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client is a pain

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johnsabbath d'urzo
client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 1:43:56 pm

I have a client that always comes in 1 week before any personal stuff that i have to attend to in my life. they dont have much money to spend, but they are a huge company. i am going to teachers college for a change in my life. this is due june 22 and that's when i start teachers college. the job is 8 x 2min videos for the net. This will be aired on june 22 one per week. This client always wants a flat rate, but i always work more hours for free on all the jobs, at the point it doesnt become worth it. what do i do? need money for school but at the same time i dont want to deal with a job like this while i am in school.


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Todd Terry
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 2:58:21 pm

That's tough, JD... but I think you are in a position where you just lay out reasonable expectations from the client, reasonble deadlines, and healthy compensation for yourself for the job.

If they can't meet what you need (especially the money), you smile and wave bye bye.

It sounds like they have been seriously taking advantage of your goodwill in the past, and you don't need to let them continue doing so especially during a stressful or taxing time. The problem is, the first time you let someone take advantage of you (which sounds like what has happened in the distant past), that sets the bar for their expectations in the future.

Decide what you need to make an stick to it. If they can't pay that and whine and cry about the money... let em. They can cry to someone else. It's not your problem that they are cheapskates.

Also... unlike most of us, you don't have to worry so much about maintaining a great relationship with a past client since you are switching gears with a career change.



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Chris Blair
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 3:03:59 pm

Short answer, if you agreed to do the job at that rate...then you should do it and learn from it.

Nex time estimate the job based on past hours and raise your flat rate. We do this all the time. A client comes in with a project. It has very loose and fluid specs that make it difficult to estimate. We estimate it best we can but the job takes 6-8 hours longer than estimated. We stick to the estimate but the minute we go over our budgeted hours we tell the client...saying, "hey...this is taking longer than estimated. We'll do it for what we quoted, but on the next one, we'll need to adjust the estimate to compensate."

Now if a project goes WAAAY over...we sit down and discuss it and tell the client that we'll have to adjust the budget. but if it's a reasonable amount, we stick to what we told them.

Most clients like this. They don't have to go back to their boss or their client and tell them they're going over budget. They don't have to have new P.O.s issued. Some clients even say, no problem, we'll generate a new P.O. and pay for what it costs. Virtually all of them are fine with upping the rate for the next similar job. They appreciate that we don't try to stick them for extra costs when both parties negoiated in good faith. They also appreciate knowing in advance that the project takes more time so they can let their boss or client know.

We also build in contingencies of anywhere from 3% to 5% on most flat rate projects. So if we bid $25,000 to do a corporate video, we'll add a 3% contingency which adds $750 to the estimate. That's a half day of shooting or editing, which can come in handy. We also always add in a full day for revisions on larger projects.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com
Read our blog http://www.videomi.com/blog


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grinner hester
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 3:07:54 pm

Man, you already know what to do. Stop underquoting.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 5:04:37 pm

The other three responses have just about said it all John, but I want to add one tidbit that's based on that old adage "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Once a client shows their true colors, they will usually never change. That is, unless you put your foot down and threaten to walk away from the negotiating table. Sometimes they'll just wave goodbye to you, but sometimes they'll beg you to come back. That's just business, and that's how it works. You never know the outcome in advance, but I can assure you of one thing, if the client knows you're unwilling to walk away, you will almost always find yourself on the losing end of the deal.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Bob Zelin
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 5:28:58 pm

It's easy for others to judge, when they are not in need of the money. It's really that easy. You have LOTS of alternatives if you are not desperate for the money - as you have just been told - say "bye bye", or raise your rates, and if they don't like it - tough noogies. I can be a "big shot" too, because I have multiple sources of income (many clients) - of course, the classis example is defined by Ron Lindebooms article on "Grinders", but the only client I have "flipped off" in recent time was a client who always paid their bills, but "when crazy on me" when I fixed his problem, and left the broken unit (under warantee) at his place, back in the box, to be returned to the company. He went out of his mind (screaming at me on the phone) that I had the audacity to just "leave it there" so that "someone else" could take care of the chore of calling UPS to have the box picked up. I have never spoken to this client again.
But again, I am not desperate for his money. If I was, I would still take his work. (by the way, for the record of my little stupid story, I offered to come pick up the box, and bring it right over to UPS while he was yelling, but this was not acceptable to him, because I did not inform him of what my intentions were at the time, which was for him to return the broken unit to the manufacturer).

