Jump to content


Mossadnik

Self Employed - Ex Client Harassment

Recommended Posts

I am a self employed web developer. I work with a LOT of clients across the year, as one of my products is aimed at startups and low budget small businesses. I would say that 98 out of every jobs go extremely well. Most of my clients are pleased in terms of what they get for what they pay. However I had a really bad experience today and need a), to vent a little and b). to get some rational input from level headed folk like yourselves that are not feeling the way I am at the moment.

 

Before I start a project, my clients are sent a contract. The contract is very basic, but covers the law in England and Wales. The contract contains a termination clause which says that the client can terminate the contract at any point and the job will be closed as long as they pay for all work done up to the point of termination. The contract also states clearly that I will only be able to work to deadline provided the client provides me with everything I ask for ON TIME. (logos, payment gateway access and other stuff etc).  Because I work remotely all my emails are tracked and monitored. I can see when an email has been opened and even the documents within the email. The client in question opened the email and the contract document and then closed the document about 40 minutes later. more than the time that is needed to read the contract in full. I sent the client a copy of the open and read receipt and told them that I am proceeding on the basis that they have read and agreed to the contract. They then instructed me to do the work.

 

I took a deposit for £500 and proceeded with the mock up and the design that the client subsequently approved. There were a number of unusual technical tasks which I completed anyway. I then asked the client for access to their payment gateway account as there were issues with how VAT was being applied. We were six working days off targeted completion date which was the first working day in January plus one - i.e. 3rd of January.  I asked for the payment gateways access details. I had told them early in December that I would need these details. The client told me on the 27th January that they were unable to get these details as their previous developer had them and they were closed until the 7th January. I informed the client that this meant that there would be a delay as I had allocated work time  for the six days for his project and that new projects would be starting on the 3rd of January. Essentially the delay meant a loss of a weeks work and I would have to reallocate time slots to complete their work.

 

Nevertheless I didn't get the login details until the 9th January. Together with my team we allocated time to work on this 11th, 14th, 15th and 16th January. The client sent us the incorrect details and we could not access the  account to create the API (a piece of software to make it all work). I then asked for the correct details. We didn't get the right login details until the 19th January. We urgently reallocated time to work on this on the 23rd and 24th January and discovered there were problems with how the VAT was being handled. I notified the client. I then became ill for about a week, I let the client know that I was ill and we got back on task on the 28th January.

 

Again I asked the client for standard sized images which he couldn't provide and I had to go into his old website and resize the images that were on the website.  I explained to him that the delays for two weeks in December and in January were beyond my control and then again until the end of January also no fault of mine. That I was now having to reschedule his work to complete it but we were most of the way there.

 

I asked my team to take the development offline completely and work on it to complete it within 21 days based on how we had to juggle other client work, and the lack of the clients ability to work with us within time frames was seriously hindering the issue. I contacted the client in Early February and he said his wife (The senior director of the company) would be away for a week and I would have to wait for her to be able to provide more of the information that I needed. I received this information on the 11th of February. On the 18th of February I got a call from him, His wife in the background ranting like a banshee telling me they were going to terminate. I explained to him very calmly what the delay had been and he said to me that OK as long as it was delivered by the 1st March. 

 

I told him that would be no problem, as I had stopped taking new work and (stupidly) told him that we had had a bereavement (18th of Feb) and I was going abroad for the funeral so his work would be done before I left on the 7th March anyway.

 

We spent time over the next two days moving the project to a several offline servers to test that everything was working the way it should and prepare for upload to the server. I tried to call him on the Tuesday and the Wednesday (My Phone logs show this) On the Tuesday their office phone rand out, and then there was a long beep, I can only assume that their answer phone was full. On the Wednesday I tried to call his mobile but I got that the number was not available. These were merely courtesy update calls. On the Thursday 22nd February he called and said that because I wasn't communicating, he had decided to terminate anyway. I told him the work was 95% complete and that I would send the closing documents and the all the files.

 

He told me that he didn't want the files, he wanted his money back. I tried to explain to him that I had done work and that he was liable for work completed. He demanded his money back - Dont forget that I was grieving, and he knew it - while working to deliver before I left for the funeral. He was exceptionally aggressive. I agreed to look at the current account and refund any monies left over but that would only happen once I returned.

 

I returned a little more clear headed and realised that he had only paid the deposit and not the second interim invoice that he had been sent. Essentially for the work done he owed me £400. On April 1st I sent a short email explaining that in fact despite undertaking to pay him excess funds under duress, I had now done an audit of the account and in fact I was owed £400. Because of his inconsistent behaviour and inability to meet his end of the deal in terms of the contract, I was going to write off the contract and that he had until the 1st May to download his files and the work I had done, and I sent him an access reminder to the folder. The email was opened briefly. The link to the folder was not clicked.

