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My client refused to pay and I don't have a contract. What should I do?

Discussion in 'Business & Tax Advice' started by Leodare, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. Leodare

    Leodare Junior Member

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    BHWers, I need some legal advice pertaining to a shit situation I got myself into. As you all know, I'm a software engineer and I run a digital agency in Singapore developing websites/mobile apps/digital marketing. My main source of income is from big agencies who outsource projects to me.

    Recently, I was engaged by a large advertising and marketing agency to do some software development work for their client. We signed off on a NDA and I started the work for them without collecting any deposit and an official contract nfortunately, out of goodwill and trust because of the friendship I had with their project manager of that agency.

    As I recently expanded my business to Thailand as you guys of my commitment with Bangkok Expat Life. Knowing that my schedule on Monday would be packed, added to the issue of limited internet access for the entire day; as I will be at an event launch with a client in some secluded island in Thailand, I took the initiative to spend all my Sunday night working on the project and troubleshoot many issues on Nutella's website. I sent an email to the project manager several times requesting for these issues to be fixed first as it could affect the delivery and I got an email asking me to attend a conference call meeting the following day, which I obviously can't make it due to my event with another client. I wanted to keep everything over emails as well as it would be on record.

    I just received a WhatsApp message from their project manager yesterday that they have already hired another software engineer to work on this project. I was furious and upset about this as I've put in 30 hours of work and did quite a lot of work. Basically, I've troubleshoot, debugged and configured, as well as improve the security of their client's site. I sent them an invoice this morning for $3,360 and their project manager immediately rang me up. He offered me $200 out of his own pocket, saying its a goodwill of gesture and friendship he has with me because even if I were to take legal action against his company, I wouldn't get a single cent back because there's no official quote/contract/invoice signed. Frankly, I feel cheated and I'm upset about this because I have put in 30 hours of work.

    I'm thinking of bringing this up to small claims but honestly, its too much hassle and would I even have a chance of winning this case? Considering there's no official contract/invoice, although I can argue there is a signed NDA so it's clear they want to engage me to do some work. Worst case scenario, I can contact their client directly but it would be breaching the NDA as well so technically they can sue me too but by not paying me, perhaps the NDA is void? I'm so fucking pissed off now as I've put in 30 hours of work for nothing, put aside a much bigger project as well so I can prioritize their project.

    Frankly, I can do nasty shit to that agency as I'm a hacker lol and I have planted a backdoor access on their client, but obviously I won't entertain any illegal thoughts. I have downloaded their entire database and evidence/copies of my work, I also have friends in the media and I specialize in SEO and internet marketing in general for that matter. That agency already have quite a bad name in the industry as well. However, I'm still holding my horse on going to this extreme measure because in my industry, diplomacy/PR is extremely important and it's always better to make a friend than an enemy but I've been screwed over a couple of times and I have had enough from these big agencies.

    I wish there is an amicable settlement to this.

    Should I take up that project manager's derisory offer of $200 or should I take them to court for the full amount? Would appreciate some legal advice on this or if anyone were in this situation, how do you handle it?

    Edit: I've actually sent them the invoice this morning but they refused to acknowledge it. The project manager of that agency did tell me to send out my invoice and he would verify it with his developers on the work scope but after he received the invoice, he immediately rang me up to tell me he won't acknowledge this. Ridiculous!
     
  2. justgrummel12

    justgrummel12 Newbie

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    Hi, I hate situations like these with clients.

    Unfortunately, I'm not a lawyer... I would recommend that you go to "online lawyers" if you know what I mean, they can usually give you a few ideas of what you could do.

    I hope someone else has a better answer for you in BHW!

    Good luck,
    Emil
     
  3. zepita

    zepita Registered Member

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    That situation sucks, I would take the 200 play fool and say thanks. Then wait for a few months, plan something nice and do great damage, or prehaps in the mean time you could install a miner on their mainframes/computers and mine bitcoin for you, be creative. Take advantage of every situation. Good Luck
     
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  4. blogzandstuff

    blogzandstuff Elite Member

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    Nothing like that is encouraged here. It's life, things happen, draw a line and move on, we've all had non payers. Revenge is not the right way
     
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  5. neilbhabuta

    neilbhabuta Elite Member

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    I would contact a lawyer... Any decent judge would see the email chats and WhatsApp messages as proof enough that they expected work to be engaged and the NDA as proof.
     
