The Grinch Stole My Christmas

I recently was asked to do some programming work for a startup company through a referral. Not an unusual request since many people have difficulties when they attempt to start an ecommerce site. The problem they were unable to surmount halted further programming on many other related areas because they were not able to process credit cards. the reverse side of a typical credit cardWithout a revenue stream they were going nowhere fast. Their problems were exacerbated by having previously announced to their potential clientele they would be open and ready for online orders. As I understood it, they had made this announcement in September and they first contacted me in November. I documented some of their issues in a prior post.

As time passed their anxiety of course increased, transferring their frustration to me, instead of answering my questions I would get answers such as, “why do I need to know that?” and “big companies do it that way, we aren’t a large company” and so forth. Their anxious behavior and my frequent association with the person that invited me into this situation overrode my business sense. I was experiencing a tooth problem driving me to distraction so I failed to do what every self employed business person needs to do before starting on a project.

Yes, you might anticipate what happened, I solved their credit card processing problem but when it came time for money to change hands for services rendered, I was given the short shrift. The principal contact changed their story on how I would be paid or how much and then I was finally offered to accept 1/3 of my invoice and the rest of the balance would be my payment for all their other issues, which came to the forefront once this major hurdle was resolved. Needless to say I now awakened to the real possibility I was dealing with a less than honest person and the likelihood of seeing any payment now or in the future was about nil. I sent off an email for demand of payment in full and cutoff all further service until such time as payment and an agreement for future payment for services rendered on their behalf.

I was given an offer to accept this balance for all of their foreseeable related programming work and a yet to be defined full time employment contract would be forthcoming. On the one hand I should accept this offer, which constituted about 10 billable hours of work and then accept the remaining 20 hours as payment in full for the “rest of their work until it was finished.” Doc 44783 PaymentsOh, and they would be offering sometime soon an opportunity to go to work for them full time. I could hardly wait for the sheer joy of that moment… I’m sorry but I can do all the free work I want at my church and get a lot more thanks for it as well.

I called my grandfather and talked with him and his experience as a self-employed businessman. I asked him if in his 40+ years of work, had he ever got shorted out of a payment for work? He said the worse that happened was he wasn’t paid for ½ gallon of paint. Now that speaks volumes about the way we have accepted dishonesty to be part of our lives.  Many people see it as a way to advance themselves by either short changing or paying so little they can profit more through the loss of others. It’s a terrible and short sighted way to do business but as my grandfather says, it’s more about “yea me and boo you”.

It’s part of the reason we are currently in this economic mess. The haves want to make as much as they can and the rest can go pound sand. Bah Humbug! Merry Christmas to all their selfish little selves.