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Topic # 198832 25-Jul-2016 00:24
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It must take a very special person... to have a falling out with a business coach before the coaching has even started!

 

Unbe-flamin-leavable!

 

So I express interest in an innovative program.  Met the person who I would be doing the sessions with.  Nice character - should be great to work with.  The program is at a fixed price...  so much per month.  No commitment term - they live and die by their satisfaction levels.  I probed this subject more than once, as I don't like surprise charges.  I ask for limited access to a particular resource to let me determine whether I felt this program would be worthwhile for me.  They are hesitant to agree to this unusual request, but agree if I'll sign a NDA which I was more than happy to do so.  I utilise that resource, like it, and advise that while I'm fully committed for the next 6 weeks, I would be happy to start the program on Date X.

 

A fortnight before Date X, the rep drops in to sign the paperwork.  I don't look too closely at the first page of the form.  The second page of the form is a credit card authorisation sheet, authorising $Y per month to be charged to the credit card.  I sign both pages.

 

A couple of days later, I receive 2 invoices by email, both for $Y, and both dated Date X which is still a week away.  One is the monthly fee, and one is the 'getting started' costs.  I very politely query this, as I has understood the charges to be $Y per month.  The response is that the initial sign-up fee covers this, this, and this, and is normally charged immediately on signup.  The monthly membership changes go out on the same date each month which happens to be Date X, and because of this coincidence I am seeing the two invoices.

 

If I understand correctly, had I nominated my start date as being the next day after Date X, I would have received only one invoice for that month and received almost a month's benefit of the coaching program with that one charge.  If my start date had been a fortnight after Date X, then the same startup fee of $Y would have applied but I would only have got 2 weeks benefit from the program before the month rolled over and $Y was charged again.

 

I believe I was very polite when advising I had agreed to one charge per month, this had been discussed more than once, this was what I had signed on the credit card authorisation form, so this is what I was prepared to pay.  I was directed to review Page 1 of the form (which I had not paid enough attention to obviously) advised there was $Y setup fee charged at signup time and then $Y per month from there charged on Date X (for example, the 5th of every month).  I reaffirmed my position very politely by email, reminded them that this is what I had agreed to verbally and with the credit card authorisation form, and I looked forward to their prompt agreement so we could move forward (otherwise I would not be taking part in the program).

 

The response from the rep included the address to return my materials.

 

This floored me.  I was expecting a business coaching person to take the position that the customer is always right (even though business people know that sometimes the customer is a PITA), or at least take the long term position that waiving one invoice in order to secure at least half a dozen more in the future was a worthwhile trade-off.  (To me, that would be practising what you preach - or what I would have likely heard had I taken part in the program.)  If in my own business I had not met the billing expectations of a regular client (or a new client who was signing up to a monthly service), I would normally apologise, trim the charges, and take the long term view that keeping the client happy long term is better than receiving full payment for one invoice.

 

I'm aware that I am opening myself up for potential flaming by posting this rant, but based on the obviously one-sided view above, am I being unreasonable?  Normally I'm the one to roll over.  In this case there was zero doubt in my mind.

 

One
Bill
Per
Month

 

Thoughts welcome.  I am not above apologising to the firm if most opinions are that I got it wrong in this case.

 

(edit - mostly spelling)





"4 wheels move the body.  2 wheels move the soul."

“Don't believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.” Douglas Adams

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  Reply # 1597895 25-Jul-2016 03:46
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Maybe the first lesson in their coaching programme is "read properly and understand any Agreement before signing it". laughing

 

You say that you were "... happy to start the program on Date X".

 

Then you say ".... I had nominated my start date as being the next day after Date X".

 

Then, "... if my start date had been a fortnight after Date X" your invoicing would have been different.

 

Surely the start date is either Date X or it isn't. If it is Date X, then under the Agreement that you signed, you got the invoicing that you had agreed to. Not sure that 'customer is always right' is appropriate in these circs. They offered terms of service that you agreed to and they proceeded accordingly. Then you were surprised that it wasn't what you expected and wanted to change it.

 

Sorry to sound harsh but if you wanted different payment terms maybe you could have negotiated an edit of the Agreement before signing it.


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  Reply # 1597905 25-Jul-2016 07:55
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Get out the coach just wants your money and have no intention for your business' success.

Ask him how many of his students succeed. I bet it's about 1%.

jmh

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  Reply # 1597909 25-Jul-2016 08:13
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I run my own business.  If I can see a client is a PIA (not necessarily saying you are) then I would walk.  My experience is that they are likely to be a problem from the start and every month to follow.  To me it's just not worth the hassle and I can focus on clients who are bit more switched on and easy to get along with. The customer is not always right - this is a myth.  As a business owner you should always be respectful to them, but you walk away if you feel that there would be a negative impact on you or your business.

