HR Strange But True!
January 20, 2003

The Wall Street Journal has blown the lid off the office thermostat scam.

The Journal reports that heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) experts "acknowledge what millions of office workers have suspected all along: A lot of office thermostats are completely fake - meant to dupe you into thinking you've altered the office weather conditions."

To avoid non-stop complaints from sweaty men on one hand and shivering women on the other, HVAC technicians install dummy thermostats to give workers the illusion of control. In fact, some of the corporate managers who lease their buildings are ignorant of the useless thermostats. Sometimes, though, it's the companies themselves, barraged with calls from workers, who ask the landlord's HVAC technicians to "fix" things.

One fixer is Richard Dawson, an HVAC specialist from Homer, Ill. "I did what my employer told me to do," Dawson tells the Journal. He has several landlord clients, and he says the complainers in the cubicles wore him out. "You just get tired of dealing with them and you screw in a cheap thermostat. Guess what? They quit calling you."

Scott McDaniel, an HVAC technician in North Augusta, S.C., installed a dummy and actually bothered to attach a wire to the back of it, in hopes that would fool the ever-present office meddler. "There's always someone who thinks they're a technician," he sighs.

That's not the only case of giving office workers the illusion of control. You know that "close door" button in your elevators? "It won't work unless you're a fireman or an elevator operator with special access to the system," the Journal reports. "The rest of the time, in deference to various building codes, it's deactivated, according to engineers at Otis Elevator."

Source: The Wall Street Journal, via

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