How to Stop Unethical Customers

Unethical customers are going to attack your company. Sometimes this attack will come in the form of a dishonest online review. Other times, it will take the form of a client trying to convince you (or your people) to do side jobs.

You need to expect these attacks. You also need to have a plan for when these attacks occur.

Rich Ortega of Orlando, FL experienced the negative effects of an unethical customer first hand. Here’s his story:

Rich Ortega submitted via Facebook Messenger << click to talk

Todd, I’ve got something else I’d like to hear your thoughts on:

How should a company handle customers who try to recruit employees for off the books work?

[IE Side Jobs: See Related Articles Here: 1. Prevent Side Jobs, 2. Why do Side Jobs?

3 reasons why you should do side jobs

Example, a couple of weeks ago one of our techs was at a service call. As he’s working, the customer starts talking to him about “a guy” he normally uses who sells him used parts to help him out, and “blah blah blah.”

The tech tells the customer, “We don’t install used parts, because the parts we change out are defective. We don’t change good parts, only bad parts.”

[This is an excellent point made by the tech.]

Then the customer says to the tech, “Well, I’m sure I could use you on your days off.”

The tech said, “I just grinned and continued working, but ended up feeling like the guy was a sleaze.”

[WARNING: The tech felt awkward, so he just “grinned.” He should have shut down that thought with a strong rebuttal.]

One week later . . . we get a notice that the customer put a stop payment on his check.

The tech ended up telling me, “I felt like I should have called in and asked permission to walk off the call. I felt like the guy was going to screw us when he made the comment about using him on his days off.”

So, now we’re talking about making it a policy to walk out on customers like that. Those type of customers obviously have no integrity, and can end up costing us more than what they are worth….

What are your thoughts on this?

Thank you for sharing this story with us, Rich. We have all been face-to-face with the unethical customer. The experience is typically painful, and long lasting.

Thankfully, there are some ways to prevent the unethical customer from ruining your day. Let me share a few of those tips here:

How to Handle The Unethical Customer

1st: Identify the Unethical Customer

The unethical customer will reveal himself/herself to you by what is said. Some unethical customers will take the direct approach, like the one in this story. The direct approach will sound like:

“Come back after hours and do this job. I’ll pay you in cash, and no one will ever know.”

The unethical client may use a slightly subtle approach by playing the “hypothetical” game.

“Let’s say I wanted you to just do the work in your spare time. Hypothetically speaking, is that something that could happen?”

You can also identify the unethical client by the lies they tell you. So, ask good questions, and take good notes.

2nd: Lay Down The Law

Going back to the Tech in the story, he felt awkward about the request. His reaction was to grin, and keep going.

You need to have a strong and immediate response when a client hints at unethical behavior. It can sound like the following:

“Mr. Smith. I do not do side jobs. My company pays me to do a good job and to be loyal. Do you want the company and I to do this work, or not?”

3rd: Decide To Do the Work, or Don’t

There are some customers that will ask you to do something unethical, because they don’t know better.

Consider the guy that asks you to vent refrigerant into the atmosphere, because he doesn’t know it’s illegal. He is just thinking about the cost of reclaiming.

If the customer understands law, and accepts it, then move forward with the job.

4th: Label the Customer in Your System

If the customer is an “Unethical Customer,” then label the customer in your system as a “Do Not Service” customer.

Also, document the interaction of the event. You may need it for the next step.

5th: Watch For A Negative Review

Unethical People SUCK! And, they love to go online and tell the world why you suck (in their opinion).

If this happens, you need to be sure you handle the situation quickly, and publicly.

I have a post on “How to Handle the Online Troll,” and you can find it here:

This is how you handle the Unethical Client. You need to put this system in place at your company immediately. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of the situation. Put this plan in place now!

Question: Have you ever been burned by an unethical client?

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One thought on “How to Stop Unethical Customers

  1. Excellent Todd, responding firmly and immediately is key. No hesitation.

    I have a Men’s Salon where we typically don’t have unethical requests. However what happens from time to time is we’ll get a customer who may get “too friendly” with a Stylist. We have a system/process that we follow and we’ve even roll-played to assure our staff knows exactly how to handle it when the time comes. Very much as you suggested, our Stylist respond with a firm, NO. Or a very blatant STOP. They make it perfectly clear that these type of advances aren’t welcomed there. If the client hesitates or suggests that we’re wrong or otherwise that may continue, we simply ask them to leave. The only other thing I ask our staff to do is to notify my Manager. This way, we know immediately what happened, we flag the client and won’t have any hesitation if it happens to anyone again.

    Good stuff!

    Albert