This article isn’t idle speculation. So far I have had one web design client who has not paid. It was a simple but functional WordPress site with a store. I’ve been paid negative money for my work after 3 months.
I do have a partner who is acting as a go between: and that might be part of the problem as I am not negotiating with this particular client directly. However, the dilemma still exists. I have work for which I haven’t been paid after 3 months, and yet I’m still hosting the site, something which costs me money. There are several lessons to be learned already: one is not to shell out money for materials upfront. The other is to collect in draws, and to have a written contract for scope of work. I played loose in this field because costs are so low for everything. And this experience will change how I operate in the future for sure. But I still have to decide what to do with a client who probably is not going to pay.
1. I could leave the site up as is.
I do not want to do this. Even though there are no ongoing expenses associated with this. I do not want to continue to provide a service for people who are deadbeats who don’t pay when I have the option not to.
2. I could add advertising to the site and leave it up.
This is the least emotionally satisfying solution but it’s a possibility. If they won’t pay I at least will be receiving something from it while I’m waiting for the partner to try and get money out of them. It’s also the nicest. On the other hand, I’m still providing free hosting to someone who gypped me.
3. I could take the site down.
This is an ok option. It will make me feel better. And it will also make the client answer the question of “Will you pay?” immediately instead of months later (in my head, I don’t think they will pay). Which I want.
4. I could change the A records (I own the domains) to redirect the domain for their site to a site of my choosing.
This is a little less mature, and kind of shady, but it’s probably what I’m going to actually do. It accomplishes the same thing as #3, ie taking the site down and forcing them to negotiate if they want it to go back up. If this were a paying customer, it would be completely dishonest. Since they haven’t paid, I am ok doing this. Especially as I plan to redirect them to this article. If they decide to pay (the amounts of money involved here are not large for a company of this size, they can afford it) the site goes back up. If not: well, I get a little extra traffic until the domains expire or I sell them. I go back and forth. But I’m definitely going to take action soon, and will post again if something comes from it.