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  1. #1

    Clients threatening legal action

    This is just a general rant. I just love when clients say things like "if a refund is not issued within 48 hours of this request I will be forced to take legal action" or if you don't do this or that I'm going issue a chargeback. This makes me want to stop what I'm doing and handle their issue right away(not).

    What's funny is when they threaten legal action over $10.

    Usually I will just respond with a "your issue will be resolved"
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    3,729
    When you get a person like that, the trick is to 'give' them something so you can take it away. Like, if you're giving them 1 hour to back up data, tell them that since they mentioned legal action, they now have 45 minutes. Tell them that any more sass from them will result in 15 more minutes shaved off for each sassy remark and that they should keep it up.

    It's harsh and I've only had to use it a few times, but it does get the job done.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    192
    I had seen countless threats over the years, bit have never even recieved a letter from a Lawyer threatening to sue. These people think they get somthing out of it. What I suggest is to tell them what they want to hear. There is no need to upset a customer that you may want to keep. Even if they are going to leave anyway it is best that they leave on as good terms as possible. Though it is sometimes hared to swallow your pride and do this, it is worth it.

    Also, be sure to mention in your TOS that you will refund only a month's fees for downtime or whatever can go wrong. That way you can always point them to it so that they stop the threats.


    Joel

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Orange County, CA
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    1,182
    Very well stated, Joel. I totally agree. NEVER have a client leave on a bad note, unless there is no feasible way to prevent it.

    Remember to not burn your bridges.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    192
    Yes, especialy since if you really upset the client they can end up on sites like this wanting to burn you as much as possible

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    3,729
    Yeah, and there are times where what they're mad about is just so damn silly that even here nobody will care. It's all relative.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Orange County, CA
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    1,182
    Exactly, and even if they are all lies, it sure does not help anything.
    DreamHost Web Hosting
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    ... and we're green, too!
    Hosting your dreams since 1997.

  8. #8
    Let's just hope that you don't get a client who says that, that is actually a lawyer. We host a few lawyers web sites, but our service and support keep them quiet. Furthermore, we have a no refund policy in our terms of service, so we are protected either way.
    Jon Rhoads, [email protected]
    http://www.comcage.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    24,009
    We got threats from clients of our clients (resellers etc). We would suspend their site due to some abuse, then they would hammer us with abuse, legal threats etc. Never really worried me.
    AussieHost.com Aussie Bob, host since 2001
    Host Multiple Domains on Fast Australian Servers!!

  10. #10
    Furthermore, we have a no refund policy in our terms of service, so we are protected either way
    Actually, in most cases if you don't have a refund policy in place, customers are entitled to their money back, at least as we were advised by our attorneys.

    So it definately is wise to have something in place that outlines your terms of a refund.

    I would just like to add that I love the folks who file disputes with PayPal, thinking it will get them their money back. We usually try to politely inform them that PayPal, according to their own policy will usually judge in the seller's favor for intangible items, causing them to simply lose money, and get their acct. terminated anyway.

    You would be surprised at all of the fabricated stories you get from them too.

    We had a lady actually threaten to file legal action because we required an ID to activate SSH on her account. The thing is, she was very suspicious to begin with, and this was a bit of insurance on our part. When she was asked for ID, she threatened to call the District Attorney in her area, to press charges lol.

    We politely handed the informal notice of intent to our attorney's office, and suspended her acct. We wrote her saying that our attorney's stated that it would be in our best interest to suspend her account until all legal issues are settled.

    Within the hour we received an email from her stating that she was now fine with faxing a copy of her driver's license.

    Customers can bite sometimes, but as the provider that currently holds the key to their internet presence, we can sometimes bite harder, by politely using their own ludicrous actions and threats against them.
    Mark - Owner/Lead Designer
    avidInteractive
    Lead vocalist for Circle7: Circle7 on MTV

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Edmonton, Canada
    Posts
    380
    Many times people who make a legal threat are "reaching". They have tried every argument they have or know and when you provide a reasonable knowledgeable response the their arguements, they get flustered and there comes the "I'm sueing YOU!!!"

