A big ol' box o' stoopid

Where do I even begin? Well, let me tell you a little story about organizational stupidity.

My company needed to upgrade the license on our Cisco Pix firewall… so we shopped around, and wound up buying it online from CDW. Total cost, about $250, including twenty bucks to do overnight shipping. Of course overnight shipping was required because the license comes in a big box. A surprisingly big box. Bigger than a breadbox. Bigger than the box the firewall itself came in.

The big box came this morning, right on time. You can see it in the picture. Aint it a pretty box?

So I open the box. Inside, there is an envelope and a bunch of “bags of air” so the all-important envelope doesn’t get damaged in transit. You can see the envelope (and the bags of air that protected it) in the picture. Surely you’ll agree that this is a lovely envelope– and that we’re lucky CDW saw fit to pack it so well so that the precious cargo wasn’t ruined!

So I opened the envelope. Inside were two pieces of paper: a 4 page license agreement, and a document that described how to install the new license. On this second piece of paper was the license itself– a 10-digit combination of letters and numbers.

Let’s recap, shall we?

CDW used (and made me pay to ship) a fairly large box for nothing but an envelope. (Oh, and some bags of air, but they were just to protect the envelope.)

Cisco used (and made me pay to ship) an envelope for nothing but a license agreement, a page of instructions, and a 10 digit string.

Are you telling me that this transaction couldn’t be handled electronically? Not only would it have saved me the $20 bucks on shipping, but delivery would have taken 24 seconds instead of 24 hours, and wouldn’t have involved a person to put the little sticker (with the 10 digit string) on the piece of paper, and a person to stuff the envelope, and a person at CDW to put the envelope in a God damn box, and a fulfillment department to put the box in a FedEx truck, and FedEx to deliver it to my house.

It would have taken a simple web site that would take all of 10 hours to create.

You’d think Cisco would understand the concept of moving data across a fucking network.

I’m offended by this stupidity not only because I had to pay for it (directly through shipping costs, and indirectly through the price of organizational inefficiency) but also just because it is so wrong. It doesn’t have to be this way, guys. You can do better. I’m disappointed in you.