[thelist] What would you do?

Matthew Fischer mfischer at e-fishsolutions.com
Fri Jan 5 11:36:11 CST 2001

Hey evolters --

We recently lost a client who's site we had been doing for four years. The site was fairly extensive and we never had any major problems with it. The reason we lost the account was that the company they went to also has in-house production facilities to do their TV commercials, CD-ROM duplication, etc. that we don't have. The client swears to me that was the difference, and that they've always been happy with our work, yada, yada, yada.

They launched the new version of their site a couple days ago, and to put it mildly this company it sucks. There are amateurish mistakes throughout the site, a few "lowlights":  

1) The pages have no background color defined so they have gray backgrounds in Netscape and white in IE, so the graphics which were designed for a white background don't look right. 

2) Two of the links in their main navigation menu give 404 errors, because they have capitalized the .html extensions which should be lowercase.

3) They have a poll which uses a poll script downloaded from cgiresource.com which is incorrectly configured and doesn't work. 

4) They have overused Flash for all their headers and navigation. When I open their mainpage, which has four frames (header, left nav, right nav and body) in IE 5.0 on a Mac, a second window opens which tries to load the header frame. When I open it in IE 5.5 on a PC I get a dialog asking me if I want to install Flash 5 (which is already on the machine) and if I say no it keeps opening again and again until I say yes. When I say yes it then tells me it's already installed.

This site was obviously only tested in one browser (if any). Clue #1 the new company doesn't know what it's doing, quoted from their homepage:

     <meta name="GENERATOR" content="Microsoft FrontPage 4.0">

Their new company has already pissed me off. I got a phone message from someone at that company on December 28, when I was on vacation, and called them back from my cell phone about a half-hour later. They wanted the username and password for the server the site we had done was on, basically so they could steal a bunch of custom scripts we had written. I explained to the guy that the clients contract explictly said that we owned the scripts and that we granted them permission to use them as long as we were doing the site. He said OK. 

Two days later I got a message from my former client asking me why I had not returned any of the five messages this company had left me. I called him back and told him (truthfully) that I was on vacation, I got one message and returned it, just like I did when I got a message from him. I think the new company was worried about missing their launch deadline and was trying to use us as an excuse. In spite of this when they did launch the site they had one form hard-coded to use the script on my server. I removed the script when I saw this, but they haven't figured that out yet, since submitting their form now gives a 404 error for my script :^) .

So my question is (yes, I do have a question), how should I approach this with my former client? Should I tell him about the problems? Assume that he knows they are there? Will anything I say to him just sound like sour grapes? I couldn't give a crap about the other company, which BTW is much bigger then mine, but I would like to keep a good relationship with the client because I think that might be looking for a new web design company in the future :^) .

Any input is welcome and appreciated. Thanks.

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