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#1
Old 01-16-2012, 12:32 PM
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How real or fake is Undercover boss?

I happened to catch Undercover Boss Sunday night. I've only seen a few episodes in the past few years. This one was a bit different because the employee at the call center made a lot of mistakes with the hotel booking software. The undercover boss got pissed off and blew his cover. He went into the managers office and confronted her about the piss poor training.

Usually they seem to assign the companies best employees to work with the undercover boss. They are always cheerful and thrilled with their jobs. I've never seen a lazy employee on this show. No one suggests stopping for a coke & smoke break at a convenience store while they are supposed to be out making service calls. No one drives way too fast or reckless in the company truck.

Also, nearly every employee has a sick relative, huge mortgage or a two hour commute. Obviously its a heavily staged show. With great employees carefully selected.

Are there any news articles about how this show is shot? Is it totally fake or is the boss really there unloading heavy boxes all day? Its fun seeing a six figure salaried boss grunting and sweating.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-16-2012 at 12:36 PM.
#2
Old 01-16-2012, 12:44 PM
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It's real but the company has to provide an employee to show the new guy (undercover boss) around. No company would ever volunteer a disgruntled slacker so you get the cream of the company crop. And I'm also sure that the producers work with the employer to get someone with a sob story that will make for a nice "i'm gonna help you out" story.

Last edited by Laggard; 01-16-2012 at 12:45 PM.
#3
Old 01-16-2012, 12:47 PM
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I've seen episodes when the undercover boss was working with under-performers. It was not pretty and when he revealed who he was (later in the show) the worker was horrified. Most of the time they are given a chance to redeem themselves. One epilog I saw, the worker had quit.
#4
Old 01-16-2012, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Laggard View Post
It's real but the company has to provide an employee to show the new guy (undercover boss) around. No company would ever volunteer a disgruntled slacker so you get the cream of the company crop. And I'm also sure that the producers work with the employer to get someone with a sob story that will make for a nice "i'm gonna help you out" story.
There's also the fact that even most irresponsible employees aren't going to misbehave while the cameras are rolling. That's not to say that they'll be delivering a top notch performance, but they likely won't be goofing off, taking unscheduled smoke breaks, spending an inordinate time bitching about management, etc.
#5
Old 01-16-2012, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by joebuck20 View Post
There's also the fact that even most irresponsible employees aren't going to misbehave while the cameras are rolling. That's not to say that they'll be delivering a top notch performance, but they likely won't be goofing off, taking unscheduled smoke breaks, spending an inordinate time bitching about management, etc.
I don't recall ever seeing an employee complain about his soul-crushing job and poor pay. That could either because they don't want to complain on in front of the cameras or the company provides well gruntled employees.
#6
Old 01-16-2012, 01:02 PM
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Do the employees have to sign releases after they find out about the boss, before their segments get shown?
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#7
Old 01-16-2012, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
I've seen episodes when the undercover boss was working with under-performers. It was not pretty and when he revealed who he was (later in the show) the worker was horrified. Most of the time they are given a chance to redeem themselves. One epilog I saw, the worker had quit.
The only episode of this show that was any good was the Hooters one because the CEO was absolutely furious about the actions of the employee he was following. He practically blew his setup because the guy was doing things that were highly unethical, and if not straight up illegal, at least legally perilous from a liability standpoint. (For example, he was humiliating the women publicly, mostly for his amusement, in order to "win" things like being able to go home early from a shift. For example, he made them all eat plates of beans with no silverware, like a pie eating contest, so they'd all have to bend over and get all sloppied up for his giggles. When asked what the limits were for this sort of thing, he grinned and said there were "no rules".)

But yeah, in general terms, they get put with people who are considered star employees, I'm sure. There's probably not too much to find.

The sob story employee parts are lame but I guess they have to reality-it-up.

Last edited by fluiddruid; 01-16-2012 at 01:27 PM.
#8
Old 01-16-2012, 01:33 PM
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I saw last night's episode, as well, and holy crap was that guy a DOUCHE. A former British special forces bodyguard to check out the hotel? Really?
#9
Old 01-16-2012, 01:38 PM
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I liked the one where the undercover boss essentially was fired for not meeting his quota on the assemble line. The supervisor who was trying to train him was really nice, but in the end, he couldn't do the work.

HEre's a recap of the episode from March 2010 with call center person who really didn't do well: GSI Commerce

http://workbabble.com/2010/03/un...e-episode.html

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 01-16-2012 at 01:40 PM.
#10
Old 01-16-2012, 01:47 PM
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The episode last night was Diamond Resorts.
video - where the boss confronts the manager about the poor training.
http://huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1208200.html
Quote:
The company motto, as Cloobeck was so proud of saying, is simply, "Yes." He doesn't want a client to ever hear the word "no," and so he was at a complete loss when working alongside Sarah at the call center.

