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Agents and their duties.


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#1 Berek Halfhand

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 08:39 AM

I have been contracting for roughly six years and have always went through an agent. There have been times where I have had the opportunity to go direct but have chosen to go through an agent for the simple reason that I'm 'gauranteed' a regular and prompt payment, even if at a premium.

I recently started a new contract and with a new agent. The problem is that the agent refuses to pay until they have recieved the funds from the client. This can typically be a period of a month. For example, the first month's invoice is payed two months after starting. Is this normal practice? If so, what is the point of going through an agent at all? Has anyone else had a similar experience?

In the past I have recieved a payment within 5-10 days of invoicing.

#2 Guest_Guest_guest_*

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 08:55 AM

That's longer than I've ever had to wait for funds. Depends
on your contract if the agent is obliged to pay you or not
irrespective of if the end client pays the agent - check your
contract. Otherwise, a nice chat with the accounts folk
at the client is your only chance of sorting it - IMO.

#3 Donald Miller

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 08:58 AM

Hi Berek

I too have been contracting for some time and have only worked through agents for a total of roughly one year (out of 18 years). If you work direct there are (in my experience), less hassles, prompt payment, and full payment for services rendered.

All agents are different and you can't stay with one as they can't always get you work so you are at the mercy of the conditions that each agent wants you to work under. You can of course request these conditions to be changed but this needs to be done prior to any work starting or any contract being signed.

With agents - never assume anything. Always confirm your exact working conditions prior to any agreement. Then there won't be any surprises. If there's a problem then you'll know what action to take.

I'm sorry if that doesn't really help you in your current situation but at least you'll not be caught out again.

In answer to "what is the point in using an agent ?" - Once you've worked direct it's nearly impossible to justify using an agent.

One final point - Check your contract for the payment conditions - you may find that these are not specified exactly as they are saying and may be able to presuade the agent to adopt the industry standard method of payment as you experienced before.

Good Luck
Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn't mean anytthing at all

#4 Phil

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 08:59 AM

On the whole most agents have been good and pay promptly. However if I worked January for a client, and put the Invoice in to the agent during the 1st of week of February I would be asking questions if the Invoice had not been paid within 30 days of the agent receiving it.
If an agent is only paying you once they have been paid then that may suggest that the agent has some money issues.
Quite frankly I think it is a lack of respect from your agent that you are being told this.
One particular company I worked for are notoriously bad at paying and you always had to go chasing the payment and you were made to feel like you were creating a scene just by doing this. 7 weeks later you'd get paid.

#5 Berek Halfhand

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 09:41 AM

Thanks for the advice guys.

Perhaps it is cash flow problems on the part of the agent.

I would have thought it would be a requirment that an agency has the funds available to pay the contractor without having to wait for the clients payment but I suspect that this area is not regulated strongly.

#6 Phil

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 09:47 AM

Unfortunately the whole Agent thing is not regulated at all.

I knew someone who made the break from employed work to self employed work and the first agent he got chatting with offered a postion at £10 an hour explaining that the client didn't want to pay more as it was his first contract. He later found out that the client would have been willing to pay the full amount £28 or £30 an hour and the agent was prepared to take £18/£20 an hour from him.

Thankfully, the guy never took the contract .

#7 Guest_Beowulf_*

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 10:52 AM

I would have thought it would be a requirment that an agency has the funds available to pay the contractor without having to wait for the clients payment but I suspect that this area is not regulated strongly

:) :lol: :D (w00t)

Another significant point to remember is that small agencies are typically much more likely to go bust than the client, and in that situation if the client has paid them but they haven't paid you.. you can guess what happens.

I doubt most agencies will pay you in the situation where the client goes bust so you really don't gain in either case.

Agencies exist to find you work that you can't find otherwise - often a necessary service.

Seriously, I would always work directly when the opportunity arises. If you've been contracting for a while you should be able to handle the cashflow issues. To begin contracting in a personal situation where you have little cashflow flexibility is probably not the smartest thing someone could do..

Although.. there are commercial services (factoring) that will take on your cashflow problem for a percentage of the sums invoiced (don't know what a typical percentage would be though, I've never pursued it).