At some point in your life, you have to say "enough is enough".

Bob Zelin




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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 11:17:59 pm

I need the money, but have some money put away for tuition. I will probably not get a student loan. So you guys think I should charge an hourly for the 8 x 2min vidoes? also do you think its a good idea for me to say i can do 1 or 2 of the videos and don't commit to the whole thing? I start school in june 20, i would like to do this job but every time i deal with this client it's never on schedule, that seams to change only when she drops the ball. I also have kids and school runs from 7am-7pm then come home put kids to bed then, just dont want to deal with a pain client at that point. Or maybe there is a way for me to finish before school starts. I don't know what to do, I want to thank all of you for being good to me on this site.

she says she wants to know my availability for next week on a phone message, then her email said she wants to know when i am available for a meeting at my studio next week. i sent her an email and said tuesday is good. Does this mean that she wants to come over and talk about the job or does she want to dome over and start to cut? I don't know to much about the job yet. just that they need 8x 2min training / travel video episodes for the web and social markets.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 11:34:15 pm

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "Does this mean that she wants to come over and talk about the job or does she want to dome over and start to cut?"

Sounds like you're stressing about too many unanswered questions, and I think you simply need to speak with the client and ask her what she has in mind. Communicating is a very good thing, reading minds is not so good.

See if she wants this to be a supervised edit or unsupervised, and try to scare her off from the idea of doing it with supervision. In that case, you just tell her you're very busy with other high-paying editing jobs, and tell her that if you can do her job in your spare time, on your own time, it will cost her less.

And, as far as the job conflicting with your schooling and other responsibilities, try to never say no, so long as the rate they pay is not abusive. Trust me, money is tight all over, and no one should be turning away work these days if they avoid doing so.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Tom Meegan
Re: client is a pain
on May 29, 2010 at 11:07:25 pm

Sort of off topic but I came across this today and it made me laugh:

http://clientsfromhell.net/

It came from this article which is actually more to the point:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/05/25/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-bad-cl...

Best,

Tom Meegan
Woven Pixels, LLC


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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 1:33:43 am

they have shot the footage i think home video style by amatures with consumer cameras. Don't think they would have any creative, so i would probably edit stuff on the fly, like the story, soundtrack, voice over, graphics, and intro extro, ftp and upload to the web site and social media sites (what are these formats?)
how much should i be charging for a job like this 8 x 2min episodes? and also should i do a flat or an hourly? I usually do a flat with her but this is a bigger type of job. But every time I do a flat I always put in alot of free time and when i do ask for more money the little that it is, she makes a fuss then it takes 3 months to get paid. Even if the bill is $300.00. Any suggestions? I just don't want to spend 10k to go to school and mess it up with a low budget job, but I understand what you are saying (money is had to come by).



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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 1:44:09 am

please see my previous post above also. i just forgot something David Roth Weiss. In my experience customers want it on there time. If I tell her that I can do it on my own time with a cheaper rate, what if she walks. Do I let her walk? this is very confusing, can't wait to gear up for another venture in the future.
This video production industry is looking more unstable as the weeks go on. Thanks Dave.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 5:50:44 pm

[johnsabbath d'urzo] " If I tell her that I can do it on my own time with a cheaper rate, what if she walks. Do I let her walk?"

Sure, let her walk. Your priorities now are family and school.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: client is a pain
on May 31, 2010 at 12:10:49 am

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "In my experience customers want it on there time. If I tell her that I can do it on my own time with a cheaper rate, what if she walks. Do I let her walk?"


<JOKE>

No, do not let her walk at any and all cost. Instead, throw yourself at her feet. Grovel. Beg her for the chance to be her whippin' boy -- and let her know that she can fund her company's operations on your wallet while she is pushing you around. Beg her for her repeat business, again and again. Do not let your pride or self-respect stand in the way. Snivel.

Oh, and do it all while playing that old song "Baby come back! You can blame it all on me, I was wrong and I just can't live without you!" (She'll love that!)

