RE: Get paid

Subject: RE: Get paid
From: jbfoster <jb -dot- foster -at- shaw -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 13:10:53 -0700

I once got sucked in (real bad) - first time out - doing contract work ...
many years ago.

I was told that I could start work immediately, and the 'contract' was just
a formality (in the tone of 'you trust us - don't you?' ... with the reply
of 'ah-huh ... don't see a reason why not!'). After a few weeks of
inspecting their equipment, and then writing a deficiency report, I wasn't
needed any more (at that time, it was a complete surprise to me - couldn't
see what they got out of cheating me). What even hurt more, was there was no
promised payment ever made ... because there was no contract. Nothing I
could do ... and they used my report, as well. I was fuming that my report
was circulated through that company - with my name on it, and I couldn't
collect a dime. The operations manager joyfully explained to me that he just
didn't see a reason to pay for something he already had in his hands ... and
I found I had no legal ground to stand on. That was my first day of
enlightenment, as my lawyer suggested. I was expected to just chock it up as
a learning experience. At least the lawyer I consulted, was decent, by
refusing to charge anything for advice ... guess he felt sorry for my
unsuspecting business attitude. And I appreciated his advice about the world
of business, since he had lots of personal stories.

Since that incident, I've recognized the odd 'brain picking' interview, and
freebee sessions, for what they are. I've run into that attitude, where
people see consultants as highly paid people, that can afford the occasional
fleecing. Thus I've learned that - until there is some commitment in
writing - it's all talk (fiction) on the part of the other involved party.
I've been lead around the garden-path quite a few times, only to realize the
company was looking for free work, or couldn't decide on offering me a
contract (never know, someone better could come along). Then there are the
people with big-talk ... and little power, as the other (more senior ;-))
'Bruce' has suggested. I've run into lots of people in social situations who
want to hire me, then stall, then disappear from the earth. Now I'm smart
enough to never let it get past the 'stall' part.

These were all good lessons, that have saved me from much worse fates. The
remaining experience's were nipped in the bud, or didn't generate anything
but a little lost time. Because of the first incident, I opened my eyes, and
lost all trust in a hand-shake or one's word. Being burned once, in a
consulting career (hopefully at the beginning), has the advantage of making
one much wiser. Interestingly, a friend of mine is just starting out in real
state, and is going through the same thing with prospective clients. I find
it interesting that he's learning 'now', the same mistakes I learned years
ago (abet, a little faster). I guess in any business 'clients are clients'
and can't always be taken on their word. It's all part of learning the ropes
... a course that should have been offered before some of us (naive types)
were let out into the workforce!

Don't get me wrong ... I don't mind doing freebee's; and with my current
employer, I do free work (i.e. don't bill everything) because there is a
relationship of trust. What I hate are the people that lead you on, or even
worse - use you for their sole gain (i.e. they've planned this out all
along). The average person won't believe it goes on as frequently, as I
suggest - until they get personally burnt. Not a pleasant part of our
business culture. But there is a reason this goes on. It's the personalities
that are promoted up through organizations, that see this as perfectly legit
way to conduct themselves, and know how to stay immune. Often, if you
complain to the hirer-ups about the incident, nothing happens, because they
approve. Then-again, these activities are as old as society. Definitely goes
back to merchant shipping in the 16th century, and 'Little Red Riding Hood'
tales ... didn't get 'what was really meant' by the wolf!


Bruce Byfield wrote:

> My own pet peeve is companies where the proposal to conslult is part of
> an ongoing power struggle within the company. Several times in the past
> few months, I've opened talks with companies and been at the point of
> drawing up the contract only to find that the person I've been talking
> to either lacks the authority to approve the contract, or that there's
> been an internal coup, and the contract has been vetoed.


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Re: Get paid: From: Bruce Byfield

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