I share the terrible experience had with a customer, a Romanian web developer with poor communication skills
I am the author of a project never done in Romania, similar with HDB Database previously made for Singapore. Singapore government does provide data on several websites and I only needed to combine them into a single database. Romanian government does not have a consolidated database, but only partial lists of buildings expertised for seismic retrofit, allowing scams on resale market (sellers claim that their building is newer than it actually is). So I decided to research OpenStreetMap and Google Streetview to create myself a database, containing street address, GPS coordinates, number of floors and apartments, year built, floor plans, etc.
Like car models facelifted and replaced every few years, the communist government of Romania also launched new apartment building models every few years, once I know year of a building I can assume that all identical buildings are from an interval of +/- 5 years. Not precise, but better than nothing.
I started this project in 2018 for Ploiesti city, and since 2019 I am expanding to other cities. Bucharest took me about 500 hours during 2020. Sadly, I haven’t done any prior research to make sure that there is market for such data.
In September-December 2021 I sent marketing emails to 30 companies in real estate, home insurance and telecommunication, presenting the story of my project and asking if they can use my database or ideas how to make it more useful. The ONLY replies were “we forwarded your email to department X and if we are interested we will contact you” I decided to NOT develop project any further, citing lack of feedback and poor audience in small cities compared with Bucharest. The database reached 26,000 buildings, being complete for Bucharest and 5 of the 40 counties of Romania (I estimate about 100,000 apartment buildings in Romania).
And the web developer came to buy my database
On 2 October 2021, Mihai, web developer from my city, visited www.teoalida.ro/lista-blocuri/ showing 6 pricing packages, one for each county, priced 5 cents/building, and “contact me if you need other cities” and “I am looking for collaborators“.
Mihai asked for a sample and price of building database, I replied to look at top of page for sample and selling prices, and asked him details needed for each building, he said “I need street address and number of apartments“, I told him how I just finalized adding addresses of Bucharest buildings, or do you need other cities? He replied “all big cities” (VAGUE) and “I will be back later” I told him that can BUY NOW cities done and rest once I do them, he said “doesn’t help” and closed chat.
I emailed him, presenting story how I created database and willing to expand to other cities, please tell which cities do you require so I can offer a timeframe, mentioning 50% discount if he does not need other details than building addresses. He did not fully read my email, replied me in 6 minutes “you said that you don’t have data I am looking for, so… I don’t have time for stories” LOL? I never said that.
Being 1st customer interested in a “bulk order” on multiple cities, his feedback was important for me to develop my project further. I showed conversation to my friends, they advised me to send a short email “I HAVE 6 counties ready-available for sale, if you need anything else PLEASE TELL” but customer ignored all my emails and WhatsApp.
A friend Cristi found his Facebook, told him to get back to me, pay for cities completed and discuss price for including more cities in database. Mihai replied RUDE that I an idiot who cannot have a conversation and he made database himself using “scripts”. Alex found Mihai resume, we did not believed that a RUDE man been in 4 universities, we though that he made in FEW DAYS a database of buildings for entire Romania using his machine learning scripts, similar with my database hand-made in 4 years for 25% of Romania, and advised me to propose him a collaboration with mutual benefits.
I messaged Mihai on Facebook, I asked sample of his database, how many rows and where he got data from with scripts, to determine opportunity of collaboration, he replied “not interested, go making scripts yourself idiot” and blocked me on Facebook. Consulting other programmers turned that machine learning CANNOT make such database, at least not at my level of accuracy (even an expert like me cannot always guess correctly the number of apartments or year built from Google Streetview, website visitors often report errors, making this project crowdsourced).
I posted chatlog on website, mentioning “if you want to have this page deleted, please answer 3 questions: what data you needed and I didn’t had? what data did you made yourself, from where? what do you need data for?” (to determine my marketing strategy). Mihai came on my website at least 2 more times to throw profanity words, without identifying himself, I told him to answer 3 questions but never did, only said “go post on Facebook”.
