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The ex-client!

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Angie, May 28, 2010.

  1. Angie

    Angie New Member

    Hello everyone I am new to this forum and really need some advice, can you help?

    Up until the beginning of this year I was freelancing for a small print company, everything was on a casual basis so no formal contracts or anything. The first invoice I sent was paid with no problems but all subsequent invoices were ignored and they then decided they were not going to pay for the work they had requested, even though they had received all the high res files etc.... (It all became very embarrassing as I was introduced to these guys through a friend!)

    Anyway to cut a very long story short I eventually managed to get just over half of the money owed to me, and from that point on have decided for obvious reasons not to take on anymore work from this company.

    Yesterday to my amazement they have emailed me requesting that I resend some artwork files as they have managed to lose there copies!!! I personally think this request is outrageous, but I am worried about there request, because I am not sure if I am legally obliged to resend them these lost files or not?

    Can anyone help?

    Thanking you all in advance!
  2. djb

    djb Member

    I would have a couple of beers/G&Ts/vodkas to gather some dutch courage and then send them back an email politely (or impolitely - up to you) suggesting they pay you what they owe you before you will give them anything. If these artwork files form part of a job they have paid you for then they would have a (very small) leg to stand on in asking for the files (I think), but would have to take you to court to get anywhere... at which point you would take them to court for the money owed.

    That's my take on it... I would wait for some more comments before you take my advice though!!

    PS: Don't listen to them if they promise the owed money if you give them the files. It'll be a lie so get the money first.
  3. emmacowley

    emmacowley New Member

    hahaha, tell them to knob off!

    In short, nope!

    There was no contract, which exists both to protect yourself, and the client by making clear what each party can expect to receive from the exchange, and so that if one party reneges on the agreement, legal proceedings can be taken if necessary. Which is why you must ALWAYS insist on a proper contract, even if it's just a casual arrangement. You are not being pushy or overly formal to do so, it is in the best interest of both parties. But I expect you've heard all that before, and when you're freelance you're bound to be screwed at least once :)

    As there is no contract, you are not obliged to do anything (just as they had no formal promise to pay you, so wriggled out of doing so quite easily). They failed to pay you for work that you did in good faith, and betrayed your trust. So unless you have a very strong reason for remaining on good terms with the company, just tell them to get lost. Or offer to re-send them the files after you receive the rest of the money they promised you (as in, the cheque is cleared and in your account, and not before!)

    If they start being rude, ignore them and move on. It's not worth doing business with people that have no respect for you and your hard work. Hope that helps!
  4. CYoung

    CYoung Member

    Let us know how you get on, but in future take deposit or full amount beforehand. I larnt this a few months ago and I'll never start work without some sort of payment, because unfortunately there are people out there who will happily do you out of a few hundred, if not thousand pounds if they can do it.
  5. Angie

    Angie New Member

    Thank you so much for your advice it is really very much appreciated!

    On a positive note the one thing I have gained from this experience, is I have learnt some really valuable lessons (the hard way), and I certainly don't intend on making the same mistakes again!! Going freelance after years of working as a in-house designer is certainly a huge learning curve.

    I have decided to take your advice and not send them anything, so I will keep you posted on what happens next, I am kind of hoping that they will just crawl back under the rock they came out from!

    Another positive is discovering this Graphic Design forum and I am looking forward to utilising it a lot more and maybe being able to help someone too.

    Anyway thanks once again for taking the time to reply and I will try to be more careful next time!
  6. this_is_peter

    this_is_peter New Member

    I have been in this position before and its not very nice.

    As a rule of thumb now I take 50% upfront and the final 50 before delivery of the final artwork. All my PDF proofs are watermarked as passwords can be hacked.

    Generally if a client is trustworthy enough they are happy to pay the deposit.

    Obviously in a tough climate the last thing you want to do is lose work over asking for funding up front. But believe me there will be more people wanting to do that to you, than you do to them.
  7. john watters

    john watters Member

    Reply to Angie

    Hi Angie.

    We all learn bitter lessons in this business, but I would (if you haven't done anything yet) wait until they
    contact you again with the same request and write a small story based on somebody needing something that
    they have not paid for...maybe farm animal story or similar and make a pointed outcome that can be taken
    from your story that suggests what goes around comes around. Suggest that they may wish to pay outstanding
    amounts and you will be more than happy to send 2 disks incase they unfortunately lose one.

    Then a little about professionalism and honesty (if you like). Nothing ventured...

  8. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    The potentially sticky bit as I see it is that you've taken half the money, and the follow-up question is: did you take that half as a settlement? I know you won't have been happy with it but was it accepted as final payment for the job? If you're still in dispute over payment (i.e. you maintain that you haven't been paid for the work done) then, as has been suggested, invite them to meet their obligation to you before supplying replacement artwork. At the same time, though, I'd view replacing lost artwork as something you'd do as a courtesy (i.e. there's no real requirement for you to take the time to do it without additional payment) ... and why would you do that?
  9. Ian Bonner

    Ian Bonner Member

    The problem I see is that you accepted half the money and didn't pursue it anymore. If you had complained that they still owed you half then you may have had a valid comeback in regards to their request.

