Tuesday, March 16, 2010

True story: Universal Widgets is not our reseller – they are our competitor!

This is a true story from my Zoomit days:

Place: Toronto, Zoomit headquarters
Date: 1996 or 1997

Picture the phone ringing:

Z: Hello? Zoomit Corporation.
Customer: This is Lt. McHale from the US Navy calling. I’d like to talk to someone in support regarding your product that we purchased.
Z: Hmmm, we have the US Navy listed as testing our product. You say you purchased it? Who did you purchase it from?
Customer: Yes, we purchased your product from Universal Widgets.
Z: OK, we’ll get someone to call you back right away.

We knew that the US Navy was not our customer. We were small enough at the time that we knew all of our customers – almost personally. We also knew that Universal Widgets was not our reseller – they were our competitor. It appeared that the US Navy called up Universal Widgets and asked them if they could purchase our product from them and they said “Yes!”. Universal Widgets actually billed the US Navy for our software, collected the money and never paid us – ever.

We supported the US Navy for many years after this incident. I don’t believe we ever told them about this. I hated “Universal Widgets” for doing this to us.  Most of the executives for Universal Widgets went on to other software companies and they repeated their bad behavior again and again. They are one of the few companies that I would tell people if I was in a meeting room with them and the lights went out my first reaction would be to reach for my wallet.

Universal Widgets were hosers. We hated them. And they did this to us again a few years later with a different customer! Hosers.

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