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Things I Think I Think

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friend -
 
This is a special edition of Things I Think I Think, a weekly email that goes out to our licensees only.  This week, I thought we'd share the discussion below with the entire Manager Tools community. 

Typically, Things is a collection of anecdotes, thoughts, and musings.  When I first suggested it to Mike, I told him, “there are all kinds of things I notice that I think would be helpful to our community, but are unlikely to make it into a cast other than as an undocumented aside.  There’s guidance that isn’t weighty enough to build a cast around, but is still noteworthy (at least to my thinking), and maybe our audience would enjoy them.”  He agreed.
 
I’ve departed from the multi-item format a couple of times.  One was last spring, my early valedictory to itinerate professional life.   This week we do that again.

Ethics
 
ethics |ˈeTHiks| pl. noun    moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior: Judeo-Christian ethics.  • the moral correctness of specified conduct: the ethics of euthanasia.
 
I don’t remember how I learned about the situation I am going to share with you.  It could have been an MT company group text, but it might have been an aside in an internal teleconference.  I probed a little, and was astounded and disappointed by what I discovered. 
 
Below is the entirety of a recent email exchange between MT associates and a representative of a well-known organization.  Any editing I have done is shown by [brackets], other than anonymizing all parties.  Each email is introduced with a Bold and Underlined Heading.
 
Note: This exchange hinges on our “personal payment discount.”  Our guidance is targeted at individual managers and professionals, not organizations.  The price of our conferences, though, is usually borne by someone’s company training budget.  Because many professionals work for firms that don’t support developmental training, we offer a discount to those people willing to pay out of their own pocket.  Our EMC is 1100 USD, but only 850 USD if you tell us you’re paying yourself (not being reimbursed).
 
******
 
Initial Mail
 
Good Morning!
 
Two of our staff are interested in attending [one of your upcoming conferences], and I noticed on your site that individual pay attendees could receive a discount.
 
Is there also a special rate available for attendees from [organizations like ours] that we may qualify for?
 
Thanks in advance for your reply!
 
Name
 
Our reply
 
Name,
 
I'm sorry, we really don't have [a rate for organizations like yours]. If you send 3 folks, we can afford the 4th attendee free -- that's about the best we can do at this point.
 
We'd be honored to host your folks...let us know!
 
Best Regards,
MT Associate
 
Reply to our response
 
Could you give us the individual-pay rate for our folks?
 
Our reply to the new ask
 
Name,
 
Sure, if they are paying out of pocket for themselves. That is what that is meant for.
 
Please have your two folks register themselves or you can register them in your account and take the registration to the shopping cart section of the order.  Then, please send us an email and we will complete the registration, apply the discount and collect payment from each individual.
 
Make sense?
 
Best Regards,
MT Associate
 
Response to our reply
 
Yes, I understand.  So the answer is "no", you will not give us the out-of-pocket rate if we register our folks and pay for it? 
 
Please reconsider.  What means is there to stop anyone from saying they are not going to be reimbursed by their company but they do on the back-end anyway?
 
Thanks in advance.
 
Our response
 
Name,
 
The personal payment discount is offered to help people get professional development training even if their organization will not pay for it.  We expect people to be honest and ethical.  We trust our customers to do the right thing.  If we discovered they had misled us to get the discount, we would immediately issue a full refund and cancel their registration.  We do not want people coming to our conferences who would lie to save a few bucks.  It may sound naive or old-fashioned, but that's who we are.
 
We're happy to offer the previous discounted rate I mentioned of buy 3, get 1 free.  This represents a full 25% discount, which is a greater discount than the personal payment discount.
 
If I can be of further assistance,
 
Best Regards,
MT Associate
 
Final Email
 
Thank you.  I will take care of registering our attendees in the near future.
 
******
 
What’s reasonable in search of a discount? 

What’s right? 

If this person worked for you, what would you do? 

What if they worked for someone else in your organization?  

We've created a forum post for you to share your thoughts.  
 
Mark, at home at Pebble
@mahorstman


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