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A 'Small Claims Court' For the Internet

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the hope-you-can-get-judge-judy dept.

The Courts 116

angry tapir writes "It's not unusual for a freelance Web designer or developer to be burnt when a client refuses to pay up, citing one excuse or another. And what can you do about it? If a contract only amounts to a few thousand dollars, litigation to recover your fee can be far too expensive, and an increasingly vituperative exchange of emails is often not enough for client and contractor to come to agreement over who owes whom what. Into this gap steps judge.me: A start-up founded by Peter-Jan Celis that aims to provide internet-based, legally binding arbitration services — a 'small claims court' for the internet — with a particular eye on settling the conflicts that arise over freelance development and Web design."

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Or its doppleganger (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229463)

which is called bite.me

whats wrong with the real small claims court? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229469)

as per title, if theres a contract in play and a "small" mount of money whats wrong with the real small claims court?

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (3, Insightful)

JMJimmy (2036122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229497)

^This. Just cause it's on the big scary "internet" doesn't mean laws don't apply.

In addition, any freelance web designer who doesn't get partial payment up front and interim payments for hitting specified milestones shouldn't be accepting contracts.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229573)

Just cause it's on the big scary "internet" doesn't mean laws don't apply.

But isn't that what judges and lawyers have been ignoring for years? Time for someone to try doing something good when you add "on the internet" to a legal issue.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229587)

Laws apply, but which country's?

Partial payment is good, but if the project is large enough, then the designer would still be out of quite a lot of money if the client decides at some point to default on the contract with the last month or even several months of work left unpaid.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229611)

Which is why their should be a default clause in the contract and the designer should have a lawyer on retainer to send a scary letter.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229605)

They don't make money

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#40232775)

I addition any Contractor who agrees to NET 30 payment shouldn't be accepting contracts.

For me it works like this:
You pay 1 weeks rate up front, or 1/3 of the anticipated time if less than a week's estimated work to initiate services
All time is billed HOURLY
The only milestone is project completion
All Invoices are due Net 10.

If they want a "fixed rate" offer them what I call a capped rate which means you add 30% to your most conservative estimate and promise to halt work if that cap is met. This means that you MAKE NO GUARANTEE as to project completion, just that you wont wrk beyond a certain amount of total hours. If the cap needs to be adjusted due to scope change, just amend the cap. This way you are not flying blind and will not suffer due to any unforeseen difficulties.

The upfront deposit is of course waivable. I typically do not ask this of large companies, as the request will usually cause some stir and being that the deposit is there because of lack of trust, it's not necessary against a large company (200 or more people), since they will pay because there are too many processes in place for them not to pay a contractor without good cause.

And from my experience anyone who takes issue with these terms and says "THESE ARE NOT STANDARD BUSINESS TERMS" tell them this:

"Net 30 is based on common contract law that states that 30 days is the MAXIMUM amount of time you legally have to pay a contractor. This has nothing to do with invoices. Also, most companies find it favorable to be able to pay contractors on a regular pay cycle, I can accomodate this is you wish." (meaning you flex to Net 15 or even Net 20) "My invoicing is to insure that I mitigate my risk against harm caused by non-payment and to insure that I can afford all incidental costs associated with performing my work for you -- such as paying rent, buying food and travel expenses to and from your offices for meetings." Also, if they would like you to flex on the payment terms, flex on the deposit amount by increasing it and offer them a couple different payment/deposit schedules and let them pick the one that works for them.

If they still take issue with paying a deposit or with Net payment terms and it's a blocker to landing the deal (I've even had one or two prospects get angry) tell them to piss-off, because believe me, no matter how much you want to help them, if payment terms are a point of contention at the onset it means payment will be a point of contention and when it comes time to collect, and most likely you'll be working about as hard as you did producing the work. It's just not worth it.

Let me reiterate: A prospective client arguing unduly about payment terms and rates is an UNFORGIVABLE RED FLAG. As soon as they enter any sort of argument and make clear that payment/money is an issue -- then politely stop the conversation and explain that you don't think you are a good fit, and do not look back even if they try to come around.

90% of my clients accept my terms no questions asked and 100% of all clients who showed the above Red Flag turned out to be real fuckers when it came to getting paid.

I can't tell you the lack of hassle I've had with less than honorable clients since coming up with these terms. When you keep them on a short leash, they have less wiggle room to screw you - and they will try to screw you. And no, the screwing is not personal, it's on principal, because often times these guys are small companies with tight budgets and they'd rather withhold payment from you than their hosting company, payroll or other service which will cut them off and report them to Credit Bureaus. So that last invoice form startup-x will usually ALWAYS be late -- just because. Big companies don't have the time for this, have automated accounting and payroll processes in place and small claims amounts of money means nothing to them -- so always go for the bigger company if there's a a choice between startup-x and behemoth-y, unless of course startup-x is super compelling and you'll get more out of it than just a check.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (5, Informative)

angry tapir (1463043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229501)

Hello, article author here. Part of the reason judge.me exists is because people doing contract work often deal with clients that live in other countries or other locations in the same country. Plus the turn around can be super quick.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229637)

As an experienced contractor who mainly deals with overseas clients, all I have to say is that if you go into this sort of work without fully understanding the risks them you should give it all up and go do something else.

Some basic rules.

