It’s Never Too Soon

Someone said to me the other day, “It must be nice to be able to pick and choose who you’ll do business with”. That would be nice, but it doesn’t really work that way. The way it does work is that I have a No Asshole rule. It might seem vague, but I’ve never known anyone to be an asshole by the standards of his native culture unwittingly. Someone made a video that illustrates nicely:

It seems farcical, but I hear those very things and more all the time. I had to learn the hard way, but I did eventually catch on. Just say ¡vete a la chingada! like you mean it when someone seeks unfair advantage.

One of my clients does internet marketing and has a couple of servers upon which she hosts her clients’ web sites. She’s a nice enough young woman, though a bit mental. She says she’s got ADHD and various other mental malfunctions and she might actually have them, but she seems normal enough to me. Some time ago she sent me a very disturbing email that led me to believe she was very depressed and possibly suicidal, so I called her on the phone. I don’t know if it was liquor, or prescription drugs, or some combination of them that she was into that evening, but we talked for a while before she abruptly announced that she was going to bed and left me to worry that she might not be alive when the sun next rose. She told me of her challenges and they were all related to clients very much like those in the video above. They demanded all of these things and those things, but wouldn’t pay for them. Not willingly, anyway. So I asked her: You’re telling me that the only way you can afford to continue hitting your parents up for money every month to pay your bills is to continue giving charity to commercial enterprises?

She’s doing much better now, personally and professionally. When her changed policies led one of her biggest clients to complain that they couldn’t afford to pay for everything they wanted, she flatly said that she couldn’t afford to give them everything they wanted, either — so that client somehow miracled up some cash to spend for the things they wanted, and their spending alone would have made January her best month ever and her business is now operating in the black. It’s funny how that works.

This is all on my mind just now because I have one last system administration task to accomplish for the client I’m throwing away at midnight tonight.

It’s never too soon to get rid of an asshole.


10 thoughts on “It’s Never Too Soon

      1. Roadkill Spatula

        One was more or less a charity case. I did a lot of work for her for well under my usual fees, until I came to my senses. It wasn’t the money so much as the personality, with all of them. I shouldn’t dread going to a client’s house.

        1. happierheathen Post author

          Been there… I’ve found that there are only two reasons I ever dread a client contact. One, rare, is when I’ve blown a deadline badly and know I fully deserve any unkind words they might have for me. The other is when I shouldn’t be doing business with that client because the client is a soul sucker. The former really only happens after I’ve devoted way too much time to one of the latter.

  1. Tracy

    I use to work for a company that had a pretty strict Cost in Time Spent due to Assholishness vs Money actually paid scale. It was a lovely work environment most of the time because you knew there was a line and once the customer started costing more time than they were worth you would be done. There was not a lot of grey area around that line. And the owner always stepped in when it got to that point. sigh…the good old days.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I can’t figure it out. I’ve never gone to any merchant or vendor and pulled that stuff, but some people do it all the time. I can understand it when I’m dealing with someone in or from a culture where haggling is de rigeur, but it blows me away when a native born American or Canuckistani does it.

  2. solberg73

    Oy, I’ve been advised here countless times to ‘add a little first, so you can pretend to knock it off the price. To me it feels dishonest, to the real locals it’s simply ‘how stuff works’.
    And then worse, every time I buy something at full price without bickering I’m called a sucker and a fool. And I’ve even had guys mad(?) at me for not trying to whittle down their prices, as if I’m a party-pooper for not ‘singing along’.
    Think there’s a skit in ‘Life of Brian’ about this.
    Ok, usually I simply go uber-transparent, showing the customer exactly what the materials cost, plus a list with totals of my expended hours. But this policy often makes matters worse, since they almost seem to prefer not to know, (as in how sausage is made) rather than staring at 30 bucks an hour in the face.
    At least when I was little, the milk-marketing-board set the price we got per gallon, and my Dad never had to (nor ever learned how to) bargain.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      First off, I’m glad to know that you’re still breathing in and out! I was just thinking last night that if I didn’t see any proof of life soon I’d have to resort to cluttering your email inbox.

      I *hate* haggling. I guess it’s from being raised in North America, but to me it feels disrespectful. Which has got interesting when traveling to places where it’s considered arrogant and disrespectful to not haggle… So I avoid that embarrassment by staying home. 😀


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