This was posted to our General Forum by an IT contractor asking for advice. I’ve replied there, but as he needs the advice at short notice, I though I would post it to the articles page as well, to see if anyone else has any advice.
Help Me – Call for Advice
This is a warning, and a call for advice, and a chance to rant all rolled into one convenient post.
I’ve been working directly with clients for about 2 years now. My invoices are rarely paid on time. I understand that this is common practice in the business world, but this time around one client is being really, really arsey.
I agreed to work on a weekly rate building them a web app. I told them it would take about 6 months.
When I met them, they showed me their currently live product, which was utter ****e.
I told them it wasn’t worth doing any fixing on, but agreed that I would fix it so that it worked at a reasonable speed, but nothing else.
I worked and worked, and during my time working, I was asked to carry out fixes to the old site. I said that this would push back the launch of the new site, but I was told that there would be budget by the project manager (a friend of mine, who got me the job).
Budget Gone – Help Me
Then one day I’m suddenly told that there’s no budget left (this was 6 months after I started), and that I’d have to have it live by the next week (!). We hadn’t even begun testing, but because he was a mate, and because I take pride in my work, I said I’d put it live for them at no charge.
The PM was in the total **** from the people he was working with, who are very awkward, totally clueless about building software, and hate techies because they’re been burnt by cowboys in the past.
Because the PM was a mate I agreed to do a few bug fixes, on the condition I was paid on time (15k left to pay, owed April 1st). As part of this I have a letter signed by the directors of the company saying that they owe me this money. I thought this would help me.
After constantly being promised that I was going to be paid on certain dates, I’m still owed 5.5k. Last week I found out the project manager has had a nervous breakdown. That doesn’t help me at all.
Now I’ve been called by the commercial director of the company to say that he wants me to come in for a meeting this week to finish up and sign some bits. Thing is, I got this through my PM friend, and even offered them a reduced rate.
Also, when I work with this mate of mine, we have an agreement that if any code I write doesn’t work properly, I’ll fix it after the end of the project for free, because I take pride in my work.
Now I’m pretty sure the directors of this company are going to ask me to sign something to put this in writing and say I’ll fix anything within 3 months.
I’m confident there’s no/few bugs in it, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to refuse. These people are so difficult, and I really don’t trust them.
I owe them nothing.
I’ve done what we agreed, and they haven’t paid me. This doesn’t help me at all.
Need the Product
They NEED this product live because their old version is utter ****e and is embarrassing them every day.
I have all the source code, and am not letting them have it until I’m paid.
Really, I don’t think they have a leg to stand on because I have this signed letter, and because I have their source.
The reason they’re being so arsey is because they’ve been ripped off by developers in the past.
I guess I’m asking for advice, but also providing a warning to others.
No Formal Agreement
Because the PM was a friend of mine, there was hardly any formal documentation about what we’d agreed. This seems so insane now, but in a comfort zone with a friend I’ve worked with many times, it didn’t cross my mind that it would be necessary at the time.
That’s why I’m glad I have the letter.
A warning to all others – things are done formally at organised places FOR A GOOD REASON!
I want more work out of these people because it’s something I’ve built and can add to quite comfortably, and they hate working with techies because they’re so clueless, and I want the product live because I don’t want my mate to be in the doodah. So I think I’m going to tell them that I’m doing nothing more until I see the figures on my bank account.
Any other advice from anyone?
This has been such a nightmare. Help me if you can.
I feel like my hands are so tied because I have to look out for the interests of my friend too, although I deeply suspect he’s wooling things over for both me and the client.
I’m thinking this is the last time I work with friends.
They love the product I’ve built too!
You’d really think they’d want to keep me happy after all the cr*p they’ve had in the past?
MD’s ringing me this afternoon apparently.
I feel so helpless as a one man band versus a company.
Does anyone have any advice on either how I can ensure this doesn’t happen in the future?
A friend has advised me that it’s best to have a date each month when all clients pay currently outstanding balances for what’s been done.
All of a sudden I’m missing working for an agency!
Help me with some advice.