When Your Actions Could Affect Somebody’s Career, Please Pay Attention To Detail

I walked into work this morning to find a situation that was less than pleasant. An email had been sent to me on Friday from somebody in a corporate finance office stating that I had a past due balance on my corporate American Express. The email stated that the charges appeared to be personal in nature and no expense report was filed, and my account was being closed because a fairly high balance was more than 100 days past due. Ethics was cc’ed on the email, as well as some people so far up in the chain of command that it is likely I will never meet them.

My first action was to reply to all with a statement that there must be a mistake or fraud on my account. I have not used my Amex since a trip I took last November and that bill was paid. I have seen no statements since that time. I also asked if it was corporate policy to notify Ethics without even contacting the person first. If my card were that far past due, couldn’t this person have, like, called me first? Why do we even have a Global Address Book if we don’t use it?

I also called the person and left a message. I like to get in early, and this person is on the "other" coast and would not be in the office for several hours. I did send the email, however, so there was a paper trail with the higher ups who had been involved by this person.

My next step was to notify my program manager. It turns out that my "chain of command" up to him is out today, and I wanted somebody in my immediate leadership to know about this issue. His advice was to call American Express, who said that my account doesn’t have a balance and is currently active.

I looked more closely at this person’s signature file. He apparently works for another branch of the company. I realized that I would probably have been notified by somebody within my own branch of the company if it were my account. I know there is a person in the same area as the person who emailed me with the same name as me, at least first and last, in fact with the exception of my middle initial, our corporate email addresses are identical and the area code of our phone numbers is very similar.

I opened the original email and did another reply to all with the update that my Amex account appears to be fine and I asked if this person is sure that he has contacted the right person.

When I was in Recruit Training (otherwise known as Boot Camp), our Company Commander tried to beat into our heads "Attention To Detail!" When you’re dealing with other people’s careers and financials, please pay attention to detail. Mistakes do happen, but as they say, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. To "almost" get the right person for a corporate finance matter is far off the mark. I can’t tell you how much paperwork I have had screwed up in the past, how much financial strain I’ve been put under, and how many opportunities I’ve missed out on because somebody "almost" did their job. Patients die in hospitals when doctors and caregivers "almost" do their jobs. Computer programs are buggy  when programmers "almost" do their job. Safety features on all kind of products fail when people "almost" do their jobs. Get the point? Almost doesn’t cut it.

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