If you want to be an unprofessional person (that means: alive) and run any sort of business, you’re in trouble. It does not come from your clients, no. They will actually love your personal, honest approach, a human to human (H2H) sort of approach. All in all, don’t we long for dealing with real people instead of those pathetic attachments to the bureaucratic system, that call themselves customer service?
No, you’re in trouble, because you have to deal with financial institutions. And they will not make it easy for you.
I run my little enterprises through a London based private limited company. I like my company. What it does is it helps me to do all that I want to do. It is a bridge between me and the world of sad, boring, serious people in suits who have forgotten long time ago what it means to be a human.
So it is not me, but the company that has all my websites, podcasts, blogs, books, films and songs. And it is the company that takes donations, offers subscriptions and receives payments for all that creative stuff that I do. Having a company is one of the ways I can survive in this world without wearing a tie.
The sad thing is that I have to deal with all sorts of assholes. The assholes act on behalf of a company and I act on behalf of mine. And we all pretend we don’t exist — it’s the companies that talk to each other. People are not important.
That’s why they wear uniforms.
Have you ever worked for such a company? Then you know what I mean.
I’ve dealt with quite a few banks and micropayment companies in the last few years and let me tell you this: they are all assholes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that privately most of the guys employed there are great people. But when they are in the service of the company, they are private no more. They serve the monster. They themselves are dead, only the company is alive. People are robots. They have to be. Some of them are also idiots. It’s the worst combination.
There was an interesting case few years ago of a robot-idiot, who once worked in Amazon’s customer service. I tried to convince him to accept my e-book into the Kindle store. The situation was crazy: my e-book not only had already been accepted, but was also selling for two years. And it had great reviews and complaints whatsoever. Then suddenly someone at Amazon decided that this situation cannot continue. Since the book was written in Polish, the field “language” in the form must also say “Polish”.
Ok, why not. The problem is there is not such language. Amazon does not acknowledge its existence.
I wonder why. There is Luxembourgish. How many people in the world speak Luxembourgish?
Now if Amazon was my company it would take me 10–20 minutes to fix that website so it accepts more languages. It’s a win-win situation for everybody.
Of course I have mentioned both in the title and in the description that the book is in Polish. And nobody had any doubt about that fact, because both the title and description were also written in Polish. So what was the problem really? There was no problem. So if everyone’s happy, why don’t you leave my book alone, people of Amazon?
Nope. Can’t be done.
That’s what the robot from Amazon kept saying every time I wrote to the customer service trying to get to their brains. It was pointless. They had none.
What’s the point to block books that people want to read, authors want to publish and Amazon wants to sell? Do clients complain? No. Does the Amazon loose money? No. So, if nobody has a problem, why do you make it a problem?
“The language field is wrong, I cannot accept that”, says the guy. He must be a Vogon descendant, I’m sure of it.
“The languages do not match.”
“So add Polish to the damn list, why don’t you?”
“It’s not my department.”
“So what should I do now?”
“There are other languages.”
I could not believe it. The man actually advised me to rewrite my book into Alsatian, Corsican or Luxembourgish rather then press one button and make the problem gone!
He had to. He was not a human, you know. He was a Vogon from Douglas Adams’ novel. An asshole believing in the religion of papers, rules and professionalism, in all that, which makes us, humans obsolete.
But the worst case of all was my recent close encounter with SafeCharge.
SafeCharge is a company that offers payment solutions. So, if you want someone to pay you with a Visa or MasterCard, they make it possible. That would be usefull. SafeCharge had good fees, so I thought I could try their services.
What I think today?
Forget the fees. Whatever they offer you, avoid SafeCharge like a plague.
The process of getting accepted is long and unusual. You are not being questioned, you are being interrogated. Some anonymous clerks will want to know everything about you and your company. You are suspicious. They very fact that you want someone to pay you makes you a shady figure.
“Well, it’s a typical verification process”, you say.
Oh no, far from it. I’ve been verified by lots of banks or financial companies before, remember? But this… this was something else.
In SafeCharge you are not a client. You are not a partner. You are not even a candidate for a client or a partner. You are a peasant that comes to his lord and master to beg for a favor. And they make sure you feel who is the master here.
In my case the process of begging started with a little surprise that was not part of the plan of my humiliation. I was supposed to get some sort of a confirmation mail, with a login and password. Well, I didn’t get it. I told them that and asked to send it again. The answer was surprising: “check better”.
Well, the exact words were: “check better please”. Because, you know, it’s more professional when you insult someone politely. So instead of saying “we are right, you are wrong, we don’t care and kiss our ass”, always say: “dear sir, we are right, you are wrong, we don’t care and kiss our ass, please”. The client will be happy.
