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"I will not start a project without an agreement"

Posted by Ilise Benun on

You know what can happen if you start working on a project without an agreement? 

Sometimes it works out okay, and sometimes not so much. 

I got this message from a client the other day:  

So that job I told you about last week, the rush one. Well the deadline got extended, again and then…again. It changes all the time and I’ve worked more than I thought when I quoted $2500. I haven’t sent the agreement yet either. 
He’s mentioned that I should get a bonus and I’m thinking I should up front ask for more money because of all of the changes. I don’t know if he’s kidding about a bonus or not, and I think he’s expecting me to ask for more. 
I’m on the fourth or fifth round and who knows how long they will keep coming? 
I feel like I need to say something now about it. Do you have any advice?
I thought we would be finished tonight (again) and just got another design change. 
I think I should say something before I show another revision. 

+++++

Here's how I suggested she respond:

As you have noted, this is taking longer than we both anticipated.
And because it was a rush job, I neglected to send you my agreement, which outlines the number of revisions included in the price, which is #.
So now we’re beyond that number and I take responsibility for not making that clear beforehand. 
That said, we do need to agree to a “bonus” or additional fee for the extra work. I’ll give that some thought and I hope you will too.
Let’s discuss that once the project is at the printer….

+++++

But before she got my suggested response, my client sent this message to her client:

Good morning!
Do you remember when you were in elementary school and when you’d get in trouble, the punishment was having to write a statement on the board? Like…
I will not talk during class. 
I will not talk during class. 
I will not talk during class. 
But like 100 times? Well, I need to go out and buy a big chalkboard to write…
I will not start a project without an agreement.
I will not start a project without an agreement.
I will not start a project without an agreement.
About 100 times. 
We didn’t have a scope of work spelled out or an agreement. In those things like deliverables, revisions and scope are included.
When I gave the price I was thinking we’d be done by this past Monday and there’d be about two sets of revisions. And because of the super quick initial deadline I jumped right in.
I still feel like we are in super rush mode as we need to go to print today. Also, I know there has been some scope creep. 
I was thinking we could talk about this later though. K?
Now I’m going to jump back into the work so we can get this done:) 
+++++

To her surprise, her client responded pretty quickly with this:

Sure that's fine.
I told you if you thought it was more hours than you intended just tell me. No problem.
Add $1,000 to the final invoice, ok?

+++++

She was thrilled, of course. This one had a happy ending. 

Please learn from her lesson so you don't have to have your own.

And if you have a situation like this right now and don't know what to do or say, take advantage of my free 30 minute mentoring session, and we'll figure it out. 

P.S. Got this comment from my cousin, a lawyer

That is my mantra, and I give that advice to everyone.

Actually, I tell everyone to get it in writing, or confirm it in writing.  There is nothing clearer than the written word.  People’s memories always get foggy when a dispute arises.


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