 

I probably would have done the same.  Should you go back to them - probably not.  Your ongoing relationship will be important in this particular case and clearly the business owner has decided that you don't gell.  You'd get more out of finding someone who is a better fit.




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  Reply # 1597913 25-Jul-2016 08:38
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eracode: Sorry to sound harsh but if you wanted different payment terms maybe you could have negotiated an edit of the Agreement before signing it.

 

Thanks for giving it to me straight.

 

2 verbal discussions and one piece of paper advised one bill per month.  A second bit of paper said signup fee plus monthly charge.  In my mind that gives me good reason to push back against the bit of paper resulting in double billing the first month.





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  Reply # 1597914 25-Jul-2016 08:39
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When you start the programme and when the monthly payment comes out is irrelevant. All this “starting on Date X, the day after Date X, a fortnight after Date X” is just noise. Depending on which day of the month you start the programme you may pay some in advance and some in arrears. Or not. You pay for a month’s coaching and receive a month’s coaching.

 

You’re not arguing the actual “getting started” costs, so I assume you knew they existed and believe them to be reasonable. The problem is they were billed in the same month as the first coaching fee. But if the information was outlined in the paperwork they brought to you that would have been the time to question it. It’s not their fault you chose not to read it. Always read the contract, particularly if money is changing hands. You received some free business coaching right there.

 

It seems that your attitude is “I didn't understand your terms so you should give me something for nothing”. They already did, allowing you to view a resource before committing to the programme. As someone who spent years researching, designing, developing, producing and continually updating and refining resources for my own contract business I know how uncomfortable this would make them feel. There is a very real risk you could have copied it and made personal use of it without paying them a cent.

 

While many businesses “live and die by their satisfaction levels”, they also rely on customers to pay their bills.




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  Reply # 1597915 25-Jul-2016 08:42
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jmh:

 

I run my own business.  If I can see a client is a PIA (not necessarily saying you are) then I would walk.  My experience is that they are likely to be a problem from the start and every month to follow.  To me it's just not worth the hassle and I can focus on clients who are bit more switched on and easy to get along with. The customer is not always right - this is a myth.  As a business owner you should always be respectful to them, but you walk away if you feel that there would be a negative impact on you or your business.

 

I probably would have done the same.  Should you go back to them - probably not.  Your ongoing relationship will be important in this particular case and clearly the business owner has decided that you don't gell.  You'd get more out of finding someone who is a better fit.

 

 

Agreed.  I've invited 2 clients to find someone else in the last couple of years (giving them a months notice), and yes the ongoing relationship with this firm would be unlikely to be 100% even if either party changed their mind.  Which is a great shame, based on my early experience.





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“Don't believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.” Douglas Adams



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  Reply # 1597917 25-Jul-2016 08:45
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joker97: Get out the coach just wants your money and have no intention for your business' success.

Ask him how many of his students succeed. I bet it's about 1%.

 

Thanks for the thoughts.  My first impression is that this is a little harsh, and I wouldn't not recommend them just because of this.

 

I believe the method used is newish to NZ so no local history to ask about.





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  Reply # 1597929 25-Jul-2016 09:15
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I have found these business coaches on the whole to be quite a strange group. I have a couple of similar stories, like a business coach who packed a wobbly the first day he was due to show up, because he couldn't find parking (I made really clear multiple times parking was difficult) and stormed in said "no parking, no coach" and I never heard from him again. (on reflection I can now see I had better choices I could have made, but still maintain his attitude was rubbish) I am not sure where I sit on this, because I can see potential faults on both sides, however, it seems clear that this isn't going to work for either party and you both are better to move on. 

 

On the other hand, I have found that forcing myself to get past a situation like this, by seeing if I can resolve it with communication as a sort of internal challenge to myself, has helped me appreciate a second view on things I've felt strongly about at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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  Reply # 1597933 25-Jul-2016 09:29
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andrew027:

 

When you start the programme and when the monthly payment comes out is irrelevant. All this “starting on Date X, the day after Date X, a fortnight after Date X” is just noise. Depending on which day of the month you start the programme you may pay some in advance and some in arrears. Or not. You pay for a month’s coaching and receive a month’s coaching.

 

You’re not arguing the actual “getting started” costs, so I assume you knew they existed and believe them to be reasonable. The problem is they were billed in the same month as the first coaching fee. But if the information was outlined in the paperwork they brought to you that would have been the time to question it. It’s not their fault you chose not to read it. Always read the contract, particularly if money is changing hands. You received some free business coaching right there.

