So you're mad at a client who didn't pay promptly..

by 74 comments
Do you do what Frank Jonen did?

I think lots of people like this idea, but then back off because of the potential ramifications. Personally I'd never resort to something like this.

What do you think?
#internet marketing #client #mad #pay #promptly
  • Profile picture of the author Diice
    I think this is a childish move.

    The agency were stupid enough to do the work without receiving the payment first. Some people are just stupid. Do the work they have paid you for, not the work they 'might' pay you for.

    The agency is simply bitter for a mistake which it has made, both parties are in the wrong.
    • Profile picture of the author butters
      I understand they made the mistake about not getting paid upfront and continuing to do work for them even tho they were still owed 6 months worth. I guarantee that company will pay them now because they have been made out to look like idiots (Which by the sounds of it, they are). Sometimes you got to take it to the extreme to get paid, it isn't like they missed an invoice by a day, they were owed 6 months.
    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      Payment terms aren't specified. We don't know if the situation rides upon the designer / agency having been paid an initial down payment.

      I think for a person to resort to such a measure they must be pretty confident that the client is indeed trying to pull a fast one. Note that there were multiple invoices sent.

      Freelancers are taking a very firm stance nowadays and already many are together in protest over these type of issues.

      If you don't pay your £3 train fare in my town and you're caught, you get your face slapped on a nice big "named and shamed" poster on every station platform.

      I don't see why the case of unpaid invoices should be any different.
    • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
      Originally Posted by Michael_Lee View Post

      I think this is a childish move.

      The agency were stupid enough to do the work without receiving the payment first. Some people are just stupid. Do the work they have paid you for, not the work they 'might' pay you for.

      The agency is simply bitter for a mistake which it has made, both parties are in the wrong.
      For sure he lost his cool. That alone could hurt his chance with major accounts moving forward.
  • Profile picture of the author Diice
    I'm not saying he should get away with not paying, im saying that the agency was foolish enough to operate on a basis that they did the work before getting paid.

    In my opinion it is one of the most stupid and overused practices, even with a down payment, you have absolutely no idea if you are going to get your money for the work you have done.

    If you are going to work like this then at least draw up some form of legal contract stating clearly the rules and price of the agreement.
    • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
      Originally Posted by Michael_Lee View Post

      I'm not saying he should get away with not paying, im saying that the agency was foolish enough to operate on a basis that they did the work before getting paid.

      In my opinion it is one of the most stupid and overused practices, even with a down payment, you have absolutely no idea if you are going to get your money for the work you have done.

      If you are going to work like this then at least draw up some form of legal contract stating clearly the rules and price of the agreement.
      No question. I've always demanded pre-payment and have avoided issues like this for years.
  • Profile picture of the author onSubie
    I'm wondering if the design company could get in trouble since they do not legally own the domain they "hacked".

    Whatever the justification for hacking it.

    If I hired a painter to paint my business, do they have the right to come back and vandalize my business and prevent paying customers from entering because I was late on paying my bill?

    Mahlon
    • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
      Originally Posted by onSubie View Post

      I'm wondering if the design company could get in trouble since they do not legally own the domain they "hacked".

      Whatever the justification for hacking it.

      If I hired a painter to paint my business, do they have the right to come back and vandalize my business and prevent paying customers from entering because I was late on paying my bill?

      Mahlon
      I was thinking along the same lines. It seems that whatever agreement he had with the other company it does not give him broad rights to alter the website content.
    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      Originally Posted by onSubie View Post

      If I hired a painter to paint my business, do they have the right to come back and vandalize my business and prevent paying customers from entering because I was late on paying my bill?

      Mahlon
      I'm not sure that's a fitting analogy since the website is basically everything the designer built - not simply a part of the business.

      Maybe a valid point about the domain though...
    • Profile picture of the author Sys4
      Originally Posted by onSubie View Post

      I'm wondering if the design company could get in trouble since they do not legally own the domain they "hacked".

      Whatever the justification for hacking it.

      If I hired a painter to paint my business, do they have the right to come back and vandalize my business and prevent paying customers from entering because I was late on paying my bill?

