An ex-IT agent wrote How I Cheated Contractor of Month’s Money. Read on.
This is one area of activity where I still feel a twinge of guilt, even though I am able to rationalise away most things.
I had an IT contractor out working at, shall we say, a worldwide news agency.
To cut a long story short, I was called and told by the client that the contractor was to be sacked. They warned him that he was to receive only two phone calls a day, but he continued to take more of them.
Contractor Not Renewed
The IT contractor himself had been brought in to the big boss‘s office and told that his services were not to be renewed.
I came into the office soon afterwards to speak to the client to smooth things over and to assure him that we had another contractor of superior ability able to take over straight away, and with the requisite skills.
I apologised profusely for the actions of the contractor and assured the client that nothing like this would happen again.
The contractor was to hand over his work and finish within the hour.
Meeting with Cheated Contractor
He asked to see me after he had finished.
I hung around till it was all over for him and we went to the pub. It was in Holborn if my memory serves me right.
It was a very difficult session and I just wanted to get away from all the gloom.
The IT contractor seemed quite upset by the suddenness of it all. It was only his second or third contract.
He asked me if I would look out for another job for him. I said I would.
I had no intention of doing so though, as I didn‘t want another fiasco like the current one. One has to look after one‘s clients as they are our lifeblood.
We don‘t want contractors who are going to screw things up for us with our IT clients.
Big Opportunity from Contractor
It was the next question though that I still feel guilty about.
He asked me if the client would pay the month‘s notice that he had on the IT contract.
It was too juicy for me to let go and I saw an opportunity.
I told him that the client wouldn‘t pay as he had broken the terms of his contract.
I know you‘re all going to hate me for this, but I was bluffing.
He‘d Agreed to Pay
I had already spoken to the client and he had agreed to pay the month‘s money that was owing to the contractor.
Money isn‘t a problem in these circumstances.
The client is usually embarrassed enough about sacking the contractor and they just want the incident over and done with without further stress and will almost always pay up to get it all done and dusted.
The cheated contractor seemed even more gloomy about the fact that he wasn‘t going to be paid but didn‘t seem too surprised.
Get Me Out
By now I just wanted out of there.
I told the cheated contractor that I had another appointment and had to leave. I bought him another pint and left him to it. It was the least I could do.
As I rose to leave he shook my hand and said ‘Thanks for all you‘ve done for me’.
‘No problem’ I replied.
‘Give me a call when something else comes up’ he said.
‘Don‘t worry, I will’ I responded.
I never saw or heard from him again, and I‘ve no idea if he is still in contracting.
The Invoice Money
What did I do about the cheated contractor’s money?
I invoiced the client of course. He didn‘t need signed timesheets.
I didn‘t take the money myself, although I could have. Moreover, I could simply have paid it out to A Contractor which would have been me.
I didn‘t, of course, as it wasn‘t worth it.
If the chetated contractor had sent an invoice in, we would have paid it.
Of course he didn‘t.
I explained in a sort of nods and winks way what had happened to my manager. He understood.
He said that he couldn‘t possibly make any comment on it, but if the cheated contractor didn‘t claim it, it went as straight commission to me.
I was the top salesperson in that quarter and received quite a bonus. It wasn‘t too much longer after this that I received promotion and a bigger area, resulting in more commission and bonuses for myself.
That was a springboard to future success.
I still wonder what became of that cheated contractor. He seemed to have the self esteem knocked out of him by his sacking.
I hope he wasn‘t in any financial trouble.
In my defence, I have to say that if I had my time again that I wouldn‘t do it this time.
I would simply tell the contractor to send an invoice and timesheets in and see what happens.
So what advice would I give to contractors whose IT contracts terminate in the middle?
You have got to keep your wits about you when they called you in to the termination meeting.
Don‘t rely on your agent to get your money for you. It may, or may not, be in their interests to do so.
You‘ve got to sort it yourself.
When you are in the termination meeting realise that there is no point in arguing your case.
They won‘t change their minds and they just want it all over with.
Don‘t even ask the client if he will be pay up the four weeks notice period or whatever it is. This gives him a way out to say either yes or no.
Simply say that you have a 4-week notice period on your contract and you would expect that to be honoured.
They just want you out of there and gone, so 99 times out of a 100 they will agree to that and then you‘ve got some money to leave with.
Presumably you will have some outstanding timesheets as well.
Just tell them that as soon as your outstanding timesheets and the timesheets for the extra four weeks are signed then you can go.
They‘ll be happy to do that and pay that to get rid of you and the bad smell from their working environment.
The best thing to do is not to do anything that would get you the sack.
Receiving lots of phone calls is a ridiculous way to lose thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of pound.
However, if you must do something stupid, remember to keep your wits about you and to make sure you get what is owed to you.
It‘s hard to do, I know, when your head is spinning, but you must do it then and there and not leave it to your agent.
I hope that the advice that I am now giving contractors is some penance for my past ‘sins‘ – and I hope the cheated contractor doesn’t read this.
See also, Agencies Conning Contractors How They Do It.