Why Are Big Agencies So Difficult To Talk To?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” (George Bernard Shaw) 

“I just realized my lips are inside out. They should be turned inwards, because I spend most of my time talking to myself. 
”  (Jarod Kintz, This is the best book I’ve ever written, and it still sucks)

Yesterday was  another one of those days…. sorry. Since Christmas, our banking situation has only worsened. Other agencies’ people are having trouble getting ATM cards working as well. My problem is that the card is not merely being rejected… I am going through the motions and the money is not coming out here, but the account back home is being debited for the transaction. Number 5  since Christmas happened yesterday… so we have almost $2000 in field funds tied up in an ongoing Visa investigation. Our account is getting low, both there and here, and we have no guarantee will will be reimbursed at all. I’m afraid to go to the bank now. We talked over a few options with our president yesterday. Hope it works out.

I’ve been trying to track down a local Malian suppler for irrigation supplies.  I sent a simple note to four agencies that I know have used irrigation, asking if they knew any suppliers in Mali. A name and number is all I need.

Good luck hearing from World Vision and a few other of the biggies. I guess we paeon agencies are not worth a response. After all, each country’s office only has maybe 50 staff or more wired in to the internet. So they can’t possibly manage to reply to a simple note from someone else trying to feed the hungry. Why would that deserve an answer, right?  

Finally tracked down a huge agency (whom I respect) now in Burkina Faso. They have been marketing drip irrigation in Asia, and are now selling kits in Burkina Faso as well. They are sourced locally, and at a reasonable price.

“I consider conversations with people to be mind exercises, but I don’t want to pull a muscle, so I stretch a lot. That’s why I’m constantly either rolling my eyes or yawning.”  (Jarod Kintz, It Occurred to Me)

So I emailed the guy, seeing if they sell supplies anywhere in Mali, or if we could tap in to the Burkina market and buy drip irrigation kits somehow.  We want to support a West African supply chain, not continue to bring this drip irrigation from Canada.

The guy sets up a skype call that failed because of poor internet, we tried a phone call but we could not connect, and then we resorted to a Skype keyboard chat. It was one of the most frustrating exchanges I have had in years, and little was said.

“By and large language is a tool for concealing the truth.” (George Carlin)

They do have drip irrigation kits, and sent me the price list. However, he never really did say if they would or would not sell us kits. He started off saying Mali is not a priority right now. He eventually said that we “could buy 30 kits SOMETIME”, and, “I will try to get over to Sikasso, if I am ever in Bobodioulasso, or if you are ever in Ouagadougou come see me”.  

I’m never “Just In Ouagadougou… “.  I will be glad to make a trip there if I had any indication this will materialize. I realize I want this, so it’s up to me to go see them, not the other way around. However, why would I spend a week away, and hundreds and hundreds of dollars when I have absolutely no  indication they will sell us a bloody drip irrigation kit. 

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” (Peter Drucker)

Because he then seemed to indicate that they would need to train people on their drip irrigation kits first… No matter that we have been doing it for 3 years now. So shall I send someone over? Will you send someone and we pay the cost?  NOTHING.

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

So after the exchange, I was sitting there as frustrated as hell. Do I need to order kits in March from New York and have them sent to Canada… to be ready for the fall? Or can I count on this group in Burkina to sell kits to us, so we can have a supply in the market for sale next term? Don’t know.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” (George Bernard Shaw)

So I sent him a follow up thank you note with this…..a section out of the note….

An honest clarification of what we are looking at here?   IF MOPD orders kits,
1. XXX will sell them to us, for resale in the local Sikasso market?   Yes or No
2. Or is it, XXX will only sell drip kits after XXX does training in Sikasso with your XXX folks present?
3. We just don’t have a fit so there is not any desire for XXX to sell Drip kits to you in Sikasso, Mali at this time?
I’m hearing # 2…. is that correct?  Is that training possible for Next December, 2014, in Sikasso, if we book it now?
He has not even replied… So that is an answer in my book.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” (Henry Winkler)
Anyway, that is dealing with big agencies….
“Speak when you are angry — and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” – Laurence Peters
I’m not asking for charity, I’m not asking them to subsidize the kits, WE WILL PAY The full amount required… TELL US WHAT TO DO.  You can make money on this deal. You’re selling it…. why can’t we buy it?  No, we are not going to ruin your market  model by giving them away for charity. This phase is about putting the drip kits in the local market for SALE  at your determined price, so we can grow drip irrigation in the region.
I’d rather have a NO than this useless conversation. Let your yes be a yes, and your no be a no, and simply state what it is you require.
“Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking. But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I left unspoken.” (Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy)
It was like dealing with a politician.  I felt diminished and discouraged from the interaction; as if what we have been doing here for the last two years is not significant.
“In the land of Gibberish, the man who makes sense, the man who speaks clearly, clearly speaks nonsense.
” (Jarod Kintz, This Book Has No Title)

Or is it……

“When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid; I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has somehow outfoxed them” (Tom Dorrance, True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse & Human)

Anyway, I was about as frustrated as I have been in years. “Humor can get in under the door while seriousness is still fumbling at the handle” ― G.K. Chesterton

“I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.” (Umberto Eco)
I’m going to take the weekend off until Monday’s site inspections…. I’ve had it for this week.

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