Should I Pay This Guy?

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Ok so I have a question about good morals. I hired a programmer to build a website for a client. Before he got started, I told him he had to do exactly what the client wanted, or no deal. He said no problem, he could do it. I did a mock up of exactly what the layout should look like. He said no problem, he could do it in 1 week.

2 months later, the client starts to get frustrated because this is taking longer than she was told, and she didn't see it coming together like the drawing of the mockup we did together. Now in all fairness, the site was fully functional for what the client wanted, but sloppy, and looked nothing like the mockup. I could never have handed that over with my name attached.

Programmer then tells me that he couldn't get it to look how the client wanted it because he is the only one working on it and it would be a lot of work. Not that it's impossible, but too much work.

So this week, the client pulls the plug and says she'll take her business elsewhere since I'm not getting it together.

Now the programmer is pissed and demanding his pay since he did work on it for 2 months.

So my question is this. Since I did not get paid and I actually had to buy a script for him that he sprung up on me mid project, should I pay him anything? Now I try to be fair and I don't burn bridges but this guy has already hurt my reputation and wasted months of my clients time. Plus, I had to spend my own money on the script.
  • Profile picture of the author cynthea
    krishna876, what kind of due diligence did you do before you hired the web designer? did he have a portfolio?
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    There is too much info missing to make a fair decision. That YOU didn't get paid is immaterial. I once had to do something for a 3rd party customer, like YOUR programmer. And the CUSTOMER wanted me to use a special script. And they kept changing EVERYTHING! They EVEN had me working on graphics and text documents. They kept changing the contract the program should display, and wanted ME to do all.

    The 3rd party had an agreement with a friend and I offered so many hours FREE to help pay for my friends server. So I didn't get paid a PENNY. If that agreement didn't exist, you can bet that I would have him pay for EVERY hour! I got out of it ONLY because he called me after I nearly died, and I told him I couldn't keep it up.

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Krishna876
      Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

      There is too much info missing to make a fair decision. That YOU didn't get paid is immaterial. I once had to do something for a 3rd party customer, like YOUR programmer. And the CUSTOMER wanted me to use a special script. And they kept changing EVERYTHING! They EVEN had me working on graphics and text documents. They kept changing the contract the program should display, and wanted ME to do all.

      The 3rd party had an agreement with a friend and I offered so many hours FREE to help pay for my friends server. So I didn't get paid a PENNY. If that agreement didn't exist, you can bet that I would have him pay for EVERY hour! I got out of it ONLY because he called me after I nearly died, and I told him I couldn't keep it up.

      Steve
      In this case, there were absolutely no changes to the project after he started. He was given the logo and header banner so all he had to do was put it up.

      The script was all the programmers idea. He said it would make his job easier so I said fine.

      I just wanted to get the job done...
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  • Profile picture of the author waterotter
    ...and I told him I couldn't keep it up.

    Steve
    Now Steve....:p
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by waterotter View Post

      Now Steve....:p
      Are you doing that as a double entendre, or what?
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  • Profile picture of the author waterotter
    me bad! :p
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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    Did he do what he said he would do? No? No pay. Sounds like he agreed to do a specific thing a specific way and didn't do it - so why should you pay him?

    Wish I could do contracts and not finish the work and screw up on what I did finish and get paid to boot. That'd be sweet.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      We don't have the full story.

      It sounds to me like a person acting as a middleman hired a cheaper programmer - and then ignored the project.

      How could you let a one week project stretch to two months? Was there any written agreement for the work? Did you grant extensions of time? How often did you check on the project or talk to the programmer?
      You have to decide what you owe and whether you owe it.

      Should you pay him? He didn't earn the full fee but you might want to pay for the time spent on the "functional site" that was delivered. Up to you but you say you want to work with him again. That won't happen if he doesn't get paid something for the work he did.

