Would YOU do this if someone didn't pay...?

Profile picture of the author CharismaticMannequin by CharismaticMannequin Posted: 02/15/2013
This has started to go viral, after a fitness website, Fitness SF, didn't pay up to the web designer, Frank Jonen, was taken down and replaced with a lovely letter to Fitness SF's customers. The letter/website, can be seen here:

Agency Replaces Client's Website With Nasty Letter After Not Getting Paid | Adweek


If somebody didn't pay you, would YOU do something like this?

Personally, I think this is pretty funny; people tend to take advantage of freelancers (I've had my fair share), and it's satisfying to see someone stand up to this type of indecency.

Still, I wouldn't do this myself. I'm a professional, and while I do get frustrated when I'm cheated, I'd prefer to maintain my professional appearance. That's just me, though!

So, your thoughts?
#pay

  • Profile picture of the author Sebulba
    Sebulba
    That's pretty funny.

    Seb
    }8[/
  • Profile picture of the author Huskerdarren
    Huskerdarren
    They are getting destroyed on Yelp. Cheats should think twice before they act badly. It won't be hard to embarrass someone publicly and the damage to reputation is lasting.
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
  • Profile picture of the author CharismaticMannequin
    CharismaticMannequin
    Aaah, so word's getting around then!

    I don't often travel to other forums, so I know not what's going on!
  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    Moriarty
    Well. They say "half a year's worth of work" - no interim payments? Why not?

    Anyway, aside from the funnier side of things, let's see what we can do for the future. Because these guys are the archetypal bad client. Usually they're a lot harder to spot - so Frank Jonen has been luckier than most.

    Put another way, he won't want to see anybody like them again. Will he?

    Nope.

    So what was their character like? Actually not so far from the whingeing clients who trolled our building business in the UK. I unwittingly got rid of them through an act of kindness to those people we liked doing work for. They had said that they liked having our terms explained to them - how we did things, when we expected to return to fix things and all that sort of thing. It reassured them that we weren't fly-by-night.

    The most amazing thing was that if someone butted into this and said "how much would it be for cash" I answered that they would get the same invoice marked as 'paid in cash'. Not content with this they asked "Won't it be cheaper for cash?" to which I answered "no, it's the same work, it's the same money".

    They really didn't like this at all. Now one thing to mention here is that if you infringe your own terms and conditions for their benefit - they are steering you not vice versa. I kept a tight hold on our contracts, made sure that things happened as planned. For our best customers it was a god-send. For us too as we lost a lot of bad clients, the ones like Frank Jonen's.

    The ones that cost you money.

    The ones that say "could you repair that door for us while you're here" to which the poor carpenter can't say no because there's no agreement not to. There are other tricks bad clients play, getting you to do more work is the most common.

    In future, make sure you are paid monthly and on time. If not, ask them why it hasn't been paid. There might be a genuine reason. If they flounder around, give you the brush-off, you should be hearing alarm bells. That is when you underline the terms of your agreement - not directly, but in the way you handle them. Just make sure that everything you do for them is inside the agreed scope and timings. Otherwise they'll take you for a ride.
  • Profile picture of the author CharismaticMannequin
    CharismaticMannequin
    Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
    Well. They say "half a year's worth of work" - no interim payments? Why not?

    Anyway, aside from the funnier side of things, let's see what we can do for the future. Because these guys are the archetypal bad client. Usually they're a lot harder to spot - so Frank Jonen has been luckier than most.

    Put another way, he won't want to see anybody like them again. Will he?

    Nope.

    So what was their character like? Actually not so far from the whingeing clients who trolled our building business in the UK. I unwittingly got rid of them through an act of kindness to those people we liked doing work for. They had said that they liked having our terms explained to them - how we did things, when we expected to return to fix things and all that sort of thing. It reassured them that we weren't fly-by-night.

    The most amazing thing was that if someone butted into this and said "how much would it be for cash" I answered that they would get the same invoice marked as 'paid in cash'. Not content with this they asked "Won't it be cheaper for cash?" to which I answered "no, it's the same work, it's the same money".

    They really didn't like this at all. Now one thing to mention here is that if you infringe your own terms and conditions for their benefit - they are steering you not vice versa. I kept a tight hold on our contracts, made sure that things happened as planned. For our best customers it was a god-send. For us too as we lost a lot of bad clients, the ones like Frank Jonen's.

    The ones that cost you money.

    The ones that say "could you repair that door for us while you're here" to which the poor carpenter can't say no because there's no agreement not to. There are other tricks bad clients play, getting you to do more work is the most common.

    In future, make sure you are paid monthly and on time. If not, ask them why it hasn't been paid. There might be a genuine reason. If they flounder around, give you the brush-off, you should be hearing alarm bells. That is when you underline the terms of your agreement - not directly, but in the way you handle them. Just make sure that everything you do for them is inside the agreed scope and timings. Otherwise they'll take you for a ride.


    Thanks for that reply, Moriarty.

