I have been working with a client (a music store for whom I designed a very large e-commerce site) for about 6 years. Over that time they have had me change the design a couple of times and I have done ongoing maintenance for which they paid me an hourlyy fee (invoice submitted with a timesheet monthly). This has been working fine for the most part. I've always done their updates on time and even spent evenings and weekends working with one of their employees when the needed to get some new items up for sale quickly (I never charged them extra for weekend or rush work).

Now..about 6 weeks ago I was told (by the employee that I've been working with, not the store owner) that the owner had decided to go with a new company for a totally new look. OK, I understand. They wanted me to keep doing weekly maintenance until the new site was ready. OK. 5 weeks went by and I was told by the employee that they had heard nothing from this new company and he thought the owner might be open to keeping me on as their web designer. OK. I went into the store and sat down face to face with the owner. He said he was very unhappy with the new company, they had shown him nothing and had not even come in or called to pick up their down payment check. The owner and I spoke for about 45 minutes, he said he liked working with me and thought I was always fair. He said he'd like me to design their new site. He said he wanted to see something as soon as possible. I told him I would have something for him in less than a week. OK.

I left there, went to my office and worked solely on their site for the next 5 days - putting aside other clients that I have been working with. At the end of that 5 days (a Saturday afternoon), I sent the owner (and the employee) an email with a link to the work I had done and told them I could meet with him on Monday or Tuesday. I heard nothing back until Tuesday when I emailed the employee and was told that the other company had come in on Monday and picked up their check. The owner at that point decided to go with them.

I created an invoice, with timesheet, for the work that I had done over that 5 days (along with some additional maintenance earlier in the month). I submitted that invoice. I heard nothing for two weeks. Today I got a check for roughly half, with a note that said "Larry (the owner) feels this is fair".

What are my options? I know I could take him to court (I really don't want to go that route). The site that is up right now, is the site I designed and have worked on for the past 6 years. Do I have the right to take it down until I get paid?