The following mails uncovered a shocking fact: they thought I was someone else. They got my name wrong. The also got the name of my company wrong. Even though I signed every e-mail. So I suggested there might be a mistake on their part. In response, they insisted that I am somebody else. Well, I must be. Apparently in SafeCharge the client is always wrong.
At this point I should have said: “dear sirs, kiss my ass, you incompetent arrogant bastards, please”. Well, I didn’t. Shame on me.
Instead, I kept writing e-mails telling them over and over again my name and my company’s name. Someone has finally read it carefully enough and understood.
Then I was given the explanation of what happened. It was this: apparently the system confused my account with an account of someone else. It wrote my data into his account.
What sort of a financial company is that company with “safe” in the name, if they can’t properly manage identities of their clients? At this point I started to wonder if I really want the services of a company that cannot tell one client from another. Will my money be also sent to somebody else’s account? Will they be sorry again? Possibly.
See, that’s the beauty of the concept of professionalism: nobody is personally responsible for anything.
So if there’s a mistake, it’s a client’s mistake. If it’s obvious that was not a client’s mistake, apologize, but remember: it’s not your mistake either. And it’s not mine. And not his. It’s a company’s mistake! As we don’t exists, we can’t be blamed. We are only attachments to the monster.
But the worst part was yet to come.
When the process of my begging for the acceptance has finally started, I spent next two weeks answering their endless questions. It took a long time, because, as I learned later, the employees didn’t work most of that time. Due to holidays. Working in SafeCharge must be a fantastic experience.
Well, it wasn’t for me.
The mails I received usually started with “I don’t understand”. I’m not surprised, to be frank. I wrote a long mail, but it didn’t help. I don’t know if they can read a human language and I can’t write bureaucratic.
I’m a realist. Obviously I had expected verification of the reliability of my company. But to my surprise they didn’t care about that at all! Not a single question was related to reputation, sales history, taxes, state of finances, ect. Instead, they asked me how many websites I have. How many I will have. And when. And what are the URL-s of this and of that. And what exactly I sell. And how I sell it. And to whom. And what do I do again? And why do I do it?
Now some of those things I don’t know myself, as it is really hard to know URL to a website that does not yet exist. And I still don’t understand why they needed to understand my business as precisely as if they were about to buy it.
It’s as if a car seller demanded to know exactly what you plan to do with the car your about to buy. Where will you drive it? At what time? Who will sit on the back sit? What’s the color of the pain in the garage? What, you’re not going to answer more questions? Aha, you have something to hide, sir, right?
Are you used to that already? Have you accepted your position? Do you comply? If it is so, I am really worried about you. Man, where has your self-esteem gone?
If you think that SafeCharge is an exception, think again. Most of the banks and payment companies have proved with the help of their employees that they are arrogant, illogical, incompetent and highly professional. And “professional” here means barely alive people hiding their incompetent asses and their lack of human decency behind the rules and regulations of their company’s bureaucratic machine. “Professional” means: people are not responsible for anything. People don’t count. People don’t exists here. What you see is only suit.
Eventually I lost my patience with SafeCharge. I’m sorry, but I can take only a limited amount of crap. So I told them what I think and moved to another company, ready for another duel with the system. My application was denied instantly. And that dry piece of information was all the response I was given. No explanation, no names, no reasons. This company is pure class, let me tell you. They don’t even bother to tell you: kiss my corporate ass, you don’t deserve to be our client.
If you are alive, if you have any respect for yourself, stay away from SafeCharge! And if you want some laugh, go to their website, read he “about us” section and then read my story again. If I was a king I would make bullshit a crime.
In fact, stay away from them all! But it’s easy to say, we didn’t choose the world we live in. And if you are a freelancer, entrepreneur or if you sell anything to anyone, you’ll eventually have to deal with one of those financial monsters. Well, just make sure it is not SafeCharge. They are a market leader in entirely new philosophy of custom service:
We do not serve you, you serve us. So get on your knees and prove that you’re worthy to pay for our services.
How is it possible that such assholes still exist on the free market is beyond me. Either the market is not free, or their clients are even bigger assholes. Or maybe their clients are the companies also full of assholes. And those assholes are sent to deal with assholes from SafeCharge. Their probably have a secret hand shake. And it is very likely there is an asshole language that people (I use this term loosely) in the companies speak to each other. But I don’t know that language. And I don’t want to.
So, we live in times where B2B is turning into A2A.
Fortunately Asshole to Asshole type of business happens only in certain types of business. Finances. Law. Insurance. Medicine. And basically everything that the government is involved in.
So what are we to do, we, who are still alive? How are we going to survive this? Lord help us all.
Review of Some Highly Professional Companies was originally published in Completely Unprofessional on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.