Recently I came close to a bad buyer experience, but I managed to weasel out of it with only a cancellation. Here’s what happened:
The buyer approached me with a large project, asking for a custom offer. I sent samples as requested. I worked up an estimate and sent him one. Then I sent more samples after another request. I created a milestone table as he asked. He accepted the offer … and then announced a tighter deadline than he had agreed to, and also two more needs.
Well, screw that. It wasn’t likely to get better, and would probably keep getting worse. I explained that I could not do the project as he desired as quickly as he desired, and requested that we cancel. He actually declined to cancel, and I became a little concerned. Was this guy going to ream me for not meeting constantly shifting requirements overnight? Would I end up putting in ten times the work just to avoid a vicious rating and review?
So I had a li’l notion – I did part of the first stage of the project, but not very well. I sent it to him as a file (not as a delivery, of course), while mentioning again that I didn’t think I could do the work to his standards in the time he had available. While looking at my crap , he agreed to cancel, and my second request was accepted.
There is always the question of why people do this. In this case, I suppose he just wanted deeply discounted work by getting me on the hook and then announcing more and larger requirements. Since he did in fact want the work, he lost interest when he believed my work would be crappy.
This feels a little sleazy somehow, but I’m not sure why. I did try to cancel with only the truth, and he wouldn’t allow it. I guess I could have just allowed the mess to blow up and then gone to CS, but isn’t this tidier? It hurts my numbers a little, but only a little, and it’s a lot less aggravation than a gig gone badly wrong would be.
What do the rest of you think? Assuming that a seller does this only once in a blue moon and only to someone who won’t agree to cancel, is this a reasonable approach to back out of a contract with a buyer who seems like trouble?