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Copyright issue/problem client!

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  • Copyright issue/problem client!

    Hi. I wondered if someone might be able to provide some direction here.

    I was asked to do some work for a local business - producing from scratch marketing materials and developing a new logo. Stupidly i didn't do a contract because they were friends and we had a good relationship - i know, a big mistake. I produced the marketing materials which were printed and used by the business. I completed the logo design after many, many revisions. The client was incredibly difficult, changing his mind constantly and introducing new specifications. Anyway, when i issued my invoice (heavily discounted as it was an independent business that we had a good relationship with), the client refused to pay on the basis that it was too expensive. We reached an agreement (finally) that i would invoice them 50% for the marketing materials, and write off the 50% for the logo, making it clear that they were not to use the design or any development designs in any capacity. I reissued the reduced invoice, which they did not pay. Yesterday, they updated all their social media channels and website with the logo i had designed for them.

    To date, they haven't paid a penny and are using all of the work i did for them. My question is what should be the first step? Should i issue a claim form for the whole invoice? A cease and desist letter? Eager to hear from any other designers who have had similar problems to this.

    Thanks so much in advance.

  • #2
    Hi Ahywfskw and welcome to GDF.

    We ask all new members to read very important links here and here. These explain the rules, how the forum runs and a few inside jokes. No, you haven't done anything wrong, we ask every new member to read them. Your first few posts will be moderated, so don't panic if they don't show up immediately. Enjoy your stay.
    As you mentioned, not having a contract was a mistake. This may be a "lesson learned" situation. In general, you get a deposit before you start any work. That shows that the client knows they need to pay and will, and gives you at least partial payment in case they bolt. And you don't hand over final files without payment. Also, the client does not dictate your fee - you do. If they say it's too expensive, they are free to go elsewhere.

    If you really want to go after your client for payment, you should be talking to a lawyer. But without a contract, I'm not sure how far you'd get. I'm sorry this happened to you.
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    • #3
      Good luck with that.
      Nothing ends a friendship faster than disputes over money.

      <not a lawyer.
      You can try seeking legal advice, but at this point that may just be throwing more good money after bad. It really depends on if you are talking about a few hundred dollars or a few thousand (which would be more the going rate for this kind of work.)
      You might still try sending the cease and desist and another invoice for payment with a notice that it will go to collection if not paid. Be prepared to back that up by actually doing it if the amount is worth it. But it sounds to me like you have a write-off. Check with your accountant to see if you can claim it as a business loss. Drop the client like a hot rock. Perhaps they will be one of the high percentage of startups that go out of business within a year...


      • #4
        Thanks for your responses.

        It is a couple of thousand - I agreed a lower rate in recognition of the fact that they are a local independent business. Fortunately we have a couple of lawyers in the family who can assist with a cease and desist letter and we can follow it up with a small claims recovery so there would be minimal costs in terms of lawyers fees. It's less about the money at this stage - more that if action isn't taken he may continue to conduct himself in the same way because he knows he can "get away with it". I walked past today and a sign has been made of my logo for the front of their building and all the staff are wearing uniforms with the logo printed on it.


        • #5
          So, did you provide an estimate before you started the work? Why did they think your price was too high? Even when I don't write up a contract, at the very least I tell my clients what the price will be before I start anything. (If they're paying by the hour, I estimate *high* what the hours might be so that they know the worst case scenario.) To have to discount 50% after all the work has been done is crazy.

          "the client refused to pay on the basis that it was too expensive. " This is never a reason to not pay. They can claim that you didn't do the work, or that your work was faulty, or whatever, but too expensive? I can totally see my lawyer laughing at that one.


          • #6
            A lawyer will look at them using the product they didn't pay for a little sideways, yes.
            Hopefully you have all of your emails, contacts and refusals-to-pay somewhere safe.






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