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Dealing w/ Relocation Package Bait and Switch? 443

Posted by Cliff
from the dispicable-practices dept.
An anonymous reader asks: "I got a R&D job offer with a large company in Philadelphia area last week. It includes a relocation package that they told me was standard for my position. After I accepted the offer and made plans to terminate my current job, the recruiter handed me off to their relocation department, where I was told that my relocation package is significantly less than what I was promised. The relocation manager tells me that whenever there is conflict between their relocation policy and the offer, their internal relocation policy supersedes. Is this type of switch-and-bait common practice in corporate America? If you have gone through this nightmare before, any advice on how to respond to it?"
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Dealing w/ Relocation Package Bait and Switch?

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  • You do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattboston (537016) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#17754730) Homepage
    what anyone else would do, and post the name of the company on Slashdot.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe you weren't serious, but you certainly ought to be.

      The only way to prevent this kind of crap from continuing and spreading (c'mon, do you really think there aren't HR people reading this right now and drooling?) is to make it public. Maybe after they have a lot of problems getting people to even interview with them they will rethink their policy.

      I urge the original poster to publish the name of these asshats!
    • Re:You do (Score:5, Insightful)

      by avronius (689343) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:18PM (#17755358) Homepage Journal
      Always [that's ALWAYS] get your COMPLETE offer in writing first. Ask for a couple of hours to review it [not unreasonable]. If the relocation dollar amount is not there, get it added. Accept NOTHING on faith where money is concerned.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        Bingo!

        never EVER trust your employer or future employer. If you don't have it in writing they are going to jack you.

        Finally, giving your notice at your current job is silly if you do not have a full written offer in hand, especially on a relocation type job. What if the company said, Nahh, we dont want to pay for your relocation?

        You are now screwed, you either relocate yourself at your cost, or sit home jobless for a while.

        BTW, like the new company now? they are screwing you before you get your first pay
      • Re:You do (Score:5, Informative)

        by rutledjw (447990) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:17PM (#17756406) Homepage
        I heartily agree with this. I've never had a company back-off from a request to get everything in writing prior to acceptance.

        The other thing I'd do is bring this up with the manager/director/whoever that hired you. As a manager, and I am one, I would not be amused with an internal bureaucrat who underminded a legitimate offer with the result of a new hire coming in the door angry. That's no way to start things off. Give this person a chance to address the issue.

        Another point is that his/her reaction will likely give some idea as to what degree they will support thier team. It may be that he/she can't do anything, but give them the chance and make them aware
      • Re:You do (Score:4, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:20PM (#17756486)
        Always [that's ALWAYS] get your COMPLETE offer in writing first.
        Here's what would have happened if he got it in writing:

        Employee: wait! the hiring manager said the relocation benefit would be $X! This says it's only $Y.
        HR: It's company policy.
        Employee: but I have it in writing. In Writing!!
        HR: But there's nothing to say we still have to give you the job. If you want to be pedantic we'll hire you for 5 minutes and then fire you. Now do you want the new deal or not?
        Employee: but I already quit my job and sold my house!
        HR: just sign on the dotted line.

        • by timepilot (116247) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:29PM (#17756634)
          Listen, if they're screwing you before your first day of work, they're going to continue screwing you once they get you into the job.

          Unemployment does suck, but relocating to a new city with no support system (family, friends, etc.) and into a job where they are doing this kind of thing the first day sucks more. You think you're going to have any kind of job security there?

          -j
        • by Monkeyboy4 (789832) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:36PM (#17756746)
          If the company does react that way, then he is better off not working for them.

          I know I may come across casual and naive, but years of experience working in and with companies has told me that if they are screwing you at day 0, then every day from that point forward will be misery. In a way, your cynicism is well placed - something is wrong here. But to roll over and present your genitalia without stating something just screws you in the long run. Better to have a clear contract upfront and know where the lines are, instead of having some bureaucrat use their discretion.

          The thing is, there are people and places that are fully above-board. Even in corporate America. Even corporations. The problem is when people use their psychological contracts instead of real contracts. Business is business,and you should never expect more than a written contract asserts. If all you have is someone's word, you don't have anything. If their word is truly good, they won't have a problem writing it down.
        • Re:You do (Score:5, Informative)

          by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:17PM (#17757424) Homepage
          When someone says "get your offer in writing," that doesn't mean an e-mail from Joe Department Manager saying, "Hey guy, it was great talking to ya, and guess what? We want to give you the job! Isn't that cool?"

          An employment offer in writing is written by the HR department, not the person you interviewed. It has a signature at the bottom. It will probably arrive at your home via FedEx or registered mail. The package might also include other materials, such as a brochure describing the company's benefits package. The letter itself might also have a space at the bottom where you put your own signature, and you will return that copy of the letter to the HR department when you accept your offer.

          The other posters are right when they say that recourse for a hiring bait-and-switch is tricky ... why start off a new job in an adversarial position? Even if you sue them for the compensation they didn't pay you, you'll be out of a job. But I agree with the GP: Get it in writing anyway.

