Posted by Crystal DeAngelo on June 27, 2014

Whoever coined the saying, 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is' was no fool. How many times have you rushed to the [door, webpage, phone] to snag that deal-and-a-half you just had-ta-have, only to later regret what now retrospectively seems like a perfectly preventable, awful purchase? Well, from a business perspective, it's not all that uncommon either.

I have been handling storage and networking equipment for around 13 years now. In this niche world of buying and selling, the thrill of the catch is what motivates a majority of us on a daily basis. It's not surprising then that so many get caught up in the whirlwind of a deal and overlook what should be the most obvious and significant steps. As some of you may know, I have been part of an ethics committee for almost two years which oversees complaints within the secondary IT industry. We see everything from the 'They Won't Pay' to the 'They Won't Refund' and the 'They Never Even Shipped What We Paid For' cases on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. Having watched company after company fall victim to the persistent trappings of unethical businesses and individuals of the world, I have concluded that one thing is resoundingly imperative: You need to protect yourself, and your company, in every transaction you enter. Based on my experience, I believe the following 5 points can significantly help to safeguard your deals:

1. Get it in Writing.

Who loves to chit-chat on the phone about the weather, the Red Sox, Tom Brady, the vacation I need to take...? Me. Silly question. Yes, I do enjoy having a personal relationship with clients, but my #1 rule still when formulating a 'deal' is to get it in writing. That doesn't mean you have to hang up on your client mid sentence, but you should insist on a follow up confirmation on the record. Get every possible detail of that deal in writing. Even the conversation leading up to the deal. If some of the agreement unavoidably happens over the phone, confirm it with a follow up email, or an IM that gets logged on your computer. If that person is unavailable by email or IM, type out a synopsis of the telephone conversation with prices, dates, etc. Date it, and email it to yourself - a co-worker - your boss, whatever. When it comes to protecting yourself later, the details are important. Being able to substantiate your claims with written evidence is crucial. There should be no feelings hurt over a simple request that helps protect both parties in the long run.

2. Do your Due Diligence.

There is nothing wrong with doing some digging. Research the current state of the person or business you wish to work with before you make an agreement. Get trade references from them. There are several websites at your disposal for access to public information. D&B, Hoovers, Duedil for the UK, BBB, state SOS systems just to name a few. Get on it! If you enter a business name plus the tag 'ethics' into a search engine, you may also uncover some vital background information. And don't be afraid to ask a few of your trusted business contacts for their experience with a particular company. The more information you have about the other company going into the deal, the better equipped you will be to set terms and conditions that work in your favor.

3. Give it a Test Run.

ODS has had a general policy for years now that we will not extend credit terms to a business before we've completed 5 successful transactions. I think this concept is brilliant. Whether you're buying or selling, chances are if this other company is viable and is going to stick around for a while, there will be room to test out a few small orders before committing to larger ones. This gives you an opportunity to analyze the payment structure, shipping consistency, and overall accessibility of the staff. Any company pushing for the world on your first transaction should be carefully reconsidered.

4. Cash is not King.

Sorry, Cash, but you're too risky. You are untraceable, and you do not come running back when terms of the deal have not been satisfied. Instead of wire transfer or company check, consider using a safer payment option that offers protection against deals gone bad. Yes, you may have to pay a small fee, but considering an Escrow service, PayPal, or even credit card as the payment method could end up saving you thousands. IF a deal goes south and you need your money back, you can issue a chargeback or dispute and hopefully within no time have it safely back in your account.

5. Heed the Warnings.

I recently entered into a transaction with LOTS of them. I'm still trying to decide if I went along because I knew it was doomed and wanted to prove it, or if I genuinely wanted to close it. A new company I'd never done business with before was offering product for sale that I normally deal in, and the price was fair. I quickly set into my list of rules above, beginning with due diligence... RED FLAG. This company appeared to be run by someone with history in multiple states. They had established and dissolved 10 or more businesses in the past 15 years, and had an ethics complaint about unrelated services popping up in the searches as well. Knowing the risk, I continued on. Unsurprisingly, this gentleman always wanted to talk on the phone. As I said before, I love to chat. But, when every question I ask about our deal is returned with a phone call answer... RED FLAG. At this point, I carried on, assuming the worst, but making sure at every turn to protect my company from the potential loss. I pushed for all details in writing, I never made any uncomfortable commitments just to progress the deal, nor did I let any unanswered questions go to the wayside. I required pictures and appropriate packing (and re-packing). When it came down to the terms, it was all clearly stated in my PO. They wanted full payment up front, of course. I would never agree to that, but I did agreed to do a small deposit (10%) upfront, only by PayPal, and the rest of the balance by Net 1 upon satisfactory receipt of product. The rest of the story is as you'd expect, peppered with issues like 3 failed freight pickups, sudden issues with payment terms, and the product not actually being owned by this gentleman. As you may have guessed, we never received the product we ordered. I ended up cancelling the PO and filed with PayPal to get our deposit returned (make sure you do this within 60 days). It was an unsuccessful deal, but in the end it wasn't a devastating one. Generally speaking, there are red flags and warnings that present themselves throughout most deals destined to turn sour. Do yourself a favor and heed them.

