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My money, my right. I shall fight for it

ETA: This post won the second prize at the Women's Web contest. Thank you, Women's Web!

This happened when I was working as a freelance German translator. I was newly married then, had moved cities, and was just settling down in my new life. I wanted to give some time for this new phase in my life before taking up a full-time job. Since I also didn't want my skills to rust in the meantime, I registered with a translation jobs portal, so that I could take up work assignments that suited my new schedule. Soon, I got a call from a translation Agency that was based out of Bangalore. I spoke with the HR, did a sample assignment for them to judge my competency, discussed the rates and terms of payment and we were all OK with the preliminaries. The rate offered was on an average scale and the T&C mentioned a 45 day payment lag after the submission of the assignment. Which meant, I'd be paid 45 days hence for a project submitted today. Although, it struck as being on a wider-range, I naively accepted it since I was new to the whole concept and was excited to begin anyway. 

Work began well and progressed smoothly without any hitch for the first few months. I even got appreciation mails from the HR for prompt and good quality of work. The payment too flowed in without major issues. I started accepting more work. Work would overlap the payment schedule, obviously, since there were 45-days to kill before I got my first payment. Hence I maintained an Excel sheet, where I logged in meticulously the details of : the date on which I'd receive work, date of submission, expected date of payment, actual date of payment and finally the amount of pay. This enabled me to work in an organised manner and also importantly keep track of the dues.

There would be lag in payments, but with some reminders, the dues would be cleared. Then, slowly, the lag began to increase and inspite of repeated reminders, I'd get a standard reply that they are having some trouble rotating their funds as the cash inflow is being delayed and hence as a resultant chain reaction, their cash-outflow is being affected, so would I kindly show some patience. I took the excuse once, and then again. The third time, I refused to undertake further work until my previous dues were cleared. They were not too happy but didn't argue. There was a short period of lull where I was just waited for the payment but there seemed to be no movement from their end. 

Then, one day, the HR called up and had the audacity to ask if was available to take on some work. I sarcastically reminded her that the company owed me a good chunk of money and unless they clear the dues I could never be available for them. She mumbled a few excuses again. This time I was livid and threatened to defame them if they defaulted the payment. She didn't sound too apologetic and at the end of the conversation, I was pretty much convinced of their work ethics or rather the lack of it. As I pondered on my next action, I came across a section on the translator's forum called the Hall of Fame and Shame. Yes, you guessed it right. The freelancers could use this forum to enlist the errant and fraudulent companies they came across during their course of work experience to provide a sort-of cushion to fellow workers so that they could be wary of these fraudsters. 

I didn't have to think further for my next step and promptly added my woe story with the company's name on the forum. I noticed there were many others like me who had back-listed this particular company based on their experience with them. If I had only been more cautious before entering into a contract, I would have been saved the mental agony. I promptly received a call from the director of the errant company the next day itself. We had a long argument where she (note the cheek) threatened me with legal consequences for having defamed their name. I was not the one to back down easily and fought my case to make the point that it is I who was in fact wronged and I could easily move court against the company since I had proof of the contract, the details of payment and also the amount of time lapse. Also, since she knew about the Hall of Shame forum, she'd be well aware of the fact her company had earned the dubious label well before I had entered the scene.

The ugly story ended happily as I won the argument and received the payment in a few days time. But I had learnt my lesson well:
  • First, do your research well before entering into a contract with any company for a short-term or o long-term assignment. 
  • Second, know your rights and be aware of the procedures that can be taken in your favour if things do go wrong and finally,
  • the third, be bold to fight for your rights. In most cases, such fraudulent companies are insecure themselves and a well-thought of reply with facts and proofs will usually do them in.
Sending this post as an entry to the "I stood up Blogathon" contest by Women's web.


Comments

  1. You are on a roll!!! Good one and an eye-opening experience for all of us ...many of us will fight even for 5 rs with the local iron-wallah or sabji -wallahn but balk at taking on a company/organization which is much bigger and stronger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hehe, Aparna :-)
      true that! taking on a bigger organization is a more tedious and lengthy process. Esp. when it concerns government agencies. I think the story would have been different, had it been some government agency. They don't even care for defamation, na!

      Delete
  2. Wow! you sure did definitely stand up...I would have just shut up and not even asked for the money..you are toh a rock star rey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. arrey no rockstar n all..I have been a meek lamb all my life, though I have changed over the years..
      sometimes, even lambs get enraged, so this was once such time :-)

      Delete
  3. Awesome Uma! Standing up like that even for our own rights is something many of us don't do. Your incident is an eye-opener to everyone :) Keep up that spirit :)

    Cheers,
    Keirthana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Keirthana..:-)))
      It is sad that we need to fight for something that is our right :-(

      Delete
    2. Yes sad indeed! Btw, I have tagged you in my recent post. Please do take it up :) Would love to know about you through those questions of the tag :)

      http://www.keirthana.in/blog/2012/07/25/clearing-up-the-dues/

      Delete
    3. Thanks for tagging me, Keirthana :-)
      I've already done this tag, although that was a different set of questions: http://mymaidenattempt.blogspot.in/2012/03/they-asked-and-i-answeredhence-i-ask.html
      I'll answer your questions in your comment section itself, if you don't mind.

      Delete
  4. Wow!!

    Hats off to your guts Uma. Simply loved your attitude and the way you handled this entire thing. Wish you all the best for the competition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Me!
      err..the entire confrontation was over the phone, so maybe I found the courage..:-)

      Delete
    2. Still yaar....even that requires guts. I am not able to do so and hence am treated like a door mat by so many people :(

      Delete
    3. I understand..been there done that! don't worry, you'll soon find the courage to put your foot down..don't we all strive to be heard out in the right manner?

