Thursday, June 13th, 2013
When a client stiffs you, especially one you liked and have had forever, unless it’s for a lot of money, there’s not much you can do. But it sure feels bad. It makes you feel like all the effort you put into cultivating a relationship with that client was pointless, worthless. It makes you (even a little) nervous that future efforts to go above and beyond with other clients could be met with the same result. The rapport you thought you had was really just meaningless. You might as well be the plumber. Hell, I bet they pay the plumber.
Having tried to collect this meager balance since January 25, I inquired with several strong-arm collection agencies and anything under $500 doesn’t seem to be worth their time. It’s not really worth my time either, but I was hoping it would quell my desire to light shit on fire whenever I log into my accounting software or see that client prancing about online, smiling on social media, excited about their new business ventures.
It’s not about the money. If they had been honest with me, if they’d said, “I just can’t, I’m so sorry, times are tough.” I’d probably have waived it. I do that kind of thing all the time, to my detriment sometimes. But I take care of my clients and am usually pretty understanding and flexible. Yet, this client ignored me for months, totally flat-out ignored my emails. Their services were completed in January, but it took until I sent a somewhat shame-laden email in late April for them to give me some cockamamie story about how they would pay me at the end of May, which of course, despite my kind reminder emails, they never intended to do.
They could afford to open a new bakery in another country, but couldn’t afford to pay me a few hundred bucks? It costs multiple thousands of dollars to open a brick and mortar business, especially one in food service. In a last ditch effort, I even offered them the chance to pay me the principle, saying I’d waive the couple hundred dollars in late fees they’d racked up if they just would pay me the initial balance. Crickets, of course.
I just wanted to win, honestly. For me, for all of us who have ever been stiffed. It would’ ve been a small victory, but a matter of principle.
If your toilet stops up, you call the plumber and you pay him. If your spleen falls out, you pay the doctor. If you need a haircut, you pay your stylist. What makes people think that they don’t have to pay someone who does work for them? I’m not in the business of working for free. I bet the client expects $5 for that eclair they painstakingly crafted.
And while it happens so rarely, it disappointments me most that I was shafted by someone I thought was a trustworthy person, a long-standing, kind, honest client with whom I’d done a lot of work for almost a decade. If they’d decided to hire someone else, I’d be less offended.
So, consider our bridge burned, dear client. I’m sad to see our long-standing relationship pissed away over $280. I hope your flan gives everyone the runs.