I was working for a small start-up who needed quite a huge web app. They sent me pretty detailed specs, we agreed on a price and I thought this would be an easy job. However, after I had already put in 5 days of work:
Client: Pause everything you’re doing. We have another business idea and we have to be fast on this one. We need a simple static website, a logo and business cards.
Me: It’s almost Christmas. I don’t work over the holidays and it takes time to make it look good. Also, I’m a coder, not an experienced designer.
Client: Please, the first version does not have to be perfect, just put something online before New Year’s. We really need it now or we can forget about it altogether.
I reluctantly agreed, so they sent me a really bad PowerPoint file with their logo idea. I worked over Christmas to make it look better, including various unnerving feedback loops:
Client: We need part of it to be red. That’s an eye-catcher!
Me: But red does not work at all with the other colors!
Client: Then make it work!
I prepared the website and the business cards. It was not pretty but it was ok for potential customers to get some first information. We decided to go live with it and a few days after New Year/s I sent the invoice for the second project.
Client: No, we’re not paying you that much. You did not spend as much time on the project as you said.
Me: Yes I did. I use a time-tracking app to measure the exact amount of minutes I spend on projects.
Client: That’s not possible. Also, everything you made is ugly and we cannot use it! We have to start all over again, please put the website in maintenance mode. Also, we did most of the design work ourselves.
At this point I switched into get-rid-of-this-client mode, so making him go away is worth more to me than getting paid the full amount.
Me: Okay then. How much are you willing to pay me?
Client: We’ll pay you [20% less than I charged].
Me: Okay, but this will have been the last time I work for you. Also, I have already worked 5 days on project A, what do you consider an appropriate charge for that?
They completely ignored this remark and a few days later I got this email from them:
Client: Thank you for all your hard work, we really appreciate all you have done for us and we found this whole experience of working with you very pleasant. We hope that we can do business with you again some time.
Not sure if this was deliberate irony on their side. They never paid me for the 5 days on project A, and now – two months later – their project B website is still in maintenance mode. However they have put up a new logo and while it looks DIFFERENT than the one I made, I can’t say it looks BETTER…