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i'm lucky in that every client i've had has been pleased with what i've done for them, and those that have helped themselves have had success, but i'm wary that i might end up getting some oddball client who is NEVER satisfied and might try to hold me to blame.
any thoughts or comments??
It sounds like you're talking about two different things: design versus promotion (example- the spam Emails).
It's necessary to explain to people that webs are not different than brick-and-mortar businesses. Both require advertising and customer satisfaction. Too often I believe most people think Internet + Web Site = $.
Personally, I tell everyone up front that I don't guarantee anything and just because you have a web site doesn't mean you're going to make money. I include factors such as competition from existing sites and time lapses from submitting to SE's to actually getting indexed. I always discourage the use of spam and explain the potential hazards. Beyond submitting sites to SE's, I don't get too involved in promotions. There are people more skilled in that than I.
we can do what we feel (or know) to be right, we can do our best, but will explicitly stating that we can't guarantee anything be enough to stop a disappointed client (who may have expected far too much) from employing a lawyer? the answer is no.
is *anyone* taking any legal protection of any kind?
No matter how good your legalese is, anyone can find reason to sue you. There are ALWAYS lawyers willing to take a case. The best thing, or should I say "at minimum," you should do is at least include some sort of damage limitation clause, something to the effect that it cannot exceed the cost of the design and does not allow for legal fees or punitive damages. The latter two are what are most expensive.
No matter how good your legalese is, anyone can find reason to sue you
so again, has anyone got any legal cover??
Then, when you meet with the client and get final approval on the site, have them sign a statement saying they have examined the site to their satisfaction, and agree that it fulfills the agreed-upon parameters of the job. Once they sign it, you hand the site over to them, and you're clear of responsibility for it.
Of course, for something like that, you couldn't be handling the promotion or maintenance... Unless you had a separate maintenance agreement stating that the customer must review and sign an approval form on all updates and modifications before they will be applied to the site... and have your liability for each modification ends as of their signing of the approval form.
I'm sure a contract lawyer could cook something like that up for you.
It also states that all disputes will be addressed in our county/state.
We also have some other sections that layout how a client must address any issue that they may feel constitute a breach of contract on our part. Things like making a formal written request, and allowing us time to make any necessary corrections.
Obviously, you can't ever make your self suit proff, but you can create a situation where it would be quite difficult for a client to slap you with a huge lawsuit out of the blue.
I had a client that is similar to your problem last year.
1. Never promise anything you cannot complete.
2. Screen your client, check their background, and make sure they are a reputable business.
3. Get a good attorney, who can create a good contract that protects your interest.
This client tried to intimidate, threaten legal actions, and just intimidate our company. I did not even sweat, the contract the our firms attorney drafted protected us. Also, he was so unreasonable that any court would have thrown out the case.
Do you homework, make sure your client is legitimate, never promise anything you cannot complete, and get a good attorney.
I think the best defence is a professional approach to doing business with your clients. i.e. only make claims you can substantiate do not create expectations that will not be met. Always try to exceed your customers expectations. Resolve disputes that might arise as soon as possible.
It is a good idea to limit liability in your terms and conditions ... example below .. copyright is a section on its own because of the potential for litigation.
Hope this helps.
8. Limitations to liability
In the event of a dispute arising from either developer or client, the maximum amount of liability that either developer or client could be able to claim will be limited by the value of the contract pertaining to this agreement, maximum liability will be limited to the value of
the contract in the case of claims in either direction. Time period: After the contract is complete to the clients satisfaction and copyright has passed to the client, the client takes complete responsibility for the website.