View Full Version : Client Conundrum - What would you do?

07-18-2008, 11:05 PM
Hey all,

I'm pretty new to this forum, but I have an issue with a client that has been really bugging me, and I would like to get your take on this.

I was hired by a new client at the beginning of this month to write/copyedit/salesify (is that a word?) their company web site copy, specifically with 20 web pages as deliverables. I requested half of the fee upfront, as I always do, and they paid it.

They send me a PDF with all of their web copy plus a site map of their new web site. My contact specifically tells me to concentrate on certain pages as the core of their content, which I do. However, the rest of the copy is BADLY in need of some copyediting, so in the interest of good customer service I go ahead and copyedit the whole thing. Not a LOT of work, but I probably spend a couple of hours on it. The deadline for the project is today.

They requested that I submit the copy piecemeal, in bites of a few pages at a time, which I did, as I completed it. I thought everything was going swimmingly. I was even ready to complete the project two days ahead of schedule.

Then on Tuesday, I get a short message from my contact saying that he has two more pages of content for me and he'll be sending it over tomorrow. Since I'm in the process of finishing up at the time, I kind of go, "huh?", shrug my shoulders and continue on.

The following afternoon, at maybe 3ish, I submit a completed first draft of all their copy (at least, so I think), outline the most efficient way to request any revisions they need (I always offer two rounds of revision free for 30 days), and send them an invoice for the balance.

An hour later, I get another short message saying 'here are the two more pages of content to do.' I take one look at them, and see that they aren't included in the site map, or have any provision for them on the web site itself. Therefore, I must conclude that this is an instance of "scope creep", added after the fact for whatever reason. They aren't included in our original agreement. I tell him as much, and make it clear that I would be happy to work on them for an additional fee.

He tells me that he told me about these two pages during a phone call. Unfortunately I don't recall this, and the fact that they are not mentioned in any written communication leads me to maintain my position that these pages fall outside the scope of the original contract, reiterating that I would be happy to do them--for an additional fee. I feel I have done a good job up to this point (although I have received no feedback whatsoever for any of the pieces that I sent along the way) and I want to provide quality service, but springing two more pages on me at the 11th hour, after two solid weeks of work??

This is complicated by the fact that I'm dealing with Indians, so their English is not bad, but it's not great either, which is why their previous copy needed so much help. This is an IT company with 200+ employees, so it's not a mom-and-pop shop.

So after all this diatribe, I ask, "What would you do?"

07-20-2008, 02:50 AM
Wow, this does sound like what could become a bad case of "scope creep." I wuld just send them a new agreement requesting a deposit for the new project. Be assumptive in your business dealings. If they ask "why can't we just include this with the current roject?" just explain that it's your policy to keep different projects separated and that this works to both you and the client's benefit. Good luck. :)

07-20-2008, 11:22 PM
What's happening illustrates the wisdom of having a written scope of work and contract...if a client requests more work by a telephone call, it's best to follow that up with an email with an outline of new request, along with an estimate for the new work--and ask for their Okay to go ahead under those terms.

What they're doing is as you said, Scope Creep, or a "Change Order," and it will cost them more money to add additional work..happens all the time...and you've got to stick to the original Scope of Work agreed upon in writing. That's why leaving a paper trail becomes crucial...emails work for this purpose..just print them out so you have a record.

Good luck! Sounds like you're doing a good job for them...a shame they want even more of your work without more pay...

07-24-2008, 02:45 AM
I have to agree with what has been suggested. The client is trying to get more work out of you without paying for it. I would stick to your guns and bill for the additional work and as already suggested follow up each phone call with an e-mail confirming what was discussed. Good luck

08-21-2008, 01:16 PM
Hi, all of you! I got some valuable info from your chatting! Thanks!

08-23-2008, 08:22 AM
Yup, What they said. I've worked off & on in the tech writing field for more than 20 years. Change Orders are the way it's normally handled with a write-for-hire contract. CO's are also additional changes and just part and parcel of the process.

If you did not have a written contract in the first place, now's the time to tell them "Sorry, I did the work as originally specified. Any changes or additional work will cost you." If the client is reasonable and has any credibility at all, and especially if they're really desperate to get the work done, then they'll recognize the need for a written contract detailing the full scope of the work and the need for additional fees for any changes in that scope.

If they refuse, you give them everything they've paid for to-date, refund any additional monies, and sever your relationship with that client. You'll know better next time.

08-23-2008, 08:32 AM
They may also be setting you up with an excuse to stiff you on the back-end payment. I think this is especially probable, since the extra two pages don't seem to be all that related to the original job, if I understand what I've read. They create a reason to be pissed or unhappy about your service, and bail on paying the rest, now that they have it in hand. It would also be a good reason to have you sending pages as you go, so that if they have to bail at any point, they've gotten x amount of work out of you for half the total bill. You get the point. Good luck with this.
I've dealt with India and China for several years, and they have pretty much always found a way to screw me.

L M Ashton
08-28-2008, 05:26 PM
Yup. This is why the husband and I do not like working with local companies - they always find a way to screw us. They almost always have massive scope creep, which is expected by them to be included in the contract price, they don't stick to their own deadlines, and they don't usually pay in the end. Not worth it, unfortunately.

09-06-2008, 08:26 PM
Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
I eventually convinced myself that my contact had mentioned those two extra pages on the phone, so in the interest of good customer service, I went ahead and did them.
The sad part is that it is now almost 60 days out from the original submission and they still haven't paid the balance.

09-11-2008, 08:31 AM
I manage an FIS team that has lots of day to day dealing with off-shore contractors. They should be quite familiar with the normal processes, since they should be pretty much the same processes they hold their clients to. As stated above, you can provide them with a written agreement and they ought to stick with it.

They owe you a clearly defined Statement of Work (SOW) and a Request for Pricing (RFP) at the time they approach you.

In return, you owe them a proposal that addresses the needs of the SOW and clearly states your pricing and an Level of Effort (LOE) with a commitment date, along with the process for a Change Request (CR).

The likelihood is you've already done all this, but formalizing it will take out the kinks.

Lastly, don't give away work. Bill for everything. It's a business.

10-19-2008, 02:13 AM
A contract...that's what you need. Things in writing. And if you honestly don't remember them asking about two more pages, don't shrug next time--be direct. Like everyone says, this is a business.