Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Strange and stressful


Sorry that this post isn't weight-loss related, except in that things that happen can influence other areas of my life (like if choose to binge or not exercise because I'm stressed, for example, not that fat cares if I'm stress as Marion said today).

About a month ago I mentioned a difficult client of my freelance business. They had paid me half in advance, which I didn't even ask for as I've never had a problem getting money from clients, and then the work was going reasonably well until near the end. Several times the client gave me conflicting instructions -- telling me one thing on the phone then denying it by email. They ignored work I'd done and went back to earlier versions. They emailed me several times a day for reassurance. Some emails were extremely garbled, full of gibberish, and made no sense at all. The client would apologise for those and say to ignore them, then later be affronted because I hadn't used the information in those emails. I was very confused about what was going on.

Then I learned that the client had just been forcibly admitted to a psychiatric ward.


I tried to continue on doing my job, but communications broke down. Eventually the client said that it was time to part ways, and I politely (with relief) agreed.

There remained the question of the rest of the money. I had done many many hours of work on this project and had only been paid half of the agreed amount. I felt I had done my job as well as I could under the circumstances. But on the other hand, the client wasn't completely happy and the job was not completely finished -- certainly not to any state I would want my name on it.

I left it for a month. Partly to see if they would pay, partly because I was busy, party because I wasn't sure what to do, partly I felt very sorry for this person now in a psychiatric ward and obviously with huge life problems, but mostly because I am a coward about conflict.

I did feel that I deserved at least a good chunk of that money, if not all of it.

So today, home sick, I gathered my courage and sent a polite reminder email about the money still owing.

What I expected was an angry email saying they hadn't been happy with the results and that they refused to pay (and I hadn't yet decided what to do about this) but what I got was an "ok, that's done" and the money in my account a couple of hours later.

I nearly fell over in shock. They just paid, with no argument. I had been stressing for a whole month about nothing! I felt great.

Then a few hours later, another email. Asking me how the project was going.


Now my stomach is churning like a rhino is giving birth in there.

Is the client suggesting that they thought I was still working on it for all this time? After previously sending me up to five or six emails a day, then telling me they would "take it from here", then silence? Surely not.

I sent a puzzled email back, and haven't got a response to that yet.

What do I do?

I don't want anything more to do with this person. Quite frankly I would have preferred to forfeit the money (well, maybe, it was quite a lot of money). Should I offer a few more hours in one last try to get it all done? Or maybe offer some of the money back as the work was not completed to their satisfaction. I think the latter. I don't want to go through all that again. The client is clearly unbalanced.

I feel a bit better for writing all that out, but still look at my email in-box as a ticking bomb at the moment.


  1. Hi Natalie! OMG--almost parallel universes between yours and mine. We're giving the money back we definitely earned (and even did extra work we did not charge for) because our client is acting very nuts. Out of ethics of my profession, I can't say any details. But this actually DOES *really* relate to over-eating. If I ever had a reason to over-eat lately, it was that client's actions.

    Sorry that you have the same issue.

    :-) Marion

  2. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this again! I hope it can be resolved quickly and without any more stress on your part.

  3. I've refunded part of the money and I'm hoping that is the end of it. They tend to write their emails in the early hours of the morning so it might not be over even though things have been quiet since this morning's flurry. I really don't want to deal with this person any more.
    Sorry you've had to deal with something similar, Marion! And thanks for the moral support, both of you.