I’ve worked for myself since 1980 and have learned several important things. My favorite is: Don’t give in or up when you’re in the right. In reality it’s a matter of balance, (time vs. results gained) but sometimes you have to fight the good fight whether you want to or not. Be responsible and demand responsibility. When I’m called on something I did or said that didn’t fly with someone else, (and they have a valid point) I own up to it straight away, take responsibility, make amends and move on. It’s much better to eat crow when it’s warm. Own it. Deal with it. Move on.
When this policy isn’t reciprocated back by companies or individuals, then I have a problem. Talk about tiger blood. I demand responsibility. What goes around comes around. I don’t like to be messed with and more often than not will pursue amends. In the process I get satisfaction many more times than not. My 30+ years working for myself has made me strong, savvy and relentless. I’m good at writing, speaking and arguing my points. I’m detail oriented. I’ve had misunderstandings in business. One way to create leverage is by keeping detailed notes: dates, times, names, discussion summaries and correspondence. I learned this technique by using a sales tickler system.
When I believe I’ve been wronged and have the facts to prove it, I’ll begin the process of getting the other party to do the right thing. Case in point: I signed up with a company that promised to generate “qualified” leads for my commercial photography business. I hesitated to sign with them but I need to delegate my sales efforts. The sales rep and intake counselor were so sweet. It wasn’t sugar it was BS. They read their contract over the phone and you have to agree orally. I knew this was funky, yet I went forward. I bear some responsibility here.
From the beginning this company sucked on multiple levels: issues getting their system to recognize my email address. I questioned how they qualified leads after one fellow who was looking for an out of state local photographer, filled in their online form and I got the call. I don’t travel and this was in my profile at the time. I received another lead that was “qualified” even though my profile at the time was incomplete and no photographs of my work had yet been posted. As part of the sales process I was offered one unconditional credit. They reneged. Their lack of response to my inquiries after I signed up. The incompetence of “senior” account people who said they would clear up the problem.
My experience with this company was AWFUL. I got one of their “senior” people to credit back the charges to my credit card but in actuality she did not. This is what fried my cookies. The systemic lack of integrity was not going to go unrewarded. They underestimated who they screwed with. I play the game better than most. (I may write about my Bank of America experience, are they sorry they took me on!) (:())
I called the credit card company to request a conditional credit. This got the attention of the company. Another senior level person got on the phone and she explained their side. After she blathered on, I informed her I would write to the FTC, the BBB and the attorney general in their home state to complain about their business practices. She relented and agreed to the credit.
Ten days later I received two emails from this company stating that my account is going to collections for lack of payment. Huh? I wrote back and their response was that since I had not released the conditional credit it was my fault for this continuing issue. Huh? I called the credit card company to inquire about the refund. I was told the conditional credit was dropped a week prior because the company had sent the refund as agreed. This meant the books were balanced but the bank for this company had not yet processed the paperwork. It was another problem on their end.
Are we surprised?
The company is Service Magic. I recommend staying away from them if you’re a commercial photographer. They don’t understand our business well enough and don’t seem interested in learning from their mistakes.
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