Ever Deal With An Obnoxious Client?

by Harlan
17 replies
I have on more than one occasion.

Once, I was doing some work for one of the big mailers. Not only did I do my job but I also did extra work for them.

We went back and forth on the copy. I was working with a team of lawyers.

But one day, out of the blue they said they no longer wanted the copy.

What?

We just spent two weeks going over the copy every day.

And not only did they plan on reneging the final payment - they wanted the first payment back.

And I spoke with David Garfinkel and he recommended a book.

I got it overnight and read it.

When their lawyer called to threaten me, I asked if I could record the call.

He said, "Sure, record all you want."

He proceeded to start in with his diatribe.

When I reached into my bag of tricks... he was tongue tied.

He had made himself look like an idiot AND it was all recorded.

I couldn't stop laughing.

Here's the book you should get:

In The Line of Fire by Jerry Weissman

Highest recommendation.

Peace
#client #deal #obnoxious
  • Profile picture of the author perryny
    Thanks Harlan,

    In my off-line, non-copywriting business, I get into an occasional dispute with customers. Not often, but when it happens, it's frustrating.

    I maintain complex computer systems. Sometimes they break and sometimes they're not so easy to fix. Sometimes the customer doesn't like the reason for why the fix isn't happening fast enough and on rare occasion, a dispute erupts, even to the point where payment is refused.

    It's frustrating to know I'm "right", but not know how to convey it effectively.

    Hopefully Jerry's book will help me to develop my defense chops.

    Thanks again,
    -Rob
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    • Profile picture of the author LaunchGal
      It's probably fair to say we all have at some point in time. and sometimes a client is having a bad day, or their boss is, and its not really about us. Here is how I minimize dealing with these types of clients:

      • spend time on client selection. make sure they meet my criteria and I am choosing them too; I also try to only do business with clients I like
      • set forth expectation clearly in the proposal [if via verbal conversation, always send them a copy in writing]
      • manage expectations during the engagement
      • when a problem arises, communicate with them immediately and often [nothing worse than when a consultant 'disappears' rather than deal with a problem
      • find out what is really bothering them [sometimes it's not only the problem at hand....]
      • find out what would make them happy and if reasonable, deliver that solution [and then some, if possible]
      hope that helps

      Jane
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  • Profile picture of the author Jag82
    That's it! I'm sold!

    I've studied negotiation skills...persuasion skills...
    but never on defending yourself in the line of fire.

    I'm getting this book. Definitely gonna
    come in handy in future.

    Thanks for the heads up, Harlan.

    - Jag
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  • Profile picture of the author PPC-Coach
    It seems no matter what you do, there will always be some idiot with their own agenda who will try anything they can to sabotage you. The longer you've been online and the more established you are, the more they come out of the woodwork.

    Online it's easier then ever because they become keyboard warriors. They'd never do or say what they do online to your face because they're immature little children.

    I speak from experience on this issue.

    LOL
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    • Profile picture of the author Dan Axelrod
      I could have sworn this was going to end with a "Want to know what book this was? Opt in to this email list to find out!"

      Thanks so much for sharing the value, Harlan. It's much appreciated by us all.
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      • Profile picture of the author dorothydot
        Thanks, Harlan. I've had one client who, despite the proposal and initial agreement, decided that he paid me big-bucks up front - therefore he owned me and could ask me to do whatever he wanted. For example, I had to drive to his office (only about 5 miles away) and download his digital camera onto MY laptop then onto a jump drive for him just because his antiquated computer wouldn't recognize his camera.

        It's like... I always throw in some kind of freebie, maybe an extra article or autoresponder; but this guy decided what I was going to do for the freebie - several times over!

        Sheesh!

        The topic was ideal for me: he'd designed the ultimate Green Home and wanted me to help him raffle it off. Between my Biology degree, years as a ranger and arborist and then years as a community planner, he couldn't have found a better fit. But... !

        Oh well.

