What's your 'I should not have said that' moment?

I don't think I'll ever live this one down

Didn't find your answer?

As we know there are many stereotypes of accountants being null of any humanity and I don't think I've done much to combat it. 

So there I was on the phone to a female client who had called to ask about capital gains tax on residential property. It was just a fact-finding call to establish the background in order to offer a quote. I thought to check if there were any obvious pitfalls or complexities that I needed to know about and I was unaware of this client's personal circumstances, so I asked if she was married as she had said the property was her principle private residence before she began to let it out some years ago. The client told me she had never been married and I replied:

"Brilliant!"

Before I had even finished speaking I had realised what I'd done and quickly tried to explain why I had asked that question, but not before the client had started laughing at a twenty-something accountant being delighted at the fact she was single. If only I had been alone in the office but sure enough there was my colleague who couldn't hold himself together at my misfortune once the call was over. 

So I ask you all, in my moment of shame, have you ever done something similar?

 

 

Replies (21)

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By JB101
18th Jun 2024 13:23

One of my colleagues jokingly told a client not to leave the country as he was having an HMRC investigation a few years ago (when they had staff!).
His wife phoned up about an hour after he left the office to advise that they were hoping to go shopping in Bristol but would cancel this as they couldn't leave the county.

Not sure this counts as it is more about what a client thought he heard, rather than one of us said!

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
18th Jun 2024 13:44

Ive put my foot in it more times than you would thought possible.

A regular one I have is with a zoom calls with an couple who you dont know if they are married or not (I ask when I start with a client but of courser things change) and you mention tax planning issues such as trasnfer of shares which are tricky as they are not married, and one of the two gives the other a really, really hard stare and you have to back track quickly.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By Roland195
21st Jun 2024 09:23

I'll raise you the client where I know the two owners are married because of my diligent KYC work, just not entirely sure if it's to each other.

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By Paul Crowley
18th Jun 2024 14:17

In the very old days, when I was an articled clerk, one of the partners prepared a schedule of the tax costs and consequences of getting married to a client that joyfully mentioned that her was about to do so.
That went down like a lead balloon.

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By Justin Bryant
18th Jun 2024 15:05

I mistook a PwC partner for the photocopy engineer. I did not last there long after that.

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By Jdopus
18th Jun 2024 16:03

Back when I was interviewing as a fresh graduate I made the mistake of pronouncing the name of the firm I was interviewing at backwards; i.e. I said "Smith Jones" instead of "Jones Smith". The interviewers were deeply affronted by this and made it very clear to me that they had thrown out my application on the basis of this.

I still think it was a little unfair, I knew the name of the company very well, I just misspoke because I was nervous!

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By SXGuy
18th Jun 2024 17:05

Can't think of anything specific but I had many awkward conversations with an ex client regarding income from her "massage palor"

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By FactChecker
18th Jun 2024 17:16

Didn't she offer sunbeds as well?

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By kim.shaw-and-co.com
21st Jun 2024 13:03

SXGuy wrote:

Can't think of anything specific but I had many awkward conversations with an ex client regarding income from her "massage palor"

Did they end happily ?

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By Yossarian
19th Jun 2024 07:30

I once had a phone conversation with a client thinking he was his wife. He had quite a high pitched squeaky voice and I was absolutely mortified when I realised my mistake. Fortunately he was unfazed by it, and I suspect it probably wasn't the first time it had happened.

A former colleague of mine was very nervous when calling clients with accounts queries, so he used to virtually write out a script beforehand of everything he needed to say. I once overheard a phone conversation where he launched into his monologue, not letting the person on the other end get a word in edgeways and asking a very detailed question on the clients payroll records. Eventually he came to a stop, there was a pregnant pause, and I heard him say 'Oh, erm, sorry. Have I got the wrong number?' He'd apparently misdialed and got some random, very confused elderly lady.

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By bernard michael
19th Jun 2024 09:39

A client rang me about 15 years ago to say that he'd gambled on the Stock Market on call options following incorrect insider information and owed a stockbroker £300000. He wanted to know what to do .
My tongue in cheek advice advice "Do a deal with the broker or leave the country"
The next day he rang me up from New York and asked me to tell the broker ( a very interesting conversation)
I next heard from him 2 years ago when he told me he owned and was running a very successful business in the US and was a millionaire "thanks to my advice"

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Intercity
By Mr Hankey
19th Jun 2024 11:29

I once told a client about a rather painful and embarrassing incident, where I'd managed to get myself caught in my zip.

"that's the last time I wear zip-up boots" I added.

Luckily they saw the funny side.

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@enanen
By enanen
21st Jun 2024 09:15

On 'discussing' with a client their complaint re fees despite much time spent on their complex tax affairs the result of which they were very happy about.... 'What do you want? Herpes or Syphilis?'

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
21st Jun 2024 09:55

I struggled to keep a lid on it when taking down the details of a prospective client, a Miss S. Potts, who had a bad case of acne.

