Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Client Relations Part I

I've worked from home as a tax accountant for quite a while now. It affords me the liberty and luxury of working in jeans or sweats, unless I have to go out to a corporate client, and it allows me to make my own hours, which is of course good and bad. During tax season I wind up working twenty hour days, during the summer I can get to the beach more often than not. My referrals are all word of mouth, and I'm sometimes astonished at the number of trusting young women who will call and make an appointment to come to my "office", having just me me on the phone. Over the years I've had young magazine writers among my clientele, and they've passed my name down to other writers as they've moved on to other endeavors. Sometimes they graduate to being editors, sometimes they decide to be freelance writers, sometimes they just get fired.

Geraldine had come to me three years ago, having just lost her job at a beauty magazine. I did her tax return with the understanding that she might need a little time to pay me for my efforts, and so when the end of the year came around, I understood that she had hit a rougher patch than she had anticipated. I met with her in March to do her taxes again, and she told me a long and sad story of barely making ends meet, living from hand to mouth, and so I did her tax return for a second year, and waited once again to no avail, as the end of the year came and I still hadn't received any sort of payment for my work. How does the saying go---fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice, shame on me, And so I wrote off what she owed me, and chalked it up to my bad judgment and her bad personality. The bills weren't large, and I frankly just felt annoyed that I had misjudged the situation.

And so, imagine my surprise when my caller ID lit up with her name last March...what chutzpah, I thought. And yet I answered the phone, and had a long conversation with her about her responsibilities, how I needed to make mortgage payments and put gas in my car, etc., etc., and how I really really couldn't get involved with her for a third year with no prospect of getting paid anything for my efforts. She pleaded and begged, promising that if I would see her, she would bring something to get the process started. And so, against my better judgment yet again, we made an appointment for the following week.

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