The ridiculous but true story of how I was threatened with a lawsuit
Right after I started full-time freelancing in March this year I had some *great* ideas to find new clients. One of my ideas had me threatened with a lawsuit.
This story, although it is true (‘allegedly’), is somewhat altered to ensure anonymity. I don’t want to be sued but I do wanna tell my side of this story, use my right of freedom of speech and what not.
Coming into the freelance business I already had some clients from the past. I have worked for single people, start-ups, social business, technical business, branded cities, food producers and people in the far range of politics.
Since I had, so far, made mostly good experiences in these areas I decided to enhance my range and write a couple of potential clients, you could call it blind acquiring. Since I am a single designer my thought process went something like this: I have this-and-that-client in this-and-that-position, so I’m gonna write people in similar positions. That way, I thought I could easily show off the work I’ve been doing that might interest them.
However, I had to learn the hard way that one of the areas mentioned above follows stern hierarchies and people easily get pissed off when they feel their authority hasn’t been properly acknowledged. So, a ‘leader’ got wind of what I was doing. In his words, people asked him WTF was going on because they already have their in-house agencies doing (mediocre) designs for them.
Anyway, this person went on to try to forbid my existing clients in this are to continue the work with me because what I was doing wasn’t OK in his eyes. So, I had a phone call with that dude which I can only describe as unpleasant, unbelievably awkward and making me question just how much money is wasted on cowboy donkeys.
Poke the bear
He said that what I have been doing was basically illegal because I am not allowed to go over his head, etc. Bullshit, of course. I answered that I am more than willing to work with him directly if he likes what I have been doing (he was obviously low-key annoyed at their own design agency). He just got madder and screamed into the phone that he was gonna get a cease and desist against me.
At that point, I went ahead and asked him if he had nothing better to do while there was an international health crisis going on as this phone call took place literally weeks after the first shutdown and he was in a position that could directly affect how this pandemic was gonna be handled. He got even more unpleasant and threatened to sue me, to which I hung up the phone.
Now, I wish I was cool enough to say that this didn’t affect me at all and I just went on with my day. But no, this was not the case. I was shaking, angry, sad, depressed and afraid of what he was gonna do. More than anything, however, I was pissed at him for being in such a high position and acting like such a child. As a non-conformist, there was only one thing I could do to get my pride back: go a step further (knowing that that’s not a good idea).
Stuff the bear into a bee’s nest
So, I did probably the most stupid thing I could. Write to the same potential clients again stating that I was still willing to work with them if they wanted to, even though their leader told them not to.
The next couple of days I had some more unpleasant phone calls and found out that this leader actually went so far as to basically stalk me and find other clients I had been working with and call them trying to get them to stop working with me! I know, this sounds insane, especially under the circumstances of Corona, but he literally tried to ruin my business! I have to say that I am very thankful to my kind and loyal clients because nobody decided to quit the partnership. They were just very confused with what was going on and so was I.
I know that I took things too far with this douchebag, so this had to stop. I was scared for my future, my business and my finances. So, I decided to call him again and told him that if he was going to continue with a lawsuit I would counter-sue him for malicious business practices (which of course I would have never done even though I had and still have the written proof).
He told me that he wasn’t going to sue – but not because he didn’t try (!) but because his lawyer told him that this was pointless as he had no case. So, we agreed that we were gonna leave each other alone. I ended the conversation by saying that I wouldn’t want to work with someone so unpleasant no matter how desperate I was and that I now knew why he was consistently losing popularity. He replied that I was an amateur who didn’t know how to do business and that I was gonna be bankrupt soon.
Nine months later and so far, everything is fine. I am happy to state that I am not bankrupt but rather at a point where I don’t need to work with unpleasant assholes just for money’s sake. And hereby, I wanna conclude the ridiculous but true story of how I was threatened with a lawsuit. Leave shocked faces in the comments below.
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