coworker never tells us when she’s working from home, employee refuses to track mileage, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss’s boss’s debt collectors keep calling me

For the last three weeks, debt collectors have been calling my work phone three times per day looking for my boss’s boss. I have no idea how they got my number; I’m not a receptionist, and my number is not listed online. I’d love to not answer the phone, but these jurassic era telephone relics have no caller ID, and I’d hate to miss a call actually related to my job. I keep telling the debt collectors that I won’t give out contact information to a third party, but they have started to get very rude and have insinuated that I am lying, and that I am actually who they are looking for.

Since it’s my boss’s boss, it’d be pretty uncomfortable for me to bring up the subject with my boss (not really any of his business anyways), or his boss. I may already know the answer to this one, but just to confirm…this is one of those situations where I just have to suck it up and deal with the distractions, right?

Nope! There are two things you can do: First, I’d talk to either your boss or your boss’s boss and explain what’s going on. (If you have a great relationship, go straight to your boss’s boss and say, “Hey, I wanted to let you know that this is happening, and I’ll handle it however you’d like me to.” If you don’t have a great relationship or otherwise feel too awkward about it, talk to your direct manager instead.) This is not a “suffer in silence” thing; it’s okay to discreetly let them know about it in a “this is happening and I want to make sure I’m handling it the way you’d like” kind of way.

Second, you can actually tell the debt collectors to stop calling your number. It’s illegal for them to continue calling a workplace after they’ve been told to stop.

2. Coworker never tells us when she’s working from home

I have a coworker who seems to take advantage of the ability to occasionally work from home. For the month of May, I don’t think she has worked a full week in the office. She “worked from home” for 3 days with a sore throat when she admittedly felt fine, worked from home for a school spirit day for her children, the last day of school, and more. Despite that I feel like she’s taking advantage of this, I realize there is nothing I can do. My point is, it’s not in a once in a blue moon type of thing for her.

That being said, what I find frustrating is that we never know when she is not showing up to work. Of course her boss knows, but no one else seems to know where she is. She accepts meeting invites and conference calls for days when she is out of the office, only to end up not showing up or not calling in. This is a waste of time. What would be a good way of addressing the fact that I wish she would give us a heads up when she was going to be working from home, so we would not waste our time scheduling meetings she won’t be attending? I’m not her superior, so it’s not as if she should report to me. Still, it would be nice of her to let us know.

Be straightforward: “Jane, we sometimes end up running around trying to locate you or delaying meetings because you’re not there when we don’t realize that you’re working from home. Could you start letting us know on the days you’ll be telecommuting? Also, you sometimes miss meetings that you had accepted invites for — what can we do to make sure that we’re not scheduling things when you won’t be able to attend?”

Of course, that last part is really a bigger issue and something her manager should be addressing — and you might ask that your manager do so.

3. Will this statement work to explain a firing?

From a hiring manager’s standpoint regarding termination, I was curious if a short statement like this would suffice: “My company and department went through several changes, and although I learned a great deal from my position, I did not see an upward career path with this company. I spoke with my boss and we came to a mutual agreement to part ways.”

In short, I was let go because I was not a good fit for the company’s culture. My boss and I knew this, discussed this, and this was the result. I was given a small severance. I was advised that if I was truly fired that the company would not give you a severance. Is this true?

No, that’s not true. Many companies routinely provide severance to people fired for cause, so the severance itself doesn’t demonstrate anything about the nature of the firing.

If I were interviewing you and asked why you left your last job and you told me what you have in your first paragraph, I’d probe for more details … and also would ask directly if you were fired. If it was a culture fit issue, you might be better off simply saying that, and explaining how … although if the explanation is going to reflect badly on you or if you can’t actually talk in specifics about where the fit problem was, that’s not a good option. Ideally, you want to be able to say something like, “My strengths/interests are X and they’re really looking for Y.”

4. Approaching my boss about a weekly therapy appointment

I am struggling with depression and anxiety, but in the process of working through it with therapy. I live in a place where getting appointments in after work time slots can be next to impossible. Furthermore, I consider it essential to get on well with your therapist, which makes this even more difficult. I have found a therapist who seems a good a fit, but would need to leave work an hour and a half early once a week to make the appointment. My boss can be pretty understanding about these things, but considering the frequency and length of time I would need to leave early, a general “doctor’s appointment” explanation might be insufficient. However, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to come clean to my boss about my mental health issues. Any advice on how to approach this? If necessary, I will just continue trying to find a doctor, but this process has been going on for months already and I would rather not continue to postpone treatment of issues that may get worse.

“I have a recurring weekly medical appointment for at least the next few months, possibly longer. I’ve scheduled it for as late in the day as I could, but I’ll need to leave at 4:00 every Thursday to make it there. My plan for making sure it doesn’t interfere with my work is ____.”

That’s it! Your boss shouldn’t ask what type of medical appointment it is.

5. Employee refuses to track mileage

We have a superintendent who we have asked to keep a log book (mileage only) for getting a handle on expenses. We are NOT asking for hours on the job. We have also told him that all gas receipts must be turned in before the end of each month so he can be reimbursed, and if they are not, he will not be paid for expenses for that month. We are located in Arizona and as of yesterday he told us that he will not be keeping that logbook as it is illegal. This person is salaried. Can you help, as I didn’t think this was an irrational or illegal request?

There’s nothing illegal about asking an employee to log mileage (!). In fact, how else can you reimburse mileage if you don’t have mileage records? (By the way, it’s also not illegal to ask exempt employees — which is what I think you mean by salaried — to track their hours. You’re allowed to have people track their hours for all sorts of purposes; you just can’t deduct from exempt employees’ paychecks based on those hours.)

Something’s up with this dude.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    #2: This really makes me mad, because it tends to reflect poorly on people who work from home in general because it contributes to the perception that working remotely is an excuse to sit around eating bonbons and watching soap operas all day long, while occasionally checking email.

    It also irritates the crap out of me when people say they’re working from home but really don’t have daycare for the day, for whatever reason. I am scrupulous about this. If I don’t have alternative daycare lined up for my daughter, or if she’s sick, I use a vacation day. Or, if I want to participate in something at her school, I use a half day. Or, I’ll work, but let my boss and co-workers know that it will be on and off throughout the day and later in the evening.

    Alison’s advice here is good: focus on how her work habits (or lack thereof) are negatively impacting everyone else, and politely ask her how she intends to address it. Stay away from anything that sounds like complaining about how she’s getting away with doing things that no one else does. Maybe if it’s pointed out to her that she’s inconveniencing everyone else, it will shame her into being more reliable.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Crappy management. If you let work from home become a free for all, 8 out of 10 people will use the free for all freedom responsibly and 2 out of 10 will screw it up for everybody else and one day wfh gets banned entirely.

