Design & Publishing / WEB Design
|Those dirty client scalpers!|
|Maybe you read our 60-Second Window #90: "Miserable Site Scalpers"? Well, guess what? Here's another type of scalper you should look out for.|
|Anyone who has been in this business more than a couple of years knows about Client Scalpers. They go by a lot of different names... Nappers, Snipers, or just plain low-lifes. They see your client is spending money and they lure the client away from you. With no life of their own, they scalp your client with low price or goodies. Then they take a free ride on your good design work.
With the Internet and the Web, this practice has exploded into a lucrative business for low-lifes. I've been scalped so many times I cannot even venture to guess. I've won a few, and lost a few court battles too!
A recent request to act as expert witness in such a case is what prompted this month's column. Our client engaged us to evaluate the scalped site and verify authenticity. Obviously, anyone can see it's a direct rip-off. The client needed a third-party verification. We ran our trusty BBEdit's "compare' routine and found the pages to be identical -- complete with our clients notations and ID still in the meta tags!
What to do?
In this case the scalper is acting under orders from the owner of the site. This absolves the scalper from any wrong-doing. (But NOT from ethics!) Watch out folks: the client always assumes that they own the coding on the pages! Eventhough our client has a very specific contract with property ownership provision, signed by the site owner, it'll be a tough and expensive court scrap to regain the holding.
I'm afraid it's best to walk away.
When a client makes the decision to move their business to another shop, you can bet the relationship is over. Period. Even if they did come back, you don't want to work for them anyway, do you? All you can do is attempt to have the client references removed from the scalpers portfolio page, or have them note that YOU did the initial design work. (Ha! Don't hold your breath!)
So losing a client is not the worst part of getting scalped. Giving them credibility is the real problem. In most cases, the scalper takes credit for your good design. As is the case with this client's situation, the scalper lists several scalped sites on their own portfolio page. "Check out our clients." Do you ever wonder if the designer actually designed the site???
Folks, this is one of the powerful ways a certification program, or a folio program such as the Graphic-Design Network Creative Directory could pay off. It establishes your credibility, and ownership of the design. Third-party endorsement is a very powerful tool. And, if the owner of the site carries your Design Center seal over to the scalper's website -- that's when we get involved! We have some rather venomous ways of dealing with situations like this.
Most importantly: avoid such situations. Make sure the client understands and agrees to the provisions of the contract. Do it before you do any chargeable time on the project. When they decide to drag up and wander off someplace, you'll have the upper hand.
Your comments are welcome.
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