The Milonga Chronicles: Connect the dots
Living In Buenos Aires: The Identity Crisis That Isn’t

Corruption at its finest...in the good old USA...

It inevitably comes up when people ask me what it is like to live here, about the corruption, the paying of bribes. I can honestly say in the almost 5 years I have lived here, no one has ever asked me to pay a bribe.  Corruption?  There is corruption everywhere.  I actually find it laughable that Americans ask these questions considering the shape of their own country. 

In the last couple of weeks I had the dubious honor of experiencing American corruption, greed, and demands for a kick back at its finest.  I am amazed and angry at this situation.  In the more than 20 years I have had in the computer industry, I have never had a situation like this.

I work in a small Argentine IT business.  My partner has over 18 years in CRM. (Customer Relationship Management) He has done everything from sell the software, to install, implement, and customize. He is an excellent consultant.  He has implemented systems in some of Argentina's largest companies.

I met him when I was teaching English.  He repeatedly asked me to work with him.  I left the computer industry when I left California. That was my old life.  Too much stress.  I didn't want to go there again. In the end he managed to convince me that we could work together in a way that would still leave me time to dance and do the things I wanted to do.

My experience was as an integrator and business analyst.  The software I worked with was accounting software and manufacturing and distribution.  I knew about CRM from some of my larger IT projects. We were going to incorporate my experience into the business.  I was going to develop our offshore division.

My partner worked primarily with one CRM software program.  It is part of a large international company.  The main company is huge, I have worked with their accounting software.  One would assume that a global company their size (14,500 employees) would be professionally run. I was in for a large surprise.

I couldn't understand why my partner was buying software from a guy in the U.S. rather from the company directly.  He told me it was as a Master VAR arrangement.  Only when he explained it to me, it was like no Master Var relationship I had ever heard of before.  He had to buy the software from this guy, he got no credit for the sale, and all the license commissions went to this guy.  The guy didn't even support them.

 I told him this was ridiculous, that we should just go direct to the software company and forget this douche bag.  ."My partner warned me "He has powerful friends in the software company."  I just rolled my eyes.  What did I know?  I always dealt with software companies who played a straight game. 

I contacted the software company and introduced myself.  My first point of contact was happy to hear from me. I explained we were in Argentina and what we wanted to do.  He was excited.  He told me he needed to do some research and would contact me again.  Several days later he sent me an application to become a business partner.

These applications are no big deal.  They are a formality.  You fill them out and send them in.  We used to joke about them.  Everyone gets approved as long as they can pay the dealer fee.  Software companies will basically sign anyone up.  Especially these days.  They charge big bucks to become a dealer. Even if you only make 1 sale, they still make money off of you.

Our initial contact in the software company knew all about our having to buy software from the Douche Bag. Even he could not understand it.  He wrongly figured that with our application we would be able to go out on our own.  Two months later he was still unable to get his bosses; Scum Bag 1 the regional sales manager and Scum Bag 2 the VP of Sales to approve the application.

The problem?  Douche Bag.  First they told him Douche Bag had the rights to sell all of the software in Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese.  I asked if we could sell it in English.  I was told yes we could.  We have our own language pack and we would just give it to our customers.  Two more weeks went by.  There was always an objection to our becoming a partner, and the objection had nothing to do with us or our qualifications.  It had everything to do with Douche Bag not getting our sales.

In the end they were worried that my partner would ask his customers to change their reseller to our company once we became authorized.  Scum Bag 1 and 2 were pressuring the legal department to find a way to keep that from happening.  Legal of course said "No way.  Customers have the right to work with whoever they want."  What was at stake?  License renewals of $40,000.00 a year. 

I emailed Scum Bag 1.  I tagged it.  It was deleted unread.  I emailed Scum Bag 2.  He passed it off to Scum Bag 1.  Scum Bag 1 called me.  He sang the praises of my partner.  Told me he was a wonderful guy.  That if we were in the U.S. we would have been made partners.  Ahhh but we are not.  What was the problem?  Douche Bag's customers....

"Douche Bag does not have any customers here in South America."  I said to Scum Bag1.  I was coldly told "In the eyes of our software company all the customers in South America are his."  Is it any wonder all the resellers in South America hate this guy?  "What are you so worried about"  I asked him. "We don't want you contacting Douche Bag's customers if you are made a partner."  Somebody please tell me I am in a bad made for TV movie. 

