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Stephen Jones

how to ask for money without sounding desperate?

I joined a start up at the beginning of the year.

I was supposed to get paid on February 1, but the guy with the money is out of town until the 14th.

I live in San Francisco, and need to get a new apartment by the 1st of March. for those who haven't experienced the rental market here, you pretty much have to cut a check the same day you see the apartment, if you want a chance of securing the place.

I really need the money ASAP. The founder of the company is loaded and is pretty friendly with me. Should I explain this situation,  ask him to see if he can personally cut me a check, and then re-imburse himself when the biz guy is back in town?  My issues with this are that I just started a month ago, so I feel uncomfortable asking for money. Also, nobody else is being paid until the 14th, either, and they all seem to have no problems with this.

(presumably they aren't trying to move in March)
sort of broke.
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
If you supposed to get paid on February 1, you should have been paid on February 1.

Do not have any tolerance for that kind of BS.

Take this as an indication that payroll is not their #1 priority, which means the employees are not their #1 priority, and get out. There are other companies in San Francisco who could use you.
MBJ Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Yes. He should pay you. If he doesn't, come in at night and take computers or whatever you need as collateral and store them in a secure location until you are paid. Oh, and don't work there anymore. They are scamming you.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"I just started a month ago, so I feel uncomfortable asking for money"

You should not feel this way. I recommend you talk to an attorney or a county labor commission person asap. Seriously, this is not a good situation. You need to switch to recovery mode and be thinking of whatever sort of job you can get right away. But don't let them got away with this. Also, all the code you have written belongs to you - they have no right to use it.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Desperate or not, demand the money. It was due the 1st.

My guys get paid before I do. If there's a cash-crunch and not enough for payroll, maybe I won't get my check 'til next month, but I make damned sure my guys get paid according to the payroll schedule. My guys get the new gear, and the new software before I do. My folks get to go home before I do. When something needs done after hours or on the weekend, I'm there before I require one of my guys to do it. Keeping my guys happy is the number one priority at my shop.

If your guy ain't running his shop this way, you'd better be prepared to leave, or prepare to be disappointed.

Not looking out for the troops is a number one sin in my book, and the offending owner/manager/leader in charge needs to be put in front of a firing squad.
Sgt.Sausage
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
You should never feel awkward about asking for the money you've already earned.  If the founder is still with the company it seems logical that he'd pay you while the normal check writer is unavailable.

BTW, was this a planned trip?  It seems strange that he'd leave town without arranging a way for you to get paid.
Charlie Williams Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Not getting paid on the first payroll is *exactly* the same as the employee who doesn't show up for the first week of work, and doesn't call with an explanation either, but just shows up when he feels like it. There is no company in the world that won't fire such a person immediately as it is the worst possible sign.

Likewise, girls who show up late for a first date with unwashed stinky hair and starts out by asking you for $100 to pay her rent.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
i live in san francisco. just ask for the money; if you're owed the money; then you deserve it and shouldn't feel bac about asking.
Lemon Obrien from portable Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Actually this isn't a bad company. Everyone here is rich from another startup already. I'm assuming the reason they are loose with payment is because they are assuming I also have plenty of money. Part of the reason I don't want to ask is because I don't want them to think I'm broke. I'm not sure why the business guy is out of town or can't just wire me the money.

Regardless of the state of the company, I'm more concerned about getting some cash very soon, because moving in SF is really stressful (to me, anyway). 

Any suggestions as to how to ask for this money without sounding pathetic?
sort of broke.
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
one more thing...its the law that you have to be paid; not getting paid on a payday; with no good reason; means you should quit and look for another job asap.
Lemon Obrien from portable Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"Any suggestions as to how to ask for this money without sounding pathetic?"

Say this:  "I was supposed to be paid on the 1st, and I need the money."

Who cares if they think/know you're broke?  You're an employee, you need money to live on, they've broken their employment agreement with you by not paying you.

Likely it's an oversight as you posited.  Whether or not they think you're pathetic depends upon whether or not you present yourself as grovelling or demanding what's owed you. 

