I work as a
freelance videographer in Hong Kong and had the most frustrating email exchange
with a prospective client. This is an abbreviated version because the whole
exchange took place over twenty seven emails. I’ve summarized some of the
emails to spare those of you reading this.
Client: Hi, I will be requiring your services.
doesn’t give their name, and signs off with the name of their business.
Me: Dear [business name], would you be able to give some information
about what your project is and what you need? When exactly might you be need our
Client: I want you to come with me to meetings and help me capture moments,
I want different kinds of videos. [more info but no dates]
Me: When do you need it, and can you send some sample links for the
kind of product you’re looking for?
Client: Listed below is a link to “building
the brand” video I want.
Of course, there
is no link included, and they still haven’t told me when this is happening.
Client: I’m promoting how I build a brand with a flight to China.
China is a huge
place with over a billion people. Also, because I am a Hong Kong resident, I
actually need a visa to enter China. Depending on where they’re going, it could
take up to eight hours to meet them.
Me: Where in China are you going? Also, would this be filming in
November, December or early next year? I’ve attached some info about my rates,
so please look at those and let me know if you’re still interested.
Client: I will look at your rates.
You may have
noticed that they didn’t answer any of my questions, and that they still
haven’t told me WHEN this is happening.
Me: Please let me know when you are in town and could you resend me the
links to your examples?
Client: I will be spending two days in Hong Kong and will need you for
something, but while I knew how long they would need me I still had no
information about what day that would be. I decided that maybe the solution was
to start asking one question per email so as not to confuse the client.
Me: Can you send me the links?
Client: (sends a link that I can’t watch)
Me: What are your approximate dates so I can pencil you in?
keeping track, this is my fourth time asking for a schedule. I’m starting to
think the client just doesn’t know the dates at all. I assume that it’s just
going to happen too far in the future to give a firm date. A reasonable
assumption, but not, as it turns out, a correct one.
Client: So yes, I will be arriving next week.
Me: That’s very soon! I had been planning to be out of town, but I
haven’t booked my flights yet. If you can confirm the project and pay a deposit
in the next 24 hours it might still work.
We exchange ten more emails, which become
increasingly less polite and more direct. They keep asking me if my rates are
firm, I keep offering to Skype them to make communication easier while they
ignore this suggestion. The whole time I’m addressing him or her by the name of
their business. In one email I even directly ask for his/her name. I try to
find out which country they are flying from, which currency they is
operating with and which timezone they are in so that I can get the information
I need to start planning.
Finally they get
back to me.
Client: Sorry, your services aren’t in our budget. Goodbye.