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Toxic ex-client- what to do now?

(8 Posts)
heatwave Tue 30-Jun-09 18:14:27

Am also posting this in Relationships. Am a regular but have name changed.

I work freelance and have done for over 10 years -previously an employee in same field for over 20 yrs.. am a professional.

Have always had good relationships with my clients, and keep in touch with some as friends now, but now I discover this...

an ex client has been "bad mouthing" me to neighbours and villagers ( live in a small community). She ended her contract with me suddenly around 3 years back- gave no real reason. When I asked her both verbally and in writing if she was unhappy about anything I had done, she said not.

I have now found out through the grapevine that she was upset about a small incident which she ought to have mentioned at the time.

I don't know if I am losing much business through her, but my professional reputation is dented and I am annoyed as it is unjustified.

I don't know whether I should write to her or if this would just fan the flames.

She is a gossip, she likes attention and considers herself an expert on everything. I also think there is an element of personal jealousy there and that the "attacks" are not just to do with the incident. Some people will know to take what she says with a pinch of salt, but others won't.

Would you just leave it- or take issue with her?

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 30-Jun-09 18:17:59

Well if it's someting that is denting your professional reputation it is slander, which is serious.

But are you sure? Do you have any evidence of this?

And when you say it was over a 'small incident' - was it really? Or is there some justification in what she's saying? You need to be careful here, because what is minor to one person may be hugely significant to others, and it could therefore be argued that there is some truth in what she is saying about you.

I might consider writing to her saying what you have learnt, and mention the word slander somehow. But I think it would also be an idea to take some legal advice before you do that.

heatwave Tue 30-Jun-09 18:37:48

I am trying to describe this incident without giving too many details- she may well be a MNetter.

What she has been saying, according to my neighbour who is a good friend, and had the conversation with another villager, is that she tells people not to use me because of XYZ reasons.

I can try to explain what happened but it won't make sense without all the details..basically, I charge by the hour. I was called to the phone by another professional who kept me talking longer than I wanted ( I told her I was working on this other client's business at the time) and the toxic client found this out and is complaining that I charged her for 15 mins of time she didn't have. Had I known this I could have refunded her or made it up in another way.

However, the "reason" is a bit of a red herring as I think- and does my neighbour- thats she wanted to end the contract anyway due to lack of money but didn't want to tell me that.

heatwave Tue 30-Jun-09 18:40:32

Having re-read my post above I want to add that all my clients- including this one- get more than they actually pay for, in other ways. So the lost 15 mins. is irrelevant as she will have had that paid back many times.

abedelia Wed 01-Jul-09 10:09:49

Well, I would confront her about it and say 'We live in a small place and I've heard on the grapevine that.... I don't want there to be any bad feeling between us so I'll explain again why I don't think this should have been a problem, and I'll refund the 15 minutes now if you still think you've been treated unfairly, but I want to lay he matter to rest.' If she does want a refund, put it in writing.

Being over reasonable is a very good defence and she is on the back foot from then onwards. And if you hear anything else then you have evidence that you have tried to make reparations but that she is being unreasonable and slandering your reputation, causing you loss of income - which you can sue over. Do you have a union or similar that you can use for further advice?

abedelia Wed 01-Jul-09 10:11:13

Oh- forgot to add, if you refund her, make it clear also that this is a gesture of goodwill, NOT an admission of liability / wrongdoing.

edam Wed 01-Jul-09 10:12:14

Can't believe she's bitching about you for the sake of 15 minutes three years ago!

edam Wed 01-Jul-09 10:13:10

I definitely would NOT offer a refund, she'll feel justified and will go around telling everyone you've had to refund the money...

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