troublesome clients - a bit of a rant

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Blueberry

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troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« on: April 26, 2017, 03:18:57 PM »
Among other things, I work one-on-one with school students to help them improve their marks. I am self-employed but can only work very part-time because of health, why else.

One woman who sends two of her children to me is a pain in the neck putting it mildly. I'm wondering if she maybe has narcisstic symptoms. I'm not asking whether she does, but just so you know what I'm dealing with here. She hardly ever gets back to me the first time, I almost always have to send a second reminding email or try to phone her. And I really mean 'hardly ever' / 'almost always'. That's not an exaggeration.

The latest problem is, she's been paying later and later. The monthly payments are meant to be in my account by the third of the month. This is in my contract, which she signed.  March payment came around the 15th so I emailed her if that happened again she'd have to pay a 'late fee' of not very much, actually. Answer - she wants to pay middle of the month from now on and is happy to pay a 'late fee' for that (this from a mother who can't afford more lessons for one child though said child needs it desperately). Overly generous as usual, I said so long as I know the payment is coming by the 15th of the month, I won't charge a 'late fee'. Did the payment reach my bank account by April 15th? No. Of course not. It came on the 20th. So I emailed her that she has to hand over the late fee in cash and send it with one child the next lesson, which was today. Neither child had brought the money, although the mother had even specified which child she'd give it to. They're both teenagers BTW, so capable of being in charge of a few coins. There are reasons why I want it cash. So next thing is to send an email charging double the amount of those few coins - that's how it works in my country.

It's so inconsiderate it makes me angry. This woman with all her shenanigans causes me more admin work than most of the other parents put together. As a self-employed person, I'm not being paid for the time I stick in here. Of course I know that you have to calculate that kind of crxp into your price but a) it's a bit of a cutthroat market and b) raising my price and in fact even invoicing are a bit triggering for me, they destabilise me, even though they are of course necessary. I know that. But knowing that sort of fact doesn't help me combat the amygdala highjacks that come when I consider raising prices. So I have the prices which I have. Not dirt cheap/self-exploitative, but not super-high either.

The idea that she may have narc symptoms is actually helping me. That means: it's not my fault. I haven't explained too little or this or that. I'm not expecting too much. It's really this one parent who is pretty unreasonable. Other clients thank me if I go out of my way, bend my contract rules a bit in circumstances where I decide to be flexible, or even just e.g. answer a query particularly quickly. 'Thank you' seems not to exist in this woman's vocabulary. I'm taking this woman's behaviour less personally now.  :thumbup: to myself.

Now to stand up for myself in a concrete way by sending my next reminder email demanding double payment. Keep breathing.

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Blueberry

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 03:37:19 PM »
Now that I've done it, my immediate impulse is to not just close my email program, but also shut down the computer and leave the room. It feels so scary when I stand up for myself and even demand compensation for being wronged. It feels so scary I even use  a child's word. I usually say 'frightening' in my Adult world, not 'scary'.

Breathe, Blueberry, breathe. You're allowed to stand up for yourself, you're allowed to set other people limits and that's often via money in the business world.

So it will be even more empowering to write: I am allowed to stand up for myself. I am allowed to set other people limits. I'm allowed to set other people limits that may 'hurt' them in the way that the loss of a little bit of money might.

Now I have to add for Inner Children/Teens that hurting people in this way is not real physical or emotional hurting, the way little Blueberries suffered in the past. These people might not like having less money to spend, but it's not causing them any kind of injury. That's the difference between Adult Blueberry now and FOO in the past. So it really is OK to set limits!!  :yes:

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Three Roses

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 05:14:26 PM »
Quote
Breathe, Blueberry, breathe. You're allowed to stand up for yourself, you're allowed to set other people limits and that's often via money in the business world.

You ARE allowed! You can say, "This is what's acceptable for me," without apology!  :cheer:

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sanmagic7

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2017, 06:52:21 PM »
yes, you are allowed - it's called self care.  as for hurting someone, you're not doing the hurting, she is by ignoring you and messing with your head. 

we have a right to set realistic boundaries and expect them to be respected.  if they're not, that is where the hurting is coming from, not from you.  they may not like it, may disagree, may get angry, may even feel hurt, but that's not on you.  i'm glad you're not taking it personally.  you don't deserve that. 

if the time comes when you have to set more rigid boundaries, again, she's the one who is  mucking it up, not you.  you go, blueberry!  big hug!!!

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Blueberry

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2017, 07:47:43 PM »
Thank you so much for the validation 3Roses and sanmagic! And then for pointing things out I hadn't mentioned/noticed.

 :bighug:  :bighug:  to you both.

