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Old Feb 3, 2007, 12:57 PM   #1
hdsalinas
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Problem with difficult client

Hi

I was contacted by a company to redesign their 10 page corporate profile there letterhead/business card/envelope among other small things.

I sent them an estimate mainly for the corporate profile and charged a nominal fee for the other "smaller" projects since I wanted to make sure I got the job (thinking on a long term relationship).

After weeks of work things got complicated. The person who contacted me and was incharge of marketing left the company and all the projects got shuffle to different departments.

Although they really like the redesign I made of their corporate profile (which was the most profitable project), they say that the project got cancelled. I am still trying to get paid for the work I did since it was basically finished. The person who retook the project claims that her understanding was that I would only get paid if the redesign was approved by upper management This was never part of the deal I was always told that they urgently needed a new design.

The letterhead combo has been a nightmare too. I have sent them over 12 different options and they haven't liked any. They just ask me for a new options but never give me any feed back of what they really want. This project is getting less attrative for me since so far I am not getting paid for the profile and Is taking considerably more time from me that I originally intended.

I have never had so many problem with a client before. Any advise on what would be best way to get out of this project?

I am very frustrated.
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 01:10 PM   #2
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You say you gave them an estimate. Did you get as far as agreeing/signing a contract with them?
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 01:16 PM   #3
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I sent them an estimate and they sent me an email stating that it was approved.

No contract was signed.
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 01:17 PM   #4
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At this point, if you don't have anything in writing, it may be difficult. It's exactly this type of situation that drove home my need to charge a retainer/deposti to start work.

I'd send bills to corporate. If you don't get any satisfaction, if you have a small claims court option, pursue that avenue
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 01:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdsalinas View Post
I sent them an estimate and they sent me an email stating that it was approved.

No contract was signed.
Email approval to proceed on the estimated price constitutes a legal contract. Unless they are willing to argue in court that the email was forged.
A signature and a written agreement is NOT required to make a binding contract, it just makes it much easier to enforce it later.

You will have to convince a small claims judge that in the context of the ongoing working relationship with the client, and the accepted method of communication (email) and the urgency of the job (surely they said at some point they would like it done ASAP) that the Email approval was reasonable grounds for a contract for services as estimated to be proceeded with. The fact that their personnel left, or they now claim after the fact that the person did not have authority to purchase, is not your problem. The staff member at that time represented on behalf of the company that they had both the authority and the approval to contract the work. And they came to you, right? And all along the person you were dealing with said that they would be getting the quotes and contacting for the work, right? At no time were you told that this person did not have purchasing authority, right?
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 01:32 PM   #6
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The e-mail should count as an agreement. Keep bugging them and possibly file in small claims.
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 01:35 PM   #7
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Yeah - superficially attractive, goes down easy, but ultimately has no nutritional value whatsoever. Wait...hang on a moment...
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Old Feb 3, 2007, 03:06 PM   #8
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CanadaRAM, that is exactly what happened. The other party is trying to contact the person contacted me and sent me the approval email (not sure if she was fired or just left by herself).

I am outside the US so legal stuff is way different here. I dont want to make a big deal out of it. I just want to let them know that since they are not happy with the design line that I have offered them, it may be better to halt any further work and let them seek someone else.
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Old Feb 4, 2007, 11:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdsalinas View Post
CanadaRAM, that is exactly what happened. The other party is trying to contact the person contacted me and sent me the approval email (not sure if she was fired or just left by herself).

I am outside the US so legal stuff is way different here. I dont want to make a big deal out of it. I just want to let them know that since they are not happy with the design line that I have offered them, it may be better to halt any further work and let them seek someone else.
This may seem obvious but have you sent them a properly formatted invoice yet? If you haven't do one up as well as a cover letter with an explicit "pay by" date (usually at least 30 days) and inform them that if the invoice is not paid in full by that date you will put all work on hold.

Send it to both your main contact as well as accounts payable, it's been my experience that once the accountants are involved you'll either get paid, or at the least get the ball rolling in that direction as they hate having out standing invoices.
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Old Feb 4, 2007, 11:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdsalinas View Post
Hi

I was contacted by a company to redesign their 10 page corporate profile there letterhead/business card/envelope among other small things.

I sent them an estimate mainly for the corporate profile and charged a nominal fee for the other "smaller" projects since I wanted to make sure I got the job (thinking on a long term relationship).

After weeks of work things got complicated. The person who contacted me and was incharge of marketing left the company and all the projects got shuffle to different departments.

Although they really like the redesign I made of their corporate profile (which was the most profitable project), they say that the project got cancelled. I am still trying to get paid for the work I did since it was basically finished. The person who retook the project claims that her understanding was that I would only get paid if the redesign was approved by upper management This was never part of the deal I was always told that they urgently needed a new design.

The letterhead combo has been a nightmare too. I have sent them over 12 different options and they haven't liked any. They just ask me for a new options but never give me any feed back of what they really want. This project is getting less attrative for me since so far I am not getting paid for the profile and Is taking considerably more time from me that I originally intended.

I have never had so many problem with a client before. Any advise on what would be best way to get out of this project?

I am very frustrated.
it's unfortunate HD, but if you haven't been paid for any work, I would tell them you are doing another thing unless you get paid for the original profile, which was basically done. if not, they can find someone else. it might suck to do that, but there is one rule you must follow at all times (and as difficult as it may be):

you don't work for free. value your time. i look back and I had 1 situation like yours and then i said '***** that'. i'm worth more than that and not worth being taken advantage of. since then, no issues with clients. i explain up front what my fees and payment schedule is like. clients like that.

hope it works out for you. i know what it's like worrying about getting future business, but is future business worth anything if you're not being paid now? maybe only if it's guaranteed.

cheers,
keebler
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Old Feb 4, 2007, 05:02 PM   #11
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Honestly, coming from someone whos had to deal with this.

Cut your losses and run and chalk this up as a learning experiance. I've been there, done this, and honestly it's just going to take up some much more of your time and stress then it's worth. I presume you got a 50% deposit.

You can spent another 10 hours debating with them and trying to get paid, or you can use those 10 hours on another project.

For the future make sure you outline your requirements. An email is not a contract. They must sign a document in INK.

All I can say from someone who has been there before, it's not worth your time.
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Old Feb 4, 2007, 05:14 PM   #12
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Send them a demand letter for payment.

Then walk away, file in small claims court for the balance of the payment.

As a small business, their internal problems are not yours.

It is normal for things to change with businesses, projects get canceled, and still be stuck with a bill for work done.
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