I had a clash with some clients today. I found out that they were doing something that is dishonest, unfair, and just plain wrong. Not only was this client taking advantage of me, he was also skimming my profits in the name of ‘sound business practice’.

I’m usually quite big on justice, so my first instinct was to call him and give seven pieces of my mind. I’m INFJ and I’m also a mel, so I have quite a few pieces to spare. But because I’m a writer, I express myself better that way, so I wrote an email.

The thing about being a woman is sometimes you get feelings you can’t quite explain. It’s called intuition. And my intuition was screaming at me not to hit the send button. So I called a trusted friend and explained what was going on. He advised to smile, play dumb, complete the project, then cut ties with the client. My tantrum email could:

  1. cause bad press
  2. be misquoted and used as evidence against me
  3. start beef with this client and all his associates
  4. paint me as a spoilt baby, which is far from ideal in the business world.

So I trashed the email, pasted a fake smile, and continued to work with the client. More than once during the workday, I grabbed my phone to dial and rewrote several mails. I had to rewrite them because 4 times out of 5, my first drafts were a verbal bitch slap. I had to remember to be an adult about things.

When things got really bad, I spoke to my better half about it. He asked if we could sue the guy, and when I said no,  he made me laugh until I cried. How I love that man.

Finally, when the project was over, I turned to walk away. But the thing is … I didn’t want to. I wanted to sit that client down and explain that I knew what they were doing, and that they wouldn’t get away with it. I wanted to brand them with purple ink, red flags, and a neon swastika, just like the guys in Inglourious Basterds.

But when I think about it, all the soldiers in the movie ended up dead, Shoshana got shot, Marcel turned to toast, and I don’t even like Brad Pitt. So I chose to be a grown up, smiled, curtseyed, and quietly shut the door as I left.

I know the client will wonder why I no longer take his calls, and he might show up at my door with chocolate or start a hate campaign in Zuqka or The Star. I just hope new clients will take my word over his.

In the meantime, I’ll smile, sit pretty, and try to avoid the fashion police. If he says one thing and I say another, then people can choose who to listen to. But if I get nabbed in Buzz with the wrong shoes or the wrong outfit, then there’s no 3CB to talk my way out.

9 thoughts on “What to do when the customer is wrong

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