Around here we use the term 'cost of doing business' a lot. There are certain losses that every legitimate business will eventually incur. Sometimes we make costly concessions in order to keep productive and stay above the fray. Make no mistake, falling victim to bad deals is not synonymous with 'the cost of doing business.' You cannot always avoid problematic companies. Heck, you may purposely run straight into one like I did! But you can always take the time to avoid major losses by being smart, thorough, and aware at all points of a deal.

Posted by Crystal DeAngelo on January 02, 2013

Week 17: New England Gets a Playoff Bye


The New England Patriots fought hard to earn that first round playoff bye in Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. During the complete shutout, the Pats unexpected defense was the team's shining star. They had seven sacks, which is a season high, and held the Dolphins at zero points for sixty whole minutes of football.

Tom Brady threw two touchdowns -- one to Wes Welker in the first quarter, and one to Rob Gronkowski, fresh off the injury list, in the fourth. Stevan Ridley put in another solid game with two touchdowns in the second quarter. Gostkowski was good for all four field goal kicks.

The win earns the New England a much needed first round bye during playoffs. Final Score 28-0 Patriots. They end the regular season with a 12-4 record.


Ruling on the field: One Pats 4th Quarter TD!
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Posted by Crystal DeAngelo on December 26, 2012

Week 16: New England manages a weak 'W'


It seems the Patriots may be trying to mimic the weather here in New England: unpredictable and at times unseasonable. 

Shaking heads continued Sunday as the then 2 and 12 Jacksonville Jaguars took an early 10-0 lead. Tom Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter and managed only to get in position for a three point kick. In the second quarter, Jacksonville posted a 35 yard field goal for three, but allowed a Gostkowski field goal and Woodhead touchdown tying the score 13-13 at the half. The momentum lagged in the third quarter, seeing a single Patriots field goal. As New England's hunt for a first round bye remained threatened by just three points heading into the fourth quarter, wide receiver Wes Welker caught a 2 yard pass for a TD, making it a more comfortable two possession game. Despite being as close as 3rd and Goal on the 1 and 4th and Goal on the 10, the Jags just couldn't keep it together. Two interceptions by Patrick Chung sealed Jacksonville's fate. Final score 23-16.

Ruling on the field: One Pats 4th Quarter TD!
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Posted by Crystal DeAngelo on December 17, 2012


If you stayed up late again this week with Patriots Nation, you know what we're talking about. New England fans this week are speechless for so many reasons. 

Considering the New England Patriots hadn't seen such a deficit at home since 1998, the San Francisco 49ers 3rd quarter 31-3 lead had everything but put the final nail in the coffin on the game. And the first touchdown in the 49er spree came from, you guessed it, good old Randy Moss.

Gillette Stadium was just clearing out and getting out of the freezing rain when Woodhead made a 6 yard run in for a late 3rd quarter touchdown. The Pats came back in the 4th to add another stunning three touchdowns to make the score an even 31-31. Patriots Nation didn't get to ride the high of that ominous comeback for too long, though. San Francisco utilized some rough ref calls, and responded with another touchdown and field goal for three. Too many turnovers and mistakes on this one, 49ers take it 41-34 in the end and clinch the playoff berth. But what. a. game.



Ruling on the field: Three Pats 4th Quarter TDs! (we were rooting for you on this one, almost got that fourth!)
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Posted by Crystal DeAngelo on December 11, 2012

Week 14: Patriots Steamroll Texans 42-14

The Houston Texans came to Foxborough riding a big 11 and 1 record Monday night, but New England fans weren't scared. Despite Gronkowski and Edelman being out, the Patriots came out swinging.

The Texans gave up 21 unanswered points in the first half, allowing two touchdowns for Hernandez and one for Lloyd. After the half, a recently re-signed Donte Stallworth brought in a 63 yard TD pass to bump the lead to 28-0. The best RB in the league, Arian Foster, finally brought in Houston's first TD of the night with 6 minutes left in the third. New England was not done fighting though. They got lucky in the fourth quarter when J.J. Watt forced a Woodhead fumble and the ball skipped 11 yards into the Pats end zone where Lloyd jumped on it to claim the fifth touchdown of the night. Ridley ran NE's 6th and final touchdown in, followed by a mercy TD for Houston backup QB T.J. Yates at the 2:00 warning. Final Score 42-14 Patriots.

Ruling on the field: Two Pats 4th Quarter TDs!
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