Over the last nearly five years that I’ve owned and operated Usable Web Solutions, LLC, I’ve brought you a bunch of crazy stories from my life as a small business owner and and my interactions with some near-insane clients. And while I don’t plan on going into deep detail about the aggravations of the business in this blog entry at this point in time (check back in January 2011 for a more comprehensive review of my first five years as a small business owner), I thought I’d scrape up a little blog entry talking about some of my deadbeat clients.
Now, I’ve had deadbeat clients in the past that simply went away and stopped paying for their services. What’s worse, I’ve had deadbeat clients who were actually my close friends from college and members of the same fraternity as me – two populations that you’d never expect to be deadbeats. However, over the course of this week I’ve had to deal with two deadbeat clients much more than I could have imagined. And what’s more amazing to me is that my contractual obligations to both of these particular deadbeats expired over the summer and they were alerted (numerous times) that they needed to find a new website provider. Did they get off their asses and take care of the online portion of their businesses?
Of course not!
Actually, let me go into some greater detail on one of these idiots… This client’s contract expired over the summer so I sent a notice that I was not renewing services (bear in mind that I hadn’t been paid for any of my services in over a year anyway – the definition of deadbeat). When the contract expired, I took the website down. About a month goes by and the client comes back and is complaining that the website is down. Okay. I told them that the website could very easily be restored if I received the back payment that I was owed.
And, like any good deadbeat, this idiot paid me 70% of what I was owed and I agreed to put the website back up, but make no changes as she requested. Then the deadbeat said that there were no contracts or extension notices in her file so she weren’t even sure if I was their web provider.
What an idiot.
By the way, this is a common tactic of deadbeats and scumbag business people. I know – I used to work for one of the biggest ones in New Jersey. The scumbag business person will act like they are the victim 99 times out of 100 (read on to see how this particular client played the victim this week). Anyway, I went into my files and gave this client copies of the initial contract and the two year extension letter. I also printed another termination letter saying that our agreement was over and ended and that I would be very happy to transfer the entire website off of my servers once I was paid in full. The client responded by contacting me late last week saying to call her when I had a chance. I called her office last Friday and they tell me that she doesn’t work on Fridays. Nice. I e-mailed her that I just left her a message at her office and she said to call her on Tuesday. And, as you might imagine, Tuesday comes around and I called her office at 3pm only to learn that she was already gone for the day. Fine, whatever. I called back on Wednesday morning at 10:30am and guess who’s not in the office yet.
That’s right! You got it! This deadbeat wasn’t even in the office by 10:30am. What type of small business owner isn’t already in motion for a few hours by 10:30am on a Wednesday?!
However, on Wednesday afternoon I receive an e-mail from the deadbeat saying that now it’s Wednesday and I haven’t reached out to her and what’s the problem. Good grief. I sent a pleasant little note back saying that I’ve actually left two messages for her and that I’m waiting for her to respond to either of them. She, of course, did not respond so I gave her a call on Thursday afternoon around 4pm and she was actually in the office.
Now, like I said earlier, deadbeats have to play the role of the victim. When this one got on the phone she said, “Hi.” And I responded with, “Hello! How are you, Deadbeat?” Obviously, I used the deadbeat’s real name. She said, “Fine,” in about as dull and annoyed a voice as you could imagine. And that was the conversation opener. Since I’ve dealt with and worked for scumbags in the past, I knew exactly where this was going and I prepared myself to have some fun. I said, “So I received your message-” and she interrupted me with, “Yeah you claim you’ve been reaching out and you can’t get me. Well, I’m here now.”
Oh, what a pity?! It would appear that this deadbeat is a victim, right? Poor her – sitting there and having to actually do work with one of her contractors! Oh – the horror! It gets better.
So I responded with something like, “Yeah I saw your e-mail. So do you have a new web provider in mind that I can work with to transfer the services?” And she said something like, “Yes. And he’s offering services much cheaper than what we’ve been paying-” so then I cut her off and in my rosiest, happiest voice I said, “Right! So if you could get me his information, I’ll be happy to contact him and work to complete the transfer.”
You see, having worked for a scumbag, I saw that “pity me, I’m a victim” card being played way before this deadbeat began dealing it out – thus why I cut her off when she lied about being offered cheaper services. How do I know that she lied about the cost of the services? Easy! I’m actively engaged in this work and I know what my competitors charge. I typically charge between 25% and 50% of what every single one of my competitors charge (except this one guy who does websites in the area and charges an exorbitant fee – I’m about 10% of his costs).
The conversation pretty much ended after that with the deadbeat saying that she’d e-mail me her new web person’s contact information. I responded with a dreadfully cheery, “Wonderful! Thank you!” Which she followed up with a half-asleep, extremely aggravated, “Bye,” before she hung up. It’s always the same with scumbag business people and deadbeats – they all act the same, they all talk the same, they’re all the victims in situations where they try to screw their contractors. I’ve seen it before, I’ve worked for it before, and I’ve watched it be disassembled before (which is what makes me so good at dealing with these scumbags).
Anyway, I’ll be glad when these deadbeats are out of my portfolio. One of the lessons that I’ve learned thus far in owning a small business is that scam artists and deadbeats will try to take advantage of you all of the time. In my world and with my hectic schedule, I don’t have time for the bullshit so I don’t have time for the deadbeats. Usable Web Solutions, LLC will be a stronger, faster, more profitable company once I get these idiots out of my hair.