Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Economic Engine Needs Workers

Folks love to talk about the oncoming freight train (or a mini-freight train, if you're familiar with China and India) that is the Vietnam economy.

That's all nice and good, except that, from the inside looking out - not too far inside, mind you - things are a bit less rosy than they appear.

An economy needs workers, not just consumers, and so far I'm not very impressed. In fact, I'm down right frustrated on some days. It is really difficult to find good people. Complacency is rife in the workforce, skill levels are, frankly, low, and people aren't self motivated.

So, basically, everyone is an American cubicle drone, except that you can't hope to catch up if you don't outwork the competition.

I know all of this is nebulous gobbley-gook, but here is a concrete vignette, or as firm as an anedote can be:

Late Friday night. I needed some processing on a business card graphic before sending it to the printers. Can't find any open advertising shops, so I ducked into a photography studio. After explaining things, I ask if they can do it. They say they can, but it will be expensive - 200k. They tell me I should do it, as it shouldn't be that difficult for me because the file is already on my computer. I insist that I don't know how, that I am ready to pay their quote and that I would like them to do it. They keep on insisting that 200k is really expensive, that it is easy and I should do it.

Mind you, this store is owner-operated, so the profits would go to the persons I was speaking with, there was no other work to be done in the store, and a male friend of the owner was hanging out, playing Counter-Strike on the high res computers.

We go back and forth for nearly 5 minutes until they finally had enough of me and proceed to do the work. They do a credible job in about 5 minutes. I go to pay the bill, and they tell me 'ah, make it 120k.' I'm thankful for the help, thankful for the lowered tally, so I pay and leave.

Moral: while these folks are fine and good, and rather nice, I wouldn't want them to be my employees. Friends, yes, probably. Helping me to make money, um, no.

1 comment:

tnnospam said...

Somehow I suspect that they were expecting you to haggle and since you didn't they were reluctant to charge you what they thought were excessive fees. ~$12.50 for 5 minutes of work or $150 per hour is pretty dang good here in the U.S., much less in a developing country. If you had haggled things might have gone a lot more quickly I'd imagine. Everyone wants a profit, but we'd still have to live with our own conscience too.