Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Forum Moderators: LifeinAsia & httpwebwitch

Message Too Old, No Replies

Website complete - client doesn't want to pay.

How do I respond to this?



1:03 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well I guess there is a first time for everything!

A friend asked me to develop a website for his sister who is a realtor. I developed a proposal and she signed it. I developed the site which works perfectly and includes everything in the proposal. She has been using the site for 4 months now.

She said that times were tough and asked if I could hold off on the invoicing for a couple of months to let her get a couple of sales under her belt. I agreed as a favour to my friend and have not sent a single invoice yet.

Now she wants to scrap everything I have done, not pay me, and use the "free" website that her parent real estate company is offering to her and all other agents.

This is the first time I've been "screwed over".

How do I respond to this?

Do I just throw her into collections? That will leave me and my friend in a bitter situation (I can see that conversation already).

Perhaps I can take the high road on this one and be forgiving, respond in a empathetic tone towards her financial hardships and take it as an expensive lesson learned.

Lessons learned:

1. Some form % of payment is now required up front.
2. I done doing favours for people. There are no friends in business.
3. If the client tells you they "can't afford it" - don't do it.

[edited by: tedster at 6:18 pm (utc) on Jan. 21, 2008]


1:08 pm on Mar 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I don't think they lose any sleep over it. They want eyeballs and hits.

A lot of times, these clauses are there to give them some muscle if they run into issues.

The sites I do are pretty uptight about legalities, so we may be a bit extreme.


4:31 pm on Mar 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i always take the payment upfront ... at least 75% of it most of the times....but in my case i meet my clients face to face most of the time and no deals are over the internet.


2:46 am on Mar 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Not much advice I can offer that isn't already specified. I've been there, and I learned as well. It's not worth the attorney fees OR it goes to small claims court and that's a pain as well.

I don't want to label a profession but I've worked the real estate industry for 7 years and I've seen realtors complain over $5 in fees. Interesting people in that industry to say the least.


2:46 pm on Mar 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i agree...though i never has a Realtor client ... but don't worry you will get such clients in any profession.

.. i had a client once who was arguing that i charge a $1.5 more per domain renewal per year than someone he knew(he had around 7 domains on my machine).....bah...i had to give him a $ 10 discount .. :P

Fortune Hunter

6:07 pm on Mar 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

don't worry you will get such clients in any profession.

I agree, you will find strange or difficult clients in any industry, but there seems to be a fair number of them in real estate. I used to work for a college that offered real estate education. They had a statistic that applied to the real estate sales industry that said 95% of the income was made by only the top 5% of Realtors on a national average. With all the real estate agents running around out there that means you have a whole lot of them that probably aren't making squat in commissions, some of them are probably losing money after they figure out there marketing and operation expenses!

I had a real estate agent last year contact me to develop a web site. I was nearly complete accept for the copy, which she was supposed to supply. After months of waiting she finally called and said she was going to go with a site provided by her broker because she didn't have time to write anything!

She did pay for the time I had into it so it is a little different, but I just couldn't believe she would settle for being listed on a main broker site with all her competitors with just a simple bio and picture instead of having her own optimized web site marketing just her and her listed properties because she was too lazy to write a few pages of content. Go figure.

I guess if she represents the "typical" agent then I can see why 95% of them are running around making no money and trying to scratch out a living. With so many agents, competition has to be stiff, those that market and sell well will be in the 5% of earners and everyone else will be listed on their broker's main web site because they don't know any better.


7:03 am on Mar 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We had one small estate agent (as they call 'em in the UK) as a client and this was from 2002 before the big property sites like findaproperty.com and fish4homes etc came along. They paid us a tiny annual retainer (equivalent of 29 monthly) for SEO and we got them top 3 for estate agent county plus property for sale road, village town etc for their listings pages - got them a decent amount of traffic. Then the bigger estate agents got on the ball, the big national sites came along and they slowly got squeezed off page one. We told them for 3 years running that they needed to spend more to keep their position as we could no longer compete on the budget we had. They said they couldn't afford it - at the same time they were running full page back cover ads in property papers weekly. Now they're bust.


