Situation: Year 2013. There is this small-medium size manufacture company "C" who has a malfunctional website, infected with malware and viruses, if you seach the company name you get thousands results with online pharmacy etc. C is very unhappy and the original developers are ignoring C's requests to solve problems, so they started to look for some other solution, then they knew about me because C's owners are somehow my wife's relatives.
I was not very happy at first because is always a problem to work for friends and relatives but they insisted so I wanted to see and get a better idea.
We met and they told me somewhat like "I would like that you will become like an internal freelance in our company so that you will be able to know us better and advise us better to what is best for us and for the C's success. You shall, with time, be able to operate on the site and socials in autonomy once you will know better the company from the inside".
Year 2014-15. In this time I took C's website, moved host, domain and email, set-up top-level hosting services which worked great, I spent several hours at their offices for set-ups and configurations. Rebuilt a new responsive fully-functional multi-language CMS with impact design and lot of features for clients, reserved areas for dealers, custom PHP web apps (back-end and front-end). We made production videos, photos and other interesting materials. Set-up newsletter system, facebook, twitter and instagram accounts, managed posts and blogs, eventually made remote and on-site technical assistance, etc.
The result was very good and satisfactory, I made a lot of effort and C's has now a well launched website and social presence. The visits increased a lot and they built a good number of registered users.
Everyone is satisfied, web and social are working very good, regular payments, and so on.
Year 2016 first months: C's communications with me became strangely silent all of a sudden, my proposals by email were unanswered, very little were asked to me to do. Spring 2016: They asked me if I could send them the original photos and videos we made before, they asked me administration rights to edit social channels, etc. I understood that there was something strange going on.
So I requested a meeting with them to clear the situation. After about 10 days we met and what they told me is that: one of the biggest C's supplier provided a "service pack" to C that includes, togheter with various trade fairs services, a 6 months consultancy service for print, social and web marketing provided by the supplier's favourite web agency ("W") consisting in about 10 employees doing various specialized tasks, and C took advantage of this "service pack".
I found myself in the unpleasant situation to be downgraded from main consultant and project manager to simple executor of other's requests. In fact shortly after the meeting I started to receive emails by someone from W with very demanding requests asking me for complex tasks in short time, sending me pdf mockups of web pages to reproduce exactly in an already existing CMS with high-quality responsive well running template, newsletter mockups with complex print-style format graphics to make as responsive newsletters (unsupported by most clients), and so on. W is never happy and ask me always for "fixing" this and that by email to me and with CC to the C's CEO.
W even started to ask me for things that are objectively and technically wrong and counter-productive (I started to think that W wants to put me intentionally in a bad light so they can steal the client to me with the reasons that I do "wrong things" since C's CEO has no technical knowledge).
When that happened I stopped to do anything and requested a new meeting with C's CEO before doing anything else, I proved to him why W's requests were wrong with facts, examples and techical documentation, we agreed to finish some tasks in certain (proper) ways as I explained to him and I did so. I also told him that surely, being a single freelance, I can't physically do what 10 employees can, and if he needs another kind of service he is free to obtain it and this also OK for me, but if he wants me to work for him, I want to work as I know and as I think is best (having 20+ years of experience) without other people to instruct me or giving me orders out of the blue.
Meanwhile I found out that when W started to manage C's social channels, W bought thousands of fake likes to show that their work produce results, that question was faced with C's CEO at the beginning and he did not want fake likes, he wanted genuine likes. In the meantime Google Analytics shows that the site is losing traffic by 15%/month for the last 3-4 months (when W started to work for C).
Now we are in a suspended situation, C is still making W work for them while none of C or W are asking for new tasks or jobs or contacting me for anything.
I don't know exactly how to go on with C, I feel frustrated and demotivated, they called me when the ship was sinking, then with two years of work I made it beautiful, functional and going, and then someone (without even asking me anything) told me to go to do the laundry while someone else will pilot the ship.
Also the fact that C's CEO is my wife's relative is a big complication for family/work relationships.
What whould you do in my situation? Any suggestion is greatly appreciated.
Edit: just to clear a few things, this is not my only client. I have many clients with long term work relationships. C is one of my clients. Losing it won't cause me a big problem. Also I was very collaborative, kind and professional at my best with W, I gave all the info, materials and hours of my work days to make W comfortable with everything.