A Contractor's Question

Subject: A Contractor's Question
From: Linda Castellani <castle -at- CRL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 14:07:43 -0800

For those of you who are, or have been,contractors, and those of you who are
staff but have worked with contractors:

Have any of you ever seen a clause in a contract, or created one that
dealt with the issue of the client's performance? Specifically, I'm
referring to the client's performance as it relates to providing
materials in a timely fashion or starting a project at the stated
starting time?

Contracting by its very nature often results in work that comes in fits
and starts. One project ends and it may be weeks before another one
starts, or several of them all come jammed together and work overlaps.

Sometimes the cycle of finding out about an opportunity and having it
actually start in terms of billable hours can be six weeks or more.
Where it gets hairy is when you have one of these, with no other
opportunities currently in the pipeline, and the projects starts, then
grinds to a halt, or you clear your calendar for a specified start date
and estimated number of hours, and the client doesn't deliver the
materials, and doesn't deliver, and months go by, and then finally the
material gets delivered one day, and two days later the client is
nervously calling to find out when you're going to be done.

In the meantime, you're going broke. You've told people you weren't
available for X number of weeks or months because you had this thing
scheduled, and you have to scramble for something to pay the bills,
because the aforementioned fits and starts have placed a major drain on
the reserves, and it's the holidays anyway so everyone is out of town and
few are actively starting and staffing new projects.

The bottom line is, the contractor pays, literally - in more ways than
one - for the client's failure to perform as agreed.

What recourse do contractors have? Have any of you created contracts
that address this contingency? What success have you had? And staffers,
have you encountered contractors who addressed this? Could you say how
they did so, or what happened, and how things were resolved?

I need some ammunition in my contractor's arsenal, so that I'm
better protected, and flakey clients have a motivation not to be so
flakey because there will be ramifications for their flakiness...


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