    Yeah, I have a contract lying around, clearly stating terms of work, payment structures and so on. I use it for higher-paying projects. It's plenty of hassle, but worth it if there's plenty of money involved!
  • Profile picture of the author KingOfContentMarketing
    KingOfContentMarketing
    And the return volley:

    "UPDATE 2: Fitness SF gave this statement to Adweek on Friday:
    "On Wednesday evening, our domain name Fitness SF was hacked and stolen by an individual named Frank Jonen. Frank was hired on May 16th, 2012 to develop a functional website for our brand. A $5,000 payment was made to him on the same date. In his proposal, he stated that the website would take 10 weeks to complete. He missed numerous deadlines including our brand launch in September. In December, he voluntarily passed the incomplete and non functioning website to our new design firm.
    Now, Frank is attempting to portray himself as the victim when truly the victim is Fitness SF as he attempts to get paid for work he did not complete and has decided that blackmail is the way to accomplish that.""


    Agency Replaces Client's Website With Nasty Letter After Not Getting Paid | Adweek
  • Profile picture of the author Michael71
    Michael71
    Yeah, yeah... if you are doing websites... you should be prepared!

    Most "clients" want you to do more work... and of course, for FREE.

    Better have some good clients then lots of bad ones... true words
  • Profile picture of the author Danny Shaw
    Danny Shaw
    As both a pro and a blackhatter I could not imagine what I would do to a client if they didn't pay me for work completed. Clients that do not understand the online world also do not understand how quick the rug can be pulled.
  • Profile picture of the author Shazadi
    Shazadi
    I like it. The client pulled their FB account to hide in shame. Also, if they're so in the right, why not show the original invoice and their timely check?

    Any prospect that wouldn't want to work with the designer is probably the kind he wouldn't want anyway.

    Also, this is why you get all your payment upfront.
  • Profile picture of the author arfasaira
    arfasaira
    Personally, it's not something I would do, but heck, that must feel GOOD to do that!

    There are a few people from this forum who have done this with me -hired me, not delivered payment when I kept my end of the bargain.

    As a single mother where every penny counts, it damn well hurts...Especially when it means you struggle as a result.

    Yes there are unscrupulous vendors out there (yup, been burnt too) not delivering work, but there are FAR more clients wriggling out of payments that cause us smaller freelancers harm.

    I say good for Frank for standing up to them. Of course there are two sides to every story and I guess the only way to ensure you don't get stung is not to sting others first.
  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    max5ty
    You're an idiot if you've done that much work for someone without pay.

    They both need to be ashamed of themselves.
  • Profile picture of the author MarkJez
    MarkJez
    I wonder if anyone has contacted Fitness FS and also Frank Johen to offer "Reputation Repair Services".

    I think both of them will need it in very large doses !!

    Seriously though, I really question the wisdom of Franks's actions.

    If Fitness FS go bust as a result (or lose market share) then innocent employees could lose their jobs and their livelihoods.

    Has Frank thought through all the implications and repercussions properly?

    The fallout could cost him his business and land him with a huge legal bill. Cases like this can take years to resolve, and in the meantime if a clients hires Frank, at the back of their minds, they will think, will Frank hijack our website too, if we fail to pay him on time.

    I suspect that as this has gone viral, Frank will become un-hireable, although it could cause the opposite reaction by giving him a massive amount of free publicity worldwide.

    Time will tell, but this is not someting I would ever do to a client.
  • Profile picture of the author MarkJez
    MarkJez
    This whole episode could potentially be an amazingly successful Public Relations exercise for Fitness FS, especially if they are portrayed as the innocent victim, who has been "blackmailed" and "held to ransom" by their webmaster.

    This sort of publicity could be worth $millions, and Fitness are getting it for free!!! But with some inconvenience of a hacked website!

    It will be interesting to see the eventual outcome....
  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    Moriarty
    Reply to Charismatic Mannequin

    Yeah, I have a contract lying around, clearly stating terms of work, payment structures and so on. I use it for higher-paying projects. It's plenty of hassle, but worth it if there's plenty of money involved!
    This was for a building firm - $1000s at a time. What's more these time-wasters really hit our profits - which I found out later. My point was that I didn't even get to the "contract" stage. I simply itemized the more important points over the phone, the reaction at the other end was enough to tell me if they were interested - or just wanted a cheap job.

    It was like a proper sales funnel (though I had never heard of such a thing then). Once we had filtered the nasties out, then came the time for appointments, visits and contracts.

    What's more, my husband got back home in time for dinner.
  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    max5ty
    Obviously there's a major potential lawsuit against the website developer.

    You can't do this to someone.

    Did they send advanced notice of their intentions?

    Do they have documented proof of a request for payment?

    Do they have a contract?

    Are they even authorized by SF Fitness to develop a website?

    I'm thinking the web developer is in a lot of hot water.

    I would guess the web developer doesn't have an attorney on staff. The fitness facility probably does.

    Wouldn't want to be the website guy right now.
  • Profile picture of the author copyassassin
    copyassassin
    Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

    I would guess the web developer doesn't have an attorney on staff. The fitness facility probably does.
    Maxy,

    A judgement against a freelance with no assets is worth about as much as one of your fake Picasso's.

    Adam
  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    Pusateri
    Isn't entering upon someone's premises and defacing their property a criminal offense?
  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    max5ty
    Originally Posted by copyassassin View Post
    Maxy,

    A judgement against a freelance with no assets is worth about as much as one of your fake Picasso's.

    Adam
    Oh, that's great...

    you know too?
  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    max5ty
    Meant how did you know about my fake Picasso's?

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