I recently got a call from a local design firm, with whom I worked with a couple times before, asking me to jump right on a project the very next day. It had a quick deadline and rush jobs are not uncommon when freelancing for design firms, so I didn't ask for my usual 50% deposit up front. About an hour later I got an email from a second design firm asking if I was available the next day. I politely declined explaining that I was already booked. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
The next day the first firm wouldn't return my calls or emails. By mid morning I emailed the second firm to say my schedule had changed and, if they still needed me, I was available. As you can guess, they had already found someone else. An entire day later, the first firm emailed to say the project had been rescheduled. A few days later they emailed again to say they would be doing the work in-house and wouldn't require me.
Now let me state clearly that I honestly like the people at the first firm. They're nice friendly people and I understand that deadlines and deliverables change. My intention is not to sully their reputation. However, in this instance, their poor communications cost me a day's income from another opportunity I declined on their behalf.
My questions are:
A) At the risk of losing out on future work they may steer my way, should I send them a polite email explaining that their failure to return my emails/calls caused me to miss out on another opportunity and then present solutions to avoid this happening again in the future?
B) Would it be improper when called for rush jobs to require firms to sign and email back some sort of letter of intent that guarantees they will pay for a full day whether they use me or not?
C) Would this label me as a difficult freelancer to work with?
D) Does anyone have any other suggestion or advise to avoid this in the future?
E) Should I just grin and bare it and except it as an unfortunate part of being a freelancer?