Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud: Chapter Six

The Cover Up Begins

My wife is a bold and forceful woman. Absolutely fearless and very eloquent. I am only bold, forceful, and fearless when I have had too much to drink and am being an asshole. As for eloquent, we have never met.

Mary left the room to go call Sterken and I went back to my computer screen and my computer code. Writing computer code was my wonderful little world where I could ignore virtually all aspects of life’s realities and where things made sense and all actions were, in the end, either true or false. There was no such thing as Maybe or Concensus or Gray Area. There were no Personalities or Majorities or Politics. Just true or false. It works or it doesn’t. Life simplified to something my understaffed brain could handle.

When Mary returned, one eye was asquint and her lips were curled at the ends. One up, one down. “Well, that was interesting,” she said.

“You actually called Sterken, didn’t you?”

“Of course.”

“What happened?”

“He started off trying to see how dumb I was. First he wondered whether the source code customizations you are writing would belong to them. I pointed out that all your source code belonged to you. Then he expressed concern that we might use some of our customizations in our own retail product. He didn’t like that scenario at all.”

“He’s afraid of little Blueberry competing with big Arbortext?”

“I’d say so. I played dumb on engineering issues and simply reminded him that our source code was ours to use any way we wanted. It was in the contract, so he had to drop the issue.”


“Would you like to know what Sterken said when I finished pointing out some of our concerns, including the $464 error on the royalty report?”

“Do I need a drink first?”

“He said, out of the blue, ‘Are you accusing Arbortext of cheating you?’”

I looked at her. “Sterken actually volunteered that?”

She nodded. “Weird, huh?”

“Sounds like one of those The Smeller’s the Feller deals. Or, my favorite, He That Smelt It Dealt It. What did you say?”

“I told him ‘Of course not, Jim. I’m just doing my job. Trying to get up to speed in understanding Blueberry’s royalty contract with Arbortext.’ He said not listing the Interchange product on their web site was a marketing decision, whatever the hell that‘s supposed to mean. He also said he would put me in touch with a Joyce Svechota who could discuss the errors on the spreadsheet.”

“Who’s she?”

Mary smiled. “I’ll just have to go find out.”

With that, she left the room. My office. Our garage. World Wide Headquarters of Blueberry Software. My brother Jim actually had a room in his house for his office. A small room. In the basement.

. . . .

There was a problem with the zeros.

Some of the Quantity amounts on the royalty report were zero and the Amount column was zero also. In other cases, the Quantity was one, but the Amount zero. The contract specifically stated Blueberry’s technology should never be given away for free. It was not allowed to be a “sales device.” A throw in, so a wavering customer would buy their product and get something free. Us. And we would get nothing.

So you can see that Mary was very concerned with these dang zeros. It was nice to have a fresh brain at work that didn’t assume every piece of sliced and inked tree remains sent Blueberry’s way was automatically the truth. Or, in the case of a certain myself, too lazy to actually study the boring stuff. In retrospect, our company probably should have been named Horse’s Ass Software, run by Horsedung the marketer and Horseshit the programmer.

Joyce Svechota, the Product Management Director, insisted that the zeros were, indeed, zeros. She had checked with Accounting more than once and the zeros were zeros. Mary pointed out that the contract prohibited these zero occurrences. Arbortext was supposed to remunerate Blueberry for the use of its code, not use it for gift giving. To which, somewhat cheekily Mary thought, Joyce responded, “Sometimes contracts don’t work out the way we think they will.”

This was somehow supposed to be an explanation for Arbortext’s right to ignore the contract and do whatever the hell it wanted — such as just cheat us. This notion kind of pissed me off, quite frankly. Restored my pulse, so to speak.

What Joyce couldn’t cheek aside, though, were the mathematical errors in the spreadsheet. She would claim they were fixed, send us a new royalty report, and it would contain more errors than the previous one. And each one contained altered data. And missing sales. One customer started out with Quantity one for $60,000, and then became Quantity six for $60,000. Apparently, the accounting system software had formatted the Quantity column using the Whimsy option, but retained integrity on the Amount column. Very reassuring.

That the Royalty Reports were, as Mary pointed out, editable was certainly being proven in neon letters. Letters that, in my dictionary, spelled CROOKED BOOKS.

It certainly explained what appeared to be an insane contract. One which boosted Arbortext sales through the roof but managed to keep Blueberry constantly in the red. It wasn’t the contract. It was THEM. They were CROOKS.

Geez. Why us? Why me? I don’t need this crap in my life right now. Isn’t Dwan enough of a plague on my universe?

Relentlessly, Mary continued her sleuthing into Arbortext, and lo and behold, she began to discover companies that were using Interchange, but were not on our royalty report at all. It seemed like she was marching into my office virtually every day waving a printout of another company she had discovered. How many were there? It was certainly no isolated incident, some accidental oversight.

It was time to confront Arbortext and Jim Sterken. Apparently, he had indeed lied to us and in fact Arbortext was cheating us. Now I was really getting steamed.

Embarrassed, too. Here I was thinking this jerk was concerned with my welfare, looking out for it even. Herding me along the treacherous cliffs of Mt. Dwanimanjaro to safety in the high and lush plateau of success. And all of it was bullshit. He had lemmingized me. Herding me not from the cliffs, but over them.

How had this happened? Was I totally losing it? I had been able to smell animal deposits heaving out of phony lips all my life like it was second nature. Some gift in the genes. So gifted in this regard that people often accused me of possessing a hypersensitive nose. An unkind nose. A suspicious nose. A cynical, sarcastic nose.

Wow. I had turned into, gasp, another gullible moron!


Time to snap out of it.

Okay, Sterken-rhymes-with-Jerken, let’s play cards.

To be continued . . . Free Hit Counter website statistics


June 17, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Law, Life, News, Software, Technology, Writing | , , , , ,

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