      Delete
  5. A good one...I know how important it is to do a thorough background check on an organization before joining one - I had a bad experience during an internship - thankfully it was just for a month and I managed to walk out of it...I have been more careful since then...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. really, Divya..it is such a torture to work for someone who is unethical..yes, we have learnt our lessons. Hopefully, am able to judge better henceforth :-)

      Delete
  6. Hats off to you, Uma!
    Btw, you know German? You really are a versatile lady :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks a ton, Bindu!
      and you call me versatile?? naaah...you are just being kind :-)

      Delete
  7. Wow, Uma! Great you stood your ground and fought back for your dues. Everybody needs to be paid for work they have done! One feels bad if someone shortchanges you for a few rupees and this is work contracted to you! Unbelievable that some companies can stoop to this extent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, we wouldn't expect such a behaviour from big organization and it comes as a shock when you are at the receiving end.
      Really, Vibha this incident was a surprise to me too..I wasn't at all expecting a positive outcome and my folks were surprised that I could talk like that. That shows my reputation too ;-)

      Delete
  8. Nice one Uma. Good luck for the contest. I had similar experiences in payment delays, but luckily my boss always paid me. I trust him blindly though..:).happy that u stood up for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank god, for your boss, Latha! :-)
      and thank you sooo much :-)

      Delete
  9. Business ethics is what lacks and is often the discouraging factor for many budding aspirants ! Good you showed them their place, Uma!Best wishes for the contest:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ethics is becoming a rare feature these days. One needs to be wary of many things most times..how sad :-(
      thanks a lot, Rahulji for the good wishes :-)

      Delete
  10. Well written, and well done... assertiveness is a critical factor in dealing with people like this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, Ash. We need to be assertive and when you are right, it becomes easier, I guess. Thanks, Ash! :-)

      Delete
  11. Again an awesome post Uma... You are soon going to be crowned princess of contests :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jas!:-)
      lol on the second line :-D

      Delete
  12. Contracts are meant to be adhered to and if one fails,the other has a right to enforce it.You just did that.Good post

    ReplyDelete
  13. WELL DONE .. and agreed your money , you worked hard and completed yourside of the contract so there shud be NO delay whatsoever..

    Goood

    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Bikram..:-)
      sometimes there are delays due to genuine problems but it should not become a routine and most importantly, the ethics of the business needs to be upheld.

      Delete
  14. I agree with you.. Once in a while delays are acceptable, but should not become a routine... From your experience, it seems that the company had nil respect for its employees... to be treated with dignity is another important aspect of professional life... Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, Radhika..once in a while delays can be understood but when the authorities show scant respect to your time and worth, they are not worth your effort.
      Thanks, Radhika :-)

      Delete
  15. Well Done Uma. Companies can take you for a ride unless you are firm and steady in your approach. Kudos. You know German? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you so much Jayashree. Yes, I hold a diploma from Max Mueller Bhavan :-)

      Delete
  16. Btw Loved what you write and hence following you now :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Humbled and honoured..thanks :-)

      Delete
  17. OMG, we have to be really cautious. That was too bad on their part. Glad you stood up. Cheers to you Uma!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Saru! and welcome here :-)

      Delete
  18. Loved your way of life and attitude towards it. There are many such scams and frauds going on out there and it's we who have to expose them and extirpate their roots. This is the courage which is required. :)

    Very nicely written and transcribed Uma. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you so much, Leo! This was at a very small scale..I hope I do find the courage to speak my mind even at a larger level.

    ReplyDelete
  20. OH!!! Thats something to be really cautious about, very true the 3 pointers what u have mentioned there is something really important which we lose out on.
    Good Job Uma you stood for yourself. You are a strong woman!!! Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you Ramya for your kind words...but I don't really think of myself as brave..:-0 :-))

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Uma ,

    I'm Punitha of

    http://www.southindiafoodrecipes.blogspot.in

    New to your lovely space:)

    Having Great attitude and very well matured in your thoughts Uma :))

    Happy to follow you ...

    and at your free time do visit my blog

    and drop your valuable comments Dear...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Punitha for the lovely words. Will surely drop in at your space very soon.
      Welcome here and hope to see you around :-)

      Delete
  23. I must say you are a brave girl who fought for her rights. It is not a cup of tea afterall. Not everyone stand for their rights. Job well done.!

    I just started writing at http://www.thewanderingthoughts.com/

    Please stop by sometime, Would appreciate your feedback!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks a lot for your kind comments, Nitin. Welcome here! :-)
      Will surely stop by at your blog.

      Delete
  24. Congratulations!!! Thrilled for you :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you soooo much, Bindu :-)))))

      Delete
  25. Congratulations for the prize from Women's Web :)

    and congratulations for not letting go of your hard earned money :) Brave lady...3 cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Scribby :-))))

      Delete
  26. Wow, you handled the situation really well...Kudos to you :)
    Congratulations for winning....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey ZM, thank you sooo much :-)))

      Delete
  27. Congratulations Uma!!!
    I've somehow missed this post .. Wondering how ..

    I totally agree with your views . A detailed research before jumping in is important in every aspect of life .. The required amount of patient research and thinking will go a long way in saving us from wrong choices .. Its better to be a bit of a paranoid than regret later on ..

    And I appreciate your courage for fighting out your rights ..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Aarthy! :-))))

      Delete

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