[thelist] Rights with a non paying client...?

Gersten, John JGERSTEN at lchb.com
Mon Apr 7 14:00:35 CDT 2008

Though my blood fairly boils at hearing these kinds of stories (and there are wayyyy too many of them out there), I have to agree that reacting from quietude is infinitely wiser.

As an aside, it really does seem like people will stiff a web designer in situations where they would never dream of withholding payment from other workers/artists. I imagine part of the problem is the "virtual" nature of the relationship; in most cases, we don't tend to be at a client's place of business day after day as a physical presence. Also, when we do our jobs well, it can often seem like we didn't do much -- which is to say the real mechanics of our best work can often be invisible to all but other designers; the days and weeks of effort are often much more noticeable when things _don't_ work perfectly. Not that that makes it in any way right, but human (or in-human) nature being what it so unfortunately often is, it no doubt comes into play.

A shame you can't just add a very prominent link on every site page reading "Learn more about clients who don't pay their designers..." <g>.

Say, what about all those health & safety violations you noticed at their workplace, and the undocumented illegal workers they employ? (Just kidding...really! <g>)


-----Original Message-----
From: thelist-bounces at lists.evolt.org on behalf of Joel D Canfield
Sent: Mon 4/7/08 11:43
To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
Subject: Re: [thelist] Rights with a non paying client...?
> Thoughts, advise... your own horror stories welcome...

don't do anything you'll regret, including giving them reason for legal
action or public humiliation. violating a fiduciary (trust-based)
relationship will screw you over so much more than losing money ever

imagine them telling everyone possible that you 'destroyed their data'
because your invoice was 'lost in their system.' doesn't matter whether
it's true, the perception would be made and anything you say afterward
would sound like a defensive whiner.

step one: accept that the real mistake was working without a signed
contract. once you're in a hole, pretending you're not won't work.
step two: figure out what's your best option knowing that you can't
control anyone but yourself. you *cannot* force them to pay, you can
only convince them to pay. the only way to  win an argument is to avoid

be aware of your worst-case scenario, and compare that to the potential
benefit of any action you take. you don't mention how much money is at
stake. if it's a large amount (however you define that) refer to step
one and boot yourself a good one. if it's small enough that step one
doesn't seem like such a big deal, cut your losses, schedule a recurring
invoice to be mailed to them once a week, and mentally at least, move


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