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I work for a writing agency. A few days ago, a client asked us to do some work for his website. The client said it was 'proofreading'. I did the work, the agency approved it. It was sent to the client for final approval.

The client wrote back to say that what he actually wanted was his text rewritten so the site sold better. I wrote back to the agency to say this pretty much constituted a new job. The agency agreed so I got on with the work.

I resubmitted and the agency approved it - again! It was sent to the client for final approval.

I waited a few days and the client rejected it. He wrote back to say that the work was low quality and he could have done a better job himself. My agency were very nice about it, I got paid regardless, but it left a blemish on my stats, it's the first time a client has rejected a piece of my work.

I am considering writing to my agency and asking them to overturn the negative feedback because

1 - the client was vague about what they wanted - and in the first place, they described what they wanted incorrectly;

2 - it was a new client, so we had no previous examples of what the client liked to work from

3 - it's clear that the client had something very specific in mind, but they were not able to articulate their needs or show us the kind of thing they had in mind.

I kept to the description as much as I could - short, concise, selling the site, a bit humorous. There was nothing I could do save getting inside the client's head. Because of this one negative piece of feedback I am now nearly halfway down my agency's ladder of writers, whereas before I was at the top.

Should I write to my agency about this or just swallow it? I could do the latter, but I still feel an injustice is being done somewhere.

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First: I can't really tell you what you should do. I can give you some pointers for the future:

  1. You say: the client was vague about what they wanted. In such cases, don't just do something. You are the professional, you should notice if you have all the info you need for your work or not. If something is unclear, request further communication first.

  2. I don't know what kind of agency this is, but normally someone should take the requirements from the client. Part of that is often, helping them to articulate their real needs. You need to look at how this is done at the moment, and if there is room for improvement. Maybe you should be part of that process too? (talking directly to the client)

  3. If this is an isolated incident, don't read too much into this. Tastes differ and some clients will always be complaining.

And here is what I would do (in software-development), in case I feel this is more than a "one-off, forget about it" incident.

I would contact the agency and tell them you feel bad about how the job has gone and if they would like to analyse if there is a learning in it for the future. Put special emphasis on it that you don't want to blame anyone, just see if you can do anything to improve and prevent such incidents in the future.

If they are interested in talking to you, have a meeting (personal or skype - not mail etc.) Concentrate on the problems you faced, and what you could do / what you would need to mitigate such problems in the future, see points 1. and 2. Do not blame anyone, especially not the client! If you can agree on some points for improvement in the future, fine. If you agree that is just a single unhappy incident, also ok.

Afterwards, write the agency an e-mail with a nice wrap-up where you thank them for the discussion and list the agreed improvements, if any.

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