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A very good customer of mine, gave me various digital media files on USB sticks and CDs to put on this newly created website. One CD in particular was an unpublished song of his and he told me this was the only MASTER CD of that day in the studio.

I instantly took the song and put it on his website and stored the CD in my usual lock-box to be sure that nothing happens to it. Usually we meet in irregular intervals and I intended to return it at the next opportunity.

Now several weeks after he gave me the initial sign off and paid the invoice, he came back to me, saying that the song was missing on the website. When checking, I saw that indeed that one song was uploaded twice. I went to my lock-box and retrieved the MASTER CD and the other CD in question, and realized that both songs were indeed the very same thing.

I am sure that I am not making the mistake here, as nobody else has access to the lock-box, and I have only received one MASTER CD and no other CDs that were self-pressed.

After I told him that, he now claims that I must have misplaced the CD and that it is my fault.

This is not about "terms and conditions", as I have a document which I always send to new customers and resend when I have to update them, which states that Data Security and Backups is the customers responsibility. I just wonder if there are any good tips on how to salvage this situation and hopefully keep this otherwise loyal customer.

  • What folly to give your ONLY master CD away. His mistake. Not sure what you can do until he comes to terms with that. – Scott Jul 23 '14 at 12:51
  • Totally, but still... I still have the CD he gave me. I am sure he must still have it at his home OR the person creating the CD for him must have made a mistake. – mebu83 Jul 23 '14 at 13:30
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This is a tough one. While it is tempting to just write it off as a loss, you sound like you want to maintain the relationship. T&C aside, there is also your own reputation to think of. Past research says that bad word-of-mouth news affects up to 18 other possible clients.

I would try to establish a "let's solve this together" approach where you present yourself as being equally concerned about the problem, make a visible effort to locate the original disc and ask the client to do the same. And actually try to do as you say. Be authentic.

It is not helpful to go into all the obvious precautions, what's done is done. Try to get your client to move beyond the emotions of the blame game and try to solve the situation together.

Good luck.

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He screwed up. Plain and simple.

Anyone who has important data should do a 3-2-1 backup - You want 3 copies of your data in different places, on 2 types of media (i.e. hard drive, flash drive, DVD-ROM, cloud storage, paper, etc), and at least 1 copy always kept off site.

Now, let's say that he did his backups. He has nothing to worry about, right? But he didn't. Who's fault is it? Did you go an edit the read only disk? Of course not!

Just because he burned the wrong song, and did not make a backup, does not make it your fault. You need to own that statement, and make him understand it. You have in your contract information about data backup? Let him know! Point him to a computer blog that explains how DVDs don't simply grab the wrong file as they're getting burned, it's always human error.

He's gotta suck it up, and understand it's not your fault. Period. Good luck.

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    That answer is fine as long as he never wants to do business with that client again. But he stated that he's a good client he wants to keep. This isn't about who's right, it's about keeping good relations. – Tom Collins Jul 24 '14 at 15:16
  • I understand your concern, @TomCollins. I have been in a similar situation, and I still work with the ones who understood I had nothing to do with their error. This sounds like a CFH to me. – Canadian Luke Jul 24 '14 at 15:52
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To this one, I call "b.s."!!!

Your mistake was in accepting, with knowledge, his one-and-only master. But there's nothing you can do about that now.

I really think your client has misplaced his materials and is looking for you as a bailout. But here's the thing. A "day in the studio" doesn't produce a standard stereo CD without one or several individual tracks being mixed down to two. By that token, somebody may have the multi-track recording somewhere in digital form. If your client has lost the stereo mixdown, he'll have to go back to whomever did the mixdown to get it again, and more than likely some money will have to change hands. This is probably why the client is on your case - he doesn't want to pay for his mistake!!!

Sometimes, you just have to tell a client, "sorry, there's nothing I can do for you."

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