Red Flags

red-flags1During a tutoring session yesterday, I overheard a preliminary interview between a young freelance graphic designer and a businessman. Their conversation included phrases like "Let's keep this in cash, but I won't see you before the first deadline. I don't trust the U.S. Postal Service to deliver anything, much less money, but it's probably our best bet." Several times during their conversation, the businessmen made some statements that would have sent me running for cover. After a few hours, their conversation was still rumbling around the back of my head. To compensate, I made a list of ways to tactfully respond to things that would make me immediately (or slowly) turn tail.

  • "I'd expect to get minor changes resolved ASAP. Our last in-house designer would take 12 - 24 hours for minor things and that's unacceptable." "Unfortunately, sometimes changes that appear minor on the surface can cause a lot of changes to style or composition. I will do my best to get changes back to you in the timeliest possible fashion."
  • "I'm not familiar with the software you've used. Can you swap over to [this dissimilar program]?" "Yes, but only if you're willing to pay for the cost of the program and a slight fee to learn it.
  • "If we give you a check, we'll have to send you a 1099." "If this contract extends to less than $600, a 1099 is not required by the IRS. Though it's a pain in the butt, those forms also allow me to write off related expenses."
  • "I'd really rather pay you in cash." "That will work, but I will require a written contract, half of the total amount before I begin the project and the other half at the time of completion. Are you available on [this date] to meet to discuss the particulars of the arrangement?"
  • "Awlright, sweetheart." *dead eyed stare.* "Is there anything else you'd like to discuss?"