I know I tend to set limits apologetically, which isn't a good thing to do. It weakens the effect of the limit, so you're right 3Roses it would be good for me to remind myself of what is and isn't acceptable to me and know that that's perfectly legit.  :yes:

But I hadn't noticed at all - thanks for pointing out, sanmagic - that I was accusing myself of hurting somebody whereas actually this person is hurting me by her actions. Typical CPTSD mistake, victim blames self and takes on feeling of guilt/shame that ought to be the other person's. Naming the game is first step to stopping it!

As of maybe a day ago I'm not taking this personally, so a new development deserves  :cheer:  :cheer:  :cheer:

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sanmagic7

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2017, 11:45:37 PM »
i'll join in!

 :cheer:     :cheer:     :cheer:

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Blueberry

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2017, 10:02:07 PM »
More progress with this troublesome client yesterday: Today is a public holiday and schools round here all closed tomorrow, so quite a few people with school-age children go away for a long weekend. The children of Troublesome Client come Fridays, so last week I asked via email if they would be coming this Friday or would they like the lesson at a different time. Get back to me on this one by Tues. 23 May, in bold, so hard to miss. Mon. evening I considered sending a reminder email, then realised: "No! That's their job." First item of progress.

Yesterday afternoon an email came saying children would come at 11 AM or 2 PM, if the message isn't too late. I wrote back saying: "Actually, your message is too late. I'll see the children next Fri." Second item of progress.

And now as my contract stands it's up to them to get back to me on finding a different date and time for tomorrow's lesson. So I don't even lose any money this way, but I think even if I were to, I would've gone through with this. It's time this mother got her act together or dealt with the consequences. She signed my contract after all.

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Three Roses

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2017, 11:34:59 PM »
:cheer: :cheer: :cheer:

Good for you!!!

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Blueberry

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2017, 05:27:18 PM »
Too bad I didn't read this thread a bit earlier today before I sent Troublesome Client another payment reminder for this month. I went a step further and demanded she start paying again by the third of the month as of next month, and obviously right away this month.

Then I left the computer briefly to do some other work. When my email pinged, I immediately thought it was a reply and so I did a very unhealthy coping mechanism, just at the thought. I was self-blaming, thinking I'd probably made a mistake, checked my bank statements wrong or checked the wrong account. (Actually it wasn't even her emailing.)

The things I did well: I really felt angry when I wrote my email and used up-front language, deleted a few 'pleases'.  I didn't recheck my account balance till today and so writing the email as soon as I had done so was a good step forward too. I also sent it right away , no waiting till next day or anything. I also resisted the temptation to offer her possibility of paying half at the beginning of the month, half in the middle. I did consider it, since Troublesome Client has indicated financial pressure before. But then the dragon in me rose up and said: "No way. Troublesome Client doesn't respect my contract, doesn't seem to notice the accommodation I've already made for her, never thanks me for any accommodation I make, and doesn't even apologise. So no way!"

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sanmagic7

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2017, 07:00:04 PM »
sounds like progress to me, blueberry.  keep up the good work!  you're doing really well.  big hug!

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Blueberry

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2017, 10:12:23 PM »
Thank you sanmagic! It is progress! Now to send her daughter home tomorrow at beginning of the lesson if daughter doesn't bring the late payment fine with her... It goes against the grain to punish children because their parents behave like this but occasionally it may be the only way you can get through to the parents. I hope daughter brings the money with her tomorrow so I don't have to do that.

I had a similar case a few years back and didn't send the child away despite repeated non-payment because the child had an important exam. Now I intend to, even though the child has a big test on Thursday. I mean, I'm even letting the child come tomorrow although it doesn't really suit me and she usually comes Friday. The least the parent could do would be pay on time! You'd think.

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sanmagic7

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2017, 03:06:02 AM »
indeed.  sending you all kinds of strength and fortitude to do what needs to be done.    :hug:

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Blueberry

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2017, 11:05:21 AM »
Update: setting a limit in no uncertain terms seems to have helped in more ways than one! Troublesome Client not only paid (albeit the wrong amount - too much, go figure) but also thanked me for my last email, which was cancelling appointments this week since I'm ill, and wished me a Get Well Soon. Wow. Up till now Thanks didn't even seem to be part of her vocabulary

Now if only setting limits in FOO would bring about such immediate changes.  :bigwink:

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Lingurine

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2017, 01:38:07 PM »
Yay  :cheer: for putting boundaries at place Blueberry!

Lingurine

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sanmagic7

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Re: troublesome clients - a bit of a rant
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2017, 05:24:38 PM »
good for you, blueberry, not only in setting those boundaries, but for taking care of yourself by canceling appts. this week so you can feel better and heal properly.

yeah, too bad it doesn't work with foo like that.  they've got us in their sights a certain way, i guess, and for so long that i don't see them changing, at least not mine.  no need to.  they think they're happy with the status quo.  keep up the good work, feel better soon.  chicken soup on the porch sounds great.  big hug.