Not only was she saying "no," but she didn't fully understand the software package she was using, nor was she adequately prepared to handle certain customer situations.

Cloobeck was so beside himself, he broke character and revealed his true identity to her. Sarah was terrified she was going to lose her job, but Cloobeck tried to assure her he saw it as a training issue and not her fault.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-16-2012 at 01:47 PM.
#11
Old 01-16-2012, 03:45 PM
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How do they explain the cameras to the staff? They must wonder why a new employee has their own camera crew with them.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-16-2012 at 03:45 PM.
#12
Old 01-16-2012, 04:04 PM
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In the first series, the excuse for the cameras was that they were filming a documentary about the life of a new employee. But now that the show has been on for a couple of years, there must be people who suspect what's going on.
#13
Old 01-16-2012, 04:05 PM
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They typically tell the employees that the undercover boss is filming a new reality show, where s/he and another (usually unseen on episodes) individual compete for a job with the company. Other ruses I've heard them describe were profiling someone who lost their job in the economy and their current, struggling search for a new career.

Last night's CEO was seriously douchey-lame. He is the only one I recall seeing rejecting staying in accommodations equivalent to what the person he's pretending to be would need. Humbling himself seems outside of his abilities. On another note, "The Meaning of Yes" is right up there with "Is This Good for The Company?" in cheesy, stupid, laughable company mottos.
#14
Old 01-16-2012, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
How do they explain the cameras to the staff? They must wonder why a new employee has their own camera crew with them.
I read in the paper they just filmed an episode with the Toronto Transit Commission, and the excuse they made was that they were filming a documentary about a woman getting back into the workforce.
#15
Old 01-16-2012, 08:02 PM
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If I caught wind of my fellow employee having their mortgage paid, or being provided with a week's vacation at a resort, or given tuition for school, to say I'd be major pissed would be an understatement. I'd be hard pressed to think of someone I work with who doesn't have some sob story and could use a vacation or cash tossed their way. To do it for one or two employees, but not offer something to everyone? No way.
#16
Old 01-16-2012, 09:52 PM
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The company I work for will be featured in a couple of weeks. The episode was taped last June. We were told it was a documentary, pretty much as hogarth described.
#17
Old 01-16-2012, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by interface2x View Post
I saw last night's episode, as well, and holy crap was that guy a DOUCHE. A former British special forces bodyguard to check out the hotel? Really?

Your assessment of the Diamond Resorts CEO is widely shared. The CBS Undercover Boss FB page is loaded with negative comments. The Diamond Resorts FB page has them, too, including accusations they deleted far more negative comments than actually remain on the page.
#18
Old 01-16-2012, 11:56 PM
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The show just seems so scripted to me.....
#19
Old 01-17-2012, 12:13 AM
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He didn't exactly seem like a boss that's easy to work for. The Starsearch model trophy wife, bodyguard, and ridiculous stubby cigar, the dude seemed pretty much like a caricature business tycoon.

I'm surprised he didn't blame the employee in the call center. Instead he realized it was bad training. I noticed they didn't say at the end of the show what happened to the Call Center Supervisor. They mentioned the boss man was going to personally go there and lead a training session. Doesn't sound too good for the Supervisor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckster View Post
Your assessment of the Diamond Resorts CEO is widely shared. The CBS Undercover Boss FB page is loaded with negative comments. The Diamond Resorts FB page has them, too, including accusations they deleted far more negative comments than actually remain on the page.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-17-2012 at 12:14 AM.
#20
Old 01-17-2012, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
I've seen episodes when the undercover boss was working with under-performers. It was not pretty and when he revealed who he was (later in the show) the worker was horrified. Most of the time they are given a chance to redeem themselves. One epilog I saw, the worker had quit.
More than one. And from the way they phrased it on several of those guys ("So-and-so is no longer with the company"), I got the distinct impression they were fired.
#21
Old 01-17-2012, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by slm2955 View Post
The show just seems so scripted to me.....
Agreed. It's phony, and just a big commercial for the company featured on the episode.
#22
Old 01-17-2012, 08:47 PM
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I've seen a couple of episodes, but I kind of have a problem with the entire premise. Basically that it kind of reinforces the idea of the CEO as some sort of clueless buffoon, removed from reality with no clue about how his company works. Not that I don't think there are a lot of CEOs and executives who are like that. But fundamentally changing the culture of a large company is not something that can be done by throwing on a trucker hat and pretending to be Joe Workerbee for a few days.

