Best way to deal with an obnoxious client?

OK - I am not sure if this belongs here or in another category, but I will start here & leave it to the mods to move it if it seems better placed elsewhere.

Here is the scoop. I work for a very large software company & I have a client that is a very large systems integrator. Client has wasted almost 2 years on a major project and delivered nothing & had a delivery date for said project in October. In March, client’s company called in my company to save the situation. We made recommendations (including one that we start work immediately) and client company debated those recommendations for over a month. During this time, we repeatedly asked the client for the documentation they had been creating for the previous two years. We were put off time & time again on getting the actual documentation, but we were given confirmation of its existance, the attributes about it that could be used for estimations, etc.

In May, client proceeded with part of our recommendations and continued debating the rest. We continued to ask for the documentation & got the same responses. In mid-June, they finally decided to sign contracts with us.

Client then admits that the documentation does not exist. Further, they drag my people into weeks of meaningless meetings. Finally, client starts complaining that my company (and specifically me) have not been cooperative because I never gave them things they asked for. Two problems with this -

  1. Giving said information was not included in the contract (not a bid deal to me)
  2. I had documented proof that I gave them that information 3 times (huge deal to me)

Further, this same client has taken some other documentation that I provided to her clearly marked “under non-disclosure / do not distribute / confidential / etc” and literally emailed it to my direct competitor - and copied me on the email! :smack:

I have spent hours and hours digging through email logs preparing documentation and timelines to protect myself from the viscious lies this client is spreading everywhere.

Meanwhile, in my own company, my management has had me spending weeks building a plan before I can get the resources I need to start showing progress. In the end, this plan is largely meaningless because it is based on a rigid methodology that we will not follow due to the lack of concrete documentation at the moment.

So right now, I am faced with an obnoxious client that has no respect for the contracts her company signed with mine and who is blatently lying to my company claiming that I am not being cooperative. She has some legitimate complaints about the delays caused by my manager, but most of the situation she is in is clearly her fault either directly or indirectly.

So, wise board readers, other than calling some friends from Jersey City to help make the problem disappear, what advice could you impart?

If I was in your shoes, I’d start by making sure my boss, and my bosses boss, and whoever else up the chain I was comfortable speaking with knew exactly what was going on and that it was documented. Especially the emailing materials under a NDA to a competitor bit.

Yep. I did that. So far, no one has taken any action on that.

I keep having the feeling there is something “Karma-related” here. I have been in situations similar to this in the past (part of the problem with being a consultant on jeopardy projects I suppose). What “lesson” am I not learning?

I really hope someone else out there has gone through something like this & can share their opinions on how to come through it differently than I have in the past.

Thanks again for sharing the wisdom.

How about asking to be reassigned to a different project? Your counterpart is lying about you, which is seldom a healthy start. Simply point this out to your bosses. And continue going up the chain until you get a reply.

Hack her to death with a kitchen knife.

No, a rusty spoon, because it hurts more.

They also should be made to understand that this client will never, ever pay them.

This client will never pay and is enjoying some kind of perverse power trip over two companies now.

Or is just a dithering moron.
Wash your hands of them as soon as you can.

No, with a computer!

Forgive me, I kept reading “counterpart” as “cunterpart.” Which may not be all that inappropriate in this situation :rolleyes: Take all the advice given in this thread, and I would add to keep a separate copy of all the documentation for yourself, in case the original docs “accidentally” go missing.

Thanks for confirming my thoughts on this. You would not believe the amount of time I have been spending creating PDF files to show that I actually did communicate with this “person” and her ilk.