Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ZBT, Harris Connect, and Me

Some of you know I'm a brother in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. Joining was one of the best decisions I ever made. I met people I never would've met otherwise, done things I never would've done, and joined a worldwide brotherhood of pretty cool dudes.

Recently, the National ZBT organization* has contracted a marketing company, Harris Connect, to create a national ZBT alumni directory. They started sending out postcards, asking brothers to call them to update their information. Naturally, I looked for a website option, but they did not have one. I thought, "Well, no big loss" and threw out the postcard.

A little later I received another postcard, same as the first, but with the text "Second Chance!" Again, no website option, but I saw that the company name was "Harris Connect". Go go gadget Internet! Turns out they are a marketing firm. Well gee, that's great, let me give those guys all my contact info so I can get spammed to death. Next!

*A little perspective here: before these postcards started coming, I already was quite distrustful of ZBT National. The executive director, Jon Yulish, came to meet the executive board of our chapter of the fraternity. I was the treasurer then, so I met with him. He had me fill out a big form ahead of time, with fields for outstanding dues to undergrads and to alumni. We had pretty big numbers for both, as many brothers struggled to pay their dues. We survived with payment plans and whatnot, but Director Yulish was not impressed.

"Do you try to collect these dues from your alumni?" he asked.
"Well, we send out reminders now and then, but we don't make a concerted effort to collect them," I said.
"Have you thought about sending the debts to a collection agency?"
"No! I don't want to alienate our alumni! We have a pretty active group and they donate money, time, and goods to us often."

Then he said something that was just plain wrong:

"You have to remember, Ed: this is a business first, and a brotherhood second."

I couldn't believe how cold he was, and it took all of my effort not to walk out on him right there.**

** This is my inaugural posterisk. Woo!

Now I'm getting last chance emails from Harris Connect AND getting emails from a ZBT National employee who wants to personally meet with me! This feels like I'm being stalked. I guess I'm just going to be pumped for money, but I don't see why National would get any of my money ahead of my chapter.
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