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.

The morning coffee is bigger on the inside

If you’re here, you probably like a lot of the same things I like. Geeky things, perhaps.

And, if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a job doing something that you’re passionate about — maybe involving that very same geeky stuff I mention above.

Don’t you think it was about time that changed?

Stained glass TARDIS by Alexandria, via Craftster.
Webcomic is Pink Rhombus, by Josalynne Balajadia and Mark Nordstrom.