It is a good point to be polite to everyone. It is a Hollywood attitude: the "Hollywood No." Super kind, polite, excited people who figure out the best way to decline you, because nobody knows how big you could get.
On the other hand, your situation might be rare. How often, in the graph of commercial interactions, does the dissatisfied recruit become potential client? Outside the extremely highly compensated (like actors and CEOs), probably very rare.
How often, in the graph of commercial interactions, does the dissatisfied recruit become potential client?
I've had about a sixteen year industrial career now. Most of it spent in the web / internet space. I can think of six cases off the top of my head.
Two of those are probably causing major recruitment problems for particular companies - since the dissatisfied people are 'names' in a fairly narrow field, and are somewhat vocal about their experiences.
It happens a lot more than you think. I talked to a guy in NYC last week who was originally from the UK and we have people in SF and Cambridge UK among our common acquaintances. Six degrees gets really freaky quite quickly once you've been around a few years.
To pick an example from my own experience - I once went to do an interview after being told that it was a position that allowed telecommuting and was of a certain minimum salary. When I arrived it turns out neither of those was true. The recruitment agent had lied. Wasting a day of my time, and an afternoon of the companies.
I know this because the guy who was interviewing was somebody I hired at another company about five years previous to that. I had a lovely time listening to him call up the recruiting firm and rip them a new one. That firm no longer works for him, or for me, at any company we've worked at. I know of others that we have related this story too have shuffled that particular organisation to the bottom of the pile.
Everybody starts somewhere. Paying it forward pays off.
Not rare at all. People you decline aren't going to sod off to another industry, they'll generally stay in the same one, but at another company. If they have talent you didn't see or didn't want, they'll rise and be decision makers. It doesn't have to be multimillion-dollar contracts to have an adverse effect.
Plus, when it all comes down to it, it's the ethical thing to do in the first place.
Yes, it's probably rare; but it could also be an example of poor decision-making in general. If I put you in the position of stating yes/no on a multi-million dollar contract - your emotional grudge issues because you were slighted in another life is the last thing I'm asking of your professional judgment.
These comments show that human issues, and perhaps trivial issues at that, are very much at play in the business world.
If all you wanted was a minimal features analysis you'd have asked an accountant. You asked this professional in the field for his judgment because of his experience and you got it.
That company is unprofessional because they ignore you unless they're making money on you right now. Nobody wants to be stuck waiting for consultants who've found more profitable work and are constantly rescheduling you.
That 'grudge' is really valuable business intelligence.