The Hotmail paradox
Today I discussed retaining the services of a consultant who offers a service to help budding authors turn their ideas into publishable books. One of my goals this year is to write my first full-scale book. I've written countless newspaper articles -- in fact, filled enough copy to cover several books -- but have never turned an idea into a published manuscript. I want to achieve that goal this year.
The consultant has marketed her service primarily to authors looking to get published. In my case, "self publishing" is rational because, after all, I am a publisher! My hope however is that having a third-party coach and consultant would help me discipline my effort and move things along.
We initially communicated last month, and I said "go ahead"; but I got cold feet when she instructed me how to send the first month's payment for services ($600 to her Paypal account.) Whoa! I just wasn't comfortable sending money off to someone without knowing her a bit better -- I wanted as well time to think about where I am headed with the project. And a month's hold would not interfere with my ability to move forward with the initiative.
She called me back late last week while I was at the OGCA conference, and it wasn't until today that I could return her call and engage in our first real conversation. She seems knowledgeable enough; credible, and she had reasonably good answers to my questions. But I wasn't totally sold. So I said: "Give me 24 hours, and I'll let you know firmly one way or another where we are going."
She rightfully probed for objections. I told her my experience with Bill Caswell, who offered (and has adhered) to a guarantee that we don't pay him until the consulting goals are achieved -- an admirable concept. Her answer: She can't do that, or even offer a money back guarantee if I'm not satisfied, but she could accept (if cash is short) a two week trial for $300 rather than $600 for the month.
Fair enough, but I still said I would take the 24 hours. I asked to confirm her email address, and she did -- at a Hotmail.com account.
Ouch. In the book on marketing I planned to write, I would recommend that no one use a Hotmail free account for business emails. Domains are inexpensive to register, and email can easily be forwarded to 'hidden' accounts -- including, if you wish, a Hotmail address. But to use Hotmail as a primary account implies cheapness, smallness, and something lacking in professionalism.
So I told her this. And she responded she has had trouble losing emails on her outlook account. Huh? Most Internet service providers offer web-mail accounts to go with your primary domains/accounts, so there should be no risk in 'losing' emails because of outlook screw-ups.
I don't mind imperfections, but I am looking for inconsistencies when I am about to send $600 to someone. I won't totally rule against the consultant -- I will review her materials, websites, and presentation tonight before making a final decision, but this may prove to be a case where saving a little on the email account cost at last $1,800 in consulting fees.
If you have any thoughts on this matter to help me make my decision please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the comment function (you can be totally anonymous in commenting, though I moderate all comments to prevent spam from getting through.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The Hotmail paradox
Posted by Mark Buckshon at 12:46 PM