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Author Topic: A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed  (Read 4220 times)

Offline Nicki Faulk

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A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« on: February 01, 2005, 10:45:24 AM »
Background:

I had an auction for a logo.  The auction terms stated that my rate is $25/hour, and the work performed would not be more than 4 hours -- unless of course an alternative pay and/or work schedule is agreed upon prior to project start.

A man bid/won the auction and sent me an email with what he wanted done. I agreed and started working on it.  He has an adult online shop and wanted to make it "more professional" ... I worked for over 2 hours on a first draft to the exact specifications he emailed me and presented the logo to him.

The next day he emailed back saying he liked it but wanted some changes: a font change and lighter in color.  I changed the font, made it lighter; and presented him with 2 more drafts (different fonts).  He wanted a specific font -- so I searched for, found, and installed it.  Presented him with another draft.  He wanted an addition: a glow.  

Made the change, he liked it but wanted it bigger; made the change, he loved it but wasn't sure how the image would look on various backgrounds on the pages on his site.  So I downloaded every background and made a sample page presenting the image on each ... he loved it.  Asked what I used, etc.

All of this took a little over an hour, all communication via IM and email.  He asked if I took PayPal (yes), and how much it would be.  My total time was 3.6 hours, but I told him I was only charging him for 3 hours.  3 hours @ $25/hour came to $75.00.  He paid me within 5 minutes.

Now the problem:

Less than 12 hours after he bought the logo, he wanted a refund.  His justification was that my work was overpriced and that I overcharged him.  He said that what I gave him did not take 3 1/2 hours and that he could make a comparable graphic in far less time for less money.

Note: His site has copyrighted images and freebie clipart that he has modified.  The work I did for him would have eliminated some of these, and I pointed that out to him, and suggested even prior to starting the project that he replace the copyrighed materials.

I offered a partial refund, or the complete PSDs and all associated materials that I used and all copyrights ... giving him the ability to change the files and own them.  

He refused, saying that all I gave him was "a box with a gradient fill" ... (I never used a gradient) ... I gave a list of the Photoshop effects and built-filters that I had used to create the image, and details on creating various aspects on it (like chains ... I did those by hand using a stylus tablet).

He still refused.

End Result: After going back and forth with him over email for the last 4 hours, I finally gave him his money back and thanked him for wasting my time.

My question:

How do you prevent being ripped off?

I can deal with the fact that he didn't like my work, but I spent a lot of time and effort and do not like not gaining any payment or refund on MY EFFORTS.

I've already made a note to update my auctions in the future that I will no longer give refunds, and you keep what you buy.

I probably could have easily contested his complaints (which he said he filed with PayPal and the auction site), but the bother is worth more time than the project and refund combined ... is it even worth it to fight it?
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leighsww

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Re: A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work perfor
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2005, 11:48:07 AM »
Quote from: Nitallica
I've already made a note to update my auctions in the future that I will no longer give refunds, and you keep what you buy.

It's important to indicate your terms upfront so this is good that you have that on your page now, but take out the "keep what you buy". That can be ambiguous to its meaning and may be interpreted as you are giving them the rights to ownership. You do not want to do this. I will give you more info below.

Quote from: Nitallica
I probably could have easily contested his complaints (which he said he filed with PayPal and the auction site), but the bother is worth more time than the project and refund combined ... is it even worth it to fight it?

Well, it seems as though this guy might be doing this as a practice because he probably knows most won't persue it. What you said here:

Quote
He asked if I took PayPal (yes), and how much it would be. My total time was 3.6 hours, but I told him I was only charging him for 3 hours. 3 hours @ $25/hour came to $75.00. He paid me within 5 minutes.

Gives me this impression (that he does this to a lot of people), because he knows how many changes he had you make and he should know that is included as "time/work" involved to generate the final product. You told him 3 hours and your price, and at that time he didn't contest it but agreed to pay it. Yet now, he turns around after he already has the image in his possession and says it wasn't worth it? He already had a proofing of what he was going to receive, so that doesn't put his protests in his favor.

Anyway, like I said earlier, you should never relinquish your copyrights for ANY of your work. Unless you do a "work for hire", you, as the artist, always own copyright of the image regardless of if the work was done at someone's request.

Keep this link handy because if anyone disputes whether you own the image or they do, you can let them read the copyright laws, because as long as you DO NOT assign the ownership rights over to them, you own the image, you are merely giving them the rights to use it for whatever purpose you agree upon with them:

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

Whether you register the image or not, you are still protected as the owner of it, however to file a lawsuit, you must have the image registered.

Also, always keep your logs of your conversations (which it seems you have done so). Like for this particular case, he obviously agreed to pay it originally, and all of a sudden decided that it wasn't worth it. That doesn't wash well, especially because he already knew what he was getting ahead of time. You actually have a good case against him. Unfortunately, you already gave him the refund and also told him he can have the image.

It's too bad that he will continue to get away with doing this kind of thing to artists who do not know their full rights of ownership, and who do not put a stop to being treated like this.

Quote from: Nitallica
Note: His site has copyrighted images and freebie clipart that he has modified. The work I did for him would have eliminated some of these, and I pointed that out to him, and suggested even prior to starting the project that he replace the copyrighed materials.

Is he using the copyright material on his site unlawfully (meaning, he does not have permission to use it from the owner)? If he is, then you can see his lack of integrity already right there. So, always before you do any work for anyone, check out their website and ask them questions about any copyright works they have on there. Some people are just really naive about the copyright laws, so they are not intentionally being out-of-integrity, they just don't know any better, but if anyone has a business and doing their business professionally, then they should know these things and need to get educated on it. Thus, give them the link I gave you above.

