To be ahead of their game, businesses must do everything to keep working projects, innovative ideas, or exciting new products out of the hands of a competitor. But there may also be more sinister reasons why companies keep things under blankets.
And whatever the reason, very often, an NDA comes into play. An NDA (non-disclosure agreement), also known as a a ‘confidentiality clause,’ is a legal and binding contract between parties that keeps the lid on what a company holds as sensitive information. You may be given one as part of an employment contract to protect company secrets or after a dispute to keep details confidential.
Recently, a person who goes by the handle u/The-Christine-X asked those whose NDAs have finally expired “What secret can you finally reveal?” on Ask Reddit. The thread soon turned into a spilled pond full of corporate secrets floating in broad daylight. Psst! More stories from people with expired NDAs can be found in our previous feature right here.
#1I worked for a company that did screenprinting and engraving, and one of their biggest clients was the US military. They bought EVERYTHING from China. They had a person who would cut out the "Made in China" tags, and replace them with "Made in USA" tags.
Image credits: GentleLotusStudio
#2Never open a document with DocuSign on your phone, we took ever piece of data we could get our hands on.
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#3I worked for Equifax about 20 years ago. We were doing things with your data we weren't supposed to do. I know this is going to come as a great shock to a lot of people.
Image credits: Content-From-Reddit
#4When I worked for State IT, we weren't supposed to provide details of what hardware was being used or operating systems. In the nineties, I took on an old server, souped it up, and put Linux on it to run our networks. This was pretty radical at the time because everyone else was using something proprietary (Like Netware) and I was able to deliver services for free (email and samba) they were paying out the nose for.
The NDA wasn't about security. It was about keeping how much money they were wasting under wraps.
Image credits: jamessavik
#5The big financial houses in NYC knew about the impending crash at least 6 months before it started in 2007.
I was at an investment conference when I heard the heavy-hitters discussing it before going on stage. I will never forget the sentence:
“What do we do? Go out there and tell them we are all f****d?”
They proceeded to go out there and peddle their “everything is great!” b******t.
I had never heard the word “tranche” before that day.
Image credits: shiftyasluck
#6That Facebook is every bit as horrible as people think it is. What struck me most is the culture of silence there. You cannot talk openly about concerns of the effects of Facebook as an engineer without vague references of it showing up in performance reviews. Perhaps people have a more comic book style evil corporation in mind but in Facebook coercion happens with performance reviews, strict metrics chasing, and not talking about the broader implications of those metrics. Take for example chasing the average session length metric, ie how long you’re likely to stay on Facebook at any given time. Seems innocuous at first until you realize this is where radicalization and spread of misinformation happens. Because as it happens what keeps peoples attentions the most effectively is sensational posts and polarizing posts targeting peoples outrage. Not only does this give you a skewed view of the world, but it rewards the people spreading misinformation and rage bait. It’s not that Facebook inherently plans to maximize peoples outrage, it’s just their metrics chasing makes them the most money by finding these patterns. Then like I said, it’s awfully convenient to just stay silent and count the cash. It’s the pinnacle (in my experience) of the banality of evil
Image credits: mark-haus
#7If you are ever with an elderly loved one and they get a Medicare call, hang up, hang up right away. I worked at a company in downtown Chicago this last year that were absolute slime balls.
All these young agents scamming old people, promising something about this “new upgrade” to their insurance when really they were just taking them off their plan. A lot of these people have Alzheimer’s disease and we’d get POAs calling in saying that we took their mother/father/aunt off a plan and now they can’t get back on their plan for an entire year.
I finally quit because it was so horrific what we had to do to our elders to get a pay check. I personally tried to do everything I could to not be slimy but at the end of the day the whole job was f****d. I took a man off his plan and was going to have him start a new one the following month. He didn’t have his medication list on him so told me he would email it to me. He finally emails me a list of it least 20 medications, one of his medications that was covered for like 20 bucks on his plan would literally go up thousands of dollars on the plan I put him on. I called him back and spent two hours canceling what we had signed him up on. I still feel horrible to this day. Imagine if he forgot to send me that list of medication.
