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Copperlaw, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 2019
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Owner of Web Business. Have dealt with a 'very' difficult client

Customer Question

Owner of Web Business. Have dealt with a 'very' difficult client for the last 3 months. Money is outstanding. Work has been completed, and client confirms. I have gone far above and beyond initial requirements. Work done has far exceeded initial requirements.
1) Client does not understand what is a New change, Update or what can be included in original quote. I have explained, many times. Sometimes you have to educate the client. Have done this > New changes require complete re-structure of website, therefore not included. They want 'everything' included (not possible).
2) New website is on temp domain - and - very old/outdated site on main/public domain. Client stalling over 2+ weeks to make final payment, not sure why? Other than wants 'everything' included, which cannot happen or I would be working for free.
> Should I, or Do I move my new website to public domain - then block website until they pay in full? This is the only way to encourage them to make payment NOW. I have provided deadline, so many times - now past deadline.
(Blocking temp domain, won't do anything.)
> I can suggest to client:
a) Payment Immediately NOW please for work completed, then I will release necessary passwords to you
b) If payment is not paid by certain deadline > the domain WILL be moved over, and will be blocked - until payment is received, at which time necessary passwords can be sent to you.
Please suggest what I do to recover outstanding money. Very difficult client, if I say one thing - she comes back with conditions and control.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Copperlaw replied 2 years ago.
Good evening, I would be happy to assist you with this. This is not the first time I have heard of situations like this. Customers can be very difficult to deal with, particularly when they don't fully understand everything that goes into the work you do. Ultimately, you have an agreement with the client. You have provided a service and developed a website. This is your property until it is paid for by the customer. I liken this to ordering a car from a dealership. The customer cannot simply demand that the windows be tinted and options added without paying the requisite additional fees for same. Likewise, the dealer would not release the car to the customer without payment. I know these are two very different products, however the principles of commerce work the same. If the customer has not paid you for your work, you are not obligated to provide them with the work you've done, that being the code for the website. If they are demanding things that are not included in the original agreement, they must pay for these services. If they choose not to pay, you could sue them in Small Claims Court for breach of contract for what they owe you for the work you've done. So you would be within your rights to block them from possession, use or control of the product until they have paid for same, by whatever means you have to do this. If they own a domain and have paid for it, you could not block them from accessing the domain, however if this is part of the agreement you have with them and they have not paid for same, then you would be within your rights to do so. Just make sure you are dealing only with the products and services that you lawfully have an interest in. Please let me know if you require anything further as I would be happy to continue this discussion. Also, please take a moment to leave me a positive rating as this assists me in building my reputation here on the site. Jim
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi There,

Thank you very much for the reply. Please respond again URGENT.

With the Domain - they have an old website on a public domain. This is their domain.

What we arranged is shown on the Invoice (as with many emails) that the Domain transfer from temporary domain (new website I created) would be moved TO public domain; once the work is complete - which is it. She confirms work is complete.

So, even though they own the domain > Can I still move the new website from temp domain to their public domain and then Block the new website that I did, until I receive payment?

Client is annoyed, as domain transfer was mentioned to them - however nothing was done yet... I do need some control over the work that I have done.

I am not prepared to release any information/passwords, without payment.

She says payment upon release of website.

I say payment then I give you website access.

The original amount owing was actually due in April, and then they asked for more changes, which most were done. New ideas and new suggestions were not, as it falls into the category of Updates and requires a full structure/re-programming of the pages. I have mentioned this to them.

They also have an idea to let their 'consultant' take over the website, do the remaining changes, change the whole website around, upon giving the green lite - then pay me. Sorry, but it does not work like this either.

The work I have completed, needs to be paid now.

For Updates, she also has the idea to take the website I created, and let her 'consultant' finish the website, with changes. This is my work, and a lot of time, effort and heavy customization/programming has gone into the site. There are actually two websites involved. Very limited funds had been agreed upon initially, and the work far exceeds the amount of payment to date.

Now, there is a final payment and she seems to be stalling or finding conditions as to why they cannot pay (i.e. we need all our changes included - Which is not possible).

She also leaves on Friday for a 3 week holiday, and so it is vitally important to get the remaining amount of money from them 'now'.

Very difficult, makes conditions and keeps changing her mind on what was discussed previously.

Please help, in particullary with the Domain - Can I block them from viewing the new website online, which is transferred to their public domain - when they have not paid in full for the work completed.

She says more changes are needed before website goes live. These changes are "new" ideas.

