Customer service is important. And in a highly competitive environment characterized by a slow economy, it is paramount to survival. Customers know this and can abuse their power. Tell me what you think about this story:
I was writing website content for a customer. I had already significantly reduced my fee just to land the project and was near the end of it. Up to now, everything had gone fine and the customer was happy with my work. I had written copy about a particular service and the customer wanted to give it a greater presence by highlighting it in a separate page. She asked me to re-interview the subject matter expert in order to create more content for the new page. I did so and in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the subject matter expert did not provide much new information to work with so I had to rework the existing content and do my best to creatively expand the content in order to get a page worth of text.
I submitted it to the client for review and revision, but none came. I waited and followed up, and still, no response. I had finished everything else on the project and was only waiting for this final approval in order to close it out. I sent an e-mail asking if it would be okay to invoice, but still received no reply. I admit, I was growing frustrated. So I finally sent the invoice anyway. That may have been a mistake. Again, I waited and then sent another e-mail asking when I could expect payment. Nothing. So I finally re-sent the invoice, politely asked about payment and copied the e-mail to her boss. That probably was a mistake for sure. But it got a response.
She apologized for not getting back to me, citing vacation and other things that had put her behind. Then said her only issue with the copy I had created for the new page was that it was mostly copy and paste of existing content and did not have much new information. I was therefore to adjust my invoice accordingly and she would process payment.
Well, duh! I’m not Houdini. If my source doesn’t have anything new to add, it’s a bit hard to create copy from thin air. But I never had an opportunity to discuss any of that with her or address the content since she never responded. And what does “adjust my invoice accordingly” mean? I cut it to half of what we had agreed on for that page and re-sent it with an apology and an explanation that I had done the best I could with what I had to work with. I guess it was acceptable. I was paid promptly. Have a similar story or an opinion? Let’s hear it.