This week I am going to get a little more personal and talk with you about the risks of trust in entrepreneurialism. In other words, what happens when you believe that your service vendors have your back and they really don’t?
As many of you know, I decided to launch Jenerosity Marketing over a year ago.
Being in the licensing world for so long, I knew that I wanted to protect my company name and logo as quickly as possible.
So, I called a long-time lawyer friend of mine to see if he could assist me.
Unfortunately, he had a clause in his employment contract that prevented him from doing so, but he referred me to a friend of his (let’s call them “Lawyer X”) whom he assured me would be a valuable resource.
After a couple of preliminary and explanatory calls with Lawyer X, I decided to proceed with a full trademark search and registration proceedings. Lawyer X estimated that the cost would likely be somewhere between $5K and $10K if there were no issues.
“Wow,” I thought, “that’s a lot of money but if I can get my trademark, it will be worth it!”
In the meantime, I found a wonderful designer, Alvin Uy, of Insight Creative Group who developed my logo and all of my collateral quickly, easily and at a very reasonable price.
I also continued working with my long-term financial advisor, Jack Murad, who is not only amazing at what he does, but also consistently responsive, professional and fairly priced.
(Check them both out if you ever need design or financial support!)
Back to Lawyer X and the trademark process.
Over the course of the legal process with the USPTO, I would occasionally receive notifications from Lawyer X that things were proceeding without any issues or concerns. Thankfully, my trademark registration was going extremely smoothly!
That said, over the course of the past year, the bills continued to accrue.
As we started to approach the $10K upper limited quoted by Lawyer X, I called to discuss the situation and see how much more work needed to be done. I was assured that we were almost done and that they were doing everything they could to keep the costs down. They even went so far as to give me a “courtesy discount” on the smallest bill to date to satisfy my concerns.
At this point, I also did some additional research (which I probably should have done to begin with) and discovered that this process should not have cost more than $8K for an extremely complicated case. But, you live and learn…
Last week, I got notified of another bill that would bring us over the $10K upper limit to nearly $11K.
When I pushed back, I was informed that we were almost done with the process. When I requested that in light of this, we agree that this be the last bill, they indicated that they could not agree to that. Interestingly, they did not offer the courtesy discount again nor did they try to do anything to help me feel more comfortable with the situation.
On Friday, I was informed that the USPTO had accepted our proof of use and now we are just waiting for the registration. Yippee!
In light of this latest development, I asked again if we could agree (since we are over the original estimate and so close to done) to make this the last bill and Lawyer X passed my email on to their assistant to address. I was utterly appalled.
At that point, I wrote back to Lawyer X to inform them I was very disappointed in their actions and would have expected better treatment from a friend of a friend and a professional. I then requested that we terminate the relationship.
Rather than receive an email back apologizing for 1) going over budget and not acknowledging it, 2) passing me off to their assistant and 3) treating me like a bank account, I got a rude email back indicating that they had done an excellent job for me and would put disengagement documentation together immediately.
So, I ask you, how do you know upfront if a vendor truly has your best interests at heart or if they are simply out to make as much money off you as possible? Let me know your thoughts in the Comments below (and if you have a great lawyer who also cares about his Client relationships, feel free to let me know that too!).