Delicate issue with client

Wrenchie
Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
I was wondering if anyone had had a similar experience or could offer some advice.

I went to see a client yesterday, this was the second visit. The first time I met with him I did notice that he was sitting quite close to me. He has a very small lounge with an small 3 seater settee, but I tried not to read too much into it, we were both looking at his laptop anyway so suppose had to be reasonably close.

Yesterday though I was very uncomfortable. His hand was always very close to my leg, just touching it and in the end it ended up on my knee. He kept looking at his hand as well. When I got up to leave he held his hands up for a hug instead of a handshake!

Now i always try to be friendly with my clients and am proud that it has become a selling point for me, I often get recommended for being nice and friendly, always ready to help, have a laugh etc, but I would never have thought that I was that friendly! I am married with 3 children after all! And he is 65 so definatley not my type (I'm 33 next week). I'm tried to reason with myself saying that I'm not attractive (although wouldn't like to think I was the hunchback or Notre Dame either, but remember the 3 children!), but I did feel really uncomfortable.

I told my husband last night and he told me I wasn't to see him again, but really that isn't very helpful! Anyone know what I should do?!

Comments

  • Monsoon
    Monsoon Registered Posts: 4,071 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Oh you poor thing, he is bang out of order, without a shadow of a doubt!

    I wouldn't go to visit him at his home again.
    I'd be tempted to sack him.
    Find a neutral meeting place next time if you want to keep him.

    There are plenty more clients out there, do not feel you have to keep him.

    I really have so little time for this cr*p these days. I'd be tempted to write him a strongly worded letter explaining exactly why he as no longer a client.

    You have better things to do with your time than see clients like this, what a creep.

    And don't put yourself down, of course you're attractive. Ask your husband :)
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    Thanks Monsoon. I'm just a bit worried that I am blowing it out of proportion and just imagining it! I might try to arrange a meeting in a public place next time.
  • burg
    burg Registered, Moderator Posts: 1,441 mod
    Although I agree with Jenni, that it is out of order if his intentions were of an unprofessional nature. However, some people are a bit more touchy feely than others and it may be completely innocent.

    As suggested try meeting in a neutral/public place and judge the situation then. If it does occur you could simply explain that it makes you feel uncomfortable and although you try to be friendly with you clients you feel that this has crossed the line. If he cannot be understanding then may be it is time for him to go.

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt maybe he has got into a complete mess with his accounts and is extremely grateful of your help?!

    If things turn out as unprofessional then dis-engage and look for other new clients. There are plenty around that are professional.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • taskey
    taskey Registered Posts: 1,800 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Always trust your instincts - if you feel uncomfortable, dont put your self through it. My boss is also 65 and he is very liberal with his hand gestures and movements, but within the first 3 days of me working there, i told him i dont appreciate it and i dont like it.

    if the working relationship is to continue, he needs to be told.

    Hope all goes well for you

    Tracy
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    Thanks everyone. I think maybe he was just being over friendly and I shouldn't look any more into it. Hopefully it will be a while before I see him again.

    He has just started a new ltd company so nothing gone wrong .....yet!!
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon Registered Posts: 4,071 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    burg wrote: »
    However, some people are a bit more touchy feely than others and it may be completely innocent

    A man scooting up close on a sofa and putting his hand on a young woman's knee? At the very least it's over-familiar and utterly inappropriate, even if he had no further intentions. I'm very touch feely but not in a professional capacity, it's just not right!

    Ian, this is the difference between men and women's views of these things ;)

    Wrenchie, I know it's hard but I would make a point of talking to him about it, otherwise chaces are he'll just do it again next time you see him. Nip it in the bud! :0)
  • Rinske
    Rinske Registered Posts: 2,453 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Right, I'm a bit in doubt about it. It can just be innocent and touchy feeling and not realising it makes you feel uncomfortable, in which case a quick word with him would probably make him feel embarrassed and apologize and it's all fine after wards. However it can also go the other way, so I do think you cannot just not bring up the subject and hope it doesn't happen again.

