How to fire a Client
 
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  1. #1
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    How to fire a Client

    I have been working on this freelance illustration job forever, for way too little money. I accepted it for my resume, but I didn't expect it to go on for this long.
    The client continuously has me make changes and add new things, and at this point I'm working for about .25/hour.
    I just sent him a finished product, and he sent me further revisions, including things that he should have mentioned in the mockup stage. Things that would require complete re-drawing and re-vectoring.
    He wants me to add a gate, and draw the gate in different positions (IE: Animating the gate)
    I am pretty furious, I don't know what to do.
    The camel's back has been broken.
    Should I fire him? Can you fire a client? How do you fire a client? Should I just tough it out? I am really at a loss.

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    Did you make use of a contract and left a paper trail as the project went along?
    If so, did this contract include anything mentioning payment for having to do extra work?
    If you haven't done that, I suppose you could still say that his demands weren't in the original brief and agreement you and your client made before the project started, and you want to get paid for the extra work. And if he refuses to, the agreement is over.

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    I'm not there but I have been such situations.

    It sucks when you are the type of person who want's to satisfy the client and do your best to fit their needs and find it hard to say no but the bottom line is that the client cannot be ignorant about themselves.

    You have to make it clear that they have to come to a resolution, you made a mistake not to explain this before you provided your services but the amount of work you are putting in are not being paid for. They have to decide what they want or start paying alteration fees.

    Maybe a quotation could be desighned and discussed beforehand that you will be charging for for both conception and labour. If the client undermines your creative imput entirely they have to pay for your labour or do it themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dublah View Post
    at this point I'm working for about .25/hour.
    Do you mean 25 cents an hour. If that's the case tell him you're losing money and you need to quit. Bottom line don't let a client change the scope of a project on you. That's a mistake I've learned from. You may not even get a good job reference at the end of the day.

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    Normally you should put together a contract with a price for thumbnails,a sketch (or 2,3), final and 1 or 2 revisions (beeing small/medium adjustments to the final).
    If he wants additional revisions he has to re-negotiate the price.

    Normally standard prices for sketches, final pieces, revisions should be available online to calculate a total.
    If you think these prices are to high to start with or to be competitive give him a reduction. If clients complain too much about money just refer to those standard prices.

    If you don't have a contract just tell him you can't do that amount of work for the prices he's paying atm. He can negotiate a new price or you have to terminate the cooperation.

    "Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave."
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    Ok I recommend being straight with the client at this point - let him know the project has continued way beyond what you originally quoted for / accepted budget for. You could quote for the extra revisions that were really above and beyond but most importantly you need to stop, explain and plan how to go about completing this so you can get on with life.

    Seems to me there is not enough communication of what exactly is wanted. Usually if a client starts wanting change after change - I call a halt to finalising anything and ask them to really work out what they want. If they're still struggling to decide I see if I can help them work that out via a discussion or two.

    Also if at any point the client has confirmed to you that they would like the final version then technically they have confirmed the job is completed - there is still a small bit of leeway for minor revisions but nothing that requires redrawing.

    At the end of the day most artists have been through this situation - learn from it and let them know at the start of commissions what the fee covers. And always get the client to give you a really good idea of what they're after.

    All the best!

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  9. #7
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    hey man,

    I suggest to read up on your rights as a commercial artist/ illustrator. It has helped me tons and gave security when working with clients. Furthermore, it makes the business aspect sooo much more relaxing
    the Graphic Artist Guild Handbook is a Standart in the Industry, definitely get one.
    Also, many clients don´t mean to harm the Illustrator, they just don´t know better. It is your job to "educate the client", a phrase that is much discussed on blogs about illustration. Check Escape to Illustration Island to get access to great resources regarding this topic.

    hope you get everything straight :

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  11. #8
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    Explain that you've completed the project to scope and have already done many out-of-scope changes. Tell him you're going to bill him for the work you've completed. Inform him that when you receive payment you'll be willing to negotiate another contract for extra revisions. If what you say is the full story then there's no real option but to be firm with the client.

