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Fired Via Instant Message 367

Posted by michael
from the new-low dept.
JThaddeus writes "Yahoo! news reports that South Korea's third-largest credit card issuer, KEB Credit Service, fired 161 people--a quarter of its workforce--via mobile phone text messages. Hey, at least they got told, right? Afterall, they could have been like Milton."
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Fired Via Instant Message

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#8418964)
    Permanently.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:26PM (#8419232)
      Back when I was a software contractor (where I could and would get fired at the drop of a hat), I used to call it "instant vacation." I also used to ask my boss everyday: "am I fired yet?"

      But now that I'm retired, yeah, that I call "sweet permanent vacation." Heh.
    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @08:33AM (#8421968)
      Why is this article filed under "funny"? If 161 Americans had been fired by instant message I rather think it'd be "your rights online". But because they're foreigners it's only important as something to laugh at. Maybe the editors have their aidience pegged, as the post above and the majority I've looked at are dumb insensitive jokes.
  • by dyj (590807) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#8418965)
    "You've got fired!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#8418970)
    "...they took ... my ... my Swingline ... and then, they texted me a pink slip ... going to burn the place to the ground ... this is, yes, this is the final straw"
  • by dysprosia (661648) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#8418973)
    Wouldn't it be cheaper just to tell these people quickly in person? Considering the cost of a text message in some places...
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:52PM (#8418997)
      These people were on strike. They couldn't be told at the end of their next shift because there was no next shift for them. So, the only way to get them in person would be to summon them via text message for an annoucement...
    • by Futaba-chan (541818) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:52PM (#8418998)
      They were all out on strike (and apparently, firing striking workers isn't illegal there), so there was no way to tell them in person.
    • by geekster (87252) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:53PM (#8419009) Homepage
      From the article: "The firm said it had no method for contacting striking staff other than using the short message service (SMS)."
    • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brian Dennehy (698379) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:55PM (#8419027) Homepage

      South Korea's third-largest credit card issuer fired a quarter of its workforce via mobile phone text messages on Friday, after negotiations with striking unionized workers broke down.

      The firm said it had no method for contacting striking staff other than using the short message service (SMS).

      I suppose, to them, it would be no different than calling them all up directly, other than the fact that that would take too long (plus, you'd have to put up with them complaining about getting fired, etc.).
    • sometime you can just send an email which can be recieved on your cellphone. In that case, it might be cheaper or i say free.
  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Christoff84 (707146) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#8418974) Journal
    Well at least they saved a tree or two worth of pink slips. Although on Monday there are going to be a few pissed off people that had their phones off all weekend.
  • GOOD NEWS! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jonfromspace (179394) <jonwilkins.gmail@com> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:49PM (#8418977)
    You Are Fired!

    Sucks to be Corben Dallas!
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:50PM (#8418982)
    This really wasn't PC instant messages but SMS text messages, which they use over there a whole lot more than we ever do. Since these workers were on strike, they couldn't very well be told at the office anyway.
  • by alanw (1822) * <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:50PM (#8418985) Homepage
    Bust company sacks workers by text [bbc.co.uk]

    Friday, 30 May, 2003

    The UK's largest personal injury claims firm, Accident Group, has sacked 2,400 people - many by text message - after its parent company Amulet Group announced on Friday that it would go into administration.

    Staff with company mobile phones received a series of text messages, warning them that salaries would not be paid.

    Accident group was a bunch of ambulance chasing lawyers - you know the adverts - "have you suffered an injury - contact us and we'll sue for you" (and take a massive cut from any compensation).
  • heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:51PM (#8418989)
    The message sent was actually "SRY WE DNT ND U NEMRE KTHX BAI THX 4 WRK HRE".
  • by PerlPo8 (558867) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:51PM (#8418994) Homepage
    Where's that middle finger emoticon again?
  • by cjellibebi (645568) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:53PM (#8419002)
    In the UK where text-messages (SMS's) are old-hat, this has happened previously. See these articles on BBC news:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2949578.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/2043610 .stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by juuri (7678) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:54PM (#8419014) Homepage
    ... understand that Korea is a very different culture when it comes to cell phones and things like SMS than the USA. SMS usage is waaaaaaaay more common with everyone and people use SMS more frequently as it is much cheaper than actually talking on the phone.