    I had a client in another business once whom did this exact same thing. They hung up the phone. I waited a hour. Called them back and since they were now calmed down, we were able to discuss their problem and resolve it in both our favors. They never planned on sueing and told me so in the latter call.
    Glen Millar
    Tyger Hosting Services
    http://www.tygerhosting.com
    Affordable Direct Admin Linux Hosting Since 2003

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    The South
    Posts
    5,403
    For the most part if they're REALLY GOING to take legal action they won't mention it at all. Anyone who has sense knows you don't try and use threats as a leverage, people just get stubborn when threatened. The ones who quietly ask for <whatever> to happen or quietly endure down time are the ones you will get the certified letter from when you're not expecting it.
    Gary Harris - the artist formerly known as Dixiesys
    resident grumpy redneck

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Nottingham UK
    Posts
    176
    Originally posted by ANMMark
    We had a lady actually threaten to file legal action because we required an ID to activate SSH on her account. The thing is, she was very suspicious to begin with, and this was a bit of insurance on our part. When she was asked for ID, she threatened to call the District Attorney in her area, to press charges lol.

    We politely handed the informal notice of intent to our attorney's office, and suspended her acct. We wrote her saying that our attorney's stated that it would be in our best interest to suspend her account until all legal issues are settled.

    Within the hour we received an email from her stating that she was now fine with faxing a copy of her driver's license.
    We have found this to be the best course of action some times, as soon as you say that you will pass this on to your legal team and that you are suspending the account and will terminate the conversation as you will not discuss it further, they soon change their attitude.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    791
    If someone were to threaten legal action, I immediately suspend the account pending further investigation. I have this in my AUP/TOS/SLA area. I tell them that they are free to contact me with whatever legal matters they wish and I will have my lawyer take a look at it. I don't appreciate threats, I am sensible when it comes to things, but if a client starts threating me or my employees, he's not a client I want to have.
    Michael MacKinnon

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    5,512
    Its the people that make blind threats that make those of us who actually have attorneys look like fools

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Australia (Crikey)
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    2,271
    lol, do people who actually threaten legal action really think they are scaring large companies? Probably

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    In a house
    Posts
    949
    Although I agree, I tend to help those clients that every once in a while throw some legal jargon around hoping to use scare tactics, I help those who generally are pleasant about things a lot more. Helping customers is something most of us will do, standing by while said customer threatens to sue us and flame us on every board known to man is definitely going to get a different result a lot of times. I will say in 7+ years in the hosting industry, I have been contacted by lawyers ummmm......... NEVER. Now, personally in my own life, I have had to use threats of legal action a few times, the difference is, I WILL retain a lawyer, and will take action for items I've threatened. But that aside, the thought that always crosses my mind, when the $5 a month client who was shut off for non-payment, which we're in return ruining their multi-million dollar enterprise, is going to do when the lawyer they contact who may advise them "yes you have a case" also informs them that to begin, they're going to need a $5,000 retainer to start working on it

    That portion about the retainer usually will stop most of them in their tracks. Please though realize my joking aside, clients if you're out there, instead of stating how you'll bury us, sue our pants off, etc. Be reasonable FROM THE BEGINNING ! contact us and let us know, hey, I'm having a hard time, is there anything you can do to help! I guarantee you get all the best possible results you can from your provider over the other method.

    Thanks,

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    304
    I find that there are those who "bark" to get their way - whether they know they are wrong or not - they feel that yelling and threatening is eventually going to cause a company to cave in. This tends to happen with some past due people who are probably used to being in debt - but instead of trying to be reasonable and make the company want to work with them, they make ridiculous demands and threats.

    If you respond by telling the barker that you would rather they go ahead and find service elsewhere, they suddenly realize their plan is foiled and they change their tune.
    JC, www.webii.net
    Premium Hosting Services Since 1996
    Custom Development- www.webxess.net

  19. #19
    Somone who is going to take leagal action won't threaten it first, they take a sadistic pleasure in knowing that you opened up a plain looking envelope and your eyes widen.

    Besides, who could afford to pay a lawyer to get a refund on their $49 reseller account? Even several hundred dollars. What is the lawyer going to do for them? Best case get their money back and hand them a bill for his services. I would think that it would be highly unlikely that any situation would come down to that.

    I just tell people that their lawyer can talk to mine. That usually keeps them quiet and sends them on their way.
    -= System Administrator Windows/Linux - MCDST, MCP =-
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