6

I have a heavy customer who like to call 10PM about extra urgent thing which must be fixed asap or the Earth will stop existing. If I do not reply (as I usually don't at such hours), in the morning I get 5 messages on all types of contact devices. A client does not want to understand that we're not slaves and that a freelancer has office hours as well. What is really good about this customer is that he pays good money - hourly price 25% then other hourly prices and has work for me for a couple of years.

Now, should I forget about attitude and go for money (as I often advise here) or I should drop this client?

PS. I say "money" because there is work here for a 1 year at least, even more. It's 30 x 4 x 12 work hours. We communicate almost every day as I think you will ask he this question.

  • 2
    I edited to put the focus more solidly on the question. In general, answers tend to be more applicable when avoiding phrases like "what did YOU do". Ideally, answers should solve your unique problem. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Dec 8 '13 at 23:39
13

I just ignore the off-hours contact and deal with things during traditional hours - even if that means I get emails and messages the next morning. I have a few clients who will email Sunday evening. While they may be expecting a reply, they don't get it until Monday.

Like with any business, a client is free to email or call anytime, that doesn't mean I've got to respond at that time. In my experience, it isn't that clients think you are always available. It's somewhat human nature to not really perceive others over the internet (and sometimes phone) as actual people. They assume since they are at the computer, everyone is. It's a misconception which extends well beyond freelancing.

I don't see off-hours reaching out as an "attitude" per say. If the client is pleasant to deal with in spite of their "panic attacks", they will eventually learn that they can't expect everything to be dropped immediately and their issue addressed simply because they ask. I wouldn't drop a client simply because they repeatedly reach out at odd hours.

Now, if the client is unpleasant to deal with on top of the panic attacks, I would probably be looking to supplement that income stream elsewhere.

4

There are really two possibilities here:

1) You decide that you don't want to work off-hours. Then… don't. Don't check your emails or answer the phone off-hours, and be crystal clear about that with your client.

2) Your client really wants to be able to join you anytime, and you are willing to provide that extra service. Realize that this is an extra service, and have a special rate for that. Make things expensive for him, he should think twice before calling you. And if he doesn't, you are not expensive enough.

2

It depends on how desperate you are for the money.

One of the reasons I got into freelancing is because I can choose who I wish to work with. If clients are rude and persistently call me outside of business hours and expect me to answer then I'd rather rather they hire someone else to abuse. If I needed the money that much, I'd go and get a real job!

I have found out the hard way that consistently accommodating unrealistic expectations does not make the situation any better as clients have little or no respect for you and the unrealistic expectations and rudeness often become worse.

By setting clear boundaries, you can earn some respect and clients can learn to appreciate that they might not be your only client, that you have a business of your own to run, and a life outside of work. Let clients know what your standard working hours are and that it's OK to leave messages and emails but that you may not respond until your standard business hours.

I am happy to respond to clients in a genuine emergency out of business hours but make sure my clients don't get used to me answering phone calls or emails late at night or on a weekend.

I have managed to re-educate a few rude clients like this who are still clients today.

Good luck!

  • I normally do the same. But those clients pay me regular hourly rate. This one pays me hire and I was wondering is it stupid decision to get rid of the client or to just to play numb and get all that money. – Peter MV Dec 9 '13 at 19:21
0

Your question is about one of personal preference, and only you can decide what's best for you.

It's clear that you find late night calls to be crossing your line, so some questions you might ask your self are:

1) What amount of money would make you okay with after hours calls? - are you getting paid that amount of money?

2) What are the ways I can insulate you self from this clients expectations that you find unreasonable? - are these steps worth taking so that I can continue to do business with this client?

1+2 = Can you re-work you contract such that you are paid more for after hours? - can it be a sliding (maybe even logarithmic) scale based on how far after hours?


My guess is that if you had to ask the internet to be your own personal career counsellor, the money you currently are making isn't enough; they should at least be paying for your extra trips to the psychiatrist / career counsellor.

Personally, I prefer jobs that require me to be flexible provided I get flexibility in setting my hours in return. I don't have a problem with rigidity hours / start times as long as they don't expect a ton of off hours work. The mixing of the two is what made me leave consulting.

0

What others said... Assuming the client is not difficult in other ways, I would:

1) Never respond after hours (unless you perceive a real emergency).

2) When you do respond Monday morning - don't give them any priority over your other email responses (IOW don't let their 5-modes-of-contact-spaz-attack panic you into giving them preferential treatment.)

3) When you do respond, never apologize for being inaccessible during off time or indicate that there is anything wrong/unusual with how long it took you to get back to them.

You are training them that they can email you any time but they won't get a response until business hours.

It could be this client is just one who has a lot of "ideas" and wants to get them to you right away as they occur.

If the phone ringing at all hours is bothering you, set your phone to not ring during off hours. For example, I use a Google Voice number for business which rings both my home and cell phone. I can set it not to ring one or either of the phones during certain hours. So if someone calls my home phone direct (friend/family) that comes through, but when clients call my business line at night, it just goes to VM. I think I can also set it to send certain numbers to VM during certain hours. That might be ideal here...

With clients like this even during normal working hours I will sit on their email/phone call a bit just to manage expectations. They must understand they are not your ONLY client. If they were your sole priority you would not be able to be in business to help them in the first place.

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