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I did a website for a guy and allowed him to make payments. he owes me $450
he changed the password and verification codes, so now i cant get into the FTP anymore
i deleted the files yesterday, but he went back to the hosting company and got the files from a back end server or something
so now the site i created is back up and i have no money to show for it.
What do u suggest i do....call it a lost or call a lawyer?
Be very brief and formal, don't waffle, blame or rant, don't give him anything to argue with. Just stick to the facts that:
- you did the work
- he hasn't paid you
Be specific about what legal action you intend to take (even if you don't actually plan to go through with it). Here in the UK that would be something like "I will make a money claim in the County Court" but it depends on your jurisdiction. The point is to send him the message that you have done your research about how to make a court claim against him.
I would consider actually making a claim, depending how expensive the small claims court is in your country (you don't say where you are; I'm guessing the US).
Make sure to send the payment on demand by registered by and request a signature as proof of delivery
If he didn't have .com, get that.
If he did, get similar-name.com
Write to him and advise him that there's interest to pay on the $450, and your costs.
I used a similar approach with a similar problem; it took six months, but he surrendered.
But do be careful; stick to the facts, place a note on each page that you are demonstrating that he has used your creation without agreed payment.
You may find that even when he surrenders, the niche is profitable enough to keep the site, just removing all references to him, and evolving the design (and the content) until it is indisputably your own. Let's face it, you have the best incentive in the world to make a knockout site.
Instinct says reach for the lawyer; calmer counsel says Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold.
Good Luck ;)
[edited by: Quadrille at 12:02 pm (utc) on Oct. 12, 2006]
Long story short, if you win the claim (and you will, if you can prove you did the work, you don't need a contract,) they will send a sheriff over to their house to put a lein on property. Usually it will be a car or something. It's funny how fast they "find the money they don't have" and the checkbook comes out if a sheriff and a tow truck shows up in their driveway.
I've taken people to court previously, and I can tell you it should be the last resort.
If they have no money to pay you, they can't pay. If they have the money and won't pay, then that is a different matter. If you can establish which it is, it should help you make a decision which route to take.
In the very first instance, try to mediate. Ask what they can pay. Even $100 per month should be affordable.
Get an agreement, preferably in writing, and make sure they stick to it.
If they won't pay, then you will probably have to take legal action. Do remember; record all expenses involved with the intention of recovering those costs, too.
Remember, we can't give legal advice at WebmasterWorld.
My current policy, which has worked brilliantly is to get a 50% down payment (sometimes I take a 33% payment). Next I design site and post it on a subdirectory of my server. Once the client approves it we finish it, but just as an earlier poster said, I don't upload it to them until the check is in my hands and has cleared the bank.
I make this known upfront that is the policy. I also use a letter of agreement (no formal contract) since I believe the letter makes the concept easier to sell and get a deal and seems to work just as well in small claims court if I end up there.
Also I have a membership to Prepaid Legal and they will write so many collection letters per month on an attorney's letterhead, which I have found works wonders for shaking my money lose.
Lastly, the small claims court (at least in my state) is a pain. If you win, which isn't hard it simply is a hunting license and nothing more. For $450 you will probably not find it worth it. If it were for $2000 or more that might be worth a little more chase.
Needless to say you don't tell them this beforehand and I usually wait a few months to activate the image. you'd be surprised how many site owners do not review their site often and the banner can be there for months. At least if they don't pay you've had a bit of satisfaction in the revenge. I've only had to do it once.
Hunt around for more info, tips and case histories here, it's in plain English:
The content may be his, but the design and graphics belong to the creator unless expressly transferred.
If the client phones or emails you, add it and whatever is required to the bill at a healthy rate.
Finally, start adding up the time it's taking you to do all this debt recovery and add that to the bill as well as debt recovery costs.
If the first month's overdue invoice is up 15 to 20% then it should be enough to see a payment before the second month's invoice.
As for him saying he has no money not only do credit cards give cash advances but there are pawn shops in every major city who will give fast cash for most things. He must have a TV or a HiFi which can raise that kind of cash. Unless he's in a poverty bracket he should be able to get hold of the money. Don't make his money problem your problem.
well, If you read DCMA closely I think you can create serious problems for him by atleast taking down his domain forever .. as hosting companies in US have serious respect for a DCMA filed, download its copy from internet and file it with all necessary info , be brief and to the point no emotional sentences :)
one more thing that i have experienced that such customers want developers to make a mistake e.g a harsh email full of threats and influenced by hollywood or any other such mistake that they can use to give a statement "I was about to pay him BUT he did this and that to me or my stuff ... "
above all , plan your payments / development strategy, if the project is large scale get paid time to time in regular installments so if at any point you are stuck you can leave without bearing serious loss...
what else should i be asking?
USA hosting companies are bound to take down the reported domain right a way , some companies accepts it by fax and some by MAIL however some of them accept it by email .. however fax is a better choice..
so IF the hosting company is US based then just file DCMA and you are done .. they are bound according to the DCMA , read its details , hosting companies are directed to take down the reported domain right a way when the receive DCMA from someone... and you know what no hosting company will take the risk to face lawful penalties for a client.. they will block it.. no need to call them ... just get their fax number, fill the DCMA and fax it ..
(650) 963-3255, Attn: Google Legal Support, DMCA Complaints
i also called the hosting company and again i got the run around saying that wont do anything because the customer hasnt done anything illegally in their eyes and its between me and him. and to call a lawyer.
so i finally got transfered to someone else. she said she use to handle DMCA cases. she said she doesnt know if my case will actually win. Geez!