1) Agree a payment plan. Stage paymens for specific milestones.
2) Use an accountant who knows what they are doing wrt international business
3) Suggest using an escrow account. Client pays all the money up front. Then agrees to release parts as deliveries are made. Also agree a timeout clause so that if they don't agree the final payment you get it automatically after 6 months. Russuans are very bad at agreeing the final payment.
4) Use a Lawyer who knows about international contract law.
5) Both parties to agree that the laws of ONE country shall apply to the contract. UNLESS it is with former parts of the USSR that are not in the EU. Then agree Swiss Law.
6) Every change no matter how small must be agreed in writing and signed off with agreed costs. Do not do anything as a freebie. This habit is endemic in many countries especially in Moscow.
7) Make sure that the person on the other side is actually authorized to sign the contract. I've had clients try to wriggle out of payment saying 'He was not authorised to sign the contract so we can't pay you'
8) If you are gonig to sign away the title of the stuff you develop then make the transfer of title a separate contract. Agree in the original contract that totle will change hands only when the job has been completed AND full payment made.
9) Learn the language especially the swear words. A few curses in their language can work wonders when a client is being awkward.

At first doing business in 'foreign' parts may seem like a nightmare waiting to happen. Sometimes it does have its unexpected rewards though. Mine is meeting a beautiful and intellegent woman in Novosibirsk in 1995. We have been maried for nearly 15 years.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230065)

This (other than the swear words)! Nerds who have no business acumen have no right trying to run a business. I've been contracting since '87 (yes, an old fart) and you ALWAYS have progress payments as part of the deal. That way, if the client decides not to pay at some point, you down tools immediately, minimising your exposure.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40231585)

s/\/I/g
s/\/my/g

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40231625)

Oopps, hit submit too soon. It was meant to be:
s/\<you\>/I/g
s/\<your\>/my/g

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230099)

From one A.C. to another: thank you for your amazingly great advice. I'm going to shoot myself now, since you have shown that we are all mistaken. Also, please, set up a website called experiencedcontractor.com so that other people realise that they are doing everything wrong.

If you think you fully understand the risks, then you don't know anything. You never fully understand the risks. You can, however, try, fail, and try again and again until you learn.

Here's why I'm going to kill myself:

a) I don't know most of my clients. Most of the times I don't even see them. Not even once. I don't know who they are or where they live.

b) I can't afford an accountant. Not when you deal with low-budget projects. If I could afford an accountant, I would be able to afford a lawyer.

c) It doesn't matter how much you agree. It's written on emails. Emails cannot enforce the law.

d) I'm not going to learn the law of 7 different countries to deal with 7 different clients. The law is vast and contradictory. It's often written in the local language. It would be difficult to learn the French law if you don't speak French, or the Polish law if you don't speak Polish.

e) I'm not going to learn 7 different languages to threaten 7 different clients.

f) I can't make sure of most things. As I don't see the counterpart, I can't really know who they are, where they work, or whether they can pay.

The only thing I am doing is 3 (till the first period). But that won't save my soul from burning in hell, will it?

My rules of thumb (so far, I've always been paid, even though some times I had to fight it a little):

1) Use an intermediate party that, for a small percentage, checks the payment record of your client, offers escrow, milestone handling, keeps records of the messages you send/get from the client, and can make a sensible decision if your client ignores you forever.

2) Most people pay if they paid others before. If your client has a good payment record, set up bigger milestones, request a smaller escrow. If your client has no record, set up very small milestones so that you know, right from the beginning, that they can pay. I've broken up projects into milestones so ridiculously tiny that you wouldn't believe. And yet, the clients were comfortable with that because they knew they would be able to review the project from the very beginning, and that they weren't sacrificing much. Avoid clients with many bad reviews or who do not pay.

In my experience, most people pay promptly. Some take some time to review the projects carefully. Others take a long time. But when you let them know that you did the work, that it really works as expected, and that you are a freelancer, not Accenture. I even had one that paid me beforehand just because he didn't want to keep me waiting until he could review the whole thing. I didn't ask for this. I never met the guy.

People are nicer than we often think. Setting up lots of systems to help you get paid and resolve potential conflicts, at the expense of easier communication and a fluid work-flow with the client, can lead to a self-proving prophecy.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230635)

All great suggestions. My caveat would be that all your suggestions re Russia really probably apply to most of the world. My experience is especially with India and Pakistani small businessmen, and they do the very things you specifically call out as "especially in Russia".
*except the "bride" thing, that's perhaps a compensation Russia excels in. :)

Essentially, I've found that you can be a fairly successful small businessperson in the US midwest assuming a fair amount of trust. The rest of the world? Not so much.

Simply assume there is NO goodwill, no trust between you and your client. Not that you have to be a dick, just be meticulous, specific, and thorough. And willing to push hard if you have been these things. Always hold back something at the end for that final leverage.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (3)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230953)

So... the impression I got from your post....

Don't do business with Russians.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231125)

No, he simply listed his experience with that particular culture. If you want real trouble, try doing business with chinese. And if you are REALLY masochistic, I recommend one of the smaller Asian countries or Africa.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231811)

1) Agree a payment plan. Stage paymens for specific milestones.

To the degree you can agree on one. What I've seen is that it's very hard - even with Agile and whatnot - to deliver value in the same pace as you deliver work. Particularly if the client wants to retire or replace an old system or it needs to have some integrations to other systems before they can use it, or simply setting up the structures to implement the business logic in. And if the client wants to bail halfway because they're not happy with the quality or performance or cost of change requests or whatnot then they're not going to get the other half done for the other half of the money by some other bidder. So ideally they want to pay you a lot for a finished project, and much much less for an unfinished one.

Of course as a developer you want the exact opposite, you don't want the client to pull out at 80% without getting at least 80% of the cost - ideally even a penalty because you'd planned with the last 20% too. Or trying to be difficult and claim the work isn't finished. Unfortunately some developers are also quite ruthless in that they know they've only delivered 20% of the value, that the client is now deeply committed and that creating some kind of cost overrun by exploiting any ambiguity in the spec to do it in a silly or unnatural way to create change requests that the client practically can't refuse. It's hardly an uncommon tactic on big contracts to bid low and then make up for it on extra services. Even with agreed prices there's no agreed estimates...