          It's odd to me that anybody would have reached the point where they quit their previous job and were actually planning to move out of their home without getting the terms of the relocation deal in writing. If an offer letter showed up that didn't include those terms, I'd send it back and ask for them to be spelled out. No HR department should refuse that request. If they did, that would be a big, huge, three-alarm red flag to me that the company is not on the level.

          The point is that a real offer letter is not an offer as in "hey how about this" ... it is a formal proposal. It's not exactly a contract, but for all intents and purposes both parties should expect to treat it like that.

          Look at it this way: In any kind of situation where you are considering taking a new job, don't think of yourself as a supplicant asking a company for work. Think of yourself as a supplier who has something to offer that company. What you're offering the company is your work.

          Now, suppose you weren't just one person -- suppose you were a different kind of supplier, like a concrete company that owned some cement mixer trucks. If your local municipality offered you a job pouring concrete on a few work sites, wouldn't you want to get the terms of that offer in writing? Where and when are your guys supposed to show up, how long is the job expected to take, and what are they offering to pay you for that amount of work?

          Taking any other kind of job, even if it's just a job in an office, is no different. If they don't want to spell out the terms of the deal for you, then you should view that deal exactly the same way you would if you were the boss of a cement company and the customer didn't seem to want to negotiate in good faith.
          • of one of my coworkers. He was moving to DC. THey had several mistatements in the document about the duration of the 'probation' period- some were 1 year, some were 2 years. For the same package. And no answers from them as to which one was the correct one.

            Then there was the fees for the houses, and the clauses for required realtors (point shaving). Then the additional fees that were covered (mortage insurance thru special lenders) that were 50% above the going rate.

            It's not as if having it in writing
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by acidrain (35064)

          Actually, an offer by a company is a legally binding contract and if they fire you without cause that is illegal as well. And there is a huge difference between not keeping the promises of someone who is not an employee and breaking promises the company put in writing.

          I think this is a simple case of the scumbag recruiter making promises the company is not aware of. And the company feeling bitter about you being stupid enough to use a recruiter. Freelance recruiters are evil. They make hiring you more

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by GreyPoopon (411036)

            Actually, an offer by a company is a legally binding contract and if they fire you without cause that is illegal as well.

            Careful. That depends on what state you live in and the contract itself. Most modern employment contracts will state that the company can terminate you at any time for any reason. And most states follow "at-will" employment doctrine with exceptions to this varying wildly from state to state. The whole "two weeks notice" thing is only a courtesy, and you can bet such courtesies would

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by will_die (586523)
            Just went through something like this.
            There is no law in all but a handfull of US state preventing them from firing you the moment you walk in the door or even right after you have signed the paper work to start working with them and just told your former employer you are leaving. Almost everyone works under "work at will" which means they can fire you at any time and you can leave at any time. Most employment contracts will mention that you are a work at will person.
            Now you can usally get some money fr
        • Five Minutes? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:19PM (#17763690) Homepage Journal

          But there's nothing to say we still have to give you the job. If you want to be pedantic we'll hire you for 5 minutes and then fire you.

          Pah, another amateur lawyer. Legally, firing somebody is not that simple. Yeah, technically you can fire folks for any number of reasons. In the real business world, firing people is not something you do if you can avoid it. For one thing, it's is expensive, because you need to document that you did everything correctly. If you don't document a termination carefully, you could end up getting in legal trouble for what someone claims you did, and have no proof that you acted correctly.

          (I'm actually speaking from personal experience, and no, I'm not going to share the details.)

          The fact is, this dude's problem is not "bait and switch". That's when somebody knowingly makes a substitution. No sane manager is going to start a new hire out by screwing him: it's formula for disaster. What obviously happened was the manager making promises that the HR department doesn't feel bound to honor. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing — not an uncommon thing in large organizations.

          Confrontation is a lose-lose here. If the potential employee goes in thinking, "They're out to screw me!" it's going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: either he'll walk away from a job he disrupted his life to take, or he'll start a new job totally pissed off at the people he works for (not a formula for professional success!). For their part, the company has invested a lot of effort into hiring this guy, and made business plans on the assumption he was going to start work. They have a vested interest in making him happy, even if they show the usual bureaucratic stupidity in fulfilling their own interests.

          So forget about who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. The dude needs to express his disappointment, respectfully but firmly, to both the HR bureaucrats and the manager that made him the negated offer. Everybody here has motivation to work out a comprimise; nobody should waste time being self-righteous.

    • You forgot to add (Score:5, Insightful)

      by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipe ... m ['hot' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:01PM (#17756114)
      That you quit. Right now. They may promise you more money, more women, more booze, anything to make you accept the offer while look for someone else that is "less trouble". Trust me, you don't want to work for them. If they screw you around before you even start, then they will be even worse when you actually turn up. You will probably be miserable there anyway. If you are still unsure what to do, go out for a beer with you new co-workers. After a few drinks, you will be in a much better position to gauge the mood of the workforce. Something tells me it won't be positive.
    • Re:You do (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lcsjk (143581) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:14PM (#17756354)
      Talk to the HR manager, and tell them the problem. If the recruiter is not part of the company, then he/she can say anything and the company has no control. However, an honest HR manager will stop using the recruiter, and may even intervene on your behalf if company policy permits.

