I accepted a job as an independent contractor from a company I will leave nameless on here. The job description was to build 4 displays and stock product. The pay said 6 hours/$150. When I arrived at the store there were 8 displays and after the 6 hour point I was not finished. I stopped and called their support line. Support told me to finish the job and email my hours to them. I wanted clarification and asked support if this was a flat rate job and they said NO and that I would be compensated for my hours. I stayed until closing time and the job was still not done. The manager wanted a revisit because there was still 2 pallets of stock to work onto the displays and price stickers placed for each item. I sent support the photos of the displays and the form with the manager's signature confirming my hours. I then receive an email this morning stating the job is "flat rate" and if I do not go back they will not pay me. If I go back I am driving 1 hour just to get there and after all of the stocking and placing price tags I will probably be making 8 something an hour not to mention $25 in gas for two round trips. Is there any recourse I have?
Your best recourse is not to ask us but rather to be in communication with the hiring company. Tell them exactly what you have told us. There is obviously miscommunication here somewhere and best clear it up and getting it in writing before you ditch the job or hire an attorney.
I did contact the company. Today I exchanged 5 or 6 emails with the "Director of Client Services" who tried lying and told me that all support calls were routed to her phone for this job. That is not true. I called the support line and had to press 3 to be directed to merchandise support and I told her that, which she had no answer for. Over the past 36 hours they keep changing details about the job and now it says the job is "on hold" until further notice tomorrow. They basically told me I am not getting paid and now the updated job description says "flat rate" when it previously had not. In any case this company has been very deceiving with a job description that never mentioned flat rate in the beginning and with a 6 hour time estimate that in reality would take about 18 hours to complete.
I think it would be helpful to name this company because I am certain myself and others do not want to work for them. Sounds shameful. First, the job was twice as many displays as originally contacted for and then they did not stand behind what you were told by support.
No, as an IC you do not have recourse in the sense that a W-2 employee has recourse. As an IC, you are not an employee. You are in business for yourself so any problems you have with the party who "hired" you is contractual and, as such, your only "recourse" is to sue the company that 'hired" you as an independent contractor. Obviously, as a merchandiser, this is not going to be cost-effective so you just take the loss.
Not to mention, if you don't have a contract or the contract you agreed to is written in their favor (which it probably is), you won't even win the case in a court if you did sue them, unless the terms of the contract are illegal in some way. It's not illegal to write-up a contract that is hard to understand without the employment of an attorney, so you can;t even use that as a reason. It's ultimately your problem for signing a contract that you did not understand.
As an IC, if you agree to sign a contract that says "we (the contracting company) can withhold payment to you (the indep. contractor) at any time, for any reason", well, that is your problem. A court will basically tell you to make sure you read and understand the terms of the contracts you choose to sign and investigate the companies you wish to contract with before you sign anything with them.
This is why some companies that hire independent contractors require the contractor to have his own liability coverage insurance. They are not employees of the company and therefore are not covered under the company's liability insurance (unless they want to pay for an expensive policy that covers damages from IC jobs). You find this in the IT sector as well as equipment repair sector a lot - you are required to have your own liability insurance as an IC (usually a $1M coverage policy)...or you won't get any work.
Wow, so sorry to hear of your ordeal. The company in question needs to be called out on here so other IC's don't fall into their web. However, in the meantime, I think the answers that you have already got are spot on good ones. When working as an independent you have to be aware that you are responsible for being a good communicator and being up front about what you are willing to do and for how much.