Our “What would you do?” column is a forum for sharing your knowledge and experience in dealing with the softer (though some may say harder) side of computer support: ethics. I’ll present a scenario that requires something more than a technical solution. Each situation will be an accurate description of an actual event, with the names and other identifying factors changed to protect the innocent—and sometimes not so innocent. In four weeks, I’ll present feedback from the community members and the actual outcome.

Company oversight or employee scam?
Here, for your consideration, is today’s real-life scenario:

Philip is the manager of a customer support center that offers 24/7 support to a worldwide customer base. The company’s call specialists all have telephone charge cards, for company business only, to prevent them from running up bills on their home phones when calling at night. The company receives itemized monthly invoices from the telephone service provider, which the company then pays. In a random invoice check, the accounts department found that an employee had been making personal overseas calls on the card to a country where the company had no customers. This had been going on for over a year, and the value of personal calls totaled over £1000 ($1,560).

A sample of invoices was shown to the specialist, who admitted the personal use and agreed to stop immediately. The specialist also thought it fair that the company should be reimbursed for the calls, but not for the full amount because the specialist could not afford to pay back such a large amount of money.

There were many discussions at management level about what to do. The specialist involved was an experienced resource and would be very difficult to replace. Additionally, the company felt it had a certain liability for not checking the invoices—especially when the abuse stood out like a sore thumb.

If you were the manager, what would YOU do?

Now it’s your turn
After reading this scenario, if you have ideas about how a satisfactory resolution might be achieved, send them to us. Don’t hold back, and don’t be afraid to be creative. If you’ve ever encountered a similar situation, we’re particularly interested in hearing the steps you took to achieve a resolution.

You can submit your ideas either by e-mail or by posting a discussion item at the end of each column. A week after the publication of a scenario, we’ll pull together the most interesting solutions and common themes from the discussion. We will later present them with the situation’s actual outcome in a follow-up article. You may continue to add discussion items after the first week has elapsed, but to be eligible for inclusion in the follow-up article, your suggestions must be received within a week of the scenario’s publication.