Borderline Threatening Client - How to Defuse?
March 22, 2014 6:03 PM Subscribe
My girlfriend, Emily, and I work together occasionally on creative freelance projects. A few years ago, when we were first starting this side business, we did a project for my girlfriend's old family friend, Robert. Robert is now aggressively requesting professional, unpaid help from us in what seems to be an escalating manner. How can we calm this whole situation down?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Overall, Robert's project went fairly well, and Robert was very happy in the end. During the project, Robert did set off a few red flags for me - was very aggressive on the phone, was verbally volatile when presented with things he didn't like, etc. When the project completed, Emily and I took Robert out to dinner as a thank you. When Robert arrived, he was already visibly drunk. Emily and I did the best we could to corral him, but the owner of the restaurant eventually asked us to leave due to Robert's drunkenness. We were very embarrassed. We took Robert home and the next day expressed our concern to him by phone. He waved it off.
We hadn't heard from Robert for a few years years until last month when he began sending texts to Emily requesting help with the old project. Emily did the best she could via text to help, but Robert's requests were moving targets and he was becoming more and more annoyed via text ("Why aren't you helping me? Let me come to your house and sit down with you and you can help me in person...")
Emily mentioned that she would not be able to do more to help without being paid at her hourly rate. This did not please Robert ("I'm a friend, where is your loyalty?") So eventually, I scheduled a call with Robert to do my best to walk him through the problems he was having. I thought I provided some good, patient help during our hour long phone conversation.
But last week, Robert got in touch with Emily saying how unhelpful I had been during our conversation. At this point, Emily and I decided to go no-contact. However, the texts and emails are continuing from him and the last one asks for our address and exact business name. I'm now concerned, my mind goes to him trying to damage our reputation via social media or the Better Business Bureau or something. We've never dealt with anything like this, our other clients are so grateful and complimentary of our work.
Since he's a family friend, he's also sending multiple texts and emails to Emily's brother and sister - even her 2 cousins - about us, asking them to ask us to help him. Emily and I are both very low-key, low-drama people and we just want to do what's best to defuse the situation, as well as what's best for our business.
So what is the solution? I thought going no-contact would lead to him just forgetting about us. But now that he's asked for our business information, I'm worried and wondering if we should meet him in person somewhere and walk through the problems he's been having. I do believe that with an in-person meeting and maybe an hour of time, we could solve most of the issues he's been having with the project. What say you all, what should we do?