Every web developer and designer seems to have a horror story or two (or twenty) about being taken advantage of by a customer who won’t pay.
You can’t do much once it happened. It’s sad but true.
Without a contract or defined payment mechanism, you may have to accept the loss. Without a legal document, you can only beg or harass.
That’s the ugly truth.
You’ve Been Played, So What Do You Do Now? You might want to slap me, but I’ll say it anyway: I think you should learn from your mistake and get ready to do things better next time.
If you’re looking for advice on how to negotiate a client contract, you can find it in a number of places, such as this article.
1 “If you do this one inexpensively, we’ll pay for it next time
“No honest businessperson would waste time or sell below cost to make a profit later. What would a plumber think if you said, “Come in, install the sink for free, and next time we’ll pay?” You’d get teased. Even if anything important arose, they wouldn’t use you. Don’t try to make a bad client into a good one; it will never work out.
2-“We won’t pay unless we’re satisfied with the outcome.”
Even for small projects, most industries require a down payment or phased payments. After establishing a productive relationship with your client, you can explore other choices. A new client shouldn’t anticipate free work beyond the initial consultation and preliminary sketches. And please remember the golden role, never overpromise and always underdeliver. Always! The inverse is never the case. we’ve lost count of how many times people have engaged developers and or designers that promised a massive task in an absurdly short length of time, just to completely and utterly fail to deliver on that promise.
3-Improved “You’ll get loads of notoriety if you help us.
Opportunities abound.” Baloney. If you install this sink, my friend will notice and you’ll get lots of business. Plumber friend: “Wow, so I have to give away my work to get noticed? So, disregard it.” As a good businessman, he’d probably tell everyone he knows he got something for free that costs (X) dollars. Call for a similar or better deal. Drafts/ideas
4-We’re currently deciding whether to use you, so leave your stuff here until I meet with my partner/investor/wife/clergy.
After you leave, he’ll call other designers to bid on the ideas within 15 minutes. When you call back, Joe Blow will say your prices are too high.
Design/Illustration is time-consuming. Leave nothing creative until you have a deal.
5- “The job has been delayed. We’ll continue in a few months, so please keep the account.”
You’ll regret not billing for services already rendered immediately. In two months, the position may be filled. Really? Nobody knows who you are.
6- “Agreement? Not needed! What’s wrong we’re friends?
“Yes, until something goes wrong or is misunderstood when you become the client and I become the designer, making a contract is absolutely essential.
Unless you’re broke. Every credible company uses paperwork to define relationships.
7- “Publish the project before charging me.
“No need to wait for some predetermined date to send the invoice. Did work back up? I believe you. This deadline isn’t binding. Once the assignment is complete and accepted, start invoicing. Because this may be a stalling tactic to get the project to publishing. By waiting until the job is completed and finished, the client can copy the site and avoid paying and stiff you.
8- “XXX dollars got it done before.
“Disregard. If the last person was wonderful, you wouldn’t get any attention. His charge is irrelevant. Undervalued services will collapse (financially or otherwise) and leave a space that another provider will fill. Stick to your price.
9- “Our budget is $XX.
“What can we say other than “wow”? This guy goes automobile shopping without doing any study or window shopping. Unlikely. Time and work equal financial reward. If they pay less, then they will work for less. If you take less money than expected, explain that you’re doing less work. Reduce freebies, streamline, and encourage alternative services.
10- “Our budget is chaotic. We’ll complete the job and pay you afterwards. Simple.”
“Ahhh, yeah, you see the thing is…”; no – run away! quickly. No discussion. If for any reason the client refuses to hand over usually it’s 50% of the cash up front, you should carefully explain that a deposit is a standard compromise between freelancer and client and that you won’t work without one. If the client decides to move on, don’t think of it as your loss; it’s very likely that they never had any money, to begin with.
And if the client did manage to get some money, you’ll still be paid last. If a company’s leaders admit things are terrible, they’re usually in a much worse condition. Are you a bank? Do you know how to assess their finances? What’s the point of extending credit to a financially strained company that can’t acquire loans from banks? You have no influence once they have the work. I wouldn’t bet on this, no matter your intentions. Be selfish. Say hell no.
This list isn’t meant to make readers insane or nervous, but to ground the unbelievable.
You’ll meet diverse people. Their motivations and opinions may differ from yours. Almost every job or revenue source involves expectations, problems, and other hassles. Too many times we’ve seen someone with good intentions get fouled up because what they viewed as a chance and labour of love, that the other person saw as something completely different, not romantic or romanticized, but raw and simple. A chance to get something free.
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