Moscow

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Remember the joy the #IceBucketChallenge brought to so many in the hot summer months? Everyone from marketers to individual donors voluntarily doused themselves with ice water because they knew they were helping fight ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. On Wednesday, the ALS Association website says the campaign raised $115 since July 29. But spammers were happy, too.

Although Peggy spent 20 years as an official in world curling, we opted out of Sochi. Aside from the expense, anti-gay bill and reports of horrible hotels, we had an unpleasant experience in Moscow two years ago when traveling for a curling event. Virtually no one spoke English. Signs were in Cyrillic script. An inveterate American traveler called Russia the most unfriendly tourist venue he had ever visited.

In 2005, Peggy and I flew into Madrid. We don't speak Spanish and the taxi driver from the airport spoke no English. We handed him the address of our downtown hotel. He studied it and was obviously puzzled. The driver entered the address into his GPS system, but he still could not figure out where we were going.

In December 2010, Peggy and I went separately down to our TD Bank branch on the corner and each saw a different officer on the floor. Our request: Kindly tell your computer people that we are going to Moscow and please allow us to use our TD debit cards to get rubles from Russian ATMs. Both of these officers made the calls while we sat there (at different times) and confirmed that we would have no problem.

Imagine Henry Kissinger or Warren Buffett trying to pay his hotel bill at the Ritz in Moscow and being told by a desk clerk that his credit card was no good.

What's more, imagine how you would feel if it were your fault. That is the embarrassment facing newsletter publisher George Friedman.

Stratfor Global Intelligence is a highly respected daily newsletter devoted to world news, covert actions, military affairs, terrorism and intrigue. If you are an international news junkie, this is a must read.

Subscribers include high-powered and high profile folks in Fortune 500 companies, international finance, academia, governments, the military and the media.

The entire subscriber file was hacked, and the criminals started looting money from the accounts. The FBI alerted the issuers of nearly 100,000 credit cards of the account numbers that had been stolen, and presumably they were summarily canceled.

From CEO George Friedman's letter to his subscribers:

We knew our reputation would be damaged by the revelation, all the more so because we had not encrypted the credit card files. This was a failure on our part. As the founder and CEO of Stratfor, I take responsibility for this failure, which has created hardship for customers and friends, and I deeply regret that it took place. The failure originated in the rapid growth of the company. As it grew, the management team and administrative processes didn't grow with it. Again, I regret that this occurred and want to assure everyone that Stratfor is taking aggressive steps to deal with the problem and ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Read Friedman's entire letter and you'll discover a confession of incompetence by an academic Ph.D. that has no business running a business.

Overnight, Strafor Global Intelligence became an oxymoron.

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