March 8, 2010

Why to Unplug the Coder’s Office Phone: A Conversation

Posted from: South Carolina

With a client’s new Drupal-based project specs sitting in my inbox, I did a bucket of research and found an awesome new module that made my toes all tingly. The project deposit burning a hole in my hot little fist, I called the module developers, ready to do anything this side of adultery to buy a copy. And then More Technical Guy answered.

Me: Hi! I’d really love to buy your new Drupal module. I was wondering if you guys do custom scripting? Could you integrate a checkout of some kind? What would be a ballpark quote for that?

Him: Uh…. yeah, we talked about it, but that would be a lot of work.

Me: *eyeshift* Okay. Still, though, when you say “a lot of work”, how much are we talking about?

Him: I mean it would pretty much be impossible. We’re super busy for the next few months.

Me: But I can get someone else to modify it instead, then? Hire a freelancer?

Him: Um, yeah, we’re legally required to let you do that.

… Good? Anyway, if you can’t do that modification, would it be possible to do a slightly easier modification?

Him: Theoretically.


Him: We’re really busy.

Me: For the next few months.

Him: At least.

Me: (silence)

Him: (silence)

Me: So, uh, can I buy your module? As is?

Him (sighing heavily): Why don’t you shoot me an email and I’ll pass it along to the guy that handles this stuff, and he’ll let you know what you have to do. I’m the More Technical Guy.

I still haven’t heard from them.

The biggest fail here is not that More Technical Guy was kind of a dick. I mean, I have a thing for antisocial coders. They’re hot. Where I’m concerned, on a normal day, the word “theoretically” constitutes a wildly successful pick-up line.

The fail is that the CEO is letting More Technical Guy pick up incoming calls from clients. Unless your coding team is made up of peppy, well-informed girls named Amber, I don’t want to talk to them first. Nay, YOU don’t want me to talk to them. Ever. Why? Because even though the merest whiff of a sales pitch would have had me forking over, I still have my money right now.

The entire structure of a programming firm is based around keeping the coders in the most comfortable, moist… est (most moist? really?), dumb-proof bomb-shelter you can manage, away away away from annoying client questions like “Can I buy that?”, and all the way on the other end of the office from the chipper morning people. Let’s stick with that, mmmkay?

That is all.

american tech writer living in beijing. chinese user interface consultant. crafter of pretty digital things. haver of nebulous ideas.
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