      GOOD management of work from home supports the 8 out of 10 who would have done fine on their own anyway. Management is not a dirty word.


      1. Anonalicious*


        We’re allowed to work from home pretty much whenever we need to, and I regularly do it on Fridays because it’s notoriously slow in my area and I can get a lot of little tasks and project updates/documentation done. I have always felt that when I work from home I need to be just as responsive as if I was at work, so even if I leave my desk to toss in a load of laundry, my phone is with me and I’m ready to answer it. But I know there are others in my department who must be doing all sorts of things when they “work” from home because they are noticeably less responsive when they do it, and I feel like they might as well have taken a day off.

        It comes down to management actually managing.

        1. Observer*

          Some people do use “work from home” as a way to do less. On the other hand, less responsive may not be because of that.

          I work from home quite a bit – and mostly no one knows the difference because m extension rings through and I keep my email open etc. However, sometimes I am less responsive, because I’m using my time at home when I won;t have physical interruptions (no kids in the picture) to deal with issues that needs some concentrated time to finish.

          I think the issue the LW needs to address are blowing off meetings, which is just out of line (unless you wind up at the hospital ER or the like), and just being generally MIA.

          1. Koko*

            I agree with this. My position involves a lot of creative writing, so I regularly work from home one day a week and generally block myself out as unavailable for meetings on that day*. I check email less often (up to 90 minutes between checks) and may be slower to response to an IM (5 minutes) if someone is messaging me just when I’m in the middle of trying to get my great idea onto paper before it evaporates into thin air. But the very reason I work from home is to avoid the constant interruptions I get working in the office and spending half my day in meetings, all of which disrupt my creative flow. If I was calling into meetings and checking email every time the notification popped up and answering IMs immediately, I’d be negating the benefit of being at home in the first place, which is that it’s a place I can immerse myself into my own work for hours at a time. Luckily my managers and teammates understand this and are completely on board with me.

            *My immediate team all knows that the reason I’m unavailable on Thursdays is because I’m at home, and that if it’s truly the only day they can schedule a meeting that I’m needed for, I’m willing to call in to a Thursday meeting. Staff on other teams generally don’t know, but I’m rarely critically important to their meetings so they don’t care if I’m not available on the only/best day they can have a meeting.

      2. Vicki*

        Same here. I worked in a group of Operations Support people (they managed servers in multiple timezones.) Practically everyone worked from home on Fridays; many of us wfh Tuesdays as well. We were _always_ available during the workday. Answering email, responding to IM, calling in to meetings if necessary (Global teams; sometimes the meetings were at weird hours). Most of our interactions were electronic in any case; often the only way to know if someone was wfh would be to walk past their cubicle.

        Don’t treat this as a wfh issue. Do NOT treat the ability to work from home as a “special treat”. DO address the management issues. People can sit in an office and play Angry Birds all day; location isn’t the issue. Performance is the issue.

    2. majigail*

      And this woman DEFINITELY shouldn’t be missing conference calls when working from home.

    3. Toto in Kansas*

      It’s situations like this that stop companies from adopting any kind of work from home policy.

      1. Vicki*

        Or doing what Marissa Mayer did when she came to Yahoo! and canceling the policy. (FWIW, I worked at Y! and never saw anyone abuse the pre-Marissa policy.)

      1. MM*

        Many times I have set up meetings in the conference room and use the conference calling system at work for individuals that are working from home. If it’s just one or two people, you can use a speaker phone and/or Skype.

        She doing something else if she’s not participating in meetings by phone and/Skype. When I worked for a CRO you only got an office if you were on site 4 days a week. That is something else they should look into; if she’s not using the work space; someone else may need it.

        If an individual’s presence and/lack of presence effects others productivity than the individual must be required to be in the office a certain amount of hours; and notify others if they are going to be out. If you are working from home, than should be reachable by your co-workers… otherwise you are taking a day of PTO.

    4. Pepper*

      Thanks! It’s definitely been frustrating. When she’s not there, we have no idea if she’s taking a PTO day or working from home because it is not communicated. She does respond to email, which leads us to believe it’s not PTO, but all in all, it’s just frustrating having to (try to) answer questions about her whereabouts from other co-workers who come by looking for her. It has delayed projects and others in the department are having to pick up the slack on things “she forgot” and cannot do from home.

      1. Beti*

        When other co-workers come by looking for her, can you (and I mean all of you in her department not just you the OP) direct them to her manager? And when the projects are delayed, can you point the project manager to her manager? It sound like her manager needs to start hearing how these work from home days are negatively affecting productivity.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Never assume a problem that is not yours. This is the manager’s problem and it should be shot to him or her every time an issue occurs. ‘Jane isn’t picking up the conference call she agreed to; do you know where she is’ ‘We need the TPS reports and Jane hasn’t provided them, what should we do.’ ‘The deliverable to the client is due tomorrow and Jane’s section is not done and no one knows where she is.’

          I hate to see someone who is using work from home as a vacation louse it up for everyone else and this is where this is headed as so many managers prefer to have blanket policies rather than to manage.

        2. MM*

          When the manager gets enough interruptions from others seeking her out; than he’ll put a stop to it, hopefully. He may not be aware that she’s gone so much if others are picking up the slack.

          If his work performance suffers do the interruptions, than he will be forced to address it; unless he has his head in the sand ignoring it because he doesn’t want to deal with it. I’ll be interested on how the situation changes.

      2. KrisL*

        I telecommute but am very responsive to IM’s, e-mail, and phone. I think it’s important for telecommuters to be responsive – otherwise people may think we’re just lounging around instead of doing our jobs.

    5. Windchime*

      It is a shame, because some people *do* waste time when they are supposedly working from home. I had a co-worker who stayed home last week to attend an online programming class, and she actually said to another co-worker, “Well, it’s not like I’ll be chained to my desk. I can do other stuff.” Huh? When you are supposedly working and attending training?

      Sheesh. I guess I will stop feeling guilty when I take 5 minutes to go outside and move the sprinkler or to throw something into the dryer.

      1. Vicki*

        I’ve seen the same on on-site classes. People check their email. People reply to email. People work on their project. People play games.

    6. KrisL*

      What Ann said. I telecommute too, and I work very hard. Telecommuters who don’t really work make the rest of us look bad.

      1. stellanor*

        I suck at working from home and I know it — I get distracted, I miss things, I realize I don’t have what I need to do some thing, I get super mad because my laptop screen is tiny and makes using Outlook impossible.

        Aaaaaand that is why the only time I work from home is when I’m sick in a way that is contagious and don’t want to biohazard the office.

