly I’d love to work in the local arts and cultural scene for the rest of my career) and I’m worried that I’m a bit rusty in my interviews.

With that being said, here’s my question: as long as I don’t come across as desperate or begging–just using a firm voice with a confident smile–is it not too forward to mention at the end of an interview, “I want you to know that I really want this position, and I know I’d be a great fit here, if you’d give me the chance”?

Eh, it’s not a disaster or anything, but it’s a little cheesy. And you don’t really know if you’d be a great fit somewhere until you have much, much more insider information than you can get from an interview. Why not just say, “I want you to know that I really want this position, and I’d be hugely excited to be offered it”?

5. Letting an employer know I turned down another offer

Last week, I had two follow-up interviews at two different organizations. On Tuesday, it was a second interview, and a few hours later they called to offer me the job. On Thursday, it was a third interview for a job I really want. As we were discussing timing at the end of Thursday’s interview, I did let them know that I had received another job offer and so it would be helpful for me to know as soon as they could. The interviewer (who I know and have a good professional relationship with) said that she really appreciated my telling her and that she would be do her best to update me by the middle of this week.

Since Thursday, I have been in communication with organization A about their job offer and have decided to decline it. My question is…should I reach out to organization B to let them know that I did this? Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go out of my way to over-share with a job prospect on this, but I did get the feeling that she might twist her schedule/go out of her way to expedite a decision on my behalf. I am completely over thinking and going back and forth on which decision would give me more of a competitive advantage. But in the end, my inclination in general is to err on the side of transparency and tell her. What do you think?

Yes, transparency is generally good, and there’s no reason not to use it here. Particularly since she might feel pressured to get you a quicker answer than she otherwise would, and that can lead to the answer being “no” if she’s not 100% ready for it to be “yes” yet. Send her an email and let her know.

6. Is this a good sign?

I want to move back to my small hometown (10k) and was shocked when I found a company that does work in my niche industry. I sent a cold inquiry email with my resume on Friday night. I got a quick response early Saturday morning saying he was very interested in speaking, but couldn’t talk until after tax season ends, and would call me April 17.

Would you take “very interested” to mean he has a real opportunity and potential to hire, or possibly just willing to network for future?

There’s no way of knowing. But regardless, you’re better off taking it as “future networking” so that you don’t start counting on it in your head — since even if he means “I have an open position,” there’s no guarantee that it will stay open or that he’ll hire you for it.

7. I think my cousin is cheating his employees

My cousin owns a construction and assorted services (lawn care, snow plowing, etc.) business. I am not close with him; he lives several states away from me and I haven’t seen him in years.

I recently heard from another family member (who does know him well, spends a lot of time with him, etc.) about a number of problems he’s been having with his business lately, stemming from his poor treatment of clients and employees. One of the things she described was that, in retaliation for some employees “slacking off,” he retroactively cut their pay. I don’t know any more details (or even if it’s true, since I heard it secondhand), but it makes me so angry. His employees (who include other members of my family) are in no position to advocate for themselves. It feels like someone should do something, but I’m not sure what.

There are obviously plenty of family relationship issues here that are outside your scope. I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether I should get involved — and if so, what can actually do. I’ll say up front that my bias is that, ethically, I (or anyone in this situation) should do something (e..g, call the state Dept. of Labor, or whatever). I’m open to hearing that I shouldn’t, but I wanted to put that out there.

I don’t really see what you can do. You don’t have any way to verify the information, and you don’t have a relationship with your cousin where it would make sense to talk to him about this — you don’t have the standing to raise it with him the way you would if you were closer or in more contact. I think this falls under the “not your business” category, unless one of those factors changes.

{ 56 comments… read them below }

  1. FiveNine*

    At least after hire, BT&T or any telecom or cable or internet service will pull up #1’s account to set up complimentary services — and will see and be able to access the entire history of the account. (Usually what the company is looking for at that stage is for the account holder to pay off any delinquencies before receiving the complimentary services.) And yes, there often is quick coding (green/yellow/red or somesuch) so customer service workers/managers can see at a glance what the caller of the account’s satisfaction level was during each of the last several calls in a row. (And can pull up any notes left on each call.)