Although I did have one guy who worked for me years ago who I was absolutely convinced that he was some sort of plant or undercover boss or some eccentric millionare pretending to be a regular employee for whatever reason. The reason was he was so innept at his job and such a massive retard that he was like a characteracture of a terrible office worker. It was as if he didn't know how regular workers acted so he studied Homer Simpson, Ralph Cramden, Al Bundy and every other fat, drunk, dumb working class jerk.
#23
Old 01-18-2012, 02:03 AM
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Oh you guys are so cynical. What happened to just sitting back and watching a feel-good show about human perseverance? Then again, I've only watched a couple and they were all good bosses and good employees. One was the Waste Management episode, and another had something to do with a hotel chain I think where the Boss promoted one particularly hard working employee and she got to keep her house.
#24
Old 01-18-2012, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by fluiddruid View Post
The only episode of this show that was any good was the Hooters one because the CEO was absolutely furious about the actions of the employee he was following. He practically blew his setup because the guy was doing things that were highly unethical, and if not straight up illegal, at least legally perilous from a liability standpoint. (For example, he was humiliating the women publicly, mostly for his amusement, in order to "win" things like being able to go home early from a shift. For example, he made them all eat plates of beans with no silverware, like a pie eating contest, so they'd all have to bend over and get all sloppied up for his giggles. When asked what the limits were for this sort of thing, he grinned and said there were "no rules".)
And the Hooters boss was shocked, SHOCKED to find that a lot of women (and not a few men) on the street had a negative impression of the Hooters girls, and Hooters in general. Come on, man, the whole Hooters schtick is that sexually attractive women will act flirtatious to the guys who patronize the place. I've never heard that Hooters girls (and I think it's telling that the term is actually GIRLS) are actually prostitutes, but they ARE required to be very, very friendly with their customers. Hooters is not a high class place, and it's never marketed itself as such. In fact, it's always been marketed as tacky and unrefined. Why is he shocked that women might not want to go to a place that has mediocre food and service? As my husband says, the only reason someone wants to go to Hooters is for the scenery and the attention, and these days you can see more on the internet.
#25
Old 01-18-2012, 08:33 AM
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I agree that it was hard to believe that it was news to the CEO of Hooters that some people (women especially) might be offended at Hooters' schtick.
#26
Old 01-18-2012, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by phall0106 View Post
If I caught wind of my fellow employee having their mortgage paid, or being provided with a week's vacation at a resort, or given tuition for school, to say I'd be major pissed would be an understatement. I'd be hard pressed to think of someone I work with who doesn't have some sob story and could use a vacation or cash tossed their way. To do it for one or two employees, but not offer something to everyone? No way.
Spoken like a true democrat. Just because someone is given something, doesn't mean you get it too.
#27
Old 01-18-2012, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Enright3 View Post
Spoken like a true democrat. Just because someone is given something, doesn't mean you get it too.
If you can't give something to everyone, then no one should get it!

Agreed that companies always end up looking like great companies to work for.

Last edited by Laggard; 01-18-2012 at 10:19 AM.
#28
Old 01-18-2012, 11:15 AM
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And the Hooters boss was shocked, SHOCKED to find that a lot of women (and not a few men) on the street had a negative impression of the Hooters girls, and Hooters in general. Come on, man, the whole Hooters schtick is that sexually attractive women will act flirtatious to the guys who patronize the place. I've never heard that Hooters girls (and I think it's telling that the term is actually GIRLS) are actually prostitutes, but they ARE required to be very, very friendly with their customers. Hooters is not a high class place, and it's never marketed itself as such. In fact, it's always been marketed as tacky and unrefined. Why is he shocked that women might not want to go to a place that has mediocre food and service? As my husband says, the only reason someone wants to go to Hooters is for the scenery and the attention, and these days you can see more on the internet.
I will say, though, that they do make some good wings. A guy at work brought them into a pitch-in once. Everybody made fun of him at first, but were then pleasantly surprised when they actually tried the wings.