        1. TrainerGirl*


          I am not great at working from home either. I did it a lost during this winter, because the weather was so crappy, but now I’m doing a lot of online training, and I’m glad I know that I can manage those just fine when I’m at home. I live alone, so a lot of my human interaction comes from work, so it wouldn’t be a desirable situation to do it regularly, but I’m glad that it’s an option when the weather is bad.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too. After sitting on the couch for a year while job hunting, I’d much rather be at the office. I actually like it when I get a lot of work to do when I have to work from home. Otherwise, the temptation to binge-watch Kitchen Nightmares while wiggling the mouse occasionally is HUGE.

        2. Stephanie*

          Ditto. I had to work remotely due to Sandy and those were probably some of my most unproductive days at OldJob. It was just too difficult when I wasn’t set up to work at home. Working on a laptop on the couch while your roommate is day drinking and winds are howling outside=not much accomplished.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            Yeah, having a place to work if you’re doing the remote thing is really important. I didn’t have an office area in our old house, so I rarely worked from home. I only did it if the weather was bad, or if I needed to be home for some reason (furnace guy, whatever).

            Our new house has a sitting-room area off the master bedroom, which I use as an office. It’s perfect, and big enough for my desk and a bookshelf. I’m able to work from home one day a week and I’m very productive.

        3. Observer*

          There is a reason why many companies have policies about what is acceptable equipment for telecommuting. If it were up to me, I would never allow anyone to telecommute on a regular basis unless they could confirm that they have certain things in place, which includes a monitor large enough to work reasonably well. We buy large monitors for staff at work, for a reason, and it’s not just to look good.

          1. MM*

            You are right about equipment. The CRO required individuals that worked at home have a dedicated phone/fax line, full monitor, and space that is dedicated as a home office.

            We had a client get quite upset about mailings from one of the monitors that included huge hunks of dog hair. I think they may have made it part of the reason they required a dedicated space. One of my co-workers had the corner of her bedroom set up; others have a den or extra bedroom they use.

            I’ll never forget having a meeting with a client and one of our managers called in from home with a screaming kid in the background; so unprofessional. We set meetings every two weeks with this client; she should have made arrangements and got a babysitter to handle the child. The kid would drown out conversations; and the meetings took longer because things had to be repeated in order to keep up, or we missed parts. When we were bought out by another company she was in the first group of individuals laid off.

  2. Jessa*

    Regarding the therapy appointment, if you’re in the US, you might be able to use FMLA if your company is big enough and you’ve worked long enough, you can use intermittent FMLA and get the same job protections you’d get if you were off for a couple of weeks at a time.

    Also you’re probably protected by the ADA which means unless the company can show hardship, you’re protected as a reasonable accommodation of you leaving early once a week. Most mental health issues that require weekly therapy visits impact daily activities enough to qualify.

    And if your company has an EAP they might help with the leaving early also, even if your therapist is not one of theirs. I needed help and went to the EAP and they A: sent me to a therapist for which charges above the insurance they provided were absorbed by the EAP, B: arranged the permissions for me to leave early, and C: arranged me to be paid for the hours (I was a state employee at the time.)

    So depending on where you work, you’re pretty well protected for doing so, and if your boss decides for once NOT to be reasonable, you have recourse. If they’re reasonable, they don’t need to know anything at all.

    1. Jessa*

      ETA – I had very reasonable bosses, but using the above procedures allowed THEM to be covered if another employee complained that Jessa did x and that’s not fair. In fact the first time I used EAP to go to an appointment was to get documentation to cover those bosses when people started complaining. Because the person that hired me knew about my disabilities and we never needed to make an official thing of it til another employee started complaining that they had to do a tiny part of my job because I couldn’t. (We worked out of boxes, and they had to be brought out of a closet and I couldn’t lift the box, so they kind of rotated everyone else to take one extra box a day, and he got nasty about it.)

      1. Wobegone*

        When I had to leave for a weekly appointment, my immediate supervisor was OK with it as long as I made up the time within that week. So if I worked through lunch another day or came in half an hour early for three days in a row (etc.) that worked. When coworkers asked, I would just say, Oh, I have this weekly appointment that Boss is letting me leave for. That’s why I’m working through lunch today!

  3. Dang*

    Am i completely nuts or was q2 posted originally yesterday? I went back and looked and it wasn’t there, but the spirit day thing struck me… Total déjà vu.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh. Grrr. I didn’t have a chance to read much of the open thread today or I would have realized that. (I try not to post things that were already posted there.)

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Ha, for a minute I thought you were going to start farming the work related open threads for short answer questions. ;)

        2. hayling*

          I never read the open thread because it’s usually a long free-for-all so I appreciate it being posted here!

      2. Anon for this*

        Ohhhh ok. Wow, my concept of time is totally off.. I really thought i read it last night, or that I dreamed it. Sorry if it came off as a complaint, I was just curious (and a little hopeful) whether I had some psychic ability I didn’t know about!

  4. MR*

    It’s extremely rare to encounter someone who doesn’t want to track mileage and/or get reimbursed for their fuel expenses. After all, who would turn down ‘free money?’

    I ran across this once and it was later determined that this person just straight up wasn’t doing their job. So I would check in to see what exactly this person is up to.

      1. MR*

        I think we are a long way away from the OP being gaslighted (gaslit?) in this situation…

          1. A Bug!*

            That’s what I’m really hoping. If it’s not, then Student would be well-served to do a little research on what gaslighting really is, because that’s a discussion that probably doesn’t belong here.

    1. Jeanne*

      There was a recent article on The man in charge of attendance for the school district hardly ever went to work. They followed him to regular massages, tanning, etc. I suspect this guy is making detours and doesn’t want anyone to know. He could be doing anything: taking a nap, running a second business, who knows? I might start by asking him to tell me why he objects to the logbook. If he sticks to “illegal”, I’d ask how he learned that so we could educate ourselves. After that it’s a performance issue. He’s refusing to perform a job duty.

      1. Davey1983*

        The whole illegal thing is a huge red flag to me. The IRS requires mileage logs to be kept if the company wants to deduct the expenses for vehicles.

        If he has a company car, I don’t see why the company doesn’t take the car back. If it is his personal vehicle that he is using, then stop reimbursing him unless he provides the mileage log.

    2. Ruffingit*

      That is really the only thing that makes any sense here at all – that the person just isn’t doing their job. Otherwise, why would they not want their reimbursement money? It makes zero sense.

      1. fposte*

        I think it would be unusual, but I can conceive of somebody who sees exempt status as meaning “no clocking” and this as being inappropriate monitoring. Some people will stand on the principle of the thing even if the principle is wrong, and feel even righter for not taking money to budge.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yeah, I guess that is true, but they’re not asking for his time. They’re asking for mileage. I’m thinking it’s “Saturday: 15 miles” and so on. It’s not even asking for the odometer reading or whatever, just the miles you drove. I suppose I can see someone standing on principle on this, but doing so indicates some weird issues I’d be concerned about in an employee. If you don’t want to be clocked for anything, become an independent contractor and be done with it.