      Mahlon
      I would suggest that it depends on who owns the server. If he accessed the clients server space, he broke the law (unless the client authorized the changes). If it's his server space, he did nothing more than what your telephone company will do if you fail to pay your bill i.e. replace your service with a pre-recorded message. Though the telephone company doesn't mention your failure to pay, we all know that the "This number has been temporarily disconnected" translates to "This telephone customer has failed to pay their bill. We'll turn their service back on after they pay what they owe us."

      As for your painter question, no. They can, however, place a work lien on your real property. This would prevent the title of said property from changing hands until such time that the lien was satisfied - either by payment in full or a judge's decree.

      I once took a clients web application offline for failure to pay hosting fees. This client's company had franchisees throughout the US paying them monthly IT fees for my services and was using their (the client's) unpaid invoices as a tool to renegotiate our contract - the contract was up for renewal and I was requiring compensation for expanded services. In this case, I had no obligation to continue to provide service for which they were not paying. Within fifteen minutes I was paid in full. Within an hour, they received a communication terminating our relationship and a zip file containing their work product. I fired this client.

      In the end, I brought the appliaction back online and assisted them in getting the application transferred to another service provider. To this day (2.5 years later), I continue to answer their employees questions about the application without compensation - not because I have to, but because I want to insure my businesses integrity.
  • Profile picture of the author Farish
    Usually when I do work like this I use a contract with 3 payments.

    First payment is the down payment. I start the proof and design phase.

    Second payment occurs when a concept and proof is agreed upon.

    Third payment occurs and then the website is delivered to their servers.

    It is not that hard folks.
    • Profile picture of the author Diice
      Originally Posted by Farish View Post

      Usually when I do work like this I use a contract with 3 payments.

      First payment is the down payment. I start the proof and design phase.

      Second payment occurs when a concept and proof is agreed upon.

      Third payment occurs and then the website is delivered to their servers.

      It is not that hard folks.
      And you dont draw up any sort of contract?

      If this is for large sums of money i would strongly recommend some sort of contract.
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Web hosting companies do the same thing all the time.
    Except that their replacement websites may have a kinder
    message.

    -Ray Edwards
    • Profile picture of the author Diice
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      Web hosting companies do the same thing all the time.
      Except that their replacement websites may have a kinder
      message.

      -Ray Edwards
      As far as i am aware Hosting companies take upfront payments?

      They will only take down the website if the user does not renew their subscription.
    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

      Web hosting companies do the same thing all the time.
      Except that their replacement websites may have a kinder
      message.

      -Ray Edwards
      They DO have a kinder message AND, if you pay the bill, EVERYTHING is BACK!
  • Profile picture of the author FirstSocialApps
    I have taken websites and apps down completely for non payment. This seems very fair, you dont pay me I will take my work back. But replacing a website with a 'letter' seems to be to much. There is no need to make a conflict between you and your customer public like that. It shows a lack of professionalism and I would not work with a company that would be so unprofessional.

    So a recap: A) take the site down completely --> OK (nothing wrong with taking work back that wasnt paid for) B) jack your customers domain and put up what shouldnt be public information for everyone to see --> super uncool and childish.
  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    I asked to be paid in full before I start.

    Otherwise I wont take on the work.

    Not interested.
    • Profile picture of the author Diice
      Originally Posted by John Romaine View Post

      I asked to be paid in full before I start.

      Otherwise I wont take on the work.

      Not interested.
      Thats the way it should be.
    • Profile picture of the author ronrule
      Very poor way to handle a non-paying client. From the sound of the message, they weren't even using most of the work he had done - perhaps because it wasn't up to par, and that's why they weren't paying. Guys who go rogue like that make it that much more difficult for other independent designers to get clients, actions like this drive customers to larger firms.
  • Profile picture of the author SeoDemon
    what a nasty thing to do! I'm not sure if anyone could hire him again.
    • Profile picture of the author fluffythewondercat
      This might not be the greatest example of an FU letter. There's a lot of local political nonsense going on behind this shaming of Fitness SF, which I won't bore you with, but the issue is not as simple as dealing with a non-paying client.

      fLufF
      --
  • Profile picture of the author Farish
    There are a lot of potential clients out there that will not pay for the whole job up front but more than comfortable with a down payment (30 to 50 percent) and they a payment when finishing up the job.

