Story time: I Almost Got Scammed

By Victoria. Published on Monday September 26, 2022

I once received a phone call from a friend on whether I could provide a certain editorial service for her client. Being fresh out of formal employment and just starting to understand the consultancy world, I took the offer with zeal. After doing a slight background check on the work and who I was working with, we agreed on a preferred date and time to discuss the job and other requirements.

On the day of the meeting, nothing official was done. It was agreed we could communicate over WhatsApp and phone calls on the next steps which included meeting the point of contact who was to guide me on the work needed.

Everything flowed well. The work was done and completed, obviously with the necessary reviews and changes.

But then, it all hit a snag.

I was blue-ticked! It all went silent. From people communicating with you regularly to them being silent. To say I was confused is an understatement. I left several messages and calls to my direct contact person asking if they are okay with the work or not and if there are any preferred changes needed. The silence I experienced was huge.

I had decided that I would reach out to my friend who connected me to this job on what was going on – but as a last-minute resort. To make it interesting, we discussed other things not related to the job. Maybe when we meet in person I will find out what was going on.

I continued with my other assignments, knowing that all the work I had done I couldn’t even prove it since we had not signed a contract. Everything was via word of mouth, through regular meetings, phone calls and WhatsApp messages. What left me in shock about what was going on was when one person from the WhatsApp group we were coordinating the work with left. So, what else was I to think? ‘I have been scammed.’ ‘My work has been stolen.’ ‘I’m not going to be paid for it.’ So many thoughts ran through my mind.

Eventually, I decided to let it go and learnt my lesson. This prompted the article “Why you should get a contract before you start the work”.

The good news is that weeks later, the client reached out and explained the silence and lack of communication. I also was paid my dues immediately.

My biggest takeaway from this experience is to always have a contract. Even if they paid me regardless of how long it took if I had a contract all the stress could have been avoided. Also, if they didn’t get back to me or didn’t pay me, I would have taken proper legal action since both parties agreed to a written and signed agreement. You may have fallen into this trap as well, and unlike me, were not and have not yet been paid. To make it worse, your work is being used to progress their work with or without your knowledge.

As a consultant, for any gig you get and any client who approaches you, one thing is for sure, always have it written down. It doesn’t matter if it is a one-page or a 50-page document, there needs to be proof of the kind of services you are providing and the agreed-upon terms and conditions. It also doesn’t matter whether it works for Ksh 2,000 or Ksh 200,000 – a contract goes a long way in protecting you and the service you provide.