          1. fposte*

            I’m with you on the side of logic here. I’m just thinking about the kind of people I know who resist anything new that might read to them like “monitoring” or “interference.”

            1. Ruffingit*

              Oh totally hear you on that! I have someone like that in my family. The paranoia is incredibly weird. Doesn’t quite reach the level of diagnosing, but it’s definitely there and there is no breaking through to them.

            2. Artemesia*

              Exempt employees CAN be monitored and are monitored all the time though — so this guy is squirrely about that as well.

              1. fposte*

                Well, yeah, but we’re not talking about his legal basis, because obviously there isn’t one; Ruffingit was musing on why somebody would forego money, and I was thinking about the reasoning of people I know who would do something like this.

              2. V*

                The idea that it is illegal to track the time or miles of an exempt employee is all sorts of whacky. I am an exempt employee (lawyer) and I very much have to track my time (in 6 minute increments, ugh). It is the bane of every lawyer’s existence and if there was some compelling argument that it was illegal, believe me, one of us would have made that case decades ago.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Note, this is from years and years ago:

            I believe the IRS expected that a driver keep a mileage book with odometer readings. So, although you hand in your miles there must be a record backing it up.

            This could be as simple as the man does his own errands as he travels and he does not want to get in trouble for tacking on 5-10 miles.

            People who are not strong in math would find this a nasty task, too.
            Maybe he uses more than one vehicle, which would cause complications.

            All that said, if he wants to pay for his own gas, why not just let him? (I can’t understand why anyone would chose this, but there’s lots of things I don’t understand.)

            1. Observer*

              I don’t think the issue is letting him pay for his own gas. If I’m reading the question correctly (And I didn’t see the open thread), it seems that he wants reimbursement without the log. Also, I think that there is reason to worry when someone refuses such a reasonable request in such an inappropriate manner. “Is this really necessary? I’d rather eat the gas cost than mess with the paperwork.” Is one thing. I know a lot of people like that, and agree or not, in most cases, that’s their problem. But “you have no right to know my mileage” is another kettle of fish. While this just may be a bit of mild and otherwise harmless paranoia or eccentricity, there is a very high chance that this person is doing something “private”.

              1. Hooptie*

                Our sales team has to submit mileage logs at the end of the year. HR says they need the logs to deduct fuel as a business expense (IRS rules).

    3. MM*

      I agree with you. They may not even leaving the house. If they are supposed to be going to client’s offices or other offices within the company … they may want to do a few follow-up calls.

      If he’s not willing submit his mileage for reimbursement and taking the offensive by informing them that it’s illegal to ask … than he’s doing something that he doesn’t want the office to know about. Some individuals that habitually push the envelope or behave badly have learned that the best defense is an unwarranted offense. You get ugly enough or are difficult enough to deal with others may drop it; and they can go right doing what they want without facing the consequences.

  5. A Non*

    #4 – I explained a similar situation by saying that I had a “standing appointment” at 4:00 on Tuesdays. And then came in early on Tuesdays to compensate. There were some issues with coworkers wondering why I was frequently leaving early, so for a few weeks I sent out emails saying “hey, I’m leaving at 4:00 today for a standing appointment, talk to me by then if you need anything”. After a few weeks my coworkers got used to the idea and it ceased to be an issue. I was prepared to say something about physical therapy if I felt I needed to, but it never came up.

    1. seesawyer*

      Adding on to the idea of saying something about physical therapy—I don’t think anyone will ever ask, and I don’t think you should have to lie about it (although certainly feel free), but I wanted to mention there are more medical conditions that require weekly appointments than you may be thinking of. Along with PT, dialysis and chemo spring to mind, and I’m sure there are many others; my point is that no one will be assuming based on the nature of the appointment that it’s mental health (or that it’s any particular thing).

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Before I switched gyms, my weekly gym appointments cut into work, I just came in early or didn’t take lunch and my manager was fine with that.

  6. Gene*

    One of the things I do for my job is to write and enforce laws. Any time someone tells me something is illegal, I tell them to “show me the law.” They can almost never support their assertion with an actual citation. If he can’t show the specific law the log would violate, how does he know it’s illegal?

    1. Shell*

      One of things undergrad taught me was the importance of citations. I swear I had a class where the prof/TA told me “if it’s not as obvious as ‘the sky is blue’, even if you think it’s common knowledge, cite a source for it.”

      That’s a little overkill, but citing the source of your claims should be more common practice than it is.

  7. Confused*

    1. Boss’s boss and the debt collector
    One of the best sentences ever? “Please put this number on your ‘Do Not Call List.'”

    1. fposte*

      Debt collection is excluded from Do Not Call requirements, though. Basically, incurring a debt is permission for contact.

      1. Kay*

        I think that only applies if they’re reaching the person they’re looking for. If it’s not the right person, I think you have every right to ask them to stop calling you because you’re not the intended recipient.

        1. some1*

          Nope. The debtor is allowed to contact 3rd parties (family, neighbors, co-workers) to get contact info for the customer; they just aren’t allowed to discuss the nature of the debt.

            1. some1*

              Right, but the boss’s boss still has to make this request for the the third party contact to cease. I know because I worked for a debtor and got these calls from a creditor about my relative’s debt.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          Right, but then it’s a different law/regulation/whatever not covered by official “Do Not Call” restrictions.
          This person can and should still insist that they stop calling, but “Put me on your Do Not Call” list is for telemarketing.

          1. some1*

            She can insist they stop calling her but the debtor doesn’t have to comply, the boss’s boss has to make a written request to the effect that calling his employer is unacceptable and they can’t contact third parties to get ahold of her.

            1. fposte*

              Right. You have every right to *ask* for anybody to stop calling you, and some places might comply merely because they choose to; however, there are only certain circumstances where the law requires that request to be honored, and this isn’t one of them.

              1. PEBCAK*

                This falls under the Fair Debt Collection Act, so yes, she has legal recourse if they do not stop.

                1. some1*

                  The LW doesn’t. The employer and the boss’s boss do if the boss’s boss makes a written request to the debtor and the calls don’t stop.

                2. Cat*

                  Be that as it may, I have a hard time believing that the employer wouldn’t happily sign a letter written by the OP; who wants their receptionist’s time taken up with calls of this nature?

                3. fposte*

                  We don’t know if it falls under the FDCPA or not, because that only applies to third-party collection companies–if it’s the actual creditor, the FDCPA doesn’t apply. So if it’s Discover Card calling about the boss’s missed payment, for instance, the FDCPA doesn’t come into play.