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229681)

ye i get that international clients throws a spanner into the works but if your dealing with international any thing you make sure your contracts are up to scratch to cover you in any condition despite the fact they are from another country, and yes that may require some law knowledge and some reading and more work but if your not willing to put in the effort to cover yourself then you, a: shouldn't be working with international clients or b: be willing to take a hit if things go south.
you cant just scribble "i will make 3 html webpages to x's satisfaction in exchange for $3" on a piece of paper and expect everything to be fine and dandy

long story short i dont see how some "random" third party is going to solve anything, if a party isn't happy with the original contract and subsequent outcome and dont want to pay, and can site a reason (excuse in your words) not to within contract bounds bringing in a third party isnt going to help, seems to me prevention aka a solid contract, is a much better solution

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229783)

Which highlights the major problem - how do you enforce your judgements? At best you can blacken the losers name.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230903)

Presumably judge.me will be able to afford to hire local lawyers to take them to a local court for breach of contract if they refuse to pay.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231057)

Hahaha, for less than a 200$ fee ? No, all they provide is a piece of paper that YOU can then use as an element in a real court.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231163)

This is the same issue as with any other arbitrage. The point is that all parties agree, in writing to be bound by the arbitrage. If arbitrage finds against your opponent, you can simply go to a local court and ask to enforce the contract, which is fairly easy. Without arbitrage you'd have to argue your case in opponent's local court, which is exceptionally hard.

Essentially this appears to be an "accessible arbitrage" option. I'm doubtful that it will succeed as there are plenty of good arbitrage options already in existence.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40231599)

arbitrage != arbitration

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231871)

I haven't looked into this particular service, but usually arbitration awards are directly enforceable in U.S. (and foreign) courts. So, instead of the expense of having the whole dispute heard over again, you would simply take your arbitration award to a court and ask nicely.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229925)

What's the point? If the client agrees that there are issues to be settled, and possibly some payment to be made, negotiation is the way to go. If the client refuses to pay, he is not likely to agree on any kind of arbitration that he can't control. And even if it goes against him, what will force him to pay?

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231627)

Part of the reason judge.me exists is because people doing contract work often deal with clients that live in other countries or other locations in the same country.

It can be possible to enforce judgments aginst an entity in a foreign country (especially if they have assets in your country).
Does this website have any enforcement powers even if all parties are in the same country?

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#40232007)

OK, so how does Judge.me figure out which country's laws to apply? and which countries does it have legal binding status in?

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (2)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229509)

Small claims isn't often an option when you're dealing with a client in another country.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229515)

With parties across state lines, getting into a small claims court with jurisdiction over the client could be difficult/expensive.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229899)

That is why any contract worth anything has a clause stipulating which jurisdiction will be used to solve contract disputes.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229549)

Exactly, and if a person is prepared to ignore a court ruling then you can bet they are going to ignore Judge.me as well.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229603)

Except when they ignore judge.me they are breaking a second contract with Judge.me as well as the developer.

Judge.me has a vested interest in making sure its rulings are followed and also as part of operating costs would have the resources to follow through with legal matters much further than their clients' could on their own.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229711)

whilst this is true, that means that judge.me plans to act as the third party overseeing compensation and in the event compensation doesn't occur they will, compensate or at least promise to compensate the rightful party, incur the debt/compensation on themselves, so now the wrongful party owes them money, which they will then use there law know how and resources to sue whoever, wherever they can to get the money back, whilst the rightful party has already gone home with their money, considering all this is over an amount small enough to call it "small claims" how is this ever going to work

even if upon suing they get all the court costs back, return the money to the rightful party, all they keep is the $300 fee, i could think of better ways to make $300

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (-1)

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Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229873)

Why would a company sign up to be subject to Judge.me's rulings when they can get away with what they are doing now?

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229581)

One word: Jurisdiction.

Small Claims has many faults. Big claims has more. (5, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229619)

> whats wrong with the real small claims court?


Real small claims court doesn't spend much time on investigating claims. To clear cases quickly the judge quickly weighs up sides and makes a snap decision. Under the adversarial system of justice its not about finding the truth, but about who deciding presents the best arguments. That's easier for the judge, but it shouldn't be confused with justice. In some jurisdictions you can't appeal or even be told the reasons. The judge makes a mistake (they are human so it happens) you won't even know.

Small claims court weren't created because they are better than the bigger courts, but as a way of offering the little people cheaper although less reliable justice. The bigger courts are worse though since they are extremely expensive charging rates that cannot be justified. Whoever has the most money to fund the most appeals and buy the better lawyers wins.

Arbitration is in theory a great idea, but a big problem is that the arbitration system is taken over by judges and lawyers charging the same rates. It's sold as a cheaper alternative, but it has many traps. One problem is a big company who nominates an arbitration company (yes, they are companies) will pick one that gives them favorable results or they won't get repeat business. I loved Erin Brockovich the movie, but the arbitration system they used has been severely critcized by some of their clients. If you loved the movie then don't read this:

http://www.salon.com/2000/04/14/sharp/ [salon.com]
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=8169252&page=1#.T875jlK6SSo [go.com]
http://www.givemebackmyrights.com/bma-faq.htm [givemebackmyrights.com]
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-21/consumers-may-see-new-limits-on-mandatory-arbitration [businessweek.com]
http://www.homeloanbasics.com/articles/FirstTimeHomeBuyers/MandatoryArbitrationClausesStripHomebuyersofSuitableRecourse [homeloanbasics.com]
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=103x301912 [democratic...ground.com]
http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/website-aims-to-boost-50m-arbitration-industry-2351246.html [independent.ie]

The justice system badly needs reform, but you have many politicians and lawyers doing very well out of the current system who won't give it up.

