Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Nightmare at Work

Having just completed a really awful project it's time to rant. Last month I was asked to quote for DTP services to set 32 magazine pages ready for printing. As the request came through an existing client appointed by the primary contractor as project manager, I agreed to undertake the job (I exited the publishing game a year ago). 

Inaccurate or Misleading Job Specification.

The provided information was sparse, so my quote was very specific; produce press-ready pdfs from DTP ready material supplied by (original) customer including approved text copy, images/photos/graphics and creative guide. Anything else was mentioned as extra costs e.g. design etc subject to artists quote per item, as per my standard terms of business.

Not mentioned to either my existing client, or myself was the need for weekly meetings with the company for whom the magazine is produced, Also not mentioned was the need to produce creative outlines for pre-approval, source and provide all magazine "theme" graphics, design logos and more...

Also not mentioned was the companies specified requirement for weekly meetings at their head office, nor that the expected delivery date (printed and finished) was for the 21st February - and this was only made clear on the 14 of Feb, leaving 7 days to produce a magazine from scratch - which would normally take about 6 to 8 weeks . So of course the original quote quote was a small fraction of the work requirement and the cost.

Not Qualified to be Publisher

As it turned out, the contractor was one of those delightful BEE arseholes who fill in tenders without any knowledge of the industry requirements for the tender, and highly likely got awarded the tender based on the African incentive - i.e. "gifts under the table"

At one point I sent this idiot a mail mentioning DTP - I got a response "What is DTP?" For fuck sake, what are you doing trying to publish a magazine if you don't know the term DTP - it's not exactly an obscure reference in this industry - moron

To cut a long story short; The magazine got printed on the last day of February, after several delays caused by the owning company - they wanted numerous changes, last minute exclusions and inclusions which pushed the deadline.

Crying over the Price.

14 days of intensive overtime for my company, the journalist and the proofreader, got a barely acceptable (to me) product completed. The final price; as mentioned the original estimate was for a totally different job, which would have taken around 12 to 15 hours, instead of the more than 250 man-hours required. So the bill was around 10 times the original estimate. 

I charge for everything! Design, image prep, changes to layout and text, meetings, time in transit, vehicle costs, overtime, telephone calls... Some of this may sound strange... Charge for meetings. YES. I run a purely on-line communication business - I neither need nor want to have meetings, especially not time wasting corporate style "brainstorming sessions". In this instance a 2 hour meeting takes up 5 to 6 hours of productive time when the time travelling to and from, spent in slow moving traffic, stuck at ridiculous speed limits on 4 and 5 lane highways is considered. Simply put, someone has to pay for this time. If it's not in built into the price, then it's extra... If I'm not told about the requirement in the job spec, I can't build it into the price...

And Telephone Calls: I do not use a telephone for business communications (or anything other than emergencies) - The rule is; Everything in writing. It's in my standard terms and conditions of business which are available on my business website. Waste my time with unnecessary pointless phone calls  - pay for my time - R10,00 per minute.

So, as you discovered, there's no point in crying over the price. You wanted the publication done, you authorised additional manpower 'at any cost'.

So You Can't Afford to Continue with Your Contract

Too bad! It's not my fault you under-quoted. If you had read the job spec properly, and knew the industry you decided to get involved in, you'd know how to specify a job, and produce an accurate quotation. Your 'funny' MBA doesn't impress me... In fact it has no value to me whatsoever. Obviously they didn't teach you the most basic rule - "Know what you are doing". The certificate qualifies you to be a low to mid-level admin clerk in a corporate environment, not an entrepreneur

There's no point asking for reduced rates for the next eleven editions... My designers and artists get paid what they are worth, and what they ask for - I don't haggle over their pricing, I don't haggle over my pricing.I don't particularly want the job...

At the end of the day, I'm not here to help incompetent BEE fools survive in business. The plight of the 'previously disadvantaged' no longer concerns me. I did my part in the 70' and 80's for your cause. You've had nearly twenty years to achieve something. If you are too useless to make something work when all the odds are in your favour, Who Cares.

To survive in business in this expensive nation I have to recover a minimum amount every hour. Nothing is for free, nothing is done at cut prices... If you want cheap work, look to the Asian sub-continent - the sweat-shops there will no doubt agree to any price you can afford. But remember this, you get what you pay for, and quality does not come cheap!

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