Two Laptops on top of beer kegs
Two Laptops on top of beer kegs
The post about beta testing in the field made me remember something that happened to me about 20 years ago.
At that time my company worked with a rewards vendor I will call Bigger Rewards. They were a little clunky, had a relatively limited selection, but very reliable. Things didn't break very often.
Then one day an communique went out that we were migrating away from them to a company I will call Bungles. They were supposedly a lot more flexible, an "internet native," offered a very appealing website that was intuitive to use, etc etc.
So we migrated over. Shortly after the migration I heard how their pitch meeting went. Bungles had some issues with their deck during the pitch, but they fixed those fairly quickly. The site also had some technical issues, but they explained those away. They also admitted that we would be one of their first clients and that their company was relatively new. They characterized themselves as a "startup" that was internet built from the ground up, lotsa buzzwords, etc.
The technical folk were unimpressed. The company seemed young and immature. The business folks were also not impressed due to the flubs before and during their presentation. They weren't polished and didn't seem ready for a big contract like ours.
Then Bungles mentioned their cost. Which was easily well under half of Big Rewards. And the website was actually quite appealing with a bigger selection than Big Rewards. And they did seem hungry for the business and were clearly full of hustle. And this internet thing did seem to be taking off. So management decided to give them our business. We switched over. I think the reasoning was "how bad can it be for more than half off?"
I and a few others were put in charge of supporting the product post migration. We concluded rather quickly that the training from Bungles and all their available documentation was worthless. It was almost always inadequate or misleading. So I spent the next 4-6 months accumulating an internal library of tips and tricks and troubleshooting guides.
We needed it as things were constantly breaking or behaving in unexpected ways. What particularly drove us mad were moments we began referring to as "The Lady Vanishes." We would see an error or some kind of flaw and report it to Bungles support. They would turn right around and deny it ever existed. We would check and of course by then it would be fixed.
Some of our developers started laughing up their sleeves and implying "told you so." I heard one of them say that Bungles was clearly two or three people working in a garage on laptops balanced on top of beer kegs.
At one point things got so bad that we staged a mutiny. If I remember correctly that was the day someone wanted to return something. What they got via rewards was the wrong size and color. But Bungles didn't have a formal return process at the time. We also had two Lady Vanishes that day. That was the last straw.
I bought some pirate flags and we all put them on top of our desks and began talking like pirates. My flag was 5 feet wide on a pole that almost touched the ceiling. It could be seen from almost anywhere on our floor. We even sent a demand letter to our manager. I wanted to do it in red ink or "blood" on parchment paper. But my fellow mutineers chickened out so we sent her an email. But it did have the word mutiny in the subject line and a jpg of a skull and crossbones in the email signature.
Our manager promised to look into it and, to her credit, both took us seriously and tolerated our pirate nonsense. Her largesse I'm sure was made easier since we all kept doing our jobs as best we could. This was a civilized mutiny by pirates who sometimes brought donuts to the office.
I know that she complained to the powers that be, the lack of a competent return process made her jaw drop, but nothing changed from management. Eventually Bungles straightened some things out. They improved to the point of just being bad, but not criminally bad. In fact, I think Bungles is still the rewards vendor for my old company.
After all, they are pretty cheap, and that's all that matters sometimes.
I still have the pirate flag. I turned it into a cape for one of my kids.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention a similar situation that happened years later which really cemented in my mind my experienced with Bungles. (I was still with the company then but didn't support Bungles anymore).
In this case my company had promised the moon and the stars to a very big, very VIP, very demanding client. The result failed to meet most of the goals and the client was quite frustrated. I was a little concerned as supporting them was something of a step up for me and I was struggling to make them happy.
On a client visit a few months into the contract I went out to lunch with my contact. I tried to be somewhat transparent about what we could and could not do, which she seemed to appreciate. Then at the end of the lunch she casually mentioned that switching to us saved them a great deal of money. After that I stopped worrying.
It turns out we were pretty cheap, and that's all that matters sometimes.## TLDR Summary: