Shady Business Dealings In France

Picture (completely) unrelated

Hello everyone. Just a short post today to share with you some interesting happenings in my professional life.

This is the tale of a very unprofessional organization.

Six weeks ago, I received a call from a company looking to hire an English teacher to give 50 hours of lessons to two students, at about $21/22 USD an hour. Being out of work, I was interested in the position.

After fully verifying that I knew, and could explicitly explain in excruciating detail, the differences in usage between the simple past and present perfect tenses (that was seriously almost the entire conversation), she thanked me for my time and told me she’d be in touch. About an hour later I received an email to tell me that the job was mine.

Now, employment here is not quite like in the U.S. Here, everything is put down on paper in a fully detailed contract, no matter the type of position you hold. This job being no different, and my employers being (I assumed) concerned with their company reputation (and would therefore want to make sure that I fit their company image), there would be a day soon that I would need to make a physical appearance for final approval and to sign the contract.

However, six days later, I received simply my schedule and documents to have the student sign. Confused, I emailed my new boss to remind her that I’d still not signed a contract. She forwarded the email to HR. The woman in HR sent me a request for ID and the other usual documents involved when starting a new job here. I sent them and got no response.

The next day, I received another schedule for another student. This was no longer the schedule I’d been offered, but it suited my interests, so I didn’t complain. The classes were each Friday. That week, I went ahead and went to my classes, assuming I would soon receive my contract, sign it, and life could go on.

Wednesday of the next week, still no contract. I emailed her again and this time was a little more direct (although still polite) in my questions about the contract.

“Oh, thank you for contacting me,” she emailed back. “My  hard drive fried right after I got your documents and I wasn’t able to do your contract. Please resend the documents and I’ll prepare the contract myself, today, and send it to you express mail.” Ok, fine, data loss happens to the best of us, I understand. So I resent the papers, and got ready for my classes that Friday.

Express mail here takes a day or two, no more. So when the Friday ended with no contract, I was seriously considering resigning the position I never officially started.

Keep in mind that up to this point:

  •  The employer has no idea what I look like. They don’t know if I’m presentable, or am showing up to classes with a ZZ Top beard and a Bud Light t-shirt.
  •  The employer has not given me any sort of documentation about company policies, employee handbooks, dress codes, rules, regulations, etc…
  •  The employer has not bothered to check what I’m teaching. I could be teaching them the effective use of my favorite obscenities (George Carlin videos would be great for that).
  •  I’ve been employed for three weeks, given two days of classes, and still haven’t signed any contracts.

Fast forward. Now Tuesday of the third week of classes. No contract. At this point, having very carefully weighed my options, I called the woman in HR to tell her that I was resigning.

“It’s not fair!” she claimed. “You’re punishing me for computer problems that I couldn’t control!”.

I avoided pointing out that a week ago, she had said she would do it herself, by hand, and put it in the mail. Instead I just stood my ground, and rode the phone call through to the end. It wasn’t a short call. She had ideas of how to keep me from quitting. None was terribly interesting, and none, apparently, involved sending me a contract.

Later in the day, I got another email: “I’ve an idea! What if we paid all of your transportation costs?”
“No.” (My daily travelling costs were less than an hour’s wages – or barely more, if you count the lunches I bought at the train station.)

“Well,” I thought, “that’s the end of that.”

Yeah, right. Today, three weeks after I unceremoniously quit the company with a phone call to HR, I received an email from the woman who originally hired me, asking me to verify that my student had received “his” book. My reply was courteous and concise: “I can confirm for you that Madame Daisy Marcel has received her book. However, please note that I resigned my position with your company three weeks ago.” (emphasis added, and names changed to protect the innocent).

Hopefully, this should now be the end of it, and the email today just goes to reassure me that I made the right decision. If this is how well their office runs, that the boss could be unaware for three weeks that an employee quit, I probably don’t want to work there. Add that to everything else, and I definitely don’t want to work there.

What do you think? Are this type of company behavior and hiring practices acceptable or understandable? Did I make the right decision and/or would you want to work there?

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3 thoughts on “Shady Business Dealings In France

    • My good sir! Do not think for a moment that I am criticizing the inimitable, incomparable gods of blues rock we know as ZZ Top.

      I merely meant to say that most companies would not see such a beard as an appropriate extension of their company image.

  1. Update: Yesterday, the money owed to me for the two weeks I taught classes was wired into my account. So they did actually pay me.

    Also, this morning, I’ve received another email from them, asking me to send them some of the student documents. I’ll do so, and we’ll see if this is, finally, the end of it.

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