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  1. #26
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    I don't know if you would want to bring this to court - I suppose that depends on how many hours you put into this and what it is worth to you. 9 months is a long time to let this situation drag on. I think that you need to try and meet up with your client in person, even if that means going to his/her house and discuss the matter. Clearly they are trying to get out of paying, but before you put yourself and the client through a lawsuit I would try and settle it between the two of you.
    Next time, if it is possible, ask for a down payment or pay in advance. If you are working for a legitimate company, where there is trust in your work, then this should not be a problem.

  2. #27
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    Gotta agree w/ ppl who said that you're doing it the wrong way. I completely understand the situation where you know they won't pay you no matter what...it's not that they don't want to pay..they just can't pay.

    The worst you can do is ruin your reputation and look for positive outcome instead. It sounds like you got paid certain amount at least. If you truly know they can not pay because of financial issues then I would offer them to advertise your service on their page. Maybe even add incentive if they find new clients for you. Anyways, your method doesn't really benefit anyone.

  3. #28
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    I would agree prevention is better. Getting a down payment helps me right the rest off if the purchaser has payment problems. Another idea is to have stated in your contract that he pages will have a statement in the header, (not sure of the wording) page is posted for final review and has not been fully paid. Maybe on the page itself a logo that is removed on final payment?

  4. #29
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by techmichelle View Post
    I would agree prevention is better. Getting a down payment helps me right the rest off if the purchaser has payment problems. Another idea is to have stated in your contract that he pages will have a statement in the header, (not sure of the wording) page is posted for final review and has not been fully paid. Maybe on the page itself a logo that is removed on final payment?
    How do you write off unpaid invoices?
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  5. #30
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    write as in my ability to accept that I didn't do a good job screening my client, accept that it happened and most importantly let it go. Move on, forward, etc.

  6. #31
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njwebwiz View Post
    I did more than threaten. I just finished completing the paperwork to file in small claims court. I'll mail everything tomorrow. The fee was US$22, which is a small price to pay to at least get into the legal system before my client does. I would not be surprised if his company is near bankruptcy, so it's unlikely I'd actually collect anything. But at least he'll know any suit he files against me would probably be seen as retaliatory..
    So, you are paying $22 with little likelihood of getting anything return except that 'he'll know any suit he files against me would probably be seen as retaliatory'.

    That seems the be the exact opposite of operating a profitable business - spending money to teach someone a lesson.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  7. #32
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    http://mashable.com/2011/02/04/winona-chiropractic/

    This Is Why You Always Pay Your Web Designer

  8. #33
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    That's also the kind of thing that gives web developers a bad reputation!
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  9. #34
    SitePoint Member lostdog's Avatar
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    I hate it when this happens. I still have not found the best way to deal with this.

  10. #35
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    1) CONTRACT -- WRITTEN!

    2) at least 25% payment UP FRONT before one line of code gets into their hands or deployed live anywhere.

    3) develop on your own servers/accounts.

    4) at least 50% of the total payment required before you deploy a live copy on their servers.

    5) did we mention a WRITTEN SIGNED contract -- if they are in such a hurry they can't wait two to four days for snail mail, they probably are not a client you want in the first place!

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    WRITTEN SIGNED contract -- if they are in such a hurry they can't wait two to four days for snail mail, they probably are not a client you want in the first place!
    I agree about the waiting, however a faxed or emailed scan of the contract with their signature should be fine (for most country's laws at least). Seriously, these days who needs to rely on snail mail or cheques, when everything can be done via email and electronic bank transfer?

  12. #37
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I written signed contract doesn't prevent anything, it just gives you more recourse in the event that the client doesn't pay.

    To prevent this kind of thing, build up the quality of your clients and your business practices in general. For example, if you think a client is near bankruptcy, don't extend them credit
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  13. #38
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    A collection agency will pay you up front for the money owed you minus a commission. So, you could find a collection agency and find out what they need in the contract in order to collect.

  14. #39
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Unless you have unpaid invoices with very good backup documentation (which could be a single purchase order, an agreement, etc.) it's hard to get paid up front to sell off debts unless you have some decent volume.

    With a single invoice you'd probably have to consign it for for a 40% or so commission.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  15. #40
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    For me, sg707's suggestion seems like a good way forward vis-a-vis getting something from the situation:

    Quote Originally Posted by sg707 View Post
    If you truly know they can not pay because of financial issues then I would offer them to advertise your service on their page. Maybe even add incentive if they find new clients for you
    Re cheesedude's mashable link: there are some really interesting comments to that post, worth reading.

    Isha

  16. #41
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    Use md5 encryption as well for your php files, works well. It won't stop your html being nabbed (and the app for that matter) but they won't be able to make changes to the funcionality

  17. #42
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    Interesting points.
    My take on this is that you have invested too much time and emotion on your problem with the client. If you have the contractual documentation, then sue them or sell the debt as someone here has suggested and move on.
    I know its difficult, but your focus is affected by anguishing about it. This affects you moving forward, so try and put it out of your mind and move on.
    By trying to delete pages of a client's system you are just opening yourself up to further problems.
    The lesson to be learnt here is to try (easier said than done) and be more careful with future clients. Get deposits paid, and only deliver the final updates once 70% to 90% of the project value has been paid. That way you reduce your risk on future projects.

  18. #43
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    Thinking about it I think you should just copy the site and take it down if you still can. Then they will pay you just watch!! If they want to sue you for the work they have paid you for good luck to them!

