1. I’ve blogged about a previous non-paying client like this just once earlier – twice in a career of five years isn’t bad but it is beyond pathetic that both times it has been Indian clients. Thank you for the support Rajesh.

  1. Sad story, but all too familiar. Has happened to me in one way or another and this is why I now only take on overseas clients with full payment up front. If a overseas client fails to pay, there is little one can do…

    I have so far seen clients happy to pay up to £1500 for a logo project up front without any question or hesitation, so there are clients prepared to take this route.

    For me, if a client has a hard time dealing ith payment upfront, they are a likely candidate for payment problems at final invoicing. It’s worth considering as the sheer relief of getting payment up front is amazing, being able to fully concentrate on a project knowing you will not have any difficulties further down the line.

    Hope you are able to salvage something further from this,


    1. Graham, thank you for the support. With me, the strange part is that overseas clients don’t seem to have issues with the money bit. I prefer straightforward dealings and it helps immensely to know that a client was prompt in paying the 50% in advance without a hitch – but I have had local clients who simply refused to pay the balance even after project final approval – and these are clients who has paid the advance promptly. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to detect who’s going to turn out which way eventually. How difficult is it to see that if we buy something, we pay for it – else it’s called stealing. But for the design profession, the lack of physical deliverables seems to allow loopholes. I doubt anything is going to come out of this particular client – more because they do not have any online presence.

  2. It is really shameful that companies in India sometimes fail to be serious about their own online reputation. The company is literally doomed without even starting off.
    While I am from Delhi and this has not happened to me yet, the reason being that I almost every time take half of the payments and provide PSD only after receiving the complete payments. Also the clients I normally deal with are very often people I happen to know or have a very strong online IMAGE, so they understand that such a situation is not good for either of us.
    But yes, if it ever happens it would indeed be a sad thing.

    1. I hope it doesn’t happen to you Tuhin! It shouldn’t happen to anyone – but it does. And there’s a lot that can be done to salvage such a situation – one needs to be willing to forget about peace of mind then – which I’m not willing to. I totally agree with you on the point that they are doomed even without starting off. But then who’s to say what they’re going to do. Straightforward professionalism seriously lacking in most Indian operations. I did work on this project through someone I know decently well – unfortunately – the Project Lead has quit the company. I do not normally deliver final files without the balance payment – but in this case, I emailed all final files for the logo to the client because they asked for it nicely. Imagine my surprise now that they are asking me to pay them back!

  3. Great article. Thanks for writing this up.

    I find it regrettable that small companies often get screwed like this. The flexibility and effort from the freelancer is not appreciated.

    At least you got a 50% payment upfront 🙂

    1. Vunky, yes, I did get the 50% advance upfront – which the client is now asking me to return! I don’t often get screwed like this – it’s happened twice in the past and blogging about it solved the problem. With this client, I doubt that is going to happen unless they realise they’ve had some misunderstanding or miscommunication. Thank you so much for the support!

  4. This incidences happen many times with freelancers. I also go through these kind of clients. now a days I do written contracts with clients whatever they may think. I clearly mention my terms [ copyrights clause will be added after this reading post.] It may sound more legal but its required now a days. I even do not receive reference files or raw files without advance too !!

    I do not take project.

  5. Hi Naina,
    It is awful that you have to go through all this. A designer really needs to focus all creative energy in the right direction. These are real downers. Try to learn something from the experience and ensure it doesn’t repeat. Meet the clients personally and learn a bit more about them. As of now you are interacting with a new person altogether. The CEO & the lead both have to be answerable you can’t go in circles locating them. Try connecting with them on social networks in the beginning of the project itself. I don’t know what else can help you in such a case. Hope it doesn’t deter your creativity.

  6. Hi Naina,

    Sorry to hear about this. But am curious to know if they have paid you yet?

    Am the founder of an online lead generation company based in Bangalore. Almost all the time my customers have paid on time and are great to work with, but there are a few bad ones who haven’t paid – 2 of them.

    I am considering legal action. There is an easy solution to this problem. Shall keep you updated.



