Thursday, March 22, 2007

Perils for a Software Engineer

I was trying to negotiate a deal for a new apartment with this sales representative. (SR)

SR: No, sir you don’t know the prices at which apartments are sold these days.

Me: But this is stupid pricing. How can you expect a common man to pay such huge prices for an apartment?

SR: Sir, this is a great deal. We have lots of customers who are ready to pay more than this. If you lose this, you will repent later. You can never again get such cheap deals.

Me: This is not cheap. You are trying to sell me something between earth and sky. I can understand if this was for a piece of land but if this is the price for some space in air, this is ridiculous.

SR: Sir, there are lot of people willing to pay more and buy this apartment. More over you say you are a software engineer. You should not be the one complaining about high prices.

Me: What do you mean I should not be the one complaining about the price? I am struggling day in and day out to make a living.

SR: I know; even we struggle. You work in software; your salaries will be very high compared to ours. And if you people start complaining what should we do?

I fell silent. His words were not uncommon. The land prices, house rents etc in Bangalore have become really absurd these days. The land lords check if you are working for a software company and if you are, the prices are doubled and more so if you are working for a famous company. They don’t want to know what your salary is, but just want to know whom you are working for. And if yours is a variable pay structure, you are doomed. You should rather go to the next apartment on your search list, than stand there and explain the concept of variable pay to these people.

Even if you make up your mind and take out your most recent pay slip to explain, can you really do that? Variable pay constitutes 30-40% of the salary and the pesky gross salary which people outside refer is really what you get when your variable component is 100%. How can you expect somebody to digest the fact that your company always makes profit and exceeds market expectations but the variable component is mostly 60-70%? It doesn’t matter how the company performs, bonus is a small fixed component in the salary. Gratuity is also a part of the gross salary and very few people are aware of the fact that an employee should have completed a minimum numbers of years of service at the same company before he can get his gratuity amount. If he doesn’t stay that minimum number of years, he will loose that entire component. Then there will be those interest free loan components. If you take a loan you cannot quit the company till you repay it, and if you don’t take the loan you have to take pains to explain the huge difference between your gross and your net salary.

At least this concept of variable pay should be adapted through out the system. Everything should be made variable. Home rent, apartment price, land price etc. If your company pays you 70% of the variable components then your rent should also be cut to 70%. If you by chance get 100%, then you will pay 100%.

Anyway I did not have my latest salary slip on me nor was I in mood to explain all this to the sales representative. I told him that I will get back to him on this in a few days and ended the conversation.

~Narendra V Joshi

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