  19. #44
    Object Not Found junjun's Avatar
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    Accessing the clients server without explicit permission from the client can be a very bad idea. I'm not a lawyer, but I think accessing a network without permission is a federal offense, so it can be very serious. If you're in the U.S.

    To remove copyrighted material from a website, you should file a DMCA takedown notice.
    It's meant for circumstances like this. (same stipulation as above)

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by b@rryp View Post
    PHP Code:
    if(isset($_GET['turnThatCrapOff']) && $_GET['turnThatCrapOff'] == 1) {
        
    file_put_contents('stolenpage.php','');

    Checks if that get variable is set. If it is and the value is 1 then it'll rewrite stolenpage.php to have no content.

    I seriously do not recommend using any code like this anywhere. It's far too easy for any monkey to adjust the URL and get the page/s wiped. A proper authentication system might work - but as others have said; spend the time on prevention rather than cure.

    Plus that code above is pretty ******, it's just a quick "would do the job". But hey, if you've got clients who don't pay they deserve ****** code.
    The problem with that is that the client could be a developer themselves. I have a friend who is a full time web developer yet he's employed people to work on his own personal site simply because he doesn't want to do it himself.

    The code shown can be easily edited out. My own personal favourite way to do it (though you'd need to either buy it or find someone with it) would be to encode the main php script with zend so that it cannot be edited. I'd then include a url calling code to my own licensing server which would then give a ok or not ok - and the script then runs or quits like that. If anyone can then decode the zended work then as far as I'm concerned they're welcome to it for all that agro.

    Any other scripts (ie, say you have index.php and accounts.php) would also have this written into them so in effect if the client doesn't pay it cripples everything. Even html pages with embedded php code.. as long as its in there somewhere in each file the client will have no choice but to pay to keep their site enabled.

    Cruel, harsh, even brutal but you won't have many complaints after. Once paid you can either send them a licence file (which your script will look for each time to verify it can run OR contact your licence server) or just set a marker in your db - when the script next makes contact it sets its own marker on its own server and doesn't bother making contact anymore.

  21. #46
    SitePoint Zealot TexasBob's Avatar
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    "Cruel, harsh, even brutal but you won't have many complaints after. Once paid you can either send them a licence file (which your script will look for each time to verify it can run OR contact your licence server) or just set a marker in your db - when the script next makes contact it sets its own marker on its own server and doesn't bother making contact anymore."

    I have to agree with the other responses to the idea of a backdoor to takedown a site: it is a bad idea for a lot of obvious reasons.

    It is much better to protect yourself on the front end by being selective about your clients and protect yourself on the backend through legal means of DMCA and good contracts.

    Also, folks should not be developing data driven apps on their clients machines. It is much better (once again for a lot of obvious reasons) to develop on in a testing environment and migrate only at the appropriate time.

    But I gotta admit it is a fun idea to think about .

  22. #47
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    Admittedly I think you're right.. building the site offline, letting the client test it and then doing the sale is probably the better option but you'll always have a stubborn one somewhere who insists its done on the server and in that scenario crippleware is the only way you're guaranteed to get your money. Once you've got it then thats it, give them the code, file, login etc that they need and its then theirs permanently. Otherwise they get a 14 day trial period and half the site encoded so it will be useless if they try to shaft you

  23. #48
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by njwebwiz View Post
    I did more than threaten. I just finished completing the paperwork to file in small claims court. I'll mail everything tomorrow. The fee was US$22, which is a small price to pay to at least get into the legal system before my client does. I would not be surprised if his company is near bankruptcy, so it's unlikely I'd actually collect anything. But at least he'll know any suit he files against me would probably be seen as retaliatory.

    BTW, for those who've been asking, the amount he owes me is about US$2,000. That might not seem like much to some of you, but I'm a small, one-person web shop. Plus, because his project was fixed fee, and I didn't do a good job of controlling scope creep, I ended up doing more work than I should have. My "equivalent hourly rate" on this project makes burger-flippers at McDonalds look high salaried.
    Good for you... I've been there and have had to resort to the same sort of thing as well. My experience has been that once the site goes down or legal steps are taken, all of a sudden the payment comes through. As far as I'm concerned if they chose to deal with someone else in the future, that's just fine but in the several occasions where this has occurred with us they have chosen to stay with us even though we initiated a full payment before services policy especially for them. Also fortunately this sort of thing doesn't occur often.

    Good luck going forward, it only gets better and being self employed is a learning process. I've also found that initiating a payment schedule that is described in the contract and invoicing regularly will lessen the chance of this sort of thing.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  24. #49
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    I've run into this issue in the past and it's quite frustrating. A few things have helped me with the process:

    1) I have the client read and approve a modification contract before work begins. As you mentioned previously, this doesn't always work for clients who won't pay regardless. But it helps in case you need to prove it in court.

    2) I ask the client to pay for changes beforehand. To make it easier for clients, I place a payment page on my website. There, they can purchase whatever time they need and email any changes they want me to make. If the work requires more time, I let them know and ask them to purchase additional time.

    3) If I've made the changes and the client still hasn't paid, I only keep the updates on my server until they are able to pay (when possible because this doesn't always work).

    4) Some of my clients have authorized me to bill their credit card whenever updates are made. This works well as long as the client's credit card information is valid.

  25. #50
    SitePoint Member angel6539's Avatar
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    it's quite easy to change/define different paths and account details between your local dev server and the target server.


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