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I'm trying to decide when it is time to cut our losses and walk away, or whether to try to salvage a situation. 


We contracted with someone who came highly recommended to do a *major* creative project that I have neither the skill nor the time to do.  In August the project started, with ideas that we loved.  I had hoped to have the project finished by the first of the year.  In November/December there were long periods where I could not get a response to voice mail or phone messages from this gifted creative person, and I got worried.  She finally contacted me, very apologetic, and talked about taking on more than she could handle, would she have to cut back on her responsibilities, hire an assistant, etc. but she reassured me that our project was on track.  For a brief period she checked in almost daily to let me know the progress.   That slacked off.  In February she wrote that she had THOUGHT the project would be finished Feb 20th, but she found some 'odds and ends' to tie up..it would be done by the 25th.   That is the last I have heard from her.  I have looked at the small amount of the project I have access to and I'm appalled at the amount of work still to be done. I've contacted her. she has not replied.  I recently found out that she has accepted a very high profile position in a very busy organization.  This would APPEAR to be the reason that my project has been put on the back burner. Meanwhile, she has been paid 1/2 the agreed upon amount, and I have nothing to show for my money.    It honestly is NOT about the money. I think she under quoted the project; I would have paid more.  But at this point I have nothing to show but six months of wasted time. Other projects are on hold waiting for this.


I love the start she has made, the look and feel is wonderful. I want it completed. but it has been almost a year since our initial contact, and work started in August.


When do you say "ENOUGH!"???

Tags: Project, contracting, management

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It sounds like this person is too busy to care much about your project.  Perhaps she would actually be relieved to have it terminated? Since you've paid for half, see if you can arrange to keep what is already done (if that is at all possible) so that you can hire someone else to finish it.  Is it the type of project that will allow someone else to pick up where she left off?  If not, keeping what you have so far to use as a model for the next person would be a good idea if you like it and want to keep to that theme.  But it definitely sounds like this person has been given enough time to prove that she is not up to the task, for whatever reason.  I'm a big believer in cutting our losses just so we can move on and be free to choose another option. So my vote is: terminate!


It sounds like you put a lot into this project and I'm so sorry to see that this is what has come of it so far.

What does the contract say about not finishing the job, and any financial restitution or payment if it's not done? If there's no formal written contract, what do the email exchanges and verbal communications between the two of you say about this? Does your agreement anticipate that either of you might change your minds, and what would happen if you did? That's the first place to look to see what the best course of action should be.


dM there is no formal contract...and I think it never occurred to either of us that she wouldn't finish.   I also think the project is far bigger than she anticipated and she may be overwhelmed.  Last night, after I posted here, she finally contacted me (after three weeks???) and said she thought the project was almost finished, but based on my email, I'm not pleased. Of course I'm not pleased. The basic idea is marvelous, but the implementation is a disaster, perhaps because of lack of communication.  I immediately wrote back, clarifying some of the problem areas and asked how we could help move things along, made a couple of suggestions that *I* thought would give her some guidance.  no response 24 hours later.     At this point I do not know who 'owns" the basic framework that she created and that I love.  I am ready to see if someone else can implement it since she doesn't seem able to communicate openly about it.

Ms. Clark, 

It may not be about the money, but having a project that is dear to your heart be stalled like that is awful. I hope you can keep what has been done thus far and start anew with someone else. Good luck.

Yosilda Suarez


We had this very thing happen to us too. It was a large web design company. They went through a merger. Our contract was with the old company so 2 years and $75,000 (that is not a typo) later, our site was finally finished. It didn't look great but we went ahead and launched it. And the site promptly crashed. It was down on and off all day. When I asked what was wrong, they said "We didn't realize how much traffic you guys had so we didn't build the site to have that many people on it."

We had to throw that money away, literally, and start over again with a new tech firm. It was perhaps the most painful learning experience I have had in my business career. I practically cry when I think of all the good that could have been done with that money (everything from mosquito netting in Africa to raises for staff to free shipping promotions to sponsoring local charities).

