Banking

How to respond if a client asks you to lie

If an IT consulting client asked you lie for them, would you? Chip Camden provides tips on what to say if your client puts you on the spot.

In two of my recent posts, I exhort you to tell IT consulting clients what's inconvenient for you to admit as well as what's inconvenient for them to hear. But what about if your client asks you to stretch the truth to someone else -- would you?

Before you yell out, "No way!" consider these cases:

Scenario #1: Your client is taking you along to an important pitch meeting. The prospect is a large organization that is paranoid about adhering to best practices and making sure they pick the industry leader. Your client is a leader in their field, but they have only a handful of employees. Your client is worried that the big prospect will think they're too small to take on the job, so they ask you to help create the impression that they're bigger than they are. You don't have to say anything that's actually false -- they just want you to use phrases such as "the entire development team" and "at our main office." How do you respond? Scenario #2: Your client's software is having a problem interacting with a third-party package. Your client doesn't understand any of the details and needs you to discuss this problem with the vendor's technical support. The vendor's very expensive support agreement states that only the individual holding the agreement can call technical support. Your client asks you to make the call and pretend you are the holder of the agreement. Will you? Scenario #3: Your client says that you might be getting a call from a tax auditor to ask about travel expenses for a business trip you took on their behalf; the client is claiming the expenses on their tax return. Both of you know the trip never happened. Your client assures you that you have nothing to worry about -- since it's all expensed, there's no tax effect on you whether you say you took the trip or not -- and it sure would help them out of a jam. The client adds that they won't forget how you helped them out. What do you say?

All three of these examples have happened to me during my IT consulting career. It's very tempting to go along with your client's wishes because you want to make them happy, right?

Putting aside any moral considerations, think about the practical consequences of the proposed action on your relationship with the client. In all three cases, you'd be fibbing for money. Exactly to the degree that you're willing to stretch the truth to make or save money for your client, your client should expect that you would also be willing to stretch what you say to them if it helps your bottom line. If you fib on behalf of your client, there's a chance that your client might start second-guessing what you say to them, especially if it helps your bottom line. For instance, why should they believe that you put in 12 hours instead of 10 hours on that remote project? Or that you weren't doing something else half the time?

The way that you would answer the hypothetical questions is a demonstration of your trustworthiness. Would you believe someone who is cheating on their spouse in order to be your lover when they assure you that they would never cheat on you once the passion has faded? Well, some people do, but they're denying hard evidence to the contrary. Do you want to show your client your cheating side?

On the other hand, it can put your relationship with your client on the skids if you just say, "No, I can't do that." Here are possible  ways to get out of lying without making your client into the scorned villain.

Advice about scenario #1: If your client has become an industry leader using only small organizations, that's a selling point. Obviously, your client got where they are because they're lean, mean, and responsive to their customers' needs. Small is the new big, after all. Convince your client to be proud of their size and their accomplishments. Besides, then they won't have to worry about getting caught in a lie when the prospect asks point-blank how many employees they have. When I was in this situation, my client took my advice and got the bid. Advice about scenario #2: Tell your client to make the initial support call and try to explain the problem to the vendor. After the vendor's support rep becomes sufficiently frustrated with your client's lack of knowledge, have your client offer to put someone more knowledgeable (you) on the phone. I bet the vendor will make an exception to its policy. It worked for me. Advice about scenario #3: This is a tough one. Even though everyone would like to stick it to the IRS, your client just asked you to perjure yourself to a governmental authority. Maybe this isn't a client you want to keep after all. If it is a client you want to keep, you might offer to try to fend off the auditor's questions under protection of confidentiality. I also suggest advising your client to hire a good tax attorney to get the IRS to call off the dogs. If you're forced to respond to the IRS, you could simply say that you have no record or recollection of that trip. You don't have to say "my client lied to you." The IRS will probably disallow the expenses without imposing any other penalty unless they discover more rampant irregularities. Thankfully, I never got the call from the IRS.

I'm not saying that I've never stretched the truth on my clients' behalf -- what I am saying is that doing so damages your relationship. Plus, there's usually a way to tell the truth to your mutual advantage.

Have you ever lied on behalf of an IT consulting client? Tell me the truth.

About

Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...