      I was trying think what I would do in such a situation. I can't because I wouldn't hire the work out without a written agreement and I'd move to a different provider if work wasn't done in 2-3 weeks when one week was promised. Poor management of a project gets poor results every time - I doubt you'll make the same mistakes again.

      kay

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      • Profile picture of the author KimW
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        We don't have the full story.

        It sounds to me like a person acting as a middleman hired a cheaper programmer - and then ignored the project.

        How could you let a one week project stretch to two months? Was there any written agreement for the work? Did you grant extensions of time? How often did you check on the project or talk to the programmer?
        You have to decide what you owe and whether you owe it.

        Should you pay him? He didn't earn the full fee but you might want to pay for the time spent on the "functional site" that was delivered. Up to you but you say you want to work with him again. That won't happen if he doesn't get paid something for the work he did.

        I was trying think what I would do in such a situation. I can't because I wouldn't hire the work out without a written agreement and I'd move to a different provider if work wasn't done in 2-3 weeks when one week was promised. Poor management of a project gets poor results every time - I doubt you'll make the same mistakes again.

        kay

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        I'm with Kay on this one.
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      • Profile picture of the author Krishna876
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        We don't have the full story.

        It sounds to me like a person acting as a middleman hired a cheaper programmer - and then ignored the project.

        How could you let a one week project stretch to two months? Was there any written agreement for the work? Did you grant extensions of time? How often did you check on the project or talk to the programmer?
        You have to decide what you owe and whether you owe it.

        Should you pay him? He didn't earn the full fee but you might want to pay for the time spent on the "functional site" that was delivered. Up to you but you say you want to work with him again. That won't happen if he doesn't get paid something for the work he did.

        I was trying think what I would do in such a situation. I can't because I wouldn't hire the work out without a written agreement and I'd move to a different provider if work wasn't done in 2-3 weeks when one week was promised. Poor management of a project gets poor results every time - I doubt you'll make the same mistakes again.

        kay

        .
        Hey Kay,

        Thanks for your response. Now just to clear a few things up for you, we were in contact every single day with skype. The reason a 1 week project stretched into 2 months is that he started out in wordpress, worked on that for about 2 weeks, then decided that Joomla would be much easier for what we wanted. I started having my doubts about his ability then but he showed me similar sites in Joomla that he made, that looked pretty good.

        He started working on the Joomla site, then had a foot injury that slowed him down. So I did give him an extension.

        All in all you may right though. I didnt have a written agreement which is a mistake I wont make again and maybe my management skills arent all that great.
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        • Profile picture of the author seasoned
          Originally Posted by Krishna876 View Post

          Hey Kay,

          Thanks for your response. Now just to clear a few things up for you, we were in contact every single day with skype. The reason a 1 week project stretched into 2 months is that he started out in wordpress, worked on that for about 2 weeks, then decided that Joomla would be much easier for what we wanted. I started having my doubts about his ability then but he showed me similar sites in Joomla that he made, that looked pretty good.

          He started working on the Joomla site, then had a foot injury that slowed him down. So I did give him an extension.

          All in all you may right though. I didnt have a written agreement which is a mistake I wont make again and maybe my management skills arent all that great.
          Some REALLY cheap, or foreign people, don't feel obligated with contracts anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author donhx
    I agree, we don't have the full story here. From what I have seen here, I'd say there were errors by client, web guy and middleman.

    The web guy should have got at least half upfront and not be paid the final half. The middleman should have managed the job better. Most sites (and I do a lot of them) take no more than a week. The client made a mistake by hiring the middleman--he picked an unreliable web guy (perhaps) and for sure he did not follow up enough to get the job done in a timely manner.

