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Getting stiffed by a client

P: n/a
<apologies for cross-posting>

Hi All,

I am based in the UK and have been doing some private work for a
client which involved setting up a database and scripts to search it
and display results etc, all the usual stuff.

The work was at about the halfway point when the client asked for a
time estimate for the whole project. I sent him this and he wrote back
by return saying that he didn't believe my estimate (basically calling
me a liar). Since then he has changed the passwords for the site and
is ignoring my emails. It is also apparent that he has had someone
else working on the site using the scripts I developed as a basis
(they haven't even changed the filenames).

I am in a kind of tricky position as this work was undertaken "on the
side", extra to my normal day job. To complicate matters even more,
the client is (well, was) a friend and no formal contract exists for
this work.

I have done work for this guy before and he has always been reluctant
to pay up when the time came. I guess I should have known better. When
he asked for a rate for this job I tried to price myself out of the
market as I didn't really want to take it on, given my previous
experiences with him. Even so he agreed to the rate and I have been
working on the project, off and on, for about six months (about 40
hours total).

I think I know the answer to this, and I am probably here more to vent
than anything, but is there anything I can do?

Thanks

C

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you guys
avoid getting involved with him.
Jul 17 '05 #1
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7 Replies


P: n/a
Chris wrote:
<apologies for cross-posting>

Hi All,

I am based in the UK and have been doing some private work for a
client which involved setting up a database and scripts to search it
and display results etc, all the usual stuff.

The work was at about the halfway point when the client asked for a
time estimate for the whole project. I sent him this and he wrote back
by return saying that he didn't believe my estimate (basically calling
me a liar). Since then he has changed the passwords for the site and
is ignoring my emails. It is also apparent that he has had someone
else working on the site using the scripts I developed as a basis
(they haven't even changed the filenames).

I am in a kind of tricky position as this work was undertaken "on the
side", extra to my normal day job. To complicate matters even more,
the client is (well, was) a friend and no formal contract exists for
this work.

I have done work for this guy before and he has always been reluctant
to pay up when the time came. I guess I should have known better. When
he asked for a rate for this job I tried to price myself out of the
market as I didn't really want to take it on, given my previous
experiences with him. Even so he agreed to the rate and I have been
working on the project, off and on, for about six months (about 40
hours total).

I think I know the answer to this, and I am probably here more to vent
than anything, but is there anything I can do?

Thanks

C

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you guys
avoid getting involved with him.


I'm sorry to hear this. This is awful.

Yes, please post the name and web address of this client. I'd like to email
him and make sure to avoid using his services.

Have you received any compensation for your work? Are you still asking him
nicely for it? Do you know where his office is located? You could stop in
and ask for it.

You could also write him a letter in the regular mail and certify it. Keep
good records of everything you have done and all of the ways you have
contacted him. You may need them, later.

I've gotten burned, in minor ways, a few times. Therefore, I ALWAYS get
paid (at least a good percentage) up front and ALWAYS draw out a contract.
I'm a web designer and web host. I'm sure telling you this doesn't do a lot
of good, now, though.

Sincerely,
Jason
Jul 17 '05 #2

P: n/a
Chris wrote:
<apologies for cross-posting>

The work was at about the halfway point when the client asked for a
time estimate for the whole project. I sent him this and he wrote back
by return saying that he didn't believe my estimate (basically calling
me a liar). Since then he has changed the passwords for the site and
is ignoring my emails. It is also apparent that he has had someone
else working on the site using the scripts I developed as a basis
(they haven't even changed the filenames).
Ouch, this hurts. But unfortunately it's not an uncommon story.

Have a beer, cut your losses and put the whole thing behind you.

Otherwise, lay on the guilt. E-mail is not personal enough for this;
either pay him a visit in person, or call him on the phone. Nothing
wrong with a bit of good, old-fashioned "emotional blackmailing".

Incidentally, I just found a guide, The Art of Laying a Guilt Trip:
<http://www.geocities.com/Petsburgh/9389/guilt.html>. It's for cats,
really, but I'm sure it'll work just as well for humans. The tip "One
can never be too cute to get what one wants." seems particularly
suitable for friends that do you wrong :-).

