Abusive Client - any advice?

  1. Hi girls... I'm having another work-related dilemma this week, and any advice you can give would be appreciated...

    Our biggest client is a large corporation that operates under a franchise system. We have a call center setup where individual franchise owners can call and order customized marketing materials (we're a commercial printer). One of those franchise owners is a real d-bag, who always orders thousands of dollars worth of product, then is disorganized and slow to pay for it. I've been able to work with him to get him to pay for his orders, but he's a real @$$ about it most of the time. However, because he's one of the largest franchise owners in the corporation, we're somewhat obligated to kiss his butt and keep him happy, no matter what a jerkball he is or how late his payments are...

    Anyhow, earlier this week, I get a call from him. Keep in mind, I've always been very nice to this guy, and tactful when discussing money with him. He has given me his credit card number in the past to pay for orders that he owes on, and I assumed he was calling to do the same thing again. Instead, he immediately starts *screaming and cursing* at me, because he claimed that I was charging stuff on his card without his authorization! :wtf::wtf::wtf:

    It was the worst verbal abuse I've ever dealt with in my life. He called me a "Stupid B*tch" and dropped every curse word in the book. By the time the phone call was through, and I'd managed to convince him that A) I didn't charge something to his card without his consent and B) I would figure out the origin of the charge and let him know... I was practically hysterical myself!

    My boss came in to talk with another person in my department, and discovered me face down at my desk, sobbing... I told him that I needed a minute to calm down, and then I was going to write a detailed explanation to the management of what had just occurred. A little while later, I sat down and composed the email - giving a very detailed (and diplomatic) explanation of what the client had accused me of and what we needed to be doing as a company to prevent that sort of thing. The minute I sent it, all Hell broke loose!

    Mind you, nobody in the company blamed me, but immediately my boss, and the salesman in charge of this guy's account, called our client's corporate headquarters to report that one of their franchise owners had verbally abused me. They then assigned one of the call center agents to research the transaction -- and she discovered that it was an order the guy had placed himself, on the internet, a few weeks before! The call center agent called him back and explained the charge to him, and I was told (by management) that I wouldn't need to have any personal contact with him from now on.

    Well, yesterday, my phone rang, but I was in the middle of a separate project so I let it drop to voicemail... It was the guy, calling to apologize for his actions earlier in the week! :s He said, repeatedly, "Please please please call me back!" so he can tell me that he's sorry... I haven't returned his call yet, and I really don't want to. I brought it up to my boss, and he said I should ask the salesman in charge of the guy's account what to do.

    I know this a-hole isn't being genuine at all, and is only calling me because he got in trouble with his corporate office. I don't want anything to do with him, and still feel sick when I think about the way he treated me. However, I know he's a "heavy hitter" who does a ton of business with us, and I don't want to make a bad impression by not returning his call. If you were in my position, what would you do? :confused1:

    (Thanks girls... I know it's long winded!)
  2. Could you ask your boss if you can send him an email and copy your boss on it? I would say something like you got his message, but due to his abusive behavior, you are no longer willing to have any contact with him.

    The thing is, abusive people like that usually don't stop, and you're right, he probably isn't genuine and will continue with this type of behavior.

    Good luck, sorry you had to deal with this jerk.
  3. If it were me I would return his call accept his apology and make it known under no circumstances in the future you will tolerate this type of behavior from him end of story. You take the upper hand make it known where you stand and continue on with the highs and lows of "The Corporate World"

    Best of luck to you!!
  4. I agree. CALL HIM. Be very diplomatic and unemotional and almost sound as if the incident was no big deal to you personally just professionally because being a professional yourself, you've never encountered anything so UNprofessional. That will show him that you have the upper hand. If you don't call, he might think that you're scared of him and he's likely to do it again and just say sorry again.
  5. First, it would really be satisfying to me knowing the company I work for took the situation seriously. I give your company kudos for their attention to your situation.

    To your specific matter, DON'T call him back. I think it is best you maintain you have boundaries, and they were violated. Regardless of conditions, "Stupid B*tch" is SOOOO beyond apologies.
  6. Vanessa, Soo sorry. What a nightmare of a situation.

    I'd first do what your boss told you to do, and that is to ask the guy's salesman what you should do. The boss must feel that his salesman knows him best, and would (maybe more than anyone) know what would be best w/ this particular client in mind.

    If he's not sure, bring it back here. We'll all 'brainstorm' after that, okay?
  7. I meant to comment on what shoefan said above. That should be *really comforting to you to know that they took it seriously AND that they seemed to be on your side and 'have your back' - from the beginning. With a HUGE client like that guy is...that speaks well of you and them.
  8. I personally would not call him. You know he is just doing it to save his butt. He could always write you a letter of apology...... I would have no contact with him. It is nice to see your company supports you. I think if you talked to him, you would have to accept his apology and somehow he is trying to make you tell him it was OK that he spoke to you--I don't know if you understand what I am trying to say but when people apologize the other person usually accepts and then they talk as if it is over. To me this is such a horrible thing for him to do. Let him deal with his actions. You owe him nothing---not even the time of day.
  9. Don't call him back, just do your best to put the incident out of your mind - and be glad that your employer took quick action to address the situation, including arranging for that individual to deal in the future with someone who is not you.

    So consider it a company policy that there be no contact between the two of you.

    If he truly wants to apologize for sincere reasons of conscience, he can and will tell whoever his new contact is to convey his apology to you.
  10. If I called him back it would just be to say "Go F yourself." Screw him. Nobody deserves verbal abuse like that.
  11. Don't call him back. The situation is out of your hands now, as it should be. Calling him back is taking it to a personal level of communication, and that should not be done at this point, IMO. Let your bosses deal with it, and let your client deal with someone else if he needs to.
  12. Thanks to everyone for your kind words and good advice. I also feel really fortunate and very glad that my company responded to my concerns in a proactive way...

    Today, I met with my boss again to discuss my apprehensions about calling the client back. He told me to do what I thought was best, but with that being said, that it "might" not be appropriate to NOT return his call... :confused1:

    So, then I got a little idea. The guy is never in his office, and almost always call me on his cell. But... even though I do have his cell number, I decided to call his office knowing that he wouldn't be around...

    When his secretary asked if she could take a message, I very succinctly and politely replied, "Yes, please. Tell Mr. XXX that I thank him for his call, and accept his apology."

    She just sort of giggled and replied, "Certainly will." So, I know that she knows what a jerk-o her boss is. Plus, it felt kind of good to make my point like that...

    And, at least I did the "right thing" by calling him back... :shrugs:
  13. ^^ Great way to handle it!! Sorry you had to endure that. I sure had my share of ass-holic clients back when I worked for GE.
  14. Sorry you had to go through that, but (as others have said) how great that your own company and the corporate office franchising to this guy took it seriously and put him on notice that it's not acceptable. You handled it incredibly well. I think if by some chance you accidentally have contact in the future, he'll be on his best behavior. I've worked with a few guys (nothing as bad as this) who think that they can push younger female colleagues around, and have found that a little show of brains and resistance usually puts an end to that v quickly.
  15. I completely agree. It's the best thing you could do in this situation.