Yesterday I learned something about trust. My experience went something like this:
I took on a contract which required renting equipment. My regular supplier was unable to help - very busy as we all are. I approached another supplier who was able to supply everything I needed. I, however found his terms to be... stringent. He would require the bill to be paid in full THAT DAY, and a rather heafty damage deposit to be paid by credit card.
I explained that the damage deposit would be a problem because I didn't have that much room available on my card. He asked who my client was. I explained it was a school. He offered as an alternative to the damage deposit, that he would allow the equiipment out if the school would "sign off" on the liability for the equipment. At first I didn't see a problem, so I agreed. Once off the phone I started to think about it. Why would he extend a "signature-only" option to the school and not me? After all, the school was second-party to the guy he didn't trust! The school was MY client, I was HIS client. In my mind, I extend "credit" or "trust" to the school believing that they will pay my bill. He should then extend credit or trust to me. After all, I'm his clinet and without people like me, he would not be doing business. The point really was this. I became upset. I took it personally that he didn't trust ME, but trusted someone one step removed from ME. I did a really slow burn about it all day.
I came up with some alternatives. I called a friend of mine who is connected in the industry. He said "who are you dealing with there?" I told him. He said "Oh, of all the people there, he's a real *****". My friend gave me the names of a couple firms to try - with the names of who to talk to. After dealing with MR ***** I had to take a breath. I called Mr. Hopeful. (my name for the light at the end of the tunnel). I mentioned I had been referred to him by my friend, "Mr. Helpful". He didn't have all the equipment I needed, but for a much reduced rate, he booked most of it. He ALSO said "since you know Mr. Helpful I'll knock the price down some more!" I asked about damage deposits and such because now I was in the know about these sorts of things. He said "We don't take credit cards. Do you have a company cheque?"
So on to the next supplier "Ms. Followspot" (because that's what I was short!) Ms. Followspot wasn't home. Her secretary, however, was MOST accommodating even when I didn't mention Mr. Helpful's name. Not only did they have a followspot for me, the price was cheaper than from Mr. *****. Again, no damage deposit, simply "what's your name? ...and your phone numner?"
Everything will be ready for me on Monday.
I called Mr. ***** to cancel my order. He was steamed. "Your order is already sitting on the dock - I've put a lot of time in for you. Your order is confirmed - you'll have to pay it." My reply? I figured the truth was the best. "Honestly, the whole credit card thing was going to be an issue, so I made alternate arrangements." He was not happy - nor satisfied. "I told you we could get around the credit card issue" To that I let him have it about how I felt where his trust was concerned. "You're willing to take nothing but a signature from a second party to ME, but I have to come up with a safety?" "Well, I don't know you." "You don't even know the school either." He was silent. "I suppose you found it cheaper from somewhere else?" "Yes, but that's not the issue." "Then I suggest you use your new supplier from now on." "and I will." "goodbye."
For those of you who know S, you know she's not backward about coming forward when there's an opinion or observation to be made. She pointed out to me that Mr. ***** had every reason not to trust me, he "doesn't know you from Adam". S also pointed out that schools are backed by a bunch of money and can take on liability with just a signature to ensure trust. And... "you took it personally". To that, could I argue? No.
S also pointed out that perhaps this was a good experience for other reasons. I have now made contact with two additional suppliers who will no doubt down the road be a useful resource. Also, Mr. Hopeful and Ms. Followspot seem to work inside the same "trust" parameters I do. Quite possibly the start of a couple mutually beneficial relationships.