I work as the full time employee for "Company A".
"Company A" did $22,000 worth of work for "Client B"
My side company, "Company C", provided a service totaling $650 as part of the work "Company A" provided to "Company B".
The work I did as "Company C" is paid separately by "Company A" from my salary as a full-time employee of "Company A".
"Client B" has gone over 3 months without paying "Company A" for the $22,000 in work "Company A" provided. "Company A" does not have the funds to pay "Company C" and other vendors for the services they provided. These vendors will not get paid until "Client B" pays "Company A". "Company C" has already discussed the unpaid invoice with "Company A".
Is it unethical for me to go over the head of "Company A" directly to "Client B" and press them to pay "Company A" for the service they provided? There are many vendors, including myself, that are waiting on the money "Client B" owes "Company A".
No, you, "Company C," should NOT go to "Company B."
"Company B" is not your client. They owe you nothing, at least not directly.
In that scenario your only client is "Company A," which makes things more complicated since you are also their employee under a separate deal.
Going directly to "Company B" will get you nothing. Not only is it improper to do, but you'd likely get no money out of it (they're not going to write you a check directly, because you are not their vendor, your boss is). Furthermore, it's only going to hack off your employer.
Aside from your work as an employee, if I were you I would hesitate to do any more outside work for them (Company A) as a separate vendor unless they paid you for the work in advance. That might make your relations with them as an employee strained, but you are in a situation with unusual dynamics and I don't think that can be avoided. They are obviously one of those clients who expect vendors to "be the bank" and take the "you'll get paid when we get paid" attitude. I try to stay away from those types whenever possible.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
That seems a bit weird to begin with - freelancing for your own full time employer. What were you doing for them that is outside your regular job duties?
Well, in this particular instance, the client wanted the shoot done in HD. My employers have been reluctant to get on the HD train, and have not invested in an HD camera. They rented my HD camera from me for this production. I rent my HD camera to them for cheaper than they'd pay at a rental house. I don't worry about the camer being mistreated, because I am there on the shoot, and I would trust our usual shooter with my life. My employers also go through me for DVD duplication.
[Aaron Cadieux] "I might as well say who the client was on this production... If you want to be paid on time, don't do work for ... They love to demand the finished video ASAP, but then they don't want to pay for it."
I can tell you this...everyone is having difficulty keeping up financially. Most of us have clients that are behind in paying, and not all of them are bad customers or business people.
I hope for your sake that you employer doesn't read this forum, because if you were my employee posting online about my client's business, their fees, their payment practices and mentioning their name when you're owed a lousy 650 bucks...
...I'd write you the check immediately.
...then I'd fire you so fast you'd be out the door with the ink on the pink slip still wet.
Keep in mind that anyone using Google to track down this company for even a street address has the potential to get this post come up in the results. It's almost inevitable that posting this name will come back to haunt you. You may very well lose your employer the client.
When I Google the company name as you typed it, your post comes up on page ten of the Google results. (I was curious)
Most companies this size have marketing people who track web instances of the name...
Let's hope it gets to page one.
Maybe the marketing people will also realize what kind of company they are working for.
Seriously I am really getting tired of "times are tough..lots of companies just can't be responsible like they should be..."
If a company sets up a big shoot and then does not pay in a timely manner, like they said they would, they should realize word will get around. The more we gently prop them up with the "oh its the economy" crutch, the more it will escalate.
Do me a favor and run over to your window and shout, "I'm not going to take it anymore!"
Wait..that might be from a movie...
Franklin McMahon / Host
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If nobody ever bothered to blow the whistle on a company for bad business practices, then there would be no such thing as a company with a bad reputation. $650 may not seem like much to some people, but for others, it means a lot. Why should a company stiffing people out of hard-earned money be allowed to do so without being called out about it?
[Aaron Cadieux] "If nobody ever bothered to blow the whistle on a company for bad business practices, then there would be no such thing as a company with a bad reputation. $650 may not seem like much to some people, but for others, it means a lot. Why should a company stiffing people out of hard-earned money be allowed to do so without being called out about it?"
Aaron, this is your situation:
YOU have a bill to your employer for less than 1000.00 USD.
YOUR CLIENT (also your employer) hasn't paid YOUR bill.
YOUR CLIENT (also your employer) is apparently telling you they can't pay your little invoice until their client pays the big one.
Isn't the "big business who is stiffing you" your employer? Are you telling me they don't have the cash to simply pay your equipment rental, even without their client paying?
Now, instead of taking this out on the company that ACTUALLY OWES YOU money, you've taken it upon yourself to sabotage the relationship between YOUR CLIENT and THEIR customer. Normally if you were just a vendor, you could potentially lose your client and then lose them theirs and be spoken of in a negative way, similar to what you hope will happen with this evil company...
The bonus in all this is that since you are an EMPLOYEE of the company that supplied the services to the large company, your mentioning their name, their terms and the amount of the job now makes your employer liable for any legal action as well...and THEN you lose your job.
