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Freelancer Unable to Perform Coding Required - Dispute?

Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
11 of 44

As as go-forward recommendation. Unless your development project can be fully described to every last salient detail, don't do fixed bid. Now of course it's up to the freelancer to decide if they are going to take on the project and they of course should fully honor their commitment. However, the reality is that a good portion when faced with the fact that the project is going to be a money loser for them, will react in a way that is detrimental to the project. I am NOT offering this as an excuse but I would not assume everyone will honor their word as losses rack up. 

 

Of course you want fixed bid because it offers you budget certainty. However, as you found out, that certainty is an illusion. In the real-world of consulting companies, these fixed bid projects would take weeks or more to hammer out, legal would be heavily involved to ensure tight language, and the consultant would still pad the bid by 20%+ to cover unknowns. None of that exists here.

 

You can protect your budget with an hourly contract. Set the max weekly hours to something you are comfortable with (not the 40 hours default). Next, as with any development project type, make sure you are doing things iteratively. Take a time check say 2-hours in to get a status of what they found and where they are at. After set time checks at intervals you are comfortable with. Get the code and run it to do testing as often as is necessary. The freelancer should be consistently messaging with you to provide status, ask questions,  etc. If they don't do this, you must do so proactively. 

 

Hourly removes both parties from pretending they each fully understand something that neither has much of a sense about at the start. Consistent check-in, iteration, and max hours allowed keeps the train moving without allowing it to run away. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
12 of 44

One of the main reasons to use an hourly contract with development work is to maximize quality.

 

But some level of project management is also necessary to ensure quality, regardless of which contract model is used.

Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
13 of 44

Preston H wrote:

One of the main reasons to use an hourly contract with development work is to maximize quality.

 

But some level of project management is also necessary to ensure quality, regardless of which contract model is used.


Agreed. That was the basis for my 3rd paragraph. 

Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
14 of 44

I agree with what you are saying in general, except maybe that 20% is low, but I would also point out that it the freelancer agreed that it was only a week's worth of work.  Without knowing the task, none of us can say if it is a week's worth of work for us, but even hourly it would be hard to manage that, in my opinion, to any different result.  He had, apparently, a simple task and hired someone to blow it out.  If I were hiring someone to do it, I would do it fixed price, and let them figure the burden of getting it done by the deadline.

 

But I will say what struck me from the beginning on this and he also paid $420.00 for the job.  My math puts that at $10.50 an hour and it also struck me that the client mentioned McDonald's and as it just so happens McDee's employees make on average $9.30 an hour in the US.  I can't speak for you or Preston but I wouldn't even look at this job unless it was something I thought I could get done in a day (which likely means it is something I already have code for).  I also would not take the job unless I knew I could complete it.

 

He hired a crappy freelancer.  That's the bottom line.  I don't know how this person convinced him they could do the task but I am pretty sure they couldn't convince me.  It sucks for the client and in some ways that sucks for all of us because we get painted with that brush.  

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
15 of 44

If a client hires an under-performing freelancer, or a freelancer who simply doesn't work out for any reason, using an hourly contract, the client may close the contract at any time.

 

If the client hires a bad freelancer using a fixed-price contract, then money is tied up in escrow and the client can only get money back if the freelancer agrees to refund money.

 

The possibility of hiring a bad freelancer is an additional reason to use an hourly contract instead of a fixed-price contract.

Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
16 of 44
They can close it but do they get their money back? If the freelancer used the screenshot tool and showed activity, even if it wasn’t very good activity, will they get their money back?
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
17 of 44

Mark F wrote:
They can close it but do they get their money back? If the freelancer used the screenshot tool and showed activity, even if it wasn’t very good activity, will they get their money back?

Not unless there is some indication of fraud. It's why I push for hourly. They can argue with me all day long but all that matters is my tracker activity and memos and all that jazz.

 

But I believe the rules are that they need at least 6 minutes (7?) of activity. But, I've seen freelancers get their money with less activity but other segments were high activity. I think it's kinda a judgement call on whoever is looking at the work diary.

Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
18 of 44
Right so reversing the perspective this client, I think, would be better with fixed. Plus it sounds like it dragged out and, although I’m fuzzy in this, can you even dispute a timesheet past the last week?
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
19 of 44

Mark F wrote:
Right so reversing the perspective this client, I think, would be better with fixed. Plus it sounds like it dragged out and, although I’m fuzzy in this, can you even dispute a timesheet past the last week?

I think this is a case of client going cheap and freelancer could either be outsourcing or lying about his skills. There is also a possibility that the client didn't communicate what he wanted or maybe the software just needs bug fixes. It's kinda normal to get kickbacks on bugs but at $10/hour it's doubtful that he would get a coder who would properly test the product. The only way I think you could know is if you had the code reviewed but again we're talking about the low end cheap side and this stuff is just par for the course.

 

I think the only way for a cheap coder like that to work out would be if you got him to just do something and then you fix stuff yourself.

Community Guru
Wendy C Member Since: Aug 24, 2015
20 of 44

Coder, writer, artist, etc. Hiring cheap = substandard end results.

 

We've all fixed this junk before. Buyers need to understand "You get what you pay for". 

 

The fix often costs them a lot more in the end - at the minimum these costs are in emotional turmoil and aggravation plus hard costs to fix the work and to make up for time lost,

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