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Episode 22

"Simon, Stephen, this is David and uhh... " the Boss says, petering out as his memory fails.

"Carl," David says.

"Carl. And they'll be running the new Multifunction Printing Device rollout."

"I... What multifunction printing device rollout?" the PFY asks.

"The Multifunction Printing Device Project? There was a whole project team looking at it!"

"A whole project team?" I ask.

"Yes, to change all our printers for Multifunction Devices. The project was running all through last year apparently - Surely you knew about it?"

"No one told us!" the PFY asks.

"You must have known!"

"Nope. Whose idea was it?"

"Yours?" the Boss asks, scanning a well worn project brief he must have just come across on his desk somewhere. "'To cut down on duplication' it says."

"Really?" I ask. "It's an admirable concept but it didn't originate with us. I mean if we'd known there was a chance that we were going to be replacing our printers we most certainly wouldn't have ordered a thousand toner cartridges at the beginning of the year."

"You ordered 1,000 toner cartridges!!!" Carl gasps.

"Yeah, but I suppose we can send them back - I don't know what the restocking fee's likely to be tho..."

"Twenty per cent of purchase price for large orders," the PFY says.

"So how much are we talking about?" the boss asks.

"Dunno, maybe six grand" the PFY responds.

"You bought SIX THOUSAND POUNDS WORTH OF TONER CARTRIDGES???" the Boss gasps.

"No, we bought about thirty grand worth of toner cartridges, but the restocking fee'll be about 6k."

"We can't waste that sort of money!" the Boss gasps.

"Course we can!" the PFY says - being a glass-half-full sort of guy.

"I'll be crucified if they see that! They'll think it was my fault!"

"As our manager you are supposed to sign off high value orders!"

"I wasn't even working here at the time!"

"And I'm sure the board will realise that," the PFY says dubiously.

"The BOARD!"

"Yeah, word's bound to get out. Unless..."

"Unless?"

"Well in the normal scheme of things we'd just use the toner cartridges and no one would be the wiser."

"And?"

"Say the toner cartridges were to run out real fast - because someone printed thousands of pages of printouts every night for about a month?"

"You're proposing we waste both toner cartridges and paper?!"

"Hell yeah! If you send the toner cartridges back a credit'll be sent back to the company tied back to the original invoice which will cause the auditing beancounter to show an interest. If we just chuck the toner cartridges into the bin then the auditor will notice an anomaly in his spreadsheet between the consumption of paper and toner cartridges, but if we use toner cartridges and paper simultaneously it'll look like we just had a run on printing!"

"But won't people notice the huge volumes of printouts and wonder why?"

"Not if we get people to initiate the printouts themselves - with some pointless activity. So say we implement five or six new IT policies that all staff are supposed to familiarise themselves with, make them a bit geeky so people don't want to read them off the screen and cram them full of screenshot examples so they chew through the toner..."

"There's got to be a better way!" the Boss sniffs.

"Well we could..." the PFY starts.

"Could what?"

"Just chuck paper and toner cartridges into the bin at the same time."

"You're just going to toss them out?" the Boss gasps.

"It'd look like they were just used up - no tricky questions..."

"I... no, I can't! It's such a waste!"

"Alternatively..." I suggest.

"What?"

"You could simply remove cartridges and paper, take them to another company who uses the same printers, sell them the discounted consumables for cash and then use the cash to buy new consumables for the new devices. No money comes or goes from the company's books and the company doesn't lose as much as the restocking fee"

"Let me think..." the boss says ".. . I wouldn't know how to find out who's using the same printers as us."

"Sell em on eBay then!" the PFY suggests.

"I...yes I suppose that would work," the Boss says.

And so the plan is formed.

The Boss shoots off to setup a repeating sale on eBay. The next part of his mission will involve him slipping into the loading dock with the company van under the cover of darkness and moving several of pallets of consumables to a hastily organised lockup.

"I feel bad that we're not doing anything," the PFY says. "I mean after all it was our idea to use MFDs."

"Yes, I know what you mean," I reply. "We should have some part to play in this. Hang on, I know what you can do!"

Early the next morning, in the loading dock...

>Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr< >clunk<

>beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >beep< >squeak< .. >Clatter< >slam!<

"THAT'S HIM OFFICER!" the PFY snaps. "Come to steal some more office supplies."

The rest, as they say, is history...

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