Hey, I know that many companies abuse smaller companies with payment terms, but in this case, it's your employer who is using you for the float...they do business with this client by choice. Maybe they are well aware of how they pay and they price for it...in any event, it's not your call to make.
Keep in mind that just because big businesses have more revenue doesn't mean they have any more net cash by percentage than a small business does, and when their customers are paying them slower than normal, they don't necessarily have an unlimited credit line to absorb all that float themselves either...their bills grew with their revenues of course.
A big business is a small business that now has exponentially larger stresses during an economic downturn.
You can feel justified in yelling this stuff from the tree tops, but business and justice are vastly different things. If a customer doesn't pay in the terms you choose, then you have to figure out what to do about it with them...take the revenue or drop the customer...and maybe lay some employees off to offset the loss in revenue.
Finding new clients is hard these days and finding a job after being dismissed for misconduct is harder....I sincerely hope for Aaron's and his employer's sakes, that this thread DOESN'T make it to page 1 on a Google search.
I see the post with the company name has been pulled...
Hopefully Google's cache dumps the reference as soon as possible.
[Tim Kolb] "Hopefully Google's cache dumps the reference as soon as possible."
If Google has it, it will become The Everlasting Post.
Google's job is to archive everything and so people will eventually learn to be careful in what they do and say on the Net. Once it is in Google's archive, it is not going to disappear.
Ah, yes...it's still there.
The incriminating text is actually in the search result item...
[Tim Kolb] "Finding new clients is hard these days and finding a job after being dismissed for misconduct is harder....I sincerely hope for Aaron's and his employer's sakes, that this thread DOESN'T make it to page 1 on a Google search."
We deleted the post in which Aaron mentioned the company by name. Hopefully, we got to it before Google archived the post.
Paul McCartney was right: Some people never learn.
Cleaning Up After the Willfully Stupid, because We Care™
PS: Aaron, how many times are you going to come here and do this kind of stuff? You really are what employers call A Toxic Employee. If you worked for me, well, you wouldn't...
Ditto to Mr. Kolb's thinking. Aaron may be ticked off by this late payment but this could EASILY cost you your job as well as freelance/side income.
Hey, Ron: Is there a possibility that you could redact the client name from the post?? That would certainly be a favor to all parties concerned.
It's amazing how big business has brainwashed this country.
Let's all bow down to the almighty infallable corporations and allow them to take advantage of the little guy. Anyone who dare speak up against shoddy business practices, as to prevent others from being taken-advantage-of, shall be forever banished from the business world.
I agree with Tim. The point of a forum like this is to trade advice and experiences in such a way as to promote learning and self-improvement, or to get help with the unknown, not to cast stones in the town square.
The original poster on this thread could open himself up to something called "exposure." In other words, you expose yourself, your client or your employer to unwanted negative public attention - usually a bad thing.
While one may feel like venting, be generic. A website with a million visitors a month is not the place to name names. Once you name names, you have passed the point of no return and Tim's warnings become a real possibility.
Perhaps we should have a "Posting Guidelines" at the top of the page for new users (or for anyone with an axe to grind), since this forum is more likely to open someone up to possible exposure. For example, saying "WXYZ Network does the following with their lighting design" is a lot more benign that "WXYZ Network doesn't pay their bills." Both may be true but both may not be public information, whether you feel abused or not. Dare I say you could get into a slander situation.
Anytime you rent a camera, there needs to be a down-payment, security deposit, or a billing relationship between the parties.
Fair enough. Perhaps, out of respect for the true purpose of this forum, the forum moderators could stricken the name of the client from the record. But believe me, I still think that more people need to speak up about corporate greed and poor business practices. Maybe if more people did that in the past, we wouldn't be in the financial situation we're in now.
[Aaron Cadieux] "Anyone who dare speak up against shoddy business practices,"
Lighten up a bit dude. We're trying to keep you from:
[Mike Cohen] "The original poster on this thread could open himself up to something called "exposure.""
Anyone who has spent any time around lawyers, depositions, courtrooms, etc. knows how little fun it can be to deal with "exposure," especially when it was preventable.
Nick - Off Topic: Would you contact me. We met at the David Simon talk at Loyola two years ago. Lost your email. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org
Not sure why you are waiting for a check..if the company wants to rent your camera..they write you a check. I have yet to rent a camera and say "oh..just bill me..I'll pay when I can"
Franklin McMahon / Host
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I'm hoping you have your facts straight and that client B did not in fact pay company A. Perhaps your employer is the one not dishing out the money.
We had a similar case years ago where we paid a freelance/(then) friend of mine as a shooter on a 3-day gig. My company was hired by a multimedia designer, who was hired by a broker who actually had the contract. Shooter was 4th on the list of mouths to be fed. Payments were WAY late, but shooter was paid for what he did. (Follow lots of other threads about being a business which at times includes being a bank.) We then had a re-shoot and I told him the situation about late pay and he was cool. After 60 days he called the main client (skipping the 2 guys above me) demanding pay. Well.... talk about awkward. Here, they had paid the broker - even for the re-shoots! I caught heck, lost a client, lost all future work and broker refused to pay nearly $8K for the re-shoot citing damages. This was bad from every angle.
