Omission of Commission

Today has been one of those days: the kind fraught with confrontation and unpleasantness. I need to get the feeling of lowness out of my system though, so here it is.

A few months ago, I was approached by a digital agency. A very bad one, at that, with cheapskate clients. But since I had just been shunted out of my job, I was open for business. I had previously been asked to quote for content development jobs, but they always fell through because my quote was apparently “beyond their budget”. And yet, time and again, they come back to me.

Each time I am asked to quote for a project, I have to develop an editorial plan. I have to write samples, because my body of existing work, spanning a decade, apparently doesn’t cut it. I spend days perfecting these proposals, and having the client fall all over themselves with praise, only to be shot down because of my price tag. Why does everyone expect quality to be cheap?

And so, I was asked to meet up with this new client. I met up with them, and was fairly impressed that this company appeared to be on the up and up. The agency had developed their website too, and it was awful. And I mean absolutely the worst website I have seen made this side of Geocities.

I didn’t tell the client this though. I just assumed that it was the old website, and asked to see the new one instead. Poor guy cringed a bit when he said it was the new one. My jaw may have dropped. He asked me whether I could get someone to fix it. I said I could find out.

Then I asked about the agency. They had set up this meeting, and probably expected a commission. To which, he blithely waved his hand and said he would take care of it. The company also has a digital marketing agreement with them, and so anyway they would be meeting up.

I brought up this subject multiple times with the client, and each time he assured me not to worry about it. Their contract with me was independent, and that they would be paying the agency separately for their previous work.

After a point, I stopped asking. The agency had sent me a couple of emails before that, and I told them that the client would be speaking to them directly. And thus, the project commenced.

Today, I received an email asking for the commission. And just as an aside, the commission for the “referral” was pegged at 15%.

Anyway, because I am tiring of this miserable saga, and to cut a long story short, I called the client. He was very accommodating of the idea of a referral fee, but was aghast at the exorbitant percentage. I said I would loop him in the email, so everyone was on the same page.

Of course this set the cat amongst the pigeons at the agency. I got an irate call, and had the silly woman yell at me for including the client in the email thread. Well, considering it is his money, considering I would have to bill him extra to accommodate her demands, and frankly, her absurd notion that he shouldn’t know of our arrangement, I had no qualms in telling her where to get off.

While I was writing this post, I looked for an email that I had sent to them, saying that the client would be speaking to them directly, and that they should follow up with him. Since they had a separate contract for some other services, I had thought nothing of it.

She accused me of hiding the entire episode from them, and taking business away from them. I didn’t. The client still paid them for their work, and was prepared to pay a reasonable referral fee for my work. However, this didn’t sit well with the agency because he now knew about the referral fee.

I don’t get it; what do people have against honesty? I have honestly quoted my prices, and my reasons for them multiple times. I don’t remember having a meltdown just because a client knew why I was charging a fee. Besides, if someone isn’t willing to pay for your services, referral or otherwise, they really aren’t worth entertaining as clients in the first place.


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