    As example:
    About ten years ago, at the start of my career, I have worked in a company where the local director had made a number of girls pregnant (while being married and having a kid/ kids off his own wife) and the girls just left, I only found this out after I already worked there for a couple of months and was not amused. The moment the local director made a move on me (a number of comments on how he appreciated my figure to say it politely), I did tell him I was not interested and that was that for me. However his attitude was that he was the boss so he didn't stop making comments, I handed in my notice soon after.

    I can understand that the situation is different, boss/ employee vs client, but it really is a road you don't want to go down and just wait out to see what the result is.

    Misunderstanding of the touching is quite common though, but please be careful if you do meet him in a non-public place and make sure to chat about it with him, because most likely it's just his way of doing things, but if not, make sure you get rid of him as a customer as soon as possible!
  • jilt
    jilt Registered Posts: 2,903 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    A few years ago now I had private lessons to continue learning Arabic as non of the colleges offered the next level in the evenings which was the only time I could get. I had a male tutor and the lessons were at his house,- I wouldn't even dream of doing that now.

    This guy also became too familiar wanting a hug and got hold of me and tried to kiss me on the lips at the end of the second lesson. I was really shocked and told him no, that he was completely out of order. I left his flat in a state and was shaking as I ran down the stairs to my then boyfriend who had come to pick me up.

    The silly thing is I dared not tell my boyfriend, part of me thought somehow it was my fault, yes for being too friendly, and part of me scared of what my boyfriend would do to him as he has always been very protective of me. He knew something was wrong but I kept protesting that I was fine and he gave up in the end.

    I hardly slept that night. At work the next day the tutor rung my mobile but I dare not answer it. I told a colleague who told me I should tell my boyfriend, he knew us both very well and said Steve would want to know. I did tell him and he phoned the guy and basically told him he'd report the incident to the police if he tried to contact me again. Apparently the guy was very apologetic and knew exactly what he'd done, but I didn't hear from him again.

    What I'm trying to say wrenchie is I completely inderstand how you feel, please do not think that is your fault, and please try not to put yourself in that situation again. If, god forbid it should ever happen again, please tell the person concerned that it's inappropriate behaviour even if you only say you 'would prefer them not to do that'.
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    First of all I would like to thank you all for taking me seriously! I think it is the unknown that is bugging me. I don't relish the idea of saying anything to him in case it is all innocent. If it had been a definate 'move' I would have said something straight away, I can be assertive in the right circumstances! I will perhaps meet him in the pub over the road next time and not sit next to him! Or if i did go to his house I will sit on the chair regardless of whether he wants to show me anything on his laptop or not.

    I always thought I was safety conscious. If I am going to meet a new client I always leave the address with my mum or husband. I went to see someone on a farm once and had a dream that they were going to lock me in a barn and feed me to the pigs. (I have a very overactive immagination!!!!!). I was so worried about going, I rang my husband before knocking the door and told him that if I hadn't texted him in a hour he was to call the SAS!

    I work at home, my desk is the dining table and with the 3 children my house often looks like the proverbial has hit it, so prefer to see clients in their own home.
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    Oh Jilt that is awful. Hope you are ok now?
  • jilt
    jilt Registered Posts: 2,903 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Wrenchie wrote: »
    Oh Jilt that is awful. Hope you are ok now?

    Oh god yeah I'm fine thanks, we're talking about 8 years ago. Sad thing was as I didn't continue with my Arabic lessons I've forgotten most of it now.
  • burg
    burg Registered, Moderator Posts: 1,441 mod
    Monsoon wrote: »
    A man scooting up close on a sofa and putting his hand on a young woman's knee? At the very least it's over-familiar and utterly inappropriate, even if he had no further intentions. I'm very touch feely but not in a professional capacity, it's just not right!

    Ian, this is the difference between men and women's views of these things ;)

    Wrenchie, I know it's hard but I would make a point of talking to him about it, otherwise chaces are he'll just do it again next time you see him. Nip it in the bud! :0)

    I wasn't trying to say that it was ok, just that it may, depending on the manner in which he placed his hand on her knee, be innocent.