      2. some1*

        This. There are circumstances where debtors are not allowed to contact the customer by phone or mail, but the customer being on the Do Not Call list is not one of them.

      3. AcademicAnon*

        Depends on the state do not call laws too, in my state I’ve turned in debt collectors for calling and they have gotten cease and desist letters/calls from the state agency. Mostly due to the fact it wasn’t my debt and they weren’t calling me to get information about how to collect on someone’s else debt they just had the wrong number. Even better, since the debt collectors had no reason they should have been calling my number, I didn’t have to have to tell them not to call, I could just report them (a lot of these were automated calls too, so you have to wait until the end of the call to get any info about how to tell them not to call you back.)

    2. Confused*

      I was merely suggestion language that is short and to the point. Not suggesting this is situation is the same as telemarketers calling.
      There seems to be some debate over if the collector is/is not allowed to be calling the OP. I see it as not allowed because of the rules listed above. Maybe the OP can call to get some clarification.
      Either way, just because they are doing it doesn’t mean they are allowed to be doing it (or allowed to continue once the OP tells them to stop). There have been several news stories over the years with voicemails from collectors yelling, cursing, and threatening people which are explicitly not allowed.

      1. fposte*

        It’s not that the rules are fuzzy, it’s that we don’t know exactly who’s calling, because we’re not the ones getting the calls, and we don’t know what state laws are relevant because we don’t know the OP’s state. The OP probably knows both these things :-).

        1. Sunny Dulcibella*

          #1 – I am a bit puzzled why you don’t just transfer the call to the person it is intended for? In the same situation I would just say “I’m sorry, this is not Mrs. Moneypenny. One moment please, I will transfer you to her.” That way you are not giving any contact information out and you are not sitting there listening to personal information you should not be privy to.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            For one thing, the collectors would then know that they can get to their target through you, and your phone will never stop ringing.

  8. A Dispatcher*

    #5 – I am really curious as to why the employee thinks this is illegal. Did he give any insight? The only legitimate thing I can think of is that he is deducting these expenses on his end, and thus he doesn’t want to be double dipping. (Note, I’m not entirely sure he even should be doing that if you do in fact offer reimbursement, it may be intended only if the company isn’t willing to pay at all – tax law is not my thing).

    I’m guessing though that something shady is going on and he’s just hoping that throwing out the phrase illegal is enough to make you back off.

    1. Mallory*

      . . . he’s just hoping that throwing out the phrase illegal is enough to make you back off.

      He may think so, but to me, throwing in the phrase “illegal” would be such an escalation that it would make me even more curious about what the heck he’s so fiercely protecting.

      Also, maybe because I work at a state university, but we’re not allowed to reimburse both mileage and gas receipts — it’s an either/or situation. If the mileage would be more expensive than submitting gas receipts, we strongly encourage them to rent a car.

      1. Artemesia*

        Exempt employees CAN be monitored and are monitored all the time though — so this guy is squirrely about that as well.

    2. Davey1983*

      If the company offers reimbursement, whether he gets reimbursed or not, he can not deduct it on his personal tax return.

      Additionally, if the company does not offer reimbursement and he is deducting the expense on his personal tax return, he still needs to keep a mileage log to document the expense per IRS regulations.

  9. Joy*

    “Second, you can actually tell the debt collectors to stop calling your number. It’s illegal for them to continue calling a workplace after they’ve been told to stop.”

    This is true for actual debt collectors (third party companies specifically in the business of buying and collecting debts), but not necessarily true for creditors (companies collecting debts directly owed to them by their customers). Check the Fair Dect Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for details on the differences, but the law places much stricter restrictions on “debt collectors” than on “creditors.”

    1. FiveNine*

      However, that distinction doesn’t matter — OP is not the one with the debt or direct business at issue.

      1. fposte*

        It matters to the solution–what would solve the problem if it were a third-party collector (telling them not to contact this number again) won’t solve it if it’s an original creditor.

        Some states (needless to say, we’re talking California) have tighter protections, so if the OP’s in one of those more interventionist states she could check to see whether other options are available to her.

        1. FiveNine*

          The company is the “original creditor” to someone else entirely and does not have free reign to repeatedly call/harass the OP to try to collect someone else’s debt.

          1. fposte*

            You may feel that way, but the law offers no particular recourse in that situation, and it’s important to know when the law is relevant and when it isn’t.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Yup, this is true and something people often forget. Third-party collectors and original creditors are subject to different requirements.

  10. Student*

    #1 – Ask for a new phone with caller-ID. These cost like $15 ten years ago.

    Or, ask them to give you a new phone number at work. Probably free, depending on your company.

    Boss asks why, tell him you’re getting a lot of non-business calls all of a sudden. Don’t even go into the debt collector thing unless you want to give your boss’s boss a heads-up that people are spreading his personal business around.

    1. Jen*

      I took her comment to mean that the number shows up as unavailable on caller ID and she takes a gamble and answers it hoping it is work related.

      1. fposte*

        No, I think Student is right that there’s no caller ID on her phone, because the OP complains about the “jurassic era telephone relics.”

        However, even if there were caller ID, a ringing phone is still a PITA and they may block or spoof their source, so it’d be nice to find a solution to stop the calls and not just block them.

    2. hayling*

      Actually new work phones can be over 100…but I agree that Caller ID is not unreasonable.

      1. straws*

        Yes, depending on the phone system, something that cheap may not be compatible. Changing a number/extension should be fairly straightforward on the back end, but may be difficult to coordinate depending on the OP’s job duties & contacts.

    3. Cautionary tail*

      I was going to suggest almost the same. Get a new phone number at work. It can be the same physical ph0ne but the number at the PBX in the backroom would be different.

      Cost: $0; Peace of mind: priceless.

  11. Stephanie*

    #1: An old cell phone number of mine must have belonged to someone who had outstanding debt. I kept getting calls. It took multiple times for them to believe I wasn’t the debtor. They are persistent.

    #4: I’d just spin it as a weekly recurring medical appointment. If you’re not ok with that, could you shift your work schedule to work an earlier period?

    #5: We have a lot of crazy laws in Arizona, but that’s not one of them. And doesn’t want mileage reimbursement? That always felt like “free” money (ignoring the obvious additional wear and tear). Maybe this employee is goofing off on the clock and doesn’t want to report mileage because of that.

    1. manybellsdown*

      The old number thing is so frustrating because they just will not believe you. After all, the person who owes the money would probably lie and say it’s not them too!