    My girlfriend who is Korean can friggen enter SMS messages by using the keypad faster than I can write them with a stylus on my p800; it is both awesome and scary at the same time.
    • by WorkEmail (707052) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:21PM (#8419196)
      Very true, in places in Europe most often Texting is so much cheaper than voice communication, so people become very fast at it. Becoming efficient with the T9 feature on phones is very important. I can send quick messages while I drive without even looking at my phone. Different phones have different methods of how you compose, read and send messages. Most new model phones come with T9(R) Predictive Text - when you start entering a word, you only have to press the key once for each letter and the phone will anticipate what word you are typing. T9(R) Predictive Text provides: Easy and fast text entry - just one key press per letter Nearly twice as fast as "multi-tap" text entry Ability to add custom words to your T9 dictionary Full punctuation and symbol capabilities Available in all major languages
    • by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3 AT phroggy DOT com> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:22PM (#8419199) Homepage
      My girlfriend who is Korean can friggen enter SMS messages by using the keypad faster than I can write them with a stylus on my p800; it is both awesome and scary at the same time.

      I remember hearing a comment about the effects of using SMS so much in Britain and Japan; someone said teenagers are so used to using their thumb on their phone that the thumb has become their dominant digit, and they use it for things like ringing doorbells etc.
  • by Ieshan (409693) <ieshan@gmail. c o m> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:55PM (#8419026) Homepage Journal
    u fired! kekekekekekekeke!!11111
  • Tragic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bish.dk (547663) <haasNO@SPAMitu.dk> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:57PM (#8419037) Homepage
    It's a tragedy for the people involved in the story.

    I can't help but wonder if this story would have been posted under "It's funny. Laugh" if it had been an American company firing American workers.

    Is it only funny because it is happening half a world away?
    • Re:Tragic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:18PM (#8419184)
      Most company busts are looked at as a tragic comedy in the end... these people went on strike fearing job cuts when they learned that their bankrupt company was about to be merged with a not bankrupt operation. It's hard to feel sympathy for a group that couldn't take their layoff gracefully when they're being told in an impersonal way.
  • teh msg (Score:5, Funny)

    by pokka (557695) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:57PM (#8419041)
    hi how r u? u gtg
    u hv 4hr 2 get ur
    stf out of ur dsk
    hv a gr8 day cya
  • Fired OR? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Marvelicious (752980) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:59PM (#8419051)
    I'm trying to figure out which is worse: getting fired by IM or getting dumped by IM.

    I do have to hand it to then for sheer cold-blooded brutality. The little devil guy that pops up over my right shoulder really got a kick out of this one!
    • by Marvelicious' Girl (757461) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:41PM (#8419330)
      I didn't want it to come to this, but... I'm breaking up with you, K?

      It just wasn't working out; I just couldn't compete with this stupid, ugly green website.

      I want my car back, too.

      Don't bother trying to come crawling back, we're through.

      Like this way of breaking up with you? It's Toni's idea. Savor the sweet, sweet irony.
  • Fearing Job Cuts (Score:5, Informative)

    by yintercept (517362) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @06:59PM (#8419052) Homepage Journal
    Unionized workers, who make up nearly 90 percent of the firm's 662 staff, have been on strike since mid-December over a takeover by Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), fearing job cuts.

    Just a sec, I need to jot this down in my notebook of things not to do: Item 694: Go on strike to prevent job cuts.

    That done, Marjorie Kelly makes a good point in her work The Divine Right of Capital that employees are are the wrong side of the ledger. People are expenses not stake holders. This creates the negative feedback that as productivity increases wages go down...not up.

    This strike and instant death messages shows that confrontational method of strikes does not work well in a market that is suffering from over capacity. What needs to happen is we need to figure out how to get more people from the expense side of the ledger into the stake holder side of the ledger.

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:13PM (#8419147)
      These people also went on strike trying to get blood from a stone. The managers they were talking to were in charge of a division that was nearly bankrupt and about to get merged back into the mothership company... which means most of the people on the other side of the table also are likely to lose their jobs too.
  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:02PM (#8419078) Homepage
    At least they didn't work for a psycho like Barry Lewis. He of course claimed he sent paychecks, but they never arrived, he finally admitted that there was no money.

    The last I heard of him is that he was on his way to the probation department after his criminal conviction.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by crawdaddy (344241) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:03PM (#8419088)
    In A.D. 2004

    KEB was firing

    Worker: What happen?

    Cellphone: Somebody set up us the IM.

    AIM: We get message.

    Worker: What!

    AIM: Main screen turn on.

    Worker: It's you!!

    HR: How are you gentlemen!!

    HR: All your jobs are belong to us!

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jpellino (202698) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:04PM (#8419093)
    "The firm said it had no method for contacting striking staff other than using the short message service (SMS)."

