I was doing some freelance editing work for a large, respected organization when they outsourced their project management to an overseas company rather than hiring freelancers directly.
This company approached me with an offer of a big editing project on behalf of the organization. I kept the dates they specified free for the job, but there were delays at their end and the work didn’t materialize until the end of that time. Eventually, they sent me a huge nested zip file with about 2000 files in it, including 3 different files at different levels in the hierarchy all claiming to be the instruction brief. It took me over an hour just to look through the files and figure out which bits I was supposed to edit, which bits were older versions and which bits were just general background reference material.
They still hadn’t sent me a contract, so I chased them for it:
Client: Would you be willing to start editing before we settle the contract?
Eventually, the contract arrived. It was written in very bad non-native English. It required me to install the latest “virus software” (not anti-virus software, so presumably the viruses themselves) on my computer. It forbade me to make any copy of the client’s files on any form of cloud storage, CD, USB drive, local hard disk, or any other storage medium (so not only would I not be allowed to make backups, but I wouldn’t even be allowed to store the files on my computer’s hard disk in order to work on them). Worst of all, it contained no mention anywhere of paying me anything.
I pointed out these problems, and I even sent a marked-up amended version of the contract for them to approve, to save their legal team some work, and move more quickly towards a start date since it had taken them so long to provide the contract in the first place.
Client: This is a standard contract. We can’t approve any changes to it.
I did what I should have done sooner and walked away.