So when I signed my contract about a month ago, the base salary was 99K. Now I started this Monday, and I was told by someone in HR that the extra 9K was a typo and it was meant to be 90K and it will be amended.

Can/should I do anything? They could just fire me if I made a stink about it. Also, I have a discretionary bonus that is targeted at 15% (and I'm told is essentially always gets granted) so if I was adamant about the 9K at all they could just take it out of my discretionary bonus pay when the time comes. Also I should note, that over the phone I was told 90K and not 99K (about 4 hours before receiving the contract). I just figured I misheard as I got not one, but two contracts with the 99K figure.

I did get hurt in one non-trivial way by this I should mention. I was getting poached from another company, so the figure I gave to my boss as the one to beat was the one in the typo. Thus, in order to retain me I told him he had to pay me 10K above the offer in the incorrect contract. He did not reach that level, but it is possible that he would have been willing to beat the original offer by offering up to the typo offer which would have changed things a bit.

  • 10
    This is a good life lesson, unfortunately you found it the hard way. When it comes to important information, you always should double check -- particularly if you have reason to believe there is a discrepancy or inaccuracies. You can't go back in time and change this but you should have clarified after receiving a contract with a different number than you were expecting or otherwise confirmed it.
    – enderland
    Jul 15, 2016 at 2:54
  • 1
    Is is 9K or 10K? Is that a typo?
    – paparazzo
    Jul 15, 2016 at 5:56
  • @Paparazzi he was negotiating with his old bos for an extra 10K (109K total). The typo was the offer of 99k being 9k and him maybe losing out on a 100k Job by his old Boss. Lets just say it is confusing Jul 15, 2016 at 8:07
  • 2
    Is 99K on the mutually singed contract?
    – Jeremy
    Jul 15, 2016 at 8:49
  • 1
    What country are you in?
    – Myles
    Jul 15, 2016 at 15:59

7 Answers 7


I was told 90K and not 99K

That's pretty strong evidence that the company was not intentionally being deceitful, but actually did make a mistake.

If you verbally accepted the $90k (or was willing to accept the $90k), then it would make sense to chalk this one up to an honest mistake and just move on.

You could also offer to "split the difference" and agree on something like $95k or so.

If instead you would not have accepted the $90k, then you can raise the issue up as a sticking point and attempt to demand that you get the contractually agreed-upon $99k.

You need to consider how important this $9k is to you, and decide if you are willing to leave over it or not. Clearly you can get other offers in that range elsewhere - perhaps from your previous employer.

  • 4
    I agree. If I may engage in a bit of reducto ad absurdium, if the typo was an additional zero at the and, making it 900,000 would he have said anything? I think the OP was hoisted by his own petard here. Jul 15, 2016 at 19:54
  • @RichardU Thanks for that idiom; I can see myself making use of that phrase going forwards!
    – Appulus
    Jul 18, 2016 at 7:30

The fact that they waited until you started, rather than addressing the issue immediately, tells me that this company is deceitful, and not just inept.

I would be looking for another opportunity as soon as possible. When they ask why you are leaving, "You did not honor my contract." Leave it at that.

Hopefully you have some immediate options.

  • 1
    Classic case of bait and switch Jul 15, 2016 at 8:16
  • 23
    "over the phone I was told 90K" makes it sound like an honest mistake to me. Jul 15, 2016 at 8:50
  • 5
    I agree with CodesInChaos. The author should've asked again just in case when he noticed the extra 9K, which is what most people would've done.
    – Seth
    Jul 15, 2016 at 10:45
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    Collective reply: That is the whole point of the written contract: To make certain there are no ambiguities or misunderstandings beforehand. That's why the poster was looking at the number on the paper as being more authoritative than a phone conversation. The fact that the company just said, "We're going to change it, now" in (apparently) a very dismissive and flippant way tells me the company lacks integrity. If they made a mistake, they need to own up to it, not make the poster pay for it. Jul 15, 2016 at 15:39
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    It sounds like a honest mistake, but a mistake is a mistake. Contracts are intended to have legal effect. The company should eat it up. If they feel unhappy, they should fire the HR person who prepared the contract for not double checking and causing the company to lose money.
    – mandy
    Jul 15, 2016 at 19:23


  • If you're not happy with the "new" salary, start looking for another job.
  • If you can live with the salary, stay.
  • Stay and fight if you want, but only if you are prepared to lose.

