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Thread: How much crap from a Client who's paying you almost nothing are you wiling to take!!

  1. #1
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    Ok here's the deal. I need some serious feedback and help with this one. I have a client right now, who really does not understand what is involved in creating a completly database driven website. Basically he doesn't know that much when it comes to anything. For the past 2 or 3 weeks, I've been working on a project for him - amoung others. The first specification sheet he sent over was extremly vague and not well written, basically he was describing a site which would not take that long to create. Then as the weeks have rolled on - Every couple of days he requests that more and more features be added and changes be made. Some how he manipulates that orginal document and comes to the conclusion that that feature was somehow in that document - which I assure you 95% of them where not. Also changes to what they think the layout should look like and more and more variables describing their product and/or some of the member features - have to be entered into the database so they can edit/update/add whatever. The site is just never ending changes. He doesn't realize that everytime he just adds 10 more variables to describe whatever - that someone (I) have to go into the database create 10 new columns and completly redo the input forms each time. It's just getting ridiculous. Am I being taken advantage of?

    The next question is - How much would you charge for this site. I'll try to give you some of the major details but I can't really list them all.

    Background: It's for a Company called RDS Corporation in Japan. They are an international importer/exporter of high end cars. Because they are international everything basically is broken up into 10 different Country based area's in the world.

    The first system is an Inventory Management System for their Cars in Stock. This includes just about everything you can think of that an Inventory management system would include. Including about 30-40 different variables describing the individual cars, stuff like Power Windows, Wheel Type, Engine Type, Make, Model, etc etc - that list goes on forever. Further Their are 10 different countries and different prices for each country. All of this is updateable at any time - well their's alot more then that. Now for the user side - All users have to register, After they register their information is sent to a tempory table where the owner can appove or disapprove the new user after contacting him. He can then set different levels at which the User has access - as well as only allowing him/her to see different countries Prices and Cars for that Country. After he sets these items the New User is transfered to the Main user database table, after which he can use his login and password. And theirs still a ton more to that.

    I have no idea how I got stuck in this project - but everything that is listed above is completed. The guy even after workin me to death on this one - can't even pay my last invoice I sent. I really screwed up on this one - The price tag for all of this was at 1000$ USD. He's payed 600$ so far. Should I give up on this one - tell him to f$^% off. I can't give you a link to the site - mostly because the client doesn't want anyone else to see it until it's done. That and I'd have to give you about 2 passwords before you would be able to do anything anyways. Here are some screen shots. - You can decide: -And did I mention all of the image upload/resize and graphic's processing. ahhhhhhh. These screen shots are about a week old. - I'll put up the real link soon, maybe after things with the client fall through.



    [Edited by snowdude on 08-22-2001 at 06:16 PM]

  2. #2
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    Do you have a contract with him? If you do, it should have spelled out IN DETAIL what was to be provided for the $$$. Also, it should have a specified number of revisions (for the graphics) included, and any other changes they want made are on a $$/hour fee. If none of this is in the contract, or (heaven forbid!) you don't have one, then you are stuck with this client and need to take it as a "live and learn" painful experience.
    If you do have a contract, spell it out to him. Explain (nicely) that all his changes cost you time, and your time is money. Take the hardball route.
    If he is already late on payments DON'T deliver the final product until payment in full is made. If you do, why would he ever finish paying you? If he totally defaults on the payments you could always threaten to send it to a collections agency. They collect the outstanding for a portion of it. Better to lose 10-30% than the whole thing.

    Live and Learn

    <edit> I just re-read your post, and WOW you are cheap for a back-end site. I'm a front-end person and at my last job we had to pay our contracted back-end maintenance about $500 for EACH change to our DB code. </edit>
    [Edited by kdalby on 08-22-2001 at 06:33 PM]

  3. #3
    cartoon serial killer... crazybonkers's Avatar
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    I don’t know if this will help but..

    I would walk, the amount of work you appear to have to do is extreme for the money you are receiving.

    At present I am in talks with a company who runs numerous uk football websites. He asked me for a proposal for a flash football game, 5 levels, character animation, sound Fx, and additional things. I did this and met them, to talk in detail about their requirements.

    I gave them a quote of £9000 this is because of the amount of character animation involved.

    While I was waiting I went ahead and started designing the game which they could follow as it develops.

    2 months later the game is going well and they phone me to tell me so.