142 comments
Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I received the following email from a reader who asked to remain anonymous: Hi Chip, I love your blog, I'm a regular reader. Your excellent article "How to respond if a client asks you to lie" gave me an idea for another article, which I think you, or another TechRepublic blogger, should write: "How to respond if your boss asks you to lie to the client". I had this experience in my last job, and I chose to resign after putting up with it for a short while. I felt that my personal integrity was more important than my salary cheque, and I also didn't really want to work for a business that lied as a policy. I haven't looked back since, and although I may be currently unemployed, I don't regret my decision. To be clear, the lies I was asked to tell would lead to greater revenue for our consultancy, which I found highly unethical, and quite frankly I was ashamed whenever I met with our client's people, knowing that my company was knowingly ripping them off. I do regret not standing up to my boss though - in retrospect I wish I told him off whenever he suggested lying - instead of spinelessly doing his bidding. I would especially like to see your (and the TR members') responses to the following questions: * Are there any lies that are acceptable? Small or "white" lies, for example? What about pricing - isn't lying inherently involved when deciding on the margin you are going to charge the client? * Should I have whistle-blown about my company's practices to the client, or was my quiet exit the correct approach? (I feel they will be found out eventually.) * Should I mention this experience in future job interviews? It makes me look honest, but also shows that I can't keep a secret and bad-mouth people behind their backs. I am wrestling with this one right now! But I will of course be asked why I resigned, what do I say?

alaniane
alaniane

The client can execute a limited power of attorney appointing you as their agent. As an agent legally you are the client and so you can represent them when talking to the vendor. If the vendor is more insistent on talking directly to the person who purchased the item than in helping their customer fix the problem, then I would recommend that my clients avoid using that vendor in the future. It sounds like their more interested in milking people than in providing good service.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

You can never lie or make a knowingly misleading statement. Not only does that damage your reputation, it puts you in a legally precarious situation from both a civil and a criminal perspective. I have seen folks pay financially from completely unexpected quarters (e.g. a false statement, later proven as your lie as they subpoena your emails, causes some folks to be laid off) and criminally as well (e.g. fraud, SOX violations). Lying also tells your sponsor you can be bought, so they will never trust you again, knowing that you can be bought. There is no honor among liars. As to your reputation, those who suspect you've lied will think less of you and those who don't will know you are an incompetent. On the other hand, it is not unethical to withold or not give an opinion or support a statement. This is common practice. If you don't want to support a negative or adverse conclusion you can say "I don't have enough concrete data or definitive proof that....". This will give you some time to prepare your client for an adverse outcome or to creatively change the environment/measurement/situation so as to not make it too painful for the client. You can't wait too long to admit the answer as well, because you will then be seen as unable to provide timely advice and counsel. Hedge, use the lack of data as an excuse, then work like hell in the background to fix it if you can. If not, then work with your client on a time and place to accept the inevitable, together. Another possibly ethical (many times it is not, so watch it) is to not bring up the situation. Sometimes that works. I've been in meetings where there was a time constraint and I intentionally dragged out the discussion on another matter to be handled first or not covered the problematic issue and it was forgotten. By the time the meeting on that issue is called again, the issue has been fixed or has become irrelevant. Be careful out there. Don't become a victim for a fistful of dollars.

Ian Thurston
Ian Thurston

We all know the "right" answer. It's simple, but not easy. And a time when it's even harder than usual is when it's someone you know well who asks you. I was doing government-funded training for a local professional and his wife (who worked in his office). His wife asked me to support their claim for funds for additional training that I had not provided. Arghh! My client and I were volunteers together in a community agency, and here was this bag of hammers in my lap. First, I refused the request as politely as possible. Then I excused myself and offered to find another trainer for them. My client understood, and eve suggested that his wife drop out of the training process. But it was too late for that, and it was the end of any closeness between us. As they say, simple, but not easy.

eric.driskell
eric.driskell

I've been in Scenario #1 and 2 before. I've been told by previous employers (non-contract work). I will put any information in the best light (it is all in how you tell the story) but will not outright lie. If I am asked to state something that is not true, I simply say no. Yes, I have left companies/contracts because of this. Each time on my own decision though. As for Scenario 3, I have actually been instructed to lie about things like that by managers. But I have always refused. My response has always been that I will do my best to correctly report the expenses/fees; however the company I am working for can take those expenses and reclassify them internally if they want at the risk of getting caught. That is their risk. This keeps me "clean"? in that I have reported the expenses appropriately. This "scratch our back"? approach from a company is far too common, but very dangerous. I just do not play that game. I will help any company within the parameters of the contract, but will not falsify data. I justify this by explaining that I have to adhere to GAAP and other codes of conduct per my certifications and organization memberships, which is something they are paying for as well. Falsifying information would place my certifications and career at jeopardy. If the company still wants to report expenses from me that I did not submit, I would have to tell an IRS agent (if it came to that) that I am unable to locate my billing/reimbursement records for those expenses and therefore I would not be able to properly validate the amounts. This is 100% true and simply tells them that the record of the expense is not available to me. This would not be true for a company reclassifying a non-deductible expense into a deductible one, I would be forced to simply provide a copy of my records and let the agent make a determination. The IRS can then deny the deduction and the company can file a corrected return. Any good tax agent can clean up any fees from the IRS as long as there is not a history of "mistakes".

