Finally brave enough to dump toxic client - why aren't I celebrating? (bit long sorry)(5 Posts)
I've had a client for 9 years and they always been difficult. I worked for them full time prior to freelancing and the owner is a total bully. His attitude is just horrendous. However he is usually busy elsewhere, the work was easy, well paid and I enjoyed being able to get them good results. I worked really hard for them and achieved some fantastic things. They are a well known company locally and I'll admit there was some cachet to being involved with them, especially when my company was still small.
No one has a good word to say about the owner and their company reputation locally is getting worse. They wanted me to instigate a new idea, but --it was insane-- I strongly disagreed with it , and although I said this nicely they started an argument with me accusing me of all sort of baseless things to do with my professionalism and skills, so I finally told them to find someone else. I always knew it would end badly with them when it ended. Inevitable given their attitude.
While one part of me is really rather relieved that I no longer have to put up with his crap, the major part of me is devastated. I feel heartbroken, bizarrely. Maybe because I have invested so much time and effort and it was so rarely acknowledged and now it's going to all be so bitter and nasty. I worry about getting paid for the work outstanding (about £4k). I worry about him telling all and sundry he comes across that I am shit. I worry about telling other clients about the split and if this reflects badly on me. I worry about how I will actually extricate myself from this situation because I had such a huge level of reponsibility there. I cannot just walk away - legally I have to hand over certain info - and I want to walk away professionally and properly because that way I wont see all my hard work totally go to waste. Ironically, the one thing I don't worry about is money coming in - I have been very lucky in recent months and work has been appearing everywhere with new clients who are more than happy with my work. I am in the best position I have ever been. I do not need this client or this crap any more. Yet still devastated?!!
I'm not sure why I've posted this. I need to vent, that's for sure and just feel shell shocked. I'm hoping people will have some positive words to help me focus on what needs to be done now - i.e. to extricate myself cleanly from there, stop wallowing and get on with new, exciting work for lovely clients.
It's only natural to worry about what a long standing client will say to others about you in this situation, but your observation that no-one has a good word to say about him or his company should give you some comfort, especially as you have lots of new clients coming in - people will probably understand that you have chosen to break with him.
I think it's also understandable to be sad to end something that you have worked long and hard on, regardless of whether or not you like the client, as you obviously take pride in a job well done. And if he owes you money, there are legal steps you can take to recover your debt, much as it might be unpleasant to have to go that route.
Try to concentrate on the new work coming in, hopefully for people who are more pleasant to work for.
Agree with Ros - no matter what he says to people, they obviously know what he's like and I'm sure will not give much credence to what he says.
I guess you feel devastated because you have worked hard there, clearly - and it is upsetting to work that hard but feel un-valued and un-appreciated. It's depressing. No wonder you feel that way.
I'd say all you have to do to extricate yourself 'cleanly' is be open and assertive with them, be willing to talk professionally. I think you need to be as professional as possible and assume they will treat you the same way. If they can't do that they are just showing themselves up for being a highly unprofessional outfit IMO. Don't be intimidated or cowed in your dealings with them - you're the one who's doing so well that you're able to bin them!!
I also wouldnt' worry about what the boss might say. He already has a bad reputation and any neg press from him is an endorsement to some.
I broke away from a toxic client last year and I worried at the start that he would bad mouth me I haven't noticed any dip in clients.
I'm very relieved to think I'll never have to work with him again.
Thanks ladies - positive words much appreciated. You're right - I need to be really professional in getting out of there because if it does come to legal proceedings then I need to show that I have played it right down the line and they are ones in the wrong. I've got legal support through a trade body too, so can get free help along the route if things get sticky. Getting angry will only make their behaviour worse. By behaving impeccably may well shame them into treating me right - I know he knows he is in the wrong here. Better stay away from the e-mail after a few glasses of wine then
I think the worst of this is it's me doubt myself and my abilities. I feel sorry for next poor sap who goes in there. I hate the fact they will be told all sorts about me and none of it true. Nevermind, they will soon see what it's really like. God help 'em!!!
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