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Disingenuous client

I drew up a garden design for a client a little under a  year ago. Went to present it and finalise options. She said how much she loved it. Priced it and then she said she did not want to use me as i delivered the quote a day later than i  said i would. From memory home life and sick daughter had to take priority. Anyway i charged her for the design as had been agreed at our first meeting and then she refused to pay. There was no obligation to have me build the garden though she led me to believe that is what she wanted. Lots of back and forth later including threats of small claims i decided to walk away as our agreement had been just verbal.

Cut to now. Quite by chance i was looking at a new job on google earth when i realised it was in the same street as the lady mentioned above......and guess what. She has only gone and had my design implemented. Its quite clear to see. Slight variation on a radius but none the less its definately my design.

I am thinking to write a polite letter acknowledging that i have seen that she has implemented my design and re-issuing the invoice. Its been suggested that i could also say that she has a certain time to pay and otherwise i will take it to small claims.

There is no doubt in my mind that this lady knew exactly what she was doing at the time but as my wife says she would not be expecting to be caught having taken my design without paying and using it.

The thing that gets me the most is the way she went on about her poor kids missing out not having a garden for the summer, yet i gave up time i could of spent with my kids to do her design. It would have been fine if she had paid me but she didn't.

Any thoghts and advice appreciated.

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  • PRO

    If this lady has copied your design then she's in breach of copyright and she should pay.

    It happened to me with a long-term maintenance client. What made it the more gauling was that the client was the chairman of a greeting card company and he would have been aware of copyright laws.

    My example came to light when I submitted my design only to get a copy back from a 'proper designer;-0) asking me to quote. Thos 'proper' design had been copied in its entirety.

  • PRO

    So many of these situations can / could be covered by a good set T&C's from the start;

    • With the Quote.
    • Followed by signed off instructions to proceed.
    • With clear Terms repeated with/on the Invoice.

    We should do all we can to protect our ability to get paid at the end of the job, in a reasonable timeframe and protect any IPR.

    Never be afraid to issue "7 day" letters and follow up with the Small Claims process (including costs, interest and damages where relevant) if you get no response or the brush-off etc


  • PRO

    As ever thanks for the responses.

    Been looking into uk copyright law and it looks as if my work should be protected under design rights but still trying to confirm for sure.

    Phil - Did you ever get paid?

    Gary - The design was carried out prior to the quote as a seperate contract. I tend to do a number of versions/concept drawings and only present ballpark figures prior to drilling down to actual requirements /fit to budgets. I am still figuring out how to word a contract document to present to a client on initial meeting prior to doing this work without scaring them off. The other areas you mention i have already got in order which does not help with the pre quote design phase.

    • PRO

      Can you not put it in such a way that the fee for the drawing will be removed if the other work goes ahead 

    • PRO

      Yes Ed, I did (although the fee was a token for the time put in).

      Because I's worked for the client for over ten years I (wrongly) assumed the job was mine. I never expected my drawings to be used as a template.

    • PRO

      Is the moral - Never do something for nothing and always have a way of financially recouping your efforts ?

      An upfront fee, refundable if the work goes ahead will tell you a lot about the client and may get rid of ‘idea thieves’....

      A reasonable client will not see this as a problem and will appreciate both sides need to invest in the project to make it a success.

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