Requests For Quotes
OPERATION PAKISTANI BALLDROP
This was the second absurd request for quotes that I received. They had seen that I had taken some photographs of toilets. Based on that, they asked me a complicated and somewhat misspelled set of questions about me shipping a bunch of valves and other industrial equipment to Pakistan.
From: "Muhammad Imran Sufi" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Bob Cromwell Subject: Toilets of the World Date: Thursday 26 June 2003 09:08 REQUEST FOR SUBMISSION OF QUOTATION:- OUR REFERENCE NO.PU: IM/8835 Dear Sirs, ATTN: INTERNATIONAL SALES / EXPORT DEPARTMENT Kindly e-mail/fax your most competitive quotation for the items mentioned below, prices ex-works, FOB and airfreight C&F Lahore Pakistan / sea freight C&F Karachi Pakistan separately showing:- · Approximate gross / net weight, dimension of the packing. · Minimum delivery period and validity. · Technical literature/catalogue/pamphlet/brochure in English Language. · H.S.Code (harmonized System Code) for the convenience of the Bank / Customs. Kindly ensure that items being offered must 100% conforms to the given details and specification and suitable for our use/purpose. DETAILS OF ITEMS: I T E M QUANTITY 1. CAST IRON, TEFLON LINED RUBBER DIAPHGRAM (WITH TEFLON PACKING) VALVES. FLANGED TO DIN 2532, PN-10 SUITABLE FOR SULPHURIC ACID 80-90% TEMPERATURE:- UP TO 90C° WORKING PRESSURE 10KG/CM2 SIZE: - ND 25 06.NOS. SIZE: - ND 50 12.NOS. SIZE: - ND 80 06.NOS. 2. RUBBER DIAPHRAGM WITH TEFLON LINING (PTFE/RUBBER) FOR ABOVE VALVES. SIZE: - ND 25 06.NOS. SIZE: - ND 50 12.NOS. SIZE: - ND 80 06.NOS. NOTE:- OUR COMPLEATE ADDRESS IS AS UNDER:- ITTEHAD CHEMICALS LIMITED, 39-EMPRESS ROAD, LAHORE PAKISTAN TEL: 0092-42-6306586-88 FAX: 0092-42-6365697 CTC: MR.SAEED KASHIF SR.MANAGER PURCHASE E-MAIL: email@example.com E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ITTEHAD CHEMICALS LIMITED, 39-EMPRESS ROAD, LAHORE, PAKISTAN. TEL: 0092-42-6306586-88 =46AX: 0092-42-6365697 CTC: MR.SAEED KASHIF SR.MANAGER PURCHASE E-MAIL: email@example.com CTC: MUHAMMAD MUSTAFA GONDAL ASST:MANAGER IMPORTS CTC: MUHAMMAD IMRAN SUFI IMPORTS E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.ittehadchemicals.com -------------------------------------------------------
Well, this detailed request clearly deserved a more detailed response. Here's what I sent. For obvious reasons this came to be known as OPERATION PAKISTANI BALLDROP:
From: Bob Cromwell To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Toilets of the World Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 22:10:35 -0500 Gentlemen -- I could probably get you these. In the interest of avoiding shipping damage while minimizing cost, I would suggest packaging the valves in our innovative immersive rubber packing. Not only does it provide a vapor barrier (vital for preventing corrosion, although your requirement for 80-90% sulfuric acid resistance largely obviates this need), but it also supports our state-of-the-art Just-In-Time (JIT) air delivery system -- what we call the Chuteless Airdrop. Our recent project to deliver two dozen stainless steel loos into the Zambian bush showed the utility of our innovative technique. The rumors about bush sharpshooters had the pilots rather nervous, and since they were hard-drinking and short-tempered Ukrainians, we found it very gratifying that the toilets could be air-dropped from well out of range. Had they been porcelain we would have needed to use extra layers, but steel or cast-iron objects are well-suited to our approach. Parachute delivery adds unneeded expense in several ways -- the cost for the chutes, plus the skilled labor required for packing and deployment, plus the cleanup (including retrieving packages trapped in power lines or treetops). One valve per hard-rubber sphere provides for compact packing in transit, and for final delivery they are simply rolled out the aircraft's ramp. This sort of delivery, you can understand, is best carried out in an open area. Urban areas are really not well suited for dropping large numbers of heavy rubber balls from great heights. Beyond the potential damage to windows and thatched structures, it can be difficult to locate all the merchandise after their energetic interactions with multiple angular surfaces. Now, if you carefully reconsider my brochure page, which you have already found ( http://toilet-guru.com/ ), you will see that while I could obtain most anything along these lines for you, the stock kept in-house is kept rather minimal to minimize costs. Our JIT Chuteless Air-drop approach is used by very few international toilet hardware sellers. As for the intermediate supplier, I do know of some plumbing supply houses in Turkey and China (see the brochure page for further details of one of our Chinese contacts). Their relative proximity to Pakistan might reduce the cost somewhat. The shipping and the finder's fee will be substantial, I must warn you. But, as the saying goes, "You get what you pay for". I am based in Indiana (that's IndiaNA, with "NA" at the end, and not India), and the contract will need to address the following operating costs in addition to the base cost of the material: -- Transport for myself and one or two staff members from Chicago to either Turkey or China -- Air-droppable shipping containers, to be purchased or constructed from indigenous materials -- Onward transport for myself, my staff, and the material from the intermediate site to somewhere in South Asia within 800 nautical miles of your location (see below) -- Rental of a C130 type aircraft (including fuel), plus an aircrew of three (pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster) for the drop mission. Ukrainians work cheaply, if you can find them. -- Return transport for me and my staff. Careful selection of the staging point could provide air coverage of both Karachi and Lahore. Being a fan of Kipling, I would much prefer making the run to Lahore. Is the museum still open on the main square? As I interpret your request for bids, air freight to Lahore is on equal standing with sea freight to Karachi, and it is only Lahore for which you are considering air delivery. Please inform me if I have misinterpreted your request for bids. As you will have noted, I have not included a precise cost in this message. Assuming that the Chuteless Airdrop is satisfactory to you, I will need to know if you want the cost worked out in U.S. Dollars or in another currency. As soon as we can agree on that, I can start working out precise figures. I look forward to a message indicating your interest in a business deal! Bob
A few days later I noticed that I had not yet received a reply to what I thought was a well thought out and detailed quote. So I enquired as to their interest:
Gentlemen -- We have not yet received your response to our proposal. Please respond as soon as possible, as we may need to deploy our available staff on another mission. This could leave us unable to airdrop the valves into Lahore.
You might have noticed in my original response that I had also sent a copy to the other address they provided, apparently the manager of the person who sent me the original request. I got the idea that my response may have led to some tension within the Ittehad Chemical Company.
Subject: Re: Toilets of the World Date: Saturday 28 June 2003 00:51 From: "Muhammad Imran Sufi" <email@example.com> To: Bob Cromwell DEAR SIRS, SORRY THIS IS WRONG INQUIRY WE MISSUNDERSTAND SO PLEASE DONT SEND US AGAIN ANY THIS TYPE OF MAIL SORRY ONCE AGAIN FOR THIS MISUNDERSTANDING , THANKS
However, I had not heard the last from the hapless Ittehad Chemicals! They got back in touch with me for: OPERATION PAKISTANI BALLDROP, PART TWOOther forms of nonsense