local optimization, global pessimization

A well known UK company, let's called them B&O, sells bidgets and odgets. B&O sold me a bidget a few years back. They did a good job. I like the bidget they sold me. It works well. B&O rings me know-and-then to ask if I'm thinking of buying another bidget or my first odget.

Recently B&O rang me and I mentioned I was indeed thinking of buying an odget to go with my bidget. The B&O person on the other end of the phone sounded very pleased and arranged for a B&O salesman to visit me to provide me with an odget quote. On the designated day, at the designated time, the B&O salesman, let's call him Stan, arrived.

Stan didn't know that someone at B&O had spoken to me on the phone and arranged for Stan to provide me an odget quote. So I explained, for a second time, the odget I was thinking of, and where it would go and how big it would need to be. Stan said that he could quote for the odget, but, being honest, there was no point. Since the odget I was after was not a regular odget B&O would simply subcontract the work to a builder, and then charge me the builder's cost plus a fat markup. Stan said I'd be much better off hiring a builder myself.

Stan explained that the people at the B&O office get a cash bonus each time an odget quote is made to a prospective customer. Stan further explained that they got this cash bonus regardless of whether the customer actually bought the odget. Predictably, the people in the B&O office work hard to get quotes out. They send B&O salesman out to any and all jobs regardless of how likely the job is to result in actual work. Stan said if a B&O phone-handler phoned me to ask whether I'd received a quote, he'd very much appreciate it if I said no I hadn't because I'd changed my mind and didn't want an odget.

Top marks to Stan. No marks to B&O.