Of course that shooter never heard from me again, but I lost bigtime. You would be totally out of line to talk with anyone other than your employer/customer.
Yes I tire of the whiny posts from Aaron, and I agree it would be unethical for him to go to client B for his money.
But I have to say that if what he routinely reports about his employers is actually true, they don't sound like particularly likable folks, or particular scrupulous business people.
So, I also see where he's coming from in believing when people don't speak up about others that run businesses like that, bad things inevitably happen. Naturally, a $650 bill isn't much to get upset over, but if a company treats a small bill like that, it's likely they're no better with larger ones.
I've learned there are basically two types of business owners. Those that have a passion for their craft or service or art; and those that have a passion for money.
The ones that love what they do are dedicated to producing the best work they can and treating their clients, employees and vendors with respect and integrity. The ones that love money usually look for and start businesses they believe can make them the maximum profit while exposing them to the least amount of risk. They rarely put clients or vendors or employees before money. They'll pay themselves before paying anyone anything they're owed. The person that loves their craft will pay everyone else before even thinking of paying themself.
Just so Aaron doesn't feel bad. We had a client (we'll call them Client A), who contracted with us to do work (we'll call us Vendor B). We demanded a subsantial deposit for the work, got it, then got stiffed for the remaining portion of the bill, which is over 6 figures. You read that right...6 figures.
We waited roughly 150 days before suing, won a default judgement when the company didn't even send an attorney to the hearing or respond to any of our attorney's inquests...yet we still have to go "find" their money without the aid of the court. This after we have documented proof that after the owner of the company (the guy we're suing) sold it in January of this year, he proceeded to pay himself $700,000 in salary from January to March (1st quarter) because his company was still winding down it's operations. This after his attorney claimed the company was "insolvent." They even reported a profit for the first quarter of this year on their quaterly statement! And...he owns an acquisition/venture capital firm that's headquartered in the same building as the previous company, and on their website it declares it's a $100 million firm!
So maybe that will make Aaron fell a little better about his situation, but it likely won't make him feel any better about Corporate America. When it comes to money, it compels a lot of people to do things they wouldn't think of doing when money's NOT involved.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
I think you're unfairly comparing my most recent post to past posts. I don't think my initial post was whiny at all. It was very matter-of-fact and to-the-point. And the fact that I named the company withholding payment is my own problem. Everyone on the cow thought it was a stupid thing to do, and they're probably right. But what do people on the cow care if I lose my job because of it? In fact, they should be happy to know about a company that fails to pay their invoices, that way, should they ever be in a position to potentially do business with that company, they'll be prepared for a very late payment.
Aaron...I'm on your side on this one. And yes...I was referring to past posts...not this one. I think what people are trying to say is that you have to pick your spots on a lot of these issues...and you have to be aware that there could be a whole host of reasons why it's taking so long to get paid.
We typically pay vendors BEFORE we get paid on most projects. But when projects get into the $20,000 and up range and we have a lot of vendors involved, we sometimes are at the mercy of the main client. We always get deposits, typically either 33% or 50%, but we typically don't use that for paying vendors. In this economy, it's not unusual for it to take 120 days to get paid. Does it suck? Yes. Does it do any good to bypass your client (in this case your employer) and go directly to paying source? Nope. It'll just piss people off and you might not ever get paid.
We used to do work for a national company...VERY well known in it's industry. We annuaully did over half a million dollars in revenue with this one client. They were woefully slow-pay, but always did eventually pay. Once, when we told them we were going to stop production and not release any more work until they paid us, their VP of Marketing told us, and I quote; "I wouldn't recommend that. It'll just piss off the owner and then he'll never pay you."
Knowing our past dealings with the CEO/Owner, we pretty much believed them. We stuck it out and eventually got paid, albeit months later.
So while it's tempting to try to expose people that take advantage of others when it comes to financial dealings, it can also be professional suicide. And yes...I remember when $650 was an important chunk of change to me when I was freelancing...but in the large scheme of things, it's really not enough to stir up the waters so to speak.
With our current issue with the non-paying client, I've posted on blogs and forums about the issue and have been sure to name this company and their owners, and I've also submitted them as story ideas to news magazine shows and large newspapers, since there are at least 4 other companies they've stiffed for similar amounts (we found this info while searching for other lawsuits filed against the non-paying client), and they've also taken tens of thousands of clients money and not delivered promised products and services, which amounts to fraud. This has been going on since last summer...a full year...yet not one news organization has picked up on the story...not even in the city where this company does business and it's owners are prominent citizens.
So I guess the point is that the when you see the court system and news organizations not caring about a company that's bilking it's vendors and customers out of millions, surely nobody is going to take notice when a small company runs roughshod over a few employees.
I've always believed that EVERY job is a valuable learning experience...ESPECIALLY the crappy ones. So take what you're learning from this and don't EVER do it to anyone else. That's probably the best that will ever come from it.
Magnetic Image, Inc.