    That is not to say this is examined pre-job offer, because I wouldn’t know.

    1. Sunshine DC*

      I wonder if there is a way to turn the prior “bad experience” (so long as the OP was not the “bad” one) into a plus, during an interview. for example, they might be able to frame an experience (maybe as a “hypothetical” and not their own) to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and how they would handle them. If it was a case of the BT&T reps not providing service at the level the company expects, then certaintly the company should want to know this, and value an employee that can look at a problem and offer constructive solutions. No?

      1. FiveNine*

        It depends. I wouldn’t bring it up as a hypothetical or as an example of the OP’s real interaction. The vast majority of employees and managers at a company like this really do work with customers full time. This person really would have to be in a corporate headquarters senior V.P. role or advertising or marketing role, for example, to not be working with customers on the phone or in person — and even then, if they try to spin this as you’re suggesting I don’t know how convincing they’re going to be that this is a company they are attracted to, stand behind, and can support. I don’t know what area this person is going into but even putting aside the higher pay (and the I-need-any-job-at-all economy aspect), something tells me this person isn’t considering the very real possibility that this job will make him/her absolutely miserable.

    2. Brandy*

      I think, unless OP#1 is applying for a job as a call center agent, which requires an obscene level of patience, or some other kind of job with close ties to the call center, it will be a non-issue. For example, if OP were applying as a product manager, there would be almost O% chance the two departments would about this candidate.

      1. FiveNine*

        I really can’t imagine them checking even if the OP were applying to work in the call center. But I will say this: Even with massive numbers of calls, and despite what the average person would expect, it’s the rare person who flies off the handle and yells or cusses at a customer service person on the phone . So just as someone who’s worked in a call center before, I will tell you anyone who did this repeatedly certainly would be apparent at a glance of the history and definitely would send up red flags in terms of whether this is a person who has any business interacting with customers in any frontline capacity.

        1. VictoriaHR*

          OTOH, companies are aware when their customer service is lacking, i.e. long (80+ minutes? ouch) hold times, cumbersome escalation procedures, etc. So if the OP’s problems are related to known customer service issues, the company might be more forgiving of any anger issues. If they check, which I kind of doubt.

          1. Colette*

            If I were hiring for a customer service job & I checked her record, I wouldn’t find it acceptable, even if I knew there were issues with hold times. First of all, if that’s how she reacts to being on hold, how is she going to handle customers who have been on hold that long, or the fourth question in a row about something BT&T doesn’t actually do? Secondly, being rude to the customer service agent fundamentally isn’t going to get your issue fixed – so it demonstrates a lack of knowledge about how to solve a problem as well.

            1. fposte*

              I think that matters more if the job the OP is applying for is public-facing; a lot of corporate jobs aren’t. I wouldn’t hold a complaint about an hour wait against a systems analyst.

    3. Jax*

      I worked at a cable company call center. When a customer called in, their account would flash on my screen, including details of all their past phone calls.

      We had a few crazies that called in often and had hilarious notes, like “Customer called to complain that there are people watching her from her TV.” They were legendary and probably had mental health issues, but they made the shift go faster.

      All that to say yes, they do keep records of your phone calls. And your complaints. And your behavior on the phone.

    4. Toni Stark ` Stark Enterprise*

      No, they won’t “pull up” the account after hire. OP 1 will have to apply for the employee benefit of reduced monthly service fees first. The dept that handles that is totally separate from the HR/hiring manager side of the house. And no, they don’t read through billing notes. They just apply the discount IF there is no past due balance. People who have the authority to hire/fire/revoke offers are not in the dept that has access to billing systems. The only exception would be if OP was applying to the mobile side like retail. As a policy, employees are not permitted to go into an account w/o a valid reason.

      1. FiveNine*

        That’s not entirely true. The first stage of interviews for call center employees originated with Human Resources, passing tests, passing background checks. The final interview, if you were called back, was with a call center superviser, who absolutely, most certainly does have access to the billing accounts in question; it’s what they do all day long.