      Sometimes your new manager will intervene, but the main thing is to make sure the person you are working for is given a chance to help.

      An external recruiter may possible have mis-interpreted the information, or may be using old information.

      Finally, were you so interested in a new job that you did not hear or read? It could be your own fault if you were listening and not reading the information from the company.

  • by jalewis (85802) <jlewis@@@packetnexus...com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:48PM (#17754736) Homepage
    I think you're screwed.
    • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:06PM (#17755120)
      Even if you have it in writing, this first taste of the job is already quite sour. If you do have it in writing, do you really want to work for this company?

      If you don't have it in writing, talk to the person that extended you the original offer. Depending on what they do, you may or may not decide to take it/stay. Make sure whatever you agree to is in writing. Basically, any company that did something like this would be way in the hole and would have to work to keep any reasonable person.

      If you haven't quit your old job, or you gave notice but haven't left and they're really sorry to see you go, indicate you might be interested in staying. This would involve playing the "what can you do for me" game. You certainly don't want to be honest about why you're reconsidering. Say something to your boss along the lines of "I would have liked to have seen project X to completion. It is going to be great!" or something like that. Perhaps they can sweeten your current job and you can both save face and your sanity by "accepting" the offer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I saw Project X to completion. The monkey dies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:49PM (#17754742)
    I would seriously consider not taking the job if they don't try to fix it quickly. If they're going to screw you over before you've even started, imagine what they'll do once you're there.

    FWIW, I took a job cross country about a year and a half ago that included a relocation package. They handled it very professionally, and followed through with everything that they had promised. So far, it's been a good company to work for.
    • And if the original offer was in writing, QUIT AND SUE. If it wasn't in writing, quit and take this as a lessons learned to always get everything in writing.
      • by Zordak (123132) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:32PM (#17756692) Homepage Journal
        Actually, the general rule is that a contract does not have to be in writing to be valid and enforceable (there are, of course, some important exceptions). If they offered you a certain employment package and you accepted it, you formed a contract with them, regardless of what their "internal" policy is. Despite what another post below yours implied, this is a situation where a lawsuit would be very reasonable. It's the proper way to enforce the terms of a contract when the other party fails to perform. On the other hand, there is some risk in just quitting. In the best case scenario, you can get them to pay your lost salary until you can find a comparable job (and if your new job pays less, possibly even cover the difference). Worst case scenario is you could get nothing from them. That said, I wouldn't want to work for a company that started off the employment relationship by lying to me.

        I am not a lawyer, and I am especially not your lawyer. If you feel sufficiently aggrieved to sue this company, contact a lawyer and get his or her opinion. The opinions expressed in this post do not constitute legal advice of any kind to anybody.
    • by mr_luc (413048) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:17PM (#17755328)
      First, you describe it as a 'nightmare'. Is this a deal-breaker, or not, for you?

      If it's not, and you'd honestly take the job even without the better relocation package, then your goal is just to try to negotiate, right?

      If it IS a DEFINITE deal-breaker, call them up and tell them that, bluntly but softly: "I'm sorry, but that's what I was promised. I don't want to cause any trouble, but for me right now this is definitely a deal-breaker. Please talk to whoever you need to talk to," get info on how long it will take them to make a decision and arrange to call back, and then call back.

      If it's not a definite deal-breaker but you want to negotiate, the procedure is the same, but use softer wording.

      "Bob, you told me that there was [blah] to help me get there and get going, and they're telling me [blahrg]. I'm just really concerned, and I wanted to let you know where I'm at with this. I'm really excited about coming on board with you guys, and I'm really looking forward to it, but my situation right now is that without an adequate relocation package like the one you described, it just might not make sense for either of us."

      Also, mention to them that there are two ways that this is bad -- first, that the financial hit you'd take from the lower relocation package is enough to make taking the position a lot less attractive. But second, that taking that hit -- a substantial financial penalty -- is enough of a negative for you that it just might not make sense to start off what you *had* hoped would be a long and mutually rewarding career by being asked to take a big financial penalty.

      You didn't quit your job yet, right? You haven't yet taken a dump on your supervisor's desk, right? So you can survive. If your prospective new bosses react to these kinds of reasonable concerns unreasonably, you're better off where you are, so expressing your concerns can only help you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283)
      My current employer did great. I was going to apply after returning to the USE. A friend told me to apply before returning to the USA and they will play the relocation.

      I'm glad I did. The international relocation was a good deal.

      I would seriously consider not taking the job if they don't try to fix it quickly.

      On the other hand, I did apply for a job at one place (local) and was hired and was to report Monday morning. I arrived Monday morning with my toolbox and was informed it was not to start work, but
  • It includes a relocation package that they told me was standard for my position.