 

It seems that your attitude is “I didn't understand your terms so you should give me something for nothing”. They already did, allowing you to view a resource before committing to the programme. As someone who spent years researching, designing, developing, producing and continually updating and refining resources for my own contract business I know how uncomfortable this would make them feel. There is a very real risk you could have copied it and made personal use of it without paying them a cent.

 

While many businesses “live and die by their satisfaction levels”, they also rely on customers to pay their bills.

 

Thanks for the considered response.  You are definitely challenging my view.

 

In the first 2 discussions about billing, there was never any mention of getting started costs, and I did ask carefully as I was surprised that there was only the standard monthly charge.  I believed I was signing paperwork that reflected this discussion and you are right I failed (miserably) to read the paperwork carefully.  That would have been the time to question the charge and resolve the issue, and I potentially could have added a day to my start date and not had the double-charge.





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  Reply # 1597935 25-Jul-2016 09:33
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Seems pretty straightforward to me:

 

 

 

1. You signed an agreement you didn't read properly.

 

2. The set-up costs are clearly stated on page 1 - and yet you questioned them after signing.

 

3. I would have walked too if I was them - some clients need to be fired (I have done this several times - life is too short etc) - and the customer is not always right.

 

 

 

The above may sound a bit harsh - but I hope lesson learned around being thorough re any document you sign.

 

 

 

 




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  Reply # 1597938 25-Jul-2016 09:36
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networkn:

 

On the other hand, I have found that forcing myself to get past a situation like this, by seeing if I can resolve it with communication as a sort of internal challenge to myself, has helped me appreciate a second view on things I've felt strongly about at the time.

 

Thanks for the thoughts.  I'm definitely being challenged on this - more than I expected.  GZers have been giving well thought out views, and this has softened my position.





"4 wheels move the body.  2 wheels move the soul."

“Don't believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.” Douglas Adams



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  Reply # 1597950 25-Jul-2016 09:53
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driller2000: The above may sound a bit harsh - but I hope lesson learned around being thorough re any document you sign.

 

You are absolutely right, and as mentioned above my position has definitely softened as my part in the 'errors on both sides' has been highlighted.

 

I have re-read their single page document several times and it is not sufficiently clear (in my view) around the initial charges.  Had it been explained to me that there was a setup charge, I would have happily paid it.  It irked me that due to a timing coincidence it felt like I was being unexpectedly double-charged when compared with an established expectation.





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  Reply # 1598008 25-Jul-2016 10:28
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driller2000:

 

3. I would have walked too if I was them - some clients need to be fired (I have done this several times - life is too short etc) - and the customer is not always right.

 

 

 

Actually, if I was the client, I would have walked too. I wouldn't want coaching from a business who tells me one thing verbally and then puts something else in the contract. Be glad you're out of it. Move on.

 

 


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  Reply # 1598085 25-Jul-2016 11:17
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Dynamic:

 

networkn:

 

On the other hand, I have found that forcing myself to get past a situation like this, by seeing if I can resolve it with communication as a sort of internal challenge to myself, has helped me appreciate a second view on things I've felt strongly about at the time.

 

Thanks for the thoughts.  I'm definitely being challenged on this - more than I expected.  GZers have been giving well thought out views, and this has softened my position.

 

 

It's a business service, so no Consumer Guarantees Act for you.  One of the fun things to learn about in business is dealing with difficult customers, suppliers and staff, and having the buck stop with you.  Sounds like dealing with this coach is teaching you some of that already!


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  Reply # 1598090 25-Jul-2016 11:23
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I do think that I feel that when someone sells you something, that the contract should reflect that, and not much else. If there were setup charges, something they obviously charge each time, this should have been communicated. It feels a little like they get a bit of resistance from it, so don't mention it, and hope people don't read the fine print, and just pay when/if conflict arises over it. 

 

Overall whilst I think the OP didn't read the contract, my overarching feeling here is that this isn't a match made in heaven and he should be glad it didn't work out because they have a fundamental difference of opinion on how business should be conducted. 

 

I once got involved with a business mentor from the free program the ASB made. We met at his house, he was obviously very succesfull, and made sure I understood it, probably for the purpose of establishing for me he was qualified to comment, then started on how I could increase sales, by upselling etc. I wasn't having a problem with sales, and his entire approach was one dimensional and not tailored to me. If I was selling widgets and needed more sales, then yes that would have worked well, but when I was struggling with staff management and time management and other less sales orientated things, it was pretty clear he wasn't listening or wasn't qualified to comment on my specifics. 

 

 


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