We run a website and charge clients to have 'listings' on our page (full company profiles). The vast majority of our clients is satisfied and receives new clients through our website. Our rate is $60/year.
Now, we have had a client who was with us for for the first year. After the first year we asked if she wanted to continue. After basically not answering us for a few calls she agreed Mar/2010 to continue the listing (over the phone). We invoice her. Several calls follow to actually get her money. The listing remains online. In June she hints that she might not want to continue with us because she does not see results. She has not paid the invoice. We tell her that the invoice was an annual agreement and she still owes the $60. She says she understands, and that she will 'try to pay', citing financial difficulties. Throughout a period of a year, a dozen phone calls follow, and she keeps promising to pay. After one year she requests to pay $5 / month until the bill is paid. We decline and offer the option of paying $20/month for 3 months. She declines. We tell her the listing will be taken offline and a message will be put online that she has not paid.
A few days ago we actually did this. Client goes ballistic and says this damages her business. (Online message reads: this business has outstanding bills, no profile available). We are "low people" and "do not know how to do business". She threatens legal action. Her points:
- After 'about a month' (in reality 3 months) she said she did not want to continue and wanted to pay for what she owed us 'up to that part'. We are pressuring her into paying for something she did not want.
- She never signed a contract.
My point of view:
- The membership was annual. This is written as such on the invoice and she agreed on the annual fee. Never have we expressed that it was something she could cancel halfway.
- Verbal contracts are contracts.
I feel quite confident about 'being right', but if I am not please correct. My question is what to do with clients like this who go all ballistic. She kept interrupting me over the phone and when I said I want to explain her two things, she said she did not want to keep talking to me anymore and hung up. She is pretty upset. I feel she is very unreasonable and acting as if she was about to pay for over a year is, in my opinion, very "low" from her side. Clearly, I do not care about losing this customer. I even do not care too much about the actual payment, but I do care about the principle and do not want to take the message off. Is there a way to convince her she is pretty unreasonable and unprofessional, and finish things more or less decently?