I was hired to write daily blog posts for a company that sells camping gear. Halfway through the project, I received a notification that it was cancelled and the client was demanding a refund for the last five posts.
Me: What seems to be the problem?
Client: I checked your last post and it came back as being plagiarized! I will not use any more of your work!
Me: Well I most definitely did not plagiarize anything. Can you show me what got flagged?
The client sent a screenshot. The offending passage was a step-by-step guide on how to use a map and compass to take bearings. The rest of the article was completely clean.
Me: I didn’t plagiarize those steps. They have to be done in that order or the process doesn’t work. Anyone that writes about this topic will have the same steps in the same order. It’s like writing about how to solve an algebraic equation.
Client: I can’t use these! Google will punish me for using plagiarized content. There are plagiarism-checking sites you can pay for – you’re a professional! Use them!
Me: I’m not paying for plagiarism software because I wrote the articles. I didn’t copy/paste anything. Furthermore, with the publishing calendar we laid out, those subscriptions would have cost over $500 which is a third of the project total. If there are specific templates, style guides, or other tools you wish me to use, it is your responsibility to provide them.
At this point, the client began a lengthy rant about how wrong I am. I interrupted him.
Me: Look, you’re not happy with that article. That’s fine. I can provide a refund for just that article. Normally I wouldn’t do that but you’ve been a great client. Will that work for you?
Client: Absolutely not. I demand a full refund for all five articles.
At this point I shrugged and walked away, giving him the full refund. I didn’t think it was worth fighting over.
One week later:
Client: We accidentally deleted our blog and have no backup. Can you send me copies of the articles you wrote?
I sent him all of the ones I actually got paid for.
Client: Can I have those last five, too? I’ll pay you the original contracted amount.
Me: (after a long internal debate on what to say vs. what I’d LIKE to say) Sure. When the check clears, I’ll send them.
It did. I did. The client sent me several emails with happy reaction gifs. WTH?
My question for the writers here: Should we, as the providers, maintain our own accounts with these plagiarism-check sites, or is our clients’ responsibility to make sure our work meets their standards, using whatever methods they choose?