If they give you any grief at all about demanding what's fairly yours, take it as a sign that they'll screw you in a heartbeat and pretend they're doing you a favour.
Mediocre Coder
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Don't worry about looking desperate. The words you should be thinking about is "righteous anger". Don't even consider asking for money. Go in and *demand* it, *now*. The guy with the money is out of town? What kind of BS is that? Are you paid out of some money belt or something that's strapped to the owner's ass? Someone goes to a bank, or wires you the money, or something.

If you have been, you have no business working the last two days. Refuse to work without getting paid.

If it's a persistent problem, walk. Or maybe punch the boss, and then walk. Don't even dream of taking that shit; it's a job, you have no holy commandment to be there. They're failing their side of the agreement and they have no right to hold you to your end.
Anon to protect the guilty
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
This thread reminds me of Dogbert's bad advice show.

Unless the guys are making up excuses for not paying you I don't see any reason to leave the job.

To answer your question, I'd make up an artificial deadline.

"Hey, I noticed I didn't get my paycheck yet, but I'd really like to get it by the 10th."

If they agree to the deadline and don't pay, then that's a bad sign.

If they don't commit to the deadline at all (and make up excuses) then you should be glad you figured this out sooner rather than later.

I've worked at a place with unreliable 'payroll', but since the atmosphere was so laid back I really enjoyed working there. Getting paid a few weeks late isn't a big deal usually, and it's a lot easier to cope with than with stupidity in say... management.
ED
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"I'd make up an artificial deadline."

Ignore the tautology.
ED
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"Should I explain this situation,  ask him to see if he can personally cut me a check, and then re-imburse himself when the biz guy is back in town?"

Actually, that's probably a better idea than what I proposed.
ED
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
What everyone else said.  Ask for the money, phase it like opps small oversight, if it is they should cut you a cheque on the spot, if the don't its a bad sign and leave.

Assuming you stay, then the day before the next payday, casually mention that tomorrow is payday, on payday at 3:00pm or so, go and ask for your cheque, you need enough time to get the the bank teller, cause if you do it though the ATM you cheque gets held (they don't need to know otherwise).  If they don't get it for you then, get your money up to date ASAP and leave.  Doesn't matter how good the company is, if they don't pay on time and don't work to fix that mess up then its not worth it.
Lee
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Well it's not 5pm yet on the west coast. You tell him that payday was two days ago and you need a check by 5pm. If he balks, tell him a personal check is fine. If you are not paid by 5pm TODAY, you should load one paydays worth of gear into your car tonight after everyone has left and hold it as collateral in an undisclosed location until you are paid.

If you let this slide, like some of the pussies here are recommending, you are an idiot and deserve the shit they heap into your mouth.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"If you are not paid by 5pm TODAY, you should load one paydays worth of gear into your car tonight after everyone has left and hold it as collateral in an undisclosed location until you are paid."

Depending on the local laws, that would be either a bad move or a specatacularly bad move. Don't do it. Seriously.

I agree with the advice not to put up with this. However, doing something that might very well qualify as theft -- and that will *certainly* be viewed as theft by the boss -- is not the answer.

Seriously, don't do it. I've heard bad things about jail.
clcr
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"If you are not paid by 5pm TODAY, you should load one paydays worth of gear into your car tonight after everyone has left and hold it as collateral in an undisclosed location until you are paid."

Art Wilkins seems to be saying that you have two choices:

1.  Let this slide.
2.  Become a thief.

I assert that neither of these choices is acceptable, and I'm pretty sure there are other possibilities.
Eric Sink Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Whatever you do, don't take anything from them. It will only lead to jail time.

Approach them about the fact that you didn't get paid. Make sure that you're professional - just ask if they can cut you a check. Someone should be able to pay you, even if it's out of their own money. They can always get reimbursed when the "biz guy" returns.

There's no excuse for missing payroll. If they give you some BS excuse, then talk to a lawyer immediately to determine what options are available.
QADude Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Eric is totally misrepresenting what I said. I said you need to tell them to pay you immediately. I fully expect they will do this. If they do not, you should take collateral until they pay you. The computers that told the code which THEY STOLE FROM YOU is a reasonable thing to hold as collateral until the matter is resolved.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
If they don't pay their landlord rent, you know what the landlord does? He *changes the locks on the doors*. if they still don't pay, he auctions off their property. If it is legal for a landlord to do this, it is legal for you to hold collateral as well.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Sgt.Sausage:  Dead on.  I run my shop the same way.