 

Today 6th July, more than three months later - The guy turns up at my home address (with his wife), just after I got out of the shower, and started banging on the door. My adult son opened the door and he asked for me. My son asked who he was and he said, without identifying himself I know exactly who you are - You are her son! Now my son has never met, or spoken to this man. I was upstairs just out of the shower with a towel around me. I have a mobility disability so have a carer to help me in the bathroom. I opened the window and the way the sun was reflecting on my neighbours window meant I couldn't see them below the window and asked who they were. He asked if I didn't recognise him and I said that I cant see because of the glare. he then yelled at me I am ****** . I said to him I am just out of the shower , need to get dressed as I have somewhere to be. He yelled at me in the street "You owe me money! I told him I didn't and that I had taken advice on the issue (which I have). He said so had he, so I said to him to put it in writing, send me a letter and we'll deal with it from there.

 

He yelled that he didn't need to write a letter and the was going to send the "right kind of debt collector" to deal with this, clearly insinuating that he was sending henchmen! _ I told him Id see him in court. As I did this the towel slipped and he stepped back into the street and started taking pictures through the windows starting with me naked. I told him to stop. he then walked around taking photos of my house, the cars around my home and the side of he house in the garden. My son had to tell him to leave the property.

 

I then called the police and obtained a police report number as I made a complaint of harassment.

 

Now here's the thing.

 

Shes a director of a public limited company. surely she knows better than to behave like that?  I run a small business and I use very specific procedures when I feel money is owed. I send letters, at least six or seven. I then send a recorded delivery letter. I make phone calls. I ask debtors if they need help to pay a bill. Getting nasty is the absolute last resort and in nine years of business, I have only ever once had to issue court papers to get someone to talk to me.

 

I Do not chase people who don't have the money or are having a crisis. Its counterproductive. In one case I bought 40%of a guys business to rescue him and put him back in profit in under six months. I never personally turn up at someones house outside of business hours and harass them and threaten their family. I certainly don't stalk them online to establish what their relatives look like! This is the most unprofessional crazy experience I have ever had in business. Personally I think they are in financial crisis and are being bullies to try and recover money they couldn't afford to spend in the first place. The reason I haven't had a solicitors letter or a formal request to pay I am assuming is because they cant afford to. BUT assumption is a dangerous thing and it may be that they are just big bullies. However screaming across the street details about a financial contract with another business is in fact in contravention of  GDPR. And broadcasting my financial relationship with them during a very busy time on my street was not only inappropriate but also an offence (aside from the harassment). I have three neighbours that can confirm that they heard everything.

 

Either way I am annoyed, but also concerned that the photos he took of my home can be used to work out a way to break in or attack me or a member of my household as he made it clear his method of debt collection would not be an official one at all!

 

Any ideas? Fortunately I am moving house in a couple of weeks, but I don't want the next resident of the property to suffer these rather unbalanced crazies....

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

short answer is to do nothing and see what they do next.

yes, they owe you money but it seems as though your terms of business allow them to walk away from the contrcat as you failed to bill them at certain stages. If they continue to cause problems then continue to call the police and record anything you can.

I also suggest the following

If they are a director of a PLC then that company will have to have public AGM's. get someone to buy shares and attend and ask the boad why one of their directors is behaving in a manner that is harassing and invites the interest of the police and what are the board going to do to stop this person  bringing the company into disrepute and whetehr her private business activity is compatible with her role as a director bearing in mind this behaviour?

Edited by ericsbrother
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, ericsbrother said:

short answer is to do nothing and see what they do next.

yes, they owe you money but it seems as though your terms of business allow them to walk away from the contrcat as you failed to bill them at certain stages. If they continue to cause problems then continue to call the police and record anything you can.

I also suggest the following

If they are a director of a PLC then that company will have to have public AGM's. get someone to buy shares and attend and ask the boad why one of their directors is behaving in a manner that is harassing and invites the interest of the police and what are the board going to do to stop this person  bringing the company into disrepute and whetehr her private business activity is compatible with her role as a director bearing in mind this behaviour?

Thanks ericsbrother

 

They have a limited company - three directors, him, his wife and his father. So thats not going to do anything.

 

The police contacted me this morning. There is enough corroborating information for them to interview under caution and take his phone from him. He is also Senior Equalities Advisor  (including vulnerable people) for a large Local Authority and once they have issued a PIN (Police Information Notice), they will inform his employer as this is in the public interest. 

 

I billed him at the beginning, and again when we went into development in January and again when I sent the last email on the 1st April.

 

The issue for me really isn't the money. I write off situations like this because the energy that it takes to chase people like this is better channelled investing in a different client that pays. I simply want him to go away, which according to the police is likely to happen once he is questioned under caution and his phone is take from him for examination. As I said I move away in three weeks, he will always be able to find my new office but he needs to get through two electronically controlled access doors,  a videophone and a reception area, and the police station is next door .....

 

Thank You for your input. I was really venting and needed a little moral reinforcement :-) - we all have bad days, but this was really OTT!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so they run a limited company, not that one of the is also a director of a PLC. I didnt think that your dealings was with a large PLC but that the person giving you grief had more than one job and so if it was the case they would leave themselves answerable in a public meeting. Shame about that but if they get a serious earwigging and their phone seized and probably a FPN if they answer back that should see them off.

As they havent paid for your work in its entirety and have broken the contract agreed between you ( though they may caim that as you didnt do everything it is voided) the work remains your intellectual property so keep it. Let them start again elsewhere

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 Caggers

    No registered users viewing this page.


  • Have we helped you ...?


×
×
  • Create New...