Re:Small Claims has many faults. Big claims has mo (4, Informative)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229701)

Some quotes from that Salon article. Highly recommended reading:

"Arbitration is billed as a cheap, quick and private way to resolve civil disputes. The practice gained momentum in the 1980s, when judges, bowing to pressure to alleviate overcrowded courtrooms, began encouraging litigants to resolve their disputes voluntarily. Since then, arbitration has snowballed into an unlicensed industry that’s conservatively estimated at $350 million in annual sales, according to a spokeswoman at the nonprofit American Arbitration Association.

“We hear a lot of complaints about these cases,” said Gerald Uelman, professor of law at the University of Santa Clara. The for-profit arbitration business is booming, especially in California, he added. “It’s upsetting to the extent that it’s a resource used by institutional litigants.”

One big reason for the boom is money. Public judges, who earn about $150,000 a year in the public courts, often retire early to become, in effect, rent-a-judges. By doing so they can earn between $100 and $500 an hour — easily doubling or tripling their salaries. Arbitration firms often have powerful attorneys or corporations as steady clients. They pay monthly retainer fees or get volume discounts. As a result, some for-profit justice firms have a vested interest in keeping their clients happy if they want the return business, which has been the topic of seminars sponsored by the California Judges Association.

The rules that apply in open court often aren’t followed in private court. No laws prevent the hired judges from accepting gifts from attorneys. Another criticism is that the arbitrators and their clients and attorneys often work together regularly. “The same judges are often employed by one side or the other,” said Uelman. As it turned out, Girardi had ties to at least three of the private judges in the PG&E case: Jack Tenner, John Trotter and Jack Goertzen. Had this occurred in public court, judicial rules would have forced the judges to recuse themselves from the case due to a conflict of interest. But no such ethical standards bind participants in private arbitation."

http://www.salon.com/2000/04/14/sharp/ [salon.com]

Re:Small Claims has many faults. Big claims has mo (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230699)

They pay monthly retainer fees

Well... there's the solution right there to dirtbag deadbeat clients. Work on retainer. I don't know why more business isn't done this way, as though only attorneys are smart enough to insist upon it so much that it becomes convention. If enough developers begin insisting on retainer before one line of webcode is writen, then it becomes standard.

Another idea would be to insist on using credit card companies for payment... and billing becomes a quick and easy electronic transaction: credit card given, work begins, once code is delivered and approved, put through your transaction and get paid immediately.

Re:Small Claims has many faults. Big claims has mo (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229795)

> whats wrong with the real small claims court?
Real small claims court doesn't spend much time on investigating claims. To clear cases quickly the judge quickly weighs up sides and makes a snap decision.

Considering the fees charged by judge.me, and the description on their web site, they are no different than a small claims court in that respect.

Re:Small Claims has many faults. Big claims has mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230141)

judge.me involves people sending some emails, with no real discovery process. It's also a snap-judgment made by somebody who isn't paying much attention.

But with judge.me, you've got the added twist that because everyone involved with it holds extreme political beliefs, contracts aren't going to be interpreted the same as they would otherwise. It's run by hard-core libertarians (the sort who think selling yourself into slavery is legal), so all the sudden their interpretation of a contract can be ridiculous compared to what any normal, sane, non-libertarian person would say.

And the founder is a sufficiently far-gone nut job that he thinks a deeply partisan court with no diversity of viewpoints is a *good* thing... hell, he drank so much kool-aid, he thinks this shitty e-arb company will replace public law altogether, allowing for his company to instead be the decider of all man's fate.

Fuck judge.me... just another shitty idea, run by a horridly shitty person.

Re:Small Claims has many faults. Big claims has mo (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#40232065)

As someone who was fringe involved in a small claims court case, I know that in my case the judge flat out stated that she had not even read the filled out form/presentation of evidence/reason for case.
Just the one sentence title/summery (X amount for Y).

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229781)

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Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230577)

I have trouble assigning authority to volunteers on the internet.
Small claims courts typically handle under $500 u.s.
When you buy a car and don't pay for it, a REPOSESSOR will come and " steal" it back legally.
There really needs to be an analog for web design. Don't pay for the work? I come delete the relevant files from the server. An agreement needs to be supported by the server provider and all 3 parties need password access to the site in question. Just work over the business model a little bit, it's not perfect, but the idea is there.
Put some conditions in your contracts. For instance, put in a bit about collecting equivalent pay in goods, then march into their office and reposess random computers valued at hardware cost. Protect yourself with some over the edge clauses that won't be read until it's too late. Major Corps. do it to protect themselves.
Dealing with deadbeats could even be fun. Put in one about his wifes fertility rights going to you after one month of late payments. Have them sign themselves into
indentured servitude. Always throw in some over the edge stuff along with whatever you can legally expect to get by with. Latitude , they call it.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230849)

Jurisdiction?

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231047)

Heh, obviously you don't pay the startup the fees it charges, that's what is wrong.

The only thing this company provides to you is an element to show in a real court, it doesn't prevent you from having to go to a real court.

Re:whats wrong with the real small claims court? (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231987)

If both parties are local they should indeed probably go to small claims court, but if they are in different regions then it quickly becomes cost prohibitive, esp since you have to escalate the case to something higher anyway if you want the decision to apply to someone in another county/state/country.

Shame is the solution (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229477)

I've been in that situation a few years ago, and one thing that works well, provided the client is reasonably well known, is to threaten to shame the hell out of them on various websites / forums and getting search engines to come up with "these guys don't pay their bills", "thieves" or other such results when someone types their name.

