Hey jsmith I missed you at work today


Radio Shack shows it's still on the cutting edge by taking labor relations to the next level. The company has laid off 400 employees via email:

Company officials had told employees in a series of meetings that layoff notices would be delivered electronically, a spokeswoman said. She said employees were invited to ask questions before Tuesday's notification on a company intranet site.

Derrick D'Souza, a management professor at the University of North Texas, said he had never heard of such a large number of terminated employees being notified electronically. He said it could be seen as dehumanizing to employees.

What the mainstream media isn't telling you about this story: Because Radio Shack used a Realistic® email client, the messages were never delivered, and thus nobody has actually been fired.

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  1. Yeah, I saw that on slashdot–it seemed to be a little more problematic than just a lousy way to treat employees. You generally don’t terminate a contract without a written agreement. In a company as big as Radio Shack, I suspect there’s usually more to termination than just “you’re fired.”

    Still, it’s a cowardly thing to do. Although I’m not sure which is more tasteless-getting laid off by email, or getting laid off at the company christmas dinner, which did in fact happen in one department at Lucent, back at the time of the crash.

  2. Ah, hell, that’s nuthin’; I have a relative in the auto industry, and he worked for a time for a new car dealer who used to fire underperforming salespeople over the P.A. system. When my relative got a better offer from a competitor, he informed his boss of his resignation in the same manner.

  3. Tim, if your last paragraph is a joke, I don’t get it.

    If it’s not a joke, I still don’t get it.

  4. This is great… 400 hundred “Miltons”,plugging away at the office, not knowing they were fired.
    Rat shack was a great store back in the day when people could build electronic devices with discrete components. I miss Heathkit,EICO. and the like…but time marches on.

  5. It’s a joke, on the tradition of Radio Shack’s selling pretty crappy brand-name knockoffs under its Realistic brand. Your failure to get it may have been due to a lack of funniness in the original joke.

  6. What’s wrong with getting fired by email? It sounds fine to me.

    I do everything by email.

    It gives you time to collect your wits and fire off a response, something that otherwise you’d wish you’d thought of in time.

    This is where good character shows itself, or not.

    Don’t burn any bridges, is good advice.

  7. Biologist-
    Radio Shack’s store brand is called Realistic, and it is usually complete crap.

    Radio Shack annoys me because they always have some clueless clerk who insists on following me around the store, but never has a clue when I finally ask a question. I usually need nothing more than a hi-z to lo-z adapter, but the clerks never have a clue what I’m talking about….but they still freaking follow me. I guess I find it ironic that the same corporate culture that values clerks hounding customers doesn’t want any personal contact when firing people.

  8. Getting Radioshack toys under the Christmas tree was always a surefire way to make me cry as a child. It would probably still work on me as an adult, come to think of it.

  9. It always got me that Radio Shack’s POS system couldn’t (COULDN’T) complete a cash sale without a full customer address entry.

  10. And if anybody is in a position to mock others’ technical prowess, it is the Reason Web Editor.

  11. Hey, when I was a not-quite-penniless kid, I appreciated the RS battery club. They donated a free 9-volt to me every month, allowing me to feed my transistor radio habit without cutting into my comics budget. I also got a crosscut decent shredder from them on closeout for only $30 a few mos. ago. A similar one at Office Creepot cost twice as much.


  12. I had a Tandy 386 then upgraded to a Tandy 486. They’re still in my parents’ basement. If the server squirrels ever retire you guys can have them.

  13. Too bad the server squirrels can’t read e-mail.

  14. My first computer was a “trash 80” TRS-80. Man the graphics on that thing. Zilog Z-80 processor @ 2Mhz, with 16Kbits random access memory…when cosmic rays caused memory errors.
    MicroSoft BASIC… I don’t want to hear any bitching about computers today. I even owned a Tandy slide rule a while ago.
    Damn I’m old as dirt.

  15. I used to dig radio shack when I was a kid/geek/electronics/phonephreaker years back. They were (and still are) great for adapters and snipdingly things I have a hard time getting elsewhere (like I got time these days with kids, wife, mortgage and owning a business).

    Unfortunately they have ALWAYS sucked in customer service. There’s always some big, fat guy who knows everything and wants to condescend running the show and trying to convince me that his (RC Car, 2-mile walky-talky, cell service, cordless phone) is better than everyone elses. I’ve bought more shit from radio shack that didn’t work than any other place…ever.

    I’ll give them credit…I thought they should have been out of business 10 years ago. I think they survived by being the place guys in the mall go when their lady is shopping.

