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Thread: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

  1. #1
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    I was contracted to do a job, make a specialized web application. people sign up, are mailed a confirmation/activation link, and can then view certain records. Job took about 25 hours of programming and DB design. They contacted me in august, had hosting problems, and finally got me access to their server in mid December. I finished the job about two weeks ago and asked for payment. For two weeks they ignored my request by "forwarding" my request to the proper department. Now they say they can issue my check "sometime in the next 30 days".

    Oh, and they want me to add another feature to the application I've already written.

    I know there are a few freelancers here. How have you handled situations like this?
    Suck it up cupcake.

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  3. #2
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    I bill net 15 days, and I won't touch code for revisions until I get full payment.

    Plus with the BS you're getting I'd demand 50% up front for revisions.

  4. #3
    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    I've been lucky. In my two primary side gigs, the people I'm working with are people I've known a long time and they're the same people who write the checks. No issues.

    You said "contracted to do a job" -- was there a contract? Did they ever sign anything at all with respect to typical issues like copyright, delivery, payment expectations etc.? I'm just trying to think ahead to your options if they try to stiff you. Having said that, a lot of companies use net-30 as a default method of Accounts Payable if there's nothing stating otherwise.

    Ditto on what WOY said -- gotta get paid for the original job before you talk updates.
    Not all who wander are lost

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    I've done work for them before, and I've known their webmaster for about 15 years. This was all verbal, and last time I was paid pretty quick. But that was three years ago. The bad thing for me is this was a big check ($2500) and I really need the money. I'm considering demanding my code back, but I don't want to burn any bridges.

    They are a very prominent business in my community, and can really get me a lot of business. I'm rather conflicted right now.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  6. #5
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Most of the freelance work I do has always been for an acquaintance. I never had to get into too much in to knowledge about accounting procedures and terms. What is Net 15 or Net 30?
    Suck it up cupcake.

  7. #6
    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    What is Net 15 or Net 30?
    Full payment is due in 15 days (Net 15) or 30 days (Net 30). Usually a good idea to state/show this upfront and have an agreement signed.
    Small market fan... always hoping, but never expecting.

  8. #7
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    got it. Because this was for a friend, i never took that into consideration. the scope of the job should have made me re-think that part of it. I really should take a few business courses. The web stuff I can handle ok. dealing with getting paid, I'm not so good at.

    That and I need to stop doing jobs for .org's. They tend to not pay as well.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  9. #8
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    I'll concur with what others have said. On my consulting work, I'm now asking for a down payment (I just sent a client an invoice for $500 down on a proposed job that could go up to $1800).

    Another job I had last year, we started with a down payment and worked it off. Keep in mind what you need for the little quick calls. I made clear to the client (in writing) that those calls would be subject to a nominal minimum, plus travel costs would be included when I had to go to their site.

    I just dropped a client late last year who abused that. I did some consulting for them 15 years ago or so, getting them out of a $15,000 lawsuit which didn't take a lot of time - I think my whole consulting fee was about $250 (it was very simple to make these balance due bills go away). He begged me to make my invoice $500 and say I was giving him a half price discount because his boss would have a fit over my invoice. I've told him over the years, if you call me for advice, I have to charge you - it's how I make my living and other folks pay me for my expertise. Last year, he called about some technically aspect of shipping and I took about 15-20 minutes walking him through the freight nomenclature, etc - it was going to save him thousands of dollars on orders going to WalMart - I told had to send him a bill, as I had advised him before. I got a voicemail from him about how upset his boss was and that the boss thought after 20 years of doing business, I could do this favor for them. A $45 bill to a $20M+ company and they're smacking me for helping them save some money. I didn't need that headache anymore for such a paltry sum.

    It's always best though to get some advance so you're not out of pocket.

    Likewise, 30 days are very common terms and, frankly, in some cases, you're lucky to get that. One of the biggest changes I've seen since I've been in business (1979), is the change in payment terms. Some are 45-60 days. I'm fortunate to have a couple of my retainer accounts place me on "net upon receipt" terms instead of their usual 45 days.

