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True Tales of Clientele

by Lopix of

Time for my little rant about clients, as I am sure many of you out there have met these people. I am doing this more in the spirit of humor, not spite, since it is so much more fun this way. Have we all not had the clients from hell? Bad attitudes, cheap misers, or just plain dumb?

I get a call earlier this week, an employee of this client is screaming at me that her email never got to her while she had been on vacation for the past 2.5 weeks. When their "tech" guy called me before she left to arrange for her autoresponder, I asked him who was going to be copied on her mail, in case there was something important that needed immediate attention. He said that she would not be getting anything that important so don't forward it to anyone, no matter how much I suggested that that was not a good idea, he refused to do anything about it. So I had it CC'ed to myself, just in case, like a good supplier should do.

So, back to this phone call. She is yelling at me that the email has to be somewhere, that it can't vanish, that there are tons and tons of important emails for her that she needs. I asked her if she knew that email had been sent to her, thinking if the company does not think that her email is that important, why does she? She tells me that she gets "tons" of business email every day and that there should be a lot waiting for her.

Well, funny, I had a look at what I had, what had been copied to me. Seems there were maybe 10 emails, none work related. 10 emails in 12 working days. Boy, talk about volume - never mind the importance of all this email that has nothing to do with work. So, I had a look at some of them to be sure, as I was about to send them back to her. Turns out they were replies to jobs she was applying for. She was not on vacation, she was in another city interviewing to leave my client's company. I phoned the boss to discuss this whole issue, as I was starting to look bad, as she was saying that I had lost all of this important work email and I was to blame for everything.

Now, let me state right here, I do not advocate opening anyone's email, it is like their snail mail and protected by law. So what I saw remained confidential, even though the owner of this client is my father in law. Want to talk about major conflict of interest? The interests of confidentiality or family? Yikes. But, the email I provide is his property, as are the computers they use in his office, etc. So I mentioned that there was nothing business in there, that in fact they were the complete opposite. He asked me to tell him what was there, and I mentioned my objections, morals and all. He said tell him. So I did.

Now, she has a lot of explaining to do, first as to where she was (getting paid for "vacation"?), second as to why she is applying for other jobs and third, why was she making such a fuss and wasting company time over what was not work related. The moral here being, watch what you say to a tech, as they know things and they can screw you back harder than you can imagine. Also, if your boss says that email is company property and it is monitored, believe them.

As to where her original emails went in the first place? Turns out the tech guy had been thinking something was up for a while and had been downloading her email while she was away and was about to go to the boss himself.

Then there is the client who just does not understand. I had worked with a computer store for a long time, running their website for them. Worked out very well, they got a site, I got equipment. While there were a few misstarts on other issues over a few years, I will get to the latest episode. Out of nowhere, they contact me, giving me my "assignment" in their words. Create them a one-page site and get it listed on all major search engines under 30 some-odd terms and have it done tomorrow. I emailed them back to say hello, ask where they have been, all that sort of social stuff.

Only response I get is them asking me if I can do it or not. While I sure did not like the tone, we had been friends for years, so I let it slide. I emailed them a very long note to explain what all was entailed by their request, how long it would take and when they could expect to start seeing results. They basically did not believe me, thinking I was stalling, that there was no way SE positioning could take as long as I said it could.

Now, let me point out that I am no SE expert, I think I am pretty good at it, but I am not one of the best. So, 30-odd terms & all the major engines, that means a lot of my time - the pages take time to create and tweak and the submissions take time, to do properly. By my estimate there was 42 days or so of work and submissions to do it correctly.

I tried to explain to them that I could do what they wanted and submit them all at once in one day, but that would likely just get them spam listed. I showed them a site I had recently done, showed them the position the site had on Google and patiently re-explained that the results were because that site had been done correctly.

They seemed to accept this and we emailed back and forth about some other matters. They then come back with an email asking me if it could all be done in 2 weeks. Needless to say, we did not get much further than that. I don't know what to do with these sorts of clients. No matter how much you tell them, how well you explain what it is that you do, they just don't get it.

While I could've taken their money and promised them the results they wanted, I did not feel right doing that. They likely found one of these scam SEOs and gave them their money and got the results I told them they would - squat. So, being the honest guy made me look bad in their eyes, while someone who was willing to take their money dishonestly, they probably love them. Sigh...

