British Business Boneheadedness
More Nitwit Brits
On 22 October I received a cold e-mail from a Brit running the American branch of a UK business that sells deeply discounted generic versions of brand name office supplies over the Internet. He has built a small business on the Web and wants to expand his horizons by reaching businesses via the more scientific marketing technique of direct mail. From his e-mail to me:
I am writing to you to investigate working with you as our direct mail consultant. It is an honor to write to you. . .
We are looking for a direct mail expert to consult with us on a monthly basis. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few days researching your background and I feel very comfortable with your achievements. Actually I am very excited about the prospect of working with you, I wanted to contact you and provide you with some information to determine if we are a fit for each other. . .
This kind of cloying, sycophantic approach makes my teeth itch. But to be polite, I responded. After a couple of weeks of phone and e-mail exchanges, I decided the guy has a product and a proposition worth testing and we struck a deal.
The Deal Killer
On November 14 I received a confidentiality agreement to sign with the following title and lead paragraph:
Inventions - Non-Disclosure - Restrictions
BE ALL MEN KNOW BY THESE PRESENCE that for ten dollars and other good and valuable consideration the receipt and sufficiency for which is acknowledged that this agreement is made this 5th day of November, 2007 by and between [COMPANY] LLC, a limited liability Company and Denny Hatch, (“Employee”.)
From the Agreement:
Restrictions. Employee agrees that:
a. In the event Employee’s employment is terminated for cause, or in the event Employee elects voluntarily to terminate his employment, Employee shall not, for a period of five (5) year following the date of termination, directly or indirectly solicit or accept any business or trade from any of the customers, clients, accounts, or competitor’s of [COMPANY], in [COMPANY]’s service area, either for his/her own benefit or account, or for the benefit or account of any party.