Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Virtual offices

Chrysler building image courtesy of

I like having satellite radio in my car. There’s so much variety. I can listen to almost any type of music, listen to talk radio shows not available in my town and even listen to national news: Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. (Okay, that’s a lie. I never watch or listen to MSNBC. Way too annoying.)

But what I don’t like about listening to the news on satellite radio are the commercials. The commercials on TV are bad enough. As I type this, I’ve got that jingle in my head: “The Vil-lages! America’s friendliest hometown! The Vil-lages!” And now, so do you. You’re welcome.

I can’t even listen to my favorite news station with my kids in the car because every other commercial is an ad for erectile dysfunction. On a positive note, at least radio commercials don’t have some couple sitting in side-by-side matching bathtubs holding hands on the beach. What’s up with that? (Oh, boy. Can’t wait to see my spam filter after this post.) But I digress…

Last week I heard an ad for something called a “virtual office”. Based on what they said in the ad, I knew I had to check out their website. Because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But sure enough, I heard correctly:

You can pay people to set up an elaborate hoax so that potential clients think you work in a fancy office building:

Including the Chrysler Building and Rockerfeller Center in New York City, The Century Plaza Towers in Los Angeles, and some fancy building I’ve never heard of in Miami Beach.

Here’s a brief description of the services offered:

  • An XYZ Virtual Office gives you an enhanced business image, complete flexibility and support without the overhead.
  • A great address – choose from 1100 locations worldwide
  • Your mail forwarded or saved for you to collect
  • A local telephone number with scripted call answering, screening and forwarding
  • Your messages passed on by phone, SMS, email or via secure online portal
  • On-site admin support, for everything from photocopying to travel bookings
  • All the benefits of a full-service office without the overhead
  • Complimentary XYZ businessworld Gold membership giving you unlimited access to our network of 1100 business lounges and cafΓ©s across the globe. Great for when you’re traveling on business, in the UK or abroad

I don’t who I find more repugnant. The company selling the fake addresses, the people who feel the need to use the service, or the clientele who would give preferential treatment to a firm who has a fancy shmancy office location.

You know what? I think I find them all equally repugnant. Unless I’m missing something here. Am I?

I don’t know about you, but if I were doing business with a firm and found out they were using a virtual office service, I would feel deceived. I would also wonder what percentage of my bill was going towards this elaborate hoax. It’s cheating. It’s deceptive. You’ve just lost all credibility with me. Because you’re trying to pretend you’re something that you’re not. Don’t try to impress me with smoke and mirrors. Make a better widget, or dazzle me with your creativity, or your wicked-awesome accounting skills. Whatever. Be better at what you do than your competitor. But don’t start our business relationship with a lie.

Besides, aren’t there enough pretentious assholes in the world? Do we really need to encourage that behavior?

Sincerely yours,

President and CEO
worldwide headquarters
a red couch somewhere in suburbia

Oh, and for those of you who don’t have that jingle in your head, here ya go:

Sorry/you’re welcome.

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23 Responses to “Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Virtual offices”

  1. Wendy January 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    One of these days you’ll learn how to express your feelings. Bottling it all up doesn’t do you any good, Katdish.

  2. Joanna February 1, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    I can see the benefit of people who work from home and could find secretarial services located elsewhere and occasional access to meeting rooms more fancy than their living room. I agree that it is way too pretentious for businesses that already have proper offices and are just trying to improve their image.

    I get a bigger laugh out of the ones I’ve seen that advertise themselves as being in a great location but are in reality in a location that no one outside the town would of heard of (and possibly not even all in the town)

  3. bman February 1, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    Ah, katrants. My favorite. There’s also nothing quite like building a solid foundation of lies for your company!

  4. Jason February 1, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Well, I can see the need for a “virtual office.” For example, if the Lord blesses me with the chance to travel and speak and write, I’ll be on the road a lot. It would be helpful to have someone in an “office” who can co-ordinate communications while I’m unavailable (like on planes for example.)

    I agree about the fancy address angle of it. The idea of a virtual office seems to have some merit IMO.

    • katdish February 1, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      Agreed. I do think it’s good to have a place to answer calls and perform other duties you’re unable to do without an office space of your own. What I object to is paying for an uppity address.

  5. Louise February 1, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    You crack me up! Which is a good thing — remember — that’s how the light gets in — through the cracks!


    Keep on ranting. You do good work.

  6. Maureen February 1, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    There are benefits to a truly virtual office. You don’t have to worry about a cluttered desk, for example.

