Case study: How to deal with abusive customer and remain professional

Case Study

How to remain calm under fire When a customer becoming abusive

Communication is key so what make a successful entrepreneur and excellent customer service. You see recently Girlfridayz have acquired a new customer and has a small business providing business support to Sole Trader and SME's I was quite happy when contracted my admin service and book a retainers contract 14hrs at £210 for 2 business day at 7 hours per day through my website after viewing my website and even paid £15 in advance in our business account prior to even me meeting with the co-founder of  I was a be sceptical of this action as we normally do not work like this we usually request a deposit after meeting the potential customer and fully know their requirement and service agreement signed. Girlfridayz contacted Mrs MH and query payment made in advance and rightly asked what work she wanted Girlfridayz to do and informed Mrs MH of our working procedure. The co-founder of requested that Girlfridayz complete an expensive sheet for her business and compile a report. After completing the work required within 2 days and returning it to the co-founder we issued with our invoice £210 (30 terms).


The co-funder was so pleased with the work that she hired me again to expend her business and raised awareness of her brand and on this occasion book Girlfridayz Marketing Consultancy Service at £25 per hours. The co-funder wanted Girlfridayz to seek funding for her venture, she wanted to acquire 9 employment agencies in greater and outer London not withstanding Luton and Manchester and including the USA.  This grandiose plan involves lots of preparation work, setting up detailed work plans, framework, timescale, strategy and tactic in place, markets research, location, acquiring staffs, costing analysis and funding.  Her vision was vast but not quite concrete and settled in her mind.  The co-funder requested Girlfridayz to seek grant funding for her business and complete a detailed report of my finding after her first free Marketing consultation meeting with us.


Girlfridayz seek funding business grant and business loan provider and compiled a throughout report including suggestion and best provider to approach. She was billed £50 for two hours work and another invoice was sent for £35. The co-founder was pleased with the work once again and complimented Girlfridayz stating you are very skilled and knows what you doing we are going to do ongoing work you and me and she settled the £35 bill as I deducted £15 paid in advance needless to say that I was pleased as punch


Within a week the co-founder contacted Girlfridayz again and arranged another Marketing Consultation she wanted Girlfridayz to complete a funding application for her business expansion and chosen the European Commission which offer grant funding for business.  We met with the co-founder to discuss expansion and Girlfridayz had completed an expansion plan and cost analysis prior to meeting with the co-founder in order to discuss this with her thoroughly before deciding to complete funding grant application. Girlfridayz had many questions to asked about her plan, business background information and many more after having Looked at funding requirement information from the European Commission which was not a small feast but a lots of information needed to be provided and evidence requested.


the co-founder attended the meeting arranged and we discussed expansion plan and cost analysis completed by Girlfridayz the co-founder was impressed and pleased, full of praises and I informed her that for that size of expansion she would need initially £150 000 to start off with her plan that would enable her to conduct market research, rent one location, purchase resources and paid staff or organisation involves in supporting her achieving her plan plus supplier, Girlfridayz stressed that the timescale for 9 agencies plus breaking in the USA has to be over 4 to 6 yrs. or more and it would be more realistic to start with one extra agency as her business is currently online and decide if it would be with physical premise or online the cost of the grant vary depending if it online or requiring physical premises. She replied she already hired two more PA staff in Luton and Manchester they currently contacting potential customers and job seeker to offer current job available on her site and she wants more customers to post job offer on her site. She currently has 14 staffs working for her in their home as PA and she need to pay them and she wants her 9 agencies and wants to offer work to jobseeker. She told me do you know how many unemployed people out there? I replied we are fully aware of this. She paid £30 for consultation plus copy of expansion plan and cost analysis.


We also discussed the cost of Girlfridayz completing her grant application for an amount of £150 000 the work involve from our company to support her with business expansion and stressed that the number of hours is time by £25 as we charge £25 per hours for Marketing Consultancy work and documents completed, produced and application completed. We stressed that the cost can be high and asked if she can afford our fee considering that there is already £210 owing in 30 days for admin service completed. the co-founder replied do not worry I pay up please complete my grant funding application on my behalf you have full permission and send me your bill. A service agreement was set up and signed by


Girlfridayz started completing grant application form for £150 000 for the co-founder of; we requested several information which where speedily provided by the co-founder a total exchange of 61 emails. Girlfridayz met with the co-founder once again to go over application again she was pleased and Girlfridayz posted half of the application to Brussel Belgium recorded delivery as the closing date of application was 18th/09/15. Girlfridayz wanted to submit her online application but it rendered missing information. Realising that more information was needed I contacted the co-founder and apologised for the oversight and met with her again free of charge to complete the reminder of her application and did not charge her for the 11hrs at £25 per hours work on the first bulk of her application which was a discount of £275.


We still needed to complete work plan detailed, profit and loss account, declaration of honour, bank account detail and verified by her bank and stamped, supplementary information and an explanation letter for second part of her  application sent at a later date, plus photocopy of her passport and other IDs sent four days later. the co-founder replied this can happened never mind you already sent the bulk of my application and thank you for the discount and asked me to complete the rest of the application.


After several exchange of emails again 64 of them Girlfridayz finally completed all information requested and after the co-founder viewed her fully completed application online and all paper documents completed by Girlfridayz on her behalf and letters plus supplementary documentations and signed all documents she agreed to be billed £623 for 24hrs at £25 per plus photocopy and printing of documents, postage fee incur by Girlfridayz.  the co-founder signed revised service agreement and dated it our bill was sent for £623 (30 day term). 