Last edited by joebuck20; 01-18-2012 at 11:17 AM.
#29
Old 01-18-2012, 11:58 AM
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I will say, though, that they do make some good wings. A guy at work brought them into a pitch-in once. Everybody made fun of him at first, but were then pleasantly surprised when they actually tried the wings.
They're not nearly as good as people claim them to be. Basically the food equivalent of reading Playboy for the articles.
#30
Old 01-18-2012, 12:58 PM
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I will say, though, that they do make some good wings. A guy at work brought them into a pitch-in once. Everybody made fun of him at first, but were then pleasantly surprised when they actually tried the wings.
In Texas, the wings were great. In SF CA, the wings were horrible.
#31
Old 01-18-2012, 02:52 PM
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In Texas, the wings were great. In SF CA, the wings were horrible.
They were also horrible in Nashville. There must have been about a pound of that godawful spice blend on each wing.
#32
Old 01-20-2012, 09:29 PM
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Sundays Undercover Boss

The Sunday night Undercover Boss was a real jerk. Look at my private jet, look at my private security guard, look at my beautiful body, look at my trophy wife, see my pretty house, wink, wink. I'm am so damn cool. Did I mention that I work out? Well not every week.
#33
Old 01-20-2012, 10:50 PM
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The company I work for will be featured in a couple of weeks. The episode was taped last June. We were told it was a documentary, pretty much as hogarth described.
Did anyone suspect that it was something else?
#34
Old 01-21-2012, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by LikeItIs View Post
The Sunday night Undercover Boss was a real jerk. Look at my private jet, look at my private security guard, look at my beautiful body, look at my trophy wife, see my pretty house, wink, wink. I'm am so damn cool. Did I mention that I work out? Well not every week.
I'm surprised he didn't also throw in that he was well-hung.
#35
Old 01-22-2012, 02:05 PM
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Did anyone suspect that it was something else?
I don't know about the folks that were directly involved, although by all accounts our president's disguise was pretty good and the story was believable enough.

I can only speak for myself and some of my other immediate co-workers. While we were not directly involved, our duties were impacted for various portions of the filming. We had an inkling, though no confirmation until the reveal a couple of weeks later.
#36
Old 02-24-2012, 09:11 PM
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I was PO's at tonight's episode. The "Maintenance Manager" who lowered a new hire into a confined space, with no prominently posted Confined Space Entry Permit, no atmospheric sampling, and into obviously boiling water to boot?

The sumbitch should've been fired. Out of a cannon. He's a damned Workman's Comp./Lost Time Injury accident just waiting to happen.
#37
Old 02-25-2012, 08:35 AM
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If you can't give something to everyone, then no one should get it!

Agreed that companies always end up looking like great companies to work for.
Sounds like the proverbial school teacher. "Did you bring enough for everyone? Then you can't have it either." Amusing how it's a political statement to some. I guess if one is a Republican hammer, everything one disagrees with is a Democratic nail. And vice versa.
#38
Old 02-25-2012, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ExTank View Post
I was PO's at tonight's episode. The "Maintenance Manager" who lowered a new hire into a confined space, with no prominently posted Confined Space Entry Permit, no atmospheric sampling, and into obviously boiling water to boot?

The sumbitch should've been fired. Out of a cannon. He's a damned Workman's Comp./Lost Time Injury accident just waiting to happen.
i don't watch the show much maybe two previous episodes and parts of a few. watched this one.

with all the safety gear and procedure they were using, i was totally surprised it didn't include taking the temperature of the liquid first. such a simple obvious thing.
#39
Old 03-09-2012, 08:48 PM
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Every episode of this show I've seen has the CEO shocked, absolutely shocked that the workers on the line aren't rays of sunshine worshipping the customers. Tonight's episode has the boss working in a warehouse and he's just amazed that his employees don't like working in a hot, sweaty warehouse on their feet all day packing boxes. He can't believe that some of them have a goal in life that isn't working there sorting inventory for $10 an hour for the rest of their lives.

He also went home for his child's birthday, and his teenaged daughter was just disgusted that he actually went to work with the grimy workers. It was like something out of satire like Office Space.
#40
Old 03-09-2012, 11:02 PM
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He also went home for his child's birthday, and his teenaged daughter was just disgusted that he actually went to work with the grimy workers. It was like something out of satire like Office Space.
And when he said he worked a shift that started at 10 p.m., she says "People work at that hour?"
#41
Old 03-09-2012, 11:48 PM
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His wife couldn't believe what kind of car he had to drive while in disguise, which I thought looked pretty nice. He certainly had a nice house and pool.
#42
Old 03-10-2012, 04:34 AM
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How real or fake is Undercover boss?

I live in the same town as the company featured last night (OTC). I actually almost ended up working there, but I would have been in the call center. Lack of transportation (Omaha is not the best city if you don't have a car) forced me to say no. I do have a friend who works there, who seems pretty satisfied.
But yeah, the conditions described on the show... Holy cow!
#43
Old 03-10-2012, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by psycat90 View Post
I don't know about the folks that were directly involved, although by all accounts our president's disguise was pretty good and the story was believable enough.

