The company where I work, which shall remain nameless, has a system whereby a customer can elect to receive an SMS when a delivery is on the way. Very sensible, you might say, and so it is.

At the same time, the delivery company was requesting two customer phone numbers on the consignment note in case they couldn’t contact the customer at the first one. Again, very sensible.

However, some Charlie (not his/her real name) decided we should now force the sales and customer service people to collect two phone numbers. It didn’t occur to Charlie that some people only had one phone number, some didn’t want to give a second number and some reps just couldn’t be bothered.

So, what happened is that a small coterie of reps started entering a bogus mobile number as the alternate contact number. Stupid, but harmless you would have thought. But, at the same time, the were clicking the ‘Send SMS’ checkbox.

Yet again, you would say stupid but harmless. Unfortunately it turned out that this (admittedly bogus-looking) number was a real one. Some poor sod started getting a flood of SMS messages telling him his order would be delivered shortly .

He, not unnaturally, called us to say ‘what the hell is going on’. We had an urgent request to turn off the SMS system. Then we had to run a fast bit of SQL to fix up the database. Then we had to make some software changes and rush them into production.

I hope the poor sod was offered some freebies as compensation and that the reps were firmly reprimanded with a blunt instrument.


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