I executed a contract at the end of May for a relatively small web application. It listed 3 main features/requirements and a due date of July 15th. It is October 8th and it is still on-going. I have a meeting with them in 3 hours to discuss the contract. I have been paid half of the contract amount.
To provide a little more detail, it's for a social-network type site. The 3 features in the contract were a Users system with basic Profiles, a simple Message board, and the ability to listen to and vote on certain audio data from the database. I expressly told them that I am not a graphics designer, and since they had multiple graphics people that would be their responsibility.
From the start it has snow-balled very far from the original contract. I was trying to be extremely nice and willing to do some extra work, but it's getting a bit silly now. First they wanted to implement Google Maps as a CORE feature to the site, with dynamic marker creation and geo-coding for each user and custom info-windows... Then it switched to Google Earth after I'd already learned and produced a working Maps implementation. Now there is a full Mailbox, a Follower/Following system like Twitter, a global status update type feature, and more... They haven't helped with the graphics at all, despite repeated requests..
They do not seem to be managing the process very well. Their client is communicating with me and they aren't in control. I do not have an agreement with their client, yet he is somehow dictating the terms of my work with my client.
Any advice for how I should handle the meeting? I basically requested it, telling my contact that I think we should discuss it. I asked if there was an additional budget available, since I feel like I have gone above and beyond...
The meeting just made things worse... I almost walked out. My stance was that I've done more than enough extra work on 'good faith,' and that I need to close the contract out as soon as possible. They seemed to think that I should do everything on good faith, hoping for more work. In addition, I was surprised to hear of an additional (large) feature they wanted included. It was something that was specifically excluded at the beginning.
The web application is a tie-in to a Phone application they are developing. While I've never even seen the application or received any specific documentation about what it does, they contend that I should be duplicating the functionality via the web site. The contract vaguely mentions 'the application' and their 'design vision,' but I think it's completely preposterous to assume that has any weight in a contract without attached documentation.
At this point I was boiling... I let them know that I was willing to do 2 of the 3 extra things (but not this major feature add) to close this first contract out. That was my compromise, which was already more than I wanted to do. They were not compromising at all, the guy just kept talking about doing it all... He wasn't getting it... After I let them know that I was willing to immediately end our working relationship, a long silence occurred. Then one of the partners asked how much for the big feature add.
I'm still not sure what I want to do... I said I'd look at their documentation and provide a quote, but I really don't want to work for them. Since they want this feature so badly, I'm thinking about requiring they close out the first contract and pay the completion money before I'll work on this other feature.
Their client is communicating with me and they aren't in control. I do not have an agreement with their client, yet he is somehow dictating the termsThey are rank amateurs. Cut it off and put distance between you and this mess. And make a promise to yourself to never go into a so poorly structured deal again.
Who owns the copyright to the code right now, you or them? Do you see any value in the site, i.e. will it actually turn a profit? Does the buyer still believe strongly in the value of the site?
Keep it civil, no matter what, and try to avoid behaving like a tough guy. People remember their bruises, and who gave them to them.
If you have the high ground (copyright is yours, and they want the site badly):