We’ve been sitting here wondering how to write this particular post. The last few months have been challenging, and we’re wading our way through a backlog of quotes and work that has built up. Earlier this year Tricia’s health relapsed, then just as the busiest Spring to date hit, we found ourselves dealing with a stalker who targeted Farmweld, causing mayhem for all concerned. Top this off with a wonderful but large dose of people coming to us wanting custom jobs as Andrew’s reputation for beautiful wrought iron spread, and we’ve started to drown in paperwork. The upside though is that we’ve discovered just how wonderful our customers are.
To bring you up to speed, Tricia’s health is slowly starting to improve, but the stress of keeping our daughter safe from her stalker and managing our reputation as fake reviews were plastered on various online sites by the same person, has certainly not helped. Her recovery has been slow and has reduced the amount of time she’s been able to put into Farmweld. Consequently Andrew felt like he was “juggling eggs in variable gravity” – keeping up with the officework with quotes, returning calls, etc; hands on fabrication & blacksmithing in the workshop; plus keeping up with the domestic front all adding to his load. All things considered, he managed quite well but things were sliding slowly.
It was in August that our dear daughters (DD) stalker (Mr P) came on board. After he lost control of communicating with DD, Farmweld’s Facebook page was attacked as a means of getting to her. It started with slanderous comments (supposedly) from Mr P’s friends, fake profiles using our family member’s names were used to post vile slanderous and defamatory comments. Mr P thought it a great game. The reviews on Facebook grew in number and length and we had to shut down the reviews twice, before finally deciding to keep them off permanently. Monitoring the Facebook page became an additional chore. Reviews popped up on various other social media and review sites, e.g. Google, WOMO, Yelp, etc.
Police are involved and we found that Mr P had a history of stalking and harassing other female victims dating back to 2009. We have no idea what else is in Mr P’s history, however it was enough for Police to quickly get an intervention order from the courts to keep our daughter safe. South Australian Police do not hand out intervention orders unless the matter is serious. I won’t go into too much detail about what ensued, suffice to say Mr P decided to “up the ante” as he didn’t like to be ignored. To say it cost us time is an understatement. Visits to the Police, Magistrates courts, calls to lawyers here and interstate (the stalker lives in Melbourne), managing the flood of emails, calls, texts and PM’s he sent, has taken it’s toll.
Like a malicious cobra he spat his venom wherever he could, affecting a wide circle of people, community organisations and businesses around us. Bad attention was better than no attention and he enjoyed the havoc he was creating. Mr P’s behaviour fits the personality profile of a ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ so despite an SMS a couple days ago saying that he’s going to leave us alone, we’re not sure if it’s over yet! We’ve heard too many lies from him to let our guard down. We’ve been told he’s now harassing another young girl and her employer’s business, so who knows.
UPDATE: 1/11/15 Mr P has decided to ‘up the ante’ by making several posts on our Facebook page impersonating us and our family members. He has also harassed several people who commented on posts. As such the Facebook page has been pulled until some legal processes take effect. His phone and IP addresses have been blocked.
Reputation – the upside
The other reason we’ve become overloaded is that word has gotten out about Andrew’s work. His reputation for quality workmanship gathering momentum and his wrought iron work is being sought after. A large number of “quotes in the pile” are for custom jobs – balustrades, doors, fences, tables, etc. Working through these will take some time as it involves meetings, design concepts, drawings and of course the final costing.
During this period we were blessed to find that we have a huge number of clients who are supportive over and above what we could ever have imagined. One lovely lady even contacted her own lawyer to see if he could help (but we already had matters in hand). Many customers who have been waiting for their drawings and quotes for a ridiculously long time have been extremely patient and understanding. In saying that, we’d like to take this opportunity to say the following:
So what have we learnt during this time?
- No matter how sick Mama Bear is she’ll fight to the death to keep her family safe and (for Mr P’s benefit)…
- You can be sure Papa Bear is close behind, watching her back and he ain’t gonna take no ‘shit’ either!
- Despite adversity, people DO understand when you explain what’s going on – even if it’s personal stuff like this. We were really worried people would think we were terribly unprofessional. But if anything, most people understand that family is important and some things are out of our control.
- Our customers are extremely generous and supportive people. How lucky are we!
- Fake reviews ‘stink’. People can usually smell something’s off – as can most review sites.
- It’s easier to negotiate with a toddler than a nutter. Anyone with kids knows you cannot negotiate with a toddler.
- There are only so many hours in a day and you can only do so much.
- If you have done the best you can possibly do, then you can do no more.
- If you feel like you NEED a break, then you most likely DO!
Consequently, we’re going to take a month off at the end of the year. We haven’t had a break since January so we’re well overdue. Meanwhile, we’re going to keep working our way through the backlog and will slowly get back to everyone who has contacted us with an enquiry, quote request or phone call (this is of course with the exception of Mr P who we will continue to ignore).
The good news for us is that Mr P has not affected orders. Our workshop schedule is full to the end of the year, so orders received from October 2015 will be ready in 2016. Thanks again everyone.