alex.kashko
alex.kashko

First I would ask for the reqwuest in writing. Second the client may be testing your integrity. Third, if not, then maybe you cannot trust them. Also they could be relying on your integrity to really lie for them. If caught they will deny everything. Scenario 3 is a nasty one. Will they remember how you helped them? NO they will be looking for a way to get the balance of power back in their favour. Perhaps saying you don't recall the trip is a good way out. Unless it is somewhere exotic.

ppg
ppg

I think you have the scale of the lie backwards. #1) This is giving a good impression - no different than wearing your best suit or making a glossy brochure for the presentation. However it is probably counterproductive to emphasize size of company since that is easy to check. Emphasize the amount of effort you can do on the project. #2) I'm missing something here - why would the vendor care who made the call for support the client had paid for. If necessary have the registered user make the call and just use a speakerphone. #3) There is no grey area here - the client is trying to defraud the IRS. The only question is whether you report them or not.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Are there any lies that are acceptable? Small or "white" lies, for example? What about pricing - isn't lying inherently involved when deciding on the margin you are going to charge the client?[/i]" Nope. If you're lying when deciding on the margin you're charging the client, you're doing it wrong. Ultimately, you have to make a profit or it isn't worth doing. If the client refuses to understand that you refuse to do work for free, taking away from time you could spend making money off a client that does understand that you too need to eat, that's probably a client you don't want to deal with in the long run. "[i]Should I have whistle-blown about my company's practices to the client, or was my quiet exit the correct approach? (I feel they will be found out eventually.)[/i]" I take it you're asking about the tax audit client. I'd take my leave, let the client deal with it on his or her own, and let 'em swing if it gets to that point. Of course, I consider income tax unethical in and of itself, as it consists of an initiation of force in the form of legal threats to extract money someone has rightfully earned, so any underhanded reaction to that is essentially just survival instinct kicking in, in response to such unethical applications of force. You still shouldn't want to be involved in dealings with someone who's willing to put you at risk in that manner, though. I'm probably in a very tiny minority in taking that "income tax is unethical" view of the matter, though. "[i]Should I mention this experience in future job interviews? It makes me look honest, but also shows that I can't keep a secret and bad-mouth people behind their backs. I am wrestling with this one right now! But I will of course be asked why I resigned, what do I say?[/i]" Say "We parted ways over a matter of business philosophy." If you're asked for details, you might say "We disagreed on a matter of ethics." If pressed further, simply say "I would consider it improper to discuss the matter in any further detail, unless the other party provides further detail first. My clients' privacy is of paramount importance to me, even when they are ex-clients." . . . or something like that.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

While your proposal is legally sound, I bet they'd resist it unless you escalated the matter. The people on the support lines know only that it's company policy to speak only to the person on record.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Very thoughtful response, Rich. I'm having trouble thinking of a case where it would be unethical to avoid the subject until you can correct the problem -- assuming that you can correct it.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

When you like your client and believe in their cause. Which makes their request for falsehood even more distasteful, I should think.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It seems obvious now that you say it, but I hadn't thought about the "integrity test" possibility.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

These are just three scenarios I've encountered. #1 - I disagree. Wearing a nice suit doesn't imply anything more than that you can afford a nice suit and you care about your appearance. Implying that you have multiple locations and many employees when you don't is an attempt to deceive, IMHO. #2 - I don't know why the vendor insisted originally in only speaking to the license holder, but as I said they changed their mind when they weren't getting anywhere.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... in my response to the email. I didn't post my response here, because I wanted others to have a chance to respond first. One thing I added about pricing: It's only a lie if you're making a killing but representing it as selling at or below cost. Like you said, the need to make a profit should be a given.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

In my personal experience, there have been two types of situations where I found it unethical to remain silent and I did not: 1. A case where you have been made aware of a criminal act and if not reported you risk becoming a co-conspirator, guilty of law enforcement obstruction or causing physical harm to a party. In one particular case I found a hole in my code that allowed the son of the manager of a hotel to commit extensive financial fraud but I was being asked by the manager to keep quiet about it. 2. Life Critical Systems - You don't hide problems in systems where the problem could cost an individual or many folks their lives if not brought out into the open and fixed. I have seen this 3 times, once in Air Traffic Control network programming (where, believe it or not, they used UDP to transfer aircraft position data for collision avoidance and landing), once in aircraft landing system software which could result in a potential wheels up landing, and once in a police message switching system where a flaw could stop the delivery vital law enforcement data about criminals or other parties to an officer requesting it in the field.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