In December I announced on Facebook that project is ON HOLD for following reasons: too much effort, poor audience in small cities and unserious collaborators, giving example of bad experience with Mihai. My fans that used my project to buy property were disappointed that it been abandoned. Someone said “forget this idiot developer Mihai, keep working yourself, you do a great job” I replied “work 4h/day, a full month for each city, without guarantee that someone will ever pay, great job indeed? I cannot continue project without a developer”
~20 friends shared my post, including Cristi who added web developer email and phone, so people can call Mihai who (claim that) made a database of buildings similar with mine, explain him the importance of this project to convince him to collaborate and help all Romanian property buyers.
I don’t know how many called him, but Mihai sent chat messages “answer please” and “give me your number” on 13-14 January at 9 AM, I answered when I woke up at 11 AM but he never seen my answer, he may though that I don’t want to talk with him, even if I sent numerous messages which HE ignored, so on 14 January at 2 PM I got a chat from Adrian pretending that want to buy buildings database for Bucharest AND rest of Romania in 3 months (unrealistic timeframe), he said “you need money, I am serious payer” I replied that I have a bank account of 5 digits and other projects which I cannot cancel to work full-time for you, I can do max 1 city / month (meaning at least 3 years to complete Romania).
Adrian asked my phone number to discuss with boss. I gave my number and within a minute I got a call asking where I live, then caller said that lives on same street and will KILL ME. The caller turned to be Mihai, saying that has made a report to police station of my neighborhood and lawsuit to get a 5-digit sum in damages for defamation on Facebook, mentioning that recorded phone call and will make another complaint (if he does, he will self-incriminate for profanity and death threats).
That’s his way of making a living? Provoke others to commit crimes then sue them and get $ damages?
I also recorded his 40-minute phone call, and decided to go to police station Monday 17 January, to find NO complaint against me. Meantime on 16 January on Cristi’s post, a comment from Mihai secondary Facebook account proved that he is not even living in my city, but in a village 10km away, he just wanted to scary me, used info provided by me without knowing who I am talking with, to threat me.
Mihai remorse that caused himself trouble with police and defamation, promised to Cristi withdrawing the alleged police complaint against us, if his contact info is deleted from Facebook posts. We deleted his contact info and asked him to say “Thank you” but he continued his profanity language, mentioning that needed building addresses from ONE city (which city?) for ONE-TIME project, and “I HAD data needed but I was not willing to sell so he obtained data himself” (what a LIE, I even told him “you can buy now cities I completed and the rest over time“, and anyone can click “add to cart”, pay and receive data regardless of my willing to sell).
On 19 January another person contacted me to buy building database, on 21 January said that boss didn’t wanted to pay, because he got data for FREE, I asked from where, he proved a security flaw of ZeeMaps that allow people with programming knowledge to copy data. Then he said “I am Mihai, I stole your data and will make a website competing with you!” in this case I NEED to sue Mihai for damages, but by today I never saw any competing website.
Full conversation can be read HERE: https://www.teoalida.ro/lista-blocuri-on-hold/
Mihai was in urgent need of a database of building addresses from an unspecified city.
By not saying that updates are not required (one-time purchase) and not saying which cities he require (he said “all big cites”), I could not make a quick pricing offer and my attempts to discuss database expansion to remaining cities and future updates, pissed him off.
By claiming that made a database himself without telling details, he gave wrong impression to my friends who advised me to collaborate for mutual benefits and wrongly advertising him on Facebook, which Mihai seen as act of defamation. He was not interested in collaboration to expand my project, he only needed “ready-made data”. He did not created any database like mine, detailed with number of apartments or construction year, he only stole data created by me. He might have stolen my data since October 2021 and that’s why he said that “made database himself” without other details.
By not answering 3 questions he kept us in suspense for 3 months and everyone lost: he been defamed on Facebook, my time been wasted, and general population lost from project abandon.