    5. Anonymous for this response*

      I’m in the staffing area for that company and I can tell you we have no access to anything on your account. Now if you happen to be applying at the location/department where you had these incidents then it possible that someone would remember you, but with such a massive company that is very unlikely. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  2. Cali7*

    #2 Remember that “off the books” does not necessarily mean “under the table”. My part-time job as a reporter pays me via personal check. They do not take any taxes out, but I am considered “self-employed” and at the end of the year they send me a tax form (too early to try and figure out what it’s called at the moment :) ) which I have to file as such. When I file the taxes are due (and I may regret not holding them out myself through the year and wonder if it’s worth it :) ). Just wanted to make sure you knew that off the books isn’t always shady, and it sounds like your employer is trying to do the right thing by even figuring taxes by hand, so I’m guessing that might be the case, in your case.

    1. Brandy*

      Just keep copies of teh handwritten stubs so you can check your bosses’ math. If you’re really concerned, I’m sure you can call up the IRS with your employer’s tax ID and verify that your taxes are showing up.

  3. Brandy*

    Oh- FWIW, I was “off the books” when I worked for my dad as a teenager. I made to little to have to pay income tax, and in select cases (like my dad’s) you don’t have to pay SS or Medicare tax when employing family members. He has undergone a couple audits over the years and this has never been an issue.

  4. Brooke*

    I received a resume from a woman once who had become very upset at my company a few times. Although it was not excessive, it was enough to remember. She never used foul language, but many times would say rude, unnecessary things out of frustration. When she turned in her resume about a year or so later, I remembered her (which I have a knack for remembering people – good and bad), but so did most of the other employees at my company who work directly with the public. At my company, we must document every encounter we have with an angry customer so that our account of the story is documented at the time it happened and we are not left trying to remember, or playing the he-said-she-said game either. In my opinion, it is very beneficial for all company’s to do this, but I do not work in telecom either so I do not know how they do things. I think that there is no harm in trying for the job, so I would go for it if your interested.

    But I would have to say that when you are on the other end and you ARE the customer service and the customers are angry and taking it out on you, remember that you were in their place once…

  5. Colette*

    #1 – How easy it is to find this info depends on their systems. With a big telco, she’s unlikely to be dealing directly with someone who’d remember personally, so it’s all about what the system says. I’d say it depends on what kind of job she’s applying for – if it’s finance, for example, they’re unlikely to pull customer service records. If it’s customer service, it’s more likely.

    If it is a customer service job, that would be something she might want to address in her cover letter – but it would have to be done carefully to avoid telling them their support is terrible.

  6. Sharon*

    #2: The employer might be doing all the right things, but figuring the taxes by hand is a red flag for me. I mean, how hard is it to buy a copy of Quickbooks? My 10-person Mom and pop founded nonprofit can afford it, a for-profit business should be able to also. The employer might not be deliberately doing anything shady, but he very well could be doing things wrong from ignorance of financial practices and IRS laws. If the company is small enough, they might also be able to get by with a part-time bookkeeper. OP might want to politely suggest that.

    #1: I did that once, and I’m still surprised that the company hired me. At the time I was a sysadmin for one of their client companies, and they sent an inexperienced person to do a system upgrade for us. My company systems were real-time, critical systems which means downtime was a very, very bad thing. This person they sent to do the work shut off our primary AND backup systems first thing, then sat down and proceeded to read the manuals. I relayed this to my managers who did nothing. I complained loud enough that my managers finally called the vendor and asked if they had anybody more experienced. Apparently they didn’t because we had to endure this idiot for the entire project. All told we had 3 and a half full days of downtime. I was so frustrated and outraged, that I posted the experience in great detail (and unprofessionally, with great emotion) to an internet forum populated by other customers of this company. It caused quite a stir. I don’t recommend anybody doing that – as I said, it was the epitomy of unprofessional.