    These kinds of problems come up when people work cheap. If a job had a decent fee attached to it, everyone works hard to get the job done quickly. People abandon cheap jobs if they can, and that's what sounds like what happened in the case of both the web guy and middleman. There was not enough incentive for either of them to want to do the job properly.
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    • Profile picture of the author joebel
      If I'm the one who will ask for this matter. I answer is No. You must not pay for that kind of service. It is his fault because he said that he can do it and there's no problem. He must complain before receiving the project and tell all of his suggestions and problems regarding to that project. He must fulfill all of his duty before requesting for a payment. I suggest that next time you will have project, you must make a contract that if he doesn't reach what the agreement is, he will not get paid.
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      • Profile picture of the author pickthat apple
        The website designer has to be paid since you (the employer) allowed him to get on with his work for that long. But I don't think that the client should pay because he waited two months and did not get what he wanted.
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        • Profile picture of the author oliviasmith
          Originally Posted by pickthat apple View Post

          The website designer has to be paid since you (the employer) allowed him to get on with his work for that long. But I don't think that the client should pay because he waited two months and did not get what he wanted.
          I will totally agree with you because almost the same thing has happened with me and i pay my employee for that!
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          • Profile picture of the author thunderbird
            I wouldn't pay.

            The programmer failed to deliver as promised. It was the programmer who overestimated self's capabilities to carry out project, not you. Therefore it was the programmer's error in judgment for agreeing to the terms of project. So, no, again I wouldn't pay.

            I wouldn't be surprised of some parties would have even sued the programmer for essentially destroying a business deal.
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            • Profile picture of the author Tashi Mortier
              Let's see:

              You clearly said him that he must do it exactly like you told him or no deal. He accepted.

              Then you even buy him something to make his job easier.

              THEN later he comes and says that it's too hard. Didn't he know that in the first place?

              You should have put a lot more pressure on him, I mean it took 8 times as long as planned already, but I also wouldn't pay him.
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        • Profile picture of the author Krishna876
          Originally Posted by pickthat apple View Post

          The website designer has to be paid since you (the employer) allowed him to get on with his work for that long. But I don't think that the client should pay because he waited two months and did not get what he wanted.
          Well I wouldnt have a problem paying him if he was an employee in my company but what you're suggesting is like paying someone to paint your house that splash paint all over the floors and windows, and left hand prints all over the place. He is not a part of your company, and he was contracted to do a specific job which he did, but made a mess at the same time.

          Now I know I'm not perfect and I'm to blame as well, which is why I'm trying to figure out what the majority of people would do in this situation.

          Thanks..
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    • Profile picture of the author Krishna876
      Originally Posted by donhx View Post

      I agree, we don't have the full story here. From what I have seen here, I'd say there were errors by client, web guy and middleman.

      The web guy should have got at least half upfront and not be paid the final half. The middleman should have managed the job better. Most sites (and I do a lot of them) take no more than a week. The client made a mistake by hiring the middleman--he picked an unreliable web guy (perhaps) and for sure he did not follow up enough to get the job done in a timely manner.

      These kinds of problems come up when people work cheap. If a job had a decent fee attached to it, everyone works hard to get the job done quickly. People abandon cheap jobs if they can, and that's what sounds like what happened in the case of both the web guy and middleman. There was not enough incentive for either of them to want to do the job properly.
      You may be right about the cheap labor but I was paying him what his first offer was. I didnt try to haggle him down so I'm assuming he was happy with what he was paying.

      And just so you know, it was a social networking type site so I figured that it would take a little longer than a regular website would take.

      One thing for sure though, we spoke every single day so I didnt just turn my back on him and let him figure it out on his own. I guess he just always a reasonable excuse for the slow pace...
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  • Profile picture of the author Sumit Menon
    He spent 2 months on it. Doing what? I would ask him to pay up for the script you bought for him.

    I mean, he agreed to do it in 1 week. He didn't. He said the site would look like the mock up. It didn't. You even went out of the way to get this guy a script which was not discussed in the prior agreement. He still didn't get the job done. You lost a customer because of him. You lost rep because of him. YOU should be suing him, imo!

    Sumit.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    Don't give him a dime because he said it was going to be done in a week and it took him 2 months.