    You should really have a contract. Email exchanges are also binding, as indeed are verbal contracts, but are much harder to enforce. However, if the extra work is clearly way beyond scope then there is no need for a contract to be in place to demonstrate that these additional requests are unreasonable. Next time, though, have a contract.

    If the client doesn't agree to final payment then explain that the ownership and rights to the work remain with you, and that he cannot under any circumstances use the work or any derivative. You can still display it in your portfolio. Of course you won't get the money but if he's that much of a chancer you probably won't anyway.

    Edit: Bear in mind I'm going off your word here, that you're working for the equivalent of $SodAll an hour and the client keeps demanding huge changes for no extra charge. If the truth is not so clear-cut then you need to dilute this advice you get accordingly. Recently I had a client who asked for quite a few changes. He's a great guy but I found I needed to draw a line under the changes and told him that future changes would be extra, and explained the situation. He agreed and when I delivered the final he paid in full the next day. I wish all my clients were like that. The motto being, don't take drastic action unless you're sure you're being taken for a ride.

    Last edited by Baron Impossible; February 26th, 2010 at 11:01 AM.
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  13. #9
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    Deacent people don't need complex contracts to work out a honest deal, as long as you're not afraid to tell them how things are going to go, and they will decide. Extra work = extra money is not some alien concept.

    In your case you're dealing with a poop, not a serious client, so ditch him and learn to detect wastes of time in the first meeting you have with them. It's a damn shame you didn't charge him 50% before you even started on his shit.

    And no, fear not, he has no worthy connections, nothing that would spoil your non existant professional reputation. His word of mouth would only bring his whole goddamn familly to use you anyway. As far as resume, make what YOU want to make and put your friend/relative as the client.

    So yeah, i like the idea of firing him. Don't quit, litterally go up to him and tell him he can't be your client anymore. Go all Dragon's Den on that mofo and his project too so he doesn't waste anyone elses time.

    Last edited by Kraus; February 26th, 2010 at 06:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kraus View Post
    Deacent people don't need complex contracts to work out a honest deal, as long as you're not afraid to tell them how things are going to go, and they will decide. Extra work = extra money is not some alien concept.

    In your case you're dealing with a poop, not a serious client, so ditch him and learn to detect wastes of time in the first meeting you have with them. It's a damn shame you didn't charge him 50% before you even started on his shit.

    And no, fear not, he has no worthy connections, nothing that would spoil your non existant professional reputation. His word of mouth would only bring his whole goddamn familly to use you anyway. As far as resume, make what YOU want to make and put your friend/relative as the client.

    So yeah, i like the idea of firing him. Don't quit, litterally go up to him and tell him he can't be your client anymore. Go all Dragon's Den on that mofo and his project too so he doesn't waste anyone elses time.
    As eloquent as usual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kraus View Post
    Deacent people don't need complex contracts to work out a honest deal, as long as you're not afraid to tell them how things are going to go, and they will decide. Extra work = extra money is not some alien concept.

    In your case you're dealing with a poop, not a serious client, so ditch him and learn to detect wastes of time in the first meeting you have with them. It's a damn shame you didn't charge him 50% before you even started on his shit.

    And no, fear not, he has no worthy connections, nothing that would spoil your non existant professional reputation. His word of mouth would only bring his whole goddamn familly to use you anyway. As far as resume, make what YOU want to make and put your friend/relative as the client.

    So yeah, i like the idea of firing him. Don't quit, litterally go up to him and tell him he can't be your client anymore. Go all Dragon's Den on that mofo and his project too so he doesn't waste anyone elses time.

    What about self-respect?

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  16. #12
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    Self respect would require punching the 'client' in the mouth for a 0.25$ an hour insult. It's too late for that. He needs to cut his losses post-haste, otherwise he'll loose faith in freelancing.

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  17. #13
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    I do agree with Kraus, along with everyone else. Try and get your money and finish up as soon as possible (be polite, but to the point). Baron's advice is golden. I've worked a couple of jobs at very low rates in the past and it becomes soul destroying pretty quickly.

