- fight it, revenge, screw them back, etc.
- accept it, learn from it, move on, and do better next time.
A Bad Experience Waiting To Happen
Four and a half years ago, I signed an onerous lease agreement with a company in California for some office space in Charlotte, NC. At the time, Terraine was doing pretty well, our office lease was up, and we wished to relocate our Charlotte office into an area designated as a HUBZone. I didn?t spend any time searching for this space…I delegated that task to someone else. Then, when my office manager found a space that seemed suitable, I took a look at it, and we started the lease agreement process.
I should have walked away when I was presented with a 30+ page lease agreement and was told that the actual signed document needed to be signed on specially-prepared paper flown in from California. Yes, they did not use normal paper. This paper was custom-created paper, with unique embossing and other anti-counterfeiting characteristics. At the time, I thought that this seemed weird and overkill, but I had no intentions of not having a Charlotte office. After all, our Charlotte office was started in 1993, and our company operation was stable and not expected to change in the near term. Besides, the employees that were going to use the space liked the space.
In October of last year, after losing money for an extended period of time on a bad contract with NCDENR, and after finally putting a stake in the ground that we would change our core business from an environmental consulting firm to an environmental software company, I closed that office. One small problem: that lease I signed was not due to expire until 13 months later, in November of 2012. So we did what anyone would do: review the contract terms, contact the landlord, and see if we could buy out the remaining time or come to some agreement on the remaining term. The result of that conversation? No dice. In fact, our plea was not even entertained. The landlord simply said ?…the lease is what it is.?
So we found a subtenant a few months later, but they were paying us about half of the monthly lease payment, not to mention that the landlord charged us $400 just to review the subtenant agreement. Because of the difference between what we were paid by the subtenant versus what we paid the landlord, we still had a substantial expense for space we didn?t use or need. Flash forward 6 months to today: I have attempted to renegotiate the lease agreement again, but not only was our idea not entertained, an insulting late fee was slapped on top of our normal payment amount.
How should I react? Should I terminate my subtenant agreement, thereby pushing out a possible tenant for the space after our lease expires in November? Should I badmouth the landlord to the subtenant so that they are inclined not to do business with them? Should I pay the bills but be a difficult tenant (e.g., send them 50 small denomination checks a month, so that they have a hard time reconciling their books, ask them countless questions about the contract terms and what to do with the keys, fax them things sandwiched between black paper, etc.)? Should I do whatever I can to make this guy?s life miserable while remaining within the lease agreement terms?
Sure, I could do all those things. But there is another option, an option of embracing the Vulcan proverb: live long and prosper.
The Better Path
I took the Vulcan approach. I chose to accept the mistakes I made and have moved on. I also learned never ever ever to sign a hard-core lease agreement like the one I did four and a half years ago. I have learned to pay more attention to those little details in a contract. And I have learned to put my evil thoughts aside and instead focus on making my software better, on making my company better, and on maintaining a clear head and conscious. After all, bad karma?s a bitch, and it?s something I don?t want haunting my future.
The Ultimate Revenge
Learn from what you did wrong so that the next time you encounter a similar situation, you know how to handle it. Follow the Vulcan proverb. Live a good, long life and prosper. That?s the ultimate revenge. And by doing that, instead of plotting evil deeds and revenge, those dark thoughts clouding your mind will dissipate, your brain will be clear again, and you will be able to focus on things that matter the most, instead of on things that matter the least.