7:55 am on Mar 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

some people never understand... so now a days i don't even try to convince any of my clients ..i just inform them :)


8:15 pm on Mar 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

You cannot propose her a payment plan?


5:06 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have just read every post on this thread. So I am not the only one, then. I did a simple (if there is such a thing) site for a lady to "sell a few houses" in Spain. I demo'd it on my own space and she had the cheek to want me to leave it on there. I thought I had convinced her to buy the domain and she wanted me to do that, and pay for it. She would pay it off later. Friends of friends sites seem NEVER to be a good way to go. I have a holder on there at the moment - on MY space, as she has said she will pay in full next month (thats this month now)

I won't hold my breath. And the holder will change to a more descriptive page in a few weeks. She has had the invoice and knows what she is getting. BTW I made the stupid mistake of assuming that, as she is/was my first real-estate site I should reflect that in the price. Another mistake. Nobody appreciates anything that comes cheaply. It will never happen again. Percentage upfront, staged after designs and coding, remainder before handover. Domains must be paid for in advance.

I would be interested in seeing the sort of contracts that others use as well, as this could help me to understand more the business process. I started as a hobby designer and it escalated so I could be planning and designing 24/7. If I wanted to, but I don't. Thankfully coding is only a small part, albeit a very important part, and is probably the majority of what the general public would think of as the "Black Art", rather than the thought processes that go on before anything gets written down.


7:23 pm on Apr 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

exactly .... most of the people i know think that we have a HDD full of Generic sites and code and we just pop in their site name in the codes and charge them insane amounts.... they don't seem to understand how much time is spent in building the whole damn website ....... and after that if you have these difficult customers who refuse to pay ...its really hard making a living doing this(i don't make a living off this..i am a full time student :))


4:37 pm on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Please answer these questions:

Do you have a business website and, if so, did you link the website that you developed back to it?

Did you know that you can copyright your design? It's called "intellectual property"?

Did you know that you can (and should) "brag" about what you did for this person? Do you announce to your other clients and prospects what "you are currently doing" and "what you have already done" on a regular basis?

Part of your problem is "business management" and another part is "marketing".

For goodness sake, brag a little and this person will feel compelled to reward you in some fashion. Surely you have some emails where you and they had "back and forth" discussions. I would think that somewhere along the line you were complimented concerning your work. :) sooo brag about it...

One last thought. If you want to make an example of this situation for others to be aware of, follow the "Lessons Learned" approach which is:

1) This is what I did and why.
2) This is how it came out.
3) Here are the things I learned.

People who ask questions are seeking knowledge.
People who have knowledge seek solutions.
Which one are you?

About me: I have "been there", and "done that".

I welcome comments.



3:31 am on May 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well, best way is to clone the site and resell it to everyone that wants it. At least you'll not loose money and if you let them know this, probably they will pay before you resell the site over and over again.

Always worked for me.


8:36 pm on Jun 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I learned lesson from my past.. never work, deal or do any kind of business with friends and relatives.

DevCore is 100% right. follow what he is saying!


2:21 pm on Jul 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The Final Thread

I settled with the client and she paid $500 (my out of pocket expenses to develop the site).

The "listings management system" and database cloned, enhanced and I'm just about to sell it to another company for double what the original client was going to pay ;-)

An important thread to me, my business and many others who will no doubt encounter this situation. Read the posts and learn from others.

Thanks to all who contributed.


4:00 pm on Jul 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Glad it worked out!

Fortune Hunter

7:01 pm on Jul 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The "listings management system" and database cloned, enhanced and I'm just about to sell it to another company for double what the original client was going to pay

This does sound like good news. Just make sure that the settlement you had with your old client allows you to re-sell the site components and she doesn't think that somehow her $500 bucks gives her all ownership of this code and work. Now it doesn't sound like she was all that tech savvy that she would even know how this worked, but still for your own piece of mind you might want to be sure by having her sign off on something.

This 106 message thread spans 4 pages: 106

Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month