</JOKE>

No, let her walk. She's proven what cloth she's cut from and there is little to nothing you can do to change that dyed-in-the-wool human nature.

Put your family and yourself first.

Ron Lindeboom


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David Roth Weiss
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 5:53:42 pm

[johnsabbath d'urzo] "should i do a flat or an hourly?"

Hourly!

You're not a mindreader, and guessing has allowed them to reach deep into your pockets before.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Mark Suszko
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 7:12:23 pm

Tom, I want to curse you for that clients from hell website link, it sucked three hours of my life away because I couldn't stop reading the horror stories, each one was like a potato chip, and I couldn't stop at just one page worth.


As far as the flat vs. hourly, I say try to NEVER do a flat rate, most especially for difficult clients or projects with a lot of unknown quantities. You can make a best guess as to total hours and give an estimate, with the proviso that this amount could go higher, depending on the additional hours put in. But a flat rate locks you in to commitments before you know the real situation, and makes it hard to ask for more later. Moreover, clients tend to think that one flat rate will cover any kind of work, even if the parameters of the job change. An hourly rate is more honest and fair all around.

You're transitioning to school and other commitments. At some point you're going to have to turn down some work. You do this on your own terms, but if this is a client you want to come back to some day, then you must follow up a commitment once you have made it. Another way you could have gone with this would be to giver the client a referral to someone else who you think would do a decent job. This is not always cutting your own throat: there are times when people who are normally competitors for work will throw the excess jobs to each other when they themselves can't cover everything. Sometimes the person you gave the referral to will thank you with a little commission or backsheesh, sometimes not. Personal codes vary on this issue. It is important though that anybody you refer the client to will do at least as good a job as you, otherwise, it hurts YOUR reputation more than theirs.

You could also sub-contract the work to this other person and just not tell the client, that happens all the time. It carries a few hazards as well.



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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 7:34:25 pm

what would be a good hourly to charge for this type of work ...web videos??? editor with gear? i live in canada. thanks for all your help.



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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 7:35:39 pm

if she walks into my studio for a meeting as she says, what if she wants to start to edit. do i edit or assess the situation, make a contract, get approval from her boss then start to edit?



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Mark Suszko
Re: client is a pain
on May 30, 2010 at 9:18:33 pm

Johnsabbath, I don't know you. But it seems like you want to be this woman's submissive doormat or something. You will or won't work on this. You will do it when it is appropriate for you. If she can't handle that, then drop the job, it isn't worth the hassles.

Further, in the case of this woman, I think I would want to bill each of the 8 jobs separately. Don't go on to the next until she pays for the last.

Rates, you figure out by counting up your expenses and costs, figuring an acceptable profit margin beyond those, and converting that to an hourly figure. You want to charge more of a profit margin than you'd get making poutine at Tim Horton's, right? Otherwise you could just put on an apron instead and have a less complicated life.


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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 31, 2010 at 2:06:36 am

yes, just wondering if there is a standard hourly rate for web videos. I have to find out what the footage formate is. I don't have any HD decks or cameras. I can always ask to borrow the camera that the guy used to shoot (i think this might not look good on me) with or rent a deck or something like that. What are the various formats to host these clips on line and to various social markets? does anyone now. I know about QT,FLV,AVI,Mpeg4 are there any other, plus any PC formats that I should be aware of?

If I would charge an hourly how do you determine how much for her to give me for a down payment to start the job if I were to take it.

I will let you know how it goes I will call her tomorrow. Any suggestions on my approach?

Sorry for all the questions, this site has been a big help to me.



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Mark Suszko
Re: client is a pain
on May 31, 2010 at 3:47:47 am

We're trying to tell you, there is no set rate, every job is a custom job. The rate is what you NEED it to be, or you don't DO it. That's just business. If they can't afford you, you must let them go; it loses you money to lowball your rate and do it for less than cost.

As to what format they need, yes, you have to ask THEM what they want, then be able to deliver that. Get the "deliverables" as they are called, spelled out in writing, with due dates and any benchmark dates along the way. At least in email memo form.

