Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Froog on.... Negotiation

I have been in talks with a few of the major clients of my last employer, sounding them out as to whether I might be able to help them out, on a consultancy basis, with some of their study-overseas or study-in-China-for-a-chance-to-go-overseas programmes.

I had thought things were looking quite promising with one of the biggest of these outfits. I knew that they were going to be ridiculously penny-pinching on their budgets (of course, this is China); so, when they first asked me to indicate my 'salary expectations', I cut the bullshit. It was, I like to think, a tough-but-tender approach, but nonetheless tough; I hoped they would appreciate such a frank, no-nonsense attitude.

"Look," I said to them. "You probably can't afford me. Not full-time. Why don't you tell me how much you're able to budget for this kind of help, then I'll tell you how few hours I'm willing to give you for that - OK? Deal? Deal!"

Well, I didn't put it quite as bluntly as that, of course; but I thought I'd got my point across well; and it seemed to have been taken on board.

Ah, but this is 'negotiation in China'. After an hour-long meeting last week, during which appreciative nods had greeted each of my suggestions for structuring a possible remuneration package, and notes were apparently made of the most important points, and after taking 4 or 5 working days to mull the matter over...... they have just come back to me with the following reply:

"We have decided to completely ignore all the points you made about structuring your remuneration. We have decided to make you an offer based on your being available to us on demand, whenever we choose, for any number of hours per month. And [the KILLER!]...... our salary offer is....... 100 rmb per hour."

It's a good job I wasn't eating or drinking anything at the time, or I might have choked to death! 100 rmb per hour??!! What planet are they from? English teachers get paid 150 rmb per hour. Fresh-off-the-plane English teachers, unqualified and with little or no experience, painfully naive English teachers who accept the first job they're offered..... they get paid 150 rmb per hour. I don't get out of bed for less than 250 rmb these days. And most of the stuff I do pays at least 300, 400, 500 rmb per hour.

As an opening offer, that is just stupid - an insult. However, this is China: it's probably not intended to be a serious offer. I can see this developing into one of those protracted haggling death-matches one gets embroiled in at the Silk Market or Yashow, where you pass the electronic calculator displaying the offer and counter-offer to and fro between yourself and the hectoring stall-holder for what seems like hours.

I hope it is, anyway - because I usually come out of those market-trader encounters getting (more or less) what I want. I just wish it didn't take so bloody long!


Tulsa said...


good luck!

TOR Hershman said...

What the heck were you thinkin', apples grow on trees?!?!?!

Moi can't afford moi's self.

Stay on groovin' safari,

The British Cowboy said...

We are moving away next year at work from lock-step pay towards individually negotiated salaries within a band. It should benefit me, I am just not looking forward to the hassle involved in the whole process.