Of course, it's not that easy to do, but it's doable enough (and has been done before) that the client might think again and cough up the money.

As for judge.me, what can I say... As if we didn't have enough lawyers lining their pockets off of conflicting parties in real life. Geez...

Re:Shame is the solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229589)

Posting anonymously for good reasons.

I'm in a situation where my client hasn't paid for a months worth of work from way back in 2010.

They tried to get me to sign a settlement agreement that is virtually impossible to sign without legal risk to myself. They are not willing to alter it in anyway, so it's their way or the highway for me. It mentions poor workmanship which has no relevancy to settlement.

They willing to settle paying half over monthly installments. Never mind the venomous work environment where the director/owner was a bully and had her husband watch over my shoulder constantly affecting my work.

Anyway regarding the agreement I've been legally advised not to sign the agreement without striking out certain wording.

Being the sole IT professional for the entire organisation doing programming (what I was hired to do) in addition to being a software analyst, designer, tester, internal/external tech support and in-house administration. Clueless management did help to make the work environment more pleasant. It was so ridiculous that the staff turnover was high and new guys that were hired, quit within two weeks of starting. No wonder I had blood pressure issues working there.

So depending on country I guess but wouldn't that kind of thing open you up to the wrong end of a slander, defamation or libel lawsuit?

Re:Shame is the solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229599)

*Clueless management did not help

Easter eggs, trial period, etc? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229479)

Posting this anon for obvious reasons but wouldn't it be more effective to set some traps until it is paid up? In mass market software, this is simply called a trial period running out unless one has a code after payment. Chances are most clients are too technically incompetent to even disable bad crude implementations of this.

Re:Easter eggs, trial period, etc? (2)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229629)

Depending on the 'trap' you set the client could find some one cheaper and competent enough to fix it. Sue you for damages, or have you legally liable for other laws. It also puts out a bad reputation for you as well and gives the client some ammunition as to why they are not paying.

Some things can be done, like withholding some code till payment is received, but generally everything like that needs to be outlined in the contract before hand.

Also it comes down to time is money and it takes time to set those traps. It is often hard enough to get a site or program working properly in the first place let alone put a time-delay 'trap' of some kind in it.

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229481)

A hot or not for coders with a lack of self confidence.

Collections (2)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229503)

It's great that they're offering a cheap way of pursuing binding arbitration (and as has been mentioned before, there's still small claims for amounts below a given threshold), but the hard part isn't getting a judgment - it's collecting on it. There are plenty of folks out there that are quite comfortable with ignoring a judgment and going out of their way to make collection far more expensive than it's worth, particularly when they don't own any of their equipment or have any other real assets to seize. If it's an overseas client, you're probably better off just writing off the loss from the get-go.

Re:Collections (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230057)

You are abrolutely right, I have had a court ruling in my favour against a customer owing me several thousand euros but he literally wiped his ass with it and I had no legal way of collecting the money.

Do you want to know what finally made the trick? One day I was having a chat with a Romanian friend who told me he had some friends in the "collection business". They took their cut of 40%, but after a some "persuasion" I got the bastard to pay.

Not that I'm a fan of these methods, but sometimes the legal system just doesn't work.

Some mitigating steps (1)

QaDN (538361) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229511)

It is easier to encourage payment beforehand than to get money afterwards.
That is: don't work without a contract, etc.

Offcourse, the type of problems described in TFA will still occur.

Re:Some mitigating steps (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229639)

I think the bulk of what Judge.me is looking at is cases with contracts that are being broken. Not spoken agreements (which also technically are valid as contracts under certain circumstances).

The Internet is not a thing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229519)

It is nebulous, like the sands of time in the hourglass. You can no more do something "for the internet" than you can do for time. Time is the fourth dimension. This internet is the fifth dimension. A dimension which happens to be owned lock, stock, and barrel, but America, land of the free, as in beer. Thank you for your support.

Bartle N. James

FUCK YEAH! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229535)

Um, charge 2x what it costs to do, get half upfront, worse case scenario you break even. COMON PEOPLE DO I HAVE TO NIGGER OR WHAT>

Better solution for the USA: (2)

njen (859685) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229541)

I know it is not practical, but change your legal system to a loser pays one like Australia. Then it matters not if the amount owed is a few thousand or even a few hundred.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229555)

I prefer the scheme where the loser pays the lesser of the two's court costs, to prevent situations where, eg, Bethseda decides to sue you and let you know their lawyers charge $10k/day.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229769)

I have been thinking on this, and your suggestion is good. The option I thought of was requiring equal pay to both sides of the case for each client. As in, if I only pay my lawyer $100, then I have to pay your lawyer $100 also. If Bethesda decides to sue you and let you know their lawyers charge $10k/day, then they will need to cough up $20k/day because they will be paying your lawyer that much as well. This would solve the same problem your suggestion solves, but would level the playing field in lawyer quality due to personal wealth.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229883)

It is a bad idea to let your adversary pay your champion. Then, they can decide if the fee is going up or is it going down. First, they bring expensive lawyers. Then, you do it too. Then they threat your lawyer that they are going to fire their expensive lawyers and hire cheap ones instead, unless ... you get the picture?

Re:Better solution for the USA: (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231677)

The looser is required to pay the winner the same amount as that which they paid their own lawyers. But there is nothing preventing the winner from paying his own lawyer more (or less) then the amount awarded.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#40232589)

The looser is required to pay the winner the same amount as that which they paid their own lawyers. But there is nothing preventing the winner from paying his own lawyer more (or less) then the amount awarded.

Not necessarily in Oz, legal bills can be fought over as the loser attempts to lessen the punishment (the winning side may be asked by a judge to justify the amount they have asked for if the judge thinks its unreasonable).

