You have to be willing to pay a ransom for your good name because there are people out there skilled at giving good guys a bad name.
If you have any notoriety in your community, industry, or company, what you do is carefully watched by people who like you and those who don’t like you. So what? Your behavior and actions have to be “perfect”. But “perfect” behavior is like beauty — it’s in the eye of the beholder.
I hired a consulting firm in my home town. The agreed-upon fee for their project was $6,000. To my surprise, when the project was finished they billed me $9,000 saying they had done extra work for me. I had no choice but to pay the top dollar. I had to pay ransom for my good name. A reputation of not paying would be an even higher price to pay.
The consulting firm would be eager to spread chatter that, “She doesn’t pay her bills….she reneges on deals…don’t do businesses with her.” They wouldn’t spread the word that “we charged her 50% more than agreed upon….we surprised her with a claim of more work…we were not open or square in our dealings with her.”
The ill repute doesn’t stay in the neighborhood either. A posting on one business owner’s blog (for the world to see) reads, “Don’t do business with M__ L__ in San Diego. He is dishonest, doesn’t pay his bills, and will, hopefully, soon go out of business.” It doesn’t stop there; more than one disgruntled ex-employee or ex-wife has had his or her rant repeatedly viewed on YouTube.
To avoid the situation happening in the future I outline my understanding of our work agreement (even if they have also), and get written confirmation. I allow nothing nebulous or ill-defined to occur without immediate clarification and I document date, times, and content of discussions. These two rules go for work associates, partial friends and full-time friends if I’m doing business with them.
Still, with all that effort, misunderstandings will occur. I usually elect to pay some bumped-up fee to keep heads cool. Sometimes the best practice means you pay ransom for your good name.