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  18. #14
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    Ignore the idiot who says you shouldn't have a contract, you should definitely have a contract. Anytime working freelance, it's a good idea, it's a more professional way to go about things and gives both you and your client piece of mind. It protects their money, it protects yours, and insures that you dont get sued or ripped off (usually). If you ask around a bit, or search around a bit, I'm sure it shouldn't be hard to find a good format for a contract for illustration work.

    The contract will insure legally that you arent obligated to keep working until infinity for him. Cause without one, he can do just about anything he wants, until you eventually tell him no and to go to hell (but then you have to refund the money because it wasn't protected by a contract)

    A friend of mine is a web designer, and her contract is set up via milestones where for example after they both sign, the client has 3 days to provide a clear description on what they need, and once that is turned in, the first milestone is hit and the rough draft is started. The rough draft will be finished in 2 days from the day the description is turned in, and the client needs to provide feedback then the 2nd milestone is hit, then the project is taken into the final draft stages.

    After the final draft is complete, i think she gives clients three revisions, or up to 30 hours of revision work and upon the end of the 30 hours, additional fees start to apply. Again, this is her contract for design work, very loosely remembered by me, im not sure about times and dates etc.

    The point is, you can make contract that protects you on how many hours you spend on a project, how many rough drafts your willing to make before additional charges, etc.

    Also you can do such things as charge half of the cost in the beginning, then half in the end, so that way if they back out halfway through, you get paid for your work
    regardless of them getting cold feet. It's like working with an attorney, if you loose the case, you still have to pay the attorney, and just the same as an artist you should protect yourself.

    P.S- Yes you can fire a client, but expect to refund their money if it isn't protected by a contract.

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  20. #15
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    It's relatively easy to terminate a business relationship with someone when you have already completed a job for them. If you complete the job satisfactorily and they don't contact you again, fantastic! You don't need to deal with them anymore, and there's no need to take further action. If they contact you again because they wish to do repeat business, you may politely tell them that you have too many other clients at the moment, and you don't think that you have the resources to devote enough time/money/attention to their project. Then, you can refer them to another reputable business. With any luck, they will develop a good relationship with the other business and leave you alone.

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    fire him? i'd shoot the bastard.

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  24. #18
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    If you do decide to fire a client, however, don't do it rashly or emotionally. Keep a level head and cover all your bases.

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    If you do decide to fire him, make sure to do it somewhere where it is recorded. Email or letter. That way if there is any backlash you have something in the records to cover your butt.

    I have been in your situation and it really is soul destroying. I do freelance web design outside of my job and I am trying to build my portfolio. A friend recommended someone and we agreed on something. The rates were insanely low for what he was asking but he had a small budget and when he explained I saw it as a good opportunity to show my stuff. So I start working. And with websites you want to be one of a kind, want to stand out. Repeatedly trying to help him with his concept, I asked him what would make his site different. He said "I'm there, I'm going to make it awesome." *facepalm*

    Alright, well, whatever, it doesn't have to be something special to look nice in my portfolio right? Still, I wanted to help him and make this good for him. Customer word of mouth is a fantastic way to start off. So I keep trying to help him. Repeatedly he changes hi mind. He asks me to do stuff way outside of the scope of a web designer. And then changes his mind on EVERYTHING.

    I emailed him and said until you can decide what you want done and stay within the scope of what I agreed to do for you, I won't be wasting my evenings doing any more of this. Email when you've decided. Since then he's decided and is listening to my input a lot more as well. I think being firm with him and making him realize that yes, this was spending my time, as well as causing me huge headaches and I was within my rights to refuse further changes until he at least made up his mind , it caused him to get his act together.

    That might not always be the case. There are always people who feel entitled regardless of what you do. But if you are firm you'll feel better. It is a terrible feeling to be trying and constantly being forced to do massive changes. Be firm and put your foot down. but do it in writing.

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