How (lack of) business ethics cost money?

This post is not a (for me) typical technical post. This post is about how a large engineering company potentially lost an order because they lost the trust of a subcontractor. The story is no a random story that I heard about - I was the subcontractor.


It all started out just fine. I had made contract with a large engineering company to deliver some work (time and material base - not that it matters). It all went pretty well. The end customer was happy. I sent invoices monthly (I believe 2 of them - it was a fairly small project). So that was that I thought. I was wrong.


Just a little background about me: I was a freelancer/independent consultant for a few year and have only recently started to work as a permanent employee. I admit I’m a bit sloppy when it comes to the administration of my company. I like the technical work, but the economy part does not interest me as much. This is why it was not until I did my company accounting that I discovered that one of the invoices had not been paid.

I politely send an email, asking about the missing payment. I didn’t get an answer. I called and was referred to the second-in-command of the department. He didn’t answer.

It pretty much went on like this for 2-3 weeks. Finally I got a e-mail suggesting that we made some kind of deal, since they had not invoiced the end customer. I feel a have to mention that in my contract with the engineering there no direct connection to the end customer. The end customer was entirely the business of the engineering company. So I declined making any kind of deal.

Then I go an email suggesting that they would pay half of the invoice.

Personal lessons learned


td;dr (executive resume)

If you are in a company don’t do anything that makes your relationship to a business partner worse in order to gain a little money. It will most likely cost you much money than you gained over time. Your business partner will loose trust in you and will be more likely to do business with someone else.

I think this really is general in life. Don’t treat other people like shit (even though you are a psychopath) - over time you will be worse off.


They finally paid me after let a collection company handle it. I’m still less than impressed.