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  1. #1
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    Question Client demanding "On Spec" work with "Name Your Own Price"!

    I have a bit of client weirdness that has me really confused. I have done some graphics design work for this client before. They were pleasant, paid promptly, and were very pleased with the results. They recently asked me to do two additional projects. When I sent a message on Friday, however, asking for more details (so I could pull together an agreement as we've done in the past), I received a rather curt email in return.

    In summary, they've asked several designers to submit ideas for the project. That's fine. Here's where it gets weird though: they want me to submit artwork, go through all of the revisions, and send them a finished piece before they feel they can make a decision or even decide if or how much they're willing to pay.

    I was informed they always work this way, that competition was a fact of life in the business world, they've never had to pay for this sort of thing before (they keep calling this a "proof"), and that they cannot even consider an agreement until after this. Of course, they claimed this is "how it's done" in the graphics world now.

    This sounds like pure bullpuckey to me. I've heard of doing work on spec, never done that myself, but even then, don't people usually commit to pay a certain amount for the work before calling for bids? I'm also pretty ticked they've decided to change this mid-stream and now claim they've always done it like this.

    I'll admit, I haven't paid much attention to how graphics design-only firms run their businesses now. Is this indeed now how clients expect to have their work done?

    I'm a little puzzled how to handle this. If it was a new prospect, I'd just tell them to go jump in the lake, but I've done work with these people in the past. I'm unclear as to why there's this sudden hostility and change in expectations (well, I have a theory of mistaken identity, but it's too long to explain in this message).

    If I have to burn the bridge, I will, but I'd rather not. Should I frame a counter-offer?

  2. #2
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    This is completely ridiculous and sounds very fishy to me. If they were very pleased with your work, then I don't see why they would change their policies, unless they're looking to pressure you into lowering your prices. In any event, I'd steer clear from people who try to make business this way.
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  3. #3
    I hate Spammers mobyme's Avatar
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    Why not get back to them and tell them that you are confused.
    Tell them that they are aware of the standard of graphic design you provide as you have done work for them before; then tell them that as soon as you receive further details you will provide them with an estimate for the work and will start work immediately you receive their order.
    Keep everything very businesslike and if you do not hear from them walk away. You would be insane to provide finished artwork which they then could decide to use or not as the case may be and to add insult to injury then decide how much it is worth.
    If you do decide to work under their rules get in touch with our head designer I'm sure he would be delighted to do business with you, who wouldn't?
    There are three kinds of men:
    The ones that learn by reading.
    The few who learn by observation.
    The rest of us have to pee on the electric fence.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast WickedGoddess's Avatar
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    Why will you send finished product without payment? What are they, lucky?
    Buddy, if they're looking for different ideas, then just drop the Project.

  5. #5
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    Yes, this just flabbergasted me. I would have no protection at all. If I'm going to do this, I might as well just sign everything over to that nice guy in Nigeria who wants me to help him secure some funds.

    And yet, I checked today with a couple of people I know who run graphics-only companies, and they've said this is something they're asked to do frequently. And they do it: "We need the business."

    I guess I understand it, on some level. There's tons of free graphics and templates available now...not just crappy PowerPoint clipart stuff from 1994, but some pretty spectacular work. I suppose some people see this and expect it all to be free now, or they've seen too many of those "Priceline Negotiator" commercials and want to name their own price on everything.

    I can't do this. It would be massively stupid if the economy was doing well, but it would be suicidal now. I'll guess I'll need to stop offering graphics design as a service if this is how the market works now.

    TaliaJ

  6. #6
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    Mobyme: "If you do decide to work under their rules get in touch with our head designer I'm sure he would be delighted to do business with you, who wouldn't?"

    Sure, sounds great. I'll be happy to drive in for a meeting just as soon as that nice woman I lent my car comes back. She said she only needed it for five minutes, though, and that was two weeks ago. I hope she didn't have an accident or something!

    "You would be insane to provide finished artwork which they then could decide to use or not as the case may be and to add insult to injury then decide how much it is worth."

    Yep.

    Talia J

  7. #7
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    Well, I think you need to look at what your customer will want. I'm not saying that you should take a risk with this project, but my suggestion would be to do what you think will get you further into the future. If you're in a competitive market, you need to compete. If the other designers in the area are willing to do "risk" work, then eventually (now or then) you'll have to do the same or else they'll bump you out of business. So look 2-3 years ahead. Do you think you'll eventually have to conform to these "new standards"? If so, then do it now. But if you don't think that most customers will prefer this type of work, then drop this customer and move on. But, whatever you do, think ahead...ahead of your competition.
    iiicreative.com - Louisiana Web Design
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