  7. Amazing read to know about the bad experience. You have very appropriately put the story on the blog. Hope it makes those guys move and pay your dues if they really have to come clean of this.

  8. Naina:

    It is really bullshit to not pay for the work that you get done. Employees do keep coming in and going out of the firms, but that cannot be a reason for the company either to NOT KNOW what project is going on nor a reason for NON PAYMENT.

    But, on a different note, I really liked this medium of communicating and making aware the virtual world about such cases. ‘This’ medium might make these guys make the payments.

    Best of luck!

    1. Mohit, yes, one would think it is logical – to know where your company’s money is going and hence know every little detail. But I believe the client has decided he will not do anything no matter whether I blog or send in a DMCA notice to him. So I’m talking to an IP lawyer right now – maybe I’ll get the client to pay damages on addition to the money he already owes me. Fortunately, the IP lawyer is quite a good one – got connected via friend and hopefully, he will be able to recover his fee from this client as well. After this blog post, the client called me up on my phone asking my why I was making this an ego issue and I mentioned to him that it’s a contractual issue and that all details are mentioned on the invoice and hence he is breaching a contract. To which he said he needed to go back to the emails to see what the whole deal was and said he’d get back to me – which he hasn’t. I will update this blog post as and when things progress or go to court. Thank you for your support.

  9. Recently I have had even worse experience from a very popular US based agency.
    They wanted me to code their design for a big client. There were about 19 pages to code. The design was extremely complex to code + every page had unique layouts + dynamic options for different resolutions. I was so excited that I have estimated for a very cheap rate and they were not ok with paying me 50% advance. I had a blind trust in them. So I did not ask for it then and coded all the pages and delivered. They were keep coming back with modifications and feature additions and promised me that they will pay for the extra works as well. They started it by describing the project as – HTML/CSS3 project – they asked me to use CSS3 wherever it is possible. After the delivery they wanted IE6 compatibility as well! That too for the same estimated amount. I did not find it’s a good idea to commit on that considering the complexity of the layout. I have asked them to find someone else for that work. They agreed. But they were not ready to pay until the work is completed. I had to agree. After two weeks I asked them about the status. The reply was shocking ‘the coding you did was not up to the standard.. we had to redo it from scratch and so we cannot pay you the estimated amount. However considering the amount of work you put in, we are ready to pay you $150’ It was XHTML1.0 Strict validated pages plus couple of jQuery effects and they were happy with the code until the day of final delivery. It was two weeks of my work and I did it with the help of another developer. In this case client did not pay anything + I had to pay the other developer from my pocket. How’s that?

    1. Aravind, first off, don’t start without a signed contract – and put down all your terms in the contract. It has taken me five years to get the balls to create a contract and ask clients to sign it – but it’s better late than never. It’s business – no blind trust in someone you’re working with for the first time. Secondly, name the client, blog about them and tell the world. If you’re not in the wrong, there’s no reason for you to not make their name public. If it is a popular US based agency, all the more reason you should talk about them so that they don’t swindle other designers and their clients know what kind of an agency they are dealing with.

  10. You have taken a good step. everyone has this kind of problem. at-least after seeing this no one would do this again and get their name spoiled on the internet.

    1. Dear Amar, thank you for your support and yes, companies like Red Door Online need to understand that this is not acceptable. While I am not sure where this Bitfang case is going to go, I have been fortunate to receive support from the design community and am also working with a lawyer to get this resolved.

  11. Grab them by their necks Naina…
    this was the very reason i quit my good freelancing software development life. People dont pay and for heck they want to own everything. Once things get past the last phases, accusations start coming out of thin air with things like not committed, bad quality and u know what. I cant say for others at TAPS bunch but i am with you on this. Who knows if i had taken this voice some 8 years back maybe i would have had a lovely development company of my own today.
    squeeze their balls girl…

  12. I was about to place an order with BitFang.com and found this blog while Googling for some reviews about the company. It is sad that some companies like this – but I don’t think it is restricted to India though, I’ve had bad experiences with foreign clients also.

    I support your decision to take them to court. And I will not buy from BitFang.com and I will email them and let them know that they are losing business because of this.

    Hope you get the issue resolved soon.

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