There’s always something to howl about

Too Stupid To Do Business With?

I’m not that guy who loves forwarding funny emails, but my father-in-law sent one to me that I had to share because it could totally apply to our industry.

Either way, I thought it would make for a little Friday fun.


This is a true phone call from the Word Perfect Help line which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department.

Needless to say the Help Desk employee was fired.


“ABC computer assistance; may I help you?”

“Yes, well, I’m having trouble with Word Perfect.”

“What sort of trouble?”

“Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went

“Went away?”

“They disappeared.”

“Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?”



“It’s blank, it won’t accept anything when I type.”

“Are you still in Word Perfect, or did you get out?”

“How do I tell?”

“Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?”

“What’s a sea-prompt?”

“Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?”

“There isn’t any cursor: I told you, it won’t accept anything I type.”

“Does your monitor have a power indicator?”

“What’s a monitor?”

“It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it
have a little light that tells you when it’s on?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power
cord goes into it. Can you see that?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s plugged into
the wall.”

“Yes, it is.”

“When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two
cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?”


“Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the
other cable.”

“Okay, here it is.”

“Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into the back
of your computer.”

“I can’t reach.”

“Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?”


“Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?”

“Oh, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle — it’s because it’s


“Yes, the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in
from the window.”

“Well, turn on the office light then.”

“I can’t.”

“No? Why not?”

“Because there’s a power failure.”

“A power… A power failure? Aha. Okay, we’ve got it licked now. Do you
still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?”

“Well, yes, I keep them in the closet.”

“Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it
was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.”

“Really? Is it that bad?”

“Yes, I’m afraid it is.”

“Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?”

“Tell them you’re too damned stupid to own a computer.”


So, I guess the main lesson that we can take away from this transcript is that asking the right questions is essential in determining whether or not someone is qualified to do business with.

I’m sure we’ve all had a conversation with an agent, loan officer or potential client that could have easily ended up in a similar manner.

You can’t blame the tech help guy for not asking the most obvious question up-front, even though the answer he received would have probably saved both of them 20 min. of frustration.

I’m wondering what obvious questions we should be asking our clients, agents and loan officers ahead of time….


9 Comments so far

  1. Don Reedy July 24th, 2009 7:35 pm


    I love funny things, funny people, funny money.

    It’s funny (wait for thunderous “ahhhhhhhh”), isn’t it, that after all these years of selling and interviewing, I’ve never actually thought about AN obvious question to ask?

    But let’s give it a try.

    To a seller who is contemplating listing with you: “Are you willing to be the best YOU can be?” Greg demonstrates this question best with all he does for his clients. If they won’t be their best, then he knows he can’t be his best

    To a buyer who is contemplating working with you: “Have you ever settled for second best?” This is a pretty open ended question, isn’t it? What I think this obvious question would illuminate would be the buyer’s understanding of how selecting second best is something you do, but never forget. Leaves a lot of room for a “Skinning the Cat”, a la Jeff Brown conversation, doesn’t it?

    To a lender with whom you have not yet worked: “Who’s more important, me, or my client?” Mssrs. Brady, Madsen and Purcell would have no problem dissecting this answer. They understand agency, and how that impacts the delivery of their service. Show me a lender who is unwilling to let you know up front that once the client is turned over to them by you, they will accept nothing but the best for their client. Sorry, if you’re an agent looking to be kissed up to, then this question will help a lender know as much about you as you are going to find out about them.

    I hope others will really try to come up with some “obvious questions.” I would really like to solidify the best of the best, and in so doing make the delivery of my “Help Desk” good enough to get kudos, not get canned.

  2. Joshua Hanoud July 24th, 2009 8:20 pm

    To a seller: What if you simply cannot get $X for your property? Would you choose to sell it for $Y? Or would you choose to keep it? Ultimately, those are the only two options a seller has (keep it or sell it)…this series of questions ALWAYS gets a seller thinking but can sometimes put them on edge…I continue the conversation with “you don’t have to give me an answer…but you do need to think about it and answer it for yourself.” Their reaction often reveals the type of customer relationship you can expect moving forward and helps me decide whether I want to work with them or not.

    To a buyer: How did you find me? I have a bad habit of forgetting this one.

  3. Jeff Brown July 24th, 2009 8:30 pm

    This is excellent. I learned questioning potential clients from one of the true masters, Chuck Chatham. When folks come to me wanting to invest, or maybe they’ve already started — I ask them why. You should see the faces they sometimes make. Nobody has ever asked them that question expecting a well thought out, serious answer.

    It’s at that point they realize I’m serious.

    Again, good stuff here.

  4. Mark Madsen July 24th, 2009 9:05 pm

    Hey guys, way to jump in. Thanks.

    Here are a few:

    1. Buyer’s Agent to Loan Officer:

    “Does this pre-qual letter mean that you actually ran their credit, verified income, assets, employment, and received some sort of second level bank approval?”

    2. Agent to new Buyer:

    “Did you bring your checkbook today in case we want to place an offer on one of these 10 great properties I picked for us to view?”

    3. Buyer to Agent:

    “So, how long did you actually spend looking for those top 10 properties?”

    ….. Who has 4-7 of this scenario?

  5. Sean Purcell July 24th, 2009 9:58 pm

    Great post Mark. I’ve often told agents the first question they should ask a potential lender – or their current one – is this (tailor number to your local):

    “When I refer a client to you, I am also entrusting you with about $10,000 of my hard-earned income. Why should I do that?”

    If they can’t give you a very good answer in about 10 seconds… find someone else.

  6. The Mortgage Cicerone July 24th, 2009 10:10 pm


    Your metaphor is a classic genius!!!!

  7. Mark Green July 25th, 2009 7:05 am

    “Sir, can you please place your left hand approximately 12 inches away from your left cheek?”

    “Um, okay, got it.”

    “Excellent, now go ahead and shift your left hand, with as much force as possible, toward the right side of your face.”

    “Okay, I gotta put the phone down for a second though.”

    “Very fine, I can wait.”

    “Okay, I did it.”

    “Are you seeing the type on your computer screen yet?”

    “Um, no.”

    “Hmmm, this is a tricky one. Okay, let’s try repeating the last troubleshooting task. Except this time, I’d like you to roll your fingers up into a ball as tightly as you can.”

    “Like this???”

    “Yes, that’s perfect. Go ahead and give it a good thrust too.”

    “Still not working.”

    “Sir, do you have anyone in the office that might be able to kick you in the groin as hard as they can?”

  8. Ki July 28th, 2009 12:38 pm

    Agent To Seller

    What do you think is going to determine the eventual selling price. How much you want or how much a buyer is willing to pay

  9. Rebecca Kohout July 31st, 2009 9:36 am

    I must admit, while the ‘joke’ was the perfect metaphor, I can’t keep from thinking about the questions I SHOULD have asked as my last open house. Sometimes we start visiting with the clients when we should be asking these all important questions. Thanks for a making a great point!