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  • Punched in the gut

    Hi all,

    In early January, I was hired by a (new) client to design and develop a website for this company. We agreed on a % of the payment upfront and the balance to be sent before the final delivery/upload of files. He submitted a % upfront as requested.

    All was going well, until today during a phone conversation with the client. I had hosted his site on my FTP for the sake of testing. We were in the final stages of the project. All I needed was his direction regarding photography. Otherwise the website was done. The next steps were for the client to send me the balance of the payment. Once received, I would upload the contents for him to his hosting provider.

    There is where the confusion lies. I gave the client an option of purchasing stock photos for his website, due to lack of his own photography. I had suggested some images to him and gave him the cost of each image. After hearing the price of the images ($100 per image), I notice hostility. The client declined option for stock photography (which was fine to me), the client said he would send me his own images.

    At that point, I simply asked the client "when can I hear back from you?". This is where things get interesting.

    His responses became aggressive and unprofessional. "Why are you rushing me?, I feel like you are trying to scam me. You're pissing me off". At this point, he hangs up. Not returning my calls.

    30 minutes later, I receive 2 emails from him. The first, claiming how much of a scammer I am.

    I responded to him, stating that "there are no issues on my behalf. Not sure where the hostility is coming from. I await direction on images. I'd like to complete this project for you"

    Just as I hit send, I receive another email, stating that he would not like to "deal with me" anymore. He requested working files, and will provide payment once I send them. He has not responded to my initial response.

    I feel horrible. Confused. Like someone just punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. All those weeks of research, design and development has gone down the drain. I am unsure of what I should do. Scrap his project? Take it as a learrning lesson? What learning lesson? He got cold feet at the final stages. I do want to get paid. But not sure how to move forward.

  • #2
    What was he like before today? Was he always difficult or is this a 180 for him?

    I think you ought to try to reach out to him one more time and try to make amends because this could affect your reputation. Apologize for seeming to come across as rushing him, let him know you're happy to work within his timeline and you were just asking in order to help you prioritize projects, etc. He may have mistakingly thought you were asking about the timeline in order to pressure him into an upsell. Perhaps do a quick search at cheaper stock photo options because there's a lot out there for way under $100 and let him know if you find something less expensive as an alternative option.

    His response though is harsh, especially since he already had an established relationship with you. Who knows, maybe he's having a bad day and spent too much time reading political opinions on facebook this week.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by salsa View Post
      What was he like before today? Was he always difficult or is this a 180 for him?

      I think you ought to try to reach out to him one more time and try to make amends because this could affect your reputation. Apologize for seeming to come across as rushing him, let him know you're happy to work within his timeline and you were just asking in order to help you prioritize projects, etc. He may have mistakingly thought you were asking about the timeline in order to pressure him into an upsell. Perhaps do a quick search at cheaper stock photo options because there's a lot out there for way under $100 and let him know if you find something less expensive as an alternative option.

      His response though is harsh, especially since he already had an established relationship with you. Who knows, maybe he's having a bad day and spent too much time reading political opinions on facebook this week.
      Thanks for your input.

      To answer your questions, he was pretty reasonable prior. Yes this is a totally a night and day difference.

      Sure there are cheaper stock solutions, but I find that the cheaper ones lack quality and substance. Which is why I gave the client an option. I was find with which ever he chose. At this point the work is done, just waiting on direction regarding imagery.

      I sent him another note stating that I'd like to complete the project for him despite what transpired earlier. I'll keep you in the loop as to his response or if he even decides to do so.

      It's unfortunate because the end result turned out really well. Sad for it to go to waste.

      Comment


      • #4
        Everyone thinks there's a whole Internet loaded with images free for the taking, so it seems obvious to me your client thought the $100 price tag on a single image was just you adding an unreasonable markup.

        Step back and go silent for a bit. Let it blow over, rather than allowing an emotional response on your side to do further damage. As salsa suggested, prepare to offer less expensive image-source alternatives. When contact resumes, stay professional, demonstrate that you are protective of his interests and his budget.

