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Freelance web designer nightmare

Discussion in 'Web Development' started by Jamie-AU, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. BenWalker

    BenWalker Membership: Community

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    The fact that he may be broke, tired of the industry, deformation suits are all just irrelevant noise. Business is business.

    Send him a letter of demand. Give him 30 days to finish the job. Or whatever you deem is suitable. Show him that you are serious and not going to put up with nonsense.

    Im not a legal expert, but since this is a basic consumer and trader dispute (which is under $10,000), I think the more appropriate path is VCAT.
     
  2. Jamie-AU

    Jamie-AU Membership: Community

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    In the past, I have sent him several documents stating that I want things finished by a certain date and what I expect to happen if it doesn't happen. He just ignores those.

    I've also recently asked him to sign a proper contract with a fixed project completion date, to make up for the fact one was never signed at the start of the project, which was silly on my part. I signed it myself and sent him a copy on 24th March. The completion date was set to 4 weeks later - 19th April - i.e. tomorrow. He just ignored the contract.

    I've also keep reiterating that he's been paid $6,490 and delivered nothing to me, which is just not fair. He just brushes that aside like it doesn't matter.

    He keeps talking about what he terms "monstrous" lists of changes to his page drafts. However, most of the changes are because he isn't reading the design spec and he ends up stripping out critical components from the original web pages he is redesigning/refreshing. Other changes are simply to do with the layout. It's just static HTML/CSS, nothing complex. How hard can that be, particularly when you have an existing website with content to base it on?

    While all this is going on, I'm noticing he is doing work for other clients based on his postings on other websites. Maybe those people only pay him as he completes work, hence they get first priority if he's suffering a major cash flow issue. Maybe it's all to do with financial survival. After all, he's not getting any more money out of me, so I get the lowest priority.

    I do think though I need proper legal advice. Can anyone recommend someone that doesn't charge an arm and a leg, has an understanding of these things, and is based in Melbourne? I did consider going down the path of legal advice a few weeks ago, and sent a couple of lawyers I found on the web emails requesting a quote for them to look at the situation which I briefly outlined, but none have gotten back to me. So I don't know if they are either very busy, whether they are just not interested in this sort of work, or whether they believe I have very little chance of success, so they won't bother getting involved to begin with.
     
  3. helloworld

    helloworld Membership: VIP

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    I'm looking for new clients and one of our specialties is email marketing. If you'red in Melbourne, I've just opened an office in Flinders street, feel free to send me a PM.

    Regarding your actual situation with the cash. That is a sticky situation but you are OK. You don't need a contract. You have a verbal contract and you have paid him which is indicative of contract. Emails are more than enough evidence in any Victorian court to recover the debt. You need to send a letter of demand and seek full remedy of payment within 30 days.

    I would also go to the Vic magistrates court website and download civil form 4a. Complete it and email/fax it/post it many times debtors will see this and make the payment. If you haven't been compensated within 30 days then get the form 4a stamped at the magistrates court. They will post it to him and he has 30 days to respond. If he doesn't respond he will automatically get a default judgement and you can recover the funds and court fees. In 9/10 cases the debtors mysteriously come up with the money before the sherrif takes there property.
     
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  4. findtim

    findtim Membership: VIP

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    excellent knowledge helloworld, hope i never need it, thanks

    tim
     
  5. helloworld

    helloworld Membership: VIP

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    It's a fairly easy process in Victoria. Not so much interstate
     
  6. Jamie-AU

    Jamie-AU Membership: Community

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    I don't think an individual can do that, as form 4a, which is titled "Overarching obligations certification", has bits to fill in including court number, Australian lawyer name, etc.

    So I assume I need a lawyer to do this. If anyone's got any recommendations for someone who has modest fees, I'd appreciate that, otherwise I'll just do a web search.

    Looking at the fees on the magistrates court website, based on the claim (i.e. between $5,000 and $7,500), it will cost me at least $1,000 in terms of court fees, plus I then need to add in any lawyer fees.
     
  7. Jamie-AU

    Jamie-AU Membership: Community

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    There's been a new development in this situation.

    Last month, I instructed my bank to reverse the payments I'd made over the internet for the $6,490 sent to this freelance web designer I hired as they hadn't delivered me anything I could use. The bank has sent me a letter stating that the recovery of funds was unsuccessful because the person in question has either refused to release the funds back to me or they have ignored the requests.

