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Turning down work you've already informally agreed to do..without alienating the client?

(12 Posts)
hattyyellow Wed 24-Sep-08 11:51:55

Help me..am a hopeless case.

I'm been working since May with a client where the relationship has been pretty rocky. They have since apologised (and been regulary paying me thanks to all your help) .

About a month ago when things were particulary bad (v unpleasant boss who had been fired for bullying from last job) I had a call from a previous and lovely client. Another organisation he's connected to had some work that he thought I'd be well placed to help with.

Thinking there was a good chance my current contract was about to finally collapse, I expressed a reasonable amount of interest, whilst saying it depended a bit on childcare/my pregnancy/how much time a week they needed from me.

He's now come back and said they'd like to contract me for a day a week. Trouble is I just can't fit them in, without working all weekend - which I'm loath to do as I'm 28 weeks pregnant and knackered enough with my existing work.

How can I nicely turn them down, after saying I'd pretty much do it? I really don't want to annoy this client as he's been lovely to me and is a great source for future work. But I don't want to ditch my current contract (who won't reduce my days) and lose three days pw income in return for one day pw income.

I know I sound so unprofessional to have taken on more than I can handle - I was so stressed at the time and didn't want to lose any work if my contract had been terminated..

Any help gratefully received.

wingandprayer Wed 24-Sep-08 12:34:34

Bit confused (full of cold, not your fault) -it's the three days a week is for a client who's been difficult/bullying/non paying even in the past?

If you are pregnant and probably going to be cutting back anyway, why not get rid of the PITA client and swap for the nice one. They will only bring you more stress in my experience - leopards rarely change their spots, and you don't need that on top of new baby and other work. Besides, surely the one day might turn into more as you prove your worth to their business.

I have just dumped toxic client after similar fall out, and having gambled on a client who wanted a day week, happily it has all worked out OK and they need me for more and I no longer have to deal with psycho ex-client!

hattyyellow Wed 24-Sep-08 12:45:20

Cheers Wing.

Yep, you're right - three day client is the toxic one.

Nice client currently offering one day, but that's based around my availability so could possibly be more.

Trouble is I can't start bargaining without agreeing to do the work ..tempting though, they are a lovely little company from all accounts..

Trouble is if they don't offer more than one day then financially we can't afford to sacrifice my three days a week income .

Hope you're feeling better soon.

wingandprayer Wed 24-Sep-08 18:30:42

Who says you can't bargain before accepting work? I would be tempted to lay cards on the table with them. You don't have to explain that old client is a nutter, but you could say " I really want to work with you, so much that I'm prepared give up three day booking for someone else, so what liklihood is you'll have more for me in time?"

And is it REALLY impossible for toxic client not to be able to cope with less than three days from you or would they just do it to spite you? Can you go to them with plan saying you've got 2 days now here's how I'll cope with the difference...They are going to have to cope without you once you have that baby I'd imagine, even if it's for a only for a few days/weeks/months (depending on how much on ubermummy you are of course wink)

Toxic client has taken advantage before from the sounds of what you've said above, and although things are better now you still don't want to rock their boat to the extent of turning down other good work. Is fear of it going back to being hellish again influencing this decision? Or is it that in your industry it's just not the done thing?

hattyyellow Wed 24-Sep-08 19:18:49

Toxic client would go nuts sadly..they're already not happy about me going on maternity leave at 37 weeks.

And they pay more...we need the cash.

I need to talk to new client don't I? Thank you, I really appreciate the help.

hotbot Wed 24-Sep-08 19:50:36

is there really no way you can bite the bullet and do the days work? it sound really bad that yuck client even resents your maternity leave

wingandprayer Thu 25-Sep-08 09:08:11

Is this your first baby? I was just wondering how toxic client was going to cope then when you have to take time off because the baby has a cold or you need to do something with them?

I know you're knackered and I've been where you are and I know how easy it is to just go with the flow rather than risk a whole lot of hassle. And do you know what? It got me nowhere. I put up with all their crap for years because I felt I'd worked too hard to lose it, because I thought I couldn't survive without their money, because I worried about the loss of a prestige client. When they yet again tried to bully and brow beat me and I finally stood up to them is one of my proudest moments. The relief to be shot of them is tangible. Should have done it years ago.

