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Thread: At my wit's end... What to do about shocking client?

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    Gold Member Mark Atkinson's Avatar
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    Angry At my wit's end... What to do about shocking client?

    Over the past week or so, it has dawned on me that we charge far too little for our logo design services.

    I'm posting here because I would like your opinions on how to handle a sticky situation with a client that is starting to become more than just a bit annoying.

    We agreed to do this logo design for a business who shall not be named, laid down the process and our charge for the service. (R700 for 3 concepts, of which the client chooses one. Thereafter final changes are made and the logo is sent off in all the different formats (after payment)).

    This all started off very well. The client gave us some direction, we brainstormed as usual and proceeded normally. They clearly stated they weren't sure of what they wanted and that we should run with it. (They were "trusting us" with their branding) The client then requested that we send each concept through as it is complete. Wanting to impress, we agreed. This is where things got hairy...

    We generated the first concept. Client's response was indifferent. They said they liked the logo but it didn't fit.

    They then gave us very specific instructions on how to go about the next logo design, down to the littlest detail. This included a very distinct alteration to the name (let's call it "the squiggle"). Not a problem - we did the logo as requested.

    The response I received left me baffled. It was along the lines of "Great, love it! I just don't like "the squiggle" you have put in, please remove that..." as well as other things which they had specifically requested.

    Since then it has kind of spiraled out of control. We are now 5 or 6 redesigns later, still sitting at a quotation price of R700. (For about 2 whole days of concept generation). We keep getting specific instructions from them and, after carrying out those instructions, the client goes back on his request and hints at incompetence on our behalf.

    The impression I get is that because we're just making (significant) changes to one of the concepts, we haven't actually done 3 concepts. Nevermind that we have spent forever acting as "puppets".

    There are many other specifics that I won't bore you with. I am at my wit's end, though. Not sure what to do about this client. I'm almost ready to just cut my losses and tell them we can't help them anymore.

    I think my next step is to explain our situation nicely and let them know that we will be charging per hour for any further alterations.

    Any thoughts? I thought people hired designers to... you know... design things! Not to be puppets.

    Excuse my rant.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Walk away.

    Something along the lines of a polite - "thanks, but let's call it quits now or we're going to have to renegotiate the price structure if it's going to continue this way" and write down the loss to school fees.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Mark Atkinson (07-Jul-11)

  4. #3
    Gold Member Mark Atkinson's Avatar
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    Thanks Dave. I'm probably going to do just that.
    "The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear." - Socrates
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    Diamond Member Blurock's Avatar
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    Never assume anything in a business. Customers are not always right because they are not always reasonable. Quote for a basic design and service and charge for any ad ons. Best would be to package your services into identifiable standard products with specific prices. Customised services should be charged for by the hour.
    We often want work so desperately that we break our own rules to accommodate clients/customers. Those were the only times I ever got bitten in business.

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    Mark Atkinson (07-Jul-11)

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    Platinum Member Neville Bailey's Avatar
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    Mark, I agree with Dave - walk away.

    I've had a few cases like yours, in my field, where the goal posts keep changing. In my early days, I tried to keep to the maxim that "the client is always right", but now I have no hesitation in firing a client or two if necessary.

    All the negative energy (never mind the cost of your time and resources) can be better spent in a positive way on other clients or to grow your business.
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    Mark Atkinson (07-Jul-11)

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    Dont make a big story of it and frustrate urself,send him a quote with relevant amount,then state in the email that that is the amount to be levied before any further work will be done to the design....just a thought on what i would have done

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    Mark Atkinson (07-Jul-11)

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    I agree with dave and neville,but instead of just throwing the client away,try another route 1st and see if they willing to fork out the cash for completing the design...

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    Hi Mark

    I tend to take a somewhat different view to the norm on this (you know - customer is king). To me a customer is someone who pays you at least a fair price for a product or service. They must be profitable for you except in extreme cases where you are using a loss leader / doing it for the experience or for portfolio material / in the hope of future lucrative deals. The latter is abused often though and should not become a habit.

    In your case this customer is wasting your time and money. I would cut my losses, but then it does depend on how much earning time this is taking up. If you don't have much other business to do, then that makes the decision more difficult.

    Perhaps explain unemotionally that the R700 covered say 2 reworks, but that 6 is simply too much. Ask for a final set of corrections, do one last artwork and then its an hourly rate after that.

    Now don't get upset over it. Simply chalk it up to experience and refine your future quotes and their conditions. Simple.

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    Mark Atkinson (07-Jul-11)

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    Eish - I thought I was against the grain, but I see the other posters also agree that there is such a thing as a bad customer.

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    Gold Member Mark Atkinson's Avatar
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    Thanks for your input guys.

    It is a bit more complicated than this, though. There is a big opportunity for a lot of referrals through this client.

    I have sent them an email stating that any further alterations will be charged for at our hourly rate and that if they aren't happy with our design work, they are welcome to walk away, no strings attached.
    "The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear." - Socrates
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