    One of the lessons is to always take a severance fee before you undertake any work. In that case you would have taken say 25 - 50% of the agreed fee and you would have only been left with the remainder to chase, which probably would have resulted in the half you took, making up the full payment.

    Once a client has paid the severance fee before you do any work it normally means they have committed themselves and entered into a contract. In your case you had already done the work so it unfortunately played into their hands. You would have still held the artwork then and could have released it on full payment.

    Unfortunately I think you'll have to take it on the chin and accept its one of them learn from moments. We've all been there I'm afraid and once bitten...
  10. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Even if it is established that she was paid, she was paid for the work she did, which included supply of the artwork; if they've lost it, she's under no obligation to re-supply (this is where it would have been in their interests to have an agreement in place). If it were me, I'd tell them I didn't retain a copy after the originals had been handed over but I could do it again for them at the original cost (there's an important lesson for them in there somewhere).
  11. Ian Bonner

    Ian Bonner Member

    Yeah but as far as they were concerned they obtained the artwork they required without paying the full fee. They have asked her to supply files they already had, and are not asking for any further work to be undertaken.

    Maybe a way round it is to sell them the copyright to the work for the remaining fee. The only downside to this would be that she couldn't show the work in any self promoting material, ie. websites, portfolios or presentations. At the moment the copyright is shared but by offering to transfer full ownership to them you could ask for the remaining fee. I include this in my terms and conditions because many clients do not realise that the designer is still the legal owner of the work and some also do not like their work to be used for self promotion for the designer. If they want ownership then they have to obtain it.

    Could be a way around a difficult situation.
  12. Ian Bonner

    Ian Bonner Member

    Please don't think I'm siding with them here!

    What they have asked for is wrong but unfortunately they hold the cards at the moment as no contract was made. They have found themselves in a situation and are using their rights by the look of it.

    It makes me sick to be honest because too many clients these days want something for nothing and normally get it.
  13. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Even locating a file and attaching it to an email is work if you're not happy doing it as a favour; it requires you to retain proper records (work) and allocate time to the task (more work).
  14. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    If they hold any cards (assuming they haven't lost those too), I can't see that they make a winning hand. What rights are we talking about exactly? Is a designer required to keep copies of work once it's been completed and supplied to the client's satisfaction?
  15. Ian Bonner

    Ian Bonner Member

    I believe a designer should retain the files once a job is completed, yes. Everywhere I have worked it has been commonplace to archive everything.

    As they are the ones with finished artwork having paid half the costs then as far as they are concerned, they have got what they have asked for, at a price that they find acceptable.

    They see it as job done because half the costs were accepted as, in their eyes, final payment, everything was done and dusted. So they are coming back now, and as I said before, cheekily asking for copies of artwork that was the result of a finished job. If the payment they gave wasn't enough THAT was the time to say 'hold on, thats only half the fee!'. They know exactly what they are doing but they are flexing their muscles. It's wrong but what can you do?

    I think it's now too late to ask for the remaining half if it hadn't been brought up as being a part payment in the first place.
  16. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I obviously agree with this and am sure it will have been done in this case; however, while it's good professional practice, so is paying the agreed price on satisfactory completion. I'd play hardball with these spanners: it's not like I'd want to work with them again and if you want to get arsey to secure yourself a post-delivery knock-down price, you can't seriously expect top-end aftercare.
  17. hotzigidi

    hotzigidi New Member

    i would treat this as if there was a contract. I would email back telling them that you will not provide any further services or files untill full payment has been made.

    if they decide to go legal on you, the only grounds they have is a verbal contract, which will prove that the work was done by you and that they owe you money.

    I hope you get your money
  18. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    A verbal contract is still a contract. If they said they would pay you £100 and have only paid £50 and you have completed the work they are the one breaking the contract. Stick to your guns. As was said much earlier you don't really want to work for these guys again. . . If they pay up (and make sure the cheque clears) then do the work. And then tell them that you won't be working for them again.
  19. john watters

    john watters Member

    Verbal Contracts

    A verbal contract (in the view of a client that intends to cause a problem) is only worth having
    if you have a witness to that discussion, and is willing to stand up in a courtroom and voice it.

    Otherwise it is the old 'my word against yours' never ending communication tennis.

    Get your terms upfront and how and when you expect to get paid, for what and if they don't agree,
    then you are forewarned. Especially a new client, if new 50% upfront and the balance on delivery, by Bank
    transfer (on receipt of invoice). In this case be sure there are no 'extras' and state that any extras will be quoted on prior to commencing 'extra' work.

    You work for money as well, kid's can't eat promises.
  20. PrintingManchester

    PrintingManchester New Member

    I appreciate this is an old thread... but my response would have been to say you will look in your file archives for their missing files but mention they must pay all overdue money in full within 7 days as its long overdue.

    They will know you're waiting to get paid before sending the files, which you prob have on hand, but its less confrontational than refusing to send the files outright and they might pay you all money owed - if the value of the missing files is higher.

    Ultimately people who don't pay for agreed work are scum (assuming they don't have a good reason not to pay that hasn't been mentioned).

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