And next time you do a freelance job for anybody, friend or foe, have
them sign your written contract and insist on an advance payment. It's
common practice in this and many other industries.

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you
guys avoid getting involved with him.


Don't do that. It can only get you into legal and other trouble.
Matthias

Jul 17 '05 #3

P: n/a
On Fri, 07 Nov 2003 12:03:40 +0100, Matthias Gutfeldt
<sa************@gmx.net> wrote:

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you
guys avoid getting involved with him.


Don't do that. It can only get you into legal and other trouble.


I kind of thought that which was why I didn't do the naming and
shaming in the original post.

Thanks for the advice. I think the personal approach may be the best.
I will be turning up at this guy's office in the very near future.

C

Jul 17 '05 #4

P: n/a
Chris wrote:
On Fri, 07 Nov 2003 12:03:40 +0100, Matthias Gutfeldt
<sa************@gmx.net> wrote:

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you
guys avoid getting involved with him.


Don't do that. It can only get you into legal and other trouble.


I kind of thought that which was why I didn't do the naming and
shaming in the original post.

Thanks for the advice. I think the personal approach may be the best.
I will be turning up at this guy's office in the very near future.

C


Another thing that I like to do is be very persistent and very nice until it
is very obvious that someone is blowing me off. In other words, give this
person the benefit of the doubt, over and over, until you know they are
avoiding you on purpose.

There are many reasons for this. First, there are various things that can
go wrong with email. There are also lots of reasons why a person can miss
an email or two or three. Keeping calm and cool will be a good thing.

Next, remember that you still want payment and good relations. You want
your client to think, "Oops, I really should pay him. I think I will." If
you go nuts before the right time, then you will burn that bridge and
opportunity to let him gently change his tune.

And that's really the best way. Nice, persistent messages will often get
through to someone; unless they are really cold and mean. Suddenly,
something will snap and they'll decide to do what is right.

If nothing works, then you have to play hardball. I had to play hardball
with a guy who was holding my forum hostage for no good reason. He
eventually caved, but we aren't friends any more.

I've had a few situations like this, but I won't go into detail here.

Sincerely,
Jason

P.S. I'm still willing to write this guy and tell him that he should pay
you. And avoid his business.

P.S.S. Consider telling him about this newsgroup and conversation. Ask him
to post here and tell his side of the story.
Jul 17 '05 #5

P: n/a
cut your losses and expose him in detail.
You can. there's no legal SH** you'd find yourself in just telling your
story....unless he can prove it's false info.

Learn from the experience. Mum always told you you shouldn't mix friendship
with business.

And yes.... I also learned the hard way.

regards,

Michel


"Chris" <ch************@nez.oc.ku> wrote in message
news:fa********************************@4ax.com...
<apologies for cross-posting>

Hi All,

I am based in the UK and have been doing some private work for a
client which involved setting up a database and scripts to search it
and display results etc, all the usual stuff.

The work was at about the halfway point when the client asked for a
time estimate for the whole project. I sent him this and he wrote back
by return saying that he didn't believe my estimate (basically calling
me a liar). Since then he has changed the passwords for the site and
is ignoring my emails. It is also apparent that he has had someone
else working on the site using the scripts I developed as a basis
(they haven't even changed the filenames).

I am in a kind of tricky position as this work was undertaken "on the
side", extra to my normal day job. To complicate matters even more,
the client is (well, was) a friend and no formal contract exists for
this work.

I have done work for this guy before and he has always been reluctant
to pay up when the time came. I guess I should have known better. When
he asked for a rate for this job I tried to price myself out of the
market as I didn't really want to take it on, given my previous
experiences with him. Even so he agreed to the rate and I have been
working on the project, off and on, for about six months (about 40
hours total).

I think I know the answer to this, and I am probably here more to vent
than anything, but is there anything I can do?

Thanks

C

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you guys
avoid getting involved with him.

