by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/04/24 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/04/24/10001726.aspx
This blog is from me, Michael S. Kaplan, private person, and not in connection with Microsoft in any way.
You may want to read the previous sentence a few times before continuing. If the idea does not sit well with you, then you should leave. Now.
It happened back in July.
Not last July.
Like several years ago.
I'll start over.
It happened back in July of 2006.
I interviewed over at Google in Mountain View, CA.
It was flattering to be asked to do so, and they flew me down and I had a hotel room and a rental car.
I did sign an NDA so I am not going to talk about the interviews themselves at all. Many people seem to do that but I did sign something so I'll just not do that, and I'll talk about other stuff.
I liked the food, and the food price (free!). The doors on their buildings were easier to open for me (in a scooter) than a lot of the Microsoft doors.
That was nice.
But at the end of the day, they didn't think I was a good fit for the stuff that kind of interested me, and I had no interest in the stuff they were suggesting I might be a better fit for.
Ain't that the way these things often work? :-)
All very amicable and nice, some very professional people throughout the day.
And the good food. I think I mentioned that.
Well, how do I say it?
They are a big huge company making billions of dollars, after all. It will sound kind of silly.
I'll just say it.
They didn't reimburse my expenses.
$159.50 for the hotel room (I stayed at the Hotel Avante, an old favorite from Unicode Technical Committee meetings, and a source of a few good memories).
$80 for the rental car. It was Budget.
$38 for the charge to park my car at the SeaTac airport garage. I honestly only included that receipt based on something their reimbursement policy said that made me think it might be covered - that they would have reimbursed taxi cabs to and from the airport (this cost them a lot less so it seemed it was nice for me to do that!).
I spent a little over the $30 for dinner because I like food, so we will call it $30 since that is the maximum they said they would reimburse per diem for the meal.
They had taken care of the plane ticket already.
So that comes to like $307.50.
I sent the receipts as they asked me to, and got back to my actual job....
Some time passed with no check, so I finally sent some email asking about it.
They said they never received anything.
The reimbursement rules I was looking at said they needed copies of all the receipts within 15 days and now it was almost two months!
No worries, they said just send the receipts again and they would take care of it.
So I did.
And so they didn't.
A few more months went by.
I felt silly bringing it up again, to be honest. So I didn't.
But I then ran into one of the recruiters I met that day, at some conference. He asked how it all went and I told him the story. He wasn't working for Google anymore but he was surprised. He encouraged me to try again, because they didn't just seem like good people; they were good people.
So try again I did.
Everyone was very apologetic although there was (apparently?) no record of the prior conversation. If there were one I'm sure they would have found it, I mean they do have good search stuff at Google. Everyone knows that.
But they encouraged me to send copies of the receipts once more, and they would take care of the reimbursement.
So I did.
And so they didn't.
I'll admit at that point I just kind of gave up.
Then, just a couple of years ago, a recruiter who wasn't from Google but who was doing some recruiting for Google contacted me to see if I was interested in some specific career opportunities with Google that they thought I might be good for. I told him quite honestly that the answer was no (pointing out the "hell" is silent there but it could be implied in the tone), until Google reimbursed me for the last time and agreed to pay for everything this time upfront -- and I told him the story.
The burned child fears the fire.
He was surprised, too. But he said he would talk to his contacts and have someone look into this and follow up with me.
I never heard from anyone.
I figured my "requirements" amounting to a primadonna rider of a thing, got some note in some file that meant I would never hear from them again for job offers. But we were at a stalemate anyway in this weird chess game so I figured I could live with that. I still had an actual job, after all.
Maybe they were mad I didn't have a GMail account or something.
Now, fast forward to the present, not quite four years later, I hear from yet another recruiter, a contract recruiter working for Google who was pointed to me by someone working at Google (I do not know who, but they priobably didn't know this story!), asking if I would "ever consider opportunities with Google".
This just happened. Like yesterday.
Maybe the recruiter didn't see the postulated "cranky pants fetish" note in my file about this reimbursement situation? :-)
Taking a step back for a moment: in the end, in the last ten years, over and above the trips other people paid for for various jobs and shows and such, between two different girls I dated who lived in Los Angeles, I have paid for dozens of trips to California. And since those two girls are all ex-girlfriends now with neither relationship "succeeding" in the larger sense, I guess you could say the costs from those trips on me were ultimately not fully "reimbursed" either.
So why should Google be any different?
I mean Google and me? That was just a very brief thing, actually little more than a summer "fling" that really only lasted a few days and was never "consummated".
I will stop this metaphor now before it gets downright inappropriate!
The whole situation technically does not violate the idea of Google "doing no evil" since looking at it from the outside it is almost certainly a bunch of bureaucratic snafus and accidents that just leave me out my $307.50 plus the price of the two extra first class stamps, etc.
Ordinarily I'd add the cost of making the two extra copies (I felt uncomfortable going to Microsoft's copy machines to copy the receipts to get Google to reimburse me so I actually went to Kinko's (as it was called back then!) all three times. But I did not keep receipts for that so I won't ask for that money. They never said they would cover that anyway.
But am I really asking for any money here, at this point?
I mean, the notion of making copies again and sending them to Google again seems ridiculous to me.
I suppose I could put copies of my receipts here:
(clicking on the receipts gives you bigger versions of them)
I did not get receipts for either the copying or the mailing, and although interest and penalties for the money that Google has had use of for nearly four years seem appropriate, I am not going to bother with it.
Given the power of Google in regard to searching for information on the web, I am reasonably sure that the receipts will not be lost/misplaced this time.
I doubt anything will happen, but if anyone from Google wants to forward this on to the appropriate people in charge of reimbursement then they should feel free to do so. All of the people I have talked to have been very courteous and professional to me, which makes the whole thing seem out of character. Bizarrely so, in fact.
If someone wants to cut a check, my address should be on file (use the contact link here if it is not, and I'll give it to you). But there will be no further collection action, as the amount has essentially been written off as bad debt. No further action will be taken after this Fourth and Final Notice.
I'll am going to go answer that recruiter now, and send the URL for this blog. I just don't have the energy to tell the story to someone from Google on the phone again and be told how strange it is and how they would take care of it, etc....
# Dale on 24 Apr 2010 8:46 AM:
you should at least place the images of the receipts on a google server... it would make the irony that much better...!
# Michael S. Kaplan on 24 Apr 2010 11:17 AM:
There's a thought! :)
# ErikF on 25 Apr 2010 10:22 AM:
If only a picture was worth $1000 instead of 1000 words...! Oh well, Google is in good company; apparently George Washington still hasn't returned a library book from a New York library (http://www.cbc.ca/cp/Oddities/100417/K041702AU.html).
# liquid on 25 Apr 2010 6:55 PM:
I'm not surprised. I have two 'fiscal' engagements with google, adwords and google voice. No query I've ever made to google re my accounts have ever been answered, no matter how often.
There are a lot of nice things about google. But they do not seem to think that there is any need for them to provide customer support like a regular grown up company would. I suspect that the problem is bigger than anyone knows, and will eventually out.
John Cowan on 18 Oct 2011 11:30 AM:
It is well-known that Google's in-house search is crap. It uses the same algorithms as Google Search, which sounds plausible. Unfortunately, the rich link metadata of the open Web hardly exists in corporate data, and so although you can find internal documents, the ones you want don't bubble to the top at all.
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