Listen to me, as a past Medicare advisor, do NOT let your parents/grandparents take these calls. Medicare advantage plans are f****d and Medicare advisors are 20 sum year
Old kids who will do anything to get them taken off their plan.
Image credits: Novel-Flower9950
#8Part of Amazon's associate training is literally how to lie when asked certain questions, and there was a "social" part of the contract that discouraged speaking poorly about Amazon with friends and on social media.
Image credits: TwoTerabyte
#9When a pharmacy's stock of medication expires, they can't just throw it away. So they hire pharmaceutical waste disposal companies to take it away and dispose of it properly.
The "pharmacy" I worked for bought expired medication and supplies under the table from one of these disposal companies and resold them at full price.
EDIT: Naming and shaming would be complicated because the business operated under a constantly changing chain of mail-order pharmacies. When insurance companies would get enough complaints about one they would deny coverage, at which point patients would be shuffled to another pharmacy in the chain while the impacted pharmacy quietly closed and reopened under a new name.
The good news: they were busted and folded pretty quickly under the weight of having to operate like an honest pharmacy. Company in question is no more.
#10Worked for a company that built hip implants. Some of them were custom, made-to-order based on CAT scans. The quality of the modeling was dubious and we had several fabs where the implant bent in the patient. The company always blamed the patient for "putting on too much weight". The company was also paying back physicians for ordering their 'custom' implants which were obviously more expensive than the standard ones (paid by public insurance). I quit the week I found this out. And I only knew the bare minimum of one case.
This activity led to a legal case of fraud and ... other stuff. People (doctors, administrators of the company) went to jail or were fined. Somewhere in that process (and I still can't talk about some of the details) I signed multiple NDAs with a health agency covering lack of oversight and relevant communications. This was a clusterfck on all levels - graft, corruption, material choices, medical controls. No one died, but the medical quality of services I was involved in was severely affected and decades later it still bothers me. Lesson learned, keep an eye on regulatory aspects of your businesses.
Image credits: egenio
#11Worked for an online gambling site. No matter how much you win or lose, the site always wins, and the odds are absolutely rigged. Also, the accounts of obvious addicts have to be banned (by law), but no one really cares if that person then just creates another account.
Image credits: PDiddleMeDaddy
#12During my geology PhD I visited the site of a proposed waste disposal site. A preliminary geophysical survey identified a strange anomaly, a deep linear feature trending to the south south west. Looked like a buried river valley. The site needed investigating for a environmental impact statement / report, part of the planning application. My access to the site and investigation included a NDA, I couldn't publish anything about it until after the rubbish dump was built and a 5 year Stay was put on my thesis (access was restricted to only a few people).
My PhD supervisor also thought the a anomaly was an ancient buried river valley, perhaps a few million years old. This is exactly what the people who wanted to build the rubbish dump wanted to hear, as they absolutely could not put a rubbish dump over or near a Karst feature (dissolved limestone). Contamination could leak into the ground water.
We drilled into the center of the anomaly in 2003, we encountered peat and gravels, then 40 meters of clayey lake sediments, then some more gravels, but then we found 65 meters of hard clay (in fact two layers of clay, 40 meters of orange clays and 25 meters of white clay). We hit limestone bedrock at 128.32 metres depth (33.3 metres below sea level).
The hard clays were left behind after the limestone dissolved. It was Karst. A type of Karst called a Pocket Deposit. They were also found in they UK, the clays were used to make pipes (pipe clay) and cheap pottery. They were around 15 million years old, judging by the fossil pollen and leaves they found.
By the time the Stay ended, the rubbish dump was built, close to the anomaly. Where is should not be.
#13Marketing companies will hire Jr people, give them amazing titles, and then charge the client outstanding fees per position and pay those people Jr pay, pocketing everything as profit.
The time they charge on estimates is double what it actually takes.
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#14Basically all donations go to "operating costs".
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#15Used to work for Billy Joel and he did start the fire. It was all a lie. It wasn't burning since the worlds been turning, it started when he drunkenly knocked a candle onto shag carpeting.
#16I work in finance.
The computer does not tell me your rates.
Your rates are determined by my mood that day and whether or not you complimented my shirt
Image credits: bodhasattva
#17Even if you walk away with nothing on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, you still get money for doing the show.
