Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I Feel Like a Ragdoll on a Rollercoaster

Once something is in writing, it is generally assumed to be final, complete, done like dinner. Especially if that something is a contract, or other such legally binding agreement.

I signed on a new client yesterday, and no more than 40-minutes after I had already signed the contract, they inform me of a change in the contract – which took quite some time to get in the first place.

They gave me a matter-of-fact response through email, telling me that it wouldn’t affect much, just a couple of dates in the contract.


Dates in a contract affect everything – when things are started, when things are finished, and the biggie – how long it takes in between to get those things done in accordance with the dates in the contract.

Also, I didn’t like their tone – it was as if they were telling me that they could arbitrarily change the dates, without my consent.

Being the other party in this arrangement, they can’t change anything unless I authorize it.

I let it go for the day, so I could sit and think clearly about this dilemma. I called the client today, and they – low and behold – gave me a completely different rational for changing the dates.

I was fuming, not just because they were changing the terms of what was already agreed to in law, but obviously, they weren’t giving me the complete and honest truth behind these changes.

They even wanted me to cross out the dates in question, initial the changes, and fax the revised document to them.

I declined – I said we can talk in person about these changes, and I’ll consider them then. I brought the power back to my end of the table – because they really can’t just go and make changes to a contract which I am a party too, without my consent.

I told them there were so many negotiations up to arriving at the contract in the first place, and that the whole ordeal has been quite trying. To make changes now, once we’ve already established a final, legal agreement wasn’t exactly very professional or Kosher.

But, I said I would consider those changes, in person. It is harder for people generally to make crap up in person, so at the very least, maybe I could get a solid and legit reason for these changes.

Still, I often feel like a ragdoll being tossed around on a rollercoaster. People recognize the need for my services, and want me in on their projects, but they make it so damn near impossible for me to be comfortable dealing with them at a professional level.

Being a contractor often means being tossed into a project already in progress. Usually because the project team has dropped the ball, and they need someone to quickly clean up the mess. But being a contractor shouldn’t mean having to deal with people that don’t value or respect the very paper the contract is written on.

Without that paper, the relationship between the contractor and the client doesn’t exist. And then who’s going to clean up your mess?

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