Finished and Uploaded site to clients server before receiving payment (what to do?)

Finished and Uploaded site to clients server before receiving payment (what to do?)


A brief summary of my situation: I worked with a friend (designer) who designed a website which I implemented using HTML5/CSS3/JS/Statamic and hosted on my server. The site functionality works fine such as forum / blog / CMS etc. Against my better judgement (the client is a professional company with 10+ employees) the client asks for all files to be uploaded to their server in order to fully test the functionality. At this stage I had not received a penny. Not a single $0.01 and I had been working on the site (more or less full-time) since January 2014 (delivered around mid-April). The client had been playing around with the site for a good 2 months on my server prior to me handing over the files, so she new she was getting the fully working version of the site.

The site is finished and the client states (via skype), and I quote:

[07/05/2014 14:12:25] Firstname Surname: Hey there We are just getting the site to go live…It does look great, Here is a question for you - where do we put the files - e.g. a PDF?

That was the last skype message from the client. I, of course, answered her question.

I have since not heard a pip and received this email from her:

{in a nut shell, email stating how much they had to rework the site in order to get it working and, I quote,

------ quote -------
The site has cost us three times the quote for the development. That is apart from the design. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings Christian but you will see I have been swamped with trying to make this website work so that it looks and functions at the level a technology company like ours should have.

I am not sure how to proceed with you now. Do you have any thoughts?
------ /quote -------

I would post an anonymous version of the latest emails we have shared over the last three days but I do not want to disrespect the client, not even a little bit. I guess I should ask, how do I approach this situation, having already requested a payment of 75% but not received anything? If this post is against the rules then I sincerely apologise, this is not my intention.

Any help advice would be greatly appreciated. Amount owed is £3.5k (I know, I know - I am an idiot. But a friendly idiot!)

All the best,


Tell the client you will file a lawsuit against her (if you can in your country). You delivered a product. Her claims of having to rework the site are probably lies to get you to lower your fee. There have been others in your situation where the client claims additional work necessary in an attempt to reduce what they pay. (It’s a scam!) If you lower your fee for the work you actually performed you are falling into her trap. Plus until it is paid for, you have copyrights and intellectual property rights to the code she is using.

I guess this goes to show you should never do months of work for a client without collecting payments along the way. If you file a lawsuit against her, it will be public information and certainly will not help her reputation in the business community. Who has more to lose? She would have to prove inferior workmanship or breach of contract in court (in most countries probably).

Don’t go trashing her reputation online until you have at least had your day in court.

We’ve all been there. Hey, I still am (and repeating the same mistakes again is really, really stupid)

First things first… how much has the company deviated from the original project? How much functionality was added? How much extra work did you have to do?

Your argument (together with the invoice) should be based on that you quoted for certain specificiations and you have provided more added value at their request which implied more work that was not taken into consideration in the original quotation because, hey, they didn’t mention it.

If you keep a record of what they asked especifically, better. You can then make a stronger argument. Make sure that you do have a list of possible points that you can use in your favor to use in future messages. You want to make a strong argument the first time, something that can’t be open to discussion but if that doesn’t work, you don’t want to show all your cards at once.

If your quote was to open and she can argue that you simply said “an ecommerce platform” and, of course, they thought that included all that, you can either find another argument (these and that feature are not standard in any platform of this type and therefore it is an extra) or, if you think that it is going to take ages and it is not worth the effort, you can cut your losses and learn the lesson and reach an agreement: If I qouted 1K but I want to charge 3.5K then maybe I should settle for 2k and never work with them or make things clearer in the future.

Thanks for the advice guys, I have written back to the client to see how to progress from here but she still hasn’t replied. Thanks for the tips, cheesedude and molona. Greatly appreciated.

I’ll give it another week before requesting she takes down the site and removes all traces of source code. Is there anyway to enforce this with proof that it has actually been done?

You should not give the site to the client before payment.

No, at least none that I know of