Long Live the Internet!

I love the Internet, and especially the blogosphere. Here’s why: yesterday a gentleman named Mr. Deslauriers submitted a comment to my post about U.S. Customs that was less than complimentary. It’s a little long, but I suggest reading it if you haven’t already.

My first instinct was to go on the defensive, despite the relative politeness with which the criticism was delivered. I briefly considered several routes: deleting the comment, editing the post, and dissecting/justifying every accusation with a well-considered retort. But I soon realized that that’s just e-fascism. Why write a blog if you’re not going to accept certain comments? Plus, on almost every count, the man is right.

Firstly, I didn’t make the distinction between a customs broker and freight forwarder. Mostly this is because for me (and everyone else I know who is a small importer), this is the same person, but it still should have been included. I then publicly insulted the entire profession (also because I and everyone I know who is a small importer has found their broker/forwarder to be somewhat shady). Making sweeping generalizations about any group of people is a mistake, however, and I regret it and apologize for it.

As for the simplistic and somewhat incorrect presentation of my information, such as “A customs broker: this guy gets your stuff off the dock and onto a truck,” I will concede that there are perhaps more accurate phrasings I could have used, but I was using a deliberate teaching tool. The above statement is true if your customs broker is also your freight forwarder, and is mostly true even if they’re not (a customs broker allows your container to leave the port, even if they don’t actually move it onto the truck). In the same way that your high school science teacher started by teaching you Newtonian physics, even though Relativity makes the facts simplistic and somewhat incorrect, I write simplified accounts of my experiences so that complete novices can walk away with a basic understanding of the subject at hand. In other words, I post the information I wish I had received when I was trying to figure out my first steps. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that if my readers decide to be importers themselves, that they will do their own further research before moving forward.

On the whole, Mr. Deslauriers gave me some much needed perspective on a number of fronts. He reminded me that a blog is more helpful when presented as a personal account than it is as a set of prescriptive instructions (especially coming from a beginner like me), that prejudicial generalizations are more counter-productive than clarifying, and that comments that criticize are a much better use of the “social surplus” than those that praise.

I have asked Mr. Deslauriers if he would agree to be interviewed via e-mail so that I can put together some importing information that comes straight from an expert, rather than from the link-trawling of a beginner. Whether he agrees or not, he has made this a better blog by challenging me. I hope more of you will do the same. Thank you, Mr. Deslauriers.


  1. Good Afternoon:
    May I congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials and wish you and your fiance the best that life may offer you both.

    I have one little phrase that I use for these occaisions and if you find it pertinent, use it as well. “Take good care of yourselves…and of each other.”

    I will accept your questions on importing and would do my very best to answer them as honestly and concisely as I can.

    I meant no disrespect in my original response to you, so please my apologies for words that may not have “looked” well together. I can assure you, had you heard me speak them, you would have understood them in the context that I meant to relay.

    You made me smile with your analysis of my response. I was only hoping to make sense; you make it sound like I was writing the next great American novel, and while I am blushing at your compliments, please allow me to keep both feet on the ground.

    The reason for this comment, however, is to wish you both well and to thank you for allowing me to become a small part of the correspondence you have with your readers, of which I have become one :o)

    Maurice Deslauriers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *