Ok, the title is silly as I am not sure how to formulate it.

This is the case. A very cool guy, programmer, introduced me to his client and asked that I code something for his client, while he will stay focused on his own work on that software. I issues invoices to this guy (NOT his client!), and he paid all my invoices. The most important fact is that he DID not take any percentage on my work, he just passed my invoices.

Then he asked me to stop the work because the client is refusing to reimburse him my costs. I stopped work.

Now the client is asking me directly to continue work, but he still did not pay this cool guy.

I am thinking to either not reply to this client or to tell him that we can work only after he pays off the cool guy. Is this bad business decision? Should I be fair to my fellow programmer how connected me to this client on the first place or I should be an asshole and accept the work?

This is a question on morality. And should the programmers stick together in situations like this.

PS. I am not starving so it is not mandatory I accept the continuation of work in this project. It would be good, of course, and it would secure the stable income for this year.

PPS. Please do not reply with things like "you should not work for this client as he may trick you as well". This will not happen because I know how to work in cases like this. My fellow programmer was too naive and got himself into problems.

2 Answers 2


This is simple.

Do not work with client until he pays cool guy and then he needs to pay you IN ADVANCE of any work. What makes you think the client will not do the same thing to you as he did the cool guy?

Reply to client and copy the cool guy on your response. Do not put the cool guy in the dark. Cool guy will appreciate it forever, client only cares about free stuff.

  • Yup, payment upfront for each milestone was my security feature.
    – Peter MV
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:34

Disregard that you know "this cool guy" and examine the facts.

You know this client has failed to pay others. Why would you be any different? Why would this non-paying client feel compelled to pay?

Since you know the client owes others for similar work, is it not possible that the client is coming directly to you because others are refusing to work for them due to non-payment?

So, if you take on the work, be prepared to hunt down the client for payment. If that's acceptable to you, then go ahead. Even with safeguards in place, I tend to shy away from clients which I'm well aware that getting payment will be troublesome. I prefer clients that pay when invoiced.

Knowing what you know about this client, you seem a tad overconfident that you can "secure stable income" from them. Just because you may have a contract requiring milestone payments or a deposit never means the client will pay what they agree to pay. Even with advance payments, who is to say you get one, then no more, essentially killing the project? Unless you have direct access to their banking, there's no guarantee you'll get any money, even after a law suit. And who whats lawsuits to get paid?

I, personally, would not mix my business with anyone else's business and what the client may or may not owe others is none of my concern. Although how clients treat others is telling about how they will treat me. I'd make no mention of anyone else to the client when dealing with the client.

If "this cool guy" is someone I'm on a friendly basis with, I may separately inform him that I was contacted by the client. In all probability, the client is only contacting you directly because "this cool guy" merely passed on your invoices. So to me, it would seem the client is attempting to circumvent or take advantage of "this cool guy" providing your contact information... I would not take on the work merely in order to not play any part in any collusion against "this cool guy" if I valued that relationship. Proving a "workload' or "sceduling" excuse to the client.

  • I stated above, I planned to work on "pay in advance" principle. So financing is covered on my side. So this is purely "is this fair" and "should I be fair to colleague or look only on my business and profit".
    – Peter MV
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:40
  • Other part of the problem "who knows if he will pay the next milestone" is situations I had in the past. I inform them in advance that they need to load another milestone so the project is not stalled. If they don't load, I can work for a few days ONE TIME only, but if this happens again, I stop work until the milestone has been loaded. If these issues start to repeat (like work 1 week, wait 1 week, work 2 weeks,...), I then inform them to find another guy. But your comments are on the place, I think the same for each line... except not being sure for the cool guy
    – Peter MV
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:44

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