So, I got a call from a fitness center -- the local branch of one of the big national chains. "Several of your employees work out here," said the fellow, who claimed to be some sort of manager. "They'd like to see if we could set up some sort of employee discount for them."
"What did you have in mind?" I asked.
"Well, we create something where your employees can go online and sign up at a discounted rate."
"That sounds fine," I told him. "Just send me a link to the portal, and I'll put it up on our internal discount pages."
"Great!" he said, and we got off the phone.
Well, a few hours later I get an email from the fitness chain - not the guy who'd called me, but someone else. (I'm guessing this is some sort of corporate or at least regional department that handles discounts like this.) And it doesn't have a link, it has a PDF attachment -- which, when I open it, turns out to be a legal agreement rather than, say, an actual discount.
So I email them back. "Why am I looking at a legal contract?" I ask. "We don't usually do things this way. The guy I spoke to said you were going to send me a portal that I could link to. And why does the contract say the offer is only good for sixty days?"
The response I received was... not illuminating: "Oh, yes! It's a sixty-day period for your employees to sign up. The contract will allow us to move forward on creating a portal for you!"
Okay, fine, sure, whatever. I sent the contract over to the head of Purchasing, who has the authority to sign such things.
The head of Purchasing read over the contract, filled in a 60 day date range in the blanks (March 1 to April 30, which seemed pretty sensible since it was still a week before the end of February), and marked out the line that said we'd provide them with our employee records so they could confirm employee statuses. He initialed the change and signed it, and I scanned it in and we sent it back.
A day later, I got another email from the fitness center people. This one explained that they couldn't sign a contract with something marked out, so they were sending me another copy without that line. I checked it, and they had indeed removed that one bullet point. They had also copied over the dates we'd put in. However, the time period next to the dates now said "twelve months".
So I sent it back to them, with a note suggesting that they should either expand the dates, or change the time period to match the current set of dates.
Three days later I got another copy of the contract. They'd updated it. Now, instead of "twelve months", it said "sixty months".
I gave up. I pulled up Acrobat Pro and edited the document myself. The head of Purchasing signed the revised version, and we sent it off again. By now, of course, it's already March.
Two days ago, we got another email from them. This time they wanted to know what site we were going to place their link on "so they could make it match". Okay, sure, fine. They wouldn't be able to see our actual intranet, but we sent them the link for it.
Now, owing to an odd bit of history that resulted in some complicated jiggery-pokery on our network, that particular web address doesn't always take you to the same site. If you open it from inside our network, it takes you to our intranet site. If you open it from anywhere else, it routes you over to our main, public website. This is more than a little bit daft, but that's how it works.
And that is exactly why we got an email back from the fitness people yesterday, explaining that they couldn't send us an employees-only link to be placed on something that was clearly a publicly-accessible website.
You have to understand, we don't have a dedicated Employee Discount person. We do this on the side ("other duties as assigned") as a courtesy to our fellow employees and local businesses. We sent back an explanation, but at this point we've wasted waaaaaay more time on this discount than it's worth. They'll either send us a link to whatever purchasing portal they put together, or they won't; I'm done messing with it.