It's so hard to get perspective when you are caught up in a sitaution like this but look at the facts:
1- They have treated you badly in the past. unless the people involved no longer work for the company they, in all likelihood, will do it again because they can
2- When baby comes along you will have even more demands on your time and they cannot be reorganised or reshuffled to fit in with work. Client has already given you grief about mat leave. Signs are not good for future flexibility.
3- Maternity pay is at flat rate anyway, clients wont be paying it of course and for whatever length of time you wont be working anyway, so any financial benefit to working for toxic client would be minimal for short term. When you do return to work you'd possibly have to subtract childcare from money made anyway.
4- You risk losing nice new client totally and being forced to stay with toxic client until some other opportunity comes along. How long might that take for you? What happens if toxic clients bins you first because they're fed up you take a day off with a sick child or any other random reason?

Unless you need your money to pay mortgage, put food on the table, pay off debt or do something else that is absolutely critical to your family life then PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!!!

hattyyellow Fri 26-Sep-08 08:38:32

Thank you so much -I really do appreciate all your thoughts and concern.

Luckily my contract ends at the start of December when I commence maternity leave and I have no plans to work with this client again! They would just rather I'd taken maternity leave later - err perhaps starting as my waters broke ideally!

It is better paid and the work I'm doing is much more impressive for my long-term career..the other organisation are a little local organisation who are very nice but the project is very small scale..

It's my third baby, hence partly why I'm so knackered as I already have 3 year old twins! DH is self-employed as well and we fit everything around eachothers work and childcare so he's already working Saturdays..for me to work Sundays as well makes me want to cry! We're also already using up all our early years nursery funding so paying for childcare to take on an extra client starts getting expensive when you have two children to pay for at once!

When I go back next year, I'll be doing 1-2 days per week with either DH looking after all 3 kids or a childminder, so easier to fit around work - until they start school!

Much as I hate to say it, I think I have to find a way of getting out of nice client..

missingtheaction Fri 26-Sep-08 09:11:29

Just tell them the truth. You said you were interested but it would depend on how much they offered you etc. You can say you would love to work with them but to take them on in addition to your existing contract would overcommit you and you wouldn't be able to offer them a quality of work you'd be happy with. You would need them to guarantee at least x days a week for x weeks for you to be able to make the switch. (also you'd need to work x weeks notice and will only be available until December).

They are a business too and will completely understand your position, which is a perfectly reasonable one. They know you have to live, and the fact you aren't squeezing them in is a very good thing - it shows you wouldn't want to take the work unless you could do a good job for them. You are also telling them what they could do to make it happen.

This is business, not personal. Keep it professional - but whatever happens tell them you will be in contact when your maternity leave ends!

hattyyellow Fri 26-Sep-08 10:01:27

Well, life works in mysterious ways!

Toxic client called this morning to say they had fired the client whose project I was working on. They did say their relationship with the client had contributed to a lot of their "frustration" and apologised again that this had leaked through to me..

So they've given me my week's notice for this project and I am free to pursue other avenues of work! How bizarre is that! They did mention other projects in the next few months that they will be in contact about - but I am hoping to fill up my week asap so I won't even be tempted to work with them again.

Thank you for all your thoughts and help, it's all useful for future work as well. At least the decision got made for me <dithering pregnant woman emoticon>.

wingandprayer Fri 26-Sep-08 11:10:23

How odd and utterly brilliant! Don't apologise for the dithering, if you hadn't dithered (and spent time telling us all about it wink) then you may have gone and told nice client you weren't interested sooner and be down two clients now. It's freelancing karma!

Good on you, and much respect for managing twins, pregnancy and all this on top <high 5>

hattyyellow Fri 26-Sep-08 14:19:56

Thanks so much wing. Sorry you also had to go through horrible experience with client, but well done you for ditching them.

Love the "freelancing karma"!

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