I tell you this so you know that (1) it's not just you. This happens to many other people. (2) To share my experience and let you know that even though we didn't cut it off (I should have), it still didn't turn out great for me. Please test the site before you go live. =)

Chin up - go breathe in some amazing essential oils =)))

Wow, Anne-Marie...that was painful to read. I am so sorry you lost all of that money. I could cry along with you. I have learned not to depend on others for what I need, for much of that reason. I am a DIY. I went from not knowing anything about computers to learning the insides of how to do things. I got books and painstakingly learned how computers function and eventually how to build my own websites so that I would have full control of them and not have to rely on the whims of other people. When I eventually started to sell, I didn't have the patience to learn to build the shopping cart (Zen), so I switched all sites over to a host that had a shopping cart built in. Though I would like a more advanced cart, with more options for the consumer, this will do, for now. The look of my site is not "WOW" but it does what it needs to do for the purpose and looks just as good as many other sites, so I am okay with that. Once I retire, I will be able to put more effort into it.

Marge, my empathies are with you, as well. I am with dM and would terminate. I wish you much success in finding someone who can help you finish your project.

Love that spirit!

One of the biggest struggles I have as the company grows is relinquishing control and not doing it all myself, even though I know it may not get done as well as I would have done and it won't get done as cheaply as I would do it if I was doing it myself.

So it's a constant struggle to know when to hold onto something and when to delegate it.

A complicated website was something I had to delegate but in the early years, I did the BB site (just like you!).

I have yet to pay a single vendor $75,000 for anything, and I'm nearly crying as I read this. I'm so glad you shared a bit of your story because it shows that it is possible to not only to survive, but to thrive, after such great financial loss and heartache. We all need that reminder over and over again. Thanks!

It was like a bad movie - just dripping out $3500 invoices at a time over 2 years. When I finally ran the total and went "Oh my, oh my, oh my" and then withheld payment on the very very last check. The vendor then refused to release any coding to me so we couldn't even rebuild off of it.

It really was the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water thing - I really didn't notice how bad it was until I finally ran the report. I got monthly "We're making progress, everything is on track but slow" and the project was budgeted to be $45,000 so when I saw the checks, in my head I thought "Wow, that hurts, but I've budgeted for it and this is what a seriously robust website costs when you have as many products and options as we do!"

Little did I know ....


I am so sorry you been having such a hard time with this project. I think the biggest lesson is for all of us to take developing contracts seriously and to have an attorney on hand to help with this. I know many of us are starting business' and the thoughts as to what we have to have in place with little to no money is crazy.

I embarked on a new website in November 2011 and the Web Designer was wonderful. It just relaunched this past Monday although it could have been done much sooner but we both kinda sat on it at times since we weren't at each other's throats. Even with that, I am glad it took the time it did and the launch has been a success. I also hired a graphic designer for labels and have asked for an invoice several times. I am her first "real" client and she wasn't going to charge me the fee for the 2 one hour phone calls we had. I told her she had too because she is performing a service for a client. Of course I am hoping my invoice isn't going to make me sell a body part or anything! LOL

Otherwise, what I have learned is to take things serious when you are paying money to someone for a service. One thing I was clear about was making sure I could make changes to my website without having to contact her and that wasn't a problem..Thank Goodness!

I do hope you are able to keep what has been done and this turns out to be a blessing. I will keep my fingers and toes crossed for you!

Oh I'm so sorry!!!  I am going through this right now with my label designer...I thought the nightmare was over but just had a new blow yesterday!!!  I sent in all the printer ready files into lightening label and they contacted me yesterday letting me know that there are many problems with the labels...I had planned on using lightening labels from the beginning so I made sure she had there specs.  I contacted her right away and still no response..this is just one of many problems...this project started in July...she promised that everything would be done by early October and she just finally finished up with the last label February 26th - and I had to threaten to turn her over to paypal and etsy.  And there have been problems all along the way...I wish I would have listened to my gut when the first signs showed up and demanded a refund and went with someone else.  So maybe say enough is enough now before it just gets worse? 

Wow, these are horrific stories. But, I'm trying to save a few dollars so I'm re-teaching myself HTML code, etc. to build my own site. I too was working with someone, but in spite of repeated attempts to contact her, I still have yet to hear from her six months later. She at least designed some gorgeous biz cards for me, though!


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