In the case where a company purchases software, the legal entity owning the software (or service contract) is the company itself. As the company is not a 'human', it may delegate anyone they like to act on their behalf. Most often licenses will have a 'contact' individual listed, but this, in no way, means that only this person can exercise the rights of the contract as the contract is owned by the company and not that particular individual. If the vendor has registered the software to an 'individual', then, assuming the company has paid for the software, the vendor is in the wrong. This would cause both the support problem AND a little issue with the IRS when the company tries to claim the expense. On the other points -- I don't have much feedback -- suffice to say that in international work at least, there are a million shades of grey depending which country you work in. One thing to not is that US companies (and others) take fullest advantage of whatever they can get away with outside their own country. Whether that be treating their foreign workers in sub-standard and unsafe conditions, destroying the environment or even the US Government selling pirated software through the school run by their consulate. Seen it all...

oldjags
oldjags

I think the main reason vendors have clauses that require only speaking with the license holder is that they want to prevent one support contract being used to support multiple clients. As long as you're actually supporting the customer that bought the support contact, what's the big deal? I'm sure their tech support guy would much rather talk to someone who knew what he was talking about. 'Pretending' to be the license holder, however, is not the right way to do it.

apotheon
apotheon

The law should be predicated upon a valid system of ethics. It isn't. As such, there are often laws that are unethical. Obeying those laws is not, by any stretch of my imagination, an ethical mandate. In some cases, it would be perfectly ethical to [b]break[/b] the law. The most the law can do, when it disagrees with ethics, is to give you an ethical [b]excuse[/b] to violate an ethical mandate -- because, when you are bullied into behaving unethically (such as when someone points a gun at your head and demands that you lie to someone on the telephone, or when you do something unethical because doing otherwise would bring the full weight of the law down on you), you are not acting in your capacity as an ethical being so much as merely forced into the role of agent of those who unethically enforce unethical law. That doesn't make unethical behavior in accordance with the law ethical, however. On the other hand . . . I could see circumstances arising where one must choose between unethical options. For instance, it would be unethical to break a promise, even if breaking the promise is necessary to avoid unethical action. If the promise was made without realizing its ultimate implications, this could put one in a very tight spot. Hopefully, one would at least learn to make promises more carefully in the future.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I think Rich does lead to one point here: sometimes you are forced to choose between two ethical principles that are placed in conflict with each other (e.g., when the ethical principle of obeying the law would force you to break some other ethical standard). Then you must choose which ethical principle is more valuable to you. I feel Godwin's Law coming on...

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

If I am in a country where it is perfectly legal to pilfer someone else's work, It is STILL unethical to do so. I play fair and square. PERIOD.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

I am happy to know that you are ethical in all your dealings and accept no deceptive practices from clients, employers or associates. Bravo. Don't worry, I don't usually do business with anonymous parties anyway. In US law that would be illegal, and thus unethical. can it be viewed as professionally unethical to post anonymously in a professional forum? Back to the beholden point. The rule of local law is never deceptive in the eyes of the citizens of the jurisdiction, whether one agrees with the law or not. Thus you must, in order to not break the law and then become unethical, not break local law. Generally, breaking any law, local or otherwise, is unethical: it violates the ethical value of citizenship if you are a citizen and the legality of your visa if you aren't one. When a law is judged by an individual as immoral, unethical, unjust or unfair, (countries, states and other types of legal jurisdictions pass bad or stupid laws quite frequently) if one is a citizen of that jursidiction it could be their civic duty to work to get that law changed but not to break it. For non-citizens, changing a law is in the realm of international diplomacy or for international legal adjudication (The Hague), not for business people unless it can be remediated in a legal contract. If you are a non-citizen, your ethics must be aligned with the local law of where you are doing business or you are a lawbreaker which is viewed by most as unethical. When you work overseas (as most American multi-national companies have many times become painfully aware when they find out that fixed ethics can be a devastating business problem) you have to work the narrow path within two sets of laws and two sets of ethics which sometimes conflict. You have the laws of your own country (and we can spend a lot of time on what your "own" country means) and those of the country of business transaction. BTW, next time you enter a foreign country on a tourist visa to make a one day business pitch or to look at some code or even take a customer out for entertainment you are tecnically breaking the law and thus unethical. You should have gotten the expensive business visa and possibly a business license. That's the most common breach of law and thus ethics.

apotheon
apotheon

That pretty much sums it up, Sterling.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

