I’m a freelance web developer. I design and build sites from start to finish, but occasionally I get a client that has an existing site that needs changes.
One such client had been using an overseas developer to build a unique site. The client didn’t think they were getting their money’s worth, and a year into the project decided their overseas developer wasn’t doing anything so they sacked them and came to me. They gave me a huge sob story about being ripped off, so I decided I’d try to help them out.
I looked at their site, and pretty much everything they said their developer hadn’t done, was actually in there. He’d built it in quite a unique way, but it was all there.
Client: I need this site up and running as quickly as possible so I can start making revenue.
Me: Okay. Here is a list of immediate action items that will make the site good to go. I’ll do these, and once you send me some content I’ll upload it and you’ll have a functioning site. Deal?
Within a few days, I’d done all the agreed items except the content uploads. She promised to have the content to me by the end of the end.
End of the week, nothing.
Me: Hey, just a reminder that I’m waiting for content. I can’t do anything until you send me some.
Client: Right, sorry, I’ll get that to you.
Another week went by, nothing.
Then I started to get some odd emails.
Client: We’re really getting traction on social media now. Why haven’t you done any work? Why isn’t the site live?
Me: I have done all the work we agreed on. I’m just waiting on the content you promised. That’s all that’s left to do.
More weird emails followed, asking for extra work to be done to the site (Facebook Pixel integration, design changes we hadn’t previously discussed, modified landing page, new forms, etc), none of which was on our agreed brief. In between other clients, I did all the extra work and reminded her again that I was still waiting on content. Given that more than a month had gone by, I sent through an invoice for work done to date.
Suddenly I started getting ranting, abusive calls.
Client: Why isn’t the site live? You haven’t done anything. Why have you not done anything?
Me: I’ve done all the items we agreed on initially, except for the content, and I’ve also done all this extra work you asked me to do that wasn’t on our initial brief. Everything is ready to go. All it’s waiting on is the content you promised a month ago.
Client: I don’t understand why you’ve sent an invoice when nothing is done. How dare you? I’m not paying a cent until the site is up and running.
Days go by, still no content, and I continue to get abuse, so I told her I couldn’t work with her anymore. I fired my client, fully expecting not to get paid.
What I didn’t expect, though, was a series of legal letters of demand, telling me to pay her $40,000 in costs and lost earnings. Needless to say, I got my lawyer to handle it, I never got paid, and I ended up out of pocket for trying to help someone out of a jam.