I created a website for a client. I offered to install any future security updates for a fixed monthly fee (so it wouldn’t matter if there are 0 or 10 security updates in a month), but the client didn't accept. I warned him what could happen to his site without applying security updates, but to no result: the client wants no security updates at all.

Now the inevitable happened: the site got hacked. Now the client wants help as fast as possible, of course.

I don't like this task; it's no fun. If this wasn't my client, I’d probably decline this job. On top of that, this is bad timing because I have no time for it actually. But as I created the site some time ago and I'm "his" web designer, I feel responsible for him.

I’m thinking "Damn, we you could have saved us me trouble if you’d have let me install security updates. Why didn't you listen?! Now I have to clean up this mess.". Could this be a reason to charge more for this job?

On one hand, I feel like I'd be taking advantage of an emergency case and maybe also letting him learn the hard way. On the other hand, I feel like charging more would be right because the job is harder; not necessarily because of the required skills or time, but because of pressure ("it has to be done now", "help me, I can’t sell anymore") and because I am reluctant to do it.

How should I deal with such cases?

  • 4
    You aren't his sysadmin, though, so I'd not really say you're at all responsible for any of the cleanup for a defacement/hack.
    – Amelia
    Jun 17, 2013 at 23:10

4 Answers 4


Pricing can depend on whatever you like. To me, the fact that it is an emergency means that you are free to charge a special "rush" fee or whatever you'd like to call it. Just make sure to tell him up front that this fee will be in effect. He has a right to know before you begin any of the work.

Personally my pricing depends on a variety of things, including the timeline, my interest in doing the kind of work requested (charge more for yucky work), and how the work might benefit me professionally (charge less if I will learn something on the project that will help me find other work, for example).


In your case I would definitely charge extra money - not only because the job is difficult, but because it is "rush job" that will create conflicts in your schedule. If clients wants premium services, then he has to accept the fact that he has to pay premium fee (good client will bite his lips but pay anyways since this is clearly his/her fault and you warned him/her ahead that this can happen if the site wont get updated regularly). And I would definitely point out to the client that because he saved money on monthly fee, now he is going to pay MUCH more to me for fixing the site - just like i told him.

Which will actually give you a an opportunity to sell him the "maintenance" service now, so it wont happen again...

  • 1
    +1 for using the monthly fee as part of the justification of giant fee the client is going to be slapped with
    – virtualxtc
    Feb 8, 2014 at 4:09

Not a direct answer to the question, but something useful (my answer is yes by the way, you should charge more):

I offer near enough the same service (updates etc paid on a monthly basis) and when a client doesn't take this I make them sign something along the lines of:

I agree that as I am not taking out a maintenance contract the following are my responsibilities:

  • Updates
  • ... etc etc

Any work outside of a maintenance contract on any of the above items will be charges at X per hour.

Some people read this and then decide to take the monthly contract, others don't and end up paying the fee's later down the line, but I like to think this covers some of the bases. It also gives them less of a shock when you tell them how much it will cost to fix their problem outside of the agreement.

  • 1
    +1 it answers the question in the subject well
    – virtualxtc
    Feb 8, 2014 at 4:11

If I liked this client, I would consider giving him a one time deal of doing it for a "normal" price and mention the monthly security updates again. Let him know that this is in fact a one time deal and let him know what an estimated emergency cost would normally be.

But from what I've gathered, you don't really care much if you have to do this or someone else does. To pick up this case, you'll have to put other work on the backburner. Fixing his problem is going to cost you time you don't have and might very well put you behind schedule. It's his fault for not keeping up with security updates, and you shouldn't feel guilty charging him more for an emergency, especially when you're already short on time. Don't charge an exorbitant amount, but certainly feel free to charge for time lost with your current clients.

Regardless of how you handle the issue, if you take the job, make sure you mention the monthly maintenance fee and how it can keep this from happening again.

  • 3
    Don't forget the risk of potentially being accused for hacking the site just so you can 'charge a maintenance fee'. Whether you decline or not, with some customers, you can't win.
    – MDMoore313
    Jun 20, 2013 at 18:58
  • 5
    @MDMoore313 - If it comes to that, the client was probably not worth it!
    – bPratik
    Jun 20, 2013 at 23:52

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