    Um, they had the cell phone number needed to send the sms - buck up and call them.
  • Gutless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:05PM (#8419097) Homepage
    But a lot of companies are using Email to fire people to avoid dealing with it face to face. I can understand it, but these people have invested 1/3 of their weekday lives working for your company. Time they can never get back. You'd think they'd at least be due the courtesy of hearing it directly. No outplacement assistance, nothing. Tossed aside like a used Kleenex.

    I'd suggest start working on your own business. It's not that hard to do. And with companies pushing more of the grunt paperwork down on already over-worked people, you might find it's less work than some of you are doing now. The big expense for most people is health insurance.

    • Re:Gutless (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MrWa (144753) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:30PM (#8419260) Homepage
      I can understand it, but these people have invested 1/3 of their weekday lives working for your company. Time they can never get back.

      You are really taking a job too seriously. It is not time invested with no pay back: those people were getting paid for that time. Whether they were getting paid enough is an individual concern. Keep in mind that they were on strike, while the company had no money...

      No outplacement assistance, nothing. Tossed aside like a used Kleenex.

      In your attempt to paint this as the giant evil corporation using people like Kleenex you missed that there will be a seperation package. Getting laid off is not pleasant. Firing someone is not pleasant on the individual level, either. With no way to get in touch with someone because that person is not coming into work how do you prepose the company should have let people know they should start planning for their future instead of chanting with signs in front of the company?

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by RoadkillBunny (662203) <roadkillbunny@msn.com> on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:07PM (#8419111)
    ...if I don't have a mobile phone, I wouldn't get fired?
  • by AvantLegion (595806) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:15PM (#8419165) Journal
    TheBoss: hi a/s/l?
    TheBoss: whoops
    TheBoss: sorry but ur fired
    TheBoss: ill give u good reference tho
    * TheBoss sets status to Sorry *
    TheBoss: :(
    TheBoss: srry ur mad at me gtg byebye
    TheBoss has logged out

  • by Aphrika (756248) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:17PM (#8419178)
    Here in the UK, an instant message would be sent via AIM or MS Messenger. Phone to phone messaging is called text messaging. It's real name is SMS - simple message services - but no-one calls it that anymore.

    I'd be much more impressed if someone was fired via an instant message:

    Bob has signed in
    Bob says: Morning Alex
    Alex says: Hi Bob
    Bob says: You're fired.
    Bob has left the conversation
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:20PM (#8419193)
    In Saudi Arabia and many other muslim countries, you can get divorced by text message!

    To be fair, it's not text messaging that is the issue. In many muslim countries saying, "I divorce you" three times is enough for divorce. SMS is just the medium for carrying the divorce messages.

  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:22PM (#8419204) Homepage
    Sure others received similar spam awhile back titled "You're Fired". While I realize SMS is different, and more secure...I still wonder about the security...

    What's to stop some spoofer/hacker/etc from sending out bogus, legit looking "You're Fired!" SMS - say from a stolen/borrowed/hacked cellphone or computer, etc of the company.

    Even if it later is revealed the "You're Fired!" SMS were bogus, the damage is already done...

    Ron
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:22PM (#8419206) Journal
    We are sorry to inform you, but your services are no longer necessary to the company. Effective immediately, upon receipt of this message, your remote access to company resources has be&*#A%rE [NO CARRIER]
  • Back in '78 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:22PM (#8419207)
    I was working field service for a minicomputer company. I was beeped on my pager then when I called in, I was told I was laid off.
  • I guess... (Score:4, Funny)

    by rampant mac (561036) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:25PM (#8419225)
    I guess the next step will be my boss following up on one of my /. posts...

    +5 Informative - You've been canned.

    • Nah... such a post would usually get modded as offtopic and flamebait despite being informative. It could never reach +5 and keep it for very long.
  • Oh the irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:27PM (#8419244) Journal
    Fired by crappest, most rip-off messaging system known to man with a 160 character limit, phone companies that think its fine to charge you extortionate fees to route something the size of the meta data thats sent when you initiate a call (for free) and then dont bother to deliver it for 3 hours on occaision and the most annoying input method ever invented.
  • Legal strength ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lkratz (243841) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:34PM (#8419280) Homepage
    I don't know what are the job laws in South-Korea. But in most of European countries, theses SMS have probably no legal binding between employer and employees. The company still have to send some kind of registered letter "snail mail". Even if people are in strike and difficult to reach, I see no company advantage to send SMS to warn employees they are fired, they still need to send letters. And there effective dismissal starts when they receive there registered letter.

