Wednesday, February 09, 2011

David v. Goliath

In which yours truly plays the part of David.
Once upon a time, in April of last year, I started freelancing for a huge multinational company which shall remain nameless.  Even though this company is in the field of communicating, they did an extremely poor job at it, at least when it came to communicating with me. They did an even worse job at paying on time. They made me issue invoices for every little individual request, so that in the space of 6 months I had issued 70 invoices, but the money was not always forthcoming. At one point they owed me a considerable amount. So I had to start writing emails asking to get paid. They lost many of my invoices so I had to resend them over and over. They claimed that all my invoices had been "processed". I had to go to my bank and send them copies of all the checks they sent me. This went on for a couple of months until I decided, to my financial detriment, to stop working for them until they paid up. Checks for as little as $25 trickled in once in a while. My emails went from polite and patient to polite and desperate, to polite and exasperated. Then one day I got this:

An edible arrangement for my troubles! At this point, they owed me over $4000.
Except for the poor account executive who was left to fend for all my emails for herself, and who I assume was the spark behind the charitable brainstorm above, nobody of any authority at any point offered to reassure me that the money was coming. My queries were met with a stony silence (even though half the world was copied in those emails. I was aiming for collective shame). By December, I was sending ridiculous ultimatums: I expect to be paid in full by the end of the year, etc. By last week they still owed me about $1000.
January 15 rolled along and not a check was in the mail, which led me to issue an even more ridiculous threat to "seek legal recourse". As if. I got a $25 check a week later.
Desperate and angry, I perused the company's website. I was able to gather the email addresses of the very biggest honcho (imagine a Steve Jobs), and the officers for compliance and ethics and je ne se quoi corporate merde, plus the head of their New York office. An excerpt:
I find it appalling that a single individual like me has to expend such time consuming efforts trying to get paid by an enormous multinational company like REDACTED and its multinational client, REDACTED. I have been an independent consultant for over five years and I have never been treated with such lack of professionalism by any of my clients, big or small, nor have I ever experienced such an ordeal getting paid on time. I read carefully your ethics and values statement. It does not seem to correspond to reality.
I sent this last Sunday night around 11 pm, which turned out to be a good strategy, since the head honcho himself immediately sent a terse email instructing the little honcho to "pls. resolve this". No apology, but hey!
Yesterday, after months of bitter frustration, I got a check for the seven outstanding invoices they owed me since May 2010.
I should have written this letter 4 months ago.
How the puny bureaucrats tremble when the Big Kahuna is notified. These cubicled people get a paycheck every two weeks, whether they are incompetent or brilliant, rain or shine. They can't fathom in their pencil pushing little heads what it means for a person to have to beg to get paid in a timely fashion for good work delivered on time. They don't realize how unfair, humiliating and deeply wrong it is.
A pox on them all.

1 comment:

  1. Cathy S3:31 PM

    Absolutely shameful and not unusual, alas.