There will always somebody who will try to use economic crisis to get unfair advantages, people or companies that are absolutely indifferent to any good marketing practice or simply don’t care about their reputations. Like bullies in a school’s courtyard they use their sheer size or their economical weight to get what they want, no matter what will happen later.
I know this kind of situations firsthand, in the Italian job market, please let me know if in other countries you will find anything different from that. Let me put out an example, something happened to a close friend of mine. A publisher house, a good-sized one, contacted this friend for the translation from English to Italian of two books. My friend already knows this people and was more than happy to get the job.
No contract was signed, no money in advance given. Between gentlemen there is no need for that, isn’t it? Both translations were delivered in due time, the books were printed and now are on the market. But no money for my friend, no answer for his kind reminders about that. More than a year after it’s still the same, the publisher house simply didn’t pay at all. They keep selling that books, with the name of my friend printed inside (as the translator).
It’s not about the money, no big deal anyway. It’s a matter of mutual respect. It’s about being a professional and get what you asked for your work. No more, no less. The company behaves that way for its economic weight, for the implicit menace of deny any further job offer, because they know that the Italian laws system is painfully slow and it will take years for my friend to get his money back. As said before, they act like bullies.
This is not uncommon when it comes to companies and freelance workers. They do the job, more than often in very harsh conditions, then they will not be payed at all or they will get their money far after the deadline. What if you spread the word of it, naming names and pointing your index finger at them? Usually they sue you, asking for huge compensations. In time the freelance will win but it will take years and he/she will have to spend a lot of money in advance.
Big companies do the same with medium or little ones, banks do the same to big companies, a never-ending spiral of bad behavior and unfulfilled hopes. The bottom line is that there is small trust everywhere, not quite a surprise. The only safe answer to that is to refuse to do any job without a formal contract and a good-sized advance to cover any expense you could face in order to do the job.