Thoughts on non-paying hosting & web design client...
I've got one client who brought in a fair amount of business much of which never got paid (about $5k). He had a way of avoiding contracts and is a consultant himself, so it was work for his clients who evidently stiffed him (for projects/events that I know ended up being cancelled).
The last project was a huge non-profit soccer match that started with a lot of promise and got cancelled by the various multimillion dollar organizations & egos involved. Naturally, the bill for $4k plus a year's hosting were lost in the shuffle.
As per standard non-paying client procedure, they don't respond to me anymore, so I finally pulled the site. I don't expect to hear from them again, nor to ever get paid, but ... I can't just drop it without leaving this on the suspended page:
This site is no longer available.
Hosting, website design and unpaid hard work by Echoleaf"
Lesson learned, but that doesn't negate my cheekiness one bit ;-)
Personally I would not do much work without being paid up front. For example I always have the clients go through the billing process to get their hosting accounts setup. You can just say thats the way "the system" works so they don't start balking etc.
For large projects we always require payment in installments, it protects you because you don't lose out on as much money if they disappear and it protects them because if you disappear they won't have paid you up front.
or for those people who say "ill have the money soon" you can do a cheap quick design and say that when they have the mondey you can spend more time on it and then they can pay you, just make sure you're ok losing that money if they disappear.
This lesson - get a proper deposit - I have learned well. It's unfortunate that the website involved something meaningful, and I'd met the people involved (and been paid for some other work related specifically to the site). otoh, the person who paid for the previous work I was told not to contact for this, so ... maybe I should contact him.
No contract equals no money. However, depending on the state you live in, assuming your in the US, you could take the individual to small claims court IF you have enough info from them through emails and paperwork to prove that they were going to pay for the job. However, a contract would be extremely easy to provide.
I give contracts for everything, even if it's $10. If the other party isn't willing to sign the contract, move on.
I'm a US citizen living in Costa Rica, with most clients in the US. I'm not going to small claims court anytime soon (well, obviously not without any contract), but I am definitely not moving forward on anything without a contract & deposit.
I'm thinking of modifying the design and releasing it as a free template...
If your doing a big job you might want to consider escrow services. Otherwise ask for payment as you work on the project. Always try to make some sort of contract or at lease get contact information where you can talk to them over the phone.
This is a common thing to have happen with web design. I have a friend who designs sites and he says like half of his customers never pay. Sometimes he will make multiple revisions and finish the site, then the client will back out after the site has been created.
I'm willing to bet that the client had no intention to pay you. He just told you some crap about the site being for some multi million dollar business as bait, and you bought it.
Next time, require a 50% deposit before you even get started.
Yes, you might lose out on a customer or two. However, that is worth it if you weed out all the non-hackers in the process. Will save you money in the long run.
There was no bs about the actual intent of the site - this is what it was for: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXO14kbCiRk. So it did involve lots of people & organizations way, way, way wealthier than myself. That is what bothers me the most - the logistics of the event and the money involved was ridiculous.