How to spot a crooked tech vendor

We all heard the horrific stories. Countless resources and time spent on hardware and/or software that pretty soon proved to be crapware… or simply didn’t serve the buyer’s purposes. Sometimes (rarely) it was a miscommunication problem, often it’s just ill-programmed stuff. It may also happen to be a greatly coded product build by clever developers, unfortunately following instructions by some moron that has the money but lacks the market knowledge.
However, I observed that in most cases, the main culprit of IT disasters is an unscrupulous seller.


Here’s my short guide to spot them before it’s too late:

– They go on and on forever listing their fantastic product’s features, never stopping for a second to ask you what you really need (as if they care!)
– You never heard of them, yet they affirm that hundreds, even thousands of your competitors are happily using their stuff. Beware of the logos in their websites!
– They would immediately agree to whichever customization or integration you might want to throw at them, since they know better than the IT team.
– They may even show off their multiple award winnings: if you care to investigate, you’ll find out that the prizes came at best from a local small-town contest, but most probably are non-existent.
– They start negotiations from a ludicrously high figure, then go down progressively until they back off at less than 50% of the original amount, offended by your absence of vision.
– When you ask to have a copy of the contract (if contracting is required), you find out that it’s no less than 30 pages, with a lot of nonsense but no proper SLA in sight. Moreover, suddenly a hefty number of never mentioned before charges make appearance.

And here’s my advice, before committing to any IT solution:

– Check the seller website: spend a few minutes to see if there are already customers similar to you using the product, and verify directly with them. Don’t trust a bunch of logos thrown in there! I could place TUI and Hotelbeds badges too, you know? I’ll rather have a handful of REAL happy clients’ logos than a large collection of non-random images.
– Another important aspect is the quantity and quality of information on the website. Just a landing page or unprofessional/outdated look & feel for a system worth thousands of euros? Steer away. News page or blog last updated in 2014? Avoid. No mention to support at all? Ward off. Pricing table missing? Don’t waste a second further.
– Check the news: if the seller states that they have been in the market for a while, it should be inevitable for them to be in the industry’s newscast (one way or another). No news, bad news.
– If the news mention VC funding, notice it does not guarantee ANYTHING. Actually, the more I learn about the criteria for travel startups external capital backing, the more I love bootstrapping.
– Look closely at migration, integration and support services. If one or more seem fishy, walk away.
– Crunch your numbers: will a transaction-based solution have better ROI than a licensed alternative? Run a few simulations, on both scenarios. But if the proposed solution takes both fees and commissions, wave goodbye.
– Make sure (contractually, if necessary) that you will have access to the data generated by the acquired solution. Such data belongs to YOU and the vendor should not capitalize on it, nor charge you extra to get it. Make also sure they comply with GDPR in Europe.
– In case of SaaS, don’t accept commitments on contracts/subscriptions for longer than 6 months. Cloud-based stuff can and should be risk-free.

I can preach this way because, in my +30-year career span in the travel industry, I have never, EVER cheated anybody, especially  technology-wise… As opposed as certain pompous jackass that doesn’t miss any of my articles, always looking for ideas to copycat and hints to better run his crumpling business.
This text is dedicated to that particular twit: plenty of material to at least have the appearance of an honest vendor. Hopefully I warned a few innocent buyers from people like him.


Marcello Bresin