Jul 17 '05 #6

P: n/a
Hi Chris,
Thought I might weigh in on this one, because, though I Am Not A Lawyer,
I do volunteer in a legal clinic for workers (here in the US), there are a
couple legal precepts you might consider.

First, I'm really sorry to hear you think you've been stiffed. It
especially hurts coming from someone you considered a friend.

Second, I wanted to second Jason's (the previous poster) excellent advice.
Do make sure that you have gone personally to him and confirmed that he will
not continue to employ you or pay you before do anything else. if that
fails, a registered letter is a good starting point for recuperating money.

Next you actually have some legal rights to be paid for your work - both of
you entered into an implicit contract regarding the work you did - the fact
that you both agreed to a rate is evidence of this. While a contract is
easier to enforce and would make it easier to get your entire due, the lack
of one does not invalidate your right to be paid for the work you've done.
Also, most jurisdictions have an Office of Wage Claims for investigating
claims regarding payment of wages. You should consult with them to see
what's legal in your area, and what their advice is for recuperating wages.
They may or may not have much to say about you, as it sounds like you're an
independent contractor, but they can give you the lay of the land.

Finally, let me strongly second this advice:
P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you
guys avoid getting involved with him.

Don't do that. It can only get you into legal and other trouble.

Asking others for advice and experience is a great idea. Getting them into
the details of a claim is a disaster.

Therefore I suggest you avoid this: P.S. I'm still willing to write this guy and tell him that he should pay
you. And avoid his business. and this: P.S.S. Consider telling him about this newsgroup and conversation. Ask him to post here and tell his side of the story.


Again, a claim such as this is complicated enough when it only involves,
you, the other party and the legal authorities. Don't make it more complex
by involving more people, particularly those without a clear relationship to
you or the other party, in a public and potentially incendiary forum such as
a newsgroup. You may compromise your own case and will almost certainly
permanently damage whatever future relationship you may have with this
person.

Keep your head cool and best of luck,

Eric
Jul 17 '05 #7

P: n/a
Chris <ch************@nez.oc.ku> wrote in message news:<fa********************************@4ax.com>. ..
<apologies for cross-posting>

Hi All,

I am based in the UK and have been doing some private work for a
client which involved setting up a database and scripts to search it
and display results etc, all the usual stuff.

The work was at about the halfway point when the client asked for a
time estimate for the whole project. I sent him this and he wrote back
by return saying that he didn't believe my estimate (basically calling
me a liar). Since then he has changed the passwords for the site and
is ignoring my emails. It is also apparent that he has had someone
else working on the site using the scripts I developed as a basis
(they haven't even changed the filenames).

I am in a kind of tricky position as this work was undertaken "on the
side", extra to my normal day job. To complicate matters even more,
the client is (well, was) a friend and no formal contract exists for
this work.

I have done work for this guy before and he has always been reluctant
to pay up when the time came. I guess I should have known better. When
he asked for a rate for this job I tried to price myself out of the
market as I didn't really want to take it on, given my previous
experiences with him. Even so he agreed to the rate and I have been
working on the project, off and on, for about six months (about 40
hours total).

I think I know the answer to this, and I am probably here more to vent
than anything, but is there anything I can do?

P.S. I can name and shame the client here if it will help you guys
avoid getting involved with him.

Being deceived by the client is not a new story. I know number of
Indian programmers that are all misused.

In Indian programming world, cheating is done in different way. The
client will post a "programmers wanted" ad in many sites. The
programmers who then contact him will be given a project stating that
it is "test task". All programmers will then take such project
thinking that it is a challenge and there is a future for them with
that client. The client after receiving source codes, will tell him
that he is not upto satisfaction and will ignore him. By this time,
the client will have number of solutions all without paying a single
cent! The programmers who dare to take projects are under high mental
tension---'cos most of the Indian programmers are not financially well
and they have to take PC's for rent which is too costly. Unfortunately
these "clients" are not actually clients, but a brokers who
outsourcing in US, UK, etc.

So, be cool. Life is like that. Let's hope for a better tomorrow.

---
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The
important thing is to not stop questioning."---Albert Einstein
Email: rrjanbiah-at-Y!com
Jul 17 '05 #8

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