The old job

So you "could have" stayed at your old job with a pay bump because you threatened to leave. I do not doubt that this works from time-to-time, but I've seen it fail too many times to even consider trying it.

But whether it would've worked or not, that is in the past, so there is no sense in losing sleep over it. Learn from it, but don't regret.

The current offer

So HR screwed up and then covered their mistake by screwing you. Imagine what would've happened if they'd printed the contract for $80k and you didn't catch it until after you started working. Do you think HR would've given you the extra $10k once you pointed out their mistake? (if so, I might have a bridge to sell you...)

Some discussion

So you have a decision to make. You can take this to a lawyer and see what they say. I would NOT threaten your company over this until you have carefully weighed the lawyer's opinion.

You indicate you might roll over and take the cut because of this "bonus" thing.

(and I'm told is essentially always gets granted)

Be prepared for heartache. No, seriously. Bonuses are extra; if you are planning on the money, you will be disappointed. Sure as snow in the desert, the two things you CANNOT count on are bonuses and vested stock options. Memorize the following:

In the business world, unless a promise is in writing, it does not exist.

Let's do some math: 15% of $99k is $14,850. 15% of $90k is $13,500, or $1,300 less. So instead of making $113,850, you'll make $103,500.

If you don't get your bonus or it isn't 15%, then what? You won't find out until much later and by then it will be too late. We call this gambling.

Bottom Line

You have to decide if you're fine with $90k and nothing else. If you are, great - put this one behind you. If not, then I suggest you start looking, for your next gig, then go to HR (the head of HR, not some flunky) and explain the situation. That person may rule in your favor. If not, you've already started the process to locate a better job.


You can tell them you aren't interested at only 90, and continue hunting for another job. Either they will decide you are worth the money and make a better offer, or they won't.

If you are asking whether you can force them to honor the written contract -- maybe, if you paid a lawyer to go after them, but that would probably be a career-limiting action, and since that's really a legal question it's off topic here. (And remember that they already have lawyers on retainer.)


Call that other company again. If the position hasn't been filled yet, there is a good chance that they will take you. If you come back with the attitude "I'm happy to work for you, because unlike some others you are an honest employer", that won't work to your disadvantage. It may not work because the job is gone, but it's a chance that you can take.

If that doesn't work, take the job to have cash in your pocket, and look for a different position immediately.

  • That was his previous employer.
    – BryanH
    Jul 18, 2016 at 17:35

Hard to know how to answer this question definitively because it is based on risk/reward which will be vastly different between cultures, employment markets, individual circumstances and jurisdictions - e.g. no point insisting on the 9k if the job is essential to you at 90k, you'd be throwing out the baby with the bath water. As always your negotiating position would be strengthened by having other options, though, so if you are inclined to argue for the 9k, start looking for another job.


I Would totally fight this one. Lets look at what might happen

1: They sack you. presumably you are in your probationary period so they can just terminate your contract no probs. But given that there is this 15% bonus anyway, its cant be that they simply cant afford the extra 10% going through he whole hiring process again would surely be expensive. so this option seem unlikely. Plus you can go back to your old company.

2: They take it out of your bonus. Again a possibility but this will be a year down the line, everyone will have forgotten about it. any then there is the year after that. I think you would have a good argument for discrimination if you were constantly given a lower bonus because "HR think I should be paid less for some reason!!"

3: They chalk it up to experience but hold a grudge against you. Well its unlikely that any of your immediate colleagues are involved. You might never speak to HR again.

Lets look on the upside:

A 10% increase in salary is not to be sneezed at. It will pay year on year, it will be factored into your bonus and raises. Your next employer will use your current salary as a starting point for what they offer you.

In terms of lifetime earning this is a huge amount and worth fighting for.

  • 1. They sack you $90K per year is better than zero. 2, I have the opinion your word is your bond - what working environment will this install that any mistake that is wrote down must be obeyed. Heaven help you if you make a mistake. 3., It comes across as money grabbing for a simple and honest typo.
    – Ed Heal
    Jul 17, 2016 at 16:25
  • @EdHeal - If you "Accidentally" signed a contract with a company that had you paying them more than you intended do you think that the company would be willing to just give you the break? This works both ways. Jul 18, 2016 at 19:38

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