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Enough Red Flags To Make A Sail And Take A Boat To New Zealand

, , , , , , | Working | March 13, 2023

Back in the 1990s, I was a programmer between jobs, and I saw a six-month software contract with a public hospital in the town of Napier, New Zealand. It was being advertised in Australia, so the deal included flights and a house, and because of the short-term nature, the salary was a decent bump above what I could expect to make in six months in a local, permanent role.

I’d have to leave my partner and cats behind, but it would be an adventure, and Napier is a beautiful town that I was excited to know. And my partner’s work was flexible; he could fly across — four hours plus internal transport — and we could enjoy some tourism on weekends, and he could explore during the week or at the end of my contract.

I started dealing with an agent, and everything was very professional. We did a phone interview, and they decided they wanted me. The agent then told me the employer wanted to deal with me directly, via email. I thanked the agent and waited for an email to arrive from my (potential) new boss. That’s when things started falling apart.

First, the salary, originally offered in Australian dollars, was now mysteriously in New Zealand dollars, representing a pay cut of 20%. Still, adventure and all — and still more than the going rate locally. Then, the house turned into a room at a boarding house for nurses and new doctors; it was clear [Potential Boss] expected me to find rental accommodation and pay for it myself. Still, I figured I’d look at the contract and see if I could still do this without losing money. I asked him to send me the contract.

Potential Boss: “Let’s sort that when you get here.”

Well, maybe it was worth the risk. I wouldn’t travel unless I had an open return ticket in my hand, and if I didn’t like the terms, I would just go for a week’s holiday in Hawke’s Bay and fly home on his dime.

Then, there was the final exchange of emails:

Me: “How do I get a plane ticket?”

Potential Boss: “Do you have a credit card?”

Yup, he expected me to pay for my own ticket to fly to him for a contract I hadn’t seen, let alone signed, and he certainly wouldn’t reimburse me for the flight before I signed. He had changed the terms multiple times when I had bargaining power. What might he do when I was thousands of kilometres from my home and out of pocket? 

I did not reply to that email. I called the original agent to tell him the whole bait-and-switch story and how I did not trust that person and had no desire to work with him. The agent thanked me and was very understanding.

I might add that I am a female, and though I have no reason to believe the job wasn’t real, it just seemed another reason not to throw myself at the mercy of a stranger who had not proved himself to be trustworthy in a country where I literally knew no one.

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