    Unfortunately they can not get the budget. But they was wondering if I would be willing to complete the game and allow them to use the game on all

    their sites, they have around 16 I believe.

    I asked if they thought my budget was too high, they said No, no its just that we cant get it.

    In return they would increase my traffic by the link I place with the game…they say they get 2million hits a year…..What a joke!

    I told him that nothing is ruled out, but have they got any financial incentive for me.

    Three weeks on I am about to return a call they made to me with an offer.

    It seems that large companies use their size to make you believe they will look after you.

    While I wait i Let them still see what they have not…the link..

    don’t do anymore work on it and when he phones tell him. You need more money for the changes made.

    If the deals off!, complete it, change the name and use it as an example of your work. This way it could generate more money rather than being trashed, and it will piss them off and thats always good for a laugh.

    Hope this helps


    crazybonkers
    [Edited by crazybonkers on 08-22-2001 at 06:55 PM]

  4. #4
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    Its common for comapanies to be late, more than 90 days, on payment or not to pay vendors at all... That's even if you have contract stating that the payment is schedule is X amount of days. The bigger the company the worse they typically are.

    For $1000 he has gotton a deal- DB Developement averages at $150 per hr and its online and it looks as if it has a Flash Front End. I doubt seriously that you did all that in 10 hrs?

    Did you save a hardcopy of the original spec? If you did and you don't have a written spec then you you can walk now and collect your cash if you've done everything on his spec- although it may be hard to collect.

    You should have had a written contract with this guy that includes the Spec as an exhibit and how much money he will pay if you do more than that on a per hr basis. He can alter his copy as much as he wants as long as you have your original copy it won't stick. If you didn't have one then for your next client write one and save it.

    If you want you can walk now for non-payment- he has breache dthe contract.

    I would also ask for a large deposit or run a credit check on the company before doing any work.

  5. #5
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    Hi,

    The question is whether you really could do with this grief at all (even if you need the money or not), and if you have really spelt out to him exactly what is involved with each of the database changes and the time it actually takes you, then the answer has to be enough is enough and tell him to take his business elsewhere!

    As much as I love web design, you have to recognise that there are some out there who don't understand the game we are in, that there are some that will take advantage of you, and to retain your sanity and self-respect, you have to get shot of guys like this!

    Hope this helps, JJed

  6. #6
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    Thank you both for your comments. I unfortunatly do not have any type of contract which spells out anything. This project is just completly wrong in that aspect. I'm am working as almost the 3rd or 4th person down the line. Basically RDS went to this company in Japan - who then outsourced everything, mainly to myself. A couple of the basic graphics are stock RDS graphics done by someone else - but I've had to make about 1000 changes and modifications to them, as well as make everything fit togehter. Also all page layouts where done by myself.

    -Anyways, the thing I can stick them with almost blackmail with. Is the fact that their are about 30-40 server side scripts that control all the dynamic content. Also know one else would know how to set up the database to work with the scripts (Well they could if I give everything to them in a nice neat package they can just install). But they guy somehow thinks that as soon as I give him the source code he'll just be able to transfer the files to his server and everything will run exactly as it will on the working example on a server controlled by myself. Ha ha. I'm thinking about charging him oh around 200$ per hour for all the installation requirements. That may be able to make up for some of the stuff. I mean their is no contract so I can be as crappy to him as he has been to me about this whole thing. It's just going to lead to a big fight and no one is going to get anything. This project has no future. And the biggest loser is going to be the RDS corporation because they put their trust in this crappy Japan company - who's basically just screwing them. The Company in Japan that RDS went to - could be charging them 25,000$ or so for the site - while only paying me 1000$ - who knows. ahhhhhh. Basically RDS is going to be the most hurt out of all of this.

    I guess it just goes to show that a Contract is a must - I won't make that mistake again.

    -As an aside - he keeps threatening to use Russian and Indian programmers, and claims they can complete the project better then me for a fraction of the price. Anybody know anything about this. Sorta crappy cause I'm already charging him penny's for the site.