In many states it's a legal issue.  These guys could be breaking the law if you are in an employee/employer type relationship.

Rich or not, there is no excuse for not delivering when you promised to pay.

I would politely ask.  "Hey, I was counting on getting paid on the first, what's going on?"

If you are met with resistance, be up on your state's law and add a little pressure.  And consider as others stated, get out.
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
I wouldn't "ask" for anything.  If it was due the 1st I'd point out to them that it was due the first and hadn't been received.  They *should* respond with how it will be corrected.  If they need prompting ask, "When can I expect payment?"

Maybe it is an oversight within the company.  Maybe it's a small opportunity for you to wear another hat and straighten it out.
Lance Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Art - The landlord has to evict you via the courts before they do this.  Otherwise, they go to jail.  The auctioning of remaining goods happens only as a final stage of eviction proceedings .
mike
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
If the founder of the company is loaded and genuinely friendly with you, he should have no problems providing a personal loan to cover for his company's incompetence.

Second, a primary responsibility of the "guy with the money" is to ensure pay goes through on the correct dates. Being away on travel is not a valid excuse for failing to do this.

As to your immediate options, you should not feel squeamish about asking to be paid. People do it all the time. You might need the cash because all your other money is tied up in investments, for example. You have commitments to meet.

Explaining your need to meet moving costs is probably a good idea. They're not frivolous costs, and they're associated with your employment.

If the company is casual with pay because everyone is loaded, then they should be shocked that a staffer is in dire straits, remedy it on the spot with a cheque and ensure it never happens again.

On the other hand, it may be that all the insiders have been paid and they're hoping they can fob newcomers off, as a way to ride out cash problems. Most often in these situations you are just the meat in the sandwich while the accountants work out who needs to be paid immediately and who can wait.

As a final resort, if you don't get paid, complain to the investors funding the company. Investors don't like managers screwing around with pay. You can also start proceedings against the company to have it wound up and placed into liquidation. This is a powerful threat to use against managers.
Bogong
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
"The landlord has to evict you via the courts before they do this.  Otherwise, they go to jail."

Mike, you are thinking residential law and law in particular that is only in certain states. Business property rental is entirely different. Please learn the facts before speaking.
Art Wilkins
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
You may be right on that point, Art, but that doesn't make your suggestion less loony.
Kyralessa Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
Back in 2002, I was working as a contractor for a consulting firm. I did good work, the customer loved me so much they almost doubled the size of the contract.

Then I noticed that my invoices weren't getting paid in a timely manner. I was running out of money, and Christmas was coming up.

What did I do? I went into my project manager and said "This company owes me $XXXXX. Either pay me what you owe me or I will be forced find other work. I will be leaving now; I will return when you give me a check."

Got a check the next day, and their home office was 1800 miles away.

If they're at all legitimate, you'll get your money. If you get a song and dance instead, you'll know they probably weren't going to pay you anyway.
Chris Tavares Send private email
Friday, February 03, 2006
 
 
STERNLY let it be known that you expect to be reimbursed for the depreciation of your paycheck (due to inflation, missed bank interest, etc).  Also, you might want to steal pens or something as collateral on this additional debt.
AVigesaa Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
"that doesn't make your suggestion less loony"

Perhaps. Maybe I should have suggested that you eat his ear.
Art Wilkins
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Maybe apart from the money thing, that sounds like a cool company to work for. Made up from already-rich startup founders... Almost by definition, those founders must be both passioned and talented by their work. Sounds like a really Graham-esque "do what you want to do" kinda startup, or am I wrong here?
wauter Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Same sort of thing happened to me, although as it turned out I didn't need the money and my employer wasn't trying to scam me or anything. I just asked him to write me a personal check and he did. He was even apologetic about it.
Colm O'Connor Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Just be direct and unapologetic.  "I need to get paid now."  You don't even have to take a confrontational tone, if you are pretty sure it's an accident.  But there is no reason to be ashamed for needing your paycheck, and stay assertive if they brush you off.  If you *do* need a paycheck and your employers don't respect this, this is the wrong place for you.