    Seven years later, that same company hired me. And yes, that same guy was still working there. I never really was impressed with his work, even all those years later, he was kind of… not very smart. Anyway, fun story for y’all. Don’t be me. :-)

    1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      #2: Eh, figuring taxes by hand isn’t that uncommon in really small businesses. I was the only employee of a CPA (yes, accountants) partnership, and I made out my own checks and calculated my own taxes. We did use Quickbooks to actually make and print the checks, but we were using an old version of QB because they had a lot of clients that wouldn’t upgrade, and they were too cheap to pay for the continuing subscription to figure withholdings on payroll for you. So I got to get out the tables and figure how much they should withhold for state and federal, how much my portion of SS should be, etc.

      It was my worst job ever, but not because of how they paid me.

    2. Chinook*

      #2 doing taxes by hand – my mother did this for years in Canada as a small business owner. In fact, there was a free downloadable program for the government that did the calculations for her but didn’t save them. Then, at the end of the year she hand wrote the T4s (like US W5s?) for her employees. They were just as valid for the government.

    3. Cassie*

      One of my former employees calculated payroll deductions by hand – most of the employees were part-time. and only had FICA/SDI taken out (only a few had fed or state withholdings). Then she’d hand over her check stubs to her accountant to calculate the payroll taxes to pay to the IRS. Now that I think about it, she did make mistakes every now and then…

    4. Kiribitz*

      #2 – I worked for a custom builder who used an industry specific software for accounting, but with only a couple of employees it wasn’t worth the extra cost for the payroll module. So all payroll was calculated in house with the help of the IRS withholding schedules and state website tax calculator. The IRS was pretty good at catching any errors between withholding and payments. After that experience, I wouldn’t consider it a red flag unless the stub didn’t reflect any withholding.

  7. WorkingMom*

    #4 – Definitely address that you want the position at the end of the interview, I like how Alison phrased it. My Dad has been “coaching” me on interview advice since high school – he’s hired and fired many people in his 40+ years of experience. He always preached to me, “Ask for the job! You wouldn’t believe how many people come to an interview and never ASK ME for the job.” (I should add… this is the Dad who would never give me anything unless I asked for it – he was always teaching me from a young age to ask for what I want!) Good luck to you!

    1. khilde*

      This must be a style thing, because it just seems odd to me that someone should have to ask for the job in the interview. Isn’t it implied that I’m asking for the job when I come to interview with you? I”m not quibbling with you or your dad, WorkingMom, I’m just fishing for more perspectives from others. I am not that direct and forward of a person, so that just seems offputting to me. Wondering if I’m alone in thinking that…..?

      1. Colette*

        Definitely not alone – I wouldn’t ask either, and I would find it odd to be asked. I would expect both the interviewer & interviewee to take some time after the interview to think about whether they think it’s a good fit. But that’s a culture fit for me, too, because I wouldn’t like to work for someone who made snap decisions.

        1. khilde*

          Right, good point. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m ripping on WorkingMom’s dad or how he has found success in his business. I think it must have a lot to do with culture and personal style and just how a person prefers to communicate.

          1. WorkingMom*

            I get what you’re saying! My Dad meant in the sense of looking for a candidate to express his/her real interest in joining the team, he always coached me to use phrases like, “I really feel that I can excel here” and so on. In some situations, he even coached me to ask “What are the next steps?” and things of that nature. He definitely didn’t mean it in the direct sense of, “So, do I get job?” haha. I think we’re all in agreement that would be weird. I know from his perspective, he would always say that I am interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing me. As an interviewer, he was always looking for cues that would tell him the interviewer really wants this job, or if they’re not really interested. It’s really just a cue to your interviewer to say, “Hey, I’m really want this job!”

            1. WorkingMom*

              Just to add to my earlier comment – I think my use of his “ask for the job” didn’t translate well! Sorry Dad, botched your advice on that one :)

              1. khilde*

                ha! At least the main message stuck with you :) I think your explanation just above is probably what we all agree on. I would also like to think that genuine excitement and interest would show through–either in so many words or not. Being authentic and genuine is a pretty consistent core value of mine so I always find the discussions about interviews interesting. I’ve never had too many problems because I’m just myself and figure that’s the best way to be in order for everyone to make the best decision. That’s hardly original thinking….it just makes it interesting for me to read all the myriad ways people get anxious at interviews.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I agree. It’s good to express interest in the job, of course, and to reiterate after the interview that you’re still enthusiastic about it, but I wouldn’t literally ask for the job in the interview, for all the reasons Colette says.