      I got a call once from someone looking for a woman with a very similar name to mine. I told her sorry, that’s not me, my name is XYZ not XYZZ. She then *called back* to ask if I’d lived in ABC town. I had. “Aha! So you ARE the person I’m looking for!!” Nope, sorry, still not her, had never done business with the company you’re calling from. But she clearly thought I was lying.

      1. Clerica D. McClerkykins*

        Okay, honestly, what did she think was going to happen that second time? That you’d suddenly break down and confess that yes, you are the one she’s looking for but her sleuthing skills have worn you down?

        1. Stephanie*

          Haha, crack sleuth at the bill collector’s because there’s no way there could be two manybellsdowns in the same town. Bonus points if you live in some giant city.

          My buddy worked at a bill collector’s one summer. She was like “Eh, we have ways of finding you. They’ll move on from your phone number eventually.”

          1. manybellsdown*

            My last name isn’t Smith or Jones- level common, but it’s certainly not UNcommon. If I Google my name I get dozens of hits that aren’t me. Several of them are in my immediate vicinity, too.

            And I’m a Jennifer born in 1973 so you can imagine. There are milllllllions of us.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Ugh, I’ve had the same cell number for ten years, last year, took four months for them to finally believe me

  12. Bend & Snap*

    #2 the behavior/impact is annoying but whether the coworker is “taking advantage” of telecommuting is not the LW’s business. Clearly the boss doesn’t mind.

    1. FiveNine*

      We don’t know that at all. The worker is missing meetings and conference calls she indicated she would attend; that is something to take to the manager for the manager to address.

      1. KJR*

        Agreed…it becomes my business when you’re affecting my ability to get my job done!

        1. Bend & Snap*

          It sounds like 2 issues. 1) the slacking which is definitely something to raise to the manager. 2) the frequency, which is not OP’s business provided work is getting done.

    2. Koko*

      I agree, I think the LW undercuts her question by sounding plainly envious and resentful that her coworker gets to work from home. She spends the entire first paragraph detailing how often her coworker works from home a lot before even going into her actual question, which turns out to just be a question about how she can get coworker to *let them know* when she’s working from home. For a question that isn’t really that dependent on frequency, the amount of time and prominence give to detailing how often coworker works from home gives the impression that LW would be just as annoyed at her coworker even if she was emailing to let them know days she’d be at home and calling into those meetings. Or that LW is playing some politics game where she’s trying she can force coworker to create an electronic documentation trail of how often she works from home, so that someone higher-up might see and get involved.

  13. Ruffingit*

    #4 – Weekly therapy appointments

    Just wanted to say good for you for getting help! Depression/anxiety can be life altering and very difficult to manage without some outside assistance. I commend you for doing that. Sending you a lot of “feel better soon” vibes! :)

    1. Original Poster #4*

      Thank you! I’m relatively young (very early 20’s) and I’ve never truly been “happy” and I just kind of realized that I want better for myself. Hopefully I’ll get there!

      1. Ruffingit*

        You will definitely get there! It’s great you’re getting help while you’re still young. That makes all the difference. I waited a long time and wish I hadn’t. Life can be better and yours will definitely be because you’re willing to get the help you need.

      2. Jeanne*

        I agree with the others. You’re doing a good thing for yourself. I’ve been in therapy a long time, not every week these days. It is hard to work on your problems but totally worth it.

      3. Jean*

        +1 from me re the benefits of working with a therapist to find ways of living more effectively.

      4. Kerry*

        I’m happy for you. Therapy is a wonderful tool to get you where you need to go. I’ve been in therapy for a year and its life altering. The fact that you want better says a lot.

  14. Ruffingit*

    #5 Employee refuses to track mileage

    Whenever anyone tells me something is illegal, I ask them to show me evidence. Being a former lawyer, I have a good handle on where to find out the laws of course. At least 75% of the time and usually more, the person saying something is illegal cannot show me where it says that. It usually comes down to “Well, I heard this and that…” Because word of mouth is always totally accurate when it comes to legalities…

  15. Weasel007*

    You may want to check your states laws on collections. I had this happen with a brother. I found out that the directive to stop calling that number had to come from the ower, not the person answering the phone.

    I’d get the person’s contact info as if you were passing along message and give that to the bosses’s boss too. In my company, I’d just call legal and this wouls stop immediately. I realize that not everyone has a plethora of lawyers at the company.

  16. Briggs*

    #1 The Fair Debt Collection Act actually prohibits disclosure of the existence of debts to others who are not authorized to know about the debts. They are breaking the law just by telling you that your boss’s boss has a debt.

    That law also prohibits harassment and abusive language, which is up to interpretation, but I’d argue that 3 calls a day at work could be construed as harassment.

    There’s a decent article outlining this here:

    Depending on how much you want to get involved, you could help your boss’s boss out by letting him know his collectors are breaking the law, and he could possibly sue them and get his debt relieved that way.

    However, if you want to just get them to leave you alone, you should start using very direct language with them. Something along the lines of “You are breaking the law by revealing the existence of my boss’s debt. I’ve asked you repeatedly not to call here. If you persist I will take legal action.” That should get them to leave you alone.

  17. mel*

    It might be a good idea to give a subtle heads up to the boss’ boss just in case he/she doesn’t even realize there’s a debt. A person can easily miss a fee, send the wrong amount or forget to hit “confirm”, then move house and don’t hear a peep about it until months or years later when they’re finally found.

    1. Ruffingit*

      True and just a PSA, this is why you should check your credit reports annually. Make sure everything on there is accurate and that you haven’t just missed some debt out there.

      I’ve used that site myself a few times to get my free reports. Highly recommend it. Be aware though that it doesn’t provide your credit score for free, just your reports.

      1. fposte*

        I do that on the regular. Since there are three different agencies, you can actually rotate to get a free credit report every four months. It’s in my calendar to do and from which agency.

    2. Lemons*

      I was going to say the same thing. I was once hospitalized while on a trip (but still within the US). I didn’t find out that my insurance was fighting with their own branch in the other state over who had to pay the bill until almost 2 years later when I received a call from a collections agency. I was embarrassed at first, but my boss was awesome and understanding of my need to make long phone calls in the middle of the day.

      So anyway, it’s possible that your boss’ boss isn’t even aware of the debt and could use a heads up.

      1. stellanor*

        I had to have a surgery once that resulted in at least a dozen different bills. Hospital bill, multiple lab bills, anesthesiologist bill, surgeon bill, pharmacy bills out the wazoo, you name it, I got bills from everybody. More than one from several people.

        At some point in the shuffle of having had surgery and being on a crapton of painkillers, I lost track of a <$20 lab bill and never paid it. It went to collections, but was so tiny that no one ever bothered to even try to collect on it. So I didn't realize this had happened until I checked my credit YEARS LATER and there it was staring at me. It took me a couple hours to even figure out what it was from, and I never did figure out a way to pay it off, so I was just stuck waiting for it to drop off my credit report.

