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Thread: If you freelance, you must read this...

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    If you freelance, you must read this...

    I am owed $500 US for two jobs I did for a guy named .... His website is located at http://********awebsite.to and he is calling his company 'NEW DIGITAL DIMENSIONS'.

    I am posting this message as a warning to all freelancers who are offered work by him, or anyone else for that matter. Always request a downpayment on a project before you start.

    Please feel free to post your comments.

  2. #2
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    This might be a good place to get a discussion going on how we can protect ourselves from this type of thing. Any ideas?
    We haven't had any real problems, so far, but we've discussed ideas like a javascript time bomb that 'expires' a site after 60 days. If you are doing all of the groundwork for the client including FTPing the finished product to his server, you can try to go back into the recalcitrant's site and replace his index.html with a "This company doesn't pay" page.
    All these ideas probably leave us open to lawsuits, I'm sure.
    In my previous business, I had a couple of occasions where customers didn't pay. I had my lawyer send them a letter and the (certified) cheques came in quickly. A lawyer will send a letter for quite a bit less than US$500; especially, if you are already a client.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply Jelve. The jobs I did for this guy weren't actually full sites, just parts of a site ( Flash content ) otherwise I would have tried to include some kind of safety measure similar to what you mentioned.

    As for protecting ourselves from this type of thing, it is something that we definitely need to do. Anyone else reading this, please include your comments/suggestions. Think about this, if this guy or anyone else doing this sort of thing assigns parts of each project out to freelancers, then in theory he/they could fake him/themself as a Flash/Web Developer and never get caught ( or do any of the real work ). There are many freelance developers out there and we must not let this sort of thing occur.

  4. #4
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    agree

    yeah sorry to here about what happened. like the animation its pretty cool.Yeah the thing about the payment. I always ask for half down then when im done ask for the other half when IM done and I have both parties sign a contract before start that way if they decide not to pay the other half. Ill have my laywer send him a letter.Never really had any problems with this method. Good post.

    legacy7
    Nomadic Designs

  5. #5
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    I got stung like this once, but I'd built in to the movie a loadmovie action that referrenced a .swf file on my site.

    If the movie has not found, it had no visible effect on the clients site. But if it was found it was loaded on to a _level1. The beauty of this was that it could be completey changed to suit the situation and the client had no idea it was there.

    In this case I just had it load a movie that unloaded whatever movie was in _level0 therefore disabling the site.

    Its sad that we have to resort to these things but, its even sadder that there are people out there with absolutely no intention of paying for the hard work you have done.

    Dan

  6. #6
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    I think that dbrf really has an idea there. You would not have to put the whole movie on your server, just setup a text file with something like &paid=OK, then if they did not pay after 30 (or 60) days, just change it to somthing else like "notOK". Make it so that if paid is not equal to OK, the movie goes to a blank frame. Ofcourse, you would not want to give them the .fla untill full payment.

  7. #7
    loves you all to bits
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    i always keep the login information at my side untill
    the bill is paid.

    did you think about contacting the provider?

    cheers eddie

  8. #8
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    I have also been stung. I am owed $1000 for doing some flash content. When the site went up on the net the company that we supplied the content to turned around and said that we hadn't done for anything and that they wouldn't pay us, even though we had the .fla's on our own hard drive. We can't afford lawyers fees so we use a dept collecting agency. Most of these collecting agencies have good rates and some even have the policy that if they don't get you any of the money owed you don't have to pay them anything.

  9. #9
    HI,

    I used to work freelance and almost every project had me producing work before seeing any kind of payement.

    In most cases it was necessary to produce a certain amount of work, before the client would even confirm that they wanted me to do the job. Competition being how it is, many freelancers are all to happy to make this same gesture.

    To protect myself and my work I always programmed small protection devices inot my Flash movies which prevented any unlawful use.

    These included time-outs, URL protection etc.

    When Flash 5 came out it provided a pefect solution, in that you can aquire the time from the users machine and see if the Movie has timed-out. There is now way around this as when the Flash movie loads it checks the users computer and most people have the right time and date set on their computer.

    These methods may sound over precatious, but in this new world people are facelss and names are meaningless. You can't afford to be naive.

    Thankfully I now have a full time job in the industry, which gives me some protection in this uncertain medium.

    Chris.

  10. #10
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    Lightbulb

    JirSames - I'm sooo sorry to hear about this - I too have had this for larger amounts of money - fortunately I was able to gain access to the server and "hold them ransom!" I noticed that this guy has an email address just waiting to be spammed by flashkitters everywhere!?? You only have to say the word!!! hehehe
    Next time ask for 50% upfront then 50% final BEFORE delivery of final files (ie fla) - goodluck!

