Lesson Learned: If You Signed It, You Have to Live With It

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Jul 23, 2014

Dear Barb:

How do I get around signing agreements that are written by my clients?

We just got burned by a client who hired someone from us and demanded a refund after nine months. I didn’t even realize the terms were refund vs. a replacement.

I have no intention of refunding the fee because I think their contract is unreasonable, but this is one of our best clients and I don’t want to lose their business. How can I make them see this situation from my point of view?

Can you give me a short script I can use when contacting them back? I’m a fair guy, but a refund after nine months is a ridiculous request.

John S., Fort Smith, AK

Dear John:

You are forgetting a very important detail in your email to me. You signed the contract. It is not the responsibility of your client to make sure you read their contract before you signed it. It’s your responsibility. You’ve learned a very important lesson here. If you do not refund the fee, you will lose this client. There is no short script that I can provide to turn this around.

Many firms provide a 12-month guarantee, which is why their request would not be considered unreasonable. When you receive these contracts from clients, you can cross off and initial areas on the contract. Your client can either agree with the changes you’ve made or refuse, which means you don’t do business together. I’ve never understood why our clients try to manipulate our pricing. I’m sure their clients don’t tell them what to charge!

If you want to keep this client, refund the fee. You’ve stated they are one of your biggest clients. However, you do want to review the agreement you have with them, prior to your next placement showing them the WIIFM of the change!

Tough lesson learned.

Barbara J. Bruno, CPC, CTS

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