I need advice on how to handle client complaint

The day before leaving town for the holidays a friend/client asked me if I could whip out 3 gift certificates, which she needed to mail that afternoon. She wouldn’t be home, I was to do the certificates and drop them on her doorstep without her review (I’ve done several projects for her and she “trusted” my work). Until this week (in Feb) she hadn’t paid me for the work. I wasn’t really worried about it because she’s a friend. She finally sent a partial payment saying that she wasn’t pleased with 2 of the 3 certificates (murphy’s law with design clients-- the two that I spent the most time on and liked best). It’s not the money that bothers me, truth be told I would have done it for free as a favor. I didn’t appreciate the way the situation was handled, her making an executive decision of the project’s worth and excluding me from discussion or negotiation. We’ve agreed to meet and discuss the issue soon. It’s a strange situation because the certificates have been given & the project’s long gone, so I can’t rework them into something that she would prefer, which is what I would normally do. Further, looking back at my files, the two certificates are very nice, quite elegant. There’s no quality issue, they were what I interpreted her needs to be from the short email request she gave. They may not have been exactly what she had envisioned but given her lack of availabilty, the time constraint and quick turn around, I see little reason for complaint much less docking my pay. The issue isn’t whether or not the job was done and done well. It’s completely subjective, her taste versus my taste. Does anyone have advice or thoughts on after-the-fact negotiation? What would be the best way to handle this situation?

share a bottle of wine and some antipasto… laugh and be friends… and move on …

but don’t do it this way again.

“Does anyone have advice or thoughts on after-the-fact negotiation?”

1 - dont negotiate “after-the-fact”
2 - friends dont get special treatment

you’re being taking advantage of. ask for the remainder. either get it, take her to court for it, or forget it and learn a lesson. but stop doing favors.

it sounds as if you need to define where you both stop being “friends” and start being “business.” I believe that the “customer” is always right, but only once-if that makes any sense at all. My advice, don’t ask for any more money to exchange hands in regards to this situation. More importantly, you BOTH need to acknowledge that a the proper design process was not followed (last minute, no client approval, no time for revisions, ect.) and that you were not at fault in any way. She took a risk cutting important steps in the process, she should have known she was taking a risk, and you did your best. Tell her you are sorry that you work was not what she hoped for, despite the fact that is was done well, and that you will NOT be asking for the rest of the money. Then make sure that this situation does not happen again, for if it does, you WILL be requiring full payment (that’s what I meant by ‘customer is always right-but only once’ thing). Make it clear to her that this is a one time thing and you are only doing it because you value her as a client. This way you can hopefully keep her as a client while avoiding this problem in the future.

oh, about the above post, if this makes sense to you and works, post a reply and let me know. It has always worked for me. Honest clients appreciate it and remain “repeat customers,” people who are just looking to take advantage of you realize they can’t and move on.