It sounds like you are intimidated by these guys.  Letting yourself get screwed over because you're scared people will think you're not cool--is not cool.  Not that you should be, but if you're worried about what your coworkers think about this, I guarantee they will think you are an idiot if they find out you really needed your paycheck and didn't ask for it.
Matt Conrad Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Art Wilkins - have you ever spent a night in jail?

I'm guessing you haven't.

Don't take stuff from them.  Get a lawyer, raise a stink, but don't take their stuff.
Sassy Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Desperation is never a position to talk from, ever. It takes a *lot* of cool to act casual when you really need money.

After you've solved this problem, always remember it as a lesson to never end up with a 0 balance again.
Mr. Powers Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Art - I know you're trolling. If you're not, God help you.
Mr. Powers Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
OK, am I trolling? Not really but I am suggesting hardcore solutions IF you don't get paid after making my demands. (Notice I am not saying to do this first). I do NOT say you should steal things and never have. Not even pencils. I am saying to take collateral until they pay. But your code you have written and not been paid for, you own that outright and they have no legitimate license to use it. You are within your rights to make sure they don't use it. You can, if they don't pay you, consider no contract exists and renegotiate for rights to code, tripling your rate if they want it. THEY are the ones that have broken your contract. Now that it is broken, they can suffer the consequences.

Have I been to jail? Yes. I don't like to talk about it but I shot a man. I was released when it was determined to be justifiable homicide (he was trying to kill me and there were several witnesses).

Have I use the equipment seizing tactic myself? Yes. And I got paid, at which point I returned the equipment and moved on to the next job. Don't let the f-ers screw with you. Or let the and be a pushover, what do I care.
Art Wilkins
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
I worked for a small software shop of about four employees.  One day I had a paycheck bounce and I bought it up to the owner.  He immediatly dropped everything he was doing and walked down to his bank with me to straighten it out.  The problem was solved, and $$$ was in my account again.

Point is, at the end of the day you work for money.  Period.

... as it turned out, the accountant was busy embezzling funds from that account, which is why my check bounced.  That is a whole different story though :-)
anon for this
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
>> I worked for a small software shop of about four employees.  One day I had a paycheck bounce and I bought it up to the owner.  He immediatly dropped everything he was doing and walked down to his bank with me to straighten it out. <<

s.o.b. --
This is what you should expect to happen when you point out that you haven't been paid on time.  They should *immediately* make it right, even if they have to drive to the bank and pay you in little green pieces of paper.

The #1 unforgivable sin of a business owner as far as I'm concerned, is to screw with payroll.  You absolutely must make sure your people get paid on time.  If not, the good people leave immediately, and shortly after that, word will get around town and you'll have a tough time hiring anyone decent.

If the state labor board hears about it, they'll jack up the business' unemployment contribution rate.  If the banks see a lot of small-claims court judgements, they'll make it difficult to borrow money.  Lots of unpleasant things will daisy-chain off being late on payroll.
example Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
"If not, the good people leave immediately"

Yes, yes, yes. Good people can always find another position immediately. I am not a great develope but I think I am good, and I have been able to switch jobs over the weekend. Usually, just one or two calls is enough to line something up. Now, this may not be true if you just graduated and have no work history, but as you develop a work history you make yourself known at technical conferences and in discussions with clients of your firm and over time *all* competant developers (I guess they are somewhat rare) will have a number of open offers. It's as simple as someone handing you a card and saying "Give me a call if you're looking to do something in aerospace." You file the card away with a note when you get home.

When a company doesn't make payroll, you start going through that list in the order that interests you.

Anybody still left at a firm 1 wk after they don't make payroll is the guys who are so incompetant that they could not find any other job.
Art Wilkins
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
It's *YOUR* money they have!  There is no reason to sound desperate.  DEMAND the money WITH INTEREST!
T. Norman
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
sort of broke,

I'd recommend you hire Art, on commission, to get your money for you.  He sounds like the man for the job.  :)
Kyralessa Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Ultimately I just waited until Friday evening, asked the founder for the $ and he helped me out. He seemed irritated that the payroll guy wasn't on the ball.