    Something is wrong here.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      You even went out of the way to get this guy a script which was not discussed in the prior agreement. He still didn't get the job done. You lost a customer because of him. You lost rep because of him. YOU should be suing him, imo!
      You have to be kidding. Doesn't it seem a bit odd someone was allowed to continue for 2 months - but do we know it was 2 months?

      I asked how long before a functional site was delivered - it wasn't answered. I asked if extensions were granted - it wasn't answered. The two months time period refers to the client in the OP's post.

      Doesn't matter as I asked only to show details are missing - only the OP can decide what to do in his business.

      I'm neither for nor against payment - I don't care. Interesting thing to me is people take strong stances on what "should be done" based on so little information from one side.

      I don't think we have the full story - that's why I say the OP needs to make his own decisions.

      kay
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by talfighel View Post

      Don't give him a dime because he said it was going to be done in a week and it took him 2 months.

      Something is wrong here.
      Do yourself a favor, and don't do any big deals, especially with a third party involved. You'll probably get sued.

      Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    I think Kay has a point that you let it go too far - but that guy knows he was breaching his own word on the project. I don't get where you said you'd work with him again though - didn't see it even after a re-read other than a mention that you hate to burn bridges. I would sure hope you'd never try to contract this guy again. He might have had "good excuses" but excuses don't get the work done, and when you have a client to please you have to worry about getting the work done and getting it done right - not whether your contractor is having personal problems. You want to be fair, but how fair is it to a client to wait for nothing?

    The right thing to have done would have been dissolve the alliance when it became clear that the work couldn't be done right and in a fair amount of time. Babysitting this guy daily was not only unnecessary, it was counterproductive. Live and learn.

    I went through the same thing on my first website - months after it was due in one form I was still waiting, had already paid the price given. Then after being months overdue he told me he wanted more money. I just told him forget it and got it done another way. It was obvious by that point it wasn't going to get done and if it did, it wasn't going to be right.

    Once this kind of thing happens anyway - it's lesson enough to make future dealings much easier and more fruitful.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Thanks for explaining further - sounds as if the site was complex so a week might well not have been sufficient.

      I've found many times outsourcers tend to exaggerate their abilities and the time factor. They want the job so may over promise.

      If you use a programmer frequently - I'd suggest you try to line up 2-3 so you have some feedback on a project by "shopping" it. You do need contracts both with your outsourcers and with your clients. It protects you and the project.

      Managing outsourcers can be difficult but you'll get better at it as you go along. I admit to laughing at the "foot injury" - prop it up and keep working:p I know, that's mean.

      Daily contact is a lot for an outsourcer as it is constant pressure and most people are working on more than one project at a time. It also might place you more on a "friend checking in" basis than a "boss" basis. Just a thought.

      kay
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    • Profile picture of the author Krishna876
      Originally Posted by HeySal View Post

      I think Kay has a point that you let it go too far - but that guy knows he was breaching his own word on the project. I don't get where you said you'd work with him again though - didn't see it even after a re-read other than a mention that you hate to burn bridges. I would sure hope you'd never try to contract this guy again. He might have had "good excuses" but excuses don't get the work done, and when you have a client to please you have to worry about getting the work done and getting it done right - not whether your contractor is having personal problems. You want to be fair, but how fair is it to a client to wait for nothing?

      The right thing to have done would have been dissolve the alliance when it became clear that the work couldn't be done right and in a fair amount of time. Babysitting this guy daily was not only unnecessary, it was counterproductive. Live and learn.

      I went through the same thing on my first website - months after it was due in one form I was still waiting, had already paid the price given. Then after being months overdue he told me he wanted more money. I just told him forget it and got it done another way. It was obvious by that point it wasn't going to get done and if it did, it wasn't going to be right.

      Once this kind of thing happens anyway - it's lesson enough to make future dealings much easier and more fruitful.
      Definitely a lesson learned.

      I was actually planning on paying about half of what we agreed on just because of the amount of time he put in but when I told him that the client is pulling the plug on the project, all he kept asking about is his money. He didn't care about why she was canceling or considering the fact that I didn't get paid. He just wanted to get paid.

