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take your money and go home August 27, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Did I Hear That Right?.
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Dramatis Personae:

Dan’s Widget Company: A company that makes widgets.
Dan: Owner of Dan’s Widget Company. Friends with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: A highly-placed VP at That Guy’s job.
Friendly Creative Group: The third-party group That Guy’s company contracts with to build advertisements. Clients have to pay extra for this, but the work is very good.
Ginormous Corporation: Where That Guy works, for the sake of argument.
Helen: The sales manager in charge of the Dan’s Widget Company account.
Idiots-R-Us Agency: The advertising agency that Dan’s Widget Company hired.

The Facts Are These:

It’s never good when a business owner is friends with a VP at your company. In this case, Dan’s Widget Company has contracted the Idiots-R-Us Agency to provide both ad creative and a survey that runs via javascript. The agency, who — as expected — has no idea how to do this the right way, threw Ginormous Corporation a bunch of files and a line of code and said “Here. Do.”

That Guy has a track record of taking “Here. Do.” and making it turn out right. But not this time. This time, Idiots-R-Us didn’t make the creatives correctly, nor are they aware of the fact that That Guy has to basically write an entire webpage for each ad to make it display correctly.

That Guy went to Helen, the sales manager in charge of this contract, and told her what was wrong. But That Guy is under time constraints, because for the next ten days, he’s been loaned out to another department and won’t be able to finish this (or any) project until he gets back. No one in any other department comprehends this problem.

Ginormous Corporation has had problems with Dan’s Widget Company before. Last year, they said “Here. Do.” with an ad project that they didn’t feel like paying Friendly Creative Group (our ad-design agency) to complete. They just said “these other guys were able to do it, so why can’t you?” That Guy spent literally a full week figuring out how to make the ad work, and then the rep at Iditos-R-Us complained not only to us and to sales but also to our local branch manager. That Guy’s boss almost got fired because the guy at Idiots-R-Us wasn’t happy, and the guy at Idiots-R-Us couldn’t possibly be made happy because Dan’s Widget Company (which, by the way, is a humongous business) said “don’t pay extra, just make them do it.”

Yeah, see, at Ginormous Corporation, That Guy’s division (of the three main corporate divisions) has the fewest people and the least corporate support, but is the second-most visible. And this division can’t call the help desk for another division because those help desks have been told not to help out in any way.

Explain that one.

So anyway, Helen slashed the price of the package by almost half, promised so much free advertising that she practically throws up a little in her mouth every time she thinks about it (that’s what she told That Guy over lunch last month, anyway), and is still dealing with this crap.

And after today’s debacle, That Guy walked into his boss’s office and said, “can we please just tell Dan’s Widget Company to take their money and go home?” The company has reached the point of diminishing returns with the business.

But Dan’s Widget Company will never go away because their owner, Dan, is friends with Elizabeth. Elizabeth is one of the VPs so high above That Guy that when she says jump, he does, and then says “when can I touch the floor again?” There’s no one in our building who has the guts or the authority to sit down with management and say “Dan’s Widget Company is not worth the money; they put our people through hell to get what they want, and they don’t pay nearly market value for it, and we let them get away with it. I don’t care if the owner’s your friend, Elizabeth… it’s time to cut them loose.”

Seriously. Take your money and go home.

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