Expert:  Copperlaw replied 2 years ago.
Where the domain is concerned, if they own the domain, then you can block the website, as long as they have access to their domain. As long as you are only preventing them access to the product which has not been paid for. If they have not paid for the website you created, you are within your rights to block them from viewing it.
Once she pays for it, then it belongs to her and you do not retain any intellectual rights to it and if she wished to make changes to it, she could do so.
Expert:  Copperlaw replied 2 years ago.
Also, you are also within your rights to withhold access to the website until you receive payment. If you provide them access, they could copy the code and take your work and not pay you, leaving you without payment and with your only recourse being through the courts. If they have not paid, they have no right to it or to demand it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for the reply.

For the Domain:

They have paid for the domain - - where their old/outdated site is public/live

They have paid 50% for the new website on temporary domain

Can I take the temporary domain - new website that I created - and move it to their main domain - - and then BLOCK the new website, until they pay the final amount?

* I would appreciate your response to the other items

Expert:  Copperlaw replied 2 years ago.
If you block the website on the new domain, will this render their paid for domain unusable? If so, then this could be an issue, as you would then be interfering with something that they have ownership of and preventing them from lawfully using same. You can prevent the website from being displayed, but you cannot interfere with their use or access of the domain itself, just the pages you have created.
Expert:  Copperlaw replied 2 years ago.
Please let me know if you require anything further
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


URGENT please

Just got off the phone with this very difficult client. She was quite pushy, although seemed nice.

Demanding website access codes today, once she sends this to her 'consultant' - previous web programmer - to make any change on the website - who can then call the work his own - she would pay.

Gave a deadline of today - 4/5 hours from now.

I am not happy that if I do give her access, then a previous web programmer can make any change on the website - then call the work his own, and I still may not get paid.

I have mentioned that we have worked well together, she agreed and for over 3 months have done a lot and a lot of work for them; which far exceed the original quote. We also agreed that Updates & maintenance would go through myself.

Please advise what do I do:

If I provide access codes to the website NOW - I may still not get paid

and she wants to send my work to someone else to re-do and make changes. Then it is not my work anymore.

If I do not provide her with access codes by her deadline - then she wants to scrap the whole entire project and I do not get paid and my work is vanished, after spending 3 months working with them.

URGENT please > Thank you.

Expert:  Copperlaw replied 2 years ago.
Your assessment is accurate and I simply cannot tell you what to do, only what you are entitled to do and what your options are. What choice you take is up to you as only you know how best to deal with this woman.
One thing to remember is that once she pays, the product belongs to her, so if she wants to have someone else take it over, alter it and put their name on it, she's entitled to do so. This is the nature of the business. Once a client's contract is complete and they have their product, you no longer have any claim to the work if you are not retained to continue the work and maintenance.
So yes, if you give her the product, you may never see your money and your only recourse would be to take her to court for payment. She would have the product and benefit from it during that time.
If you hold out for payment, you have the power, as she is breaching the contract by not paying you and she can still be forced to pay through the courts. She would be without a site for a further period of time and would have to pay someone else to do the work from scratch, which I expect she would not want to.
You are within your rights to insist on payment on delivery, not sometime after and you can also advise her that if she chooses not to pay, you will pursue her civilly and seek the payment, in addition to the extra charges and your costs.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Jim for your help.

I agree with your latest reply... A few more conditions:


She says now I would get credit for the work completed; however wants to call me a "programmer" and another graphic designer who "created the site"... This graphic designer did NOT create the site.

I did 'everything' creation, design, development, customization, heavy programming, worked with this women for 3 months - many, many emails & phone calls - "everything". > I would obviously like full credit.

The only thing this graphic designer did - was create 4 images - from an old/outdated website, which was requested to move over to the new website. By moving these elements; a tremendous amount of work, skill, and heavy programming was involved.

I suggested creating a "credit page" by all means give credit to the graphic designer for her "images" - but ME "Full Credit" on the website in the copyright statement.


She also does not want to pay, until I release passwords, when she would send them to her previous programmer to check things, make changes, then once he gives her the green lite, they would pay.

*note, this is completely different the original arrangement, where I would do everything for her and complete the project. She agrees the development is done, but says final changes - these final changes are new ideas and new suggestions (which fall outside the scope of the project) > she will also not tell me what changes she wants made.

Every step of the way she has added conditions on things, and now says things change > but yet she is still changing her mind, many times; and wont pay until I give her full control on the websites, which I'm still very much uneasy about > 1) she may never pay and 2) wants to condition it (new idea) to go to her previous programmer to check things, make final changes, and then once he gives green lite - then pay... (It does not work like that).

I can give her passwords and everything she needs, so she is at will to make any change; but upon payment.

Now she is off for 3 week holiday. Note she is the 'secretary'. Seems she wants to take ownership of the project and control things....

How do I get her to pay in full "now" before her holiday, and request (again) that I get full credit for my work?

Please acknowledge & thank you very much.