    There's also an issue about SMS authentication, do you think these 161 recipients know their HR manager GSM number and are able to verify the author of the message ? Could be anyone sending you that message : "you are fired. signed J.M. KEB Credit Service HR Manager"
  • by Mixel (723232) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:36PM (#8419296) Homepage
    "You have IM!" *ding* SCO has joined the conversation *ding* DeptOfJustice has joined the conversation
  • Could be worse (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:40PM (#8419319)
    At a PPOE, we came in one day to find out about 1/3 of the office
    couldn't get e-mail. Since corporate HQ was in another time zone, we
    had to wait a couple of hours until the IT guys got in. The IT guys
    passed the buck for a while until finally we were told that the folks who
    couldn't get their e-mail were laid off.

  • by canavan (14778) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @07:59PM (#8419431)
    I'm really wondering who had the audacity of naming Short Messages "instant messages" - there's nothing instant about them at all. They can (and really do) take up to 7 days to get delivered, even if one's phone has good reception for almost all the time.
    • by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Sunday February 29, 2004 @02:58AM (#8421289)
      They can (and really do) take up to 7 days to get delivered, even if one's phone has good reception for almost all the time.

      Are you from the US? Here in Europe, delivery lags are pretty much a non-issue by now. I haven't had an SMS delayed by any significant amount of time (i.e. more than a few seconds) in years.

      (Unless it's New Year's Eve, that is.)

      I only know this for those messages to which I got immediate replies of course, but that is probably the majority of my messages.

  • by cs02rm0 (654673) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @08:02PM (#8419450)
    Joe Worker: Hi Boss, good weekend?
    Boss: Err...
    Joe Worker: My work mobile (cell) seems to have died this weekend, any chance of a new one?
    ...
  • by minusthink (218231) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @08:07PM (#8419478)
    Listen: It's one thing to (allow) link to a major site to report a story without warning or a cache (though I don't buy the reasons they give in the FAQ, but that's another rant), it's another thing to link to a site for that has no relation to story.

    Practically everyone on /. knows who milton is, there was no need to link to this poor guy's site at all.

    I'm just asking for a little consideration from the moderators not a linking policy.

    minus

    (and no, I didn't go to this guy's site)

  • by way2trivial (601132) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @08:11PM (#8419503) Homepage Journal
    due to demand post movie.

    http://www.swingline.com/html/1695.html

    U p the Revolution: The Red Stapler! Staple and be heard! WHAM-cubicles! WHAM-dress code! WHAMWHAMWHAM! By popular demand, were offering this desk stapler in screaming, gleaming red. Use with caution (unless youre the boss).

  • by mac os ken (732050) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @09:09PM (#8419777) Homepage Journal
    thx 4 teh msg
    i jst at teh
    GUNS n AMMO
    STOR i am stndin
    in lobby now l8tr
  • by identity0 (77976) on Saturday February 28, 2004 @10:48PM (#8420271) Journal
    At least they weren't fired in a Slashdot post. Other humiliating geek ways of being fired:

    Your employer uploads pinkslip.txt to the CVS tree of the free software project you've been spending all your time on.

    Your boss cracks your home machine and leaves the message "J00 ar3 n07 1337. F10R3D!!!!11!1!"

    Boss takes you to a fancy Indian restaurant. When the waiter comes, he says "Yes, we're ready to order - by the way, Bob, Mahel here will be replacing you in two days."

    They FedEx you a cell phone while you work, a la the Matrix. It rings, and when you answer, a mysterious deep voice tells you, "Look at the hall by the elevator. They're coming for you, Neo". You look, and you see a group of HR people coming to fire your sorry ass, being directed towards your cubicle. Being a geek, you immediately re-enact the scene where the agents(HR people) are trying to hunt Neo(you) while he talks to Morpheus(the mysterious stranger).

    You think, "This is it. The thing I have been waiting for all my life - confirmation that I AM the One! Haha, I'm not a loser, suckers!" However all your hopes come crashing to an end when the guy on the phone says "Oh what the hell. You're fired anyway whether they find you or not. I've been leading you on for my own amusement, but now it's gotten boring. Clever hack, eh? btw, you're not The One, you'll never touch Trinity, and you're still just a loser without a job." In desperation you fling yourself out the 10th-floor window to confirm you have super powers or die trying. You die trying. However you prove the hacker wrong on one point when you DO touch Carrie-Anne Moss at the last moment of your life, crushing her to death between you and her motorcycle.
  • sorry (Score:5, Funny)

    by moondo (177508) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @12:58AM (#8420825)
    well, i must apologize... i never knew this would become such a big thing.


    guys guys guys...

    the boss(mr. kim) was on his lunch break, but he left his cellphone on the desk. i was wondering what could be a practical joke to play on my fellow colleagues and, well, ended sending these you've been fired messages. sorry if i scared the fuckin shit out of you.

    i'll see you on monday at work.

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