    Get it in writing next time, and sue the heck outta them if you get less than what's on the paper.

    • I think the OP meant that the "it's standard for your position" part was expressed verbally, but not necessarily the package itself. From what I read, the problem doesn't seem to be that he found out the package wasn't standard for the position, but rather whatever actually implemented was far different from the package at all.
  • new one on me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:50PM (#17754768) Homepage Journal
    I've never run into a problem like that. However, if I were in a situation like that and had already quit my previous position, I would probably

    1) take the job
    2) start job-hunting immediately
    3) see if this was an anomaly or business-as-usual for a company without a moral compass.

    If it's business-as-usual I'd jump ship as soon as I got another job.

    If it's an anomaly I'd work from within to make sure this never happened to anyone else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      start job-hunting immediately

      As long there's no term of service clause. Meaning, unless you work for the company for X amount of years or months, you have to pay back the moving expense or a pro-rated amount.

      Watch out!

    • Re:new one on me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:41PM (#17756818)
      I've never run into a problem like that. However, if I were in a situation like that and had already quit my previous position, I would probably

      1) take the job
      2) start job-hunting immediately
      3) see if this was an anomaly or business-as-usual for a company without a moral compass.

      If it's business-as-usual I'd jump ship as soon as I got another job.


      This would be an appropriate course of action if relocation wasn't an option. But relocating 2x possibly across the country each time back to back sucks.

      In this situation, I would go back to my old job and ask them if I can stay. The last 2 jobs I resigned from offered me counter offers when I resigned. I don't know what this guy's situation is like at his old job, but he may be able to renegotiate with them at least until he finds a better job.

  • In writing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nacturation (646836) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `noitarutcan'> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:51PM (#17754794) Journal
    Was the offer made in writing? If so, they are obligated to honor it and you'll need to take whatever steps you deem prudent to see that they do. Taking a new employer to court might start things off on the wrong foot, but you shouldn't let them walk all over you especially if it's a larger company. Check into whether or not there are any government agencies who can intervene on your behalf. If the offer wasn't in writing, you're probably screwed for the most part.
     
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pxtl (151020)
      Even if it wasn't in writing, a verbal contract is a valid binding contract unless superceded by a written contract (IANAL, just remembered from a course)... of course, proving that a verbal offer was made is nearly impossible.
  • If you have something in writting, you should be able to hold them to it. Of course, you have to wonder about the company if their first offical act is to screw you over.
  • by nietsch (112711) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:54PM (#17754862) Homepage Journal
    Why would you trust a company that makes these opening moves? My take on it is that use as a selection method and what they most need is sheeple that do not squeal too hard when they get done in the *rse. By screwing them even before they take the job they are weeding out theones that would. But be shure to tell the recruiter that this is why you are declining his offer. If it was an honest mistake he should be able to get it fixed, otherwise he will just don't care.
  • First question: do you have the original offer including the relocation package in writing? If you don't, you're screwed. If you do, however, that written offer will trump their policy. You accepted that offer, if they try to change the terms after the fact that's a material change that opens the whole thing up again. If the relocation package was actually part of the final paperwork you signed to accept the offer then the change isn't just a material change in the offer, it'd be an attempt to breach the ag

  • refuse the job offer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tmannes (873891)

    This hurts you personally, but if I were in your shoes, and I was able, I would refuse the job offer. I know it isn't an answer anyone wants to hear, but if everyone did this, it would be extremely effective at stopping this kind of manipulation! The problem of course, is that few of us are able to do this, as most of us live hand to mouth, with little savings. And lets face it, the IT industry isn't as fertile as it was even recently.

    Perhaps the next best thing to do would be to publicize the compani

    • asdfassdffdsd (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DingerX (847589)
      If it's a genuine case of the offers being different, as you say, do not under any circumstances work there unless it is resolved to your satisfaction. Tell them up front. It might be an honest mistake, but it establishes a bad precedent, and sours the relationship from the start.

      So write this out and send it off:

      Dear Big Company,
      I'm afraid the apparent change in conditions of my employment makes it impossible for me to accept the job. While I understand and appreciate that this difference may be an hones
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:59PM (#17754992) Homepage
    Before you peg yourself as someone who's unreasonable to work with --

    Contact the person who originally told you about the relocation package, and tell them that the 'Relocation Manager' isn't offering the same thing. Ask them to deal with the issue, or make a counter offer and tell them what you're willing to take in exchange for the lower package (eg, higher pay, alternative benefits).

    I've gotten the bait & switch on jobs before (my second day on the job, job responsibilities changed dramatically)-- my suggestion is deal with it as soon as possible, but don't become adversarial with the HR department -- have the person who hired you deal with them.
    • Good advice. Remember, the HR department works for the company, not for you; and by HR's name alone, they are putting you in the same category as servers and office supplies.

