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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Angry client not paying!

    Hi,

    I'm very disappointed by one of my clients. I did a job for him and after I delivered it he never called back or replied to my emails. Don't start telling me about getting some money in advance because you know that sometimes is very hard to get some jobs.

    It's not so much about the money but I just can't live with the though that someone is scamming me.

    I have his name/phone number/personal and business web sites but I don't know how to deal with it.

    How you deal such situations with your clients?

    cheers
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  2. #2
    Internet Toughguy Kevin Boss's Avatar
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    Do you have a contract?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Boss View Post
    Do you have a contract?
    I'm afraid I don't.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot purplefdu's Avatar
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    Even without stating to get the $$ upfront, it does behoove you to get at least a portion after showing the client a design he approves. Once the design is installed on his site full payment can be made. Getting most people to leave a down payment of sorts is easier than full up front and leaves you with something should they back out. Contracts also give you means to go to court (probably small claims) but would depend on both parties locations.
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  5. #5
    Function Curry'er JimmyP's Avatar
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    Send him a brief & formal email detailing how long he has to pay...

    If he "ignores" you and doesn't pay by the allocated day then I would just keep pestering him by all means necessary until he does!

    Maybe it's time that you drafted a contract...
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    I understand that it can be very hard to deal with the fact that someone would have the nerve to tell you one thing, take your work and then not follow through. It can be tough, but it happens ... especially if you don't have a contract.

    I am assuming that when you delivered it, there is no way for you to take it back (ie, if it were a website, if you still had FTP access to remove the files, etc)? This is one of the reasons why I require final payment BEFORE the files are sent. Once they have the files, they really have no incentive to send you a payment. Even if they legitimately are going to pay you, what urgency do they have really? They have what they wanted and now they are focusing on using it ... paying you isn't as high of a priority anymore.

    You also didn't mention how much was involved with this project. You don't need to either, but if it wasn't that much (and you aren't that worried about the money that much) I would chalk this up to a learning experience and move onto the next one ... taking what you've learned here and apply it to your next client (always get a contract, get a down payment and final payment before delivery).

    Now you mentioned that it's very hard to get some jobs when you require money up front. This is true ... but the good clients are willing to take that faith in you. I'm not saying that legitimate clients will always be ok paying you something up front, but the ones that have no intention of paying you surely will have an issue with it 100% of the time. Just explain to the client that you are a business and since you are putting in the work right away, you do require a down payment as well as a signed contract. Inform them it is standard procedure for every client. If they refuse, then most likely they are going to be trouble during the rest of the project and best if you don't work with them anyway. Personally, if a client refuses to put a down payment and sign a contract, I thank them for their time and move on to the next client.

    It may not be easy to turn down work, but standing up for yourself as a business will pay off in the long run.
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  7. #7
    Village Idiot cgustaveson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplefdu View Post
    Even without stating to get the $$ upfront, it does behoove you to get at least a portion after showing the client a design he approves. Once the design is installed on his site full payment can be made. Getting most people to leave a down payment of sorts is easier than full up front and leaves you with something should they back out. Contracts also give you means to go to court (probably small claims) but would depend on both parties locations.
    You can go to court either way. He has not paid, the property is not his, you can sue him for using copyrighted material. I would place a spash page that causes him some problems.
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot ikjosh's Avatar
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    If it's a small project, small amount of money, you might have to write if off as a lose and learn from it.

    If you want to get serious, draft an intent to sue letter and send it to them, file papers with the county and have the constable deliver papers.

    You know what type of business they do and who their clients might be, inform them that they ripped you off and they're a dishonest company.

  9. #9
    Internet Toughguy Kevin Boss's Avatar
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    You think the client is ignoring you but are you absolutely sure? Let's take a step back and not jump to any conclusions. How long has it been since you delivered the finished product, when is the last time you had communication and what was the agreed-upon payment workflow?

  10. #10
    Function Curry'er JimmyP's Avatar
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    EVIL PLAN: When you code future sites embed a script which you can control remotely. If they don't pay then mess up their site or redirect all visitors to another site! (It is your intellectual property so you technically have the right to do this)

    Ok, don't do the above! Just a joke! ... But it would certainly work well, especcially for those clients are not very tech savvy!
    James Padolsey
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  11. #11
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    If it's not much money, move on and do better business in the future. Collections suck, but building a business and getting better at handling things (like getting agreements and deposits) is great!

    Keep sending invoices, and work on new business.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplefdu View Post
    Even without stating to get the $$ upfront, it does behoove you to get at least a portion after showing the client a design he approves. Once the design is installed on his site full payment can be made. Getting most people to leave a down payment of sorts is easier than full up front and leaves you with something should they back out. Contracts also give you means to go to court (probably small claims) but would depend on both parties locations.
    you're right, next time not only I will get full amount upfront but also I will not try to negotiate to anyone about it.
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyP View Post
    Send him a brief & formal email detailing how long he has to pay...

    If he "ignores" you and doesn't pay by the allocated day then I would just keep pestering him by all means necessary until he does!