        If there's a lesson to be learned, it's the art of the escape clause. You do have a contract with him, right?
        I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.

        Comment


        • #5
          I just shelled out $1000 for a single photo a couple hours ago. For a single print use. Some people just don't get it, I guess.

          If you showed the client where the imagery came from, they could see the prices for themselves. Any markup can be described as a search fee. I always show clients the photo source. The lightbox function of stock sites can be very handy for disqualifying imagery right away so less time is wasted in the back and forth. They see the pricing and my search fee is no secret. It's part of the contract. Sounds like maybe you took initiative without discussing that part, maybe?

          Comment


          • PrintDriver
            PrintDriver commented
            Editing a comment
            Sure I have photographers.
            Just not any, that I know of, with a time machine.

            I should probably clarify that this isn't your normal everyday penny stock company image.
            This is a still-copyrighted photographer-owned photo that depicts a piece of history as it happened.
            Not to mention it is going to mural size in a public space possibly for a very long time (since it's being printed using a 10+ year media.)
            Hence $$$$.
            Last edited by PrintDriver; 02-03-2017, 07:28 AM.

          • praxis11
            praxis11 commented
            Editing a comment
            I assumed it was from a stock photo site, given the context of the discussion.

          • PrintDriver
            PrintDriver commented
            Editing a comment
            It was from a stock site. Just not your run-of-the-mill type of stock site.
            It was from a stock site that handles old news media; a place where a photographer can have an agent handle all the paperwork and they just collect the check. This one happens to still be under published copyright. If the purpose had been commercial, I wouldn't have been able to use it at all.

            Or a different, every day source, have you ever priced a Rights Managed image from Getty at the largest size possible for the longest duration possible? For the lower end stuff you are easily looking at middle-three-figures. For things from something like their Stone collection you are pushing that $1000 or a little more (from their Editorial collection sometimes 5x that if rights of publicity are involved.) Same for large runs in multiple markets at a more reasonable size.

            If you need a photo of polar bears, you don't send out a photographer. While you might find something nice at Getty, you might find something that better suits the narrative at NatGeoCreative.

            Sorry for the sidebar going on here in this thread. There is a whole wide world of graphic design out there beyond brochures and business cards.
            Last edited by PrintDriver; 02-03-2017, 07:52 PM.

        • #6
          Yes, wait a bit then send the client links to the website that's costs $100 per image and a couple other links to cheaper sources. Tell. Him to order whichever images he likes. Explainbreifly that most clients use your first source for quality sake, and that you make no money on images.

          I've had clients like this. The only thing that protects you from these clients is the escape clause, which I label as a Kill Fee. At any point either one of us can terminate our relationtion but client forfeits down payment, which in my case is 50%. Then I send all files in whatever state of completion they are in, as is.

          Comment


          • #7
            UPDATE - The client has been in contact with me. Sending me multiple e-mails with changes. Overnight and this morning. At the end of each e-mail he has a couple of lines taking professional and personal shots at me. Making things up. And lying about written agreements that were made and agreed upon by both parties. I maintained professionalism throughout as I always do and firm at the same time. Just sent him an update. Hope I don't end up kicking myself in the rear.

            I'll keep everyone posted. Appreciate the feedback from above.

            Comment


            • #8
              UPDATE

              In short, I got paid and the project is complete.

              The long version: This is after doing 8+ hours of additional HTML work that wasn't originally agreed upon. Mind you, he had approved all artwork a few days prior. I received over 20 e-mails with random changes. Each message had a note defaming me. However, I maintained professionalism throughout just to keep things moving.

              Despite being over with this particular client. In retrospect, I thought it was unfortunate for one to go through all this BS for something that was already theirs. Creatives go through this all the time, and that's one too many. Even with a contract, and the possibility of going through small claims court (depending on the situation), sometimes you're still left in the hole.
              Last edited by coolruler; 02-06-2017, 02:05 PM.

              Comment


              • #9
                Sorry you had a crappy experience, but if you got paid at the end, call it a good day.
                Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

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