Customer Acts Odd? U.S. Wants to Know

Bill Stewart bill.stewart at
Tue Dec 11 02:57:30 EST 2001

At 09:54 AM 12/10/2001 -0500, R. A. Hettinga wrote:
>WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 - Federal agents are planning to fan out across the
>country this week in an effort to recruit American businesses in the war on
>terror, urging companies to notify the government of suspicious customers. 
>The terrorists' shopping list, the Customs Service says, includes missiles,
>grenades, grenade launchers and other munitions; aircraft parts; computer
>encryption devices; and components of biological, chemical and nuclear
>weapons, as well as items that might be used to manufacture or deliver 
>such weapons. [...]
>..... certain signs of suspicious activity, including these:
>¶A buyer has little or no understanding of the product he or she is
>requesting or the commercial activity in which he or she is supposedly 
>¶A buyer has no interest in the customer service offered with a product or
>rejects the manufacturer's offer to train employees in proper use of the 

Suspicious?  Those are simply *routine* in the telecom and computer 
businesses :-)
You'd think that they'd find it suspicious of customers *did* read all the 
closely, in great detail.  It's less common now after the dot-com crash
than during the heat of tulip-bulb mania, but if customers really 
understood technology
there'd be less need for data sales people to bring along systems engineers
to wave their hands and tell them what to think, or for companies to hire
lots of customer support people to explain how to reset the coffee-cup 
holders on PCs,
or for trade rags and internet sites to keep hyping new trends.

Meanwhile, the technologies and economics are constantly changing in the 
so even if a customer or vendor understood what they were doing three 
months ago,
that doesn't mean they still understand it today.

Now, I don't sell missiles or grenade launchers, but computer encryption 
are part of my stock in trade - they're letting customers move from dedicated
private lines and semi-shared frame relay and ATM networks to shared 
Internet connections
and still get the privacy and security they got from the more expensive 
and tools for cracking computer security devices are also routine 
commercial product,
just like pressure gauges for checking car tires or chemical emissions 
detectors for
car exhaust.

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