It sounds like an early April Fool's joke, but it's no prank: Some of the 1,400 employees Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) laid off in January are being asked to return some of their severance pay.
"This letter is to inform you that an inadvertent administrative error occurred that resulted in an overpayment in severance pay by Microsoft," reads a correspondence to some former employees dated Feb. 18. "We ask that you repay the overpayment and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to you."
Inconvenience is one way of putting it. Adding insult to injury is another.
A letter to one of those affected obtained by TechCrunch requests that a check or money order for a specific dollar amount be sent to Microsoft within 14 days.
What happens if the letter's recipients don't comply? How many former employees were affected by the accounting errors? How did the mistakes occur? How much money did Microsoft lose in the gaffe?
Microsoft isn't answering reporters' questions, confirming only that the "letter is authentic, but a private matter between the company and the affected people."
One thing is clear. The letters aren't doing much for Microsoft's image. After all, this is a company that makes financial software. - Mary Kathleen Flynn