A critical piece of our shared success as freelancers and independent copywriters, designers and artists is our shared integrity. When one of us behaves like a crook—lies, cheats and deceives partners and clients—we all suffer. The bad tastes that sleazy colleagues leave in the marketing mouth of their clients and contractors damage us all. Every ripped off customer marks the death of a potential client for the rest of us.
Case in point: Rob Rogol whose company is Rogol Creative. Here’s a lesson for all of us about how not to treat clients and project partners.
Rob Rogol called me to tell me he had a client who needed new web site content. Always nice to be handed off a lead. We talked and he said he wanted to be involved, although the client said it had no need of his services. Nevertheless, he inserted himself as the project manager.
First Rob Rogol lesson: never work with or hire a project manager who manages a project with only your task element. He’s just sucking on your margin and sticking clients for additional fees.
Rob Rogol, in what had to be a chart-topping rookie sales move, made the preposterous offer to produce only one page as a pilot project, instead of committing the client to the entire project.
Second Rob Rogol lesson: never offer to do less work than the client wants, and never do a cockamamie one-off pilot.
I wrote the one page and the client didn’t like the draft. Rob Rogol sent me an email wondering what he should do next. I told him to tell the client that it was a first draft and I’d fix it anyway they needed. Can you imagine a freelance contractor in our business needing to be told how the drafting process works?
Third Rob Rogol lesson: Make sure your partner knows how the creation process actually works, or do the talking for yourself.
Weeks pass. I write to Rob Rogol asking what the story is and he says he’s waiting for the client to take a next step. I say I’m going to bill him for the work since enough time had passed and he agrees. I bill him per my estimate of about $850.
He then tells me that a) he can’t pay me until he gets paid and b) he actually quoted a price of only $500 to the client . . . without my knowledge or, more importantly, my permission. I reminded him that he, not his client, was my client and I demanded payment in full net 30.
Fourth Rob Rogol lesson: If someone ever pulls that stunt on you—never ever fall for it—you never know, as this object lesson suggests, if they’re telling the truth. And never agree to I’ll-pay-you-when-they-pay-me scheme unless it’s with someone you know and trust (such as my great designer Mike Lee).
Oh, and never let anyone lower your price without your permission.
Another month passes. Payment doesn’t come. He tells me that he has billed the client and nagged on the client multiple times with no response. I decided to find out for myself, and I emailed the client directly.
Fifth Rob Rogol lesson: When the bullshit starts to pile up, check it out for yourself.
I write the client, using the old reliable “I’m just an independent contractor and it’s only right to pay me for work done.” The response . . . you’re going to love this:
We paid $750 upfront and feel that it covers work that has been completed to date.
Rob Rogol lowered my rate which he then marked up by 150%, took his money up front, and refused to pay me a nickel.
The client got no value for their money and since Rob Rogol never paid me I ended up taking it in the accounts receivable.
Final Rob Rogol lesson: Don’t hire him. Don’t work with him.