Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Grasping The Nettles

I’ve made a last ditch attempt to get the money I’m owed from Mr Chauffeur Man. His web site has been live for nearly two months now and I still haven’t seen a penny of the £500 that I invoiced him for. On the advice of my friend, Tris, I’ve kept things nice and polite and given him 2 weeks to settle. More than reasonable I think.

However, given that I only ever hear from him when he’s got a complaint or a gripe and then have to put up with an arsey and offensive tone of voice for the duration of the call it’s taken a surprising amount of willpower for me to open up this one line of communication. If truth be known I want this person out of my life ASAP and then never to hear from them again.

But first though I want to be paid! Karen starts her maternity leave on Friday and our belts are going to be cinched damn tight. I just can’t afford to write off £500!

If he doesn’t pay then for the first time ever I think I’m going to have to play hardball and threaten to pull his site. I’ve joked about doing such things in the past (on this here blog) but to really do it feels quite scary. Crossing the Rubicon, I guess. Once I do that then things will get nasty and possibly end up at the small claims court. I’d much rather things were concluded with a modicum of goodwill on both sides.

Onto other matters... and a nettle of a different sort...

What do you do when you discover that one of your regular clients (effectively your bread and butter earner) is plagiarizing other web sites left, right and centre to add content to their own? I’ve had my suspicions for a while but now a little bit of internet research has provided proof... news items nicked word for word from other web sites; technical queries and advice lifted verbatim from an on-line technical advice forum and then pasted as coming from the mouth of one of their own “leading technical experts”... (a man who has trouble with a hot water kettle), fictional awards presented by themselves to themselves in a desperate bid to look legitimate...

It would be almost laughable if it wasn’t so horribly crass.

Thankfully most of this content bypasses me and goes straight into their on-line web magazine which is hosted and engineered by another company but I’m sure this company would not be happy to learn that they are a party, no matter how unwittingly, to intellectual theft.

The question is: what do I do? Do I broach the subject with my clients? Inform this other third party company of what is going on?

I’d effectively be putting my clients out of business.

Or do I just continue to keep my head down and my nose clean as much as I can?


Rol said...

Shop 'em!

I get very confused about your job... it seems to involve a cross between website design and unblocking toilets.

Or maybe that's just a metaphor...

Steve said...

It does sound confusing, doesn't it?

By day I'm a mild mannered civil servant and by night I am a daring web designer and part-time self-employed businessman. I'm still not sure which is the better of the two alter-egos. There seem to be nasty blockages to deal with on both fronts...!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Hi Steve

I'd say follow up the first client with final demand invoice + a note saying you regret to advise you will have to pursue via small claims if not settled within 14 days.

Re second client, I'd distance myself as far away as possible by beefing up any disclaimer that while you designed the website you are not responsible for any content added to your client's website since (their sins will no doubt find them out in the end).

I was in a similar quandry in a workplace one time and things eventually happened to expose a wrongdoer without any help from me! Sheer incompetance tends to be a lot of these people's downfall.

Yes like Rol, I was a little confused by your career path, although I identified with the facilities management bit!

Steve said...

Magnificently good idea, Laura - received (and will be acted upon) with thanks!

As for my "career path"... it feels more like a career ox-bow at the moment...