If a project has gone tits up and you’ve had to walk away it’s important to think about how you are going to protect yourself from any fallout.
Clients are often guilty of doing a runner and you’ll never hear from them again. You have to be better than that. You can’t just go silent with a bad client you don’t want to work with. You need to say in writing (an email will do) that you’re leaving and you don’t feel you can continue.
We have covered that during the course of a project it’s a good idea to cover yourself from non payment. Generally you don’t deliver anything in a finished format until after the client has paid. A client might argue “Well if you’re walking away send me what you’ve done so far as I’ve paid a deposit.” In these cases you have to take the viewpoint that if a client is unhappy with the standard of work then they can’t ask you for the work you’ve done and is trying to get your work for half the original cost. It sounds brutal but you can’t send them anything unless they pay.
Bad Review Blackmail
One big worry with these types of project is that your client will then go and slag you off to everyone they know. “You’ll never work in this industry again!” being the sort of thing shouted down a phone. First thing is that although there are a lot of online places to review, on all of them you can replay. So if you do find they’ve left you a stinker then be sure to write a polite review. Remember it isn’t for them…its for anyone reading. Secondly in my experience there are very few people who have that sort of pull in life and even less so who are going to actively try and ruin you.
Don’t Poke the Bear
I didn’t have a lot of negative client experiences but all of them I can remember. I can think of their name off the top of my head years later. People have longer memories than you think so it’s important not to give that person any more reason to dislike you. Don’t spam them. Don’t send sarcastic tweets their way. Don’t do anything that would lead them to get back in touch where potentially it becomes an issue for the lawyers.
On that note, I see a lot of people on forums just yelling “sue them!” at every problem with a client. Suing people is stressful, it’s time consuming and it costs you more money without the promise of a resolution. Generally you want to avoid it.