      Why don't they call it personnel anymore?
    • This is exactly the proper response. As a side benefit, you will find out (a) how badly they really want/need you and (b) find out how much pull your supervisor has with top management. Both are critical to how well you will be treated once you come on board. For a throw-away position, they can re-interview without much of a big deal (though if there's relocation in the offing, it means they're having problems filling it locally, or at all). Knowing how much your future supervisor can do for you will let yo
    • by mollymoo (202721) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:47PM (#17755906) Journal

      I second that motion. While this certainly smells bad for the company as a whole, it's quite possible you've just got a jobsworth or jackass in HR dealing with you, so don't write the whole company off just yet. HR never made a penny of profit for any company, their job is to save money by ensuring staff retention and quality recruitment. In this instance, they are not doing either and are just getting in the way, so bypass them. Speak (as in phone, not email - practice what you need to say and make notes if you're not great on the phone) to whoever actually wants you to work at the company - the person who gave you the technical interview. Let them know you're unhappy with the situation (you evidently are) and how significant a factor the relocation package was in your decision to take the job (it evidently was significant), then give them some time to deal with the situation. Expect to have to negotiate to some extent - the person who hired you will likely be negotiating within the company too (it may have been their screw-up giving you incorrect information or exceeding their power).

      I'm assuming, as you've posted to slashdot, that this is a technical job. If it's HR or admin take the job anyway - you'll have more power than you deserve and will enjoy weilding it! But let us know where it is your new job is, so the rest of us can avoid it :)

  • by Kohath (38547) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:00PM (#17755010)
    Burn the building down.
  • Uhm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iamthefallen (523816) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:00PM (#17755020) Homepage Journal
    While everyone seems to want you to quit, sue, or play hardball, they're not the ones in the middle of it.

    So why not try talking to the hiring manager first? It could be that someone doing the relocation is just taking their duties a little too seriously.
  • by currivan (654314) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:01PM (#17755034)
    Call the VP or Human Resources and tell him what happened. Chances are he'll be furious that this is happening and straighten out the recruiter or whomever gave you the wrong information. He'll probably also be able to arrange an exception to give you what you expected, or at least a compromise. No large company would do this as a matter of policy. No one wants employees who feel cheated; they don't work hard and might steal from the company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by archeopterix (594938)
      No one wants employees who feel cheated; they don't work hard and might steal from the company.


      Wink, wink, nudge, nudge...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      I'm pretty much guessing that he took a job with Comcast and this IS their normal operation procedure. They typically do not know wha the left or right hand is doing, managers will make offers that are outside what HR accepts as normal and never push through the right paperwork to make the exception. I know guys there that after starting work were being paid less than they were offered and it took months to fix.

      Some of the other reasons I left the place.
  • Not everyone is in the position to just up and leave. If you have a family, wife, kids, morgage, bills, commitments then you can't risk not being in work for a few months. There is also potential damage to your career, jumping ship too often does not look good on a CV

    In your position I would go back to the agent and tell them the full story, they may be able to get it sorted out for you, though it is unlikely, but otherwise tell them you are back on the market looking for another job - tell the other agenci
  • Don't Forget (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:20PM (#17755398) Homepage Journal
    That while many posting here think the company is screwing this person, maybe the fault really lies in the hiring manager. Quite often the hiring manager may make promises or say things they don't have a clue about.

    In any of these questions there are not enough facts to really figure out what happened. Yes, while this person accepting the new job may get screwed don't jump to the conclusion that the company is backstabbing and that the new employee should quit. This just might be some dumb manager who doesn't have a clue--or maybe a smart manager who didn't get the email on what the standard relocation package is now. There is way too much missing information.

    Legally, there may or may not be a contract. You can have a verbal contract which is binding, however, the hard part is proving the existence and details of the contract. Also, the newly hired employee might have a claim for induced reliance--the company induced him to quit his or her old job (maybe, because we really don't know when things happened) and because of that promise of relocation money he is out of a job. There is a potential claim here, but there is so much more that is needed before the new employee heads off to court.

    Like someone pointed out he should go back to the hiring manager and find out if they can do anything. But the real lesson is that you don't quit your old job before you have all the details of the new job worked out first.
    • by eltonito (910528)

      I'm also curious if the recruiter was a member of a third party and not a direct representative of the company. That might explain a lot if they aren't reprenting the company and are making assumptions based on prior recruiting.

      The company I work for now relocated me halfway across the country. Weeks after confirming that I had the job, the offer was finalized and delivered to me in writing. It took this long because manager hiring me had to get everything signed off by HR, which seems to be common pra

    • The hiring manager was authorized to speak for the company, and they have an obligation to honour his commitments. The proper response to him overstating things is to discipline him, not renege on their commitments.
  • Run. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodInHell (258915) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:26PM (#17755512) Homepage
    Run, don't walk, out the door.

    This kind of bullshit is endemic to a company, if you have to deal with it here, you'll have to deal with it once you get there and start working. This is how you end up stuck in a job you hate, and stuck in the city they moved you to.