    I think by stating if I do not get money upfront is hurting your potential market especially if you are focusing on the web design business. Also you are hurting yourself by locking yourself into a final price. It is better for your business if the client ends up up selling themselves and adding more money to the project that you getting the whole fee upfront and then asking for more because you underestimated time and costs.
    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      If the non-payment facts are true - I don't have a problem with any company that removed the product that wasn't paid for.

      I have no respect for someone who wants to "make his case" to the general public about what is a private business matter. A simple page stating "this site has been temporarily removed" would have been a business move - having a rant that could be viewed as slander is pure stupid. I think they'll lose business over this and deserve to.
  • Profile picture of the author alksense
    I get wanting to get paid and getting more and more frustrated with no replies but I think there are better ways of going about it if your goal is really to get the money that you are owed... many of which have already been mentioned here.

    By hurting their business he's only lessening his chances of getting paid...

    I checked yesterday morning and their Yelp page ranked them 4.5 stars, now it's down to 2.5 and I'm sure it will keep going down:

    Fitness SF - SoMa - San Francisco, CA
    • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
      Originally Posted by alksense View Post

      I get wanting to get paid and getting more and more frustrated with no replies but I think there are better ways of going about it if your goal is really to get the money that you are owed... many of which have already been mentioned here.

      By hurting their business he's only lessening his chances of getting paid...

      I checked yesterday morning and their Yelp page ranked them 4.5 stars, now it's down to 2.5 and I'm sure it will keep going down:

      Fitness SF - SoMa - San Francisco, CA
      Shows you the validity of online reviews - doesn't it?

      "Pay your bills, dude" with a 1 star. Obviously that person is not making an honest review of this business! This turned into an Internet lynch mob. I think I'd be suing Joren for all manner of damages at this stage of the game.
    • Profile picture of the author ronrule
      Originally Posted by alksense View Post

      I get wanting to get paid and getting more and more frustrated with no replies but I think there are better ways of going about it if your goal is really to get the money that you are owed... many of which have already been mentioned here.

      By hurting their business he's only lessening his chances of getting paid...

      I checked yesterday morning and their Yelp page ranked them 4.5 stars, now it's down to 2.5 and I'm sure it will keep going down:

      Fitness SF - SoMa - San Francisco, CA
      That right there is the biggest problem when people do stuff like this... all of the bandwagon jumpers who want to throw their 2 cents into the mix who had no familiarity with either company before this went viral.

      They'll probably sue him, and they'll probably win, but reputation damage that has nothing to do with their product will be a lot more costly to repair.
  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    This was part of my response to the other thread:

    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.

    Read more here: http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...didnt-pay.html (comment #6 - I'm not hard to find, the girl with the trilby).
  • Profile picture of the author Karry
    I'm sure a lot of freelancers who have been burned by a nonpaying client appreciate what Frank Jonen did. As much as it might have made Mr. Jonen feel better and somewhat vindicated, who knows what something like that will cost him in future income.

    From my perspective, he made a mistake by not running his business more like a business. When you're a freelancer in Germany and doing business with a California company, why would you take their word they'd pay you? No offense to anyone in the fitness industry, but gyms are notorious for going bankrupt.
  • Profile picture of the author J Bold
    It certainly makes for press, and some say any press is good press. I don't like to go negative like that so I wouldn't do it.

    But only Frank can answer if it will hurt or help business in the end. Ask him in a year or so.
  • Profile picture of the author MartinPlatt
    Originally Posted by PerformanceMan View Post

    Do you do what Frank Jonen did?

    I think lots of people like this idea, but then back off because of the potential ramifications. Personally I'd never resort to something like this.

    What do you think?
    Not very professional, and doesn't reflect well on him as a business owner.

    No idea why he would do the work and not get progress payments though. Sounds to me like the guy doesn't know how to do business, or doesn't have much experience doing it.
    • Profile picture of the author DeePower
      When we work with clients in creating a business plan, we share the risk. We charge 40 percent upfront, 30 percent when the narrative is finished and approved and 30 percent when the financial forecast is completed. Until we get that last payment we own the content in the business plan. When the business plan is paid for the copyright and all ownership rights are transferred to the client.

