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News Flash: People Are Supposed To Work For Free

May 30, 2008

Extra!This just in! Businesses aren’t supposed to be paid for the services they provide!

Or, at least according to one of my clients, they aren’t.

For over a year now I have been dealing with bullshit from one of my clients. I work for an independent design studio, and we have a client who treats us as his internal design department, flying in the door unannounced spouting off about his latest project that has to get done yesterday. He seems surprised when we don’t have his projects open on our monitors, as though he doesn’t understand that we have (gasp!) other clients. Say it ain’t so!

On top of that, we also have to put up with his belief that if he asks us to do the work, and we do the work, and then the project falls through on his end, that he doesn’t need to pay us for our time. The latest hullabaloo from him is that we’ve charged him for a project that looks similar to a previous project we did for him (silly me for wanting to show some consistency in the work we do for him). He claims that because the projects look similar, we should have only had to have put a few minutes into the job, so why should he be charged?

The best solution is simply to cut him loose, tell him that it’s not a good fit for us, and that we wish him all the best. As easy as that sounds, it’s really not. Getting rid of clients really isn’t a good business practice, but either is working with people who don’t want to pay you.

If I had been bombarded by gamma radiation at some point in the past, I’d be turning into a big green monster and rampaging through the streets right about now.


From → Graphic Design

  1. David permalink

    I used to get the same thing when i was in sole practice. I had a client who would flounce in and tell me to drop my other files and work on his ‘deal’ cuz this was gonna be the one. The fact that he hadn’t paid my bill for the previous three matters didn’t seem to faze him in the least. When you’re young and starving and running your own shop you need the business so you grit your teeth and take it, but eventually economics intrude and it becomes: dude, i work on files that pay.

  2. Peirce permalink

    Yeah, I have run into that line of thinking as well. Guy borrows large sum of cash against a car lien loan, makes about 3 months payments out of a 14 month plan, he then subtracts his 3 months worth of payments against the PRINCIPLE, and decides to give us that back. So he has our money, (over 2 grand) for more then 3 months and thinks that he doesn’t have to pay us any intetest….? none,

    Yeah, we would be in business for the long haul with that kind of thinking….

  3. Colrouphobic permalink

    I cut them loose.
    There is nothing that can substitute the lack/loss of work and paycheck as someone who walks all over you without paying.

    Regardless of how you feel about it, a person that has that form of ethics twards the people he hires to do a job will most likely be seen as either:

    a) a braggart and a loudmouth, not to be taken serious


    b) cut waste from anyone else in the business…once enough companies have cut him loose the work will start flowing in again (if you even lost a single client).

    No worrying over that. Trust me.

  4. accidentalrob permalink

    …or a little bit from A and a little bit from B.

    It’s easy to say “cut him loose” – it’s easy for me to say it, too. But the sheer idea of dropping clients is so very alien to me, it’s difficult to consider. But, you’re absolutely right.

    Best thing to do is take a look at your clients and grade them A to D. Anyone graded a D is cut loose (preferably with the business card of your competitor!).

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