    From a contract point of view, his claim is utterly false. It dosen't matter if it's not in writing, since you relied on the promise, it was reasonably foreseeable that you would do so, and this has harmed you - but that means suing your employer. That never ends well.

    Seriously, don't work for these people.

    -GiH
  • by arnie_apesacrappin (200185) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:45PM (#17755866)
    After you talk to the parties involved (recruiter, relocation department, hiring manager, HR) and make a decision to accept or reject the offer, document everything and publish it. If someone clearly wronged you in the process, try to save others from having to go through the same ordeal.


    I will tell you a related story. I was a consultant on an open-ended contract for 2.5 years. The company re-organized and I was given less than two weeks to either take a 30% pay cut or leave. I immediately started looking for other work, but stuck around for a couple of months while I found a new position. The one thing I did do was to calmly, rationally let everyone that was in a similar position know what had happened. After I left, they gave a whole group of consultants (about 20 people) the same ultimatum. Since they were prepared for the new offer from my story, all of them resigned, simultaneously. The company back-pedaled on the ultimatum and allowed those consultants to stay on under their current terms. It was still detrimental to the company, however, because 10 of the 20 left anyway.

    Several of those 20 people thanked me for sharing my troubles because they were better prepared. The details of your experience may help someone else not make the same mistake later. It may even make the business involved change their practices.

  • by jalbro (82805) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:00PM (#17756112)

    Uh, did everyone forget Hanlon's Razor?

    Make a polite phone call to the person who made the original offer and tell them what happened. Maybe they can straighten things out. If they can't fix it, or they don't admit they promised it, you have learned something useful about a possible future employer with no risk to yourself or reputation.

    -Jeff
  • Call list (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:01PM (#17756124) Homepage
    Step 1. Call your new boss and tell him: 1. The company is refusing to honor the terms of the offer, and 2. If the company does not honor the terms of the offer, your acceptance is rescinded. Wait 48 hours and find out if he has good news for you.

    Step 2. Call the HR Director, tell him you're hopping mad and you expect him to honor the relocation terms specified in the job offer. Wait 24 hours and spend the time tracking down the phone number of the relevant office at the state corporation commission for the state in which you were to have worked. Call and get the name of an actual case worker there. If the HR Director does not have good news, advise him that you have spoken with so-and-so at the state corporation commission and intend to file a fraud complaint.

    Step 3. Beg your current boss to keep you on for a while. You'll still have to find a new job pronto but at least you'll keep the paychecks coming for a while.

    Step 4. Call your would-be boss again. Advise him that you rescind your acceptance of the offer due to fraud on the part of the HR department.

    Step 5. Spend $200 with a lawyer to see if you are entitled to any damages as a result of the company's fraud.

    Step 6. Post a hate-page on the web, but stick to the straight facts so they can't sue you for libel. Step 6 is optional but it feels so good.

    Note that if they refuse to honor the terms of the offer they made you, the job is lost. I know you don't want to give up on it but do yourself a favor: walk away. If they'll screw you this blatently at the front end, they'll screw you far worse down the line when you're already moved.
  • Other possibility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:09PM (#17756256) Homepage
    Everyone here is assuming the guy is giving an accurate description of what happened. Honestly, I don't know that, I wasn't there. I beleive that he THINKS that is what happened. I also believe that it was discussed and he was told he was getting the standard relocation package.

    But what it comes down to is which person made a mistake:

    A. The recruiting person described the standard package badly or

    B. The employee heard/remembered it incorrectly.

    Without something in writing, the employee may in fact be in the wrong. That is part of the reason why it is so hard to prove in court. For something like a relocation package, I would definitely want a written, signed copy of what was offered.

    If you have that, show it to the relocation guy and say "This is what I was promissed. If I don't get it, I have a valid cause for legal actions. The fact that you have a company policy of ignoring written promisses is neither a legal justification nor is it an ethical act. It will cause the company many problems. Please explain the siutuation to your boss and have him call me back to discuss this extremely important ethical issue."

    If you don't have that, your only hope is to call the recruiter and discuss with them what was originally promissed and any compensation you can get if the recruiter agrees the company has reneged on his original offer.

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:12PM (#17756310)
    In Delaware at least, a verbal contract is binding. Legally, the company must honor it.

    The problem is that you have to prove the contract was made, and without a written copy that can be difficult.

  • Better Than Offered (Score:5, Interesting)

    by airship (242862) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:14PM (#17756350) Homepage
    About five years ago I actually got a relocation package that was BETTER than offered.
    I accepted a promotion with the company I had been with for two years, but in a different city. They offered full moving expenses, days off and travel expenses to look for a place to live, etc.

    Turns out that my wife and I decided to split at that time. Since she got the majority of the household goods (which was totally okay with me), the company agreed to move her to a town that was actually 100 miles further away than my destination, AND reimbursed me for a self-move rental truck for my stuff.