        Your book would've come in handy for this character, you bet!
        Dot
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    Weissman provides techniques that will help someone defuse hostile inquiries without being defensive, evasive, or contentious. When you get right down to it, most of these strategies seem obvious and logical. Rely on absolute truth. Honor the audience. Listen effectively. Paraphrase and restate the Roman Column (the key issue) of the question. Identify and develop position statements for each red flag issue. Achieve Topspin. Prepare and practice, practice and prepare.
    Amazon.com: In the Line of Fire: How to Handle...Amazon.com: In the Line of Fire: How to Handle...
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  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    Looks good. And it's got some good reviews, too.

    Funny, isn't it, how no matter how many reviewers say good things, there's always one who has to come in and pan it.

    In my experience, it's usually the ones who aren't too bright and fail to understand it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hesster
    If you read the reviews, the one bad one is from someone who bought the book and never received it. So they weren't even reviewing the actual product.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
      Originally Posted by Hesster View Post

      If you read the reviews, the one bad one is from someone who bought the book and never received it. So they weren't even reviewing the actual product.
      I read the reviews on both .com and .co.uk.

      Which did you read?
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  • Profile picture of the author myeanne
    Yes, we had one client before who wanted to refund what he paid for us and we agreed on the said condition however, he wants an additional $500 for the amount he paid for us.. Da*n man!!
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  • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
    I learned to start out with a price point under $50 as an entry level offering for my clients with a more robust back end. That way if a client becomes troublesome or is someone you just don't want to work with you simply refund their money back. Consider it a client try out period. The good clients will always pass I promise!
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Hi Harlan,

      Sorry to hear of your challenges Harlan.

      Having a dispute like this with a Client is probably no fun. And it pains me to hear of your situation, even though you got a laugh out of it.

      In copywriting, there are always going to be differences of opinion about strategy and copy that's appropriate and still converts.

      For me, in cases such as you describe, I always side with the attorneys.

      If I am in a market that is scrutinzed by the FDA, FTC, as well as any of those other agencies, I yield to the attorney's experience and expertise. And at times, I request they get involved.

      The things that these governmental agencies can do is enough to make you paranoid as a copywriter. At least for me. While I'll go all out initially to make the copy and offer irresistible, frequently the attorneys will reign me back.

      And that's totally ok. I want that feedback.

      I never want to put my Client in harms way, unknowingly. I never want it on my conscience that they were fined or that they had to sign a consent decree.

      I am not an attorney, and I never want to be one. And even if I do know the law as a layman, my Client (and I) can sleep at night knowing the copy passes legal muster by someone who knows for sure, can stand behind it, and if ever challenged, can argue convincingly why the copy is within the law.

      - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author HibikiTarek
    I have, many times. I find it easiest to just quickly finish their work to a good standard, and then just leave them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
    Originally Posted by Harlan View Post

    I was working with a team of lawyers.

    But ... they no longer wanted the copy.

    And not only did they plan on reneging the final payment - they wanted the first payment back.

    And I spoke with David Garfinkel and he recommended a book.

    I got it overnight and read it.

    When their lawyer called to threaten me, I asked if I could record the call.

    He said, "Sure, record all you want."

    He proceeded to start in with his diatribe.

    When I reached into my bag of tricks... he was tongue tied.

    He had made himself look like an idiot AND it was all recorded.

    I couldn't stop laughing.

    Here's the book you should get:
    And I was guessing it would be this book:



    The ad appeared frequently in Investor's Business Daily in the early to mid 90s. I bought it when I saw the section about how to stop deal-killing lawyers. Best $50 I spent (back then).

    .
    Signature

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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    Hey, Mr Subtle.

    I just had an epiphany.

    That advert you posted was great ... I only read the HEADLINE, a few of the BULLET POINTS on the left, and the subheadlines...

    ... and I wanted to buy it.

    Didn't even read the regular copy.

    What does that tell you about copywriting?
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  • Profile picture of the author Jerky
    Stories like this make me glad I live in a state where I can legally record a phone call without the other person knowing. Our state law says only one person engaged in the conversation must know it's being taped - which can include one of the parties.

    Ironically the only time I ever used this tactic was with a hospital and health insurance company over a super cheap medical bill.

    But I know this will come in handy some day for unruly customers...

    And I'll check out the book as soon as I finish typing this reply. It sounds amazing.
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