      3. fposte*

        I think it’s fine for somebody to be clearly excited about the prospect of getting the job. But if an applicant literally asked for the job, like “Can I have it?”, it would confuse the heck out of me–it sounds like they expect me to have an answer right then, and the whole point of the process is figuring out the answer.

        So I’m with the others in thinking that you’ve asked for the job by applying for the job–just don’t invalidate that by seeming uninterested if you do get an interview.

  8. Just a Reader*

    #1 I applied to BT&T Wireless 18 months ago, and the application does ask whether you’re a customer and what your phone number is.

    No idea what they do with this information, but it’s definitely something they could look up with little effort based on the info they require in the application.

  9. CoffeeLover*

    #7 I’d add that I don’t really see why you feel ethically obligated to step in. Unless your cousin is taking advantage of a vulnerable group (i.e. foreign workers or illegal aliens) his employees should be able, and are better equipped, to stand up for themselves or at least find another job.

    1. OP #7*

      I don’t know much about my cousin’s employees (other than my family members who work there), but given his location and industry I’d guess he employees day laborers/folks without work documents/etc.

      But they are intrinsically vulnerable in this case; if they complain to my boss, they lose their jobs. Maybe they know how to file a wage complaint, but maybe they don’t.

      I truly don’t see the difference between reporting something like this and reporting any other crime you have knowledge of. I would feel ethically obligated to report a burglary if I had knowledge of it, regardless of whether the person who had been burgled was “vulnerable” or not; this is essentially the same thing.

      (The key difference is that I don’t actually know whether this happened. It’s as though a friend told me that her friend broke into someone’s house, not as though I witnessed the break-in happening.)

      1. Anonymous*

        Burglary is criminal, and this is civil. So that’s one difference. And people do make judgment calls on reporting crimes all the time, such as you not reporting these folks for working illegally, for instance. (Not saying you should, just pointing it out.)

        1. Anonymous*

          It depends on what OP’s relative is actually doing, beside the retroactive pay cut, if there are undocumented employees, then the relative is in fact doing something criminal. But, the OP can’t be sure of that if they report it.

          However in small business manual labor jobs, it is common for this kind of sh*t to occur. OP could complain, the relative could be investigated and fined (not real likely if it’s a small business), but really it won’t force the relative to change what their doing, because they don’t see it as ethically wrong, and even IF some employees find a job somewhere else, their situation is likely not to change, because the new employer is likely to be equally shady with paying their employees. (I have relatives that work in those types of jobs, and they often experience stuff like this)

          Also by reporting the only result with the other relatives is Family Drama, so reporting doesn’t really improve anything for anyone.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but if you’re reporting undocumented employees, you’re not reporting to better the employees’ life.

            A while ago, somebody posted that his partner’s boss was pretty clearly engaging in illegal pay practices; he wanted to find out if he could complain since his partner wouldn’t. The problem there as here is that complaints have a reasonable chance of getting the business shut down rather than getting the workers a legal pay practice, so if speaking to help somebody else is your goal, it’s worth keeping that outcome in mind.

  10. Mimi*

    Re: #1, I’m just curious what OP meant by “lost my cool”. I mean, there’s losing your cool, and then there’s screaming/cussing/threatening to come down there and kick some a$$.

    1. Malissa*

      True there’s quite a bit of area between, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and “You’re as sharp as the leading edge of a marshmallow, get me someone who knows what they are doing.”

      The first is an expression of pure frustration and the second is just rude.

      1. Josh S*

        I kind of like the second one though. Because if they *are* as sharp as the leading edge of a marshmallow, you will probably be on to other things before they catch on…

        Nevertheless, you shouldn’t use it on a customer service person.

    2. Jean*

      Thanks for the chuckle. (No, I’m not in favor of threatening customer service workers with physical harm. I just understand the enormous frustration behind making such anti-social statements. Observers: If you want to try this at home, it’s better to scream, or to cuss, than to threaten people, even if you would never, ever act on it.)