      That's when I started to think twice about paying him anything...
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  • Profile picture of the author tentimes
    I wouldn't pay the programmer a thing! He delivered you a product that was not up to par. He didn't deliver what he promised so why should you have to fork over money? I would never pay this guy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    He didn't care about why she was canceling or considering the fact that I didn't get paid. He just wanted to get paid.
    Why would that surprise you? He's not a partner - it's not his client - YOU are his client. He put time on the project and that's all he's concerned with.
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  • Profile picture of the author minut
    Well, he deserves nothing since he already knew that he did not do his job.

    He deserves what he gets.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bear157
    Hi all,
    Ken_Caudill I agree with you. Really a nice moral.
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  • Profile picture of the author blazedream
    Hi Krishna
    I thing that programmer quote you the low cost, So you didn't check his experience levels.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    Moral: Never work for a middle man.
    GOOD idea! HECK, where I am now, I would have billed for a week or so, and said "Sorry, you overestimated the work. I want to go where I feel I can do some work.". I DID do that in the 80s when I worked for myself. If I felt I worked at half the speed I should have, I charged half as much. If I felt the work wasn't there, I bowed out and left. Because I am working for another, I really can't do that. And don't even know where I will be next week.

    Go figure....

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Henry White
    You need to talk to a lawyer. Much of this is going to hinge on the applicable laws and precident in your state; but don't discount either of these people, your client and the programmer, probably have enough of a case against you to tie you up for years in litigation, if they are so inclined, and bleed you dry financially drop by excruciating drop. And much of that may depend on how much of this you can document.

    From what you've told us, you failed due diligence when you didn't fire the programmer for failure to perform his end of the contract within a reasonable time.
    By not doing so you've probably shifted this from a fairly open and shut case in your favor into one that now leans in his favor. Now the question is, who's legally obligated to pay - you or the client? And it sounds to me like you are because you failed to fulfill your agreement with your client - the details are irrelevant, you are responsible. (I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on the Internet.)

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about the programmer or pay him unless I had to. He can tell his side of the story to all his programmer buddies, and legally get away without slander. I'd bet that the other programmers blow off his horror stories as anecdotal and not necessarily hold it against you.

    My main concern would be salvaging the relationship with your client. She'll be juicing up the story to her friends and associates - many of them potential clients - but I'd bet that what they hear is mainly against the programmer without completely absolving you for your failure. Eating half the original fee seems fair, but that's between you and the client.

    Hopefully, you can work this out to everyone's satisfaction quickly, but given the current economy, our hyper-litigious society, and some of the unbelievably hare-brained decisions and jury awards, you may not be that lucky.
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    • Profile picture of the author joebel
      Just an additional tip. Try to search for a new programmer that is really worthy to what pay. So it must be a lesson to you to double check the person before you hire it. Make sure thel will reach the requirements and can do the working details of the job. Why you don't try Filipino people? They are hard working and had a good quality of work.

      I hope you Find the answer to your question.
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  • Profile picture of the author wmc19872010
    he sounds just like a amateur trying to flock his work off to make a quick buck or two.
    if the work was up to the standards you asked then dont pay him,
    It would be like going to a hairdressers and asking for a trim and they gave you a skin head, you got a hair cut but not what you wanted. I bet you wouldnt pay the hair dresser.
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    • Profile picture of the author Karen Blundell
      first of all, a professional programmer should never take on a project without taking part of the payment in advance and using some kind of agreement/contract to that effect in writing.

      If you're a programmer or a web designer, you work out an agreement that you get 1/2 or 1/3 of the project upfront and the balance to be paid upon completion of the project. That's to protect each party, but especially to protect you, as the programmer, for something like this. So that you get paid for some of the work you did if the project falls apart.

      To expect someone to do any work for nothing is unreasonable and unacceptable, in my opinion. The programmer is not your slave and I see so many people devalue the work of programmers and web designers and treat them like ****! Been there - done it. So I would pay him a portion of what you promised out of principle that he did do some work, but if the work was unacceptable, don't use him again.