But if you have a good case, you may get a lawyer well above your pay grade who will fight to get the loser (who can pay them) to pay their high price. A high priced lawyer taking on cases on "no win, no fee" basis is not unusual.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230031)

True.

In practice, this is taken into account. A plaintiff who tries to raise his legal costs ridiculously to price his opponent out is likely only to receive reasonable costs

Re:Better solution for the USA: (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230747)

Loser pays let's rich people run a steam roller over poor people.

If I have a $20,000,000 legal fund and I sue you, Me paying your bottom feeder $150 an hour lawyer is not a big deal, and the possibility of me winning is huge as I can fabricate all kinds of credible evidence... Look at the RIAA and how they fabricate all kinds of stuff.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230837)

In fact it has the opposite result. It stops frivolous lawsuits that plaintiffs know have little chance of winning. From my observations of the legal system in Australia and in the US, I'd rather prefer the Aussie system.

Re:Better solution for the USA: (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#40232471)

Loser pays let's rich people run a steam roller over poor people.

If I have a $20,000,000 legal fund and I sue you, Me paying your bottom feeder $150 an hour lawyer is not a big deal, and the possibility of me winning is huge as I can fabricate all kinds of credible evidence... Look at the RIAA and how they fabricate all kinds of stuff.

But Dr Evil,

This is the exact opposite of what has happened in Australia.

Rich people are afraid to sue poor people because that 150 an hour shmuck lawyer needs only to find enough evidence or fabrications to exonerate his client, then the counter-suit for deformation can cost them a sizable percent of their fortunes. Not to mention the possible jail time for attempting to defraud the court. Fabrications are hard to do right and you cant un-create evidence that the opposing side has, the court in Australia really frowns upon fabricated evidence.

Look at the RIAA and how they fabricate all kinds of stuff.

Once again, why hasn't this happened in Australia.

Because the RIAA members (the actual studios, Aussie judges will see right through the RIAA charade) will have their arse counter-sued off for every single lawsuit. Plus Aussie judges wont entertain "john doe" lawsuits and Australian ISP's are not obliged to do anything for the RIAA (as proven in AFACT vs iinet). The burden of proof is stacked high on the side of the plantif and as you pointed out, the RIAA don't have a high standard of proof.

Loser pays stops rich people/corporations from using the courts as a cudgel against average people. Not only that, high priced lawyers will take your case on a "no win, no fee" basis if they think you've got a good case as if they can win, the rich loser pays their $2000 an hour rates. It works quite well.

Small Claims (4, Insightful)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229595)

I sued an ex-client in small claims. One of the defendants had a lawyer for a dad who tried to be as much of a weasel as possible. They moved it to civil court threatening to sue me for 10's of thousands. I handled my own side of it and still won without stepping foot in court. Cost maybe $80 all together for filing fees and postage and got every penny I was owed.

The agreement on who owes who what should be settled before work begins. You're then just going to court to enforce a contract when one side doesn't deliver. For small amounts you're on your own. You'd spend more on lawyers than you're owed and if the client has a lawyer, you just have to deal with it.

If you're lucky, they come to their senses and you can avoid the courtroom. What would really be helpful is simple legal advice. Even arbitration is a little late to the game. You need to know whether you even have a case, what documents you need to win your case, etc, what arguments you need to make, etc.

Showing up to arbitration unprepared is no better than showing up to court unprepared.

The simple solution is to just never leave large sums of money on the table and work with people you trust. I don't like racking up large invoices simply because I'd rather have cash in hand. I can't pay bills with invoices.

Escrow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229597)

What is wrong with it?

Too bad my country is exempt (1)

thomas8166 (1244688) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229617)

A shame that Taiwan is specifically listed as a country where the service isn't legally binding (since we're not party to the Convention of New York). Could have been useful.

DCMA Takedown? (1)

LSDelirious (1569065) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229623)

A web design could easily be considered a work of art, thus covered by copyright. Normally a designer has no claim to copyright on works created on behalf of an employer/client, but if they fail to pay up, then how could they legally claim to own said copyrighted works? DCMA their asses! Or, if their is any server side coding involved, build in a kill switch which you will only be removed after final payment is received.

Re:DCMA Takedown? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229779)

Not a kill switch. That might violate the law in some jurisdictions. You make any delivery a 60 day timed demo and you give them the registration file when they have paid in full.

Re:DCMA Takedown? (1)

LSDelirious (1569065) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229859)

OK so maybe no external trigger.. but what if after 60 days instead of throwing a "license expired" error, instead it deleted itself and left a (read|pay)me.txt file in its place?

Re:DCMA Takedown? (1)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230653)

I believe that is the definition of a kill-switch ;P

You could always host your content on some sort of staging server, and setup the agreement hat you give the content over to the client upon final payment. EC2 is a great solution for spinning up servers for client projects on a as-need basis. That way, the customer never really has access to the final code until they pay.

Re:DCMA Takedown? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230999)

DMCA take-down notices are only useful for sites that are are using the DMCA safe harbour provisions. For example, by complying with DMCA take-down notices, YouTube is not liable for copyright infringement by their users. This does not apply to people putting their own content on their own web sites: they are always liable, so you're back to it being a straightforward case of copyright infringement. You can take them to court for this (in addition to breach of contract), but that's still expensive.

Double standards, Big vs Small (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229661)

What I have never understood, is a person can steal a 2 dollar item at a shopping mall and get caught, they get handed over to the police and charged with theft, and get hit with the long arm of the law. When a client doesn't pay their $5000 bill for service work, I have to pay collectors and jump through hoops to get reimbursed, and the law may never actually touch them.

