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#1 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 18 November 2010 - 07:28 AM

Argh! I'm fuming.

I have a freelance project due this 22nd and I'm owed 1600$. Two months ago I was given 400$ (20%) up front because I wouldn't work any other way.

Now the client had someone call me and tell me that he wants the money back because I took too long. I have a written and signed legal contract that says the product has to be given 60 DAYS after the day of signing. That's this 22nd. I have until Monday to finish the project that's pretty much 95% done. I'm only missing the scanning documents part.

I also have to visit some god forsaken place to see what information the clients want to save from a scanned document (name, date, id, ammount, etc.) I can't just wing it, it has to be required information. Now, I've been trying to reach this guy for the past two weeks trying to set up a meeting to this place and finally get the information that I need but he's always out of town and the dipshit he left in charge doesn't have time (or willingness) to take me where I have to go.

How can I deal with shitty clients like this?

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Replies To: How to deal with shady clients?

#2 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 18 November 2010 - 09:43 AM

*
POPULAR

To summarize so I understand:

  • You have a $2000 contract
  • You have $400 of that $2000 in hand already
  • Delivery deadline hasn't arrived yet.
  • Client wants to back out.
  • Client wants his $400 back

This is easy, Sergio: tell him "no" on his refund request and that he'll owe you $1600 when the product is delivered on the 22nd per the contract he signed. If he says he no longer wants the app then you stop working on it, keep the $400 and resolve to do only "half up front" work from now on. If he does want the app then I'd demo the app for him somehow on the 22nd (to show him that it is indeed done) and then arrange to transfer the code to him once his check has been cashed.

What's more, if he broke the contract then you are not bound by it's IP rules and you now own the 95% portion you've built. You should feel free to market that as a product you might wish to sell...and if you think it would prompt your guy, tell him this as well. It's only the delivery of his end of the bargain (the remaining $1600) which confers the ownership of the code product to him. Until and unless he does so, it's yours.

This post has been edited by Craig328: 18 November 2010 - 09:44 AM

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#3 AlbuquerqueApache  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 18 November 2010 - 04:12 PM

I have to agree with craig on this one.

Usually up front payments are "retainer fees" for situation such as this and typically it is stated in contracts that these are non-refundable.

I think Craig had the best idea about offering a demo to see what he says. If he is adamant that he doesn't want the product, then keep the retainer an use your code as a demo for future clients.
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#4 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 18 November 2010 - 05:11 PM

For future situations, contractual checkpoints are good ways to help resolve this. Set up deadlines for having portions of the program done, and meetings with the client on those days. Once they have seen that the portion of the project is done, have them pay an additional deposit. Generally, when people have more money invested in a project, they are less willing to back out.

You could also take them to court over this and sue for your remaining money. I'm not sure how the courts work in Bolivia, but in my locality, it only takes $50 and some time to fill out a form to sue someone. On occasions, my dad has had to take some customers to court that wouldn't pay, and he's never lost a case before in 19 years. Just make sure you have the documentation and program to prove you've satisfied the contract.

Hope things work out for you. :)
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#5 Choscura  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 02:02 AM

What I'd do is this: Don't refund anything, finish the program, and send him a bill for the 1,600 he has agreed to pay you on the 22n'd. In the mean time, since he's probably not going to pay, have lunch with a lawyer and ask about this situation, they should give you some pretty candid advice and will probably be honest (although they might leave some crucial details out, so don't consider this rock-solid legal advice) in the interest of representing you if you take this case to court.

Otherwise, you have a finished application that you can sell online- make a trial version with limited features and make it available for download, and even advertise it if you want to (facebook and adsense ads are the way to go on this), because it's a program designed to solve the problems at least one person/group has, odds are it will be useful to many more people with the same problems, and on top of this you can always make adding features at the request of the users a paid-for feature, so you'll have some work in the future from it (like fogbugz does, iirc).
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#6 dorknexus  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 11:15 AM

shady people should be dealt with in shady ways. stab em.
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#7 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 11:23 AM

I'd say definitely speak to an attorney. It seems to me that this person is not giving you everything you need to finish the product on time in the hopes of screwing you out of the money that he signed a contract to pay you. I'd definitely bring this up to the attorney too and make sure the attorney understands that you are trying your best to get in touch with this guy or his business partners/employees/whatever to get the information that you need to finish the remaining 5% of the product which can easily be finished by the due date at this point, if only you could get the remaining necessary information from the client.
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#8 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 11:31 AM

Well, unless his client is also in Bolivia (where I believe Sergio is from), taking the prick to court for this amount of money is prolly worth nothing more than the satisfaction. Getting an attorney would be massive overkill due to the paltry (to the courts) amount.

Most folks don't realize that a civil court order (what Sergio would have in hand if a judge ruled 100% in his favor) doesn't mean shit...you still have to collect on it. It does mean you could file a lien (takes money to do), sell the bill for a reduced percentage of the total value to a collector (costs you part of the bill) and so on. It takes time and money to file the correct documents with the court (if this was the United States then it's actually easier because it'd be small claims court) gather your evidence, show up to trial and such. For $1600 it's probably not worth it. If you do think it's worth it then you can sue for court costs, your time and what have you...but again, it all means nothing because you still have to collect it.

I've worked a great many contracts over the past 5-10 years and I've been thinking about putting together a tutorial on "How to do contract work and not end up fucked in the ass and disillusioned" or some other similarly inspiring title.
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#9 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 12:56 PM

I love the title, and I think we could all benefit from a tutorial like that.
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#10 RetardedGenius  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 03:03 PM

I get so angry when I read about things like this!
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#11 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 19 November 2010 - 03:40 PM

Hell I'd read that tutorial. Write it! :lol:
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#12 agent1  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 21 November 2010 - 01:11 AM

it depends how adamant you are that you want the money and want to enforce what is right,
if i were you i would save myself the stress , keep the money,use the work id done for my portfolio, stop chasing the client, let the client chase you now if the want the finished product, and if they ask for the money back tell them piss off! youve got a contract you say so your covered....

we are not dogs and we shouldnt settle for being treated badly just because theres lots of other programmers out there,as long as your conscience is clear that you have done everything to fullfill your part of the deal, a client will actually respect you more if you lay down the law, you may get a few choice words on the phone first tho, that is when i have the unfortunate habit of giving some even choicier words back...
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#13 DaneAU  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to deal with shady clients?

Posted 22 November 2010 - 07:02 AM

In the end its a contract, there is always a way for him to get out of fulfilling the contract. I understand the pain associated with seeing the fruits of your line going down the proverbial toilet. Retain ownership of the project, stick your finger up and give a strong fuck you and be on your merry way, i say this because litigation for the amount prescribed is simple not worth it. If you had a contract put together by a lawyer over a period of time, with numerous rewrites to tidy things up and protect yourself as much as you can then it may be worth persuing - saying that if the amount was significantly larger it may be. Sadly taking legal action is more than likely only going to be for the sole reason of personal satisfaction, it could also end up costing you more. So in summary, cut your losses, give a stuff you, retain work and profit to reclaim what you can. Often contracts are worth a pinch of shit at law because they are poorly written.

Goodluck

This post has been edited by DaneAU: 22 November 2010 - 07:04 AM

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