      Dee
  • Profile picture of the author nicholasb
    there are 2 sides to every story and they are most likely both inaccurate accounts of what really happened.
  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    It appears that there's another side to this story that hasn't been told yet. The company wasn't using all of the code that was done. Maybe they were unhappy with the work. I wouldn't have done 6 months work without pay, but if I weren't paid for a portion of the work I did, I would remove it ... but not put up that letter.
    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      You can tell there are a lot of freelancers in this thread. Either that, or a lot of people who didn't bother to read the whole article.

      Most of you automatically assume Jonen, et al, got stiffed after performaing as agreed. According to Fitness SF, Jonen got paid at least a portion upfront and then missed numerous deadlines, and then voluntarily handed the site over to the new designer.

      Regardless, the act of placing that rant takes Jonen out of the realm of serious businesses. If his erstwhile clients are as vindictive as he has shown himself, his little public tantrum could end up costing him a lot more than it would have had he simply eaten the fee.

      Lately, there have been a rash of threads here where posters bragged about sending nasty emails, outing private communications for public humiliation, and other assorted hissy fits.

      Fluff, thanks for the backstory.

      Like many of these disputes, there are likely three versions. His, theirs and the truth.

      On a lighter note, entrepreneur Harvey Mackay tells a story about how he dealt with a client for whom extracting a payment was like pulling teeth with a tweezer.

      He put on a clean but shabby suit, and brought his wife and kids along to the office to ask for a payment that was months past due. On being greeted, he told the kids to go play in the office while he and his customer discussed the issue.

      The kids, as they had been coached to do, started chasing each other around the office, playing with staplers, throwing wads of paper at each other, etc.

      Mackay proceeded to ignore the kids while he made his case. He left in a few minutes with his wife, kids AND a check...

      And nobody went public. Mackay didn't tell the story until several years later, and went out of his way to protect the customer's identity.
  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Years ago I administered civil cases resolved through arbitration.

    To be on our panels, arbitrators had to have at least ten years experience
    in their field.

    We had one arbitrator, a recently retired gentleman, stop serving as arbitrator after
    just a handful of cases because he was disgusted by both sides and their attorneys
    in the cases he did hear. During all his 30 some years (construction contractor)
    he never had a dispute that could not be resolved privately.

    I suspect something similar in this matter.

    Dan
  • Profile picture of the author Sue McDonald
    There appear to be two sides to every story. The Fitness company say they paid $5000 up front and the site was supposed to be completed in 10 weeks. According to them it took many more months and they claim he gave them an unfinished site. Now he claims they never paid him.

    I cannot imaging start a 10 week job without getting some money up front. It is a little bit like "they said " and then "he said." I don't think that is a profesional approach to take.
  • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
    This case was definitely not cut and dry.

    SF Fitness' language has hardened to 'hacked' now. If they can prove he accessed the website without permission this would have to kill his reputation.
    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      this would have to kill his reputation
      For me, he killed his reputation with the rant. A trait seldom mentioned in connection with service providers or IMers is emotional stability yet it can make or break a deal.

      Someone who gives in to childish rants or the urge to "show them" is not someone I'd work with or hire. I expect other marketers have a similar reaction.

      kay
  • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
    Originally Posted by PerformanceMan View Post

    Do you do what Frank Jonen did?

    I think lots of people like this idea, but then back off because of the potential ramifications. Personally I'd never resort to something like this.

    What do you think?
    I wouldn't resort to that, but I have been known for kicking out customers who are almost always late paying their invoices.
    • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
      Originally Posted by Chase Watts View Post

      I wouldn't resort to that, but I have been known for kicking out customers who are almost always late paying their invoices.
      That is completely acceptable IMHO. No one is saying to honor the deadbeats

      But it's one thing to say "I cut you off, go away" and totally another to deface a website!
    • Profile picture of the author Farish
      Originally Posted by Chase Watts View Post

      I wouldn't resort to that, but I have been known for kicking out customers who are almost always late paying their invoices.
      Late paying customers are better than non paying customers.

      I deal with people who pay on a 45 or 90 day cycle, because in their industry that is how long it takes them to get paid.

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