    3. Calla*

      Yeah. I had a small medical bill years ago. I was 100% sure I had paid it. I remember calling and giving my payment info! Well, one day I run my credit report and find out I have been in collections for like $60 (so apparently I had paid most but not all of the bill) for 3 YEARS. I had moved not long after incurring that bill, and they kept calling my parents (who hung up on them) but *I* was never contacted so I had no clue. I was furious that such a small amount was on my credit report for so long without me being notified and given a chance to pay it, but what can ya do. Besides pay it once you find out.

      1. teclatwig*

        For anybody else in this sort of situation in the future: you can sometimes get the debt cleared from your report. Usually this involves convincing the original creditor to do so. We were able to sweet-talk a couple of my husband’s creditors into doing this. Particularly with small amounts that are demonstrably oversights, you stand a good chance of getting them to help you out. Sure, some companies will refuse, but many won’t.

    4. kas*

      Yes, this just happened to me! Didn’t realize I missed a payment, moved and of course that’s the only thing I forgot to change my info on. Months later I decided to have Canada Post forward any mail I may have forgotten to update my address on and all of a sudden I’m receiving mail from collectors. To think they’ve been sending it to my old address all that time …

    5. Artemesia*

      I cannot imagine the OP not immediately going to the Boss’s boss herself and giving him or her a heads up about the call, the first time it happens. This person needs to know their workplace is getting harassed. Perhaps the debt is not owed; perhaps it is something the boss would take care of if she knew etc etc. But if the OP doesn’t allert her, she won’t know. I would be pretty embarrassed if my secretary were getting calls like this and would be outraged if she didn’t immediately notify me of them.

      My husband has a very common name; there are probably thousands of them in the US. Every once in awhile we would get debt calls where some yahoo just looked in the phone book and apparently called all of the Joe Smiths. One hospital bill in particular would show up in calls about every two years, when it got sold to yet another debt collector and we would get hounded. I wouldn’t want my secretary to think we were deadbeats because she was getting collection calls for me that we didn’t even owe.

      Why would the OP do anything except notify the Boss’s boss and ask how s/he wanted it handled?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. I really doubt the Big Boss would go into melt down. And since billing screw ups happen all. the. time., I am not sure why OP is worried.

        “Boss, I have something I need to tell you, because it is personal in nature it is rather awkward for me to say this, but I have been getting calls from someone who claims to be a creditor of yours.”

        OP may have to explain why she let it go on so long. “I did not think it was anything to be concerned about. But now I see the calls are not stopping.”

        Look at it this way, OP, the boss would HAVE to tell you, if the situation were reversed. He might be able to tell the caller that they are disrupting the flow of business or tell the caller that he is lawyering up.

        Approach it as, “if this were reversed, I would hope someone would tell me, so that I could deal with it head-on.”

        I had a $35 medical bill go into collection AND I had a really great credit rating at that point, too. But no one would know about my credit rating. And no one would know that the $35 medical bill was totally in error, either. Approach the boss in a manner that says “I know you will take care of this and it is none of my business.”

      2. Another Job Seeker*

        The OP might be in a work environment that is less than ideal – or even toxic. She might be concerned about retaliation – particularly if the boss’s boss is unreasonable or unkind. The OP probably is in the best place to analyze her work environment and consider possible whether she will need to address repercussions if she brings this up and the boss’s boss reacts in a negative manner.

        1. Artemesia*

          A toxic boss who discovers an employiee has been getting collection calls for HIM or HER and that s/he is not being informed is likely to be a lot more enraged than one to whom the receptionist simply reports she is receiving these calls for him.

          I cannot fathom the idea of taking these calls and not informing the target.

  18. Savvy Working Gal*

    #2. We had a VP who would routinely work from home without letting anyone or not the right people know. We set up an email group of people that needed to be in the know and he was told he had to email that group when he was working from home. FYI – he was demoted about a year ago and his replacement does NOT work from home. I agree with other commenters that it is people like this that give working from home a bad rap.

  19. hayling*

    Wow, OP #2’s coworker isn’t really “working from home” if she is attending her kid’s school spirit day. That’s just crappy for everyone. In my company if you are WFH and you need to attend a meeting, you call in! With SaaS software, remote desktops, screensharing, etc., there is pretty much no excuse for missing meetings. Obviously being there in person is ideal but there are workarounds.

  20. weasel007*

    How much you want to bet the OP isn’t dealing with one collector? I had a roommate in college who left the country for the the summer and the day she left I started getting phone calls..all day long. Turns out she had 21 delinquent credit cards (21 different collectors calling every day, sometimes twice) with debt in the 10’s of thousands. This was in the early 90’s. I had to get her parents involved and it wasn’t a good scene. I was getting yelled at, screamed at and accused of being the person who owed the debt. I had to change my phone number and lost out on some job opportunities (this was before the internet and our phone number was on resumes I had submitted). I was not a happy camper. I’ve since told my family that if you give me as a contact or my number, I will give the collector ALL your information. I will tell them what car you drive, where you work and your boyfriend’s number. I haven’t had this problem since.

  21. HannahS*

    re: number 4:
    It’s great that bosses aren’t supposed to ask about your condition, but what if someone does? Is there a polite way of saying, “it’s none of your business and you shouldn’t be asking?” I’m a student, and sometimes staff/admin/TAs/profs forget that not everyone likes to chat about their illnesses.

    1. OCDnDepressionGirl*

      And the tough part with that is that you wonder how much people are talking about what it might be. I was fortunate enough to be able to get therapy apptms after work hours, so I haven’t had to deal with it, but I am not sure how I’d deal with it. At a certain point, a person has to wonder if the truth is easier to put out there than have to wonder what people are thinking.

      The truth isn’t always easy, either. I’ve got mild to moderate OCD and depression, which are not too hard to hide, but still make my life tougher. When I told family members about it, they were thoughtful about it, but some of them really didn’t seem to understand. I’d rather not go through that at work. One thing that’s tough is when people who know nothing about this stuff try to help fix it.

    2. Jeanne*

      For work, you need to evaluate how well you know the person. If you truly trust them, feel free to open up. For your boss, you may have to tell a little more like I expect to have these appts every three months for the forseeable future. For coworkers you don’t trust, you stick with a medical issue I’m getting treated for. When they push, try to look a little shy and say you really don’t like talking about it. Then try to change the subject.

      Sure some people will talk. Those people will talk no matter how much you tell them. You have to know what amount of privacy is important to you. If you want to spill, go for it.

      If you apply for FMLA, HR will get more details in the paperwork.

