Please Help!!! I am powerless right now!!

FafaflohiFafaflohi Posts: 1subscriber
I have lurked on these forums for a long time and I got myself in a bad situation and just needed to post.  I apologize if this may be the wrong category, but I figured this may be the best place to get some guidance.
I want to preface this post with these facts, so everyone doesn`t have to reiterate what I already know, lol:
I was a bit naive.
We never signed any agreement.
I have the invoices and email and paper contracts - no signatures
I spent around 7 grand.
I am screwed.
OK
I have a web-based startup company.  While searching for a developer at the end of last year, I was recommended through an acquaintance a company lets call "Laid Back Web Developers".  They are located on the opposite coast (3 hour time difference is crucial when trying to pass info back and forth - something I didn`t think would matter).
I won`t get into the rocky road we had since November but being naive and anxious I stuck with them.  Slowly but surely, they produced, the site was being built.  It was never 100% the way I would have liked it and they always seemed to have an answer as to why.  (Keep in mind, I wasn`t asking to boil the ocean, all of my features have been done on tons of other websites).  But again, the longer it went, and the more money I poured into it, the deeper I got.
Even so, I was relatively happy with it.   Deadlines came and went.  I didn`t mind.  I made some changes so I can understand the delays.  But now, about 6 months later.  I still can`t launch the site...It is 99% launchable.  And quite frankly, I could launch it, BUT I haven`t been able to get in touch with my guy in 3 weeks.
I call a few times a day, I leave voice mail, email, etc...Sure I could launch, but I don`t have admin rights to my own site.  I can`t make any changes.  If something goes wrong my web guy is MIA.  If someone has a question I can`t answer my web guy is MIA.  If nobody goes to the site, I am screwed...If thousands go to the site I have no way I monitoring performance etc...I want my site.  Sure, he showed me one or two things, but I still can`t operate the site from behind the scenes.  I have things I would like to change and add (banners/photos etc...) I can`t.
I have an invitation email ready to go, and the core feature of the site still needs tweaking AND my guy is MIA.
What is my course of action?  Can I get a lawyer?  Better business bureau?  I don`t want to threaten the guy, but I have to do something.  We are going on 3 weeks.  Should I wait longer, even if something serious has happened to him or his family is this how he should run his company?  Do I try and find another web company to help me for a reasonable price (I do have passwords into the user panel, just don;t know how to do anything)?  Do I tell every site I can, the name of the company and bash him?
Thanks for whatever suggestions or help I get...
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Comments

  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    What is the domain name?  Who is listed as the administrative contact?  The first thing I would do is to make sure that the domain name is yours before you do anything to burn any bridges.Videography5/25/2009 11:55 AM
  • ArcherTCArcherTC Posts: 1subscriber
    If you do not have admin rights to the site, you do not actually own the site yet.  Yes, you have paid for it and, yes, it`s mostly ready.  But your developer has not turned it over to you and you cannot make changes.   Until the contract is officially fulfilled and you have full rights, you would be placing a new designer/developer in the middle of a potential mindfield and yourself in the path of your old designer`s claims of breach of contract.
    You have made every attempt to deal with this person yourself, so it is now time to bring others into the picture to review the matter and see whether you have just cause.  Sit down and build the case with copies of all your correspondence, any log of calls you`ve made, the contract and all the rest.  If you must correspond with him again, let it be to only declare that you are now handing this over to a lawyer unless you get everything delivered by a certain (very firm) date.  Be polite (you don`t want your project trashed), but don`t expect good things from this person.  You`re beyond that.
    Best of luck.
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    Reread my previous post - do not burn any bridges until you have full possession of the domain (I.E. you are the admin contact).  Once you have that you can change the passwords and find someone you trust to make any changes, including changing the web host.
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark Posts: 104subscriber
    BBB is worthless.  Forget them.
     
    Try to remain friendly but firm.  In some cases, a single letter from a lawyer can get better results.
  • FafaflohiFafaflohi Posts: 1subscriber
    Reread my previous post - do not burn any bridges until you have full possession of the domain (I.E. you are the admin contact).  Once you have that you can change the passwords and find someone you trust to make any changes, including changing the web host.

     
    I am the resgistrant contact.  He is the admin contact and the technical contact...
  • Dreamman95Dreamman95 Posts: 0subscriber
    In the future remember to always demand that a website devloper do what you wish them to do.
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    The admin contact owns the domain. 
  • vwebworldvwebworld Posts: 40subscriber
    As suggested above, pull together documents about everything related to your "agreement with the person/company. Including notes about any phone conversations.
     
    This information is important to understand the "contract" you entered into (with or without signatures) and what party is responsible to what.
     
    Pull together all information about the site - domain, all login information, etc. If you can change login information, you might try that sooner than later.
     
