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Thread: Design clients

  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Well, I have some clients that are hard to work with and just wanted to get some advice, since probably a few of you have been in the same situation...

    Around August of this year they called me (local clients) and asked me to do some quick Web work for them. I finished the site (about 5 pages) in two weeks and e-mailed them. I e-mailed them five more times (they responded one time saying they couldn't get to the site...) until I finally called them around Nov 5 and they said they never got the email, but a new session was starting and they wanted me to type up quite a bit more (schedules and class descriptions). They said that since I didn't finish very quickly so I should just do it without pay at my normal hourly rate.

    So, I did (they referred me a *huge* client) and I finished around the 15th of November. I e-mailed them several times and called them but now I'm here and they haven't responded to *any* of my emails whatsoever. They _did_ pay me on Nov 5 and I have cashed the check but they obviously don't know that I've finished yet.

    Anyone got any advice? I've called them several times and no response...should I just keep doing that?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard
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    There's not really much else you can do - just keep calling and emailing them. If they don't get back to you then its their fault, as long as you made good efforts to get in touch with them

  3. #3
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    So you've already been paid for your work, and the problem is that they won't actually receive the work?

    If that's the case, then just leave it. Email them one last time, do one last phone call and then don't bother with further effort. You've got the money, and they have your number.

    If they haven't paid you for the work you did, then you might be out of luck. With future work, you should keep in mind that most of us charge upfront for 1/4 to 1/2, depending on the job. If it's a flaky or first time client, I typically will not start any work until I receive 1/2 the expected cost. (However, I do an initial consultation and paper prototype for free..)

    I never release the full site until they pay the remainder. I keep the site in my own test directories, or post only screenshots until they pay.

    Considering that they referred a huge client to you.. maybe you should just do this one as a promo? ie: no charge as thanks for the referral.

    Let us know what happens.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Thanks for your reply..

    You are absolutely right when you say I should've charged them up front, done a contract, etc. I thought it was OK when I started because they are in my town, I know them well, and they have a somewhat large business in my town.

    They were bugging me to always see the updated version all the time, and if I had put up just a screenshot probably they would've gone berserk.

    For example, I e-mailed them five times asking for some intro text. No reply to any of them. When the new session started, they were incredibly angry because there was no intro text besides "<name> is a popular fitness company in <town>. [...]." I just don't get it.

    I have been paid so I guess I should consider myself lucky, though.

  5. #5
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    Don't sweat yourself over it.. we've all learned "the hard way" ourselves.

    You might want to take a breath and review your procedures for handling clients. If you do design as a hobby, then it's not a big deal.. but when you want to start charging for it.. you should probably set in place a clear process.

    I wish I could post an example, but my new site isn't live yet... I have a page in the support/questions area which outlines the process for design I have in place. The process specifies when fees are due, how much (in %'s..) and how they can pay..

    One of the first things I do when a potential client calls is to have them read through the document, as well as fill out a planning guide. This way, there is aboslutely no excuse for them to meet with me at the free initial consultation and not understand that they will not get anything for free.

    I did this because I got screwed on three deals in a row. I did full designs for all of them, and then the clients screamed at how I messed up the text, didn't put correct link addresses, etc...

    Now.. I am upfront and the document *very* cleary explains their responsibilities. I am the designer, and THEY are the supplier of ALL content.

    Check the SP forums periodically and eventually I'll post the links to my articles/documents, etc..

    Also, look for posts by "jackman". He has *very* good business/client skills and there are some good threads in here where he outlines his methods of dealing with clients.

    Cheers!
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Well, after this incident I've finally decided to stop designing. But I still do some freelance coding work (generally in ASP or Perl) so it's easier. I won't show them the code but I can show what it does until they've paid.

    I'm working on some rough guidelines now, and I'll keep my eyes out for your posts. I remember reading Jackman's intricately-detailed post about how he treats his clients. He must get every single client!

    Thanks for your help. I'll be sure to have a very specific set of guidelines to follow.

    P.S. To all of you who are where I was 6 months ago (first "big" design client), I have some advice. No matter who you're dealing with (even your parent's company. Mine owes me more than $200) never trust them too much. Make it seem like you do, but never put yourself in a position to lose tens of hours of work just because they are being hard to deal with.

  7. #7
    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    You could try sending a snail mail letter to notify them. Send it certified and return receipt. That way you can always prove you sent it and they received it. If they just sit on it and don't take the work there's nothing you can do about it.
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