Image credits: ItsMeTK
#18I worked for a company that audited medical bills and looked for stuff that wasn't charged. If you were not billed for something they would try to collect on it and get a share of that. If you were billed for something and should not have been, well sucks to be you, moving on, no refunds.
Image credits: DroneAttack
#19The rabbits who don’t get adopted are fed to the python.
#20I boxed up the first batch of Nokia Lumia smartphones. They were delivered in a blacked out Van with a convoy, all the work our company did was supervised by armed guards.
I was part of the crew that sent out letters to BP stockholders when the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened. The pages were printed with a very interesting method that imprinted the text onto the page, but left the rest if the toner semi-bonded. So the page came out completely black off the printer, straight into an envelope with a special label that was printed out similarly. They were collected by a different blacked out van
I saw all the Specs and diagrams 2010 for the 2014 release of the Land Rover Discover and Range River Sport, including detailed engine breakdowns. I still have the book somewhere, as well as like 5 or 6 4GB USB brackets that were packaged with them.
I can't remember the name of the gallery, but there was a fun set of prints that only 100 or so were sold. The one that sticks with me was a lady lying naked with what looked like bolognese on her, topped with a raw egg. The print sets sold for like £10,000 a pop, and I had a set just chilling in a box. Something like 3000 sets were printed and only the best ones went out
Working for a printing company was pretty good sometimes!
#21I was working at a hospital as an Intern. There was a woman who had a brain Tumor a while a go. She got in for a check up, six months pregnant and having depression. The doctor thought he found a new Tumor so she had another brain operation. But there was no Tumor and they cut her head open for nothing. And after she woke up they didn’t tell her this, instead acted like they removed it successfully.
Edit: I made an internship at the hospital for a few months. I completely forgot that intern in the medical context means someone who wants to become a doctor and studied medicine.
Image credits: 123diesdas
#22I worked on the Walking Dead during college. I saw a ton of main and side characters die in my few seasons I worked on. They made us sign NDAs every day we worked on set.
Image credits: Hans_Neva_Loses
#23I did data entry for a lifestyle seminar company….names, email, home addresses, credit card numbers…All being handed by underpaid, over caffeinated college students…u do the math
#24There were no aliens at Roswell, and they were not testing weather balloons either. The tests were a global communications system that was a precursor to the cell phone networks that we have now. Cutting edge technology at the time, but not so impressive by todays standards.
Image credits: Skajadeh
#25A very popular Spanish supermarket chain was planning on setting up a facial recognition system on their CCTV to track their employees.
I don't know if they followed through with it.
Image credits: JustDeleteSystem32
#26Cyber security at many small to midsize credit unions and banks is usually close to non existent. Shocker I know.
Few examples I saw in one place.
* The mapped drive each employee got had no security, you could just go into any other employees and do what you wanted.
* Users group was added to Administrators on every laptop/desktop. This did not extend into the server network, but any employee could do anything on any other desktop/laptop. They also could install anything they wanted in the days of ransomware.
* There was no network segmentation at the branches. So the bank manager who kept installing malware was on the same network as the teller behind the counter.
* Backups were not ever tested until needed. When they were needed they found out they didn't work.
* Windows update was broken on about 5-10% of machines for years.
I could go on but that was some of the more major ones I ran into. I fixed basically all of those at that place but I still work in the industry at another level/company and can tell this problem is widespread.
#27Chase Bank mortgage division uses outdated technology it bought for hundreds of millions of dollars from Quicken/Rocket Mortgage. It's a DOS based system that Quicken created around 20 years ago.
They also purposely handicap their sales people who work off commissions. To avoid paying out larger commissions if they are doing well, they will be pooled into recieving worse leads or put on special assignments that limit productivity. In worst case scenarios when a sales person finds a way to break the system and make more money than Chase planned to pay out they dig through the employee's chats or personal files to find reasons to terminate them.
Chase also promotes internally to inflate their number of higher level positions held by minorities. Sounds great on the surface, but they do so artificially. Typically positions are filled by recruiting /HR. But whenever they want to bump the numbers they open a position that only "inclusion" candidates can apply for. Inclusion Candidates are code for non-white or non-disabled. These positions are usually for low level management that is planned to be cut in the near future.
