[thelist] How would you respond to this client

Palyne Gaenir palyne at sciencehorizon.com
Tue Jul 18 12:01:23 CDT 2000

I agree -- take the advice of the people who've responded, all of 
whom seem to agree.  I've got nearly six years of learning the hard 
way behind me in this field and I'd much rather you learned 
vicariously than paid what I paid in learning the hard way.

My current clients are dream-come-trues but that didn't used to be 
the case.  And even now, it's always something. (I'd be glad to hear 
other pro independents comment on this - am I sane?)

One very large client agreed at least three times clearly to my terms 
which in his situation was 20% advance and then I would bill all work 
half-against-advance until advance was zeroed. I even had that in the 
contract he signed.

The reason, and I told him plainly, is because in order to take his 
project which he wanted me to, (a) I needed to do work that I would 
be kind enough NOT to charge him for or not all of it, even though I 
could, such as a lot of research; I wanted to minimize budget use but 
I needed something to live on for OTHER work; and (b) as he was 
ASKING me to take him and I was too busy to do so, I needed up-front 
cash to pay other devs to take many of my other projects, some of 
which have no income as they're my volunteer work.  No problem.  I'd 
bill it out eventually so he'd have a full accounting.

Well, 60 days into the project when he gets my first actual billing 
(half-against-advance), after I have dedicated most advance money to 
farming out work, he says no, it confuses him, it complicates 
paperwork, he won't do it that way, just use the money and when I run 
out and have a full BILLING accounting for all the funds, ask for 
more.  Well if I only needed to get paid on linear billing directly, 
I wouldn't have needed an advance now would I.  I argue this but he 
says he cannot understand (though it was perfectly clear to him 
repeatedly when in discussion) and it becomes clear to me that he's 
nervous -- he's an older guy, he really just forgot/doesn't get it, 
and it seems somehow dishonest to him.  To avoid making this a 
contract-killing issue, I say, whatever.  OK.

So, after stewing about this for four months while my financial life 
SUCKED, I just finalized my advance billing by billing him for HALF 
of my hours spent in research and half my hours spent in developing 
some little utilities to help me work faster -- as he is 98% of my 
client income till end of year, and I had to do this for his site 
anyway.  This means he got billed for a lot of my figuring out html 
4.0/css stuff... and I admitted that... oh well.  Normally I will not 
bill for anything I would consider general education of myself.

I explained clearly to him that his stubborn changing the billing 
terms AFTER the fact had severely impacted my finances and working 
life, and that if he had not done this, I probably would not have 
billed him for more than 1/4 of the research hours and none of the 
utility work.  But, he did, and because I was making zero income 
(instead of half-income) I used advance money also to live on, which 
is why I'm billing against the advance for that time I spent doing 
the legwork, because otherwise I have him going, "Where's the 
advance? What right had you to spend it when you hadn't billed 
against it?"  I told him I could legitimately bill ALL of it, but I 
was only billing half; but that I'd have billed less if he hadn't put 
me in that situation.

Who knows how he will respond. Haven't heard from him yet.

But it goes to show that even after writing contracts and my good 
faith relationships and a lot of work over the years, things -- even 
documented things -- can still get screwed up in process.  At some 
point it comes down to you or the client: either they are willing to 
pay for your labor, or they are not, and all the circumstantial 
details, if you back off, won't cloud the issue of that bottom line 
of whether they are willing to pay for the value.


On 18 Jul 2000, at 15:13, David Crowther wrote:
Time is money!
If you are wasting time because you client is unhelpful or unorganised, make
sure you charge them for it. Or ditch them and use your time more wisely on
another client.
Keeps stress levels down as a bonus!

-----Original Message-----
From: Jodi Short [mailto:weboriginals at yahoo.com]

Here is a message I just received from a client that
refused to sign a contract.  During the course of the
design of the website I received money only for
hosting (because he wanted to see it live) and for the
domain name.  He tried switching the hosting service
without contacting me.  He has sent messages similar
to this during this arrangement and also took over two
months to get images for the site.  Honestly in order
to design the site properly, I asked for them in the

So tell me how you would respond comments like this:

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