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Should I tell a client they need to be more polite?(9 Posts)
Long standing client, quite disorganised and unfortunately so am I.
I recently wrote requesting additional payment for a job that had gone about 4 times over the estimated hours.
The response was am email just cutting and pasting a bit from an earlier email of mine (that I had forgotten about) accepting the original fee. No 'dear Sonja', no 'I'm sorry and I appreciate all your hard work'. Just the bald quote. Followed by another rather impolite email, basically telling me off for having made a mistake.
This is on top of numerous emails over the last few months starting "I need you to...", often for work irritatingly to the side of, while relevant to, my work for them.
Would it be out of order to write and ask them to be more polite in future? Has anyone ever had to do this? I realise I have been an utter doormat. How do I reframe our relationship?
Do you want to keep this client? To be honest, there is fault on both sides if you didn't warn the client that there would be extra costs? I would not tell the client they need to be more polite unless you want to lose the client! In which case I would say something along the lines that you were not happy with their response and were sorry but they would need to find someone else for this work in future.
Thanks iwaly. I am accepting that they are not obliged to pay more and yes i should have warned them. I am more bothered by the gratuitous rudeness I think. I suppose I just have to decide if I want to go on putting up with it, and at the moment I really don't, even though that might cost me work in future from them. I can probably manage.
I thought if I asked them to be more polite, then either they become more polite - great - or they take it badly and try to find someone else - and I have to go on believing I did the right thing for my self-respect. This is the dilemma!
You need to change your t&cs, either to a time charge, or else fixed fee with a further fee letter for any work over and above. Why did it go four times over hours - did they add more, or did you underestimate the time? I think this is key. As a client, I wouldn't be happy if I was faced with paying four times the agreed fee with no notice, and my anger would probably be construed as rudeness.
I don't think you can ask them to be more polite. Word spreads. If you don't want to work for them again, make your excuses and walk away. No good getting into a spat from someone in a sector / geographical area that you want future work from.
Thanks, I had wondered if rather than making my excuses and walking away I would see if I could be more constructive. Perhaps now is not the moment but I'm fed up with being taken for granted!
You can't ask them to be more polite. It doesn't actually sound that they're rude tbh - just brisk. Like they see you as a resource rather than a person - well, sometimes it's just like that when you freelance. It won't be personal.
That said, if you let people walk on you they'll treat you like dirt. You do need to sort out your ts and cs - how did the job go 4 x over and why did you accept your original rate?
Thanks, yes, Ive charged these people hourly before because they are quite disorganised, but they were having a budget crisis and imposed it on me for the first time. I will quote a lot higher in future, they can always say no, I can live with that! I really have bent over backwards to help them too.
Still not sure how I'll manage to stand my ground better in future if I do take more work. But if I don't jump quite so quickly when they say jump, I might feel less resentful when they are subsequently rude and ungrateful. Which believe me, they are.
Thanks again everyone.
Lots of good advice & opinions on here already.
I just wonder if you can see this as a sign to change how you work? You admit you are disorganised, if you want to stay 'ahead' of clients it could pay (literally) to try to become more organised?
I can understand why you are annoyed, you have delivered a bargain to them and they aren't even acknowledging it....but from their point of view you are delivering what was agreed and you tried to get them to pay more....
Either your estimates/t&cs need to change or you need to have a system where you check estimates before going back to clients to ask for more.
It is harsh when we are merely seen as 'the hired help' but that is what we are to many!
I say all this as somebody that posted on here a while back when a report I sent to a client came back and they'd corrected some grammar/typo errors. I was mortified. I had support on here, but also some home truths - it really shouldn't be sent to the client like that...
So, after having a cry I decided I need to get more organised and book a proofer to read my reports before they go out. I have stuck to that, even though it is a hassle, but it has really helped me and I felt really pleased when a recent report was accepted as it was with no changed needed.
Lastly, I'd also think about whether or not this client is for you. They sound like they are irritating you. I recently dropped a client after trying to make it work...I should have gone with my instinct and avoided them. I managed to end it ok and I am so glad I did.
Thanks Margo! Yes I have learned a lesson or two. And I am not going to be so absurdly helpful in future. I was just setting myself up for resentment I think.