When you speak the truth, you do not have to remember the lies.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Ethics are not in the eye of the beholder. The concept that they are is antithetical to any sort of ethics whatsoever. I am ethical in all my dealings and accept no deceptive practices from clients, employers or associates.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Religions evolve as a guiding factor of their shared communities. As such, many of their features become, through natural selection, conducive to the survival of the community. Other features that seem counter to pure ethics are often conducive to the survival of the religious institution itself.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]My only surprise was with his comment in that he found that universal logic leads to a 'serendipitous' fit.[/i]" My exact statement was "Such an approach would unavoidably lead to the necessary ethical mandate for defense of the individual right of self-determination, which serendipitously fits well with the majority of positive religious philosophies without relying on any of them." I find that religious doctrines do not tend to be predicated upon rigorously applied valid logic. As such, the conclusions of rigorously applied valid logic fitting in well with the majority of positive religious doctrines really [b]is[/b] pretty serendipitous. The fact that good logic led to a good conclusion is pretty much just dry tautology, and unrelated to whether it fits well with central tenets of a given religious philosophy. "[i]Chad, you mentioned your parents are IT professionals as well. Are related to David, the CIO at a retailer based out of Chicago?[/i]" As far as I'm aware, I have not relatives in Chicago. "[i]You bio makes me a real old guy.[/i]" It's all relative.

santeewelding
santeewelding

The Three Princes of Serendip, a tale; far older, and Arabic, I recall.

dawgit
dawgit

Great Group. :^0 Of course that was the early 60's. Boy, I'm getting old. :| -d

dawgit
dawgit

"Pole-lic-tic-tion" (I hope he hasn't in the bathroom :0 ) That would explain the flip-flop'n. :D -d

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

rather incoherent. [i]I believe ethics should be guided with absolutism?[/i] [i]I believe that the prevailing laws at the time and place of the ethical situation you are confronted must be completely aligned with your ethical behavior.[/i] [i]Ethics is in the eye of the beholder?[/i] Stuck smack dab in the middle of that bouncing back and forth between absolutism and relativism, is the backassward. edit tags

santeewelding
santeewelding

Aside from how the word and its variations trip off the tongue, I've been using them for years as temporary security keys to locks. Aside from the buccal, there is the bonkal, to which one may be driven in a discussion of the lesser, ethics, and larger, the absolute. I know, Chad: I've said nothing . Besides, you can't be driven bonkers. You got that there universal logic going for you.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

"Serendipity, IMHO, is a natural emotional reaction to the surprise of seeing good, sound logic at work." I'm curious as to how emotional reaction is equated with "aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident"? http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/serendipity My Oxford provides the same definition.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

Apotheon (Chad) has it right from my point of view. My only surprise was with his comment in that he found that universal logic leads to a "serendipitous" fit. Good logic always leads to good conclusion. Serendipity, IMHO, is a natural emotional reaction to the surprise of seeing good, sound logic at work. I can see where my other comments would have been confusing. They are just personally experienced examples of situational empirical premises that could possibly alter your ethics, depending on the impact the particular empirical premise has on your personal universal ethical framework. Chad, you mentioned your parents are IT professionals as well. Are related to David, the CIO at a retailer based out of Chicago? You bio makes me a real old guy. When I was a student at Purdue, I did a lot of Fortran programming for years on an old IBM 70XX, first a 7070, then a 7074 and a 7094. When I saw first RPG among your interests, I thought it was "Report Program Generator" language, not RolePlaying Gaming!

apotheon
apotheon

In and of itself, that sentence makes perfect sense to me -- that ethics should be considered in a universal, logically valid form, reasoned from minimal initial principles, separate from unprovable and unarguable metaphysical morality (such as that derived from religious belief), relying only on empirical and epistemological premises. Such an approach would unavoidably lead to the necessary ethical mandate for defense of the individual right of self-determination, which serendipitously fits well with the majority of positive religious philosophies without [b]relying[/b] on any of them. At least, that's my take on the matter. Maybe it's not Rich LeSesne's take, but it's what that sentence (containing the word "absolutism") suggests to me. Some of the rest of the commentary seems odd in relation to that, however.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Everything in your response made sense to me (whether or not I agree with it) except for the word "absolutism" -- or maybe it's the preceding "with" that should be "without"?

