Going Solo (from the corporate beast) #5 – A Valuable Lesson Learned

I knew it was going to happen some time, but I didn’t think it would be so soon. I don’t want to give out too many details, but I just want to say that getting taken by a  client is no fun. I guess everyone must go through this, and I am sure most clients have been taken by developers at one time or another so I don’t claim this to be a unique problem that only happened to me. In fact, because I always put 100% into every job no matter the size (or now that I understand it better, the likelihood I will be paid), I might have done this to myself.

I got this project through a 3rd party and I went for it because I was not working on any other paying gigs at the time. There was no set deadline, no contract, and no formal documentation of any kind…you see, I’m THAT kind of idiot. I simply trusted that once I completed the described work I would be paid the quoted amount. Also, since it was through a 3rd party and the first party was also a third party, I am sure I if I ever do get paid it will be from Kevin Bacon. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was told last Thursday at 4:00 PM that I needed a decent alpha by the next morning. I pulled an “all-nighter” to deliver it, and then was told to get a beta by Monday morning. I was planning to work over the weekend when a relative was put in intensive care and I needed to take my mom there to visit. So, we flew to our destination and I camped out in the hospital, working on the project for two days straight. I was able to deliver a really nice beta by Sunday night, but then I found out I had been had. It turns out that the client decided to go with someone else before he even saw my finished product.

Anyway, the third party, who got me the gig, is really embarrassed and we are going to bill for the work I completed, but honestly, I know it was simply a lost 40+ hours that I will not get back. I will chalk it up to experience and maybe finish the project as an engine for sale.

So, I learned that it is really easy to get excited about a project, no matter the size, and also learned to never start something without a contract in place. I know, I know, that last one makes me look really really stupid, and I have now been educated on the full consequences of this stupidity.

(update: This is Steve.  I embedded an “oldie–but-a-goodie” youtube video about vendors vs. clients… sorry for the the trouble Jeff)

(Update2: Nice find, that was brilliant, Steve. Simply brilliant)

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