As far as the decks, it is not a sin to admit you don't keep one of every kind of recording format around your shop. Then you'll need to make some sort of arrangement to transfer that footage. If you have to rent a deck, you're going to be passing the cost of that rental, plus a mark-up, on to this woman as part of your rate. You can thus tell her that it would keep your rate lower, if her cameraman would let you use the camera as a playback deck. If that's not going to pan out, (likely) you had better already know of some other source to borrow or rent a deck from. Or cut a deal with that cameraman for the loading time, and bill your client as part of your rate.


As far as down payment, a customary method used by many video production folks is to get paid in thirds: one third up-front to begin the work and take it to a nearly-completed stage, where it is reviewed and either approved or some changes or corrections asked for. How many times they can ask for changes is something you must work out in advance, I would go with two rounds of change & review only, after which, you must charge more.

The next third is due when those changes are done, and the final third is paid on delivery of the finished work. Payment in thirds, you can tell the client, protects you both, in that, should a job be stopped at any stage, they are only out the money for the work actually completed to that stopping point. And you friend, will be getting paid for the work you already did accomplish.

If the client won't put *some* money down up front, insisting on a lump sum at the end, you DO NOT hand over ANY finished product until you have cashed the check. DO NOT. Make sure any samples they want to see have a logo or time code window superimposed across them, so you can see the work was done, but you can't steal it and put it up like that. Because unscrupulous people have done that, and will again. And not paid. The logo or window burn comes off when the check clears your bank.


The payment in thirds assumes you know roughly what all three thirds add up to. That's why you don't just pick a number out of the air for your rate, or copy what somebody else charges, out of context. You don't know what the other guy's costs and expenses are. Not for sure. So just picking a number out of a toque is gambling that you will be asking for a price that's too low or too high. Too low, and you've lost money. Too high, and you price yourself out of a job.

Go over all your expenses; including the pro-rated costs of your hardware and software, your utilities and rent, insurance and health care, even gas for driving to and from the gigs, system maintenance and a percentage to save away for updates and upgrades. AND then your actual profit on the job, the amount you clear after expenses and taxes that you can go spend on whatever you want. Add all that up. You get a number that's your monthly "nut" you have to make, just to keep the lights on and the landlord from locking you out.

How much is your time worth? Well, you can approach it from what you need to make in a year or want to make in a year. Start with 365 days. Now take out weekends, holidays and any vacations you may want to take, and a handful of sick days, you get the actual number of work days you are available per year. Put that against the annual salary you expect, divide, you get the "nut" for what you have to pull in daily and weekly. You have to charge more than that, or you are out of business. Next, look at the job the client wants you to do and make your best educated guess, based on previous work for them, of the hours this will take to do for one of the eight pieces. Multiply the hours predicted by your rate, now you have an idea of the flat-rate cost of the job at a MINIMUM. Figure some additional percentage as a"fudge factor" for unexpected things cropping up. Maybe five percent.

These numbers are different for everybody. Sharpen a pencil and get to work, so you have this figure on a piece of paper in front of you to remind you what your "floor" is, during the negotiations.


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johnsabbath d'urzo
Re: client is a pain
on May 31, 2010 at 4:10:37 am

I will put my numbers together, all my gear is paid off, I work from my house. So I guess the overhead would be very low. I see people charging 50 per hour with gear. I used to have a bigger studio with rent and I was doing 175 per hour. Well I would have to revisit everything. But I have to talk to her in the morning. I think I'm going to ask what her specks are then ask what is her budget. If I feel it's worth it I will give her a yes or no. Would you know if it is possible to cut 8x2 min videos, with music ,sfx,grx in 2 weeks or even in one week? like I mentioned this is a travel show training video type of thing. Like i mentioned I will be going to school full time and would like this to be finished by the 16th of June.
Sorry I know I sound confusing, I have been in this business for a long time and I really have a hard time trusting clients these days on anything. I guess I have to get over it, and learn from mistakes.
Are there any specific questions that I should be asking just incase I forget some?

Thanks for your help.



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Mark Suszko
Re: client is a pain
on May 31, 2010 at 4:30:57 am

"Would you know if it is possible to cut 8x2 min videos, with music ,sfx,grx in 2 weeks or even in one week? like I mentioned this is a travel show training video type of thing."