Oh! And they give blatant preferential treatment to employees with children to avoid lawsuits. They lost a big one a few years back over father's getting equal maternity leave time.
#28One of the most prestigious consulting companies, starting with M, was going for more diversity in hiring when I was there. Their idea was to reject all CVs that came from males. Just like that, without reading. They would also have a filter in their hiring software to only pass on female names included in their filter.
Also, in certain places they would only read CVs coming from people with clearly “black” names, rejecting everything else. They would hold meetings discussing whether a CV comes from a black person if there was no picture included. Everything just to avoid calling “the wrong candidate.”
If anyone’s wondering, these practices are highly illegal. This was in 2017. Then I left, but I doubt they changed their ways.
#29Someone on the TV show I worked on tried to poison the lead actress. They got fired but the police were never involved though they probably should have been.
#30Kathmandu boasts about its ethical treatment of its workers in SEA, however in the country the business was founded (NZ) - it’s essential workers are paid minimum wage, get no overtime and have no career pathways.
#31Not an NDA but when you buys cosmetics and personal care items (lotions, makeup, perfumes, etc) when they have "call out ingredients" it only has to be in the formula and greater than 0.1%.
"Made with coconut oil." Stuff like that. It's b******t for sales.
#32Was a Partner on Microsoft's now Defunct and Cancelled Mixer streaming Platform.
Had to sign an NDA when i joined the program.
It was extremely clear as far back as 2018 that Microsoft were planning a pump and dump. They wanted the tech to build up the system we now know as Xcloud Game Streaming. Mixer had the FTL low latency tech so they bought it.
The owners while "passionate" were notorious and shrewd businessmen despite their young age. Basically entrenpeuners. Build company up, sell it off, move onto the next thing.
It became very widly apparent in late 2018 that Microsoft were planning on dipping in the next few years and had 0 long term intention despite showing otherwise.
Also know a few things about Facebook Gaming but i'm still under NDA with them for now ;)
#33Not really an NDA but I worked for a PC sales/repairs company, charged a lot of money for diagnostics, reinstalls, data transfers for most repairs. I automated 99% of the work, most of it was me running a single command or scheduling multiple things to work throughout the night/day.
Customers basically paid $100-$300 for repairs/reinstalls/data/diagnostics for about 2 minutes of my time (proper diagnostics, accurate and checked work, very little effort).
I also got paid F all after years and left, the server failed a week later. Declined any ongoing work/maintenance, inner workings and knowledge can die with me as a departing gift.
#34I worked for a publicly traded company in the late 2000s. They had one PC running Windows 95 and Access 97. That was a very important database- without it, the company couldn’t run its monthly and quarterly accounting procedures. The head of IT didn’t know how to upgrade the database.
The company’s long gone.
There’s another company I was let go from because they didn’t like the way I stapled. I worked in IT. They’re long out of business.
I work for much better companies now.
#35Big companies that have “life insurance” as a benefit of employment is a total racket. What they will do, for example, is tell you they have a 10k dollar policy for you, should you pass. What they don’t tell you is it’s actually more and if you were to die they just keep the extra X amount of dollars more than the 10k they told you about.
This might be more well known now days than before but I just try to get this info out as much as possible lol.
#36I worked for a bagel shop. The co-manager told me to, instead of throwing away the tubs of cream cheese that were about to expire, replace the expiration stickers.
#37That video game that was terrible on release? It was terrible in beta, and alpha, and we weren't allowed to warn you.
#38Most marijuana growers, like some of the biggest companies in the world, mix their strains together regardless of policy/SOP because people are stupid and upper management doesn't give a s**t. Stems, seeds, they don't give a flying f**k about what makes it to the end of the line.
They only care about money, not product. That's a *you* problem as the consumer
#39I used to work in an intelligence agency that we will not mention due to obvious reasons. Back some 15 years ago, said intel agency was collecting email data from the enemies. We had most of the domains tapped, but one was particularly hard to crack and it was gaining more and more popularity (don't want to mention which. This is still grey area)
So, instead of going through the long route of hacking it, we sent a guy to work at the domain company. He got a job, climbed a few ranks until he had access to the servers, and Bob's you're uncle.
