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Difficult Situation - Advice Please

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by ben5000, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. ben5000

    ben5000 New Member


    Ok so recently I had a client who approached me to produce 6 animations for an awards show they were having later in the year. We had agreed a budget and list of deliverables. Once the requirements were discussed I went away and worked on my initial concept ideas, which they liked and approved.

    At this stage they had paid a deposit which was 25% of the total fee.

    Now that the initial concepts had been approved I went away for several months to start building the ideas and animating them. There was a huge amount of work bringing the ideas to life.

    After months of work the client had decided they did not feel the concepts were working as well as they had hoped. At this stage we discussed ideas for improvement, and I went away to work through the new set of feedback. This process continued to a point where we were struggling to make progress and appearing to go around in circles. The direction was very limited other than "this still isn't really working for us". After further discussions it became clear they were perhaps looking for a new concept, something quite different than what was signed off several months previously.

    Whilst I sensed something wasnt right I wanted to get the second instalment of money from them, now totaling 50% of the project total. From my perspective I didn't want to be working over 3 months and only have the 25% deposit as the amount of work done at this stage far exceeded that. The client agreed to pay.

    After further rounds of amends and myself unwilling to completely changed the concept we had agreed on, I decided it might be a good idea to stand down on the project. This was partly due to the lack of direction making it very difficult to continue and also that I wanted them to find another supplier who might be able to start again on the project to their new concepts, and also so they had enough time to hit the deadline.

    The client had agreed this might be a wise idea, but no mention of the monies had been discussed at this stage.

    Now the client is working with someone else but they are demanding their money back or threatening legal action. I am not sure if they will take it to court or not, but either way I am not willing to pay back for the months I spent on development work.

    One thing I should note is there was not a formal contract, although I did supply them an invoice outlining the scope of the work at each stage.

    I am writing to see what others thoughts are on the situation? Should I be paying them anything back? Do you think they will take it to court and if so am I likely to win / lose?

    I would really appreciate any help / advice

    Many Thanks

    ps: I don't typically cancel projects, but this one was becoming too stressful
  2. Doubling Cube

    Doubling Cube New Member

    Good evening, Ben.

    Sorry to learn of your troubles, sir. Even though my sympathies lie with you in this situation, the truth is I have little experience or expertise regards the legalities of such an issue so my opinion would be next to worthless.

    I think you need professional advice from a solicitor, something you probably won't find here alas.

    Best of luck.
  3. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Don't pay them a penny unless you're ordered to by a small claims court. You provided them with a service as agreed and they now want a refund because they essentially didn't like what you had produced. There was no negligence on your part that would warrant a refund (i.e. if you didn't deliver in agreed time) and there's no contract in place that you have broken, they simply didn't like what they had originally agreed. A lack of contract also means there's nothing in writing that says you have to offer a refund if they are unhappy with the outcome (it would be too easy for them to simply feign being displeased anyway).

    By all means speak to a solicitor (most will give you 30mins – 1hr free to hear about your case) but I don't see how they would have a legal leg to stand on in this situation. The time/cost to take you to court over any amount is unlikely to be worth the effort for them so keep your hands in your pocket.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
  4. bonsdes

    bonsdes Member

    You did what was agreed, you kept amending to satisfy client, they changed THEIR minds. I don't see how they have a cat in hells chance of getting anything off you! If it were the States you'd be counter claiming for extra payment/loss of income!! I think they're just trying to scare you into coughing up, I've never heard of this happening before and I certainly wouldn't be losing sleep over it…but…get proper advice, i'm not a Solicitor :) Good luck.
  5. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    As above.

    Assuming you have emails proposing the work, confirming the acceptance of the project (this could be a s simple as them agreeing to pay or confirming payment of a deposit), outline of the payment schedule, acceptance of concepts etc.. you've essentially got yourself an informal contract. If a refund policy hasn't been agreed, then there isn't one.

    I personally would seek legal advice before saying or doinig anything else.
  6. Wardy

    Wardy Well-Known Member

    Just what others have said really. As long as you have everything to back you up, original emails, the work itself, etc then you
    should be fine. In this case, it's probably good from your point of view that no contract was drawn up. It's also a perfect example
    of why it's so important to get money up front, hopefully you're not out of pocket too much.

    Don't worry, get on with your life and carry on with clients that know what they're doing.
  7. ben5000

    ben5000 New Member

    thanks so much everyone, its very reassuring to read all of this. I don't feel as worried now. For the record I have had £6K from them, so quite a large sum of money, although saying that I had worked 3 months on the project. So should I seek legal advice now or wait until there is a court summons or however the process works. They keep emailing me trying to make negotiations, should I just ignore them? thanks again everyone, hugely appreciated.
  8. ben5000

    ben5000 New Member

    thanks Paul, very insightful. Is the fact that I essentially quite the project due to their crazy demands in some way deemed as negligence?
  9. ben5000

    ben5000 New Member

    sorry meant to say 'quit' the project not 'quite'
  10. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    Nothing much to add as it's already been said apart from I wouldn't worry.
    You've done the work. You deserve payment.
    They may try to pursue it but I don't think they have much of a case and it would cost them a potential fortune to push it.

    I should really take my own advice but a simple contract may have been the best thing but any e-mails you have are a good runner up.
    This just shows the wisdom in getting payments in advance.
    Just think about it if you hadn't. o_O

    I've posted this before but its WELL worth a watch.

    bigdave likes this.

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