Thursday, 23 January 2014

ATTENTION (VENDOR REVIEW): DO YOU KNOW AN EVENT MANAGER CALLED TSOULE?

 
This is how I make what is definitely one of the biggest mistakes of my career.

I am project managing a major event. The client tells me who to go to for décor and other event elements. I agree because I have used her before and she's excellent. I call and like I suspect, she has other commitments and doesn’t think she can meet our expectations. She gives me a recommendation. Unfortunately, I can’t reach the lady.

And then I remember Tsoule... I have seen his work on Facebook and met him at an event once. I rummage through my cardholder, find his card and place a call through. We arrange a meeting.

The meeting is straight to the point. I tell him I have an event a few days away and need someone nimble to be on top of things. He tells me I have nothing to worry about and asks if he can begin set up in the morning the day before the event. I am happy. With the assurance that I’m working with my kind of person, I move him up my priority list for payment. His account is credited less than 24 hours after; sadly and unbeknown to me, in full.

I get the first sign there is trouble when I get to the event venue around 1pm and there is no set up going on except for stage and lights. 

‘There’s a production meeting by 2pm so no worries’ I think.

When he doesn’t show up at the meeting and doesn’t pick his calls; I begin to panic. He eventually does and assures me his absence is to ensure he gets all the things he needs for set up.

He doesn’t show up until past 11pm in the night; about 6 hours before the hall is scheduled to be ready. His lateness doesn’t bother me; his appearance does.  He shows up cufflinked and blazered, looking daper and ready for a red carpet event. When he wants to keep his blazer and asks if the room where all my gadgets were kept is ‘safe enough’, I know I am in trouble.

My friends who have shown up to help out with the event ask me a prophetic question ‘Is that your Event Manager?’ I say yes. My heart sinks when I see what their eyes refuse to tell me.

By 1am, it dawns on me just what I’ve gotten myself into; tired, my friends and I head to the hotel to sleep.

By 4am we get up and head back to the venue.

And I panick. Everything I have worked so hard for in the 
past decade is at risk of being swept downriver in hours.

I look at the roof we have paid to be fully clad, it is a mess with only 3 decorators working at snail speed. I look at the VIP lounge, nothing is going on. I check the walkway, it has not been draped as agreed. I look at the floor, the carpet guy seems disillusioned. I check the 30 feet by 30 feet backdrop that is meant to wow guests at the green carpet, it has been tacked in the most unprofessional manner I have ever experienced. I ask that it be taken down. When 30 minutes after my request the backdrop is still standing - alive and well, I get a carpenter to saw it in half and move the crap out.

As at 6am, only 25% of the work is done and in the shoddiest manner I have witnessed all my life. Officially, I kick into crisis mode and take over planning completely. My friends and I convert 10 ushers hired for the event and 8 delegates who came to represent a state to foot soldiers.

I may have been able to keep a lid on the red-hot anger boiling inside of me if I see some effort from the Event Manager. I see none. He works like the event is 2 days away, with absolutely no sense of urgency and he does seem genuinely surprised that I feel as distressed as I do.

At 8.45am, I ask him where the couches for the VIP room are and he mutters ‘They are on their way.’ I nod. Numb. So disappointed I find it hard to look him in the eyes.

I call protocol and ask them to delay all VIP guests by 1 hour. I arrange alternative sitting for the VIP lounge within minutes. When the couches eventually arrive, the delegates and ushers are the ones who move them in.

Thanks to the concerted effort of the 16 people we have drafted in, my friends and the event manager’s wife who understands exactly what is at stake, the event is on schedule.

It beats me that an event manager will plan for an event with tight deadlines such as this one and not make any arrangements for extra resources. It would have been fair if it stopped at that but when the urgency of the work now becomes the excuse for non-delivery, it becomes as stupid as it is foolhardy especially after payment has been made.

People! Anyone can claim to be anything, pictures constantly lie but word of mouth will never fail you. Do your background check, ask those who should know. Take everything you see or read in the media with a pinch of salt. Nothing is as it seems and it’s only when the rubber hits the road, that the wheat is separated from the chaff.

I’m usually a live and let live person but my sense of responsibility will not allow me have such a horrible experience and not warn the unsuspecting. Working with Tsoule is a royal pain and almost cost me my reputation; the drama and possible heart attack is not worth it.

I have learned a valuable lesson that will stay with me for a long time and forgiving as I might be, I never make the same mistake twice.


©Naomi Lucas

16 comments:

Anurika Azubuike said...

The mistake of hiring the wrong supplier is never a pretty one. Surprisingly most of these professionals mess you up in style. I can't forget how one 'professional' guy was more interested in reeling out his profile than correctly his damn mistake, and almost cost me a client and my reputation. Thanks for sharing. It's a lesson well learned from personal experience and the experience of others like you.

Naomi Lucas said...

Anurika, it was the same thing that happened oh. I don't care how many multi-nationals you have worked for, just do the freaking job. My prayer is that I don't take this out on future supplier with a sound reputation... Thanks for stopping by jire :)

Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised. Tsoule did my decor when I was getting married in 2010 and he did a fab job. He's got so many referrals from my family and friends. So sorry about your experience, it sounded awful but y didn't u settle with him in person? This post is very destructive and I'm sure u wouldn't want ur own displeased customers to go online and shred ur reputation.

Naomi Lucas said...