Art Wilkins's advice was the most interesting, but I'm not really in an antagonistic relationship with these guys (they are friends of friends) so I didn't think the aggresive path was the correct one to take.
sort of broke.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Common sense and calm, rational action prevails. Who would have guessed?
Mark Jeffcoat Send private email
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Congratulations! I'm glad ear-eating was not needed. And thanks for finding me interesting - I appreciate it.
Art Wilkins, purveyor of interesting times
Saturday, February 04, 2006
 
 
Geeze. I get the whole "negotiate from strength" thing, but the amount of "be an asshole and burn a few bridges" type advice in this thread is just silly. Everyone seems to be saying "two wrongs make a right - they screwed you, so go in and demand your due." It's just plain passive/aggressive.

The OP did the right thing - went in and rationally explained the situation. The facts speak for themselves, there's no need to put any kind of emotion (anger, etc.) into it as some people here were implying, or actually advising.

As for stealing a paycheck's worth of equipment, you're supposed to do that, but the amount should be equal to about 1-2% of your paycheck any quarter so that over the course of 2 years you've stolen single payday's worth of stuff. A legal pad here, a few pens there, and the occasional large haul - maybe a DVD burner from the store room.

I saw a sign in a store recently "Time spent talking on your cell phone is considered theft of company time. Anyone caught talking on their cell phone will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination." You can double, or triple those numbers if you work for a company with idiotic policies like that.*

*Note that this is not legal advice, and you should consult an attorney before attempting any potentially illegal maneuvers. If you cannot afford an attorney, you should get some marketable skills and learn the basics of money management so you can, one day, afford one. Otherwise, one may be assigned to you by the state when you get caught taking Milton's red Swingline stapler.
MarkTAW
Sunday, February 05, 2006
 
 
The only advice not mentioned so far is:

Contact the state's Department of Labor.  It's worked for me in the past.

If a company doesn't give you your paycheck on time, you really shouldn't be working there.
Anonymous Send private email
Sunday, February 05, 2006
 
 
+1 for: Kyralessa

"sort of broke,

I'd recommend you hire Art, on commission, to get your money for you.  He sounds like the man for the job.  :) "


LOL!  Go get 'em boi!
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Monday, February 06, 2006
 
 
Just wondering.....If you left a company in bad taste, and they were using illegal software, like say only 1 copy of Office XP on 15 computer or the VS 2003 on 10 computers etc, (you get the idea). And you called the 1-800 anti-pirate hotline....

Would that actually work?
anon
Monday, February 06, 2006
 
 
Great suggestion!!!!

Just report the piracy at this web site:

http://www.siia.net/piracy/report.asp

They offer rewards of $200,000!

That should cover the amount due you.
Art Wilkins
Monday, February 06, 2006
 
 
Art wrote:
"If they don't pay their landlord rent, you know what the landlord does? He *changes the locks on the doors*. if they still don't pay, he auctions off their property. If it is legal for a landlord to do this, it is legal for you to hold collateral as well."

I think a landlord has to get a court order and have a registered baliff confiscate property. 

Regardless of whether it's legal or not for a landlord to arbitrarily take your possessions (and I'm sure it's not), Art's advice totally sucks eggs.
Moobar
Monday, February 06, 2006
 
 
My grandparents owned a warehouse in Los Angeles that was rented by an antiques dealer and filled with antiques. He missed his rent and was unreachable for a couple months. They changed the locks. When they located him six months later, he said he wanted his antiques but couldn't pay them rent. During this time, they were responsible for property taxes and security costs for the warehouse, which amounted to several thousand dollars.

They hired a bunch of migrant workers and rented a truck. They cleared out that warehouse in about 8 trips. The antiques (some of these were more than 200 years old and all were in fabulous condition, destined for the homes of hollywood types) were then sold in a series of garage sales.
Art Wilkins
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
 
 

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