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Clients: You’ve got to love them

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Posted by: Tony Margaritelli | Last modified on 08/11/2019

Clients, they are the reason we are in practice and we love them al,l to varying degrees don’t we. One thing for sure about our clients is that they can always find a way to surprise you.

I recall a husband and wife partnership that ran a pub in London and they had been clients for many years and they were the epitome of the canny cockney character. They ran their pub for years and kept shall we say adequate records and let’s remember this was in the day when cash was king and no one paid for a drink with a card, definitely not in their pub unless they wanted as they put it “Some verbal”.

They kept their records on a Simplex book beloved by the profession at the time and they even ran their own payroll which wasn’t much because the five staff were all part-time employees earning below the tax and nic threshold, no minimum wage in those days.

Then as befits every cash business in those times they were picked for investigation (not enquiries back then) and despite my best advice they decided to meet the inspector and deal with their questions in person “Afterall Tony water off a ducks back” Well after lots of toing a froing and exchanges of analysis we came to the meeting which was at my office. The clients were for some reason dressed up to the nines as if on a day out and we spent a goodly amount of time running through the case and how to handle questions and what to be wary of before the meeting started and all the time they kept saying “Don’t worry Tony, water off a duck back”

True to form they were both doing remarkably well and the Inspector and his colleague were frankly getting nowhere until the moment when the Inspector said “Lets look at staffing and their payments shall we” At which point Mrs client announced that’s down to Harry, he looks after the staff so I’ll leave it to him. “So how many staff do you have on average?” a simple straight forward question, piece of cake I’m thinking. There was a pause which went on and on and I looked at Harry and his wife looked at Harry and beads of sweat were appearing on his forehead, Mrs clients started to speak but was stopped by the Inspector with “Let’s here it from Harry, after all he looks after the staff” Mrs client was opening and shutting her fist under the table to remind him 5 for goodness sake 5.

Out came the answer 8, yes 8 you can imagine how it went from then on and the answer is bad. I don’t recall how much it cost the client but I remember the volley of abuse Mrs client gave the unfortunate Harry when the taxman left but best of all was the sight of her literally hitting him over the head with her handbag in the street outside out office.

To this day he has never been able to explain what happened, why he came up with 8 and why it wasn’t “Water off a ducks back” after all.

Still to this day makes me smile.