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There’s no way IBM’s spin doctors can make this look good. And yet the genderless ‘spokesperson’ contacted for IBM hits staff for coffee and tea by Australian IT‘s Mitchell Bingemann and Andrew Colley gave it a shot.

According to the spokesperson; “IBM is taking prudent steps to address discretionary spending”. He, she or it then went on in classic spin doctor style to push a positive point that wasn’t asked for and isn’t relevant saying; “We are investing in salary reviews, bonus programs and education”.

Well yes, but investing in those things is just business as usual. What possible justification is there for charging staff wanting drink tea and coffee? And what has making staff pay for these things have to do with salary reviews, bonuses and education?

While doing away with employee smoko treats may not seem like a big deal at first sight, it is so monumentally petty in a corporation that is still raking in profits, that one wonders what is going through the minds of the people at the head of the organisation.

For its fourth quarter 2008, which ended Dec 31, 2008, IBM posted a profit of $4.4 billion, up 12 percent over the same period a year

In fact it goes beyond petty, it is just plain stupid, alienating.

If staff can’t get tea and coffee where they work, they’ll go elsewhere, which means leaving their desks, and maybe the building, in search of hot beverages. Also, not being able to provide visitors basic drinks is unlikely to help forge relationships.

Pay for your own tea and coffee, IBM tells staff