I guess my facial expression must have said it all, because "Spots" took her business elsewhere.

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By stanbu
21st Jun 2024 10:27

I was a newly qualified accountant and on my first day with E&Y I was in a Partner's office when he said "could you pull the blind down please", so I did, right out of the ceiling!!

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
21st Jun 2024 12:07

Went to see a prospective client. Had a very fruitful conversation, getting an understanding of their business and their accounting needs. Put together a detailed quote for them, referencing parts of our conversation and explaining other services they might be interested in.

Called the company by the wrong name throughout. The same wrong name throughout, so I was at least consistent.

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stonks
By WinterDragon
21st Jun 2024 14:32

Thank you all for posting your own stories, it's given us a fair few chuckles in our office.

I managed to pull the teeth out me old man to hear when he's made a fool of himself and got this:

When meeting a prospective client at their home he bumped his head into the prospect's handcrafted Japanese windchimes. When trying to make a joke about him being clumsy the client just glared with a deadpan expression.
Knowing the reaction on his way in, my dad was determined to avoid knocking the windchimes on his way out, so he carefully swerved his head around them - and that's when his foot caught the step at the bottom of the door and he found himself laying down on the driveway.

My dad found this unfortunate series of events hilarious and began to laugh at himself before getting up and noticing the exact same deadpan expression on the prospect's face as the windchime incident.

Somehow he got the job and we've still got the client 25 years later - and the client still doesn't find any of it funny!

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By AndyHTA
25th Jun 2024 09:38

I remember first starting out and nervously attending my first audit at a client's premises. The senior I was working under at the time had me taking copies of purchase invoices for the audit file. We were in a large building on an industrial estate and there was an office at the front with a photocopier and an another office between there and the room we were working in. I decided to use my initiative and use the photocopier in the office closest to the room we had been put in instead of walking all the way to the front office.

Over the next several days I was in and out using the photocopier and each time everyone in the office stopped talking and just stared in silence at me. I felt very uncomfortable and wondered if they just didn't like auditors. On my last day at the client's I was using the photocopier when the paper ran out. As before, the staff just looked at me in silence. I plucked up the courage to ask for more paper and one of them passed me a fresh ream paper but looked at me in disbelieve.

I went back into the room I was working in and the senior could tell something was wrong. I explained what had been happening every time I went to use the photocopier and the incident when I ask for paper. He was puzzled with this and said they had always been very friendly and chatty when he goes into the office. I said that wasn't my experience at all and maybe I should have used the photocopier in the office at the front. The senior looked at me and burst out laughing. It only turned out that the office in between was being rented out by another unconnected business and I had been wandering in all week helping myself to there photocopier and paper!

I was so embarrassed when I realised what I had done and got a lot of stick from my colleagues. Fortunately, the client moved premises the following year but after that faux pas I always double checked that the photocopier I was using belonged to the client I was visiting!

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By jeremy28
25th Jun 2024 10:47

Just a good story...

I was on the way to a client on the tube, and caught my trouser leg on a rail and they ripped up the hem from the bottom. Trouser leg was flapping around half open till the knee, and I was about to turn round and go home until I remembered that the client was a tailor (of some renown) with a workshop on site.

So I flapped into Central London, arrived at the client, said that I'd just caught my trousers (not that I'd been travelling in them for 30 minutes) and could they help out.

Was given a pair of temporary trousers whilst the originals were fixed, and then told that I could keep the temps as they were a return. Everything there was made to measure so they weren't going to be sold again.

So I ended up with one pair of fixed trousers and another really high end trousers which no doubt made me look slim and young, and had a curious hidden pocket inside the lining no doubt for cash.

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Slim
By Slim
23rd Jul 2024 23:29

Well…

One of the big4 partners called me instead of my colleague, I said no problem, I transfer you.

I put the partner on hold, and call my colleague who answers, I say [***] wants you, and just as I go to put the receiver down I hear the partner gasp.

My colleague accidentally hit a button which disconnected our call, which then put the partner back on the line.

Whoops.

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Routemaster image
By tom123
24th Jul 2024 09:45

I joined a company where it was common knowledge (but not shared with me) that the chairman had a mistress, and a direct phone line to his office for her to ring.

I told his actual wife - "why don't you just call him on his direct line.."

Cue others in the office making frantic neck cutting signs at me, and or biting their fists with laughter and shock.

I was very naive in those days. I only learned years later that our receptionist was regularly on coke etc.

I was about 30, so should have been a bit more worldy wise..

Thanks (0)
Routemaster image
By tom123
24th Jul 2024 09:46

I joined a company where it was common knowledge (but not shared with me) that the chairman had a mistress, and a direct phone line to his office for her to ring.

I told his actual wife - "why don't you just call him on his direct line.."

Cue others in the office making frantic neck cutting signs at me, and or biting their fists with laughter and shock.

I was very naive in those days. I only learned years later that our receptionist was regularly on coke etc.

I was about 30, so should have been a bit more worldy wise..

Thanks (0)