First awkward client: Advice please


Hi guys,

Really could do with some advise on the best approach to my problem..

Basically a self employed printer (1 man band) has asked me to be his in-house designer so that he can deal with people who want designs as well as just printing.

Our first client for the full design & printing wanted some leaflets done, which was great. Easy job.
However, I sent her the final design a few weeks ago via e-mail as a low quality jpg to ok for printing and didn't hear anything back.

Finally got in touch today and she says that she has emailed me back 3 times and received no reply so has gone elsewhere. I certainly haven't had any problems receiving emails!!!
Not to mention that if it was true, she hadn't got in touch with the director who is dealing with her for overall things like costing etc. rather than just me who only deals with the designing side.
She has both our numbers too!!? Seems a bit dodgy to me.

Anyway I asked her on the phone if she is having the leaflet DESIGNED elsewhere too and it was more like an 'erm.. yes'. She should still be invoiced for the work done regardless of whether she uses my design or not.

I am worried that she has taken my design to be printed independantly of us without paying for the work.

The low res file I send for e-mail purposes needed to be tweaked for print-ready so it wouldn't come out great quality if she happened to get it printed. And she also doesn't own the photograph that was taken especially for the leaflet.

Luckily, the cafe is about 20 miles away so it is possible to go down there for a cup of tea and find out if she has taken my design or not as she doesn't know my face.

How do you avoid these sorts of situations?
And if she refuses to pay for work done what is the best action to take?

Thanks guy... got soo much to learn!!
Firstly, why didn't you follow up your e-mail with a call a few days later if you hadn't had a response? You need to keep on top of things like this or these problems will arise.

Did she sign a contract which detailed your T&C's or agree to your T&C's via e-mail? If not, you don't have a leg to stand on really in terms of charging her for the work undertaken, having said that, if she does use the low res file that you supplied then you do have grounds to take things further as copyright is with you.

I would always send proofs as low resolution password protected PDF's.

Hope that helps.
Hey there Boss..

I've been trying to ring her periodically starting 2 days after sending the file. I only managed to get in contact today by ringing her cafe rather than the number she provided us with.

I believe there was an agreed undertaking via e-mail.

I suppose it's good experience for me since I'll have a much better idea of how to approach various situations that can arise when dealing with clients. One thing that I'm not sure of is how much authority to use. I'm young and full of enthusiasm so I think I can be a bit soft with clients.

Either way the only way to learn is by having these experiences and learning from them.
I've had a similar issue recently. Luckily it was the first time I'd started getting customers to sign T&Cs. Despite this, they 'cancelled' on me the day before I was due to deliver the items saying that the delivery would be too late. I had included in the contract that delivery was estimated and in no way binding.

I didn't get all of the money I was owed but still made enough for the job to be worth it. The best thing to do is to stop dealing with those clients, or if you must, give them one more chance. But in the long run it's not worth it as there are many genuine customers out there.
Yup but I guess it must be hard to judge who will bail out until it happens?

I met a designer at my bar job a few weeks ago who graduated from the Uni I'm going to, his tutor was the woman who interviewed me. (Small world!!)

Aside from all the design geek chat about favorite typefaces he said if I ever do freelance to charge for a speculation piece first at a slightly cheaper rate per hour than if you had the job, but to obviously state that you are charging for it. I suppose its almost like pitching for a job? Then if the client wants to go ahead THEN to draw up a contract and work on it to a high standard.

Also if I work for a company after I graduate I won't have to deal with this side of things but I do intend to start my own business in the future when I'm more aware of how things work.