Awhile back a friend of mine contacted me. His mom wanted to have a site set up so she could take orders for some products that she sells. The person who did the site for her … well, let’s just say it looked like HELL and screamed Front Page. With bad navigation. So he came to me and asked me what I would charge to do it. At first I thought he meant the company I work for – which we would charge about $20,000 – $30,000 for the number of products she has, a cart with the functions that she needed, etc – but her site would freakin’ rock. Oooooh, no, he meant how much would *I* charge. I was VERY hesitant about taking on the work. I do not have a lot of free time, and I knew school was about to start, etc. I reluctantly agreed that I would do it for $200 – as a favor to HIM – but the condition was that I would NOT work under pressure. I spent hours upon hours one weekend setting up a paypal cart system for her. He had said she wanted to keep costs low, and even though I recommended a different cart that would require her to process payments offline through her merchant account (which she already has, along with a phone system) he told me to go with Paypal. Why? Because when he first told me about the project he said she didn’t have a merchant account and I said that was one way to go for dirt cheap if she wanted to go that route – but that a merchant account would be MUCH better. Anyways, so we did the paypal thing. It took me HOURS to set it up. I can’t emphasize that enough. Rearranging things and adding content or fixing typos (in text copied and pasted from her catalog) took me another 2-3 hours. (Have to remember, I charge clients $100 – $160 an hour for this same work at my day job.) When she sent me my payment she only sent $125. [more]
I was a bit puzzled, and the next time I talked to my friend I mentioned it, and reminded him that it was supposed to be $200. She sent me another $75, and later he commented on “will you finish it since she sent you that extra money”. No, it wasn’t extra. I said $200 to begin with, and I would have charged anyone else about $2000 for the same amount of work! At least! THEN … my computer conks out. I haven’t been able to run graphics software for over a month. It’s not completely messed up, but running graphics software is out of the question, and so I can’t change out the graphics she wants rearranged. (With no direction mind you – just “here are some others to use” – and half of them are very pixelated.) You may notice, I haven’t created graphics for any of my sites lately – and now you know why. Naomi did them for one site, Robyn for another, I used a template from a designer, you get the picture. No graphics software has been a torture for me. And I told my friend this just a week or two ago – I have no graphics software. I can’t do the work until I get some. Can’t. Plus … this month I have had a weekend of camping, a weekend working on the Aztec village, and a weekend working on a book report. I haven’t had a lot of free time.
Fast forward to last night. The home PC is hooked up and running. I installed Graphics software. I opened up the images she sent to me and scratched my head. “What can I do with these? They are tiny & pixelated?” I asked myself. (Yes, I said it out loud. Stop laughing at me.) So I tried some things out, made some sample pages, tried to see what I could do. But … no RoadRunner means no Internet at home, so I couldn’t upload them or anything. But I did what I could with them.
Today, on a whim, I decided to check an e-mail account at Yahoo that I never use. Don’t know why, I haven’t checked it in weeks. Open it up, and she has sent me an e-mail today. “Just wanted to ask you to send back my 6 volumes of music and the one CD with the photos on it. We found someone else to finish the site since you aren’t interested in keeping your word about finishing it for the extra $125.00 I sent to you. Thanks for what you did.”
Extra $125.00? What extra $125.00? If she sent someone an extra $125 it wasn’t me. She sent me the $200 she owed me. And it probably wouldn’t irritate me that much if it wasn’t for the fact that I had offered, for FREE, to move her to a different cart system (she doesn’t like Paypal) if she wanted, once I found one that would suit her needs, run on their server, etc. I went already above and beyond what I had originally agreed to do for the $200 amount. I had then offered to go through and put sound clips on some of the files she has (clips that were not provided to me, I have to go get them, which of course equals MORE time) for free. And as soon as I had graphics software, I worked on her pictures. Could I have played and done other fun things? Sure. But I didn’t – my *first* thought was to install graphics software and do her pictures. And then there is the whole fact that I emphasized over and over and over again that if I did the work it would be slow, my free time is limited. The graphics issue was unforeseen. I have been looking over carts for her site – I have spent probably at least 12-18 hours researching that alone! Geepers.
So I am annoyed. And I will remember this the next time. I will never again offer to do something like this as a favor for a friend. People have NO CLUE what the fees for this work really is. If I had tracked the man hours I spent on working on that project, including phone calls, research, e-mails, etc I would be willing to bet it was over 100 hours and closer to 200 hours. Seriously. Whatever. Take the work to someone else. Hope they have as much experience as I do having run an eCommerce site previously and having spent, oh, 8 hours a day plus 5 days a week for a year and a half working on clients on this sort of thing. I have tons of knowledge, that I share freely. That alone was worth $200. I did the site to be nice. I enjoyed doing it. I charged next to nothing because I was doing it as a favor and because I thought I was clear that it would not be a fast turnaround. Next time the whole scope goes in writing, the payment is agreed upon and signed off on … no more handshake deals. I get screwed every time.
Just had to get that off my chest.