    As you say it is not appropriate in any sense but just the manner it which it is approached should be with caution so as not to brand him as guilty of something that may have been innocent.

    Saying all that regardless of whether it was innocent or not it made the OP uncomfortable which is enough! The issue does need addressing so that the client is made aware that his actions were inappropriate. This may lead to disengagement if the client does not see any wrong and cannot accept that it is innapropriate
    Regards,

    Burg
  • anniem
    anniem Registered Posts: 1,326 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    OK - ex Police Hat on here!

    I think you have been put in an intolerable position; there is a very fine line between innocent touching and unwanted molestation, but there is a line nonetheless! Simply by touching you like that he is already pretty close to assault.

    I honestly believe that you should never go back to this man's house alone and simply by the very fact that you have posted on here shows that this person has deeply troubled you.

    Gut instinct is there for a reason and is very seldom wrong - your intuitive reaction was interpreting the signals (both concious and sub-concious) that you were receiving, and I very much doubt that your interpretation is mistaken.

    People are animals and we too have natural instinct, which is often overlooked in the spirit of a 'very british' politeness and angst about 'upsetting other peoples feelings' - sometimes we need to be reminded to go with our instinct and not oblige politeness!

    Do what you know you want to do.

    Anna
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    I guess you are all right. You are saying what I would say to someone else in the same position. It's just difficult. On one hand it is regular money, he wants me to do his VAT returns as well, but on the other I don't want the situation to get out of hand. I might play it by ear, there is no need for him to want to see me in the foreseeable future, he is going to put his VAT papers in the post to me. If he does call for a meeting soon I will be a bit suspicious. I will arrange it in a public place, perhaps the pub at lunch time when it will be busy. If anything untoward happens I will let him know I'm not happy with his actions.
  • burg
    burg Registered, Moderator Posts: 1,441 mod
    Wrenchie wrote: »
    On one hand it is regular money, he wants me to do his VAT returns as well, but on the other I don't want the situation to get out of hand.

    If you consider the situation inappropriate then really the money does not come into it. He can't just think he is buying you. Proceed with caution!

    All the best
    Regards,

    Burg
  • anniem
    anniem Registered Posts: 1,326 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Wrenchie wrote: »
    If anything untoward happens I will let him know I'm not happy with his actions.

    ???

    IF ANYTHING UNTOWARD HAPPENS ?????

    I think, my dear girl, that it already has AND also that you are already 'NOT HAPPY'!!!

    If you plan to continue working for this man, if you do nothing else, you must tell him that he is out of line and his 'hands on approach' will not be tolerated. Warn him that if it happens again he will be looking for another person to do his books.

    By the way - it also begs the question; What happened to his last accountant? Was she female also???


    You need to do this ALREADY as you will continue to feel uncomfortable and he will feel that it is acceptable and it really isn't.

    Take the upper hand now and get this situation in YOUR CONTROL, please???
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    Ok I will. Thanks again for your help and advice
  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Interesting one.

    If you can afford the luxury of ditching the client then do it. I would probably take the approach you are suggesting - if no further face to face contact is required then give it a shot. If he requests a meeting I would say that you provide a remote service and only a single initial meeting is provided for in the budget. If he has a problem with that then it is bye bye.
  • anniem
    anniem Registered Posts: 1,326 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    I do understand the problem; you pride yourself on your caring attitude and diligence towards your clients, you also have three children who constantly need new shoes - for whom you feel obliged to provide, so it's desperately hard to turn the income away.

    It's very hard to find clients for whom you can work sitting at home in the melange of family life - and it's even harder to feel like you've turned your back on them for 'possibly a misunderstanding'.

    It would be even more difficult if he did something more radical next time though; and the fallout from that could be quite awful. In the worst case scenario there is a true potential for what you have and value, and for your family, to disintergrate completely. It can and does happen to innocent people who have unwittingly been trapped in difficult situations like this.

