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Bad Client

abraxasabraxas subscriber Posts: 1
For the last ten years I have ran a small multiple listing service and produce virtual tours for 5 real estate offices in a small mountain community. I have a client, who bought his brokerage from his parents has become exceedingly hard to deal with.  My question is; Is it generally illegal or unethical to ask/have another client to pay me to quit working for him?
Also, I have no written contract with this individual/business, however the work I produce has my copyright on each page on my own website (with his brand at the top) linked to from his. Does he have any claim to ownership?
I`d appreciate any guidance I could get on this, the whole matter has put me in a bad way.
 abraxas2006-8-31 6:6:4


  • storybookstudiostorybookstudio subscriber Posts: 7
    I would seek legal counsel on this subject because if you make the wrong decision, it could very well affect your reputation with other clients.
    In my opinion though, if you do not have a contract in place with this particular firm, it doesn`t sound like you are legally bound to do business with them. If the footage and/or photography was indeed recorded by your company, I believe that you can claim ownership to it.
    I would avoid getting another client involved in this scenario. If you choose not to do business with the other firm for one reason or another, then just dissolve the relationship and move on with other clients. Having another client pay you to do this, seems unethical to me...and probably illegal.
  • EricEric subscriber Posts: 8
    Interesting. Whenever we were put into a situation where a long time client was taking advantage of our relationship (that`s really what they are doing if they become over demanding and difficult to work while your services remain the same)  We would simply raise the price high enough to justify the added grief. They don`t need to know that it`s because they keep adding straws to your camel`s back.
    If you present them with formal agreement that outlines your latest pricing policy and the date when it goes into effect they will have to abide or find another client.
    As far as the content is considered, what issue do you feel could arise if you just let them keep what they have been using? Melissa is right. You don`t want to do anything that will appear malicious as it will come back to haunt you. Just let the relationship "dissolve" as she said.......and move on.
  • rossbrossb subscriber Posts: 5
    Abraxas -
    I agree with Eric but with a caveat...
    I say present them with a formal agreement that you will need them to
    sign in order to continue doing business.  In that agreement, increase
    your pricing structure to a level that if they accept, makes it worth
    your while.  Have your lawyer draw up the contract, that way if they
    ask you why require this now, you can say it is on the advice of your
    lawyer.  Then do the same with all your clients, you don`t have to
    increase prices on the others but it is always good business to have
    your agreements in writing.  Include a confidentiality clause in the
    contract to help deter pricing discussions between clients.
    If all you do is tell this one client that your pricing is changing,
    you run the risk of them talking to your other clients about it and
    finding out that it was only for them and you`re back in the same
    boat.  Especially in a small mountain community...
    Hope this helps...
  • MeanMachineMeanMachine subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Abraxas,

     On the whole annoying
    client issue you cant pick your clients, they did pick you. That is key here, some reason they picked you. So if the
    whole thing is not working out you are the boss as such enjoy the luxury use it to do business on your terms.

    I say be upfront and honest tell the individual, I
    think the whole raise the price is a underhanded way to do business and
    in the long run cause more issues then it resolves, At least my way you
    will part with respect and chances are he will not speak ill of you or
    your business and I have used this same tatic just to have my worst
    nightmare customers turn into my biggest champions and send business my
    way, all at the same time becoming much easier to deal with.

    Heres an example:

    "I have been doing the exact same thing for your parents and
    it worked out great for
    them for 5 years. I have been doing this for X amount of years and have
    proven it works, However if you do not like my work and still feel the
    value is not there, then
    you leave me no alternitve since I pride myself on having happy clients
    respect and enjoy what I do for them. I took the liberity of finding
    someone who
    I think can better suit your needs here is there name and number. Good

    At the same time you should present a bill for any
    outstanding balances and expect to be paid before you leave, if you would need
    to give them money back then I would say that you either tell them "we will
    honur the current contract, please use the time to find someone else." or have
    a check ready to hand over and terminate the whole contract there and then. Which you use depends on the level of frustration and effect on bottom line.

    Now to the fun stuff...
    It sounds like you have a good product and one that is
    proven to work and drive sales.
    If the above statement is true well then:

    I say welcome to the world of "Competitive Advantage" Ahh
    what a great world it is.

    You add a "Partnership Program" where you guarantee for a
    specified amount of time that you will not do business with a competitor in the
    same local area. You will add the partners logo to any advertising you do
    saying something "See a sample of my program in action at Jack`s Happy Home Real
    estate www.HappyJack.com."

    What you do is come up the term of the contract I do 3 and 5
    years no more. (However in your industry this may be too long perhaps 1 year is

    First they have to qualify for the Partnership Program by guarantee
    a certain amount of business a year. Then they pay you to become a partner.

    What this does for them translates into a measurable competitive
    advantage and locks out the compition. You will be able to provide statistics on how many days it takes on
    average to sell a home you list vs. alternatives.

    Now to the question of ownership of the photo`s. If your
    company took the photos then it is implied that you own them.

    Just like when you and your family with the pet dog jump in
    the family trickster and go down to get a family portrait you don�t own those
    photos. The photographer owns the rights to them he/she just sells you however
    many print you want of the photo and if you ever want anymore you will need to
    go back to the same photographer.

    What commercial business does is purchase the right of the
    photo�s before they allow a photographer in to take pictures. That way you get
    all the negatives, and you can use them as you please in advertising, web,
    print, TV, billboard, etc.

    I would suggest that you spell this out clearly for all
    future transactions by having a statement of ownership added to your contract.
    I would also prepare a cost structure for purchasing ownership rights just in
    case you have someone who wants to or asks what the price.

    I hope the information is of use.


    MeanMachine2006-8-31 17:59:31
  • abraxasabraxas subscriber Posts: 1
    This is all excellent advice- thank you. I`ve taken this weekend to mull it over.
    I can see that I can do pretty much what I want to, I need to get some things in order to do them.
    In the invoice sent to him last week, I brought the `monster` up to speed on the low end of some special services I had been providing for him.  Previously he had been getting a pretty good deal, but that`s over, from now on he`s getting the same deal at least as everyone else would get for the high end product.
    We don`t trust each other. He don`t trust me as far as my `allegience` to him, and giving him the priority.  I don`t trust him as far as if I quit, he would come after me with a nuisance suit regarding copyright, which would cripple me without some kind of small business insurance.
    Anyway, I`ll work this out, and again, thank you.
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