    While the split (and subsequent divorce) were tough, my company's compassionate attitude made an unpleasant experience much less stressful.
  • Here's what to do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yppiz (574466) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:24PM (#17756542) Homepage
    Contact your hiring manager (the person who you're going to work for, not the HR drone) immediately and politely but directly describe the problem. Tell them that the HR person is giving you an offer that is different from what the hiring manager offered, and that you'll be unable to take the job unless the issue is resolved.

    At the same time, tell your current employer that you may be available for contracting.

    If the hiring manager doesn't fix it, or tells you that they can't, then look for work elsewhere. Getting a promise pulled out from you during the *offer* period is surely an indication that you'll get more of this once you're hired, and are less likely to leave. Life's too short to work for a place like that.

    Good luck with this, and remember to be polite but firm, and start lining up other interviews now in case the offer isn't resolved.

    --Pat
  • by DrVomact (726065) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:40PM (#17756812) Journal

    I'm surprised you're even bothering to ask advice about this situation--it seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Moving across the country to accept a new job involves significant risk. You are taking a leap into the unknown. You might decide that you really hate your new location, or that you can't find a place to live at a price you can afford. You might find that the job is not to your liking, that your boss is an abusive jerk, or any of a long list of other possible negatives. Plus there is the possibility of financial loss, and the certainty of high stress involved in making any geographical move. If you have a family, the risks and stress become much greater.

    The only factor to counterbalance all these negatives is your faith in your new employer: you are trusting them to deliver on the promises they made to you with respect to your job duties and working conditions--and with helping to compensate you for the financial cost of moving, as was promised to you.

    The key word here is trust. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut instincts, and trust people. But trusting people whose actions show a lack of good faith is a dumb thing to do; it's like asking to be abused.

    It may be that the headhunter knowingly made false promises to you so that he could get his commission. But the headhunter represents the employer, not you--he is their agent. Depending on exactly what happened, the employer may very well have a moral obligation to keep the headhunter's promise to you--but even that isn't the heart of the issue. The bottom line is this: if these people really wanted to hire you, then they would go out of their way to make you happy, to make you feel good about taking this job. They haven't done that, have they?

    As for legalities, like "get it in writing, stupid", they're irrelevant in a situation like this. A deal is a deal, whether it's written on paper or spoken. If the other party breaks the deal before you've made any real investment in it, walk away. It really doesn't matter if the law is on your side or not. The law won't buy back wasted time, suffering or broken marriages. This is not a legal matter, it's a matter of common sense.

    I hope you don't feel any moral obligation to take this job. You have been released from any such obligation by their show of bad faith. Write a letter to the employer's HR department telling them politely that you are refusing their job offer and why; be sure to cc it to the CEO and the headhunter.

    I hope you haven't already given notice to your present employer. If you have, do anything you must to get them to let you stay. Chances are that you are a valuable employee, and they will be glad you're not leaving.

  • Your hosed (Score:3, Informative)

    by CharlieG (34950) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:46PM (#17756906) Homepage
    Unless you were given a specific offer in writing, including the details of the relocation offer, your hosed. The verbal agreement is worth exactly the paper it's printed on
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @02:56PM (#17757090) Homepage

    It was an IT services company. Except I was already at the job site when they pulled their magic now you see it, now you don't act. But it was my mistake because they told me they would "help" with relocation. Turned out their definition of help and mine were quite different. That was the same job the customer described the "intent" of making the job permanent. In this case the road to a hellish job in a hell hole of a town was paved with helpful good intentions.

    The others telling you this is a big, red flag are absolutely correct. If it starts out bad, there's nowhere to go but down, especially if this is a company renting you to another company. You will have endless niggling disagreements because they're squeezing you on one side and the customer on the other. The customer will always be expecting you to pay the tab, and in disagreements with your employer the policy will always be on their side. Besides, it's a cheap chisel and if you roll over on this they're going to keep chipping away at your hide.

    Go back to your current employer, tell them you changed your mind and wanted to give them first chance before putting them through the expense of finding someone new and yourself through the expense of finding another job.

  • Easy as pie! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mullen (14656) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:16PM (#17757408)
    This is such an easy solution

    1) Talk to your recruiter and find out what is happening. This could just be left hand doing something that right hand does not know about. If you don't get this resolved how you want it to be resolved, don't take the job. There is plenty of work out there for people who want to work and have skills. Recruiters and HR in general hate it when this happens. When Amazon.com moved me and the moving company screwed up and I asked my HR rep what to do. They made me sit down and tell them everything about the move so they could contact the moving company and get it resolved. To quote them, "If they screw up your move, we're not happy because you are not happy and we also paid them."
    2) Do not act on or believe anything that anyone is saying until you have the written contract to sign. Read it, understand it, don't quit your job until you have signed this and sent it back and the recruiter says they have it. Make it clear that you will not take the job until you get the paper work. Make a copy of everything for your records.
    3) If they still screw you over, then you don't have to stay there. You may just work one year and then find another job. The company will lose in the long run because they will not be able to hold top talent. Your life does not begin nor end with a job. Trust me, this will hurt the company in the long run much more than it hurts you.
    4) Move on with your life no matter what happens. If you get screwed over, then just suck it up and move on. Don't be bitter and don't hold a grudge (Although, you might suggest to others in the industry not to work there). Just move on with your life and enjoy it.
  • by tentac1e (62936) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:32PM (#17757686) Journal

    Every experience I've had with recruiters has been negative. At one position, I was promised $10k more, and health benefits from day 1. It wasn't until the 11th hour I was shown the real salary, and told I'd get health benefits in 3 months. I mentioned this later to someone in my department, and the same had happened to them.

