Unavailable – Client wants contractor. Agency say she’s unavailable. Why?

Unavailable for Contract
Unavailable for Contract

Unavailable for Contract

We received this from Junny after an agency told a client that she was unavailable when she was available. Here’s her tale.

Hope you can help me with this. Maybe my problem is one that is new to you.

At the beginning of the year a client company offered me an extremely good contract. Yet, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, they relocated the contract to another office.

The client called my agency a few months later. They personally requested my services for a new project they were about to start in the summer. They asked if I was interested in attending an interview.

I hadn’t heard anything from the agency for many weeks. This confused me as the client sounded very keen to see me. I phoned the agency many times only to be stonewalled with ‘the account manager was not available.

‘He’ll call you back’.

Project Manager

However, recently a mate at the client company told me that the agency told the project manager who wanted me to come in for a chat that I was not available. This was clearly not true.

Why would they do this?

I’m interested in hearing any feedback on my situation.

Dr McLaughlin’s IT Surgery

Well that’s a rum one. I’ve never heard of an agency turning down business before – and I doubt if they have. Why would they say you are unavailable?

I wonder if they were a preferred supplier to your client.

What I suspect was happening here was that they were trying to put someone in there in your place. Maybe it was someone who they would make a greater margin on.

This was a straight lie that they told to the client. You could actually sue them for loss of business if the client would back you up.

They probably wouldn’t though.

Breaking Contract

What is clear though is that in refusing to represent you with the client, the agency is negating any clause that they had in your contract stopping you from contacting the client about new business for a certain period after the contract is up.

I’m often told that this clause isn’t legal anyway as it is restraint of trade, but it’s never been tested in the court.

However, this gives you an opportunity here. I don’t know if the particular contract is gone or not. However, it is clear that the client likes you and would like to hire you, if not now, at some time in the future.

Unavailable – Contact the Client

Contact the client, saying that you are available and asking them to contact you when there is something available (leave your email and phone numbers), and if it would be OK to contact them any time you were available. You may find that they have something for you now, but it is better not to be that direct.

If they say that they need to contact you through your agency, say that you were available at the time that they wanted you, when the agency said that you weren’t available. Say that the agency no longer represents you.

If the client says that they only take people through agencies, find a cheap one that will do you a good deal. If they only take through preferred suppliers, ask them which preferred supplier agency they would recommend, and then get in touch with them.

An Opportunity

As I say it is a very rum do for agencies to turn down work like this. In fact it is virtually unheard of. So that means there must be something behind it.

This however, could turn out to be an opportunity for you to turn yourself into a real business and not just a one-woman band. Once you are in there, without any agency restrictive clause on your contract, then you can start looking for other business and other opportunities from the client.

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