Planning, documentation and agreement (is better) (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229709)

Going to court is the last thing I ever want to do in any way shape or form. For a few thousand dollars, it's not worth all the horrible hassle. But this also means, that this amount may not very much for clients either then, and proper planning and agreements can successfully solve this issue before it starts.

PROBLEMS:
1. New clients (in my 13 years exp.) are the ones that will screw you most likely (if you don't know then and they are devious). Old clients with a history of problems, are the second on the list.

2. Bad communication and unbalanced expectations are the start of most conflicts that end up with you not getting paid.

3. Lack of planning/preparation will always come back to bite you, not the client.

SOLUTION:
1. Document everything you will build. Outlines, descriptions, mockups. The amount documentation depends on the scope and budget of the project. Smaller projects get less specs written, and also have less risk.

2. Write a Cost Proposal that itemizes the costs by feature or whatever can be broken out and separated. This also allows the client to pick and choose which items they don't want. (lowers your bid and makes your project feel more in the clients control)

3. Write a timeline with payment schedule and milestones. This is where you put MONEY UP FRONT, as the first item on the list. Depending on the amount of the total project, I usually ask for 30% to 50% up front. If it's a good client, and not much money, I may ask for 100%.

3b. For each milestone simply include which features will be done, and the dollar amount expected at that point in time.

4. Have the client AGREE to the payment schedule, the specs documents IN AN EMAIL. I have had a hand full of times where verbal agreements bit me in the ass because the client was slightly manipulative. This is NOT a contract signing thing, just written proof that the client agrees to start work that is documented.

5. Do NOT start the work until the first payment is recieved. This can be flexible depending on the trust you have with your client.

RESOLUTIONS
1. Now, when/if your client balks at a payment, a) you've already gotten some money, so the stress is greatly reduced, and you have documentation detailing everything you agreed to do.

2. If client complains that feature X is NOT THERE, you can simply refer to your documentation saying what you agreed to build, and that feature X is NOT in the documentation, and that you can put a proposal together for the client for feature X.

3. When a client complains "I told you on the phone" (happens FREQUENTLY) you state, that you only do work that is documented or the request is done in writing. (ie, email) BE SURE to state this UP FRONT when you send the specs documenation, and even include this in the specs. Just doing this has SAVED MY ASS.

4. Follow rules for work, not memory. I had a client say that a missing feature was a "bug". He said I told him on the phone that I would "fix" it. I was lucky to remember this issue from a few months ago (very lucky) but also explained that we had to use a "rule" to distiguish between bugs/flaws (my responsibility) and feature requests (clients financial responsibility)

5. Don't start on the next milestone, until payment is recieved. This again is flexible based on your relationship with the client.

6. Take care of your client, they often shoot themselves in the foot. They don't always understand technology, the internet, or design. Education and patience will pay off big time.

7. Take the blame readily when something is your fault, and fix it. That way, when the client is pulling something, you have no qualms about putting your foot down. (make negotiating infinitely more benefitial to you)

There's much more that can be said, but for another day...

I'm sorry, but that logo... (1)

neiras (723124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229743)

The logo looks like a stick-figure Madonna with giant conical red boobs.

Now you can't unsee it.

Serious legal issues with this "solution" (4, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229763)

I would never agree to a contract with a judge.me arbitration clause if there were any real money at stake. There is a very serious difference between their arbitration process and almost all others: they attempt to completely replace all statutory and case law with "principles of fairness". There are two problems with this: First, statutes and case law exist because they are helpful in resolving cases. Without them to control the outcome, there is no way to accurately analyze the dispute in advance (or even the original contract itself) to determine the probable outcome. You have no way of knowing what whim the arbitrator will use to guide the decision, and no right to complain even if it's unpredictable or contrary to the real law. Make no mistake, the ambiguity is huge - thus so is the risk. This vast unpredictability defeats the entire purpose of having a dispute resolution process.

The second problem is even bigger: Not all law is waivable. Many procedural protections, consumer protection laws, and some case law cannot be waived by contract. Although the judge.me arbitration clause purports to waive all law in favor of their own ideas of equity, this is not legally possible. This creates a total mess. If the arbitrator fails to correctly consider and apply non-waivable law, the losing party could sue in real court to overturn the arbitration award.

a biy of a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229791)

If you cant enforce your web design contract and collect your payment, arbitration will make.no difference. Arbitration just results in a contract about who owes what. You'll still need to go to the small claims to enforce it.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40229919)

A court or someone trying to provide "binding arbitration" without legal authority makes no sense. If I were a client and some web developer didn't finish a job, for instance, and tried to insist I pay him, I'd refer him to the new website blow.me.

If you supposedly owe someone money, and don't want to pay, and they can't force you because it would cost them more money than they'd likely get out of it, so they try to insist you go with them to arbitration... what do you have to gain? You've already won, why waste a second? It'd be like getting subpoenaed to go before "Judge" Judy. I'd tell them to eat a fat, hairy dick!

My guess is this new business venture is going to FAIL hard.

Re:WTF? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229965)

A court or someone trying to provide "binding arbitration" without legal authority makes no sense. If I were a client and some web developer didn't finish a job, for instance, and tried to insist I pay him, I'd refer him to the new website blow.me.

If you supposedly owe someone money, and don't want to pay, and they can't force you because it would cost them more money than they'd likely get out of it, so they try to insist you go with them to arbitration... what do you have to gain? You've already won, why waste a second? It'd be like getting subpoenaed to go before "Judge" Judy. I'd tell them to eat a fat, hairy dick!

My guess is this new business venture is going to FAIL hard.