    If I were you I think I would try and recommend a male accountant to take over dealing with this persons affairs.

    YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE - MAKE A WISE ONE
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • Rinske
    Rinske Registered Posts: 2,453 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    I got to say these are all good points, but meeting him alone should be out of the question at any point, also meeting him at your place.

    If you do continue to keep him as a customer, you will need to set clear boundaries and if he does agree to them, you should still be careful, but it most likely was build on a misunderstanding (do pay good attention to his initial reaction). If he then continues, after you spoke to him, dump him as a client immediately and really, it won't be worth the money, as you will be putting a lot more in danger...
  • Poodle
    Poodle Registered Posts: 711 Epic contributor 🐘
    Wrenchie,

    The fact that you needed to bring this to the forum would be enough for me to think that you should not continue with this engagement.

    Also the fact that you have discussed the situation with your husband and he has let you know what he thinks you shoud so. What would you say to him if you continued, distant or not, and something, at somepoint in the future happened.

    I would make my excuses and distance myself from this person if I were you.
  • Andypandy
    Andypandy Registered Posts: 526 Epic contributor 🐘
    I'd try & take the controlling position here - tell him there's no point in meeting if you don't have all of the relevant material emailed to you a couple of days beforehand & can't look over it. Then print out two copies of anything that needs discussing & sit with it crossed-legged, pen in hand, facing him if possible. I'm fairly quiet, but have to deal with certain people on the basis of 'intimidate or be intimidated'. Best of luck.
  • Wrenchie
    Wrenchie Registered Posts: 33 Regular contributor ⭐
    Hi and thank you all again for your advice.

    The reason I mentioned it on this forum was mainly to see if this had happened to anyone else and how to handle the client in future. Are there any safety ideas I haven't implemented etc. It isn't just this client, it could potentially be any new client I go to see, it is a risk we take.

    It must be a problem to all females who visit clients on their own (ok I'm sure there have been some men who have felt uncomfortable at times, don't call the sexist police please!). The financial advisor at the place I used to work at was awful. No one wanted to see him on their own. Ok someone should have spoke up and told someone with authority about how we all felt, but it just isn't that easy.

    I'm the complete opposite of a touchy feely person so perhaps I am more sensitive to it. I wouldn't want to jump to the wrong conclusion and upset someone who is perfectly innocent and was just trying to be friendly. I've got a female middle aged client who loves to give hugs and kisses etc. I must confess I squirm inside but never really been an issue because she is a woman.


    I have talked it over with hubby again this evening and he said next time I need to see him, he is to come to our house and hubby will 'lurk' around. I will definately sit on the chair!
  • anniem
    anniem Registered Posts: 1,326 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Wrenchie wrote: »
    I have talked it over with hubby again this evening and he said next time I need to see him, he is to come to our house and hubby will 'lurk' around. I will definately sit on the chair!

    I'm glad that you've discussed it with your hubby and that he's fully supportive.

    I like the bit where you say you'll definately sit on a chair - it crossed my mind that this person wouldn't seem to mind you sitting on his lap.

    It also occured to me that he is paying you for your mind and equally he could employ/pay somebody without your accounting skills if he wants the " hand on knee (or elsewhere) experience " !!!!! :lol:

    Anna
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • blobbyh
    blobbyh Registered Posts: 2,415 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    Not saying anything isn't/wasn't strange about this but we all know some people are just more 'tangible' than others. From the general tones of it, he may not be much more than an "old lecher" and maybe doesn't quite deserve the monstering like a sexual predator. In a litigious society, we often look for offence where none may be intended and we're none the better for it.

    Having said that, it's entitrely up to so trust your instincts...
  • MILLY21
    MILLY21 Registered Posts: 59 Regular contributor ⭐
    Hi Wrenchie

    What a horrible position for you to be put in.

    If you need to meet this client again and your home was not an option could I suggest COSTA/STARBUCKS or something along those lines?

    I would just be a little concerned in case this person considered a pub to be a social meeting if you follow?

    Good luck M
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