Then there are the greedy clients, the ones that think that the job never ends. You design them a page and suddenly they need updates or changes every day. While I try to be nice and do the first few, knowing that the client always forgets something, or changes their mind, or another employee needs to have their hands in it, there is a limit.

I have one guy, he must email me almost every other day. Change this, fix that, add a guestbook, link me to here, etc. It never ends. It has been going on for over 3 years now like this. Since he is essentially a friend of the family, I don't want to upset him, but it gets trying. Most of his "needs" are so small that they are not a problem. But if he does not get a reply to his email within about 48 hours, he's calling me - and he can't get me at home, on my cell. Just because he wants to change the wording of a page that like 3 people see a month. But, of course, to him it is always urgent and critical.

A while back, he and I had it out, what a set-to that was, let me tell you. But, in the end, we now have a very nice arrangement where I get very well compensated for the time and effort, but I am still not sure it is worth the time. Problem is, not only is he a family friend, but he is a jeweler, and part of the compensation is some (very nice) pieces for Lady Lopix - and do you think she is going to let me get rid of her supply? Not bloody likely.

In the same vein are the ones that seem to forget that they hire you to design a webpage or host their site - you are not their own personal tech support. Another client used to call me once a week, having crashed his machine, deleted his email, forgot a setting, locked himself out of his machine, etc., and over I would go to fix whatever he had screwed up this time.

Now again, when you say to yourself, why are you doing this for these people, why don't you tell them where to go? This another case where we came to an arrangement, where I was taken care of well enough to continue, but it takes quite a bit for me to give up that much of my time, let me tell you.

Anyway, this same guy, this is a beauty, called me once to say that something was wrong with one of his computers, so over I go. I could not believe what I saw when I got there. It seems that he had taken the case off of it, to try to install a card of some sort but had not screwed the case back on when he replaced it. He then picked it up to move it from one desk to another and guess what - the machine fell right out, leaving him holding the case only.

Needless to say, I did not know whether to laugh or cry - bent frame and parts everywhere. So, being the good Samaritan that I am, I sat there for an hour or two and put it all back together, in some vain hope that it would work. Nope. Off to the computer store he went, learning a rather expensive lesson in the process. The moral of the story? Never mix computer work with drugs and alcohol.

Lastly, is the contractor issue. I readily admit that there are some things I'm not too bad at, the rest I suck at. So, when something I cannot do needs to be done, time to bring in the outside help. Though I think I have done this for the last time, as the last guy made my life hell.

I get a job to do a nice flash site, but I am not flash guy, so I bring a friend on board to do it. We agree on a price, the client agrees and off the races we go. Now, I did all of the creative for this site, planned the look and feel and layout, did all of the graphics and wrote all of the copy. All he had to do was assemble it into a flash driven site.

We get halfway through the project and suddenly he wants half the money before he finishes it. Of course, this is not in the agreement (I know, stupid me, where's the contract? But, we were friends and ex-coworkers, I did not foresee any problems and tried to keep it friendly by avoiding the contract) so there is a bit of an issue. Knowing the client well enough, I got some of the money forwarded and passed it along to my guy.

Now we are done, the site has been okayed by the client and we are ready to post it to their domain and pull the trigger and make it live. Now he tells me he won't give me the site or the code until he is paid in full. I now start to wonder what sort of relationship we had, or are going to have, with this sort of behavior. Lucky for the staging server, so I pull the site down to my machine and explain to him that he has 2 choices - release the code and get paid, or get nothing while I post it myself and have someone else do the upgrades on the site in future.

So, I have the code and he has his money. And for the last chapter, when we are doing the final reconciliation and I am paying him, he sees the client's paperwork, as I had it with me (dumb). He starts getting all pissed off because of the money I am making on the deal. He agreed to $X for the job, I charged the client $Y - is that not how it works? You work for a company, you get yours, they get theirs. He was still getting 3-4 times what I was, and I did half the work and am hosting the site.

Needless to say, that was the last time we spoke for about a year and a half. He now understands how the process works and I just recently set him up with a lot of work that will keep him busy for a long time and make him a lot of money. The moral, be careful when working with friends. Always, and I mean ALWAYS, use a contract. And make sure to stand your ground. You are the boss, period.

Now, just don't get me started on the companies and managers I have worked for...

Lopix is a Porn Profit webmaster and contributing writer for and Xbiz.

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