    I would suggest sending a registered (return receipt) letter demanding whatever action you want. You might not want to continue using this person to complete the site. But instead, transfer domain to you, provide copies of all work done so far, etc - so your new design does not have to start from scratch. You could have a lawyer send such a letter instead, although my guess is that your lawyer will ask if you have sent a demand letter yet.
     
    Depending upon your "contract"  the amount of $$ you already paid may or may not be a fair compensation for the work thus far completed. If it is, you can just demand the person to transfer the domain, and all login information. If you paid by  PayPal, you might be able to get some money back.
     
    Being in the business, stories like this always trouble me.
     
    ~Roland
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    Before you take any hostile-appearing action, I.E. set fire to the bridge, get the Admin contact changed.  Lie if you need to.  Tell your web person that you`re ready to go online and you`re happy with the site and you want the admin contact "just for insurance" because your business relationship is fulfilled and finished and his services are no longer required.
  • ArcherTCArcherTC Posts: 1subscriber
    Without a written contract, the OP still has a trail of emails, payments and phone calls that show an expectation of work.  That said, without administrator rights to the domain, lying to a registrar to get ownership could place the OP on the wrong side of the law in court.
    This is not about hiring locals only.  There are plenty of cases in which people have been defrauded by people in their own backyards, so let`s not be too idealistic about that.  What the lesson does show is that a contract with clearly defined milestones and deliverables can be invaluable in cases where things fall apart.
    Again, gather all of your documents and speak about this with a professional legal advisor.  (And, please, with your lawyer, get someone well-recommended with whom you have clarity on what`s expected.)
  • FafaflohiFafaflohi Posts: 1subscriber
    What would a lawyer cost?  I know it is hard to answer, but my luck, I will be spending a few more thousand for a minimal gain albeit I will have my site in my possession.  However, I would still need to pay someone else to help me out.
     
    Again, I could launch it, but if one thing goes wrong, I am screwed.  This delay is prolonging my opportunities to make some money on the site as well.
  • VideographyVideography Posts: 6subscriber
    Tammi - I wasn`t saying to lie to the registrar.  Of course the OP
    should be completely up-front and honest with the registrar.  I meant
    lie to the web designer, if necessary.  Tell them anything to get the
    admin name changed on good terms.
    OP - (your name? since you neither signed your post nor provided any
    profile data) - What registrar did you use and what is the domain name
    in question?  We`re trying to help you here, but we will need more information
    Lawyer advice?  It would likely be a lot cheaper to pay the designer a
    "transfer fee" or whatever he wants to call it (termination of services
    bonus?) to get complete control of your domain.
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark Posts: 104subscriber
    Lie if you need to.

     
    Wow.  Why stop there?  How about stab them with a knife if you need to.  Actually advising somebody to lie is absolutely idiotic.
  • WeblineWebline Posts: 13subscriber
    I would suggest searching for law sites related to this topic ..... perhaps you can get some free advice from an attorney on your options ..... maybe not, but worth a shot.
  • diachedesignsdiachedesigns Posts: 0subscriber
    My God,
    Don`t we all sound like experts here... This is what I hate most about forums... you get all these clue-less people trying to give other`s advise.... How funny that is... a clue less person giving another clue-less person advise... isn`t that like "Calling the tea kettle black"...
     Fafa!,
    Ok, so you say that the web site is 99% complete and that you can launch if you wanted to correct? So what is holding you back? Why not launch and try to get ahold of him in the mean time? I don`t think that a username and password is a big thing to cry over, try emailing him or you say you have a paper trail of conversations, and emails.
    Have you ever tried revisiting all your emails? What if you do have the password and information but you don`t remember? This happened to me once.... and Boy did I feel Stupid afterwards.
    At 99% complete, I don`t think it would be a good idea to kill a good relationship with your developer since he has delivered 99% of the work. at 7 Grand it sounds like a very large project. If that`s the case, don`t burn your bridges because if he developed the site, that means he has the blue prints to your site.
    Which means, you might need him in the near future aside what all these clowns have to say on this forum, don`t take their advise, right off the bat I see two starving designers "Im not going to point fingers" that want your business, but do you think they can deliver?
    The key to your game is, call him or them, be cool about it, and move on if that`s what you wish to do, but again.... he might be the only person that understands your site`s functionality and if he has delivered 99% of the project what are you crying about? Be glad that he delivered, One of my customers got burned for 10K and never even got a layout mock up.
    Don`t be upset... what if something did happen to him or someone in his family? Have you been courteous to ask? or you don`t care about anything else than your username and password?
    I`m not going to lie to you... I am a small time web designer.... Most of my client base comes from word of mouth... I don`t usually deal with large clients.... but if I found out that one of my clients wanted to take me to court, I would drop them like a bad habit. Fafaflo... You`re a scary person to do business with
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