  11. #11
    acQuired brAin
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    Hi,
    This seems to be a problem facing many designers. When I first started I freelanced for a design company that had no intention of paying me (as I was to find out after pulling some heavy all nighters on a rush project). I had made the fatal mistake of being so excited at being offered work I let my heart lead my head and didn't worry about getting a written contract. Eventually I got paid because basically they got sick of me calling and emailing them invoices and finally I turned up on the doorstep and demanded payment, not a pleasent experience!! Since then I have never worked without a written agreement stating the terms and conditions of the arrangement, signed by both parties. This not only protects yourself but also gives clients a sense of security. If push comes to shove (as it often does in the business world) you have a legally binding document. If people don't want to sign then you are better off without the work.
    There will always be bad payers out there and this can seriously effect your cashflow and profitabilty of your business, you must protect yourself as much as possible.
    I sympathise with your predictiment and hope that you resolve these payment issues.
    It's a little wonder in the world that we live in that lawyers are always the winners.

  12. #12

    How about a "Flashkit Guide to Freelancing"??

    This subject seems to come up again and again...so surely there's the demand for Flashkit to have a section of the site dedicated to all things Freelance?
    - what to do and what not to do..
    - some generic contract legal jargon speak...so we can get legally binding contracts with our clients. Perhaps these could be adjustable too, like a 'contract-generator' thang??!
    - case studies and important news on E-LAW?

    that kinda thing??

    I'm sure it would be much appreciated! Squeeze it into ya busy schedulle would you Flashkit team? please!


  13. #13
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    VKFerro Design - no$$

    I agree with the idea of creating a forum for clients who do not pay.

    I had a client about a year ago who only paid me for an initial redesign of their website, http://www.vkferro.com. I did it, and then he asked for some additional work to be done. The biggest chunk was a CD rom. Now, mind you, all of this was being wrapped up about 2 days before I was to go out of town to get married. The owner was abusive and pushy and above all, he never EVER paid for any of the extra work that I did. He even had the nerve to call me the day before my wedding and yell at me because he wanted more work done and I had the balls to be out of town getting married.

    The bottom line is that people do not respect designers unless they have some sort of clue what it is we do. We're only doing this because we can't do anything else, as far as a lot of people are concerned. Never mind the years that I've taken to develop my skills. No, that deserves no respect at all and certainly doesn't deserve payment.

    What ended up happening was that I had a phone call with Vincent, the owner, where he was so abusive I had to end the call. I told him that he did not own those files until he paid for them and I would take the site down as collateral. He must have changed the password before the phone was even back in the cradle. Now not only have they not paid me, they've trashed the design work I've done. The site looks like it has been thrashed through Frontpage in some half-attempt for them to do their own updates.

    Karma baby. Karma.

    Bad clients lead miserable lives.

    In the meantime, we could create a sort of checklist for freelancers here. "Is my perspective client on a no-pay list?" I wish there had been one started a long time ago.

    Best wishes all-
    -Alana

  14. #14
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    I agree with specialD about developing a list of no-pays. I don't know, but I think that I heard of something like that somewhere before, so maybe there is such a think already.

    Anyway, the number one problem that I see with freelancers trying to get their money is that it is hard to convince or prove to other people who are not freelancers that you are right. To them it looks 50/50; that is, they figure that chances are as good that you are making things up as that the client is no good. How can you convince someone like an ISP to give the client heat if they don't know who is right.

    The fundamental problem that is run across when people start black-tagging clients (or when clients rate freelancers!) is that people get mad and give unfair or untrue reports. All this dose is make everyone look unreliable. This leaves the lone freelancers all alone against the client's company, which often looks more reliable to other people than the freelancer.

    A possible solution to this is to have a panel or a "jury" that looks over any reports submitted. Only after they have looked over things, and things are "proven", would the data be entered into a database of no-pays. The reason that I say database though is that for a list to ever be very effective, it must contain a large number of names. If its that long though, its too long to read.

    Of couse any such organization would have to reach a certain "critical mass" in order to be resected. But once it was developed, it could be very good prevention just to tell prospective clients that you are a member. And in reality, I don't think that it could take long to get the word out, as freelancers are normally pretty well networked with other freelancers.


    Just to be clear though, I am not talking about actually "proving" your case just to think that it would help you in a court; its not good to ever get to that point. I am just talking about developing a body that has enough respect and validity that it can be effective in convincing others of your clams, as well a providing names of bad clients.


  15. #15

    yah

    Yeah, we get them to sign a contract up front, then pay 1/3rd. We show them teh final product, if they like it, we deliver it and they pay us the other 2/3rd.

