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I have a project where the client initially requested a bunch of work. Not too much work and a decent pay. Now here's where it's not fun anymore.

The client has requested to basically rewrite all of the work I have done because of a change in their opinion. They didn't like the strategy their business was going to take. I gave them a fixed price for the project, sadly. Any suggestions?

  • 1
    I'm struggling to see how this question could be answered definitively. It would seem to invite debate, though I'm also interested in seeing some of that debate, so I can't see fit to do anything other than make this comment at the moment. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 5:44
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You should clearly clarify these points initially :

  • The full description of the work you have to submit, and a complete list of the different elements making it.
  • The number of "versions" you agree to make before charging an option (of a previously agreed cost) and how much maximum time you will work for a version change
  • A list of previously defined milestones at numerous points of the project (depending on its size) with payments.

With this, if the client decides to change everything, he will have :

  • Already paid you for what you have done
  • A clearly defined number of authorized changes, and a price for too much changes or big changes

If you haven't done this, the only thing you can do is directly ask the client to pay you more for these important changes, or drop the project - Or if you're lucky agree with them on a partial pay.

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If you make a contract for a fixed price you should also fix the amount of work that will be done. With that, such a significant change would require a contract and price modification.

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@Malharhak is right. You should have clearly defined the scope of the project AND had a contract with the scope outlined in it SIGNED by the client. Sounds like you probably did neither.

I hope you at least got a deposit?

I would suggest going to the client and saying based on the amount of changes they want, you will need to charge extra or bill an hourly rate for the changes.

  • Yes yes, lesson learned there. Contracting up has been new for me. I do have the deposit down and that's good. I'll just finish up the project with a bit of a loss if they won't budge. Thanks! – Sean Fisher May 21 '13 at 23:58
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First, to some extent there will be vagueness no matter what you do. I give the customer the benefit of the doubt on vagueness issues. Also there are times when surprises come up on their side and I will often (though not always) give the benefit of the doubt there if the work is reasonable.

For example, I had a customer pay me to write a fixed asset system on a fixed bid. We agreed that the basis would be actual days, straightlined per year. But when we got it done, it gave them numbers they didn't expect because contrary to their understanding, their current system was depreciating on a 30/360 basis (equal months). I did rewrite the calculations to match their existing system free of charge though I would have been justified charging them extra for it. The customer had always been very prompt in payment and otherwise a delight to work with so I cut them slack on this one.

However, when a customer changes specs partway through, the approach you need to take is to write back a nice friendly letter noting that this is a significant change in the agreement and you will get back to them within a day or so with an adjusted price. Then send them back a bid for the additional work.

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My suggestion: learn from the experience and consider working on retainer next time.

I think your client is trying to take advantage of your good will, and you'll likely have a very difficult time extracting yourself from that situation without serious negative reactions.

In order to try and preserve a good relationship, you may need to consider sucking it up and doing as requested, but certainly start by getting a contract in place before going any further with them.

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