Friday, February 15, 2013

when good clients go bad

I hate when a good working relationship with a client goes bad at the end. We recently installed a 4' x 6' window in the master bath of a residence. In the lower left hand corner there is a carved lizard about 6” long on the large leaf, a carved element on a carved element.

Now two weeks after it has been installed, they want me to bear the cost of having the etched glass panel removed and reinstalled so that I can 'do something' about the lizard because it is not visible enough. Even when they tell people there is a lizard on the panel, no one can find it so they have decided that this is an 'error'.

I admit the lizard does not jump right out at you when you first look at the panel but once you know it is there, it is visible. They are not complaining, however, about not being able to see the leaves clearly when they overlap, one carved element on top of another.

I have not responded to their email yet. I'm a little insulted that they think we made a mistake when it was done that way to insure their privacy in the bathroom. I'm a little stunned that they would expect me to incur such an expense for one small detail in an otherwise acceptable large panel.

They still owe me 50% of the contract.

Right now I'm waiting for the estimate to have the panel removed and then reinstalled but I have several recourses available to me. I could offer to split the cost of removing and re-installing the panel and use my off hand flex-shaft tool using polishing points to sort of 'gray out' the etched area surrounding the lizard but it will be a subtle effect, sort of like a shadow and I have no guarantee that it will be good enough for them.

Or I could offer them a monetary discount to just leave it as is. Or I could refuse to make any change since I don't think there is an 'error' and threaten to file a lien on the property if they don't pay me.

I know how to file liens.

I don't actually want to file a lien as it is a pain in the ass and the only way I'll get paid is if they want to sell the property or borrow any money with the property as collateral. Plus, I don't like to be a dick head. So I'm hoping that they will accept one of the other two possibilities.

They also have two 2' x 3' oval windows high up in the bathroom, one opposite the shower and the other opposite the toilet that the neighbor can see through perfectly if he looks out his 2nd story windows. I was going to submit a proposal to do the cream etch on those windows on location (something I really don't want to do anyway) which would make them match the background of the window but now they can just come up with another solution to that problem.



  1. I am having problem with someone complaining about a work of art. I wonder if Van Gogh went through this or Pablo...although Pablo would have probably threatened them with a knife. Now if they were the King of England, you probably had to relent. If they wanted something exactly to their taste they should have asked you to copy a drawing they made! So sorry about this. I know you find it hanging heavily over your day.

  2. This is why I hate commission work. Good luck!

  3. What a royal pain. Tell them to put glasses on. Or rub some kind of hue around the edge of the lizard.

    Maybe they'd like additional lizards on their other windows, etched the same way, but the repetition of the motif would make it more noticeable on the 1st window? Oh nuts, I dunno.

  4. That is a pain...sorry Ellen...hope you all can come up with a fair and easy solution.
    Good luck

  5. Did they approve the design before you put it in .. what does your contract say about this kind of thing.

    So sorry .. I'm just glad I don't ever have to work with people like that.

  6. Ellen.....I hate people who don't think things through beforehand and then have a case of wah wah when someone doesn't have the reaction they want. It's not your work they are unhappy with, I'd wager. It's because whomever they wanted to wow isn't discerning enough to appreciate the beauty and subtlety of your work. Damn, that's why I'm glad I'm a hermit and do as I please and don't have to work for anyone anymore. Blech. So Sorry. Oma Linda

  7. Sorry to hear you have a customer from hell Ellen. Have you tried telling them that all lizards blend into the background?

  8. I know it's in your best interests to work this out, but do indulge some fantasies, like fixing it with your big hammer.

  9. Oh, yikes. Maybe you can explain to them that you could try to improve the visibility of the lizard but there's no guarantee it would work. Just tell them the properties of the glass don't allow anything more. You know?

    Would it be worth it to do one or both of the small oval windows for free and resolve the problem that way? (I'm speaking off the top of my head, because I have NO IDEA how much work that might entail!)

    I like Kerry's idea, too -- maybe working additional lizards into the smaller windows?

  10. That window is awesome. They should tell their guests that the lizard is a secret that only special, perceptive viewers can find. (The emperor's new lizard, perhaps.)

    I hope you can get your money without unnecessary drama and extra work. I would have a hard time being calm and polite in the negotiation.

  11. What the hell? Oscar Hammerstein, Sr. made a fortune with a bowl of water and charging people $1 a shot to spot the invisible fish.
    Offer the shadow option and if they don't want it lien the frigging house, you'll get your money eventually because with the lien they can't borrow against it, re-fi or anything without first paying you.

  12. What a big hassle. I like the shadow idea. Liens are no fun for either party.
    The lizard does not seem the issue as they didn't commission you just for the lizard but the window itself.
    I also like the idea of only perceptive viewers can see the lizard.
    Big deal over nothing in my opinion. You've done your job. They should just pay you.
    Good luck. Blessings, Barb

    My books are available on Amazon.
    Vada Faith, women's fiction

    Ezra and Other Stories, collection of short stories.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. That is terrible, and infuriating. People have no consideration. I'm pretty sure they saw what the panel looked like before you installed it, why now? And in a way, it was their mistake for not saying, "This is not what I want."

    Good clients gone bad indeed...

  15. we run into that sometimes with our fireplace a dick head(your words,,lol) and file a lien.. or small claims court. Folks like that will just keep pushing,, but maybe i am too ridgid on these things, My old age I suppose...

  16. In my fantasy world, I see you slapping a turquoise vinyl lizard over the etched one, with a fair amount of superglue, and suggesting red and white, ruffled gingham curtains with tassle ties for those other two windows. That's just about as tacky as their behavior.

    If they want the lizard redone, they should foot the bill - and pay the balance due before any other work is done.

    That two week gap between installation and complaint is a clear indication that something other than the quality of your work is at issue. At least, I think so.

  17. The window is beautiful. They are jerks.


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.