You’re the Wanker, if Anyone Is.

Posted: September 9, 2012 in Humanity is a virus

Trying to blot that “football” game out of my mind…. a few days ago, jennifer had an ‘amusing’ story about the games that ‘clients’ like to use.   I had a phone call that same day, that I was going to mention in a comment… but it got better.
As I had mentioned, one of the problems in my profession is young architects with little experience but a job working for someone else, who moonlight-freelance for little jobs, driving down fees by charging little or nothing, as well as diluting the consideration that an architect can actually bring value to a project.  And occasionally, I have been called in to bring coherence and resolution on projects that the original designer could not fulfill.

Several years ago, I had one of these. A real estate firm that I had worked with gave my name to an out of town property owner; they had a tenant who wanted to put a retail store on the second floor of a building, and the building inspector had raised issues that the tenant’s “architect” could not figure out and refused to rectify them under his original fee.  So, rather than lose the tenant, the building owner engaged me to resolve the code issues.

It was goofy little building, and I had to spend a fair amount of time to get things figured out, but eventually we did, the inspectors were satisfied, I was paid, and the tenant moved in.

So on Tuesday evening, that tenant left a message on my cell phone asking for a meeting the next morning.  Called me in the evening.  Looking for a meeting the next morning, as if somehow his emergency was my crisis.

Eventually, after talking with him, he had another project where he hired an architect who, it seems, was again not able to adequately address code issues. it is under construction, and the inspectors are again questioning things… be aware that inspectors are not obligated to provide code solutions, but rather to verify that the approved plans have been built as approved.  It is the job of the Architect of Record to make sure code issues are addressed.

After talking with him a bit and explaining how I might be able to help them find solutions, and my billing rates, he kind of blew me off, saying he had to talk to his partner.  Kind of thing I’ve heard before, so I said hey, fine, talk to ya later.

THEN; he called me on my cell, on Friday night at 8:30.  Wanting to meet at noon on Saturday.

I blew him off.  Sent him an email on Saturday afternoon, saying that I was unable to change my Saturday plans.

OK, I confess my Saturday plans largely involved watching a shitload of Doctor Who, but fuck if I am going to let a maybe-client who picked the wrong architect and doesn’t have me under contract yet yank me around like that.  I’m meeting with them at my office on Tuesday.

Perhaps I harm myself by not taking anything and everything that comes my way, but my experience has been that clients like that do nothing but ask for more, and pay less.  I told one of them once, “hell, I’ve got some decent computers here and an internet connection.  For nothing, I’d prefer to just spend the day playing video games.”


SEE!?!?!?!?!?! THE REPUBLICAN ARE RIGHT.  Let a couple of gay guys get married, and it’s all CATS and DOGS living together MASS HYSTERIA!!!!!!

  1. So the question I will need to figure out on Tuesday is: to ask for a retainer or not?

  2. Yeah, what the heck. He’s hired two people who can’t handle the code, and you’re the one who could.


  3. thunder, four years ago I met with an attorney to discuss bankruptcy. He told me that I would have to give him a retainer of $5000, and he they would reserve the right to ask that it remain ‘evergreen’. which meant that I would give him 5 grand, and then pay their bills without dipping into the retainer.

    I feel much less embarrassed to ask for money up front these days, knowing that EVERY ONE OF THESE CLIENTS already pays it to their attorneys.

    Hell, If I had an extra 5 grand, I would have the mikey and the Big Malig flown up here and give them an assortment of shovels along with the addresses of people who owe me money.

  4. And you are correct, thunder. Especially because these days I have one client with a project in construction, so my bills have been paid; my landlord with a kewl project, which is trading rent, and this guy is gonna want some immediate attention, which will degrade my ability to serve those two guys.

    He can pay up front, or look elsewhere.

  5. In honor of the Canadian Trio, I am pushing to arrive at final names for out two newest fuzzbuckets: By-Tiller and the SnowCat.

  6. He can pay up front, or look elsewhere.

    Whoah. If I wasn’t pretty fucking good at what I do, that would sound obnoxious.

  7. Good for you! Its fuckwads like that architect that drive down your wages and then to find out they can’t deliver shit and the clients panic and call a real architect that can deliver but charge more.

    Fuck yeah you should ask for a retainer. This cheap son of a bitch would sooner fuck you outta a dime than pay you a nickel.

  8. My sister is a salesperson for a national company that sells reproduction services and supplies. She has figured out the bigger the corporation the more ‘perks’ they expect which in the end means the less they pay for the services and the more she runs around doing shit for free that normal sized corporations don’t hesitate to pay for…just so she can keep them as clients, per her bosses demands.

  9. yeah, wife sublime works for a big multinational (and thank fuck she does, otherwise my career crater would have driven me to an underpass) and she says it is SOP for them to just go ahead and pay subs at 90 days, regardless of the terms, because what are they gonna do? Cut off one of their only reliable customers?

  10. I spent 15 years as a bill collector if you ever need me to call and use my wonderful talents on anyone that owes you money. Corporations were my specialty at the end of my career, I was calling on CEO’s of big ole corporations anyone of your folks here would recognize. They don’t become fatcats and inflating their bottom lines by paying full price for anything and not paying their contractors at all. I loved tearing Cisco’s CEO a new one..its one acct I will never forget. 😉

  11. But if the sub threatens to quit working whereby fucking up the rest of the entire project, it does tend to make a CEO or two sit up and take notice real friggin fast. Stop work orders never make any CEO happy.

