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Posts Tagged ‘payment

If you do not point out that something is odd or wrong, it soon becomes the norm. This is another way of saying what Jon Stewart said in his final episode of The Daily Show:

The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something. -- Jon Stewart

The oddities or wrongdoings do not have to be outlandish or major crimes. They can be seemingly mundane events that we choose to ignore or forget to question.

Take our need to pay before you actually pay. In Singapore, this happens for simple things — like when you wish to buy a cinema ticket online or when you want to pay for a cab ride with your a phone app.

I was reminded of the latter when my family took a cab ride home from the airport. I noticed that the NETSPay QR code scheme was available. I opted to try it as every retailer I had asked before was not ready (even those that had the scan here sign or a QR code on point-of-sale devices).

However, the cabbie warned me that there was a 30-cent surcharge. Service and sales providers call this a “convenience fee”.

Really. I had to pay to go cashless. I should charge an inconvenience fee for forcing me to withdraw money from an ATM and for miring me in the past.

How are the authorities, retailers, and providers to encourage widespread adoption of cashless payments when we are penalised by paying in order to pay?

What else does the Goods and Services Tax (GST) do if not to also improve the sale of products and services — seamless and secure being one area improvement?

Imagine if our banks, utility services, and telecommunication providers charged a “convenience fee” for electronic statements. We might go backwards to snail mail-based statements because people want to get and feel something for their money.

In schooling and education, I imagine a ridiculous scenario of attending a class where you can see the teacher talking but you must pay extra to hear what s/he is saying. The teaching resources are also blurred or redacted and you must pay to see it in entirety.

The scenario is as silly as the convenience fee is stupid. The providers who charge this fee are greedy and the regulators inattentive. Collectively, we are stupid to pay in order to pay. We have a long way to go to be a Smart Nation if we cannot get something that is as mundane and mainstream as cashless payment.

This entry is part of my series of reflections on being an independent consultant. The previous parts were:

Today I share thoughts on a very obvious question and a less obvious issue.
 

Payment by GotCredit, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  GotCredit 

 
The elephant in the room of any negotiation is getting paid what you are worth. How much do you charge? How do you convince others that you are worth that amount?

If you have been gainfully employed elsewhere before, you might start with your previous monthly salary as a baseline. It is a matter of mathematics to work out a daily or hourly rate. However, it is also important to take into account everything that you need to do and how infrequently you might work.

As I mentioned earlier, you might have to be your own “publicist, letter writer, content negotiator, Gebiz administrator, instructional designer, content creator, self-trainer, speech writer, event facilitator, social networker, programme evaluator, financial officer, and debt collector”. These are paid jobs too. Citing a rate for only the core work is not enough.

Being a consultant can also mean having lean spells in between work. These do not mean you are unproductive, but it does mean that you need to ride these out.

If the people you are negotiating with are not aware of these issues, you should have an open and logical conversation so they do not baulk at your fees. You should also listen to their concerns as they may have caps on what they can pay you.

If there is an elephant in the room, there is also a less obvious mouse.

Something I learnt early in my move to be an independent consultant was to look after my health. In full-time work, you can take medical leave and still draw a salary. If you fall ill as a consultant and are not available, you not only foot your own medical bills, you also do not get paid.

I took ill and was hospitalised right after I left gainful employment. I had an overseas engagement that I could not fulfil and this was not only damaging to my pocket but also to my reputation. The incident was a very valuable lesson that if I did not have my health, I could not have anything else.

This entry is the last in my second series of reflections on what I have learnt as a consultant. If I discover more that are worth sharing, I will add to the series in future.


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