Agent Threatens Blacklist for Contractor

Agent Threatens Blacklist
Agent Threatens Blacklist

Agent Threatens Blacklist

Dr. McLaughlin received the following communication from a contractor, Kris, who says that an agent threatens blacklist on him.

I got a call recently by someone from Agency X X. The first thing he said, with a strange tone in his voice, which I didn’t like, was “How much do you want?”

Having had a couple of bad experiences with agents before, I answered cautiously I said I would consider offers according to the work involved/location etc.

He insisted I give him a rate, so I replied “£30-£40” (I am doing Java/VB development).

He went “£40 is a lot of money! There is no way you can get this.

Fictitious Role

I repeated I was looking for £30-£40 and he replied ‘OK, but gosh, £40 is really too much’. I asked him what rate/role he had to offer. He said “I have a VB role for £65 in XXXX, Surrey” (which just happens to be my hometown).

Obviously he was taking the mickey, and so I pointed that out to him. He started mumbling something. “What did you say? I beg your pardon? What are you on about?” At this point I hung up the phone.

He called me again, I didn’t answer, and again, and I decided to answer and ask him what he wanted from me.

He then started getting offensive and saying he would put me on the agencies’ blac list. No agency would ever contact me again, blah blah blah, for about 5-10 minutes.

I did remain calm and was asking him what he would achieve by doing that. I tried to bring some sense into the situation but he wouldn’t have any of it.

Agent Threatens Blacklist by Phone

He then called me the next day and left a message on my voicemail. He pretended to be from the admin department of his agency, and said I was officially on their black list. So I shouldn’t send my CV to them again.

He called again about a week later, pretending to be from another agency. He said that I was now on their black list as well, to which I just calmly replied “Fine, no problem”.

Agency Harassment

Although I try to remain calm and businesslike when dealing with agents like that, they really get to me. I am now having difficulty speaking to agents on the phone, fearing that it is the rogue agent from X X playing another game with me. Either that or it is another agent calling just for the heck of it, trying to intimidate/harass a contractor.

I am trying to sound as formal and serious/cold as I can when I get calls. That’s in order to discourage those people. however, I am afraid I might also put off genuine agents and make them think I am not keen on their contracts.

Do you have any suggestions on how I could deal with that kind of agent. Can you tell me how to tell in general if an agent is genuine or a timewaster?

Dr. McLaughlin’s IT Surgery

The first thing that I would say Kris is that I am very sorry for the disgraceful treatment that you have received from what is in fact an agency stalker. I would say that what that agent did is almost certainly illegal.

It is certainly not behaviour that people would expect from an agency. I would also say that the agency that you stated is a well known and well respected agency. I‘m absolutely sure that they wouldn‘t condone this sort of behaviour from their employees.

As far as being put on a black list is concerned, one agent told me ‘In 18 years in the business I’ve never come across a black list’.

Call the Boss

What I would do, would be to contact the Chief Executive of the company. Explain to him, or her, by phone, email or letter, about the treatment that you have received.

Be emollient when you contact him, saying that you are sure that this is not standard practice at his or her company.

I am sure that, even if you don‘t know the name of this rogue agent, you must have his direct line phone number as you phoned him back. Include this information in any communication with the Chief Executive.

I would give the particular company the first opportunity to deal with this nasty piece of work. However, if you get no joy there, then I would contact the following:-


ATSCo was formed to provide a voice for the industry and to lobby against legislation which could prove detrimental to our Clients and Candidates.


The REC is recognised as the regulating body for the recruitment industry. It monitors the processes and standards of its members by imposing a strict Code of Conduct.


If anyone has any further advice to give to Kris, or any other comments, please post them after this article.

If an agent threatens blacklist on one contractor they may do it to others.