Square Wheels, Human Resource and Quality, and Dealing with Consultants:

The Don Yontz Story.

 

As a long-time consultant, I would often duck the "consultant" label because of all the negative connotations associated with it. You know, things like, "Consultants borrow your watch, take it all apart, put it partly back together, and then tell you what time it is because your watch doesn't work well anymore."

Ever wonder where this stuff comes from? Let me share one Square Wheels story with you:

 

On November 1, 1995, Don Yontz of Human Resource and Quality, apparently a consulting company in Altamont Springs, FL, calls us on our 800 number, talks to my wife, and asks for a free preview of Square Wheels, the Big Book, which we gladly send. The sad part is that this is the best part of the story.

Hearing absolutely nothing for 3 months, however, I call him again on February 5th. He says he will check on it -- that it was in "the other office." So, I call again on the 13th; This time, he commits to sending it back to me.

After I still do not receive it a week later, I send another letter to him with my comments that it is really too late for a return, that our 30-Day Preview is well past and that I can think of no good reason why we should accept a return of this product.

On February 29, two weeks later, we get a plastic envelope from Human Resource and Quality. On opening it, however, the packaging turns out to be a reversed UPS mailing bag -- the plastic one with all the red ink to make it distinctive -- and it turns out that the red ink has rubbed off all over the book, making it unsellable.

So, I phone Mr. Yontz again and explain the problem. Instead of graciously accepting responsibility for the delay and for the damage, he suggests I return the package to him so he can take it to UPS -- blaming them that this happened.

Now, here's where it gets interesting and a bit weird:

On March 20, I write him a letter about not learning anything about the book or his complaint to UPS. It reads:

Dear Don,

I was hoping that you would have gotten back to me by now about UPS and the book; it was mailed back to you on the 29th, the day we talked.

Please advise.

Cordially,

 

Can you begin to hear the sound of an ethically-oriented, Thump Thump here? Well, it actually gets worse.

I call again on March 26th and leave my 800 as well as a message about my availability on Tuesday and Friday, I call again on April 2nd leaving a message: "please advise quickly." And then I call again on April 5th. Guess Don must be really busy, never having time to return calls.

Finally, I get a call on my birthday, April 8, a little after 6 months after first sending the book.

Getting him on the phone, he explains that he left the book at the Altamont Springs UPS distribution center and twice mentioned how he was careful to let them open the package so that they would see the damage I claimed. When I asked who they were going to followup with, he was "surprised" that they hadn't contacted me. He left it with "some girl, I don't have her name" and that I could contact them on an 800-number that he didn't know.

And when I asked him if he would followup on this, to put himself in my shoes and that I sent the book on good faith and called him numerous times, his response was, (and I quote), "If you want to collect some money, contact them." Then he hangs up on me.

Human Resource and Quality? He names his company that and then behaves like this? Is there something I don't understand? I cannot think of anything that we have done, other than followup to try to get our product back.

At this point, I'm beginning to get frustrated. And my normal response is to write a Square Wheels war story. So, 15 minutes later, I call him back and suggest that he might want to have his attorney contact me because I intend to write this up as a story and that I would cite specific details as well as the quote above.

His response is to say, "Well, I'll document this and then you can deal with my attorney."

So, how's it end? Who knows. I did send him a copy of the article, which is little more than a statement of dates and facts.

He fails to respond, repeatedly, to my simple request that he return the book. And after I send him a letter stating that I won't accept a return any longer, he returns the book damaged. And when I ask if he would followup on this, he tells me that it is my responsibility.

No wonder that the honest consultants get a bad name. Apparently we don't all operate in an ethical manner.

My learning point is that trying to do what I say I'll do is important, and that I'll continue to trust that most of my contacts will do likewise.

What is ironic is that last night, I drafted an article for publication in Frank Navran's international newsletter. The subject, Square Wheels and Ethics. Interesting.

Let me also note that none of my other relationships with other consultants worldwide has ever caused a real problem. Honesty seems to be the norm. This situation was an exception. But

 

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