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Jennifer James

Jenny James Training

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Contract question

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Can I ask the community's thoughts on a contracting issue that has arisen with one of my clients?

As well as being a training provider, they also act as a sort of broker, providing trainers to other training providers.  I was recently contracted  at short notice to deliver a one day course for them (booked on a Thursday for delivery on the Monday). The contract stated, as usual, that materials were to be provided by their client (another training provider).  Late on the Thursday once I had had a look at the materials, it became apparent that the materials were incomplete - well over 2 hours' worth of exercises, handouts etc were missing (about a third of the course length).  There was brief reference to these exercises and handouts in the course plan/trainer notes but nothing else.  This meant that I could not run those exercises of course. I asked for the missing material but was told later on the Thursday that it did not exist.

On Friday and over the weekend I wrote some exercises and photocopied them myself at home so that I could meet the learning outcomes and fill the missing time.  I feel this development time should be paid for.

The course went really well I am pleased to say!!

Naturally I have raised this with my client who has responded that the contract is as is and they cannot ask for payment for preparation time after a price is agreed.  I have responded that the time I spent was not PREPARATION time (we all expect to do that) but DEVELOPMENT time and that the contract stated materials were to be provided and they were not.  I await a further reply.

What do others think? What would you do?

Thanks

5 Responses

  1. A tricky question…

    I found myself in a similar position recently.

    My opinion is that it is more of a relationship question than a contract question. They are right in saying the price was agreed, and you are right saying they could be in breach of contract. The important question is – where do you want to go from here? If you really don't want to work for them again, you  could try sending a letter stating your case and asking for payment for development time, but if it was more of a blip and you want to maintain the relationship, you might be better off presenting yourself as a problem solver rather than a trouble maker – which of course you were.

    Like most of us, I've done  a lot of 'free' work over the years, sometimes just because I want to do what's best for the delegates, or taking a punt on it leading to more work (it rarely does!). Incomplete materials are par for the course, it happens to us all now and again.

    We all have our own tolerance. I've recently started taking a stand. In my recent situation, I said I could help prepare the materials but couldn't do it for free, and negotiated a price. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – the right thing for you to do would have been to call them on Friday morning and say that development time would be needed, and do the same as I did.

    You had the choice of pulling out and didn't do it – few of us would, because it's not the fault of the delegates, and ultimately, we serve them.

    You can chalk it up to experience, or dig your heels in – only you know what you want to do, and where your boundaries lie. It would be worth discussing with them in a friendly, solution focussed way face to face, if you can- that way you stand the best chance of maintaining the relationship, giving them a heads up on how to keep their trainers happy, and hopefully prevent the same thing happening again

     

  2. short term v long term

    Hi Jenny

    Sorry to hear about this experience and great you've shared as i'm sure others have been in this situation. 

    Jules makes a great point about hindsight so you'll know for next time however in order to move this forward you need to consider the immediate and longer term impact.  

    The end client was happy which means kudos for the company that booked you and kudos for you. However as this was a result of extra work you are right to feel entitled to additional payment.    But its likely there is no extra budget available for this. 

    So do you want to continue working with this client or not?  How much of your business do they contribute and perhaps could contribute?  

    I'd make it known to them of the work you put in,  ask for extra payment but then discuss ways to ensure this doesn't happen again,  if you want to work with them again.    If you never want to work with them again then still act in the most professional manner you can. 

    Perhaps next time put your rate up a little bit more,  if the end client asks for your specifically then this could be something to agree to as a way of you getting additional income. 

    Good luck. 

  3. a tricky contract question

    The previous answer says it all really ….. but going forward you may wish to think about:

    (1) Building in a debrief for all future events …. to talk about what went right, what went wrong, things to do in future?

    (2) These days I choose to work with clients where good faith, trust exists (even obviates the need for a contract)

    All the best!

  4. you are talking to the monkey not the organ grinder

    "Naturally I have raised this with my client who has responded that the contract is as is and they cannot ask for payment for preparation time after a price is agreed."

    1. I'll bet the person who is making this decision is salaried and therefore is taking no personal hit by making this decision to do nothing.

    2. They agreed the contract that the client would provide the material…..they didn't so they are actually on dodgy moral ground as well as dodgy legal ground.

    3. Can you contact the client (the second training company) and discuss with them, direct, the poor standard of the materials and the cost this put you to;  again it is quite probable that when they are aware of the issue they may do the right thing

     

    Rus

  5. Thank you all

    Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. And yes, it is a lesson learned – I should have said I would need to be recompensed for the development time BEFORE doing it of course.

    Thanks Rus, you have given me an idea of my next step.  I still haven't had a response to my reply to them. I think I will write again tomorrow saying that if they are not prepared to support my claim for an additional fee I will be contacting their client direct. I don't think I would be breaking my contract with them as it seems to stipulate that I must not do work for any of their clients direct but nothing about having a chat!

    Any more thoughts welcome!

    Jenny

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Jennifer James

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