Being the head of a large engineering group I get to interview a lot of people. As part of the interview I ask people about their current or previous jobs and some of the stories I hear horror stories about these work places and how making a bad product is actually good business for them. Here are some examples:
Example 1 – Insurance Company:
A guy that worked in an insurance company was building a system to process claim forms for elderly people. The system would validate that all the forms were submitted and that they are all filled correctly. When the developer found a validation error, for instance a missing form, missing field or a validation error he would print that there is a missing form and what exactly is missing. He was told by the company not to specify what exactly is missing but just to say some forms are missing.
By being as vague the insurance company makes the life of the elderly people who are trying to submit claims very difficult, thus having to pay less claims.
Example 2 – Outsource:
Developers that worked at an outsource company was assigned to a project. In this project he was trying to develop his code using Test Driven Development. He was told by the company not to write automated tests because the quality of code would be better and since they get paid by the hour they will loose money on debugging and manual QA, which takes much longer.
Example 3 – Banks
Some banks make the system to delay deposits and prioritize withdrawals so if a customer does not have sufficient credit they will first go into overdraft because the withdrawals are entered into the system before the deposits.
This way bank customers need to pay more interests and commissions to the bank.
Making bad products or making low quality software on purpose is a good business for some companies. However they make their customers frustrated and their employees that develop these systems unhappy and feel bad about themselves.
You would not find me working for these kinds of companies nor many good developers who have many options to find a good place to work. This actually hurt these companies in a way that they have many low quality people working for them. Good developers want to work at a place that makes them happy and they feel good about the product they develop.
What do you think, would you work for such a company?
Do you have other examples for bad companies that are benefiting from bad products?