Suspend a Client's Website

Good day,

I did a project for a client and after numerous phone calls, emails and personal visits to the client’s offices for the past 4 to 5 MONTHS, requesting payment for the work that has been done, I decided that I need to give the client an ultimatum.

I told the client that I would suspend the site if a payment wasn’t received within the next day and so I did because I didn’t receive any payment. I’m not sure if this is legally correct and I realize that I acted irresponsibly but I was just fed up with empty promises. Tomorrow… tomorrow… tomorrow… you know how it goes.

So the client responded to me, telling me that he is now going to sue me for threatening him and he was very upset. I didn’t threaten him, I just gave him an ultimatum because I figured that it was the only way to get a payment from him.

What should I do? I reactivated the site temporarily because I don’t want to cause conflict and it was only offline for about 2 hours. Should I see an attorney or hand him over to a debt collector?

All the best,

If you host the site then take it down. That’s what my host does if I don’t pay them.

Don’t respond to terrorist threats.

It’s not like your selling kidneys and asking if you should repossess them.

That is tough, I have been through a few, luckily without needing a lawyer.

If the site is on your server and you bill him for the creation and the hosting, take it down. I don’t believe there is any legal issues with that.

If the site is on another 3rd party hosting, I wouldn’t touch it and visit a lawyer or debt collector.

It’s your site until you get paid, do what you want with it. I’d take the guy to small claims court.

I almost hate to ask 'cause I usually don’t like the answer - but did you have a signed contract with this client?

It could help you get paid, especially if you end up taking them to court, but in any event I don’t see any problems with your taking the site down after months of trying to collect from this client.

I always preferred to give my clients the first year of hosting free because 1) it added more value to my web design services but also 2) it gave me more control over their site should they decide to not pay. Never had to deal with anyone like that - but it was nice to have the option just in case. :slight_smile:

I think it’s a different story though if you’re not hosting the site yourself, but simply have access to a hosting account they’ve setup. In that case deleting things from their server yourself is crossing the line in my book, and it’s best to file a DMCA complaint with the host for non payment and have the host take care of things for you.


P.S. I also found it helpful to collect 1/2 my total fee upfront and the balance when the site was completed. This way at least you’ve got something to show for your work if the client decides to drag their feet when making their final payment.