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Contract violation question

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Hi,

I was in communication with a man, lets call him Mr. A, regarding a contract job. We have been bargaining about the price a lot, and agreed on a price that was two-thirds of my original quote. As well, we agreed that either of us could terminate the contract after two weeks, if it wasn't working for either of us. The intention was that after a month of successful work we could renegotiate a better rate for me.

I agreed. I expressed the agreement in words and email, not by signing a paper contract. We have started to make arrangements as of the details. Because we had controversy over the work equipment the start date was pushed one week to make time for him to prepare the equipment. We planned that on my first day at work we'd sign the contract.

Unexpectedly, I got an offer from another company at my originally requested rate, to start immediately. I took the contract, and emailed Mr. A that I'm breaking up our agreement. I proposed to him alternative solutions in which I could take his job part-time so that his project will not be delayed, until another contractor would be found. I also said that after the end of my contract I will be again available to work.

His answer to me was as follows, and these are exact words: "This isn't good. Good luck to you".

Do you think I did the right thing? Should now the good-will relationship between me and this man be a total loss, or if my behaviour was a correct business behaviour, the future business relationship should not suffer?

Thank you,

Boris

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You provide minimal details, but...

Taking for granted broad principles such as "don't do fraud," "have a quality service/product," and so forth, "correct business behavior" is relative to each business situation. You mention yourself that certain things were understood between you and the first man, despite there being no written contract. If that is true, it wasn't good business to then forfeit your understood deal for another one, and it's dishonest to think otherwise. If you wanted to save your original business relationship, you might have contacted him before you took the second contract, to see if he was willing to re-work his deal with you. Instead, you forced his hand, and his reaction is understandable.

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Do you think I did the right thing?

No. A verbal contract is still a contract.

Should now the good-will relationship between me and this man be a total loss, or if my behaviour was a correct business behaviour, the future business relationship should not suffer?

If I was Mr. A, I would never risk hiring you, for fear that you would flake out on me again.

Also, unfortunately, word of this type of behavior tends to spread.

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Well, when I agreed to take the contract, I was planning to take an exit in two weeks if a better offer comes along, and this was consistent with our agreement, since we agreed that either of us can terminate the contract after two weeks. I didn't really want a long-term job at two-thirds of my rate, but I wanted to work while I search for a job.

However, after I agreed, because of equipment issues that we have not discussed in full prior to our agreement, the start date was delayed one week. In a way, I was already loosing a week of work, as well as should any other contract come my way, instead of telling them that I would finish in a week, I'd have to say that I finish in two weeks, which is a big difference for a pressing project.

As well, I didn't agree about the delay due to the equipment, as I claimed that I could perform my work using equipment I had, and was ready to start the next day after my verbal agreement. Mr. A was forcing my hand by delaying the start date.

As well, another question. Suppose I have started working for another company, and signed, a let's say a 1-year contract. Then, 3 days into my work, another offer comes along that gives me a much better deal. I'd have to start immediately. Wouldn't it be right for me to leave immediately, or should I give a two week notice, as per my contract?

Alternatively, suppose I started to work for another company, and expressed my wish to work for them for a year. The contract didn't specify any penalty if I'd leave earlier, however we have expressed verbally an understanding of commitment to this project. Four months into the project an offer comes along at double the rate. If the contract had a penalty for leaving early, I'd gladly pay it and leave. However, since the contract didn't specify such penalty, I'm bound by my word. On the other hand, if the company was going to loose its money, or go through restructuring it would not hesitate to let me go, no matter what is the term of the contract. It would be willing to pay me unemployment fee, as a way to buy itself out of the contract. So why would I take the guilt of a verbal agreement and a contract that didn't specify an exit strategy for me with buying my way out?

And more generally, if I go around looking for a job in a big company, I have no way to get it unless I tell them that I would commit for a long term. The actual length is never discussed, since these companies are like cult groups, where you have to live-and-breath that company. On the common "HR" question, where do you see yourself in five years, I couldn't answer "working for another company, or running my own business". They don't want you to have any other vision of life except working for them. However, it is my strong opinion that I can make a difference in any company in three months of work. I want to work just three months, and then go to another company, because I like variety in challenges. So to conclude, there's an imbalance -- when I come to an interview, I'm not meeting the company on an even ground, I'm in a weaker position already since the companies are not objective about work. They want you to be their puppy, not their worker. They pay you for commitment and participation in their culture, and not work. They would hire anytime a weaker developer that would stay for a long time, than a hard-core one that may leave them soon.

What do you think?

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What you intended to do WRT the 2 week out hardly matters - you committed to those 2 weeks and broke that commitment.

Suppose I have started working for another company, and signed, a let's say a 1-year contract. Then, 3 days into my work, another offer comes along that gives me a much better deal. I'd have to start immediately. Wouldn't it be right for me to leave immediately, or should I give a two week notice, as per my contract?

Again - commitment. You make it, you need to keep it.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/integrity.html

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/contracts.html

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