    Maybe it's time that you drafted a contract...
    I tried it and now I'm on the "pestering" part. I'm calling him again and again and of course he is not answering

    next thing to do is to use my voodoo doll like Guybrush Threepwood did on Monkey Island
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiquidReflex View Post
    I understand that it can be very hard to deal with the fact that someone would have the nerve to tell you one thing, take your work and then not follow through. It can be tough, but it happens ... especially if you don't have a contract.

    I am assuming that when you delivered it, there is no way for you to take it back (ie, if it were a website, if you still had FTP access to remove the files, etc)? This is one of the reasons why I require final payment BEFORE the files are sent. Once they have the files, they really have no incentive to send you a payment. Even if they legitimately are going to pay you, what urgency do they have really? They have what they wanted and now they are focusing on using it ... paying you isn't as high of a priority anymore.

    You also didn't mention how much was involved with this project. You don't need to either, but if it wasn't that much (and you aren't that worried about the money that much) I would chalk this up to a learning experience and move onto the next one ... taking what you've learned here and apply it to your next client (always get a contract, get a down payment and final payment before delivery).

    Now you mentioned that it's very hard to get some jobs when you require money up front. This is true ... but the good clients are willing to take that faith in you. I'm not saying that legitimate clients will always be ok paying you something up front, but the ones that have no intention of paying you surely will have an issue with it 100% of the time. Just explain to the client that you are a business and since you are putting in the work right away, you do require a down payment as well as a signed contract. Inform them it is standard procedure for every client. If they refuse, then most likely they are going to be trouble during the rest of the project and best if you don't work with them anyway. Personally, if a client refuses to put a down payment and sign a contract, I thank them for their time and move on to the next client.

    It may not be easy to turn down work, but standing up for yourself as a business will pay off in the long run.
    you're also right. I should have a contract so my clients sign before I start working for them but the problem is that most of my orders are from $100-$200. I get many of those every week and for such prices is a bit too much to ask from someone to print the contract, sign it and them scan it and send it over.... for most of the clients that is overkill and I think I will loose most of them.

    Maybe I put a ToS text on my page so for every order clients must agree and mark the ToS checkbutton.

    Do you guys know if that is legal and has some value on the courts?
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  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgustaveson View Post
    You can go to court either way. He has not paid, the property is not his, you can sue him for using copyrighted material. I would place a spash page that causes him some problems.
    If I see my page online then I will sue him so sure. Even if I have to pay a lawyer and loose some more money.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Boss View Post
    You think the client is ignoring you but are you absolutely sure? Let's take a step back and not jump to any conclusions. How long has it been since you delivered the finished product, when is the last time you had communication and what was the agreed-upon payment workflow?
    It's been ten days since his last email and since I delivered the finished product. I agreed that he will pay me the next day even before the finished product delevered.
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  17. #17
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyP View Post
    EVIL PLAN: When you code future sites embed a script which you can control remotely. If they don't pay then mess up their site or redirect all visitors to another site! (It is your intellectual property so you technically have the right to do this)

    Ok, don't do the above! Just a joke! ... But it would certainly work well, especcially for those clients are not very tech savvy!

    haha. nice one
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  18. #18
    Internet Toughguy Kevin Boss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papaman View Post
    for such prices is a bit too much to ask from someone to print the contract, sign it and them scan it and send it over.... for most of the clients that is overkill and I think I will loose most of them.
    You may find my latest blog post somewhat valuable.

  19. #19
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papaman View Post
    If I see my page online then I will sue him so sure. Even if I have to pay a lawyer and loose some more money.
    That would make you an exceptionally poor businessman. Pick your battles!

  20. #20
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Simple. sue him. Even without a contract. You will win. You have at least sth on mail, or images or text that he has sent you, plus you have the website live, mshowing you are of good will. Send him a signed letter (better, let your lawyer do this), and if he doesn't pay, go to court. Then he'll pay the bills, plus the cost of the court. At least that's how it works here.

    But also, don't keep thinking about it. Keep working and learn from this.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Boss View Post
    You may find my latest blog post somewhat valuable.
    very nice article indeed. I wonder if that works in other countries also.
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  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    That would make you an exceptionally poor businessman. Pick your battles!
    I don't know. Maybe this is just a waste of my time but it's the first time this happens to me and I was very annoyed with him.
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  23. #23
    Internet Toughguy Kevin Boss's Avatar
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    Whether you get your money or not, you've learned a valuable lesson. When dealing with people via the web always make sure you have some official document that you can fall back on when they don't satisfy their end of the deal.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Enthusiast papaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Boss View Post
    Whether you get your money or not, you've learned a valuable lesson. When dealing with people via the web always make sure you have some official document that you can fall back on when they don't satisfy their end of the deal.
    After more than 400 phone calls (I love skype) and a dozen of emails I finally got paid! The fun part is that after all those days he now acts like he is doing me a favor for paying me because, like he says the code is not what he was expecting!

    Kevin you're right. That was one of the most valuable lessons ever. From now on I will be more careful and not start to work for no one without some contract and some money upfront.

    thank you all for your time and all the tips. cheers
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  25. #25
    Function Curry'er JimmyP's Avatar
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    I'm glad it worked out!
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