Suppliers from hell

I try not to write about work very much on here – it’s just not the done thing.


Yesterday somebody uttered the four worst words in existence:

It’s working as designed.

It’s difficult to say how much I dislike that sentence.

It’s defensive.
It admits that there is problem.
And it indicates no intention whatsoever to do anything about it.

Inevitably, at the other end, is a dissatisfied customer that you’re doing nothing for – presumably one that you’re being paid to do something for. It’s a perfect microcosm of failing to deliver.

Which brings me to my own little personal pet peeve of a website: Clients From Hell.

At it’s best, Clients from Hell perfectly captures the absurdity of trying to deal with customers — it can capture those situations where you have to laugh, because you’d cry if you didn’t.

I’m pretty sure we have all been there. Customers can be the worst. If only we could do business without them.

And I truly feel for the ‘deadbeat client’ entries.

But far too many of are the following variety:

My customer hired me to do something, because they had no experience or knowledge in my area of expertise. I failed to set expectations of what was possible. When I delivered something, I found out they expected something that anybody who was an expert in my field would know was impossible!

Or this one:

My customer hired me to do something, because they had no experience or knowledge in my area of expertise. I asked them some questions to understand what they were looking for. They had difficulty expressing themselves, or did not understand my industry’s jargon. So I am now making fun of them on the internet.

The comments, as you might expect, are worse than the articles.

Overall, the site is postitive, I think. It is frequently funny – genuinely funny (it’s funny because it’s true), and promotes some sort of solidarity amongst freelancers who lack the positive reinforcement that can come from being part of a team in a traditional organisation. But it frustrates me, because it reflects a fundamental issue in service delivery — an inability to allow the customer to benefit from your expertise.

In the service industry, we are doing little more than this — providing expertise to a customer in an area where they are lacking. And most often, if you cannot communicate it, you aren’t really providing it.

So, no, it’s not ‘working as designed’. It appears to be a fault in the design. And maybe that makes it difficult to fix, or even not your problem. But it’s not working.

Protests and Placards

A pair of young women on the tube, amidst the turmoil and turbulence of a twenty-first century Tory government. They travel into central London to futilely protest against the austerity measures to be announced in the coming days. Each woman bears a placard.

The best of times. The worst of times. Are the placards wisdom, or foolishness? Do they indicate a belief that their slogans can bring about change, or are they simply expressions of incredulity at a government the women did not want or understand? Do they represnt hope or despair?

Let’s start writing like a person now

Starting a post seems to be the hardest part. Now the intro was out of the way …

This past weekend, there were some fairly large anti-austerity protests in London. You may have heard about them.

I wasn’t there, but denizens of the internet apparently like to comment on placards. As a denizen, I am forced to join this herd mentality and give my grades on all the placards that I have witnessed.

And I saw


Two of them, in fact. They were traveling on the tube with the two young women from the first paragraph. All indications were that these placards intended to march and protest. To be waved in the air, indignantly.

The first states

Fuck Off back to ETON

I’m not a fan, truth be told. I cannot help but think that the young woman holding the sign was doing so very much wishing that instead of having a middle aged white man who went to Oxford as her Prime Minister, she would prefer a middle aged white man who went to Oxford. And instead of a career politician, she would prefer a career politician.

I would have preferred that guy, too. But the overall sentiment of the sign is such that you wouldn’t catch me carrying it.

That said, it’s a good sign. It clearly demonstrates anger, and points at the out-of-touch old boys thing that’s going on. 8/10

The other sign, though? A disaster.

You can buy PRIVILEGE, but you can’t buy RESPECT

This just upsets me.

First, you cannot buy privilege. People cannot simply earn enough money that racism, sexism, or any-other-ism doesn’t apply. And judgement on the basis of social class is where the term ‘new rich’ comes from. Privilege is not for sale.

The second half, though, is where I lose my shit. The Tories can’t buy respect?

Sorry, but why then are you marching with a placard today???

I thought the entire point was that the Tories can do the right thing. They can spend money to improve the NHS, abandon the concept of austerity, and work towards policies that actually improve people’s lives. They can spend money in a way that shows that they can be trusted, and are deserving of our respect and a chance to govern.

They just don’t want to.

Marching against austerity is meant to be a step towards changing their minds.

So your placard … it leaves me wondering why you are traveling on this tube towards central London. Why are you dressed to march? What difference you are hoping to make today? What change would you like to see?

Your placard speaks to me of the futility of the march, that rather than seeking change, you are emarking on a post-apocalyptic walk through the ruins of this once-great city, fending off benefits cuts in an attempt to make it to the channel, where you can swim to the socialist French paradise.

That said, you’re clearly on theme with your friends Eton/privlege line of thinking. 2/10.

End Credits

On this tube are two separate, but equally important placards. The placard that tells the Tories to fuck off, and the one that sends us across a grim post-apocalyptic landscape in search of escargot. These are their stories.

No placards or protesters were harmed in the making of this blog.

Spam begone!

Last night, I noticed my blog was broken. I poked around a bit.

This morning, I fixed it and left for work. Mistakenly, I forgot to turn my spam filter back on when done.

If you happen to have commented today, apologies. I have marked your comment as spam, and it is gone. There was too much spam to even attempt a check to see if any comments were viable. I have not posted in most of two months, so you probably did not comment.

This is what I tell myself to deal with the guilt.