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

I believe that the prevailing laws at the time and place of the ethical situation you are confronted must be completely aligned with your ethical behavior. Note that I stress "prevailing law" which may vary based on when and where the ethical dilemma happens. What is the law in one place at a certain point in time may not be the case in another place or at another time. I believe ethics should be guided with absolutism, so I find no place in ethics for religion and morality unless it is institutionalized into law or locally established business rules in effect at the place and time of the ethical decision. This is something I learned while doing business overseas in "ethically interesting" places like Russia and Latin America. For example, is it ethical for an individual doing negotiations with a foreign team to not advise them that you speak their native foreign language? Do you let them openly discuss their negotiating positions in the erroneously perceived privacy of their native language while you surreptiously listen to them? I think this is ethical, especially if they resort to speaking in a third language in an attempt to covertly discuss negotiating positions and you coincidentally have conversational skills in that language. Caveat empore. Due diligence should include knowing the skills of your negotiating opponent. Ethics is in the eye of the beholder and is directly related to the professional's view. Just my opinion, of course.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

There was no pressure to fix because in these cases I was an auditor doing assessments and evaluations so they didn't even know of their existence of the flaws. Once I brought them up, explained the situation and they realized their exposure, the pressure then appeared to fix them.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]A case where you have been made aware of a criminal act and if not reported you risk becoming a co-conspirator, guilty of law enforcement obstruction or causing physical harm to a party.[/i]" In that case, it doesn't sound like you're offering an ethical reason to speak up -- you're offering a legal reason. On the other hand, in the case of your specific example: "[i]In one particular case I found a hole in my code that allowed the son of the manager of a hotel to commit extensive financial fraud but I was being asked by the manager to keep quiet about it.[/i]" That sounds like a situation in which I would be ethically bound to do something other than just sit quietly by and let the fraud continue.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

In #2 I would experience no dilemma -- it's got to be fixed! You weren't facing any pressure not to fix those, were you?

apotheon
apotheon

. . . are like the Special Olympics, some say. "Even if you win, you're still retarded."

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

http://xkcd.com/438/ I think dawgit is right -- we'd all probably get along fine if we could sit down together over a coffee or a beer. But Marty, you sure do know how to write in an inflammatory tone.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]I can only ask you AGAIN to READ and COMPREHEND what is written and then THINK before writing. Try to quote accurately and in-context.[/i]" Do you mean to "read and comprehend" like [b]you don't[/b] when you do things like take Sterling's comment about the Constitution out of context and assign to it meaning that isn't there? How about your tantrum in another discussion where you talk about how awful US citizens are for their obviously bigoted views of offshore workers, using as "proof" statements by others that absolutely don't say what you claim they say? Maybe what you mean is that I should "read and comprehend" like you do when you imply unwarranted assumptions to the effect that I've never been out of Fort Collins and should travel the world a little. "[i]As an example, if you intend to make blanket accusations such as, 'wild unsupported claims' -- I would suggest you quote EXACTLY which claims you are speaking of and your evidence that they are 'wild'.[/i]" Here's a quote for you: [i][b]This isn't the first time you've mapped some incredibly paranoid spins on my posts, and it is becoming tiresome.[/b][/i] Of course, you'd be able to figure that out for yourself if you bothered to actually READ what I said, in context, and COMPREHEND it. After all, my reference to "wild unsupported claims" was part of the same talking point as my reference to you calling my behavior "paranoid". Maybe your selection bias and that chip on your shoulder have conspired to make you blind to what's right in front of your nose, though. I guess I shouldn't pick on the blind guy. Evidence? You're the one making wild unsupported claims. Perhaps [b]you[/b] should provide evidence of my paranoia. Do you have some record of my last psychiatric evaluation sitting in front of you? In any case, without such a record at your fingertips, I'd say that any statement that someone is "paranoid" constitutes a wild claim. If you wouldn't, it's no wonder you can't make a coherent argument rather than resorting to personal attacks in place of reason and evidence. "[i]Having lived and worked in 'developing' countries outside North America for more than 12 years -- I've seen things you can't even imagine.[/i]" There you go again, making unwarranted assumptions. Do you know where I've been, or what I've done? I'll make answering that easy for you, since I guess your tendency to make assumptions might get in the way: The answer is "No, I don't know where you've been, or what you've done." Go ahead. Copy and paste that sentence into your reply to me. Then, maybe you could apologize for your absurd behavior and try making statements about things you actually know, rather than making more wild unsupported claims about me, what I've done, and what I know. I think I'm pretty safe in assuming you don't know crap about what I've seen outside of North America. "[i]Your lack of knowledge in these areas or whether you believe or not is not my concern.[/i]" I'm tempted here to explain a few things about some of the dangerous places I've been -- but really, you don't deserve that consideration. You didn't bother to ask, so I have no answer to give you. Back off of these claims now if you want to recover any shred of credibility. Seriously. "[i]Also be aware of the protocol for the forum. If you have points that are completely unrelated to the topic at hand -- give the poster your personal email address and take it up with them off-line. (My email is below.)[/i]" Psychoanalysts call this assignment of your own failings to others "projection". "[i]To clarify your twisting of my words -- I am not 'against' the US or ANY other country.[/i]" Speaking of twisting words -- I never said you were "against" the US. "[i]And finally, if you are trying to make some kind of point, please don't obfuscate it such as the statement, 'the two nations that border the USA'. If you mean 'Canada and Mexico', what's the harm in just saying that instead of trying to sound important?[/i]" That's just the way the sentence worked out. Trying to attack me on "trying to sound important" is petty and pathetic. Why don't you try making an argument instead of relying on ad hominem fallacies to distract from the fact you don't have an evidenciary leg to stand on for most of what you say? "[i]I will make no further replies to this thread -- private replies are welcome at marty-at-milette-dot-net[/i]" Translation: "I want the last word, and am trying to construct a situation in which I can make people look bad by pretending that I'm the better man by launching a ranting assault on someone's character for more than 300 words of typing and finishing with some weak assertion that if the other guy has any integrity he'll leave the attack unrepudiated. Also, I want your email address so I can harass you directly. Furthermore, if you do respond to me, I get to duck out of a debate I know I can't win on the merits of my argument because my 'argument' is made up of nothing but personal attacks, and if I say I'm done then people will assume I'm a great guy for having failed to respond." Well . . . I don't play by your rules, because I'm not keen on playing stupid games where the rules are designed to make me lose. Maybe this tactic has worked for you with others, but I've seen it quite often enough to know better than to fall for it. I also have enough personal integrity to avoid using it myself.