    3. Student*

      Well, people ask these questions for a few specific reasons. Either they want to make sure you’re okay because they care about you, or they want to make sure this is not the tip of the iceberg and they’re going to have to handle much more work while you’re out.

      I suggest an empty phrase that addresses these specific concerns that underlie the questions. “Oh, it’s minor and I’ll be fine. I just need to follow through with the doctor’s visits and it’ll be resolved in X time.”

      If you want to dissuade the very persistent, just say, “Oh, it’ll be fixed soon, but it’s gross so I’d rather not get into details.” If they claim that they don’t mind gross, clarify that you do.

    4. Anon for this*

      I was in the exact same situation. I knew that telling my boss details about the appointment would be a bad idea, so when she asked what the appointments were for, I told her that it was important but not life-threatening and shouldn’t affect my work in any other way. She got the hint.

  22. Cube Ninja*

    #5 is incredibly easy:

    If you’d prefer not to keep logs and receipts, that’s certainly your prerogative, but please understand that we aren’t able to reimburse any expenses absent these items.

    1. Mallory*

      My thoughts exactly. If he wants to get reimbursed, he will comply, and if he doesn’t want to comply, I don’t give a $#!@ whether he gets reimbursed — that’s his misfortune!

    2. Artemesia*

      I would be concerned that he had a reason for not complying and that reason was detrimental to the business e.g. NOT doing the work. Every time there is a safety disaster in building codes, it seems to turn out that safety inspections had not been done for years. Every time a child is beaten to death in foster care, it is discovered that required visits have not been made. etc etc.

    3. Cautionary tail*

      At OldJob they solved this easily.

      www dot telogis dot com/solutions/fleet/features

      It simply tracks the vehicles with a GPS ping every two minutes and automagically sends that to a centralized database.

      I have no connection with Telogis other than being a prior employee of one of their customers.

  23. Eudora Wealthy*

    #5 If the employee doesn’t want to track mileage, it could be for some benign but embarrassing reason such as the employee being innumerate or illiterate or general paranoia that doesn’t affect his work. My company created a chart with pre-calculated distances between popular work locations that looks something like this one:
    So, as long as the employee actually goes from one location to the other and gets the job done, that employee can use the chart for reimbursement purposes rather than turning in a personal log and receipts. My understanding is that the policy even allows the employee to ride a bicycle, walk, or fly in a helicopter and receive the standard IRS reimbursement rate according to the company chart.

  24. Eudora Wealthy*

    BTW, Alison, I really like your site. Thanks!!! If I had a wish, I would wish I could receive emailed copies of my own comments along with other people’s comments when I check the box for “Notify me of follow-up comments by email.” It seems to only email me the comments of other people. Maybe I’m crazy. If there’s a setting that could change this, then I’d opt for it.

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        Agreed – if there was a ‘notify me of follow-up comments on this thread’ button, that would be awesome!

  25. OP #1*

    Sorry for the late update…

    So, on Friday, I received several more calls from the collectors. This time, I finally discovered how they got my number. Apparently, they were dialing my boss’s boss…getting a voicemail, and then dialing 0 to try to get to an operator. Instead of getting an operator, they got my work number. Weird. I’m some random plebe in a cubical, certainly not an operator/receptionist

    Just for some additional background, the Big Boss is head of a very large portion of an even larger organization. They’re ultimately in charge if 1500 employees and I’m a mid-leveler. So Big Boss knows who I am, but there’s a big ego there, and hence, the reluctance to approach Big Boss directly.

    So, at least I know that the collector’s have the right number, my boss’s boss is receiving these calls, and choosing not to respond. I have no idea why they would accuse me of being the debtor, or ask for big boss’s contact info if they clearly have a number with a voicemail identifying it as big boss’s.

    I really appreciate the advice from all. I believe I will try to be more forceful with the callers if they continue, and will loop in my boss if it gets to be too much of a distraction. Thanks again!

    1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

      They’re probably asking you for contact info because the boss isn’t responding at the number they currenly have. I wouldn’t wait, to be honest… Can you explain to your boss how you keep getting these calls forwarded? I’d want to know if it was me, so I could put a stop to it.

    2. Laura*

      It could be that once upon a time when they programmed the phone system, dialing 0 *did* send the caller straight to the person charged with answering general inquiries. But now however many years later, it’s you on the other end of the line. Also, if they’re pressing 0 after hearing your Big Bosses voicemail message, there is no guarantee he is seeing that they’re calling or receiving notifications (depending on your phone system is configured). The easiest way to deal with this is to tell the collector to leave a voicemail in his mailbox instead of pressing 0 to bypass it, then transfer them back to his extension.

    3. Kassy*

      If you are still dealing with this, cite the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and tell them to stop contacting you. By law, they are allowed to contact you one more time to tell you what action they plan to take next. If they continue to contact you after that, tell them that you will be reporting them to the BBB.

    4. Kassy*

      You don’t necessarily have to send a letter, but this language may be helpful.

      Cease contact and harassment letter on debt that is not yours
      (Sent via certified mail)

      DATE: ___________________

      TO: ____________________________________________
      (Name & address of debt collector)

      FROM: ____________________________________________
      (Your name & address)

      SUBJECT: Cease contact on debt regarding ___________________________ (Name of person the debt collection agency is contacting you about)

      To whom it may concern:

      Under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, I am exercising my right to request that you cease all contact with me about debt owed to you by [name of person the collection agency is calling you about]. That person does not live at this address and cannot be reached at this phone number.

      If your company can prove that this debt is mine or that this person is in some way connected to this address and phone number, please send proof of that claim to me in writing, again in accordance with the provisions under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.

      Please also confirm to me in writing that you acknowledge this request and that your company will honor this cease action notification. If not, I will be forced to seek legal action and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection. It is also my understanding that your company has two weeks to respond to this letter.


      ________________________ (Print name)

      ________________________ (Sign name)

  26. VictoriaHR*

    #3 – this is similar to what I’m currently going through, although I’m not being fired. I told them that I was burned out and since there’s no other position available, they agreed to let me leave after July 1st and are helping me find something else (paying an agency to search for positions for me). I’m not being fired because I initiated the conversation and we worked together to come to a mutually agreeable compromise. I plan to say something like, “the position wasn’t a right fit for me and there weren’t any other positions available to move to, so we are working together to find me a position outside the company.”

  27. A Nonymous*

    Wait, you can’t dock an exempt worker’s pay based on hours?

    I commented once before about how my employer ‘docked’ any time I was late by taking out of FMLA. I was told that was perfectly legal.

    I did not mention, previously, that every time they did this, they also docked my pay for that same time. Are you saying what they did was illegal?

    This may be why they tried to bribe me after I was fired — they offered to pay a chunk of salary plus a year of COBRA if I signed something saying I would not sue them.

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