    Good luck.
    “In the same way that a baseball season never really begins, it never really ends either.” - Lonnie Wheeler, "Bleachers, A Summer in Wrigley Field"

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  10. #9
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Redsmetz, thanks for the info. I really need to start putting all my terms in writing. Oral agreements while binding in Texas are vague, especially when you think you have an understanding but rally don't.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  11. #10
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    Redsmetz, thanks for the info. I really need to start putting all my terms in writing. Oral agreements while binding in Texas are vague, especially when you think you have an understanding but rally don't.
    In a preceeding with the old Interstate Commerce Commission some years ago, I quoted Samuel Goldwyn who once said "An oral contract isn't worth the paper it is written on". Now, the truth is, as I understand it, that's not necessarily the case in the law (I'm not a lawyer), it's always best to put it in writing.

    It's something I'm always advising clients with their transportation agreements. I've told several sales reps for trucking companies when they indicated they'd only use provisions in their Rules tariffs in extreme situations, I'd tell them then get rid of the item if they weren't going to use it (or exempt my clients from its provisions). In writing, is always best.

    And I'd recommend, if you can afford it, to have a lawyer look over your terms and agreements.
    “In the same way that a baseball season never really begins, it never really ends either.” - Lonnie Wheeler, "Bleachers, A Summer in Wrigley Field"

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  12. #11
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Is there a site ( I suppose there is) that has standard contracts for services rendered? I'm thinking I need to step up the professional agreement aspect of my dealings with clients. I don't want anything to overwhelming, just something that protects me and states what I'm doing, and spells out payment terms.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  13. #12
    High five! nate's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    Is there a site ( I suppose there is) that has standard contracts for services rendered? I'm thinking I need to step up the professional agreement aspect of my dealings with clients. I don't want anything to overwhelming, just something that protects me and states what I'm doing, and spells out payment terms.
    I just write "Net 15 days" on my invoices.

    In my line of work, I usually get sent some hardware so I typically keep it until I get paid. I really don't care about their policies not paying for "x days"; that's total crap. They needed their project by the day they said they needed it, I delivered, pay me.
    "Bring on Rod Stupid!"

  14. #13
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Quote Originally Posted by nate View Post
    I just write "Net 15 days" on my invoices.

    In my line of work, I usually get sent some hardware so I typically keep it until I get paid. I really don't care about their policies not paying for "x days"; that's total crap. They needed their project by the day they said they needed it, I delivered, pay me.
    Yep, I always tell clients that they can't hang on their standard payment policies when they are dealing with independent contractors, that doesn't fly... it can work for a company that sits on capital and long credit line, but the independent operates in a 30 day cycle of cash in and cash out. It would be nice for the folks looking to cut costs by going to the independent to recognize that they should accelerate the payout.

    I'd even go as far as creating a system lock on any programing if the capability existed.

    But the way to avoid it all is spec out the work and have the client sign off on to, any changes after that are looked at as a CR and have to be priced to reflect that new change. That sets precedent for any future requests (which there usually are tons of) Time is money, programing and managing this stuff is hard, they should pay for it. Otherwise attempt it themselves would be my suggestion to them.

  15. #14
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Yeah, it looks like I really screwed the pooch on this one. I have no doubt I'll get paid, but now I'll do a better job making sure I get paid when I want.

    My wife suggested that I pull the project off their server until I get paid. I considered this, but I want to keep them as a client. But then she wants to be paid for the hours I ignored her while working on it.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  16. #15
    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: For web developers... clients that won't pay.

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    Yeah, it looks like I really screwed the pooch on this one. I have no doubt I'll get paid, but now I'll do a better job making sure I get paid when I want.

    My wife suggested that I pull the project off their server until I get paid. I considered this, but I want to keep them as a client. But then she wants to be paid for the hours I ignored her while working on it.
    I'd still follow up with your contact and explain that you can't have this in their standard 30 day payment window. Follow up in writing.

    The bulk of the work I do is overcharge claims recovery - we get the money back, payable to our clients and we send them our invoice for our portion (usually half) - so we're sending them an invoice for $500 with a $1000 check. Those are the ones that are galling when they get Past Due - I ask them how many other invoices they get with twice as much money included. I've moved a couple of clients to authorizing us to deposit the money and sending them their portion.

    Usually you can work with folks, but you've gotten some good input from everybody to fine tune your operation.
    “In the same way that a baseball season never really begins, it never really ends either.” - Lonnie Wheeler, "Bleachers, A Summer in Wrigley Field"

    The Baseball Emporium - Books & Things, that's Rallyonion.com

    The Baseball Bookstore

    http://tsc-sales.com/
    http://tscsales.blogspot.com/
    http://silverscreenbooks.com/


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