      I agree , we don't have the whole story here, like Kay said, I'm sure. I would love to hear the programmer's side of it, because he's the one who is being trashed by people in this thread, and a lot of times it is unreasonable expectations from the client or the middleman that can cause a breakdown with the programmer.
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  • Profile picture of the author mediasurgeons
    My two cents...

    He shouldn't of taken the job if he couldn't deliver and whilst he has spent time I highly doubt he has spent two months on it, more like a couple of days over a period of a few months.

    If you're really worried about ethics then you should pay him what you think is a fair amount, no point in losing sleep over it.

    There will probably be mixed views on this but if I hired a writer from this very forum who claimed high quality articles and then delivered below par words on paper then he wouldn't get paid (by anyone with any sense) plain and simple.
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  • Profile picture of the author pianopro
    This is pretty clear cut in my opinion. He didn't deliver what he promised, end of story. Don't pay him anything. He didn't care enough to deliver so why should you have to care enough to pay him. Seems like a fair trade to me.
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  • Profile picture of the author popopdc
    Seems like there was a communication problem. I don't really understand why it took the client 2 months to complain...
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  • Profile picture of the author carcrazy
    He said okay to the mockup and then couldn't match it. He shouldn't have agreed and shouldn't get paid.
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    • Profile picture of the author James Sides
      It's always tough to sat what is right or wrong.

      If you're asking if you should pay chances are you feel guilty about not paying which is an indicator you should probably pay.

      The sad part is you've now lost a client and hurt your rep. I'd say you should have given the project more attention sooner instead of letting it get to this point.

      Good Luck,

      James
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      • Profile picture of the author prideseo
        I would never pay this guy.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    ALL Karen Blundell said is right! Let me tell you something. Last night, I had my hot water heater replaced. The guy was nice, TALKED a lot, and took a while, but I could tell I needed a new water heater, he did quality work, and he STILL charged me the price in the book! I just checked. I think I got a better water heater, and though I paid like $300 more for it, than I would have at sears, they took care of the removal, disposal, installation, and will take care of the warranty. Anyway, he told me about this one job where they worked about 9 hours, because the sewage lines went all over the place, violating code, etc... They had one final thing to do the next day, which was to cut the concrete, and fix the pipe below. The customer wouldn't pay them a dime. He had several horror stories like that. The charge was like $280, and it took a LONG time.

    Was THAT guy right not to pay? If I were him, and they obviously didn't work, I wouldn't pay. I would want them to show me, and probably get something saying they would finish the job. But if I agreed, I would pay, just like here where I paid HUNDREDS more than I originally thought I would. Many things simply CAN'T be foreseen.

    Frankly, what they SHOULD do is sue the original person that violated code.

    I thought the problem with mine was a bad thermocouple. It WAS bad, and I had it replaced, but it turned out to be a leak in the flue part. Water came down and extinguised the pilot. Oh well, the new one is better. Looks cleaner, is sealed, has a piezoelectric ignition, and a light to indicate all is well and self diagnose problems. And it is NEW! I was hoping I would get more time out of it but c'est la vie!

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author kaivearn
    I agree with most of the guys here. Why pay? Should I get this guy to work on my lawn but he does sweet FA, then says the lawnmower isn't working and I should pay him?

    He agrees to take on a job, doesn't deliver, hurts your reputation. Now, he wants to get paid for ruining your reputation. I think the answer is pretty obvious.
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by kaivearn View Post

      I agree with most of the guys here. Why pay? Should I get this guy to work on my lawn but he does sweet FA, then says the lawnmower isn't working and I should pay him?

      He agrees to take on a job, doesn't deliver, hurts your reputation. Now, he wants to get paid for ruining your reputation. I think the answer is pretty obvious.
      If you asked him to use YOUR lawnmower, and it is broken, YEAH, you should pay him!

      Steve
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