#8 Berek Halfhand

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 11:27 AM

I've certainly heard plenty of horror stories regarding agents, usually individuals running off without paying their contractors.

To begin contracting in a personal situation where you have little cashflow flexibility is probably not the smartest thing someone could do.


True, but in reality this often the main reason people start contracting.

In this case however, I didnt have the opportunity to go direct...

#9 Guest_Guesty Mc Guest._*

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Posted 11 January 2005 - 01:40 PM

Some sites only work with a preferred agency, making it impossible to go direct. The reason for this is that it is easier to administer things when channelled through one source - they can also negotiate harder on rates :lol:

The payment issue is all down to politics and preference. If it where up to you would you pay someone £6000 for a months work without obtaining the funds first? It's a lot of money to give away when the client has an issue with the contractor. And it happens more often than you think.... (w00t)

#10 Berek Halfhand

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Posted 11 January 2005 - 02:41 PM

If it where up to you would you pay someone £6000 for a months work without obtaining the funds first?

Yes I would if I had set myself up as an agent who takes a cut of their contractors salary. They get their cut so it is the risk they should take. That is what they are paid for. In fact one of the main reasons to go through an agent is a gauranteed payment for the work carried out.

It's a lot of money to give away when the client has an issue with the contractor.



Not really sure what you are getting at there.

There is no 'issue' with the client as far as I am aware. The agent has confirmation of all of the hours done and the work carried out from the client.

Like I said, I have not experienced this problem before.

#11 Guest_guesty Mc Guest._*

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 11:38 AM

You're missing the point. I'm not saying there's a problem with you!! :) This is a "what if" scenario. hopefully it'll give some insight into why some agents work the way they do...

Imagine the scenario. Pretend that you are an agent and you've taken on a contracter and placed him on a client site. after a month the contracter sends out an invoice for £6000 + VAT and you pay it. The client turns round and says "were not going pay you, that contractor (and I'm not implying anyone in particular here!!) was a load of rubbish, he didn't do any work and spent all his time surfing the net"

So the agent loses out......least the contractor would be happy! (w00t) I'm not convinced that you'd be ok with waving farewell to a big pile of money. :lol:

#12 Berek Halfhand

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 12:35 PM

Guesty McGuest, this is not just the first month, it's every month.

At the risk of repeating myself, I have never had this experience. Agencies make a crazy amount of money for doing very little (nothing against that in theory) and the scenario you have covered is very rare. The main reason I have had for going through an agent is the quick guaranteed payment.

All work has been signed off and approved by the client and they are happy with it, even though I say so myself! The only reason I could think of is cash flow. It has came to light that this is a buisness practice particular to this agency (as far as I can tell). Another point of note that is that this agency as far as I am aware have never placed a ProIV candidate. They have been around for longer than I had thought.

However, I'm glad to say this has been mutually resolved. A 'compromise' has now been made with the agency and invoices will be settled within 10 (working) days from now on. I guess if you dont ask and moan, you dont get what you want!

As for the £6000 invoice, I think I will have to start looking for work in England ....
Most of my work has been outside of Europe until recently and I never had anything near that!

#13 Phil

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 01:00 PM

I have a question ;

Does Berek Halfhand and Guesty McGuest know each other ?

#14 Berek Halfhand

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 01:57 PM

Well I've never met anyone by the name of Guesty McGuest but who knows, it might not be his/her real name! (w00t)

(Sorry, I tried to respond to your PM but I got a strange error. To answer your question somewhat cryptically, part of the name is a large body of water).

#15 Rob Donovan

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 11:17 PM

Hi,

Imagine the scenario. Pretend that you are an agent and you've taken on a contracter and placed him on a client site. after a month the contracter sends out an invoice for £6000 + VAT and you pay it. The client turns round and says "were not going pay you, that contractor (and I'm not implying anyone in particular here!!) was a load of rubbish, he didn't do any work and spent all his time surfing the net"


My view is that the agent should 'cop' this, because if the contracter is 'that' bad then the agent should not have placed him in the first place.

The problem is that some agents dont seem to do any vetting of how good the contractor actually is.

Rob D.



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