The proposal said "Prices in effect until August 21, 2009", and no cheque has arrived. I could use the money. What to do?
Three years ago I made the decision not to start work on a project until a cheque had been received, a deposit, at least. There is no future in agreeing to do a job for someone who doesn't have signing authority. That way madness lies, or at best, starvation.
So I phone Dan (not his real name) and am put through to Bill's extension (not his real name either). I call back and explain the mix-up and reception tells me it's no mistake, that "Dan has asked that all his calls be put through to Bill for the remainder of the week".
I thank her and hang up.
What to do?
It's a small firm and Dan is the owner. Chances are strong that something terrible has come up – death in the family – and I'd hate to be remembered as the guy who demanded his $550 cheque while Dan was at graveside.
On the other hand, Dan has already agreed that he has his heart set on this job; it's something he's been wanting for a long time.
I think I'll wait until Monday and call back. If I get to Dan, well and good.
If not, I can ask Bill to call me, and explain that Dan is not available (Bill knows that, so he'll agree) and that Dan told me to go ahead, but I am waiting on some things.
The sample documents, the layout and – a deposit cheque.
What do I lose if Bill says he doesn't have the authority to go ahead? Nothing.
And in the meantime, I'm the guy who didn't let the ball drop. I have made the effort to help the business, even while the owner is away.