Another one I’ll tell my grandchildren.

Client summons us for the making of a website. They have the India exclusive dealership for a world-famous product, patented worldwide. The parent company has a giant, reputed international agency as its ‘Agency of Record’ and they recommended to the Indian chaps that they check out the cost of retaining the international agency’s Indian arm (in itself a giant on the subcontinent) on a monthly retainer.

Giant Indian agency had quoted Rs 3,500,000. Or, 35 lakhs as we Indians call it. Or, as of date, a few dollarsover US$58,000
Client had a minor stroke. They had a tiny agency, for the moment, and were  looking around because the tiny agency charged as much as Rs 1,00,000 per month. This was 35 times what they had so far been considering too much money.

They chanced upon us and called us. Of course, we had no idea what we were stepping into. Be that as it may, they wanted us for their website, not the brand. They had, it transpired, also been hunting for a ‘website design agency’ and were bewildered that they was getting quotes ranging from Rs 100,000 to Rs 10,000,000. (US$ 1600 to US$16,000).  They could not make sense of the disparity in pricing.

So, to begin with, lest we waste time, could we give him a quote please?
We explained that we would want to know what the website would encompass before we knew what we were costing for.
They was adamant: Could we just give him a quote please? Just to start the conversation? You know, if the quote was too high, they could so very kindly not waste our time, and if it was right, we could proceed.

We were flummoxed. We tried to explain. They heard us out. We showed them sites we had designed. They liked them. They were now decided that we were good guys, and knew what we were doing. So, they had but one question: Could we not just give them a quote? A rough indication? Even if they could not tell us what they wanted done with their website? But wait a minute. They felt comfortable with us. So they shared with us their idea of what a wonderful website would be like. And they showed us pages from French haute-couture sites.
We explained, meekly, that their product was a building material, that it would have to feature structures built with it, which could be done very well, of course, but their site could not possibly look like a high fashion site.

They understood completely, of course, so since we had such a great vibe, could we just give them a quote?
I attempted to be reasonable. I offered to ‘design’ a site, with just JPEGs, that would give them an idea of how we would approach the look of the site. If they liked the look of the way we envisioned the site, we could talk. No obligations.
They agreed. I think they thought they now had a handle on things.
On the presentation day, all the bigwigs came to see our designs. They loved them. They said quite plainly that it was plain to see that we knew what we were doing. They all had one question: could we give them a quote?
We explained that we had a great idea. Could we quote for a website that did everything the parent company’s website did?
Of course not, they exclaimed. We are for India only. But some of the things will remain, of course.
Ah, we said, which ones?
That is to be decided, they said, and now could we just give him a quote?
Now completely grasping in the dark, we asked if they could give us a note, no matter how brief, listing out what they want featured on their website?
It would be with us by the evening, they said. The note arrived, three weeks later. We wrote back immediately with a few questions. Its been two weeks.

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