What do i say? Just when you think everything is plain sailing again (like my visit to John Lewis) along comes something that leaves you utterly, utterly shaken. I am trying, right now, to breathe calmly. However, when i’ve stopped – the calm stuff, that is: not the breathing – i’d appreciate advice.

I wrote well over a year back about probs i was having with one of my clients. I can’t find the post, but i remember it well. A squawk of indignation as i discovered that i had been unpersoned.

That is: i had written a series of reports for them – commercial reports which retailed very nicely, thank you, and made them a load of dosh and, out of the blue, i wondered why those docs weren’t turning up in searches on my name.

The answer, it turned out, was pretty poor. Because i had started, back in the dim and distant, writing for them under my old name, they had gone into the reports and…amended the author details in two ways. first, they’d changed my name back to old version. Second, in one, possibly two, key places, they had amended my author bio to remove reference to “she”. All done without reference back to me and AFTER i’d signed off a final version.

Unpersoned, misgendered. I’d have walked from them then and there… except that they are worth a significant proportion of my annual income and…i just can’t afford not to do the work right now.

OK. So i protested. Apologies given. Some stuff about not confusing readers and “aligning the name with what was on the contract”…which sounds like so much nonsense, as i’ve never come across that elsewhere…and we carried on working together.

In August, i received a cheque (for several £k)…and was pissed to realise that it was unbankable. Because for old time’s sake, i still write for this publisher as Jane Fae Smith (except its not Smith!)…and they had made the cheque out to J Smith.

So. I spoke politely to a lady in accounts, thoroughly outed myself. She said there was no reason why invoices could not go through as “plain” Jane Fae. I gave her my banking details and that, i thought, was that.

In November, next bill goes thru. The name on the bill is Jane Fae: the e-mail to which it is attached asks, politely, that they make any amounts payable to Jane Fae, as i can’t bank other stuff now and….

…this morning in the post arrives ANOTHER cheque to “J Smith”. What?

I am seriously pissed. But that’s not the end of it.

Talking to accounts (remember my nice e-mail with bill attached) the guy there tells me that the invoice, which i sent on a word doc, gave Jane Fae SMITH as the payee.


Let’s get this absolutely straight. Without telling me: without asking permission; someone on the client side has gone into my invoice and amended the payee details. And, they have done so with the result that i don’t get paid for a while longer.

I am whirling. I don’t want, don’t think i can afford the confrontation. But…this is ridiculous.

Help, please.



8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Carla said,

    My advice: bite your tongue and next time submit your invoice as a PDF! Carla

  2. 2

    Liz Church said,

    These people are not worth doing business with. For whatever reason, they don’t want to pay you. It may be transphobia but then again, in the current economic climate, they may be trying to shore up their cash flow. Get what you can out of them, walk away and don’t give them any more of your blood, sweat and stress-induced bodily fluids. If they’re going to the wall, let them go there alone.

  3. 3

    Adam said,

    Jane, are you sure that the man you spoke to was correct when he told you the invoice had been amended (ie is it possible he was instead talking about how it had been logged on their system)? Not that this would really change much, but problems with buggy, difficult-to-update accounts systems are perhaps easier to forgive than conscious stupidity.

    As for what to do next, I wonder whether the data protection act is relevant here: Perhaps: write a letter to them in which you explain that you believe that they are misusing your personal data, despite previous requests that they address the issue, and asking that they reply in writing confirming that they will properly update the information they hold about you and disclose said information to you.

    I think you can also call the ICO for advice.

  4. 4

    I have no advice I’m afraid. I hope it gets sorted soon. I find the amending your name on reports and changing pronouns the worst aspect. Though obviously the financial side is crucial to you too.

  5. 5

    Ah, I understand now why you were sensitive regarding my query about the name you wished to be published under at Eye For Film. Sorry to hit a nerve. It certainly wasn’t because of any doubt about your gender!

  6. 6

    Alex said,

    Hmmm, no advice really. It’s a tricky one. Have you thought about having a “nice” word with the Financial Controller or Financial Director? May be he/she has the answers. I’m thinking there could be a software anomaly when it comes to how the cheques get printed. Also, I’d have thought that mentioning any DPA ramifications would hold more sway with the FC or FD as this person may be more focused on these isues as opposed to one of the lower minions. Just a thought.

    Oh, and I can see the impracticality of “walking away” from the company. Hope you get somewhere with this

    • 7

      janefae said,

      No. Its not systems or bureaucracy. Its someone who quite deliberately changed the details on an invoice because my name doesn’t “fit”.

      jane xx

  7. 8

    demelzab said,

    What’s the name on the original purchase order from them? And what would the situation be if, after receiving a PO in the name Tom Smith the supplier changed his name to Dick Smith? For that matter, what happens when a corporate supplier changes their name between PO and invoice submission? TBH, this sounds more like over zealous “cross checking” rather than wilful malice.

    Anyway, if the Catholic Herald will publish your work as Jane Fae, I don’t see why any other publication should have a problem.

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