I was on vacation when my employer’s new fiscal year started. My manager let me take vacation because it’s not like anything critical was going to happen. Well, joke was on us because we didn’t foresee the stupidity of others…

I had to update a few product codes in the website’s web config and deploy those changes. I was only going to be logged in for 30 minutes to complete that.

I get messaged by one of our database admins. He was doing testing and was unable to complete a payment on the website. That was strange. There was a change pushed by our offsite dev agency, but that was all frontend changes (just updating text) and wouldn’t affect payments.

We don’t want to enlist the dev agency for debugging work, especially when it’s not likely that it’s a code issue. But I was on vacation and I couldn’t stay online past the time I had budgeted for. So my employer enlists the dev agency for help. It’s going to be costly because the agency is in Lithuania, it was past their business hours, and it was emergency support.

Dev agency looks at error logs. There are Apple Pay errors, but that doesn’t explain why non Apple Pay transactions aren’t going through. They roll back my deployment and theirs, but no change. They tell my employer to contact our payment processor.

My manager and the Product Manager contact Payroll, who is the stakeholder for our payment gateways. Payroll contacts our payment gateway and finds out a service called Decision Manager was recently configured for our account. Decision Manager was declining all payments. Payroll was not the person who had Decision Manager installed and our account using this service was news to her.

Payroll works with our payment processor to get payments working again. The damage is pretty severe. Online payments were down for at least 12 hours. Our call center had logged reports from customers the night before.

At our post mortem, we had to find out who ok’d Decision Manager without telling anyone. Luckily, it was quick work. The first stakeholder up was for the Fundraising Dept. She said it wasn’t her or anyone on her team. Our VP of Analytics broke it to her that our payment processor gave us the name of the person who ok’d Decision Manager and it was someone on the Fundraising team. Fundraising then starts backtracking and says that oh yes she knew about it but transactions were still working after the Decision Manager had been configured. WTAF.

Everyone is dumbfounded by this. How could you make a big change to our payment processor and not tell anyone? How did our payment processor allow you to make this change when you’re not the account admin (you’re just a user)?

Our company head had to give an awkward speech about communication and how it’s important. The web team can’t figure out issues if you don’t tell us what you did. The company head was pissed because it was a shitty way to start off the new fiscal year. Our bill for the dev agency must have been over $1000 for debugging work that wasn’t helpful.

Amazingly, no one was fired.

  • 14
    A Service called DecisionMaker whose decision is always nope? Neat, this is almost universal artificial intelligence.
  • 2
    @horus yep decision manager was trying to rebel against its human overlords…
  • 3
    Just curious: how the heck is the Payroll department even involved here? I thought that department was only for internal salaries, far removed from anything the product
  • 1
    @Noook when this happened, I was inheriting the code repo from the dev agency. I’m not sure if they didn’t write tests because they just didn’t or my employer didn’t want to pay for them.
  • 1
    @jiraTicket that just the way my employer does things.
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