I have a client. There was one specific limitation of the solution we were implementing. I made sure to tell him about it, and he said it's fine.

Now later when it's implemented that way, he feels, it's not ideal for him. Overcoming this limitation would require redesigning the current work, and do things bit differently, and it's quite lot of work.

Since he feels he has not got what he wants, he wants me to do the necessary changes now for free.

But I feel since his requirements and needs have changed after we agreed upon everything, I should not be liable to do free work for him.

I am also wondering what's the best way to approach him. I am thinking of sending him the screenshot of conversation where he agrees he is fine with the limitations.

And also write him something like this:

Hi X, As you can see I told you about the limitations before, and you said you are fine. Now these new changes will require drastic change in design and will be a lot of work. I feel it's not fair or reasonable to ask someone to do free work for you if your requirements change later. I hope you understand. Thank you.

  • When you walk into a local store and ask them to give you stuff for free, what do you think they will tell you?
    – HenryM
    Jul 20, 2019 at 23:45
  • "Not ideal" and "This doesn't meet the original criteria" are two very different things, as are "what he wants" and "what he agreed to".
    – chepner
    Jul 21, 2019 at 16:55

3 Answers 3


Absolutely not! If you have agreed on terms, and delivered, then you should expect him to deliver on his part of the arrangement.

Having said that...

  1. Did you give him status updates with the opportunity for feedback?
  2. Did he understand the limitations he put in place for you?
  3. Does he seem to want to continue to use you if you keep working for him?

These three questions may convince you otherwise, or confirm your position. Either way, remain polite and professional, explaining that you don't work for free for projects that he agreed upon initially. You can explain that your cost for implementing feature X using method Y will cost $ZZZ. But make sure the lines of communication are open and clear.


Do you have a contract and a scope of work for the original work up to this point?

If so, then this is your "proof" as to what the client originally agreed to and you can ask for payment for services rendered and enter into a new contract and scope of work for what the client wants now.

If not, then you can:

Do the new work for free.

Refuse to do the new work and demand payment for your work up to this point.

Walk away from the client and absorb the loss.

Sue the client for payment.


This depends. Can you deal with the lost money (either make it up doing something else like another project - and minding this means you must do 2 at once and that may affect your hours/kiloseconds per day you can put in to each - or just have enough on hand you don't mind spending to support yourself through the time)? If "no", then charge for the revisions.

If "yes", then for me I'd first take into account that people really can come to feel differently about something when they see it to at least understand that his criticism is not necessarily meant with ill intent. And also, that they have to mind their own money as much as yours. The nice thing about freelance one-on-one self-work is that you have a lot of room to negotiate and discuss with your client, something that is far less possible as part of a big company.

I'd also take into whether or not that I find enough joy in working on the project that it be not just a "moneymaker". If it is that way, then it'd probably be better to charge (you could also say you don't feel like working on it, but then that sounds like cutting him off and if there's any contract signed already that you must deliver you can't do that or he can sue you...) because if your motivation falters, the quality of your work, too, will likewise suffer, and what you don't want to do is give someone shitty work, imo. Their payment is not just for work but, ideally, good work. Asking for a charge is asking them thus to pay for good work, and you might even mention that you would do it for free but the product may not be as good or satisfying to him as if he pays you (without mentioning you don't find joy in the project in and of itself so as to not offend his feelings - it's not lying if you don't supply your motivation when not specifically asked therefor, and what you say as to what will likely happen is still truthful).

Nonetheless, one should also be open to the possibility of finding such joy, too, because I believe that while money is important, the attitude of reducing, everything, to money, is also a major problem in this world today.

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