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I have a new client who I am building a (very small) website for. He has already paid the first 50% upfront. He wants to have a discussion over Skype which I am happy to do.

It's been over two weeks and we haven't managed to chat together yet. For the last few days he has agreed on a time to talk (we are in significantly different timezones) so I have been waking up very early in the morning to accommodate for him - yesterday he cancelled and today I got no reply. It's been over two weeks that I am trying to have this discussion and I am getting fed up.

What is the best thing to do in this situation? I am almost tempted to tell him to get lost.

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Not much you can do this time only hassle him, maybe figure out a way of adding the costs on top as extras, but it's not really possible in a way that wont damage your relationship with the client.

For future reference, add something to your contract that allows you to charge for meeting time as if it was work time, as meetings are exactly that. It may be difficult given your method of charging clients (which I wouldn't advise changing given it's a solid and secure model) but perhaps add it as extra costs in the same sense of scope change, or add a 'cancellation fee' for meetings.

In conclusion I wouldn't suggest attempting anything drastic with your current client as this could lead to some issues with your business relationship and he may not agree with the extra costs. But definitely look at a way of handling this and adding it to your contract for future clients to prevent repetition of this situation.

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You send him this email:

Mr. Smith,

I have not been able to reach you for our scheduled meetings. I want to finish this project for you as quickly as possible. However, I cannot proceed until we have our discussion.

I will have to cease work on the project until we can have the discussion about the (whatever issue) and I have enough information to proceed.

Please let me know your availability as soon as you can.

Thank you,

Joe Freelancer

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He paid you.. what's the problem??

Since he paid you, he clearly has full intent on following through. I also don't see 2 meetings falling through as "impossible to get ahold of". Don't forget you are in a service industry.

If your time zones are wildly different, that may be the issue. And, in fact you may want to give him a bit more leeway due to this. I realize you state you are "waking up early" but just schedule something so you don't have to. Find a common ground. You can't be more than 8-9 hours apart. So you should be able to schedule something at the start of your day and the end of his or vice versa.

Being annoyed that someone paid you and you've had simple meeting scheduling conflicts for a couple weeks is a bit over the top in my opinion. Good customer service would be of a mindset that he's paid, lets work with him, not get annoyed that a meeting is proving difficult to schedule.

It's one thing if he hasn't given you anything, but it's another matter entirely if he's proven intent by paying a deposit.

All that being posted... I too get annoyed and cancelled meetings at the last minute or no-shows. That's a different matter.

See here: What to do about negligent clients

-- but that does deal with a client prior to any commitment (deposit) so with a deposit I'd expand to allow at least 3 cancellations before I say anything.

Then I'd just express that my time is valuable and I have a fairly full schedule. I can't continually put things aside for meetings which are then cancelled at the last minute. If he's not prepared to move forward, I'll happily return the deposit.

  • Thanks scott. I didn't really mention in my post that it's been three weeks of emailing so far to try and have a conversation, and that we're also 10 hours apart which makes it difficult. The only reason I was frustrated was because it's such a small job that I feel like it's not worth wasting any more time on. – Tom F Oct 25 '16 at 23:33

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