  7. #7
    supervillain gerbick's Avatar
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    lawyer...

    situations as such are the real reason I keep a lawyer on retainer - helps that he is a good friend too.

    anyway, if you create a contract, make sure that it details out what is considered development, continued development, and the agreements thereof. basically, when you brainstorm, and give a proof of concept, and they sign off it as a direction (I understand change of colours, layout changes, what not... that's to be expected) to a milestone. that milestone should be a guage of how much time you will invest into the project, but also how much time will be necessary if any other changes are to happen - some clients become designers themselves, and want radical changes made. when that happens, point to the contract. if they want a radical change, from the proof of concept they signed off, it will cost X amount of dollars. you have to word your contract up as such. and make sure they understand it. I used to have my contract (I do programming mostly) online, but no longer. It is a tight contract - got me a guaranteed 2 year contract, but I guarantee only my work per milestone, not the time I will be with that company... go figure.

    I will warn you of one thing though. You have to stick to your own contract as well. I (recently) broke my contract (somewhat) due to the fact that the development staff found themselves short handed, and I pitched in. I essentially broke my own contract by assisting on another part of the milestones not given to me, did not get any extra money for that... but, I knew it would have interferred with my part... so, I did it. Sorta complained, but I had to realize that by breaking my own contract, I had no room to complain. That was a light infraction. By continuing to slave over the site as you have, you have essentially given the upper-hand to the client - btw, you do awesome work.

    so, take a look over your contract. if you have a guarantee on the work, and it seems like you are doing work above and beyond (not by what you think, but what your contract states) then you need to enforce it. If your contract guarantees this project, despite personal costs, you may have to eat this one, and tighten your contract (I truly hope this is not the case)... but if you have no guarantees, chalk this one up to experience, do some research on some contracts, and make sure that from hereon have your contracts worded up a bit stronger than this one seems to be.

    it's a messed up world, freelance/contract work, and you sometimes have to really watch your butt due to people that not only don't know a thing about the industry, but also the processes involved in making the finalized product. I would swear that some people think that it is as easy to get what is in their head onto the canvas/website/application as it is to type a document. Due to them not having the time (gotta love the term, "busy managers"... almost an oxymoron in most situations/companies) these "busy managers" do not have the time to invest in perfecting their skills in the "must-be-easy-as-MS Word" products for creating web - like Flash, Dreamweaver, HTML, ActionScripting, what not as they understand MS Office... and scary thing. They honestly believe that.*

    *note: not ALL managers are like that...

    Anyway, I wish you the best... heck, I may have to get you do my website for me... again, great looking work. For real


  8. #8
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    That site looks and sounds like it is kicks ass. $1000 is not nearly enough for the time and pain you are putting into it. I would say at least $10,000 next time for something like that.

    You definitely got screwed and taken advantage of. It happens to everyone at least once. I've been screwed many times. You either need to finish this site up or tell this guy to piss off. You need to have some sort of closure. If you don't, then you will be frustrated forever.

    Looks like everyone has given you enough advice on what to do in the future. My main advice to you is get out of this thing as fast as possible.

    -scott
    http://www.scottmanning.com

  9. #9
    Flashkit Witch Azaraelle's Avatar
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    that is a kickass site and definitely worth more than what you are being paid for it. Personally I put a clause in the contract that gives the client two weeks to make changes once the original site has been completed.

  10. #10
    Former Employee of Satan Napalm's Avatar
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    You got screwed on this one. Unfortunately it happens. Complete the project as quickly as possible.

    They will most likely come back for updates etc, because they got a lot for very little.

    Make sure you have a decent contract by that time. Things like clients having deadlines to deliver content, and a penalty clause for late delivery of content, as well as a fixed hourly rate for changes to the initial spec.

    Furthermore don't talk to the people at all - take everything to e-mail, especially after meetings send them a mail stating, "this is what has been decided in the meeting, please confirm that it is also your understanding"

    Don't burn bridges, if the client is happy he'll come back.
    Then you can nail the b@st@rds!
    [Edited by Napalm on 08-23-2001 at 05:07 AM]

  11. #11
    cartoon serial killer... crazybonkers's Avatar
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    Then you can nail the b@st@rds!

    i like this line the best. you hold him...i'll nail him. LOL

    crazybonkers

  12. #12
    tell me, is this sellable..... OddDog's Avatar
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    I think you should get the job finnished, ignoring what ever new specs they try to force you to accept. Do not thionk that the final client is not being charged more. Simply the middle man is taking the extra money and running.

    Hard luck mate.

    Finish the job as you understand the specs given to you.

    No contract. Also means they cannot come after you.

    I hate unprofessional clients.


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