apotheon
apotheon

Divesting Sterling's comments of their immediate context and trying to apply them to some different, earlier context doesn't make you "right". As Sterling himself pointed out, he was referring to government, not corporations, with the reference to the Constitution. The original reference to the Constitution made the actual intent of the reference quite obvious, though, to anyone who doesn't have a chip on his shoulder and a desire to misconstrue what others have said just to justify some kind of personal attack. Furthermore . . . I'm always annoyed by people who think that the word "privacy" has to be explicitly mentioned for privacy to be addressed at all. An example of where you seem to have gone off-track is the Supreme Court's own reference to legal penumbrae in the Constitution that protect a right of privacy, in cases like [i]Griswold v. Connecticut[/i]. Privacy is as protected a right in the text of the Constitution as free expression, even though the word "expression" never appears in the Constitution.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

I find it interesting how you acknowledge your omission and/or misreading of my posts yet immediately launch into yet another tirade based on the same flawed assumptions and assertions. What's with that? (On second thought, never mind.) I can only ask you AGAIN to READ and COMPREHEND what is written and then THINK before writing. Try to quote accurately and in-context. As an example, if you intend to make blanket accusations such as, "wild unsupported claims" -- I would suggest you quote EXACTLY which claims you are speaking of and your evidence that they are 'wild'. Save the sensationalism for the National Enquirer. Having lived and worked in 'developing' countries outside North America for more than 12 years -- I've seen things you can't even imagine. Things that can have you killed or worse. Your lack of knowledge in these areas or whether you believe or not is not my concern. Also be aware of the protocol for the forum. If you have points that are completely unrelated to the topic at hand -- give the poster your personal email address and take it up with them off-line. (My email is below.) To clarify your twisting of my words -- I am not 'against' the US or ANY other country. I am, however, against ANYONE (individual, government OR company) who indulges in immoral or illegal behaviour in the name of profit -- particularly when that exploits others, contributes to the distruction of the planet or the people on it. If you have a problem with that, it also is none of my concern. And finally, if you are trying to make some kind of point, please don't obfuscate it such as the statement, "the two nations that border the USA". If you mean "Canada and Mexico", what's the harm in just saying that instead of trying to sound important? I will make no further replies to this thread -- private replies are welcome at marty-at-milette-dot-net

dawgit
dawgit

I'm not (totaly) sticking up for him, but judging from his location, he feel he has a valid reason for his chip. He seems, to me anyway, like an inteligent fellow, whom I'd love to have a conversation with sometime. But probably not here on the TR. It would be a fairly common conversation found almost daily, in any number of coffee shops around Europe. (Outside of Amsterdam, anyway) It would be great if you were there as well, I have a feeling the two of you are closer in your thinking than you realize at this moment. Just me and MO, butt'n in mind you. -d

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

When I mentioned the Constitution, it was in a comment about US citizens being protected from the US government. The original article, OTOH, is about corporate behavior. Conversations drift. Nevertheless, within the US, individual rights (including privacy) should be protected from corporate behavior by some application of law that is compatible with the Bill of Rights, IMHO. Exactly how belongs in another forum.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

