NBC Universal's Version of the Payday Loan Scam for Freelancers
Yesterday we told you about Time Inc.'s freelancer scam—the company will pay you quickly, but it'll cost you up to 4%. Today, another tipster has clued us in to NBC Universal's version, which is even worse.
Time Inc.'s PayMeNow program offers its freelancers the option of taking a discount to be paid in a timely fashion, as opposed to waiting like a sucker for all of the money the company owes them. Our tipster told us that the company's baseline timelag for payments is roughly a month, but it offers a graduated discounted payment plan starting at 25 days for .5% off up to 3 days for 4% off (another Time Inc. freelancer says it actually usually takes 60 or so days to get paid if you don't grease the wheels, which sounds more likely to us).
But Time Inc.'s plan is positively generous compared to NBC Universal's. An iVillage freelancer sent us this contract, which provides two options: NBCU will sit on your invoice for 75 days and pay you what they owe, or pay you in 15 days for a 2.5% discount. "It's just outrageous," the tipster wrote. "Since the internet pays so little for most articles in any case, it's like, do I get my $150 for an article now or when I've forgotten that I even wrote it?"
Some commenters have pointed out that these discount schemes are common for invoicing in the business world. Which makes sense if you're a supplier who's willing to take a hit to get paid faster for a shipment of widgets. But it's a little bit different when you're talking about people's salaries. Here's the NBCU contract. UPDATE: Nielsen Media, which owns the Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and a bunch of other trades (and is selling them to Lachlan Murdoch), runs a similar scam. According to this BNet story, it's 75 days for full payment or 15 days for a 3% discount, and a tipster confirms that they shop it to their freelancers.