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I have been working with a client for a few weeks, and recently I have needed to liaise with another of their contractors to sort out some technical issues relating to the work.

During the course of the email exchanges, the client essentially accused the other contractor of lying and demanded proof of their work (which they immediately provided). There was no reason to think the contractor was lying or in any way being less than completely professional. The client did not apologise, but more-or-less brushed it off, then proceeded to ask me privately to check over the other contractor's work (the work was fine). They also privately implied to me that they thought the other contractor was trying to overcharge them for the work, which I do not believe to be the case.

I consider this to be rude, unprofessional behaviour and if they treated me like this I would refuse to continue to work with them. I've been getting little red flags over the past few weeks about the client but this is "the big one".

One consideration is that there is a third contractor on the project who I have an excellent working relationship with who I would not want to offend.

I've been paid for work-to-date, so I'm not losing anything by dropping the client now.

  • Am I over-reacting to this? I appreciate that this is a very hard question to answer.
  • What is the most professional way to drop a client given this situation?
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    When a new customer complains about the last contractor be ready to be the next last contractor they complain about. – paparazzo Feb 2 '18 at 16:25
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You're taking things personally. This is unprofessional. All that should matter to you is that you're being well paid and keeping your own backyard clean. I investigate many peoples work, it makes no difference to me if they are friends or competitors, the client gets an unbiased professional report and pays me for it.

But if investigating others is not part of your job then just tell the client that. I refuse to do plenty of things because they go against my morals or because it's not my area of expertise.

How you do it professionally depends on circumstances, anything from 'I no longer want your business.' to something like 'I do not have the resources or time to take on any more projects sorry.'

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Am I over-reacting to this?

Yep you are. The client obviously likes and trusts you. I assume they are also paying you, and the work is still at least ok. Why not keep it up unless you have more work than you can handle? Why stop working with them due to the fact they don't like or trust the other contractor? Not a good enough reason to blow up the relationship.

What is the most professional way to drop a client given this situation?

If you want to drop them, simply send them an email stating "Due to unforeseen circumstances I will no longer be able to work with you after XX/XX/XXXX date". Give them enough time to prioritize critical items, and then move on your merry way.

  • I guess my concern is that there was no reason for them to dislike/distrust the other contractor. It went from perfectly amicable/professional to "I think you're lying" very quickly. I'm concerned that I will somehow end up in the same situation. – user82464 Feb 2 '18 at 16:50
  • @SaTERSen Unless you were involved with all the communications, how do you know that for sure? – Mister Positive Feb 2 '18 at 16:55
  • Yeah, I guess I don't know for sure, except that given the context/timescales it would be very odd if there were additional communications I wasn't involved in. – user82464 Feb 2 '18 at 17:00
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    @SaTERSen Nothing wrong with a bit of caution on your part though, just not enough here to sever ties. – Mister Positive Feb 2 '18 at 17:01
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Overreacting seems to best describe your reaction to the situation. You appear to be caught in the middle of a conflict between two other parties. If any further 'implications' arise, either be honest with them and explain that you have seen no reason to distrust the other contractor, or respectfully decline to join in this conflict as it is between client and other contractor.

Dropping the client may incur serious ramifications, be it reputation, finances, premature termination clauses etc. If you are keen to cease working with the client, see through your current tasks with them to completion and part ways amicably. If they should approach you again, simply respectfully reply that you are not seeking further ventures at this time. This way, you're less likely to be the target of any misplaced anger or suspicion.

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You need to weight the risks of dropping this client. What is going to be your response when they ask why? They seem like they will talk to other people in your industry behind your back. That could be bad for business.

If you're really uncomfortable with them discussing other contractors, you should tell them you don't want to unless over-seeing them is part of your responsibility. Who knows, maybe they'll stop and you won't lose a client nor will you be stuck with one you don't like.

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In my experience, your concerns are valid. If the client has done this once, they could do it more than once. They could be doing it to you.

If you have an okay relationship with the client, I would continue but at the first warning signs that the client is doing this to you behind your back, do what other contractors in my experience do. Raise your rates. Just for that client. It's called, in more polite language, a "Jerk Tax". The worst that will happen is that the client will drop you.

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