How we deal with unreasonable people
This is more of a business post than a photography one; and I want to give you the backstory that triggered it before unpacking how we deal with unreasonable people.
I use Dropbox to share my client’s images with them. It’s great because I can make available as many full quality images as I want, and they don’t need a Dropbox account to download them. Now, I understand that not everybody is tech-savvy and even accessing an email and clicking a link is beyond them. This is absolutely fine. So I make sure to inform everyone: “Just click the link, and if you have any problems, anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me”.
I had been using this method of sharing images with clients for years without an issue when recently, a client contacted me saying she had been charged €714 by Dropbox and did we know anything about it. I checked Dropbox’s website and one of their Business accounts costs exactly €714 after a 1 month free trial. So it appears highly likely that after clicking the link to her images, she then created a Business account costing the aforementioned €714.
I want to make clear though that in this instance, the client admitted she was at fault and didn’t try to blame us. She was simply contacting us for help and advice.
Nevertheless we were concerned. Could following our link have led her to create this Business account? Or did Dropbox itself, in an upsell effort, make it sound like she had to create the account in order to view the images? To answer this, we signed out of Dropbox and accessed the link we sent. No mention of having to create the Business account. We then made a brand new Dropbox account to check what you have to do to create a €714 business account. Dropbox is free by default. To uprage, you first have to click, ‘Upgrade account’ in the top right corner. You then have to skip over the much cheaper Personal account options and click the Standard Team option. You then click Continue before being informed that this will cost €714 per year. You must then click Continue once again before accessing the billing page. So it didn’t claim the account was necessary in order to access the pictures, and definitely informed us of the charge before we entered our credit card details.
In conclusion, we decided we weren’t at fault, and therefore not responsible for what happened. The client clearly deviated significantly from our verbal instructions of, “click the link in the email, and if you have any problems please let us know”. We were however, able to contact Dropbox and managed to get her a refund; so it’s a happy ending.
The reason I mentioned this incident despite the client not being unreasonable is because our lack of fault may seem obvious to most, but unfortunately not everyone sees it like that. Some people aren’t willing to take responsibility for their own actions; they’re always looking for someone to blame, and these are the people we’re wary of.
Companies are easy targets because, regardless of the context and nature of the complaint, most of them immediately concede when faced with complaints broadcast on social media. This has created an online complaining culture, because people know they will get what they want. We are not hypocrites however. When we contacted Dropbox for a refund, we didn’t complain. We simply stated the problem, admitted it wasn’t their fault and asked if they could possibly help. And they did. So for that we thank them dearly.
Our response to unreasonable complaints is to defend ourselves if the platform enables; but we believe if their complaint is unreasonable, it won’t effect business anyway because it will be dismissed by reasonable potential customers. Some people have called us the best they’ve ever dealt with; whereas some have called us the worst. These people don’t like us because they have no leverage whatsoever. We literally don’t want their money. We want to deal with people who expect the higest standard of photography and customer service in exchange for their money. For us, giving people exactly what they want regardless of context does not constitute good customer service. At Prime Photographic, good customer service includes listening to the customer, anticipating issues and preventing them, advising them, solving problems and over-delivering on promises.
So we’re not concerned with social media shouters, and we also have a written contract in place to deal with anyone whom might want to take their complaint further. Our parameters are clearly set out in the contract. When signed, the customer has the right to the services stated in it in return for the amount of money stated. So do we think that anything the customer might want that’s not stated in the contract is unreasonable? No. Of course not. Helping our client get a refund from Dropbox was definitely an example of our nature and how we want to be with everyone. But we helped because exactly because the client didn’t complain. She didn’t threaten to remove her 5 star review or shout about us on social media. Instead, she called and asked if we knew what was going on, and could we help. We have all the time in the world for people like her and look forward to doing business with her again. As kind, good-natured people we will always do our best to advise or help with issues not stated in the contract. And if we don’t fulfil our end of the contract, or something happens that’s our fault then we’ll be the first to admit it.
You might be thinking this post is a little cold and harsh, but we’ve dealt with enough toxic people who’ve switched like a light and become nasty the moment something doesn’t go their way to become like this. Admittedly, nowadays it’s rare because our booking process weeds out potentially hazardous people, but some still make it as far as the photoshoot and try to impose unreasonableness upon us there. It may seem harsh, but you have to nip everything in the bud immediately because if you give them an inch; trust me they’ll try to take a mile.
Finally, as a precaution to the aforementioned Dropbox incident, we’ve ammended our written Contract for Photography to include Dropbox instructions. We also mention that you do not need an account, nor is there a charge to access the Dropbox link and download the images; and that Prime Photographic is not responsible for any and all Dropbox activities undertaken by the client outside of these instructions; including those that result in financial charges and data loss. I don’t think it’s unreasonable.