Browsing articles tagged with " Business Rules"

Wait…You don’t want to be our customer anymore?

Jul 12, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data Governance, Professional Development, Snark  //  2 Comments

Rotary Phone

Today I received yet another bill from Allstream, our telecommunications provider for our toll-free number.   It was only for $5, but there was a problem…I’d cancelled my account with them a couple of months ago.  Yet they were still sending a bill.  The call went like this, for the most part:


Me: This is my 3rd call* to cancel my services

Allstream: Your services are all disconnected

Me: But I’m still getting billed.

Allstream: Yes.

Me: Why am I still getting billed?

Allstream: That’s our customer charge**.

Me: What the f….?

Allstream: You didn’t cancel being a customer, so your account is still active even though your services aren’t.

Me: <redacted>

Allstream:…<pause>… did you want to cancel that?

Me: Yes, and I’m not going to pay this bill, either.

Allstream: Well, this one time*** we will waive that charge.

Me: You bet it’s one time.

Allstream: I’ve cancelled your customer account.  Is there anything else I can help you with?

Me: No.

Allstream: Thank you for doing business with Allstream.

Me: <click>

* When we tried to cancel the first time, Rob called to do the cancellation, but they had to confirm with me.  So he got me on the phone and I confirmed.  Then days later, while I was on the road, they left a message asking if I really wanted to cancel or did I want to upgrade to something else.  I didn’t return their call, so they cancelled the cancellation. And they continued to bill me. Seems they really didn’t want me to cancel.

**Customer charges are becoming the norm for services, at least here in Ontario.  Business tack on these charges so that they can advertise lower rates for their core services.  All the utilities and service companies do this.  It’s just a charge for the cost of you being a customer.  Because you are a liability to them, not an asset.  They must charge you for the right to charge you.  Or something like that.

*** One time fixes always get me going.  It must be fun to say that only this one time will the company fix their errors.  It really does make me want to run to find their competitor.

IT: The Enabler

I wonder what it’s like to work on project that support these inane business rules.  How do project managers, business analysts, data architects, DBAs, devs et al sit through meetings and write up these requirements?  How do people just sit back and implement these sorts of rules, rules that clearly work against the customers and ultimately the bottom line?  Do you write all your requirements in Comic Sans?  Do you get free sodas and bottled water? A foosball table? Sure, jobs are tight and the economy is bad, but how do you bring yourselves to do this without having to take a 20 minute hot shower when you get home every night?

#DataQuality In the Wild, Some Where…

Jul 7, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Data, Data Modeling, Database  //  6 Comments



This is why you should never believe users when they say they NEVER have international data in their databases.

I understand that this letter was probably mailed using some sort of application that has no room for a Country data field on the address.  I get mail from the US all the time with hand written, taped or otherwise appended Canada on the envelope. 

I have business users all the time tell me that they are 100% sure that they have no international data in their systems.  When we dive in to see what they actually have, they will find all kinds of "workarounds" that end users have done to wedge that data into their applications and database.  In fact, I’ve been guilty of that myself.

The C/O trick, pictured in this post, is a common one.  Other tricks I’ve seen:

  • Hand writing the country on that see-through window pane on the envelope.  This often rubs off between the sender and my mail box.
  • Using another field, such as Mailstop or Box #
  • Using "sounds like" choices, such as OH for ON
  • Using "fake" ZIPCodes like 90210, 99999 or 12345 when a postal code isn’t accepted by the application.
  • Adding the country to the end of my name.  I kind of like the sound of Karen Canada, but I’m not sure my postie is going to get that mail to me.
  • Just leaving the country off the address and hope that the mail gets directed correctly.

I will concede that employees are bending or breaking the rules when they accept international data if the policy is that they should not.  By having applications strictly enforce these rules, organizations still end up with that data and it is much harder to find and it is most likely poor quality data at that.

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