PDA

View Full Version : Takedown for non-payment?




splitpea
Dec 3, 2010, 09:42 AM
Is it horribly unprofessional to take down a client's site if you have not received payment for it after several months and have not received any responses to your inquiries?



angelwatt
Dec 3, 2010, 09:46 AM
Depends on how the contract for the job was written up. I'd do a take down though if there's no communication from them.

notjustjay
Dec 3, 2010, 10:24 AM
I'd certainly give them a warning first, and try to figure out if there's something in your communications channels that are getting crossed (e.g. they're actually not ignoring you, but failing to receive your emails).

I was once with a webhost that summarily shut down our website one day for no apparent reason. I had paid up for the year, the account was in good standing, the site had no questionable content, yet one day it just disappeared. My attempts to email or online-chat with the company reps were apparently ignored. I was starting to get advice from my friends to contact a lawyer. To this day I have no idea why they shut us down.

Not being able to get a response, I made a new hosting account with another provider, recreated our website as best I could, and have never looked back. As a plus, the new host is cheaper, offers more features, and has way better customer support.

I sent the old host an angry "I'm leaving and never coming back, so cancel my account, you can even keep the damn money" email. But they apparently never even got that, because the following year I began receiving "payment due" notices for the old plan! I admit to being a little "upset" in my reply to those emails too. :rolleyes: THAT one they apparently got.

Consultant
Dec 3, 2010, 11:20 AM
Sometimes email goes into spam. Try alternative methods of contact to make sure?

ChicoWeb
Dec 3, 2010, 11:41 AM
I've done it both ways. If I like them and know them, I'll call, email, snail mail... If they're just deciding to not pay you, I would suspend their account. They'll figure that one out pretty fast and call you. I will say something like, "Oh I'm sorry, our automated software suspends all accounts that are 60 days past due. If you have your credit card handy, I can take care of that right now and you get you back up and on your way"

splitpea
Dec 3, 2010, 11:50 AM
Oh, it wasn't just email. They weren't answering their phones. I finally got a response (called a cellphone), and they're going out of business, and claim to be unable to pay in full. We do have a contract that specifies payment terms -- and that the IP remains mine until they pay -- and they are significantly overdue.

The site is hosted on their own server, though, not mine. But I'm the only one who has admin permissions in the CMS, so I could either delete the files and clear out the DB, or put the thing into maintenance mode, and they'd be without the site until they could figure out how to restore from backup or go into the database and re-enable it.

ZaSheR
Dec 3, 2010, 11:53 AM
I own several different websites which are hosted at multiple hosts.

Every now and then I forget to renew my account automatically or a credit card on file expires and my account which affects my website will be suspended...you better believe I know when I do a weekly check of my sites to see it's not running I call the host and ensure payment is arranged.

IMO: If you take down their page and replace it with a Account Suspended Contact Us immediately page they will pay their bill or have already decided the website is not worth the monthly payment and therefore you shouldn't be bogging down you bandwidth with their free site.

Good luck,
Eric

ChicoWeb
Dec 3, 2010, 12:32 PM
That's tough. So you made their site live without final payment? To combat that in the future, I wouldn't turn it over to them to to put on their servers until final payment, but it sounds like that ship has sailed.

If they're going out of business, there is nothing you can really do. That blows. I wish I could give you some better advice, but you're in a pretty tough spot. I'm not sure even clearing out their stuff would matter to them. Hopefully, you're contract will be apart of the bankruptcy and liquidation of assets. You may get 25 cents on the dollar, but it's better then a swift kick in the nuts. IMHO, if that is the case, you may want to leave it up so the bankruptcy shows they have a completed product by you to better your position. I'm no lawyer, but it's probably what I would do.

notjustjay
Dec 3, 2010, 02:16 PM
I would either leave it alone (if the site traffic isn't costing you anything) or put it into maintenance mode. Non-payment due to bankruptcy is different from simply ignoring the bill, and while it sucks to be the guy left holding the bag, your attitude toward them should be different.

chaos86
Dec 3, 2010, 04:37 PM
A few years ago, after getting screwed out of about $2000 by a client who got their site then changed the FTP password and stopped emailing me, I started putting a little insurance policy in every site I built. I wrote a little javascript that checks my server for a bit of data, and if I set that "killbit" on my server, the script would display a nicely designed pop up message over the client's site which basically says "the client didn't pay, but look how great the site looks, it was designed by me". I never had to use it, but always secretly wanted to. The best part is that it would be easily circumvented by any old programmer the client hired to get rid of it, but as soon as that new programmer saw what they were getting rid of, they'd probably drop the client themselves, or at least raise the price and demand payment up front.