  7. Tammy February 1, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain… πŸ™‚

  8. Jake February 1, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    “You know what? I think I find them all equally repugnant.”

    1- Good word- repugnant is SO mean because it’s not like telling them they suck, it’s…. so insulting because it’s talking down to them too because it’s smart
    2- That IS dumb. Then again, how much does America spend on fake boobs, lips, calves and…. whatever else?
    3-Good sign-off, too.

  9. Glynn February 1, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    You should be asked to speak at the Harvard Business School, or any business school, for that matter. They need a good rant like this one.

  10. A Simple Country Girl February 1, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Never heard of such a thing but it would be fun to mess with them in some small, yet irritating way. Maybe changing the sign each time they hang out a new shingle…

    FYI, I’ve not heard yet heard that jingle. AND since you are not the boss of me (even if you own a red couch), I am not going click “play” up there. πŸ˜‰ (Well, maybe later, but don’t tell the head of security)


  11. Candy February 1, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    “…don’t start our business relationship with a lie.” That says it all. I’ll take my business elsewhere. But I do like Maureen’s uncluttered desk idea.

  12. laura February 1, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Unbelievable. Really? I like SCG’s idea.

    On a slightly different tangent, are the Villages that huge retirement town in Florida? I have a friend whose parents live there and he always brings back fun cult stories. Like the time he wasn’t allowed in the grown-up pool because he was only 29. And the fact that their founder is buried under the fountain in center square.

    Just wondering.

    • katdish February 1, 2011 at 10:34 am #

      Yes, Laura. HUGE retirement place in Florida. And that’s really creepy about the guy being buried under the fountain. Yikes.

  13. seekingpastor February 1, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    It would make me think that the company would have no problem deceiving me in other, more important ways.

  14. Tony Alicea February 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Ah, I return home to a katrant. How wonderfully delightful! πŸ™‚

    On another note, I feel like I’ve done this very thing. I didn’t feel bad about it though. When I graduated from college, my friend started his own web design company. It was a great service and we did awesome work. But we were working out of the back office in his house.

    If you went to the website, it was so professionally designed that we looked like a huge company. We had an 800 number for customer service and everything.

    I don’t think it was a lie, but it definitely looked like we were professional. Meanwhile, we were in shorts, t-shirts and flipflops, pounding away on keyboards in our dark office.

    • katdish February 1, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

      An 800 number isn’t exactly the same thing. Welcome home. Can’t wait to read about your adventures in Brazil.

  15. jasonS February 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Looking professional is one thing. Actively attempting to deceive is another. It seems like this is from another era, but I guess not. It would be interesting to see how many clients they actually have. Do people really fall for this kind of stuff?

    PS The Pretentious A-holes would be a great name for a band. πŸ™‚

  16. kelybreez February 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    You may not have heard about virtual identities. People literally pay money – big, big money – for virtual houses (they actually pay architects to design these online houses), virtual material possessions (boats, condos, etc.), virtual MARRIAGES (where they marry someone online that they dream of… But get this – It’s two REAL people who marry each other, but they stay married to their real spouses in real life. I guess this avoids committing the physical act of adultery?).

    And of course, they make up their own virtual identity that is all they ever dreamed they would be.

    I guess it’s similar to going into a chat room and lying about who you are, except there’s a big enough market for people who want to actually create another them that they will pay for it all to be virtual.

    (Caveat: I have not done any personal research on this, and I’m not going to right now because I’m sitting at a public library terminal — don’t ask — typing this. But one of my friends in ministry told me about this phenomenon a couple of years ago.)

    We are sick people.

  17. Jenny February 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Katrant! My faves πŸ™‚

    I knew someone who used to do this as part of their consulting business… everything is about wearing a mask nowadays. Sad

  18. Helen February 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    My concern is how unscrupulous people could use this in a Bernie Maddoxesque pyramid scheme. I mean, they MUST be legitimate, look at their ADDRESS…

  19. Larry Hehn February 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Next step: virtual gravatars for bloggers. If you look closely, you’ll notice that this picture was taken just outside my luxury suite at the Bellagio Hotel…

  20. Sandra Heska King February 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I hate, hate those ED TV commercials. I complained about them once but didn’t get a response. And now there’s this Ladders one, a job placement company, with men and women sprawled on desks trying to look attractive–I mean seductive–but just look offensive and dumb. And these commercials are all on Fox. Makes me happy to just leave the TV and radio off. Period.

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