#40Remember that giant robot fight between the US and Japan? The US team, Megabots, spent 2+ years and $2.5m+ prepping for a real fight.
Once our two robots arrived in Japan, we were informed we now had to "stage the fight" or otherwise they had found some loophole that would have allowed them to pull out/not allow us to use images of them.
We immediately found out why. Their robot looked great but essentially was foam covered in sheet metal, so due to "pride", we weren't able to actually fight, as it would have been a bloodbath.
One of the Megabots founders put a video up explaining exactly what went down on our Youtube channel once NDAs expired. The company folded anyways- and the lackluster dual was the main reason for that.
Do you know how hard it was to see the response from communities like this one when everyone on the Megabots team *also* felt duped? We know we let you down and couldn't do a damned thing about it, outside trying to fight our two robots against each other in a real fight, which ended up being pretty badass. Glad we got to do that at least once before it all came crashing down.
#41The largest E Commerce company in the world will have other people shop for you at brick & mortar stores in 5 years. You will never have to leave their ecosystem and can buy literally everything you would need to survive from them and only them. Food, clothes, pharmaceuticals, streaming, etc. We are literally moving closer and closer towards Wall-E
#42I once signed an nda for work in an early Leeds project my favorite was that I couldn’t tell people they planned to use dual flush toilets until after construction was finished
#43Reggie Fils-Ame said the recent issues with contractors was not the culture at Nintendo when he worked there.
He’s a liar. I worked there while he was the head of NoA, it absolutely was the culture there.
#44All of the success the business I worked for had, had actually came from books taken out of the house of a deceased dementia patient that the owner cared for in the 90's. The owner just executed the plan and the books are still on property in a safe hidden in a wall behind the owners husbands gun safe in the building only accessible by the janitors and family.
Also, the delivery guy is next in line for the business, not the daughters.
#45can't name the company, but they had a loyalty program where they collected points that could be redeemed for free services. if a customer made above the average purchase, it'd get flagged for manual review before the points would have been added. as the same people who did their crowded customer service verified the purchases, the bosses just told to prioritize tickets that would make them money, like people asking to add something to their service and just delete the tickets about flagged purchases. those would be then only processed if a customer would contact them and complain about missing points.
#46Western Africa was where all the major oil companies were looking to drill when fracking got priced out of the market.
Because of the whole Pangea thing and that having been closer to the Permian basin once upon a time.
Also: if you specify a ton of security measures for companies handling your data? You should surprise audit them. Make sure that the network is isolated the way you think it is, the passwords aren’t written on post it’s in the terminals, the cameras work, physical security isn’t compromised. You know, that you’re getting what you paid for.
#47There's this new gaming console coming out soon. It's gonna be amazing. It's called the Playstation 4.
(Yeah, that one might've expired a few years ago...)
#48Worked on a Beyonce music video where I worked with her directly. Don't know what song it was for because the video never released. This was about 11 years ago.
#49George Foreman didn't invent any of those damned grills and rotisseries, some factory in China made them, Salton, inc bought them and hired Foreman to sell them. They had briefly considered hiring Ricardo Montalban to sell them. Often when Foreman made a commercial, that was the first time he'd ever seen the product.
One of the George Foreman rotisserie ovens regularly caught on fire because grease could drip on a heating element. There was never any recall.
#50Used to work for a spare parts manufacturing company, we were instructed to call the competitors from untraceable phones, faking as customers, to know their prices and specifications and then obviously never follow up.
#51A dude i used to work for had sketchy sounding business deals going on in China where he paid his employees only once a year as a lump sum and although I don't know the details he had some illegality deals going on in South Africa evidenced by him making a comment that "I got away with it too" that i overheard during one of his phone calls.
Oh here's more. One of his now ex employees reversed into a cop car and they both tried to hide the damage (Not sure if they succeeded)
He went to look at a house to buy and didn't like what the owners wanted so he damaged the foundations of the house and looked at the next week or so and the owners reduced their asking price.
He paid some kids to vandalize a warehouse constantly which eventually ended up in the company demolishing the warehouse and he got some mowing contract for the grass.
He got the then police commissioner to de-condemn a building which he then bought.
Glad I don't work for him anymore.