I received this letter on September 24. I have eliminated the specific names. You'll see why. It may be a hoax. I don't sense that it is. It sounds real to me.
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I agree with you about the current outlook for the Y2K situation. I (senior-pgmr/analyst and team-lead) just quit a large retail company (in top 40 of U.S. companies) who has no hope of making the Y2K fix by 1, 1, 00. They hired [well known y2k repair firm] for West-U.S. and [second firm] for East-U.S. to fix the bugs, but 4 months later fired [second firm] because of alleged non-performance, so all eggs are in one basket with [first firm].
In a Y2K kick-off speech the fellow from [X] said, near the end of his talk, that "My wife and I are selling our house, we are going to rent through this thing and buy back at pennies on the dollar after the economic collapse". Some of the mangagers got mad and really put him down for saying that, but I thought the guy had guts and wondered why he said that. He mentioned "at least one large bank" and "one of the big 3 auto makers . . . have no hope of making the deadline".
He explained that we needed to test all of our code after they send it back to us "renovated" and one of our managers stated that "last time we tested one of our applications, it took 6 months for our DBAs to set up the environment etc., and our one team has 20 applications -- how do you expect us to make your proposed deadlines??". His response? "It's your company that will go under if you don't make the deadline, not mine".
Our users were furious stating that "you programmers are spending too much time on that Y2K thing and our projects are not getting done per deadlines!" At that point, we were only in the phase of "identifying all source code", some of which was missing and we only have the object code etc. When [X] was told that we have many other languages other than Cobol, such as lots of PL/I, Ramis, Ultim and some other obscure but critical program languages, they said "we can do that too, but it will take a lot longer than the Cobol, we need to hire a bunch more people that's all."
When I suggested to some fellow workers that we should move to triage, and that the world problem was bigger than most think, I was mostly told that "you are being negative" and that "a big company like this would never let such a failure happen" so after so much of that type of response I learned to keep my mouth shut. A friend of mine, who was a programmer-consultant at the company, who also dared to tell his true thoughts from time to time was quickly fired for non-cooperation. I accepted an offer with a computer consulting firm last month, so I am no longer with that large Corp.