Per Diem / Contract Story

Subject: Per Diem / Contract Story
From: Matt Danda <mdanda2 -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 11:06:11 -0800

I have a per diem story...I recently took a contract in Florida (I was
interviewing from Europe at the time), and I made the mistake of not
negotiating the salary much. I said, look, I am living in Belgium, I
am from Kansas, and I have no idea what kind of money I should be
making in Florida. The recruiter said, what are you making now? I
said, such-and-such. He said, this contract in Florida pays that.
Okay, I said.

Well, a month after starting the contract I discover that all my
co-workers have per diems. They are from out-of-town just like me. I
ask for a per diem. The contract company says, okay, we'll take 10K
off your yearly salary and give you a per diem. I say, no, you aren't
lowering my official salary no matter what your final, after-tax
figures say.

A month later, I make friends with the other contractors and learn,
after a few beers, that I am making 20-30% less than any other member
on the project. Plus, they have per diems.

Another month passes, I stumble upon a document listing the rate my
contract company is billing for my services. It more than double what
they pay me. All the business literature I read says that contract
companies should recieve at most a 40% commision on your labor. My
contract company recieves 65%.

Yes, I am an idiot for going soft on the negotiations, and even more
of an idiot for procrastinating renegotiating the contract. My only
excuse is the fact I was out of the "market" for a year while working
abroad, and just plain ignorant of the car-salesmen strategies of my

Finally, I am meeting tommorrow with the "big guns" at my contract
company about this situation. Ahh, the life of a contractor...

Matthew Danda
Orlando, FL

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