Absolutely. Both parties have to agree to be bound by the decision. This is not quite useless, I can see some cases where it might work. Firstly is where both parties believe that they are in the right. Secondly when being bound by this service has been put into the contract to start with; I might feel happier signing up to a contract with a provider in some countries if their contract stipulated this than if it said "you will be bound by the laws of the Cameroon" for example. (I should say that I have no Idea how good the laws of the Cameroon are, but in any case bringing a claim there would be much harder for me than using an international online service).

I agree that this gives no recourse if someone just refuses to pay - they just have to ignore any papers from the arbitration service.

Re:WTF? (1)

quetwo (1203948) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230673)

If it is for somebody not paying, I've sold the amount due to a collection agency before. The best deals I've found essentially buy the debt for 50%, and then they are free to do whatever they want to collect it. Then I'm free to work on my next client project, instead of spending all my time dealing with dead-beat clients who won't even pay even if I took them to small-claims court.

That's the problem with unsecured debt -- you are last on the totem pole to get paid.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230995)

Another way, too, is to include the hosting with the web dev. That way, if they don't pay, you just turn off their site.

registered in montenegro (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229943)

Why is the website registered in Montinegro?

Re:registered in montenegro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230189)

Probably because of the desire to have a snappy website name...

My name is (1)

monktus (742861) | more than 2 years ago | (#40229963)

Judge!

The lawyers have discovered the Internet! (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230111)

We are lost.

Arbitration can be dangerous as well (2)

kjeldahl (65177) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230115)

TLDR; Arbitration is legally binding across countries, so unless the contract specifies your country as where conflicts will be handled, there are significant risks in terms of fees (in my case $150000) and risk (all my personal assets). The other country may not share your country's view of limited liability, and madman clients may make claims that do not make any sense in your part of the world that you are forced to defend yourself against.

Just a friendly warning to people throwing out arbitration as the solution to many problems. Sometimes arbitration makes matter worse, because they are legally binding across countries. In my case an idiot client went broke, and when he stopped paying I stopped working. The contract had an arbitration clause in it, which would be handled under US law. My client had various issues and excuses for late payments, and eventually I stopped working. I was willing to take a loss of a hundred thousand USD, but my idiot client had another agenda; he wanted me to work for free, until he managed to make money off my product. So despite the fact that he had stopped paying and breached the contract, he said the only settlement he was willing to enter into to avoid suing me in the arbitration courts was if I was willing to work for free until the product made enough money that he could pay me according to our contract. He was in the US, I was in Norway, and the arbitration clause in the contract was under US law (big mistake). I got a legal opinion in Norway about just ignoring the case (it was ridiculous after all), and then defend me when/if he won a claim and came to collect in the Norway. Well, the legal opinion was "you should win the case in the US". Under arbitration law, if I lost in the US, they could collect in Norway. Even worse, in Norway, the goverment actually go a really long way of enforcing such collections, so I could stand to lose my house, car etc. So risking a default judgement (for not showing up) in the US was out of the question. The idiot client sued me, initially for a million USD, although this was later adjusted down. To have any hope of collecting anything in return, I had to counter sue. After spending $150000 in legal fees, I won and was awarded just below $600000 for his breach of contract. But differently from Norway, the US will not help me collect what I won, so I would have to sue him again in his state to collect. And since my claim is against his company, and the fact that he is a fraud, the odds are he would bankrupt his company, stealing any and all assets, and continue as before. So I would have to sue him again personally (with stricter burdens of proof) to demonstrate actual fraud from his side, and hope he has personal assets I could collect. The fraudsters name is Gregory Spear, and his prime vehicles of fraud are companies named Independent Investor, Spear Financial, Spear Publications and more.

If you want to read the whole sad story, I've put it up on http://aboutspearreport.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com] .

Copyright and DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230257)

Copyright your website work/design and license it to the client (you could provide a lifetime license on payment if you like).

Then if the client refuses to pay and there is no comprimise in sight simply send a DMCA notice and the site will be taken offline by the host. The client will very quickly pay up if their site is taken offline, and heck you can also then sue for much higher damages than just non-payment of contract.

I said no to you, I'll say no to Judge.me (1)

ifndefx (1802330) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230267)

For frags sake, a faceless entity with as much power as the UN and you have to pay for it.

Escrow and partial payments (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230393)

I usually divide the project in three phases: start, beta release and final release. At the start, I require 50% payment. The beta release requires another 25% and the final release requires the rest of the money.

If you're then worried about the payments, I'd use an escrow service such as Elance.

What can you do about it? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40230711)

Ask for payment up front. That is what I have resorted to as a photographer.

Honestly, if they balk at paying up front, even a 50% downpayment then the possibility of them screwing you went up 500%.

Why would they pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230713)

Client has a contract to pay you for work.
You do work, they don't pay.

Why would they bother paying just because someone else agrees they owe you money?

The "service" is stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40230979)

If you don't have a contract stipulating the terms of payment, etc, then you're a stupid web dev.

If you do have a contract, and they won't pay, if it's for less than $5000, take them to small claims court.

What if the client goes out of business? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#40231981)

I don't see any help for cases in which the client goes out of business. Certainly not this arbitration. I'd win a judgment, no problem. And then the judgment would go unpaid. That's what they always say about court. Winning judgments is easy. It's collecting that's hard. I'm only one of a long list of former employees, contractors, and creditors who are owed money. The chain of claims doesn't stop there either. The primary investor was sued and everything that could be clawed back was clawed back, including the money invested in the company.

The former owner made sure he did well out of the whole thing. He enjoys vacations at his 2nd home in Hawaii.

ROFL at "legally binding" (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#40232045)

Fine, you have your "eVerdict", now send some "eGoons" to collect on it.

Small claims awards are recovered by real bailiffs seizing real property, or by their threat of that happening. Good luck on getting someone who's already welched on a debt to give a damn what some online nerd has declared.

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