And if anyone ever tries to change your image even just a little to claim it's not the same anymore to try to get out of any copyright infringement, that whole bit about changing it 10% etc. is a myth and you'll want to have them read this:

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-fairuse.html#change

So, keep these links handy and email them to your clients if at any time your rights as the owner of the art you create for them are ever questioned.

Copyright laws are really good now with giving total protection to the artist, so you just have to make sure you don't give your rights away to anyone  :thumb:

Offline Nicki Faulk

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A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2005, 12:32:06 PM »
Thanks for the advice and links.  I just didn't feel like messing with this dude.  I would spend more in legal fees than I made on the work I did ... plus I don't have the funds to start yet another legal process (I'm in the process of 2 right now, one related to a former client who stiffed me for 2 grand worth of work ... and another of a personal nature).
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leighsww

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A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2005, 12:39:01 PM »
Oh my  :(

Well, take care and hope everything turns out okay

Offline Nicki Faulk

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A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2005, 12:52:43 PM »
Thanks honey.  *hugs*
Hey, who hid my chocolate!!??

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Offline STM

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A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2005, 09:03:34 PM »
:argh:  I know just how you feel! I have a thought. When you design a graphic, logo or whatever, before you send any material. Place the graphic, logo or whatever on a example page of yours, with your copyright notice on the page, with a link for viewing this image and/or graphic. this way you maintain control of your work. Send them a link to the image, so they may view. Now, when they are happy with the graphic, state upon full payment your graphic will sent.

It's always a good pratice to copyright your images or graphics. There are programs for this, such as an Antmated Gif Designer.

Stan

Offline sharpandpointless

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A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2005, 11:18:29 AM »
I've only heard your side of the story, but I'm most always for the designer (because we get roughed up a LOT when it comes to work).
As leigh said it would be great to make sure that all of your terms of services ensured that people like him can't "misinterpret" what you've written. Also, making sure that you watermark each image that you ever send off to a client is always a good idea. It seems that you were a bit too quick to offer apologies and make amends, because if you know that the client is a... I'd rather not say..., then it might be best to just put up more of a front of your own as to discourage that person from further pursuing a course of a whole bunch of bull. Because really now, Paypal isn't on top of things, and he can't use them to come after you, and he can't come after you legally for him wasting your time and efforts.

As to what I do when someone tries to pull something like that? If anyone's seen Ong Bak, I give em the one where he jumps off the wall and comes down on the guy's face with his knee. (Just kidding all you potential clients out there... that's just for the sneaky dishonest ones that prey on my poor designer carcass like vultures when i pass out from malnutrition from not getting any work)
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Offline 4thDDev

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Re: A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2005, 07:29:54 AM »
I know this is an older post but I have a few comments.  When using Paypal, if you're concerned about payment/work conflicts, don't accept credit cards through Paypal.  Any credit card payment can be taken back by the client's credit card company.  They don't need much proof to do this.

If the client pays you after seeing a fair representation of the finished work then they have no room for complaint.  Always state up front what your client's rights are to the work and what the deliverables are.  For what I feel are larger projects (multi-day) I require an upfront deposit (30-50%) after we settle on the requirements.

Most importantly, remember that your time and work are IMPORTANT! I've yet to meet a freelancer (artist, developer, programmer,...) that hasn't had a client try to take advantage of them.

Good luck in the future!
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Offline Admin

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Re: A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2005, 07:40:41 AM »
It's also important to have a clear contract with the exact terms to protect you. 

Offline archerman

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Re: A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2005, 12:53:23 PM »
I had a similar issue.

A small company wanted a logo created and I worked on something in illustrator which was nice because I made all of the colors global colors and could change the image or background with a simple pallet change. They liked my work but didn't choose my logo, however they offered me the job to design their web site. I agree to do this for very little ($100.00) and the right to add it to my portfolio. They agreed and after seeing the logo they liked I make a new one, much more professional and they now use it, so I didn't get paid for that, which was fine with me (as it was a $25 offer). I worked on a couple of design layout and they chose the one they liked best and did up a template with flash and working links. They were really impressed and every step said they were going to pay for it. I have FTP access to the site so I uploaded it and all that was needed was content they kept saying they would send... the outcome was they never sent the content (images and multi-media) and before I went any further I did up a contract (with all the work I planned to do) and stating that they needed to send me 50% up front and then the rest when it was complete. I sent it unsigned to them and gave them a return address to send it back. I talked with the owner and he said he was sending the money (the check is in the mail), which never arrived.

 So I'm out a few hours of time, but I still have FTP access to the site. I checked the other day and he has yet to change my password or disallow me access. If I don't receive the money in the next few days I will be removing the content from the site that I placed on there and setting it up exactly as I found it. I think I have taken enough actions as to cover myself without giving them everything they wanted. Like others have said drawing out a valid contract and keeping records of all e-mail traffic will help you in the future.

After reading your story I feel that you are a better person then I. I wouldn't have given him a refund as you provided what was asked for, you did what they wanted and even offered them a discount. I don't feel that you should have to put "no refunds" on your page but it wouldn't hurt. 50% after you have worked up a rough draft (proving you will do the job) and then 50% when you’re done will commit both of you and in the end they will be cutting you a much smaller check.

Jason

Offline EOBeav

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Re: A question to other artists, re: stiffed for work performed
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2005, 01:24:13 PM »
Is it possible to post negative comments about the buyer, as he did for you?  I don't know what service you're using, possibly eLance or something similar.  I assume they have comments that go both ways. 

BTW, Nitallica, When I do my next paid website, I will likely sub contract the work on the header.  I'll send you a message if and when I get to that point.  You do great work!
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