Before switching careers, I worked as a travel agent for several years. After a lay-off, I signed up as a temp for the AppleOne agency in Bellevue, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. They assigned me to American Express Travel in nearby Redmond which handles travel arrangements for Microsoft employees.
I enjoyed the work, and even turned down some full-time work offers from other companies to temp at American Express/Microsoft. On a Wednesday morning, about a week and a half into temping there, they sent me home. They told me
that in order to continue to work at a Microsoft vendor, I had to have a Microsoft vendor e-mail address, which they did not yet have ready for me. This seemed a little odd, since I was communicating with Microsoft employees by telephone rather than by e-mail. My on-site American Express supervisor also told me that while they might have the account ready later that day, it might also take up to three weeks. I was not going to be paid during this wait.
The following day, I tried to call my American Express on-site supervisor to get an update. Her receptionist answered and put me on hold, then told me to call AppleOne for updates. I couldnt speak to the supervisor. (I just love how temp agencies and their clients shift responsibility between each other, but thats another rant.) I called my AppleOne recruiter Philippa Langebrink Carson, and she said she didnt know when the e-mail account would be ready. I asked her if she had any short-term assignments I could take during the wait, but Philippa said she didnt want to place me in an assignment in case Microsoft
suddenly had my account ready. I told her I was concerned because I was not being paid while I sat at home. I was single and lived paycheck-to-check, as many travel agents in the Seattle area do. The following day, I called Philippa again and got the same response.
I then received a call from a temp company that hires floater travel agents to travel the country. They wanted to hire me immediately for three-week a position in another city. The pay was 50% higher than the Microsoft job, Id have a generous per
diem, and the city in question was one Id always wanted to visit. Still, I wanted to give the Microsoft job a chance. On Monday, I called Philippa Langebrink Carson and got the same runaround. I called the second temp company, accepted the position and was on a plane the next day. I called Philippa and advised her I had taken this three-week position, but would be interested in
working for Microsoft when I returned.
On Wednesday, Philippa called me and advised me that Microsoft and American Express were angry that Id taken the other temp job. I asked Philippa if the email account was ready, and she said it was not. Was I supposed to sit at home, unpaid? Apparently, I was. Philippa told that that Microsoft and American Express were no longer interested in working with me,
and neither was AppleOne.
Philippa called me about three months later to find out if I was working. I was surprised by her call, since shed advised me that AppleOne did not want to work with me anymore. It turned out that the reason for her call was to find out if I was working for any of AppleOnes clients, so that she could demand a finders fee from them! Thats right, even though shed had nothing
to do with my placement, she wanted a recruiting fee. The nerve.