OT: A rant about the USP – a “non-profit” organization [Bioanalytics]

posted by Helmut Homepage – Vienna, Austria, 2019-07-03 22:21  – Posting: # 20371
Views: 553

Hi Osama,

» […] Thank you, Really you are the best.

THX – at least I try. :-D

For agencies and the academia I give lectures for free (OK, if they offer something, I don’t refuse). Of course, travel expenses have to be covered. However, I charge for the preparation. Ranges from practically nothing to a couple of days.

Sometimes strange things happen…
On short notice (end of April) I was invited by the USP/PQM to give a three-day workshop in Bangladesh (see there). Incredible amount of paperwork from the USP. First they wanted a list of all my clients of the last three years together with my fees. I refused. Then at least three non-European “individuals that USP may contact for a reference”. Wow. Obviously my CV didn’t sufficiently demonstrate my professionalism.

[image]Workshop scheduled for June 25–27, clock ticking. After a lot of to and fro (82 e-mails), I had a contract covering three days of preparation. For the governmental visa I required:
  1. A return ticket.
  2. A person in Bangladesh “to act as guarantor”. Whatever that means.
  3. An invitation letter of the ministry.
Since there are just five air connections Vienna / Dhaka per week and only a few seats were left, on June 5th, I bought the ticket from my pocket. On June 6th, I e-mailed USP Bangladesh asking for the invitation. Reply: “Would you please let me know, from where you are going to apply for visa. I have to mentioned the address of Bangladesh Embassy.” OK, everyone involved in USP knew that I’m located in Vienna. Google would have helped.
E-mailed the address and 13 minutes (‼) later received the invitation from the “Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Directorate General of Drug Admi­nistration (DGDA)”. To the address exactly as I provided it. One single spaced page, extremely polite, describing that the DGDA is a sub-unit of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, what it does, purpose of my visit, my passport № and expiry date, name and address of hotel, stamped & signed in English and Bengali. According to the document information of the PDF it was scanned 9 minutes after my request… Great, fast typists. Wait a minute: Dated 26/5/2019 – which was eleven days before I requested it. Time machine? OK, not familiar with ALCOA. Expected eyes wide open at my lecture about GCP.

While I was enduring the visa-procedures (three visits1 to the embassy) the US-office of USP started to lament about the costs: “USP is a non-profit organization, limited budget, :blahblah: Everybody knows that the USP’s reference standards are more precious than gold… What are they doing with all the money? Also they added one item to the contract:I refused. Told them that unless the report is completely screwed up (which takes me minutes to find out), I would need the raw data to re-calculate the study, etc. My software is installed/validated only on my workstation (which I rather prefer not to carry with me to Dhaka). Once I have the data in my office, I can give a cost estimate. Might take a few hours up to one week. Nevertheless, I like to support developing countries and gave them a discount (two days instead of three). Actually it took me almost 100 hours to get the stuff ready.

The day before the scheduled travel I e-mailed the hotel asking for a :smoke:-room, only to learn that the reservation was cancelled two weeks before.2 What the heck‽ E-mail to USP Dhaka. New reservation, other – better – hotel. Packed my bags, made a reservation for a taxi to the airport. The next morning after breakfast I switched my mobile on.3 Missed ten calls starting 5 a.m. and a couple of text-messages [URGENT!] Request to Hold your Travel for One week in Bangla­desh” and an e-mail “We are working on your contract – it is nearly ready. […] We would like to postpone by one week. We cannot have you travel until the contract is in place, and that is taking longer than anticipated.”

Splendid. Called them. Told them that:
  1. I really don’t give a shit whether the contract is signed or not. In three hours I will be airborn and ready to give the workshop the day after. If they won’t pay me, I’ll sue them. Easy.
  2. I can’t postpone sumfink “by one week” (no-show, not endorsable ticket). The governmental visa has a fixed date of entry; new ticket, another invitation letter of the Ministry, new visa application. Flying from Vienna to Dhaka is not like to Frankfurt. Five comfortable connections / week instead of twenty / day. Likely everything booked out already. OK, traveling first class would be an option. I’ve heard that the Emirates’ is nice. Reminded them that I payed the ticket myself cause they were simply too slow in their procedures.
  3. I’ll have a busy schedule over the summer. Earliest possibility first week of September (originally they wanted the workshop already in April, since sooo incredibly urgent).
  4. Total costs will be much higher than what they “saved” by the discount.
Whatever I said, the answer was that the contract is not ready. Apologies? Nope. Plan B? Nope.
State of affairs as of today: The USP doesn’t reply to e-mails and voice messages. Loss: 1,300 bucks for the airfare and one week of work.


  1. Great people. Welcomed with a big smile and a warm handshake. Offered a cup of tea and reading matter. Apologies that the officer is having her lunch break. In other embassies ([image] [image] [image]) I was always treated like a criminal.
  2. Imagine what might have happened if I wouldn’t contacted the hotel: Arrive there, no reservation (though hotels in the middle of the monsoon-season wouldn’t be booked out), find a room, get the next morning to the offices of the DGDA, and then?
  3. I am not obliged to use my mobile phone at all.

Cheers,
Helmut Schütz
[image]

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