  16. FROM ———– SUBJECT

    LoCostRx ——- Save $$ V1@gr@.L3V1TR@.C1@L1S!!!

    dominique ——- HOT! TEENZ WANT U NOW

    Tom.Davis ——– Home Morgage * Low Rates

    U Arizona ———- Get Diploma’s Fast Affordible

    Corp HR ———– U R fired 86753g PLS RD

  17. LOL, In-Box!

  18. I learned BASIC on a TRS-80. No disk drive. No disks. It used a cassette tape for memory. I’m not kidding.

  19. Am I the only one who wondered if Dinesh has a management professor brother in Tejas?

  20. Goddamnit! I wanted a sentence of death from those fuckwads too.

  21. LOL, Ishmael! That’s even funnier than my fake “In-box” post! I especially like your “The following have been sentenced to death” list — did you steal this from Robert Heinlein’s novel Friday?

    Unfortunately, you probably went too far when you included an explicit death threat to the individuals named, at the end of the list (in all caps, even). The guys who run this site tend to frown upon such things, even in jest. I expect that your brilliant satire of white-supremacist, pseudo-Cristian hate groups will be removed soon.

  22. Oops — gone already.

    (But note my powers of prophecy!)

  23. You mean it wasn’t real? Rats!

  24. They should’ve had the Whiz Kids announce the layoffs via Radio Shack’s internal TRS-80 network.


  25. READY
    10 PRINT “You’re fired. Have a nice day!”
    20 GOTO 10

  26. I’ll give them credit…I thought they should have been out of business 10 years ago. I think they survived by being the place guys in the mall go when their lady is shopping.

    I think they survived by buying out Allied Radio. Because Allied was certainly the guy place in the mall. I remember on trips to the mall the old man and I would spend an hour in Allied and then go to Sears and wait for my mom in hardware. After Radio Shack took over Allied, the store was half the size and had half the products. The old man stopped going to the mall after that.

  27. My first computer was a “trash 80” TRS-80.

    I bought my first computer in 1981. It was a TRS-80 with 48k of RAM. It came with two 5 1/4 floppy disc drives (separate) and a printer. I bought the whole thing used used for $800 from a couple who had taken it when someone defaulted on a loan. They had even less of a clue about it than I did.

    Everyone seemed to think that I had gotten a fabulous deal.

  28. Isaac Bartram,

    They gave you floppy disks? You lucky, lucky bastard! Ohh! What wouldn’t I give to have been given floppy disks! I sometimes hanged awake at night dreaming of being given floppy disks.

  29. This is really awesome. Email firings will save money for companies over paper pink slips or having expensive managers waste time telling human capital face-to-face.

    Saving money by making firings as impersonal as possible will lead to greater profits, and thus more jobs for the fired capital.

  30. Don’t tell Katie Mangu-Ward, but maybe those dudes need a union.

  31. 10 PRINT “You’re fired. Have a nice day!”
    20 GOTO 10

    Showing my age, and geekness, shouldn’t the code have read:
    10 FOR X = 1 TO 400
    20 PRINT “YOU’RE FIRED!!!!”
    30 NEXT

  32. Since we are looking back to the good old days….

    First Computer: Comodore Vic-20 (when everyone else had a the Commodore 64) which allowed me to play Frogger and Dig-Dug 🙂

    Next Computer: Tandy 1000EX — that’s where I learned to program BASIC and (THE OS DISC was actually labeled “MS DOS/GW BASIC” )

    My best friend had a tandy COCO-3 (Color Computer) — and for some reason I was always jealous…it seemed much easier to use.

    I liked Radio Shack when I was young (mid-1980’s)…I was a bit of a computer geek as a child and it was one of the few places that I could go and play with “cool” gadgets and computers and stuff. The local one had geeks working there who were usually helpful (despute being a bit arrogant)

    Nowadays it seems like every Radio Shack I go into has a bunch of teenagers who have to ask the one tech guy for answers to any questions I might have.

    I did get a nice Camcorder Bag on Clearance there a year ago — but everything else seems horribly over priced. I was kind of shocked when I noticed that the local walgreens had a better priced and better selection of Mini-DV tapes than RS did.

  33. First computer: Tandy 1000 HX. I miss it dearly.

    Most places I know of where the employees have computer access, the way you find out you’ve been fired is when you can’t check your email.

  34. Tim, thanks for clarifying. I didn’t know the Realistic brand.

    I also had a “Trash 80”, which I used to learn BASIC, and loaded games on by hooking it up to a cassette player, but it also had a cartridge port for the one cartridge game we had, “Poltergeist”. That’s what we got when we requested an Atari 400 or 800 from my parents.

  35. My first computer had beads on wires.

    No memory, either. All my data got lost every time my little brother tried to grab it.

  36. My first computer had beads on wires.

    No memory, either. All my data got lost every time my little brother tried to grab it.

    No server squirrel either.

  37. My earliest computer was a mnemonic circuit made with stone knives and bearskins.

  38. And I sold it to Reason that time Jim and I went back in time so that he could have relations with Madonna. We needed something called “cab fare”. I did not understand what possible use they would have for such a primitive computing device, but humans of the era were quite illogical.

  39. The Product Information & Safety Superhero Education Rangers have the scoop on the Whiz Kids. Hey, they hang out with both Justice Leaguers and the cool kids from Riverdale. I wouldn’t mess with the little narcs.


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