My experience with ISIC.org

Some time ago, I got an idea. Very cool one if you ask me. I wanted to offer Tomatoid to all students for free.

I told you it was cool!

Ok, so how does one do that? You need some way to determine if this person is a student or not. Obviously. It also has to be automated. I’m not going to handle 1000 email replies and generate 1000 vouchers.

The most propagated student card in Europe is ISIC. A lot of schools actually use the ISIC instead of their own ID card.

Allright, sounds good. This should cover the majority. Not 100%, but that wasn’t even the goal. After all, the income from this operation will be exactly $0.

Round one

I’ve contacted them using contact form on their page. I wrote very simple message.

Me:

Hello,
I would like to offer free usage of my web application (tomatoid.com) for the holders of ISIC and ITIC card.
Is there any official API where I could check if the entered card number is valid and allow/disallow the discount based on it?
Thanks in advance!

It took a while before someone responded. I am not really sure how long. But it was a lot. Especially when my request was actually pretty simple. Their response was:

Hello Mr. Nagy,

Nice start.

what kind of cooperation with our company would you be interested in?

Well, I’ve just told you in the first message.

The discount that you mentioned (free usage) includes premium license?

Well, the basic license is free. It wouldn’t be very practical having discount on something that’s free, right?

Im sending you the price list of our marketing services, if you´d like to be featured in our media outlets.

Oh yea, very interested. What could that do for me? Bring totally untargeted traffic? Thanks but no thanks.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me at this  e mail address.

Wait, what? Dude, you didn’t answer anything from my first message! What about the API?

Also, the man replied to me in an forwarded email from a colleague and probably forgot to delete note from him:

(From czech): I don’t know if it’s worth giving him access to the verification. You decide. In any case, please let him know.

Aha! So you guys do understand what I want! You are just lazy or don’t want give me the API access! Or better yet, you want some money for it. For API access. When I want to give your users something for free. That’s just brilliant.

Round two

Now, I know I get angry and grumpy really fast. So I’ve just assumed they wanted to be on the same page before we start anything. So I’ve replied.

Me:

Hello X,

I would like to offer Premium version of my app to all students with ISIC card (teachers as well).

The idea is that they simply fill their card number and card holder name in the account management section, and once confirmed, Premium membership will be activated for them for the exact period as the card expiration date.

Their response, after 5 days (translated):

Hello, Mr. Nagy,

thank you for your clarification.
Are you interested in some type of marketing communications from our side?
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

What? Why won’t you answer my question? What about the API man? That’s the whole point of our communication! Not your stupid marketing package!

Round three

I didn’t want to lost my cool, so I’ve decided to give it one more shot.

Me:

Hello,

the earliest date for your marketing communication would be in September.
Tomatoid helps users to study more effectively, which is not really up to date now – in the summer season (holidays).

Their response, after 20 days (translated):

Thank you for your answer.

For the verification process, we would need you to implement our verification system. Due to statistics. I would also recommend that you take the smallest communication package that allows you to be indefinitely in our partner database, along with an international database. I’ve attached the pricing plus manual and sample implementation solutions in php.

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Yea. 30+ days of communication total. Still no API access. Just demo files. I don’t need the demo files, I need credentials and documentation! And what’s with the fucking marketing packages all the time? For fuck’s sake!


Luckily, by the time I got this email, I’ve already solved the issue over lunch. That’s right.
I’ve added simple form to the account management section and connected my backend to this ISIC online validator. The whole process, development and deployment, took me about one hour.

Compare it to several weeks of useless communication.

Conclusion

If someone makes you an offer in which you are clearly not interested, just say it! Don’t waste everyone’s time.

Leave a Reply

Questions? Something to add? Let's discuss!

Simply @mention me on Twitter and start the discussion.