“How can I fire a rude client who has already paid me money?”

“How can I fire a rude client who has already paid me money?”

Q –


I took on a large project and the client paid me up front. The man has been nothing but mean, rude, and disrespectful. I have put many hours into the project but I just can’t continue to work with him. I don’t think he deserves a full refund but I’m willing to part with a portion of the money just to get him out of my life. What would you do in this situation?


A –

Been there!! While it would be nice if everybody in the world was…nice, the fact is there are a LOT of jerks out there! You can do an outstanding job, and remain helpful and pleasant, and even finish a project early and jerks will still find a reason to complain. And, they can get downright abusive! In my opinion, these people are narcissists, have a few screws loose, and need to be on meds. He paid you to write. He did not pay you to be the victim of his childish behavior.

On our website, we have a statement that says, “If you are a jerk, you’d be better served by one of our competitors. We don’t work with jerks. We prefer to work with professional individuals…who have manners.” It’s an excellent filtering tool! Authors who are jerks get extremely offended by that statement. Nice authors think it’s hilarious!

I was at the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago and the check-in window had a sign that said, “Verbally or physically abusing our employees is not permitted. If your behavior violates our policy, you will be removed from the premises and law enforcement will be called.”

Now, I totally get calling the police when somebody assaults someone else. I imagine that don’t do that for people who verbally abuse their employees. Long, long ago, people had manners, and remembered to use them. Some people just aren’t like that anymore. If you’ve ever watched any “Karen” videos on YouTube, you’ll know what kind of people I’m talking about.

We worked with an author to publish his three books. He was extremely sweet. Sadly, he passed a few months ago. I was recently contacted by his son. I checked the author’s contract. His wife was his beneficiary. I contacted her and she said it was okay for me to communicate about the books and author account with her son. When I was changing the contact information in the author’s account, I discovered he had a negative balance of a few dollars. The son said he would take care of it. We had sent a final notice to the author weeks prior, but hadn’t heard back from him. I kept the books active as I knew the author was elderly. The son saw the final notice email, and sternly told me not to send any more final notices. That was odd.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was going through our accounts again, and discovered the son had never paid the fee. I assumed he never would at that point so I terminated the books, and sent a termination notice. The son responded quickly, made personal insults about my character, and threatened legal action. I gave him my email address, and told him to have his attorney contact me. I added that I would give the attorney access to the author account, where he could spend several hours reading all of the emails we exchanged with the author over the years. Hey, if the son wants to pay a lawyer $300/hour rather than paying a few dollars, that’s fine with me.

The son finally paid the small fee (it was less than $20) and I sent him his father’s production files. Haven’t heard back from him again, nor from his lawyer.

There was no reason whatsoever for his son to react the way he did. And, his father’s books are no longer on the market because I refuse to work with jerks. That apple definitely fell far from the tree!

My advice to you is to calculate what percentage of the project you have completed, and refund your jerk client the rest. Explain in a professional manner that you can no longer work with someone who is being unprofessional. Tell him he’s welcome to hire a different writer to finish the project. Maybe, when working with the next writer, he’ll remember his manners. He’s going to react one of two ways. He’s either going to blow a gasket or he’s going to apologize, and beg you to continue. His behavior is highly unlikely to change so I recommend firmly telling him no.



Angela is not only the publisher of WritersWeekly.com. She is President & CEO of BookLocker.com,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.


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One Response to "“How can I fire a rude client who has already paid me money?”"

  1. James  April 6, 2024 at 8:35 pm

    I live in the Philippines as a foreign national (American) and I love it here.
    In the Immigration Office there is a fairly big “in your face” sign that says.
    “Abusing or disrespecting our staff will result in immediate deportation”
    I’ve seen it happen. A guy smarted off to one of the inspectors / agents one day and she just picked up his visa folder and dropped it in the trash and told him he had 14 days to leave the country.
    Just like that he was toast. His ONLY option would be to file an appeal at the main Immigration Office in person at the Capitol. Even then there is very little chance that they would reverse the action.
    But the Immigration staff are really very nice people and helpful, just don’t be a jerk.