  12. dusty, I will take you up on that. I had a local non profit jerk me around for extra work and then stiff me for 45K. We’ll work out a deal.

  13. But if the sub threatens to quit working whereby fucking up the rest of the entire project, it does tend to make a CEO or two sit up and take notice real friggin fast

    Yeah, that’s why they demand the sub deliver before billing.

  14. But sometimes its a complicated job that has a shitload of contractors and jobs are done in bits and pieces, waiting for one contractor to finish his stuff before the next one can do his. Thats the beauty of a Stop Work Order..which I had the power to do.

    But if you are done and still trying to collect, there are different methods to getting your money..and I don’t hesitate to threaten them with those methods either.

  15. Lemme tell you a story…oh wait, I am gonna fresh my drink and you might as well too….

    I’m not an asshole (shut UP thunder and Jennifer!). I often do gratis work, for some community companies trying to get a basic idea of their needs, or especially for past clients who have potential new projects and are trying to do some initial planning. In these cases, I don’t start billing until things start to look serious, and often don’t call for payment until it becomes a real project. One hand washes the other.

    I’ve done studies for the city, at no cost, because I want to have an influence on Milwaukee. I have done testimony at no cost.

    One of my clients, with which I have done a couple of projects, had an opportunity to propose on a former City library building, adjacent to the other projects. I helped them put together a kickin proposal, and it was successful. At this point I was working pro bono.


    One of the board members, insisted on bringing his son in as a ‘consultant’ and also trying to bring in an African American firm (I confess I don’t blame them for that; regrettably, there are no AA-led firms in Wisconsin [which is appalling in itself and warrants another post] and the Chicago firm they brought it was not able to be competitive on fees) and the city insisted that the developer work through approvals from Historic Preservation AND Plan approval.

    So I agreed with the non-profit developer that I would do so, waiting for payment upon receipt of approvals. So we did. We worked through the approvals.

    And all during this process, the board member’s son was trying to undermine our efforts.

    We obtained the necessary City approvals, and the only thing left was to obtain financing; of course, the board member’s son promised financing that he could not deliver, and eventually the City retracted the offer for the property.

    I delivered what I said I would. I obtained the approvals I was responsible for. Somebody else fucked the project because of stupid power plays.

    The director of the NP developer concedes all the above. I nearly lost my marriage over the fact that I am currently eating $40,000. I have contacted one local collector, but he couldn’t resolve a $4000 tab with someone else, like he’s gonna do any better?

    I just put most of my life on my blog. Wa-fucking-hoo. maybe I shouldn’t have drank so much during the Packer game.

  16. M. Bouffant says:

    See, at a certain point collecting money becomes superfluous to simple revenge.

  17. Yeah, I get the revenge factor in this instance and the politics that fucked it all up. Collecting on this one is’t impossible tho, or shouldn’t be.

  18. Rodgers really screwed me btw in my fantasy leagues.

  19. LOL, I am sure that is his biggest regret about yesterday.

  20. mikey says:

    Yikes. See, this is the kind of thing that frightens me about entrepreneurial self-employment. When I worked for a small, very specialized company in the first half of the 90s I had a lot of authority – I could negotiate deals up a a million dollars gross revs without any approvals. My boss and I were pretty good friends at the time – he had been one of my mentors – and he used to say to me over drinx “mikey, you’re really good – why don’t you do what I did and start your own company?” And I would tell him “Look. I make a bad call that’s big enough and you’re broke, you LOSE your company and Dan (our biggest competitor) hires me the very next day for more money – I just don’t see the upside”.

    I only ever got screwed in business (over money, anyway) twice. Early in my career, I hit a few home runs in the fall working for Polaroid and my commission check was supposed to be 36 grand. But that would make me better paid than him, and he had more ego than good sense, and he zeroed out my commission and retroactively changed my role from OEM sales to Corporate appointment setter at six bucks an appt. I went nuclear and threw a gigantic tantrum and threatened some extensive shovel work and they ended up giving me twelve grand and I walked out the door.

    Ten years later I tried to do a favor for a local Indie record label and ran off a few thousand CDs for them to sell at a couple shows with the idea being that they’d pay me after they sold some of them. I thought I was playing it safe by only releasing half of them before payment, keeping the other half in the shop as a form of collateral. Well, they were assholes, and they figured fifteen hundred free CDs was a great deal, and I never heard from them again. I kept that box of shitty audio CDs by the door of my lab for about three years after that, just to remind me to get the money. I’d look at it and get pissed all over again just about every day.

    But that’s it. For the rest of the years and clients, everybody was straight up. Oh, outfits like Oracle are HARD to get paid by, but the thing is, they WANT to pay you. Their procurement and business systems are so complex and require such careful and specific input that sometimes it takes a few months for them to actually pay a specific bill, but it’s certainly not for lack of trying…

  21. mikey says:

    Oh, by the way, the “Football” game was immediately followed by Barry Zito and the bullpen shutting out the listless and lackadaisical Dodgers to increase their division lead to five and a half.

    Magic number 17, bitchez, same same as the Nationals…

  22. So the question I will need to figure out on Tuesday is: to ask for a retainer or not?

    I figger after everything above the answer is yes.

  23. Jennifer says:

    Love the animules. 🙂

  24. fish says:

    A win like that in Green Bay makes me think the 49ers are some scary shit this year.

  25. Or the Packers are the Suck and Dom Capers is WAYYYY over-rated.

    We’ll see how the Bears game goes tonight. Have they traded for Tebow yet?

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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