Interesting Responses To “11 Clients” Article


I seem to have stuck a chord with some folks – both good and bad – with my article about 11 Clients You Need To Fire Right Now.  I’ve gotten more feedback on this piece than on anything else I’ve written to date.

From my eMail:

“Don’t expect to stay in business for very long with that attitude.”

“Without burning bridges, you just enumerated a series of client archetypes that we have all worked with.  Great job!”

“You can’t just fire a client if you are under contract to complete a job for them.  I hope you get sued for breach, you smug ass.”

“I’ve always been afraid to stand up for myself against abusive customers, for fear of losing a contract.  But if you can do it, maybe I can too.  Thanks for talking about this!”

“You are now #1 on my list of vendors I will never work with.”

From my discussion forum:

Fletch writes, “I can think of a great topic for an article called “The One Software Developer Who Should Be Fired Right Now.”

John Borkowski writes, “Every one of the clients listed in the article will cost you money– at best by wasting your time, at worst by not paying at all.  If anyone honestly wants to serve clients like that, I have about 30 referrals for you.”

Gary writes, “If a vendor broke a contract with me because he didn’t like the payment schedule or because he decided I wasn’t a big enough fish, I’d see to it that vendor never worked in my industry again. Period.”

Around the blogosphere:

Eric Wise writes, “I couldn’t agree more.  It always amazes me when clients consistently pay late knowing that my company has employees and subcontractors that I’m responsible for.  I often wonder how they would feel if mysteriously their next paycheck was a month late.  Generally though I don’t consider this a client firing event unless the lateness is extreme.”

Kevin Dangoor writes, “I think everyone who has been doing software for a while has worked with some suboptimal clients.”

Joey deVilla writes, “I’m certain that Hawkins is speaking from real-world experience; I’ve seen a number of these client types from my consulting days and from horror stories told around the bar at developer gatherings.”

Overall, traffic has spiked by 100% in the past two days.  It seems as though the other consulting pros of the world have felt the same pain I have with regard to abusive clients.  Of course, the bad ones serve to help me remember to appreciate the good ones.

A word about breach of contract, which seems to be a relatively common concern when discussions of firing a client come up:  don’t you all write termination clauses into your contracts?  The client might decide they don’t like you, either, and want a way out of the contract.  Nobody wants to get up every morning and either work on or pay for a contract he is unhappy with.

In general, my company has a policy that either party to a contract can cancel for any reason with 10 days notice.  Work to date must be paid for in full, of course, but if a client isn’t happy with our service there’s no way I’d try to strong-arm them into staying.  And it works going the other way as well.

Is my company the only one that does this?