The Internet Times Supplement

It’s the economy, Stupid

In Humour, Work on February 4, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I am a contractor. I am dependent for employment and my income (for a large part) upon agencies. These agencies advertise jobs that they have sourced through established and establishing contacts with companies in search of temporary employees to fill a short to medium term need for staff with a specific skill or specialty. The majority of agencies and agents are professional and good at what they do. Like all things in life though there are always the few who fail abysmally and give contracting and agencies a bad name. I often joke that the relationship between a contractor and an agent is similar to that of a pimp and prostitute.

For those who know me, I am often astounded at how bad some agencies can be at managing their databases and the primary source of their income, the contractor. I could give many examples of this but will focus on one I received to day that truly highlights the reality of the economic downturn as well as how an agency can (and normally does) really screw things up. It is self-explanatory.
Dear ________,

Firstly, if you are not a freelancer or have not worked with ________ for a long time then please ignore this email.
We have decided to email everyone on our database in order to get this important info to those that do need to know!
Some of you may have received this already, but apologies in advance for the short notice of this news. However, as I’m sure you will appreciate in these credit crunching times, swift decisions are needed to ensure the survival and long term future of businesses – and we are no exception at ________.
Regrettably, following the next pay run on ________February 2009, we have to make an important alteration to the way that you, as a freelancer or contractor, will be paid for work you have done via ________ for our clients.
To date ________ has undertaken to pay you every four weeks provided you have submitted your timesheets on time to ________, together with an invoice where appropriate if you’re a Limited Company.
Because several of our clients are taking much longer to pay us, and in line with some of our competitors, ________ will in future only be able to pay you once we have received the monies owed to us from our client with whom you have been temporarily employed on site. I do assure you that once we receive these funds, we will pass them on to you promptly. To ensure swifter payment to you, it is vital that you send copies of your invoices and/or timesheets on a WEEKLY BASIS to ________, so that we, in turn, can invoice the client quickly and get the monies in faster.
This decision has not been taken lightly, but is designed to safeguard the financial health of ________ and, therefore, you, as a much valued candidate.
I hope that you will understand the reasons behind this change, but if you would like to talk this through, then please do not hesitate to contact your ________consultant who will be more than happy to discuss this matter with you.
Kind regards,


I am sure that there will be many more of these ‘reassuring’ emails that are somehow empty yet full of false promise. we are in tough times.

This is not why I am mentioning this though. This email was sent to me by an agency who I have never even worked for in the past. While I admire them for their honesty and forthright approach to their problems I am amazed that this has gone out. There appears to be no knowledge on the part of the agency as to who works for them and, as a contractor who depends on my income from an agency paying me, I have asked them to remove my details from their database. I am totally astounded.

Here, by the way, is the contractor / agent pimp/prostitute analogy:

As a contractor:

1. You work very odd hours.

2. You are paid a lot of money to keep your client happy.

3. Your pimp gets most of the money.

4. You spend a lot of your time in a hotel room.

5. You charge by the hour but your time can be extended for the right price.

6. You are not proud of what you do.

7. Creating fantasies for your clients is rewarded.

8. You have no job satisfaction.

9. If a client beats you up, the pimp just sends you to another client.

10. You are embarrassed to tell people what you do for a living.

11. People ask you, “What do you do?” and you can’t explain it.

12. Your friends have distanced themselves from you and you’re left hanging with only other “professionals.”

13. Your client pays for your hotel room plus your hourly rate.

14. Your client always wants to know how much you charge and what they get for the money.

15. Your pimp drives nice cars like Mercedes or BMWs.

16. You know the pimp is charging more than you are worth but if the client is foolish enough to pay it’s not your problem.

17. When you leave to go see a client, you look great, but return looking like hell (compare your appearance on Monday AM to Friday PM).

18. You are rated on your “performance” in an excruciating ordeal.

19. Even though you get paid the big bucks, it’s the client who walks away smiling.

20. The client always thinks your “cut” of your billing rate is higher than it actually is, and in turn, expects miracles from you.

21. When you deduct your “take” from your billing rate, you constantly wonder if you could get a better deal with another pimp.

22. Everyday you wake up and tell yourself, “I’m not going to be doing this stuff the rest of my life.”

23. Your client and pimp seem more concerned about how you look than what you know.

24. Your pimp doesn’t care what you have to do to please the client.

25. Your pimp can’t perform your job.

26. You’re required to play roles for money.

27. Your customer doesn’t always want others to know everything they request.


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