    So clearly this guy is determined to hang onto the money (or as johno69 said, he's probably spent it all), and not do any work.

    Of course, I never really expected him to let the bank reverse the payment, given that asking him directly to refund the money didn't work. But I guess this is all evidence I can use in a case against this person in the future.
     
  8. Cal

    Cal Administrator

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    Hi Jamie-AU. I'd highly recommend getting in touch with Erhan and the team at Cooper Mills Lawyers http://www.coopermills.com.au/ who specialise in IT law.

    Erhan really knows his stuff and is a fantastic contributor to the DNTrade community. Yes Cooper Mills Lawyers are certainly one of our DNTrade sponsors, however, we also do business with them and I would have no hesitation in personally recommending them.

    Wishing you all the best and hope you can get this situation sorted out soon.
     
  9. helloworld

    helloworld Membership: VIP

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    Sorry it's form 5a http://www.magistratescourt.vic.gov.au/forms/complaint-form-5a

    YOU DO NOT NEED A LAWYER
     
  10. helloworld

    helloworld Membership: VIP

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    Jamie, I've just sent you a PM. In these instances using a lawyer is really a waste of money. Debt collectors are also a waste of time and money. Seriously you won't get anyone decent. Most of them have to conform to "industry regulations" which really take the bite out of what you need to achieve which is a full refund
     
  11. Jamie-AU

    Jamie-AU Membership: Community

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    I thought I'd give everyone an update as to what was happening here.

    I was in contact with Erhan from Cooper Mills Lawyers (www.coopermills.com.au) on Tuesday last week. May I say, Erhan is a fantastic bloke who took the time to listen to my situation and offer some good advice, all at no cost.

    My web designer's claim of defamation action against me because I mentioned his business name when seeking advice in another forum is a non-issue. So I don't have anything to worry about there.

    My web designer's claim that he has no obligation to refund any of the $6,490 I have paid him in advance is also false. I have been delivered zero final web pages, just screenshots of first drafts of less than half the pages. My web designer claims he's done so much other work on this project (none of which I've seen) and he said he is significantly discounting the final payment at the end of the project. None of this can apparently justify him holding onto the $6,490 and delivering no pages I can use.

    Erhan's advice was to first speak to him and lay it down the line. I did this on the Tuesday (23rd April). My web designer said that was all okay and that he's been working around the clock on my website, and will have completed first draft templates for ALL the website's pages completed within 2 days - i.e Thursday 25th April.

    The templates are now 8 days overdue and I haven't heard a peep out of him. I've left him messages on his phone this week, none of which have been returned.

    It's now exactly one year since this web designer started work for me (May 2012), and he's been paid $6,490 and delivered not one thing I can use, despite promising completion dates 3 and then 6 months after the project began.

    Clearly I'm not going to get anything out of him, and he's held my website redesign in limbo for a year during this process, even though this urgently needed to be finished before last Christmas.

    So I'm going to hire someone else, which is what a few of you from this forum said I should do if I want to get something done.

    Erhan suggested the next step would be to take him to VCAT. This is is probably something I can do myself, so I guess that's my only hope for recovering some of the money this web designer took from me and basically ran away with.
     
  12. Blue Wren

    Blue Wren Membership: VIP

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    He just hasn't sent the bill yet. LOL :D

    But you're right he is a fantastic bloke.
     
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  13. Jamie-AU

    Jamie-AU Membership: Community

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    That reminds me of another piece of very valuable advice that Erhan gave which I forgot to mention.

    Because my web designer had refused to sign any sort of contract for the work, it means that he may actually retain ownership of the intellectual property created (if he actually bothered to finish it), despite the fact that I've paid him for the work.

    It's possible this could cause problems in the future if the website went live with his design.
     
  14. johno69

    johno69 Membership: VIP

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    auDA Member:
    Yes
    A lot of Venture Capital investors require evidence that you own the IP before they will sign off ins deal.
     
  15. findtim

    findtim Membership: VIP

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    what he doesn't have is your database so his designs are useless to him.

    i had the same thing happen to me 15 years ago, i gave the guy ALL the ideas but he then said he owned copyright ! cut your loses and get your money back however you can.

    so many websites look very similar these days i wouldn't be worried about using some of your concept again, change a few colours, change a few curves, change a box from the rightside to the left side etcccccc

    tim


    tim