The Trader: Tense times with a telltale tape

In our game, the customer is right only if they can prove they are

MY PALMS are clammy and it's hard to breathe properly. I'm not usually given to attacks of nerves, hardly a useful trait in a trader. But this is a nightmare, and I'm prepared to make an exception.

Anyway, who wouldn't be apprehensive if they were in a small room with no windows and only one feeble light, listening to a recording of their own voice. It sounds like a scene straight out of a television drama, except that I'm not being held prisoner here by some deranged man.

"I thought Rory was with you," Laura says when I tell her all about it later. "I mean, he's pretty deranged. And he certainly took you there against your will."

To be fair to Rory, we've no choice. I closed a deal, and now the customer is saying we agreed one thing and I'm saying we agreed another. If I'm wrong and the customer's right, I've dropped a sizeable sum of money. In our game the customer is right only if there's proof they're right. That's why every one of our phone calls is recorded, Big-Brother style. If something happens, you go back and listen to the tapes. I've had to do it twice, and both times I've been in the clear. But will I be lucky the third time?

It takes a while to find the right place in the tape, which leaves me plenty of time to fret. It would be bad enough if all we had to hear was the call in question. But I know that we're in danger of dropping in on some of the ones before it. That means a reprise of my rather sad message to Oliver's answering machine asking whether he's back from Peru yet, a quick chat with my mother to thank her for sending clean tea-towels, and an embarrassing call to the florist to order a bouquet for myself, because no one else sends them to me.

I'm so busy sweating I don't even notice we've found the right place on the tape. Ninety seconds later, I'm vindicated. The customer said yes when they should have said: "No, I may be being daft here, but I think I've given you the wrong information for pricing the deal." Total cost to customer for being unwilling to admit to daftness: $53,000.

For a second I'm glad to be right. Sadly, being right isn't always good for business. The customer will go away to lick their wounds, and may never return. If we could only say: "Oh forget about it, it's only $53,000", we'd have a friend for years.

But as far as the shareholders are concerned, it's jam today and bugger the long term.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before