I can only speak for myself and some of my other immediate co-workers. While we were not directly involved, our duties were impacted for various portions of the filming. We had an inkling, though no confirmation until the reveal a couple of weeks later.
So, has your company's show aired yet? If so, what did you think of it?
#44
Old 03-10-2012, 11:36 AM
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I was interested in last night's episode about Oriental Trading Company to see how a large mail order operation works. I've wondered about that, as I do a lot of ordering from Amazon and other mail order places. The wearable computer, "Jennifer," was cool; I wonder if it optimizes the order in which to pick items based on where the employee is located. And the guy who was training him said that he was supposed to pick 600 items that night, but that "Dave" the trainee slowed him down by one to a hundred.
#45
Old 03-10-2012, 11:48 AM
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But yeah, the conditions described on the show... Holy cow!
I didn't think it was all that bad. The work wasn't heavy, the place looked clean and there was plenty of good light. The coolers with actual bottles of Gatorade (no labels but I assume Gatorade or a generic) were something we didn't have at the factory where I worked. (I wasn't on the line.) At my place, the company provided Gatorade when the temperature on the floor reached 90, but it was powdered Gatorade mixed with tap water, no ice. If you wanted something different, you paid for it yourself. The nurse handed out salt pills. Workers got extra breaks if the temp in their area reached 100. In the paint department, temps would each 115 and higher, and then work time in those areas would be limited. This was a union facility. If there hadn't been a contract, workers probably wouldn't have had those "perks".

The place was a pit. It's closed now, jobs moved to Mexico.

Has Undercover Boss done a slaughterhouse yet, or a chicken/egg production facility? Chemical plant?
#46
Old 03-10-2012, 11:57 AM
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Every episode of this show I've seen has the CEO shocked, absolutely shocked that the workers on the line aren't rays of sunshine worshipping the customers. Tonight's episode has the boss working in a warehouse and he's just amazed that his employees don't like working in a hot, sweaty warehouse on their feet all day packing boxes. He can't believe that some of them have a goal in life that isn't working there sorting inventory for $10 an hour for the rest of their lives.
When I worked in a convenience store, my manager and I were chatting one day about a co-worker (OK, it was really catty gossip). My manager said that this woman was looking for another job, and bitching that she HAD a decent job at the c-store. Apparently the look on my face gave me away. She wanted to know what was wrong with the job. I said something on the order of we're paid minimum wage, we NEVER get raises no matter what, the shifts suck, and there's no room for advancement unless one of the managers leaves, so this sort of job is only for when you are looking for another job. I said that I had taken the job because I wanted to be able to pay my bills, I really wasn't fond of working 8 hours on my feet, having to put up with drunks, with no break and no way to get ahead. She wasn't happy with that answer.
#47
Old 03-10-2012, 11:57 AM
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Has Undercover Boss done a slaughterhouse yet, or a chicken/egg production facility? Chemical plant?
just recent fish processing.
#48
Old 03-10-2012, 12:46 PM
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The show is pretty clearly not "faked". We've all seen bad actors in movies; we can recognize bad acting. These guys are not acting; there aren't that many talented, convincing actors around.

What it clearly is is manipulated by the producers. None of these employees with issues and/or heartwarming stories are there by accident. They are clearly carefully chosen.

What always strikes me as being particularly manipulated is that the undercover person is brought on to do a new job and be trained, and the trainer is always shocked when they're not performing up to regular employee speed and ability within a half hour. Sure, most of this stuff isn't rocket science, but it's still clearly abilities that take some time to get up to snuff. I guarantee the first interview with the trainer always goes something like, "Yeah, Bob is pretty slow and unsure, and has made some mistakes, but all trainees do for the first few days...", and is told by the producer to be harder on them on the next take.
#49
Old 03-10-2012, 05:03 PM
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I feel sorry for those warehouse pickers. That voice computer would drive me nuts. Trying to keep those stock numbers in my mind as I walked & located the correct aisle would be tough. A printed display you could double check would be much easier and less error prone.

I suspect there has to be more quality control we didn't see. After picking an item it needs to be scanned to confirm its the right one.

Fascinating to see how places like Amazon process our orders.

Last edited by aceplace57; 03-10-2012 at 05:06 PM.
#50
Old 03-10-2012, 06:35 PM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Flavortown
Posts: 34,324
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
just recent fish processing.
I liked the crusty old immigrant guy. "You tricked me. You made me look foolish" And he was one of the good employees.
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