      1. OP#1*

        OP#1 here –
        By “lost my cool” I do not mean cussing or screaming or threatening bodily harm. More along the lines of “are you guys freaking kidding me? I’m beyond frustrated because **insert reasons here** and absolutely no one is helping me!” At the most possibly some unnecessary sarcasm related to the ordeal.

        But seriously – it was probably the worst customer service experiences of my life and I’m not even being hysterical. The resolution included a call from the special customer service people that work in the CEO office so obviously there was some missteps on the part of the company.

  11. Bree*

    I know Allison has written about this dilemma before, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives. I received an offer from one company today, but I am still waiting to hear back from my preferred employer of choice. I would like to update my favorite employer about this offer, and see if they have any idea as to when a decision will be made (I interviewed three weeks ago.) Any ideas on how to word the email so I can hopefully get some kind of update from the company whom I really want to work for?

      1. Bree*

        Thank you! That is exactly what I was looking for. Also, I apologize – I don’t want to offend or annoy anyone by posting an off-topic comment. I posted in a panic, figuring I could get a faster response via comments than submitting a question over email. Thanks again.

        1. Josh S*

          No offense or annoyance — just sharing some of Alison’s preferences/rules. It’s her site, so what she says goes, and she really DOES get to most emails really quickly! :)

  12. GinaF*

    Regarding knowing if you’re being paid off the books:

    When I was in college, I spent the summer working at a bikini shop on an East Coast boardwalk (don’t judge!). Taxes were taken out of each paycheck, so I didn’t think twice about it.

    The next February, I still hadn’t received a W2 form from them so I called the owner and asked about it. His answer? “I’ll send you a check for that money.” He actually did just that, so I’m assuming he didn’t actually use my tax money for, well, taxes.

    Don’t remember how I fixed that, taxwise. I think I paid extra or something like that.

    1. Josh S*

      I don’t judge. That sounds like a FANTASTIC job that I would have LOVED to have during summer break in college. (Then again, the guy I was in college would have loved that scene in general…)

  13. Lanya*

    OP #3: If you are worried about the impression it will make if you do not attend the event, then you should definitely attend – even if you are introverted and prefer not to go, and even if you will not be paid. It’s for the greater good.

    1. Anon*

      I get that these events are pretty lame, really I do, but for the sake of your job/career, go anyway. And don’t ask to be paid. Management digs these things, and thinks they’re being magnanimous by buying you food. They remember the no-shows and think they aren’t team players. Not attending is asking for a black mark next to your name.

  14. Josh S*

    Say this: “As a non-exempt worker, how should I handle my time for this dinner?” It’s a reasonable question to ask. If you’re told, “Oh, since it’s voluntary, you won’t be paid for the time,” then it’s fine to decline to attend.

    Alison–from time to time you get commenters who say something like, “This is Ask a Manager–if you wanted advice that wasn’t skewed toward managers, you should look somewhere else. Because Alison is a manager so of course she’s biased toward management’s point of view.”

    I find such comments to be absurd. And the quote above is a big reason why. If you were totally co-opted by management thinking (over against labor rights) there’s no way you would have thought it reasonable to ask this question. You can put this in your “See? I don’t play sides–I just take the side of reality” file for the next time one of those commenters pops up.

    That is all. :)

  15. HR Pufnstuf*

    Good thing my carrier is AT&T and not that gawd-awful BT&T.
    And OP #3, I agree with the above posters, you should go, smile, shake hands and feign interest, it’ll be remembered if you don’t and some won’t think well of asking to be paid for it.

  16. Sara M*

    About #1:

    As a former phonemonkey for BT&T, I can tell you what system that is and what commands I’d use to access the history. ;)

    If your job would involve the call centers in any way, you can be assured that bored phonemonkeys would eventually hunt down your account and read all the notes, and probably gossip about you. But you’d already be hired. The hiring departments aren’t going to look at that.

    We totally tried to find accounts for managers at the center and read what their history was. It was surprising how often we could do it.

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