I tell him that it was my partner who made all these sales,and my partner who continues to service and support these installations.  Why is it that Douche Bag can call these customers and tell them that we are not authorized and threaten the customer if they continue to work with us?  He tries to scare them by telling them stupid things like their software is unsupported. He might as well tell them that bats are going to come flying out of their computers and witches will render them impotent.  Jeesh!  "This" I say to Scum Bag 1 "is good business?  You don't want our customers to work with us.  But it is OK for this Douche Bag to behave like this."  Silence.  Then, "Well they are his customers to us."  I repeat "Customers have the right to work with who they want."

I decide to try another tact "You know, why is everyone looking backwards?  There is enough business out there for all of us.  Douche Bag can have the whole U.S.  We just want to go forward and sell down here.  These kinds of things happen.  I know when I had my business, sometimes customers wanted to change resellers, they were tired of me.  There was nothing I could do.  Sometimes, other reseller's customers came to me.  That is just the way it is."

Scum Bag 1 is silent.  Then he says.  "I have to talk to our legal department.  I will call you on Tuesday."  Not this again.  I ask him what he is going to talk them about, but he refuses to tell me.  He hangs up.

Tuesday comes around and guess what.  Scum Bag 1 calls to tell me they are rejecting our application.  I ask why.  He refuses to tell me.  He says he heard some 3rd hand remarks and now they don't want to make us partners.  He of course won't tell me what the remarks are.  How professional.  I wonder what the CEO of the company would think of this behavior?  He tells me he doesn't have to tell me because they don't get involved in 3rd party information.  What?  Then he tells me that my partner needs to call Douche Bag.  Once he does that, then probably we can be made a partner.  Excuse me?  What does Douche Bag have to do with being made a partner?

Today my partner calls me.  He spoke to Douche Bag last week.  Today Douche Bag made him an offer. They will make us a development partner of the software company if we agree to the following:  Douche Bag gets 100% of all the license agreements from all the past customers, he gets 70% of the new customers.  Oh and do not tell any of the other resellers in South America you are a partner. Development partner that is.  They still are not going to make us a full sales partner.

"Are you out of your mind?"  I say to him.  "Are they going to put this in writing?"  I ask.  He admits no they are not, it is their word.  "This is extortion and it is illegal.  Do you understand this?  What they are doing is illegal.  I will not go along with this." My partner is silent.  "We need to be partners."  "Not like this."  I tell him.  "I am sure that the software company has no idea what Scum Bag 1 and Scum Bag 2 are up to.  They are getting a piece of the pie.  That is the only reason they are doing this.  Douche Bag is cutting them in." 

My partner insists it is the only way to be made a partner in the company.  I tell him that I have never seen a company act like this.  I will not work with a bunch of dishonest bottom feeders like this. "You don't get it."  I say to him, "You have nothing in writing.  They can do whatever they want to you.  They have no reason not to make us a partner in the first place.  What they are doing is reprehensible, it is extortion."

And Americans still ask me "What about the corruption." 

Comments

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Donald

Americans are so brainwashed that they don't realize how utterly corrupt and ineffective their economic and political systems are. For isnstance, the USA is a free market. Right! Or, Congress represents the the people. Right! I have never been able to track down the source of a BBC story (I like the BBC but their sites actually have horrible search indexing/archiving.) I heard in the middle of the night, but the academic being interviewed essentially went against conventional wisdom (like the "well-meaning" folks at Transparency International) and postulated that the wealthier a country is, the more corrupt it is because there's simply more to take. So despite the common impression that "Banana Republics" are most corrupt, it's really countries like the USA and the UK which are more systemically corrupt. If one considers the Wall Street bailouts and Obama's appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to his administration, you don't need much more convincing. We all know that American business schools are quickly trying to do damage control about their unethical standards, essentially teaching students how to cannibalize companies and leverage and offload debt as a form of profiteering.
I find the lack of North American humility even worse than the lack of reality-based knowledge.

mitch

So what? Just because you witnessed a case of small-scale corruption makes the US an immoral society and Argentina the land of integrity??? Please!!! What you described is NOTHING compared to the corruption found in your adopted country. In your beloved Argentina, corruption is A WAY OF LIFE and goes unpunished all the time. Take a look at what the politicians do. They steal the people blind and always get away with it. At least in the US if you're caught you go to prison.
Don't get me wrong, I understand your need to put down the US as a way to build up Argentina, but hey, next time you're at it choose your argument more carefully...

Andi

Wow, how awful!!! I don't even know what to say. It's sad that there are such creeps throughout the world. I hope the situation gets better. :(

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