    Remember when dealing with recruiters that you are upright talking cattle.

  • by stmfreak (230369) <stmfreak@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:36PM (#17757758) Journal
    ... especially if you were wise enough to insist on the relo package details in the written job offer. Remember, if it's not in writing, it's not yours.

    Your hiring manager is your champion. They are the one that justified your extravagant salary to the higher-ups. They are the one that made HR find you. They are the one that wants you and not those other scrubs that applied and even interviewed. They know the ins and outs of their company and can get the right wheels greased in seconds. Just give them a call and tell them there is a snag on their end that you would appreciate some help with.

    Be reasonable, but firm and insist that they correct this and stick to the agreement or you are going to be in a very awkward position. While already quitting your current job may make it feel like you've lost leverage, you are still in a strong position because you haven't started working with the new company yet--they don't want to lose you! Especially over something they already said you could have.

    As a regular hiring manager, I've seen my share of great candidates get lost because of HR's mistakes. One of my peers lost a great candidate because HR stood too firm on the salary offer, when he called the candidate to find out what happened he discovered that they guy only needed $2K more to say yes!! For some reason, HR failed to discover this and had too much ego to make the deal happen, sending this hiring manager back into the process over $2K.

    Call your new boss, he'll sort it out. If he doesn't, walk--you didn't want to move anyway.
  • by The Mutant (167716) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:05PM (#17758228) Homepage
    This is an indication of how messed up the place is; you're caught up in internal politics / disputes before day one.

    Imagine how it will be on day two, month six, year one. It can only get worse.

    Decline. And do them a favour - do it in writing, and tell them why.
  • Get a Lawyer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel@NOspam.hotmail.com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:09PM (#17758278) Homepage Journal
    An accepted offer cannot be treated this way. Here's why:

    You are entitled to the compensation in the offer. Anything less is "substantive dismissal".

    You can now NOT work for the company, and receive ALL benefits for a period of at least your probation. Settle out for three months of salary, and all (potential) relocation expenses, signing bonus, etc.

    Since you are now entitled to this much, the offer on the table is: (1) you are going to be a nice guy, and accept the original offer, or (2) will accept a payout, or (3) will take a higher signing bonus (to pay for your unanticipated legal expenses), and take the offer.

    The ball is in your court.

    This is not legal advice -- talk to your lawyer.
  • Fire your boss (Score:3, Informative)

    by wikinerd (809585) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:24PM (#17758500) Journal
    Become self-employed. You will never have to work with abusive bosses again.
  • Missing suggestion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abb3w (696381) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @05:04PM (#17759108) Journal

    Most companies large enough to claim that kind of intransigent policy also have an ombudsman. Find out who it is at the new company, and discuss the matter with him (or her). If there isn't one, consider it strike two against ever taking a job with them. If there is, discussing the matter indicates a willingness to work to solve problems from within. In some cases, the ombudsman may have enough authority to solve the problem on the spot; if not, they can almost always make those involved (the HR rep, your hiring manager, and the headhunter) all line up and get their stories consistent, and probably in writing.

    I'd make the headhunter the next focus. Make it clear that you understood such-and-such to be the offer, and he now not only needs to resolve the apparent discrepancy, but explain to you how and where the "confusion" arose so you can determine not only whether to back out, but whether the company, the headhunter personally, or both should be avoided in the future. The phrase "litigation is not a preferred option" may make a nice mantra. Try to avoid burning bridges, but be prepared to hold a lifetime grudge with clean conscience.

    And, speaking of the future, add to your permanent list of dealbreakers: personal copies of all company policies that will apply to you at the start of employment must be provided to you in printed form for your review (with legal counsel) prior to final acceptance of employment, with a cover letter listing the policies by name and assuring completeness of the list. Make sure all aspects of the offer are in writing. In important non-dealbreakers, you now may want to put identifying the ombudsman on your pre-acceptance checklist as well, and consider paying a lawyer to review employment offers for booby traps.

    Most important, take this as a learning experience: possibly painful, but non-fatal.

  • Two Words... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by raydobbs (99133) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @05:43PM (#17759672) Homepage Journal
    Promissary Estoppel

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel [wikipedia.org]
  • by kimvette (919543) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @07:23PM (#17761074) Homepage Journal
    Tell them to take their job and shovel it.

    Given that they cannot honor that agreement, it's clear that:

      - Internal politics run amok
      - They lack integrity
      - It is unclear that your position won't change to include "phone grunt" or "gofer" responsibilities once you get there

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