As a designer, you will eventually have to face a couple of unfortunate truths in your career. Number one: just because you wear a bathrobe for most of your “business” hours does not actually make it business attire. Number two: at some point in your freelance career, you will encounter a client who does not respect the work you do. The most unfortunate part of this unfortunate truth is that it will all too often present itself in the form of a client who refuses to pay for your services once all of the work has been completed. However, you can put some safeguards in place to guarantee that if this kind of client disrespects you and a dispute arises, that you are not left without any leverage to help you resolve the situation. Because whether they admit it, some loathsome characters deal with freelancers merely because they believe these smaller independent businesses would have little recourse should they not hold up their end of the bargain. They think that once we have taken the time to complete the work and deliver it, that they have all the power to control the outcome of the business transaction. But now more than ever, this is not the case.
Now I’m not one who normally or willingly gets into fights, but after the kerfuffle I’ve had with Macfadden Enterprises (make a note of them freelancers!) I couldn’t bite my tongue.
They or should I say their rather aggy spokesperson Vickie decided that after working rather amicably with me for a while suddenly didn’t like anything I had provided her to date & demanded a full refund. She then proceeded to tell me that the work I had started was now being used by another (cheaper) designer to finish & that the work I had done should have all only taken 5 minutes.
I did jokingly liken this change of heart by saying to my partner “well it would be like a person going into a restaurant, eating the food, complimenting the chef & paying happily before leaving, only then to come back a week later, claiming it wasn’t all that good, that someone else down the road does it cheaper & they want a refund”……….it’s ridiculous & if you were the chef, you’d laugh & tell the person where to get off. So why do people think that they can do this to us freelancers?!
Luckily for me this woman was only able to claim back a tiny percentage of what she’d paid me for my time (thanks to the weekly billing feature on oDesk), but regardless, this last batch of work was now unpaid for & being used by someone else, which I was pretty sure based on the above meant that the copyright for the work still belonged to me, therefore she & this new designer were breaking the copyright rule.
I decided to look online to see what others had experienced & found many a good site with advice from people just like me, artists looking to earn a living, of whom are constantly subjected to people like Vickie at Macfadden Enterprises & of whom requested that we all share our bad experiences, so others don’t have to go through what we have.
So here I am, warning you all & giving you a link to advice that I found helpful & shall make sure to adhere to in the future. We are creative people who should be treated in a respectful manner; we all have bills to pay & expect to be paid accordingly. We do not have a big business with sales people to manage our clients & accountant’s to manage our finances, we are our business, we are the designer, manager, accountant & sales person all rolled into one………….would be nice if people remembered that & appreciated it more often!