Consultant
Dec 3, 2010, 04:43 PM
A few years ago, after getting screwed out of about $2000 by a client who got their site then changed the FTP password and stopped emailing me, I started putting a little insurance policy in every site I built. I wrote a little javascript that checks my server for a bit of data, and if I set that "killbit" on my server, the script would display a nicely designed pop up message over the client's site which basically says "the client didn't pay, but look how great the site looks, it was designed by me". I never had to use it, but always secretly wanted to. The best part is that it would be easily circumvented by any old programmer the client hired to get rid of it, but as soon as that new programmer saw what they were getting rid of, they'd probably drop the client themselves, or at least raise the price and demand payment up front.

LOL. Good idea.

Personally I make sure the contract is clear.

x amount paid as retainer to start project.
x amount paid when project is complete. Project won't be delivered without ful payment.

Cabbit
Dec 5, 2010, 03:35 PM
Take the site down, if there going bankrupt(No surprise if they never pay anyone) then they may just open up "companyname_2 ltd" and try to use your work for that as well all without paying a penny.

splitpea
Dec 5, 2010, 03:43 PM
That's tough. So you made their site live without final payment? To combat that in the future, I wouldn't turn it over to them to to put on their servers until final payment, but it sounds like that ship has sailed.

Long story short, the site needed some server features that my host couldn't provide. I do retain copyright until payment is received, so worst case scenario I suppose a DMCA notice would be within my rights.

In any case, it's technically the client's client whose server the site is on (and they apparently didn't pay either, which is one of the reasons my client is going bankrupt -- [and :mad: that should NOT have to be my problem]). The site isn't technically live (we never applied the finishing touches or disabled the development modules)... And they haven't changed any of the passwords, so I do still have access to both server and CMS.

The touchiest thing about disabling the site would be that it belongs to the client's client. At the same time, the IP is still mine, the site isn't live yet (they aren't making money off it), and the client's client reportedly didn't pay either, so....

Anyway, I'll be contacting them tomorrow to get some more details.

torndownunit
Dec 23, 2011, 05:49 AM
This is an old post, but I found it doing research.

I am in a situation where a client hasn't paid the final payment. Due to this experience, I have revised my contract so that a site won't go live until final payment is paid.

A contract was signed by them with a payment clause stating:

The Developer reserves the right to remove all web content from the Internet if payment is not made within thirty (30) days after delivery of our completion notification.

As the 30 days approached they were sent several emails reminding them of the clause, which they acknowledged receiving. 30 days has passed and I am now looking at disabling the site today.

I hate to have to do this though. I have never has to actually enforce this clause. I am guess I am looking for reassurance that I am taking the right steps lol.

Thanks

thewitt
Dec 23, 2011, 06:26 AM
Take it down for non payment. We do it all the time. Put up a nicely worded "Account is suspended" notice.

They will pay.

splitpea
Dec 23, 2011, 10:07 AM
Unlike me, you're perfectly within your rights to take down the site, as that's explicitly specified in your contract. If you've given them ample warnings, it's fair for you to do it; and it's not like you're destroying anything -- you can restore it with a click or two once you receive payment.

torndownunit
Dec 23, 2011, 10:09 AM
Unlike me, you're perfectly within your rights to take down the site, as that's explicitly specified in your contract. If you've given them ample warnings, it's fair for you to do it; and it's not like you're destroying anything -- you can restore it with a click or two once you receive payment.


Yes, it's a Wordpress site so I can just put it in maintanence mode and disable their user on it.

I am still redoing my contract for the new year to make any wording on these matters even clearer though. So far I have been lucky with stuff like this stuff.