client problem--need advice

Subject: client problem--need advice
From: "Rebecca Sederberg" <rebecca_sederberg -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 17:15:51 -0600

I'm a beginning TW/editor, and would appreciate some advice. Is there a way I can (tactfully) extricate myself from a work project and collect the money the client owes me? (He still owes me for about 40 hours of work.) Also, what could I have done to keep this situation from escalating?

Six months ago, my boss assigned me a Total Quality Management (TQM) book to edit. When I delivered my "final" edit to the client, he handed me a revised copy of the book featuring new chapters and a general overhaul. A few days later he gave me a *new* new version, which used only a small portion of my earlier edit. We offered to introduce him to a more useful, standardized author/editor work system, but he begged off, saying that he'd already been working on this project for five years and this was the only way he could forsee finishing it.
Meetings with this client went as follows: He'd raise an issue. I'd offer a recommendation. He'd ask my boss the SAME QUESTION. My boss would either say, "Ask her; I don't know much about that," or else repeat exactly what I had just said. If my boss wasn't present, the client would disregard any of my comments save praise, and mostly wanted to talk about the powerful impact his book would have.
At the initial assignment I had given him my home phone so he could reach me, as he is not Internet-saavy and I am only infrequently near a phone during the workday. One morning my husband and I were woken by him calling to share his philosophy of trust, which he said he had just come up with. He cornered me at work and wouldn't leave for *three hours* then called me at home again that night to give me an overview on how his marketing plan was coming. I've begun letting the machine take all my calls.
To date I've done seven "final" edits and two redesigns of his book. He has plans for creating a novel incorporating the TQM principles, and also wants me to help him create a musical, a screenplay, etc. I lack the time, ability, interest, and patience.
Whenever I try to resign from the project he talks at me until I back down, keeps calling me and cornering me, or adds more detail to my present assignment. This might be harrassment, but there's not much I can do; my boss and everyone else I work with are intimidated by him. By now I just want out. Fortunately, my husband is relocating to a different state for an internship, so I'll be leaving this area in a few weeks.
But I would like to get this resolved before I go.
He would like me to continue to work for him. I don't care for the long-distance gig, and he won't take no for an answer. Should I just mail him his manuscript and the other TQM material he's given me and take off?
Would it be best to just forget about the check he owes me and chalk this one up to a learning experience?
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