It seems like a lot of disgruntled service providers, customers, and even employees are turning to the internet as a place to vent.  Anyone who has worked with clients, consumers, or other businesses,  has probably at some point felt the sting of a non-paying client.

In the internet age, where all it takes is a smartphone and a few minutes to blast opinions into the virtual world, some companies are fighting back against bad clients.

While some would say it’s not particularly polite (or professional, or legal) to publicly pin the scarlet letter on a work relationship, victims would rebut that it’s not particularly polite (or professional, or legal) to skip out on a promised service or payment.  But wherever you stand on the issue, one thing is undeniable: business feuds can be hilarious.  Sadly, sadly hilarious.

Here are a couple of the best provider-side rants:

A Global Trail of Being Shafted by Darryl Collins

Some people are taking advantage of service providers on a local level.  Sometimes, the companies affected may span a whole country. Some truly special plights seem to grow to involve companies all over the world. Take the case of Barry Adams, a fairly well-known Digital Services Director in Ireland.  He tells the story of his dealings with a client named Darryl Collins, of a Belfast-based company named Banjax.

In Barry’s chronicle of woe, the story begins innocently enough – he agreed to do work at a highly reduced rate for a new client (Darryl) whom he thought might become a regular source of work down the line.  The work was done – for between a third and a quarter of the regular fee – and Barry sent an invoice for what he thought he had earned.  But contracts and verbal agreements would prove useless against Darryl of Banjax’s strategy: ignore, avoid, and waffle.

Barry recounts how this financial scuffle dragged painfully on for nearly a year; at which point he finally threw up his hands, wrote off the possibility of ever receiving even the tiny payment he had hesitantly agreed to, and did what all angry people do in 2013:  took to the internet.

The thing that makes this story great is the amount of people who came out of the woodwork in the comments section to join in.  People who had also been screwed over by Darryl Collins, former employees of Darryl, and even Darryl himself joined in.  Most took aim at an ever-evolving offering of excuses; including everything from restructuring issues to the fact that he was not even a representative of the company.  The comments are the best part, so check them out. Every excuse poor Darryl offers up is really put through the scrutiny of a tech-savvy hive-mind.

Is the story true? Did Darryl ever get intimidated into keeping up his end of bargain?  I’m not sure, but I would say the damage here has already been done.

A bonus (and perhaps a credit to Barry’s content marketing strategy) is that if you Google ‘Darryl Collins Banjax’, Barry’s article is the first result.


‘Real’-World Consequences

A gentleman named Rob Faulkner publicly chronicled his dealings with a man that went by a few different names in relation to a telemarketing service that he offered.  What resulted was several others coming out of the woodwork to share how they had been victimized by the same individual.  The culprit, Matthew, chimed in but it was too late.  48 comments later, what resulted was an investigation an arrest of the man who reportedly eventually plead guilty to fraud.  It should be said that in this instance just as the previous example, if you Google ‘Matthew Fox Don Draper’, Rob’s article is the first result.

How Does the SEO Industry Handle Non-Payment?

The previous two stories are good examples why it might not be in someone’s best interest to not pay someone whose expertise lies in getting clients exposure on the internet.  One recent study asked individuals in the SEO industry what they did when a client didn’t pay.  25% had their lawyers handle it, 25% undid whatever work they had performed, and 17% categorized their actions as “doing harm”…  Let that one sink in.

The New Soapbox

Barry and Rob are far from the only people who have been allegedly stiffed by a client.  While unethical business practices have been around for as long as people have been working, the internet is a relatively new – and sometimes irresistible – vehicle for the voices of discontentment.  After all, it’s the world that much of us in the industry spend our days and nights in.

While detractors might look down their noses at the admittedly unconventional practice of blatantly ratting out professional relationships gone south, it’s difficult to write off the perks of doing exactly that (if your claims can hold up to libel consideration).  If nothing else, the stories are entertaining for the rest of us.

Hell, I’d love to have someone on my team that could help a blog post gain enough traction that someone gets arrested for a scam they’ve been running.  That’s some pretty stellar content marketing.