  6. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    The fact you put in a backdoor and downloaded their entire database means they were right to decide not to do business with you.

    Take the $200 and move on.

    If you try any revenge tactics I can guarantee you will get fucked over worse.
     
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  7. Ramon bb

    Ramon bb Newbie

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    'As you all know'

    Nope some of us are new.
     
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  8. davids355

    davids355 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    It sucks but consider it a learning experience and move on.
     
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  9. MikeyMikey13

    MikeyMikey13 Supreme Member

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    You don't need a written contract to enter into a legally binding agreement. However you do need an OFFER and acceptance of the offer from the other party. This should include services exchanged on both sides, i.e both must have expressed either end of the deal (you - services / him - money).

    His offer on what he is paying you is very very important. If their isn't any talk on a price, you ain't got a contract lol.

    Also, take into accounts the difficulty of suing people abroad. If the case is tried in their country, you'll be paying your lawyers fees over there.

    I would take the 200$ and go. Btw did I mention I have a law degree
     
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  10. sarah.howells

    sarah.howells BANNED BANNED

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    report with proof is enough for evidence
     
  11. TipOfTheIceBerg

    TipOfTheIceBerg Newbie

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    Get professional legal advice ASAP - Don't listen to anything else.
     
  12. servworld

    servworld Regular Member

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    First things first, don't listen to anyone other than a lawyer. I am not a lawyer so I'm not going to tell you want to do here, but get in touch with someone who specializes In this kind of problem and pay them a fee for a consultation. That should be enough to get you started.
     
  13. Abeodu

    Abeodu Newbie

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    Sorry to hear about what you're going through. As many have said before, talk to a lawyer. If your client is based in the US, there may be laws in their state against stuff like this. New York just passed one actually.
     
  14. ian2000

    ian2000 Junior Member

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    As much as I wanted some sort of revenge for this guy, you're right
     
  15. submit

    submit Junior Member

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    I think you have a valid small claims court case. You provided services and they received the benefit of your work. Look on Craigslist in the state of their headquarters and hire a paralegal to help you file the paperwork.
     
  16. Th3 Canadian 3h

    Th3 Canadian 3h Regular Member

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    If you wrote emails describing how much he would pay for what you would be offering ...... Sounds like a contract
     
  17. BotMastah

    BotMastah Regular Member

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    Was going to say the same thing!
    This isn't a legal forum, and not the place to ask for legal advice at all. The best thing you can do is; use contracts in the future!!!
     
  18. OG Mike

    OG Mike Registered Member

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    Mikey is right. Let me add:
    1. If they knew your hourly rate, and
    2. If they knew you were going to start the work,
    3. then, they owe you for the work you did.

    In the U.S., a verbal contract is binding like a written contract. Here, it sounds like a verbal contract.

    Obviously, they gave you access to their system. So, the question is did they know about your fee?

    With big companies, even if you don't have enough proof, you may succeed with legal action because they may just want to avoid losing time with court and just pay you.
     
  19. Valalvax

    Valalvax Newbie

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    Looks like you might have accidentally namedropped the client, I'd remove that if I were you

    If you have a copy of the NDA I'd go over it again, I find it very hard to believe that your contract disallows communication between you and the client, and they would probably like to know if they're hiring scammers, if the client is who you said, then they're very likely a multi-million dollar contract and would be a huge hit to the freelancing company if they were to lose them.

    *edit* Also, I agree about the backdoor and stuff, if you did it before getting "fired" that could be the reason they dropped you
     
  20. darulez

    darulez Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    if it aint your own country where you know the law, always charge upfront ... I wouldnt do otherwise.
    in my country, it's kind of easys if a client doesnt want to pay. hence, in that case, getting lawyers to sue him HE even has to pay.
    sadly, had to do this once in the past. ex client now pays monthly.

    so, sum it up: not same country, accept it.. he could have gone bancrupt too and you could have lost more.