The original topic of the post was on corporate behaviour. Maybe you should read the original posting? In any case, the constitution seems to have done NOTHING to influence corporate, Government OR personal behaviour. It certainly has nothing to do with modern technologies including software, licensing or telecommunications. While some mention is made of people being 'secure in their persons and property', the term "privacy" is never mentioned -- which is another whole area of ethics that applies to today's situations.

apotheon
apotheon

He referred to the US Constitution regulating how government acts -- not how corporations act. Weren't you paying attention?

apotheon
apotheon

You're right, I overlooked the parenthetical comment, or misread it. On the other hand . . . 1. I suspect you're going to have to offer evidence of my "paranoid" behavior if you want anyone 'round these parts to believe you other than, say, rickk. Most TR community participants seem to think I'm sane, and making wild unsupported claims like yours doesn't tend to endear one to many of them. 2. Your attitude toward the US seems pretty well cemented in the minds of some, after your little tantrum in response to an article Sterling wrote not long ago, where you imagined some kind of insults directed at offshore workers that simply didn't exist. 3. You obviously know little or nothing about me that you can't find in my TR profile -- or you might have found out that I've been far beyond the "squeeky-clean" cubicles of Fort Collins, including not only most of the United States, but the two nations that border the USA, Europe, and northern Africa. Try making an argument some time, rather than an attack. Even [b]with[/b] your "(and others)", the obvious thrust of what you said was that US corporations are the primary offender, and you made that statement in circumstances that in no way required singling out the US to make your point. Yeah, you still seem to have a chip on your shoulder.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... to find corruption. It may be more rampant outside our borders, or maybe it's just better hidden inside them.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

Apotheon, I don't need you to read words 'into' my mouth. This isn't the first time you've mapped some incredibly paranoid spins on my posts, and it is becoming tiresome. In my post, I very deliberately put the words "(and others) " in the sentence FOR A REASON. Unfortunately, you seemed to have missed it. I tend to write very simply and straightforwardly. There are no 'hidden meanings'. If I am not perfectly clear, if you've missed something, or if you just don't understand what I post -- please be sure to ask for a clarification. I won't mind. :) To be sure, I often speak out against corruption and criminal behaviour wherever and from whoever they appear equally and regardless of country of origin. I can give examples from American, Canadian, Finnish and German companies who play fast and loose with ethical behaviour, but unfortunately, since Americans have such a wide presence across the world -- they tend to be the emissary of your country. What happens in the squeeky-clean cubicles of Fort Collins Colorado does not, in any way tell the story of what is happening outside the borders. Travel the world for a few years and let us know what YOU find...

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

If this is the case, the answer becomes clear... >maybe it had something to do with the cost >of individual vs corporate licenses, or >some such. BINGO! No shades of 'grey' if this is the case. How many times have you seen a company purchase a single license of software and install it on every computer in the place? What IS galling is when these companies try to get unwarranted support -- often times lying to the support tech to hide their license violations. And these same liars become so 'indignant' about how they are 'entitled' to free, unlimited support. :) As for the US Constitution, I don't see how it applies much to corporate ethics or modern technologies. According to Wikipedia: "The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It provides the framework for the organization of the United States Government." Nothing about corporations, business or ethical behaviour here. Government contracts for EVERY country are subject to the most blatant and highest dollar-value frauds imaginable -- but nothing seems to stop that. "The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787" While the foundations may be sound, this document really has little bearing on the ethical behaviour of individuals, companies, or any of the technologies invented in the last few hundred years. Another small note about the constitution -- it only protects US Citizens ON US Soil. Which is why atrocities as waterboarding (google it) are freely conducted just a few hundred miles offshore... (But that is a discussion reserved for another forum...)

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]One thing to not is that US companies (and others) take fullest advantage of whatever they can get away with outside their own country.[/i]" It's not "US companies". It's corporations, period. If a country allows corporations to behave in a particular manner, and that manner might help with profitability and market dominance strategies, the corporation will behave that way, regardless of where it was incorporated. It's an inescapable effect of the collective "entity" status of the corporation, with all the legal privileges that apply to a corporation. In the last few times I've seen you post any comments here at TR, though, I've noticed that you like to bad-mouth anyone and anything native to the US. You thinly veil it sometimes, but I don't think you're fooling anyone -- certainly not me. If you bothered to examine the matter more closely, you'd notice that this problem isn't unique to the US by any stretch of the imagination.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... it was registered to an individual who was employed by the company. I don't know why they did it that way -- maybe it had something to do with the cost of individual vs corporate licenses, or some such. As for the horrors you've witnessed abroad, I can't say that I'm too surprised. The only thing that prevents our government from doing the same to us citizens is that pesky little document called the US Constitution -- and even that is having a hard time against it these days.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Better to lay the cards on the table and show the vendor why they should talk to you instead.