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Advice on a web design situation

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by den, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. den

    den New Member


    Ok here's the situation at the moment that any advice would be massively helpful.

    I quoted on a website that I got knocked down a lot so basically doing it for peanuts.
    No money has been exchanged yet. No deposit or anything.
    Nothing has been signed by me or the opposite party. The only thing they have is a quote of work, that has changed massively all through the build anyway.
    I'm a designer so I designed the look of the website and got a developer do all the fancy bits. It's data a driven site showcasing clothing.
    We got to near the end of the project and I had an email saying that a new data spreadsheet and all new imagery will need to be inputted along with some other bits and bobs, that was demanded for the 1st Feb. I replied saying this couldn't be done but I aim to get it done asap.
    Then I get an email a week later (4th Feb) saying here's all the imagery and the spreadsheet I demand this be live on 7th Feb (today)
    Asked my developer if he could do it for then, he said no. Earliest will be Monday.
    They're not happy and threatening legal action for loss of earnings and they're reputation is on the line. But not once have I said that the deadline could of been met?

    Do they have a case do you think? Should I be worried?

    I have paid my developer for the work he has done but not had any deposit at all from them.

    Please help!! :icon_mad:
  2. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    No they don't have a case but good luck getting your money... 1) Why work for peanuts? 2) Why didn't you take a deposit? 3) Why didn't you get a contract signed?

    Look these are the basics of running a business and why you and so many other designers come on here asking for help, there is nothing that we can offer if the basics aren't at least covered. Without the above in place neither you or them really have a leg to stand on whichever way this now goes, although from experience I can tell you now that if they do pay you that you won't be getting what you agreed as they will be discounting what they pay because you let them down (in their eyes), they have the upper hand here now.

    Good luck.
  3. spottypenguin

    spottypenguin Active Member

    I am sorry to say Boss Man is exactly right and you are very unlikely to recover any costs due what they deem you "missing deadline". I would say legally speaking they don;t have a leg to stand on but equally neither do you.

    It's an expensive lesson but learn from it... deposit / terms / expectations all sorted before any work is started. Good luck.

    ARRIVALS Well-Known Member


    Of course they don't have a case. No deadlines were drawn up and no contracts were signed by either party. The only official paperwork they have is a quote, but as they havn't signed any form of contract agreeing to the quote and for work to begin, who'se to say they'd actually agreed to anything?

    Sounds like an asshole of a client, firstly by knocking you down on your quote. I'd have backed off when they did that. It's usually a good sign of a tricky client when they don't want to pay the going rates. Secondly, demanding things of you, when they know they've already beat the hell out of you and your price.

    Nothing to worry about with regards to legal action, however I'd be surprised if they paid you what they owe now.

    Take this as a warning. Always sign a contract agreeing to deadlines and what is / isn't included in the price. That way if they have issues with anything, you've got the signed contract to fall back on.
  5. den

    den New Member

    Thanks all for your replies. At least I won't have to go to small claims. Yes a very expensive lesson indeed. The only reason I didn't ask for a deposit was because I'd done work for the guy before, but then it turned out it wasn't for him it was for someone he knew!

    To stop myself from getting caught like this again how do I go about drawing up contracts etc? Is there a recommended legal firm that draws these sorts of things up? Or has anyone got an example? Or is it a case of going into my local solicitors??
    I wouldn't even know where to start!
    I've been in graphic design for over 10 years but I've always been full time and this was one of the first things as a freelancer that I'd really need a contract for!! But I want to do more websites in the future so it'll be best to cover myself. Any advice or links would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks very much all.
  6. Theory Unit

    Theory Unit Member

    Is the website live?

    If it were me, I'd remind them that there is no contract and they have no case legally - but that there is an email trail that shows their unreasonableness and if anything, they're at risk of legal proceedings from you, particularly as you've paid your developer. And that actually it'd be best for both parties for you to agree on a rescheduled deadline and get everything in a properly signed contract - they won't want to waste any more time employing a new web designer and starting from scratch.

    You do have some leverage here too.
  7. den

    den New Member

    No nothing is live at all yet.
    They still want the site live but I'm worried that if I pull out now they'll constantly be on my back. But then again if it goes live they'll not pay or if they do pay then they'll say it's not what they paid for.
    Lesson learnt!
  8. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    Just say that you will make the site live as soon as payment has been received in full and not before. Or make it live but don't give them any access to the FTP, take it down if they don't pay within the specified time.
  9. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    A 'contract' can literally just be an email reply from them agreeing to terms you set out (deadlines, cost, what's involved, what happens in case of late payment or missed deadlines, etc). Just be sure to keep a digital and a printed copy of their reply.
  10. gammerscreative

    gammerscreative New Member

    My views exactly. If they won't pay, why bother give them the goods?! As someone stated earlier, you wouldn't walk into a supermarket, grab something off the shelf, walk out and say 'I will pay later' lol.

  11. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    Just to reiterate - an email reply agreeing to a quote is enough to take to small claims. Any correspondence showing that they've received quote and allowed you to start work is enough. We've done it. We use a solicitor who charges about £160 quid for court charges and their fees and they take about 4% on any payments received.
  12. thingstodo

    thingstodo Member

    Regarding contracts I've always written them myself based on templates I've found on the internet. Google is your friend! But if you can afford a solicitor, it's probably worth it.

    The basics I include are:

    Who the parties involved are
    The exact nature of the work
    What the expected time schedule is
    The pricing structure, when payments need to be made, maintenance fees, recurring payment etc
    What happens if any bugs are found after delivery
    How the contract can be terminated
    How the website will be hosted
    Copyright, ie make sure they own any assets they supply to you
    "Force Majeure" - what happens when things out of your control go wrong
    "Severability" - some legalise about agreeing that the agreement will be governed by English courts of law

    It's quite a lot of effort but once it's done both parties will know where they stand.

    And I never, ever start work without a payment to "commission" the work. The size of this payment depends on the overall price but I usually break the overall charge in to 3 parts the commissioning payment, a payment at the half way stage and a completion payment eg 30%, 30%, 40%

    Also watch this: 2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. on Vimeo
    Stationery Direct likes this.
  13. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    The headlines have been pretty much covered, I think: the absence of a conventional contract isn't an issue but, in the absence of any discussion about ifs, buts and other requirements, it sounds like the only agreement reached is that you'll do the work and they'll pay the fee.
  14. den

    den New Member

    Thanks,all for your help! I now have a 'simple' contract type thing that I send on all website projects!

    Thanks again!

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