  16. #16
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    Arrow theydontpay.org

    Ya know, this situation bothered me so much that right after I posted earlier, I went and bought http://www.theydontpay.org. I intend for it to be a searchable, automated database of companies and references/complaints about them by the freelancers they have hired.

    We'll see how it goes. I should have it up in the next day or so.

    Any ideas for things that should be included? I was thinking that a sample freelance contract would be helpful. Is that the sort of thing that would differ from state to state? Or is it a pretty standard agreement? What other utilities would help freelancers get better/stronger business agreements?

    -Alana

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by zacvin
    [B]I agree with specialD about developing a list of no-pays. I don't know, but I think that I heard of something like that somewhere before, so maybe there is such a think already.

  17. #17
    Retired Mod aversion's Avatar
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    luckily i've never come across this problem, our system of payment is based on 'deliverables', we get the client to sign off on sections of the project as they are completed and we bill them for each section straightaway. In practice this means that we are billing the client about once a week, usually for 2 or 3 deliverables at a time.

    one thing to remember is that you need to portray yourself as a professional. No matter how friendly or casual you think your relationship with a client is, be professional, have a contract signed with deliverables spelled out on it, and clauses for extra work caused by clients changing their minds about stuff they have approved already, it always happens and we always bill for it.

    be professional and people will remember and respect it, you can still be friendly but just remember, if they're paying you it's business.

    peace

  18. #18
    War is futile: just drink beer phooka's Avatar
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    Now that I am making my first paid job this tips seem quite interesting...

    I am planning on creating a small clip, stg like a "bomb" in each one of my swf's. It allows the surfer to navigate for let's say 5 minutes, and then it displays an obtrusive PHOOKA.NET in the screen...

    Only after paying the final swf is released, without the "bomb"...

    Is this far too machiavelic?

    BTW, Mushroom, even when I understand your feelings (it does sound sensible to me to spam this kind of ppl),

    1. Spamming is stg that shouldn't be even taken as a possibility here in FK...

    2. Even when I believe JirSames completely, some other members could simply point to an innocent company for us to start spamming them. Reasons? Jealousy, for example...

    So let's leave this kind of behaviour relegated to oblivion, I wouldn't like to see another "let's spam Jakob Nielsen" thread in the Boardroom...

    Regards
    david



    2.

  19. #19
    Ximensions.com Sul's Avatar
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    Wink

    Never trust people just like that...I would also request for a deposit or some payment in advance...mmm..and I would never never give the .fla - the source file to anyone...ofcourse unless you want to give it for educational purposes such as submitting to flashkit.

  20. #20
    Senior Member RUSHVision's Avatar
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    I like the idea about the link to "client site being held for lack of payment" .swf on your server. Very clever! You can also set up a directory on your server for client sites and projects. This allows them to view the work online, but doesn't actually put it in their hands until you get paid. You can either add a link to your site or email them the url to keep them updated on your progress.

    As far as getting payment from clients goes, I had a new one thrown at me just recently. I generally ask for half down and half upon completion as others do....my thinking that the intial amount lets you know they are serious about getting the work done, and holding the final product until payment is receiced would ensure my not getting screwed. However, what I failed to anticipate was the client failing to provide me with the informatiion that I needed to finish the project. We had a contract signed...two web sites, I was going to do them both for $4,000...so I got a check for $2,000 and then I did the initial design work that included the basic design layout, some intro animation, some music, logo creation.....basically the "shell" for the site.

    They were then going to provide me with the content...the extact verbage that was to go in each section and they had some industry-specific software (they were a mortgage and loan company) that they needed to set up and then let me know what I needed to provide that was not included in this software (it had a number of different online tools for calculating mortgage rates, etc). Well, everything went great until it came time for them to do their part. They spent several weeks telling me that they would get this to me, but I still have not seen it and the site lies unfinished and I remain unpaid. Now the way it played out, I didn't end up doing any work that I did not get paid for...I did basically half the site and I got paid half the money, but I was still counting on the income that would come from the completion of the project. As it turned out, these same people also told me that they had an additional two sites that they wanted me to do for them when I was done with these. This prevented me from lining up another job right away because it looked like I was going to be busy for a while, and I ended up getting pretty screwed in the process. You also have to understand that I had numerous personal meetings with these people and there was every indication that everything was on the up and up. You can never tell what kind of flakiness you are going to run into.

    The moral of the story....your skills are worth something...try not to sell yourself short, always look out for #1 (you), and if at all possible get all the information that you need to complete a project before you begin.

    [Edited by RUSHVision on 01-31-2001 at 12:57 PM]

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