Updated: May 17
In my line of work, every now and then something mindbogglingly weird and unpleasant happens to me.
I assume these things happen to all businesses and all people, but...wow...
...you'll see what I mean.
A few years before I moved to Tasmania a customer I'd helped out a few times wanted me to set up a new computer for them.
He ran an online business drop-shipping office furniture and the like (I use the past tense because I hope he's got his comeuppance...but I doubt it).
From the get-go he was a bit of a git. But when you are in business you sometimes feel you have to tolerate these types for your bigger picture i.e. earning some money to live on.
The computer he wanted me to set up had been in his cupboard for over a year.
Already you will be thinking "it's out of warranty" and I told him precisely that.
He hadn't even bought the machine from me in the first place. So I pointed that out too.
I set the machine up and all was fine for a few weeks.
Then the graphics adapter on the "new" machine failed.
He called me back and asked me to fix it.
Once again I pointed out that the machine was out of warranty and not purchased from me.
He approved the purchase of a replacement graphics adapter and the cost of labour involved.
The work was duly done and the invoice sent to him. It was over $400.
He then decided NOT to pay me.
I followed up every way I knew how. I even got debt collectors involved to no avail.
NB: You should know that then and now small claims like this aren't worth taking to court and bad people know this...and prey upon it.
I was out of pocket for the hardware and the time and there was nothing I could do but suck it up and move on.
Cut to a few months later and I get a phone call from the Department of Fair Trading. There'd been a complaint made about me.
I was geninely surprised and could not think who would have grounds for complaint.
When I asked who it was, you guessed it. It was the git who owed me money.
When I explained this to the Fair Trading person they were gobsmacked.
The Fair Trading agent told me that in all his years he'd never encountered such a thing i.e. the person who hadn't paid complaining.
The Fair Trading agent apologised to me and asked me what I should tell this git. I can't remember my exact words, but it went something "Tell him to consider himself very lucky and he should pull his head in."
The agent agreed and apologised again.
I mentioned this to my bookkeeper because the debt would have to be marked as BAD in my accounts.
It was in fact my bookkeeper who'd referred me to this person, so when I told her the story she sighed and said "Yes, this isn't the first time. He did it to me too." (or words very similar to that).
I asked why she hadn't warned me and the answer was "client confidentiality".
I understand that but I was disappointed and out of pocket by over $400.
To my way of thinking if you are dishonest to me, then I am going to warn my friends and anyone else at risk from this person.
Your dishonesty waves any right you may think you have to this being kept private.
I could have deleted this guy's entire online business. I had access to his web site and all his machines.
I could have easily cost him much more than $400 in down-time and rebuilding his web site.
I am an ethical and honest guy, so I didn't do that. But I'll be damned if I didn't warn everyone I could about his behaviour.
I've often considered the creation of a web site or group purely designed to warn people about unethical arseholes like this guy.
I just can't see how I wouldn't end up getting sued regardless of how factual it was...
... and that's why these people keep getting away with it.
So please, if you've been stung, warn your friends at the very least.
I know I'll appreciate the heads-up.