@Anon, I'm happy you had a fab experience. I honestly am. It relieves me that he isn't totally as awful as I experience. Having said that however, I decided for once to do a review. Reviews are a standard part of service or product purchase abroad but not very common in this parts. Even if all this does is make him treat the next client with a little bit more respect, a little bit more seriousnes; I would have achieved my aim. I doubt I'll ever have displeased customers and even if I do, I'll fix my mess before they take it online...

Anonymous Poster said...

I have carefully read through your submission here and I must say that I could relate with the hollow experience you must have had. Sorry about that. This experience however presents opportunity for learning across board. I say this because Tsoule has executed projects for me and my friends and oftentimes exceeded our expectations. If for instance you asked for 10chairs, he'd usually come with an extra 2. As a matter of fact, I have often experienced inclusions to executions that were not billed. For instance at my wedding, he came with certain adornments (the names skip me now) that were value ads at no extra charge. He is clearly a thorough personality and that I saw with his dedicated team of crew and staff. It is amazing how he deployed enterprise from selling Ice Blocks to what is today, the arduous task of defining industry standards. He has paid his dues and I personally have a great deal of respect for him. Mistakes however happen and I believe that this experience is an exception. True, there will be pockets of challenges such as yours but I urge you to have a meeting with him and his team to share and compare notes and thereafter pursue a better working relationship in the future. It seems that given the right conditions, you both can advance the industry.As Yoruba would say, 'pele dear'. Call him and be friends again. Never burn bridges.

Naomi Lucas said...

@Anon, I hear you and I did sense quality that was why I approached him in the first place. I think he bit more than he could chew and either pride or something I can't define made him refrain from asking for help. In project management, past glory doesn't work, you're as good as your last event. Finish!

Anonymous said...

All the people commenting positively about his inability to execute your project are probably people hired to comment about him. The fact is what he did is bad and it could have adversely affected your professional confidence clients have about you. He is heartless

Naomi Lucas said...

@Anon, truly, I'm relieved they have come forward. It would have been hard for me to believe that he got as far as he did with the kind of crap he pulled off, really...

Anurika Azubuike said...

'Twas great stopping by :)

Anurika Azubuike said...

Excuse the typos :)

Anurika Azubuike said...

'Twas great stopping by :)

Trock said...

Hello Naomi,

A good friend mentioned your blog to me because she and many of my friends knew what Tsoule did to me 2 weeks to my wedding last year. This is a person that have done various jobs for associations I belong to and though not perfect, I am usually there to give my creative input and it will turn out elegant. I noted that he is good but could be better and felt I could work with him for my wedding as he will be open minded to my ideas. I contracted him to do my décor, provide ushers, security men, rent cars and videography months before the event. Myself and my husband picked the décor he showed us months ago when about 3 weeks to the wedding he sent me a message that he cant do the décor and he will refund my money if I wished. I was beyond angry as I felt that a professional will propose other solutions than to inform me 3 weeks to my wedding that he suddenly cannot do the décor he claimed he can do and I told him so. I choose a plainer style as I felt it was too late to get another decorator. As if that was not enough, 2 weeks to my wedding, he demanded and practically blackmailed me that he wants to be paid full (100%) or he will not do anything. Imagine my horror!!! I have always told him from the onset that I do not pay any vendor 100%, rather 70%...Take it or leave it! I had paid him 50% and brought 30% of the remaining so that upon completion at the wedding day, a cheque of the balance will be given! It shocked me that he insisted all or nothing 2 weeks to my wedding and said that he knows that I will not pay the balance if he doesn't deliver what was agreed....WTF!!!! Of course I will not pay for what I never received....He said that he insists on the 100% and where he fails to deliver, I should sue him in court as I am a lawyer! I could not believe the insolence and madness....Imagine suing someone in our courts for my money back when u cannot rewind the wedding??? I knew then that he couldn't deliver what we agreed upon as he was practically telling me of scenarios that can happen and may make him not deliver but he wants 100%! It was plain blackmail as it will be tough to get anyone to do what he was to do 2 weeks to a wedding. I refused to be blackmailed as there is nothing worse than being angry and hurt on your wedding and seeing rubbish being done. I called my friends for help and I bless God as I got better vendors that did the design he couldn't even do in the first place, better ushers, security men, videoman and car rentals at wonderful and better prices than he ever gave me. I made sure I reported him to other event planners who must have spoke to him and I told him to only decorate my traditional wedding as he said I cant get my money back because it has been spent. I relate my story as I wish only to tell people to be careful of him because if anyone can make a bride cry and feel blackmailed 2 weeks to her wedding, then it is best you are fully prepared if you choose to work with him. Finally, he had the nerve to go to the white wedding reception to see what the new decorator did and asked if she was paid 100%. He utterly has no shame....I just realised very late that he was willing to say anything to get the job and his standards were just beneath mine. Guys be careful of vendors especially those who bring pictures of other people and claim they can do it too.

Naomi Lucas said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! I'm beyond shocked at your comment. I think you actually went through worse than I did. My goodness.... so sorry about all this really. it's such a shame.

Trock said...

It was my big day and he practically almost ruined it. He honestly thought I was bluffing as I will have to spend more than double his price to get last minutes vendors but I didn't give a damn. I refused to be blackmailed and helpless and I thank God for the numerous favours I got from friends who called in their own favours and the wedding went even better than I could ever plan it...I was just grateful he showed his true colours before the wedding and not on the day itself because unlike your event...It would have been ruined and unsalvageable.

Naomi Lucas said...

Trock, what will we do without friends :D God bless them all. Thank God you didn't ruin your mascara with tears of frustration on what was supposed to be your big day. Thank God!

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