I have no way to say, without first knowing everything about the project and the footage I'd be working with. If you don't need anything too fancy, I can imagine doing two of them a day, one before lunch, one after. On the other hand, I'm doing a series of 8, 2-minute web videos for a client right now, and the first one took me about three weeks to do. To be fair, I had to learn Apple Motion to do the first one, and it went thru three revision passes as well. The second one took about 3-4 days, the next, about 2 days. By spot number eight the joke is that I will be going back in time and finishing it before I started it. Those projects are not "normal" projects for me: there is zero footage, just a script and VO track and an interview clip. Everything else, I have to create from scratch using photoshop, Motion, and Final Cut, creating animated, compsited imagery, sometimes many layers deep, to illustrate some abstract concepts. Sometimes the clients don't like the first thing I come up with, so I then try another tack. These changes can take additional time.

I would say if your projects call for simple straight cuts of an interview, news-style, with a lower-third super built and laid in over the interview, some music, some nice opening titles, nothing else, and if you have time code numbers for the best takes and don't need to preview every scrap of footage before you can start cutting, then two a day sounds about right for the editing. Maybe three a day, with a tailwind and a working lunch. The time spent to encode for web I can't say because I don't know the specific deliverable she wants. Some encodes are very fast, some take longer.


I think this is all the help I can give you now; the rest has to be up to you.






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Michael Sigmon
Re: client is a pain
on Aug 2, 2010 at 8:06:08 pm

It's been two months on; I'm curious how this all turned out for you.

1) I would suggest reading the highly valuable 'Grinders' article - the one about 15%-70%-15%. Your client was definitely in the lowest 15% segment.

2) I think a fundamental problem is you're letting this grinder... er, client dictate the terms. They don't know what is involved with the work you're being asked to do for them. You do. Clearly she's coming to you because she thinks she can grind you down to whatever crumbs she decides to throw your way. That's a recipe for disaster, in both directions. You're going to end up hating her. She's not going to appreciate how much work you've put into it.

The trick is to be more assertive. This doesn't mean being angry or one-sided. It means coming from a position of strength. She is coming to YOU because of your expertise and ability to get the job done. YOU know what is possible and what is not. If the budget is unrealistic, don't be shy about explaining why. Offer an alternative which either scales back the work to the budget available, or else ask for a more reasonable budget. Don't agree to whatever deadline she dictates; that's a recipe for failure and disappointment as well. I let a client do that once; I labored night and day to make her (and the literally 36 other people who had their grimy little thumbs all over the revision process) happy. I made mistakes. It was inevitable; that did not stop her from throwing fits when the revised video was delivered late and with some minor mistakes. It was partly my fault for not telling her straight up from the outset, 'what you are asking of me is not possible given the time constraints and how many changes you want.'

Even if this project is long past you... these are lessons which will serve you well in whatever endeavors you do in the future, video productions or otherwise. Be more assertive - people respect that. If they don't, if they expect you to be a limp doormat and acquiesce to whatever unreasonable demands they put upon you... they're not people you want to work with anyways.


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Michael Sigmon
Re: client is a pain
on Aug 2, 2010 at 8:08:05 pm

I'll also add that being too eager to say 'yes' is a fatal trap which will bite you in the arse over and over and make you very bitter and angry over time.


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Patrick Ortman
Re: client is a pain
on Jun 21, 2010 at 11:06:49 pm

>> flat fee vs. hourly

We're just getting out of a bad situation from a nasty grinder from Las Vegas, NV on exactly this issue- they insisted on a flat fee, then started adding things to the scope (OK, the crazy bugger continually added stuff, every day, sometimes several times a day to the scope- ugh!).

When we told them they could have as many changes as they'd like, but that they'd have to switch to paying us by the hour, they freaked out and threatened me and my business, our employees, etc. It's pretty nasty, and now my attorney's involved.

So I guess the additional two cents I'm adding are:

1) This sort of thing happens, even to the not-so-new-at-this crowd, once in a great while- and it's never acceptable to let them walk all over you.

2) If they act all crazy at you for insisting on getting paid for your work, you DEFINITELY did the right thing by speaking up for yourself as early as you did.




---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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