Grant application sent and I informed the co-founder that it would take a long time to be processed as the call for action is not before 10/10/15 and after that time the European Commission will look at application received online and paper base then decide if they award her a grant or not. the co-founder replied ok but if it all goes wrong your company get the phone call not me and I was thinking £5000 as it all online my expansion. I replied it a bit late to change the amount of the grant you wanted 9 employment agencies physically based in London and outer London, Manchester and Luton plus future plan USA and added what that supposed to mean you know something I do not know may I ask.  She replied no but it online that I wanted to expend my business and I need to pay my staff they have not been paid and I am using my own personal money. I replied during all that time we met and completed your application you were happy; you never changed the expansion plan for 9 employment agencies and did not mentioned at any point it is all online. I just sent a business grant application for your business for £150 000 it's quite a different amount if it was all online and could not you have told me this before. She replied you good at what you doing you and you and me it ongoing do not worry I pay you and left. I emailed the co-funder all work completed, plus copy of grant application and posted proof of postage to the co-founder business address.


Alarm bell start ringing in my head and an uncomfortable feeling upon me. I thought the co-founder could have informed me of this before she wants the £150 000. Well I put that thought at the back of my mind and left it.  A few weeks later early October the co-founder contacted Girlfridayz again this time for a loan application that she placed with Amigo Loan and wanted my business to be a guarantor. Which we replied no we will not be a guarantor for you and sent her guarantor information plus reminder of bills payment admin service £210.99 outstanding and £623 marketing service. At this point the co-founder starting being abusive toward me and call me Greedy how I am requesting £828.99 the lord will judge me. We offered her a repayment plan £52.50 to pay every two weeks twice in a row she cancelled the payment through her PayPal account without notifying us twice. I sent her several reminders after the 30 days term finished and still no payment is received.


The co-founder contacted Girlfridayz again but this time she requested that if I could re-activate her account with Start-Up loans. I replied that would be £15. She came to my home and paid me £20 and I email them on her behalf. She signed a service agreement and we informed her that the £5 extra will go toward her first admin bill owed she agreed and we sent her a revised bill for £205.99 including printing cost. 


After several reminders sent with regard to two bills owed for two different services to the co-founder called me name and stated she will be a fool to pay me £828 there is no postage evidence of her application and no reply from the European Commission, she does not have any money.  She continued emailing my for been a guarantor for her this time it was for Glow loan and informed me she would paid £600 if I agreed to be a guarantor as she received an offer for £3500. Which I replied no and my bills are due a total of £828.99 not £600 you cannot decide to give you a discount of £228.99 I do not agree all monies is due. Girlfridayz remain calm and professional during all the exchange and the following abuse that followed from the co-founder. Which at this point Girlfridayz stressed that we will start court proceeding again her for non-payment of bill and abuse toward us. Which the co-founder replied you doing this because I am disable and god will punish you.


Girlfridayz saught advice and was informed to report the co-founder, I contacted my lawyer who informed me to wait until her grant is awarded and that she might pay. In the meantime I received a reply from the European Commission on the 26/11 stating that they are in receipt of her application and they are experiencing delay in proceeding applications received so an answer will be given to all applicants early January.  I email this to the co-founder of straight away and informed her you have the confirmation you needed please settled overdue bill within 7 days. 


the co-founder replied it's tricky you probably did this email and you want £828 out of me I’ll be a fool to pay you. I replied you are the one who's dishonest and tricky you have contacted several time the European Commission for update on your grant application I am aware of this as you CC me into it you finally got a reply and it not a trick and you do not believe the email is from them. I added your excuses not to pay me becoming farcical and I have an uneasy feeling that you use my company to obtain fund, I would report you. the co-founder replied you are a very nasty woman and you be done for disability discrimination. I replied do you have any evidence of this. She replied I would report you to the HMRC because I did not get a reply from the European Commission and no proof of postage of my application. I replied I have sent you the proof of postage by post you may have misleaded it or never received it check with your post office for missing letter. The email received is genuine it has your application number in it. We have Spoken to the European Commission with regard to your application via live chat and updated you that the call to action was until 16/11 and that it was extended due to the volume of application received and they would give you an answer within 15 days after this date and they did via email informing me of a delay 10 days later. I added I would report you for suspicion of fraud toward my business to obtain fund and we will not tolerate any more freight, abusive language and unfounded accusation. Our payment is overdue and has no bearing on if you are in receipt of grant funding or not. We do not have any signed agreement to that effect and may I suggest you check your record as you are in receipt of them.  the co-founder replied tell your lawyer to put me in Jail god will punish you.


My lawyer informed me to wait until end of January 16 to see if her grant awarded and she settled the debts owed to us, however if the co-founder does not pay we will start court proceeding.  Which I informed the co-founder that she has until the  31/01/16 to settle debts owed to us which after that time court proceeding will start again her if no payment receive and re-iterated that we will not tolerate any abusive language toward us and if it continues she would be prosecuted. Well since the 31/11/15 no communication was received from the co-founder after our last email.


This a case of relationship breakdown with an abusive customers and we are in receipt of 230 emails containing accusations, slender, freight and promise to pay, nice and request of more work to be done. How a business can protect themselves from such a customers who is abusive at Girlfridayz we chose to approach the matter calmly and professionally toward and may seek legal action. We believed that we have been use to obtain fund for the co-founder for and it is a good learning curve and has strengthened our position and unable us to grow as a business and provide our excellent customer service to our customers even under fire.


However it is advisable to discontinue any form of communication with abusive customers so not to encourage any further abuse, but it also important when chasing bad debt to continue sending reminder of payment with a deadline for payment and not been put off or afraid of abusive tone of email and accusation but involve the authority should this  be needed.