Friday, May 16, 2008

Ethical Dilemma

I have an ethical dilemma. I do occasional freelance projects, including sub-contracting from a friend who in turn contracts directly with clients. A couple weeks ago, we had a three-way call with a client to discuss a project. My friend introduced me as the programmer who would be working on the project, and I gave the client my contact information so we could discuss the project more directly.

Anyway, due to certain circumstances, I didn't end up taking this project from my friend. Time goes by, my friend doesn't get the job done, the client starts getting irritated with the delay, and finally emails me, asking if I'd like to work for him directly, rather than going through this friend.

What's the ethical response?

My immediate response is: No. It would be unethical for me to take this job. My friend lined it up, presumably has the intention of doing it, so I shouldn't interfere. However, do the following facts change the situation?
  1. It's been 4 weeks since my friend lined up the project, and still hasn't completed it. The client obviously needs it done quickly, and doesn't care who does it.
  2. My friend owes my $1,000.
I still don't think that changes the ethicalness of it, not to mention I just wouldn't want to get caught in the middle of anything.

My response was initially going to be that I'd be happy to take on future projects, but I was going to take a hands-off approach to the current project. However, just now while I was typing this blog post, my dilemma was solved.

My friend and I started talking on IM, and I delicately mentioned that his client was getting impatient. My friend promptly asked if I wanted to take over the job. Dilemma solved.

Although that's good, I was actually looking forward to seeing other peoples' takes on the situation. Feel free to comment if you'd like. :)

P.S. Amazon is interested in doing an interview with me. Is an interesting job/good pay/good benefits worth living in Seattle and giving up the freedom that freelancing would give me? If all I had to do was the programming side of freelance work, I'd stay as a freelancer in a heartbeat, but I also have situations like the one I posted about above...


Xirax said...

Is an interesting job/good pay/good benefits worth living in Seattle and giving up the freedom that freelancing would give me?
At least not for me. I don't want to work for big companies. I'd rather work for myself :) Maybe it's less money, but I'd be my own boss, and will be doing what I am interested in. If it wasn't for the visa thing, I'd probably be eBay trading full-time, or doing some other business venture.

The Writer said...

So how come we're not working on a business venture together? :)

And what prevents you from eBaying full-time? It's not like you clock-in for a certain number of hours. Is it the time, or the amount of money that your visa has problems with?

Xirax said...

To stay in the country I need a visa. There are two kinds: educational and work. After I am done with school I'll need work visa. Only an established registered American company can apply on my behalf for one of those, so I actually need to work for someone other than me :(

Right now I don't have enough capital to start trading since I need to pay tuition, but I plan on it after I graduate. Again.

Anonymous said...

You don't actually want money... or freedom.

You want security.

Security can come from freelancing and it can come from non-freelance work.

A lack of security can come from freelancing and it can come from non-freelance work.

Five steps:

Love what you do, do it better than most, get paid, invest as much of your income as possible, hope to avoid major disasters, and you're more likely to achieve security in pieces along the way as well as at the end of your life. Yes, that's a really long sentence. :-)

The key for me is to be so good at what I love that I get paid well. Then, when I set that money aside for later in life I don't worry as much.

Freelance or not, the advice above will still work.

Good luck!

(I've heard nasty rumors about Amazon - beware.)