I was working as a designer for a company that creates custom built-ins for the storage spaces in people’s homes. Think shelving, cabinetry, the like for people’s garages, closets, pantries, etc.
I had a client who wanted me to design for them one pantry and four closet units for their apartment. Pretty standard. I meet with them at the apartment, take measurements of all the spaces, and briefly discuss design elements with them. Usually, I create the design while in their home, but this client had other obligations and wanted to proceed over email.
Upon arriving home I email them a few questions about their specifications.
Client: We will be going back to (different state) tomorrow and won’t be back until (six months from now). We will contact you again when we are back, and can meet up in person to finish the designs.
Alright, not unusual. Most of my clients are wealthy and have winter and summer residences.
Keep in mind I have at minimum one new client every day, requiring anywhere from two to ten separate designs from me. Additionally, all designs are hand-drawn to scale, as my boss is too cheap to pay for CAD. I simply can’t check in with every client who has said they would get back to me.
Boss: [Client] is very upset that they haven’t heard from you. I talked them into giving you one more chance, but you’re going to have to fix this.
Me, wracking my brain to remember them: Oh, yes, they had told me they would contact me when they were back in town.
Why did they take the time to go over my head and complain to my boss, but not to call, text, email, carrier pigeon me that they were back?
Boss: You need to check in with all clients you haven’t completed a project with regardless of what they say!
Literally not possible. But my boss is a “the client is always right” type, and I’m not going to argue.
On the way to the new appointment, I got a call from the office manager (OM), who handles all incoming calls and appointments, and who often gives advice when she senses a client will be difficult.
OM: [Client] indicated to me that they are planning on taking your finished designs and having their contractor build it for them. Obviously, as much as I want to, I can’t deny them the appointment, but I doubt you will be making a sale.
I’m paid commission so this means I get nothing. I decide to not put any measurements on their copies of the designs. It’s technical stuff only on there for the manufacturers anyway. I can verbally discuss the measurements with them, and this way they can’t steal my work.
I leave the clients with the designs and they give no indication of unhappiness, only tell me that they will let me know if they’re going to buy or not.
A week passes. I hear nothing from them.
Boss: (Client) called and is extremely unhappy. They say you didn’t put any measurements on your designs. I am taking over this case from you and we are going to have a meeting about this later in the week!
In the end, I got reamed out and had to give my boss my designs, which he then used, so my act of defiance was wasted and my work was all for nothing. After receiving the fully labeled and annotated version of my designs, the client ended up deciding to “go with another company.”
I quit shortly after.