Re: Techwriters of the World: Unite!

Subject: Re: Techwriters of the World: Unite!
From: Elna Tymes <Etymes -at- LTS -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 16:56:04 -0700

Slow economic times make people do things they might otherwise not do - like
accept jobs at rates or with terms that would otherwise be unacceptable.

We just called a halt to a little fixed price contract for the Client From Hell
when said contract got completely out of hand. As a matter of fact, so out of
hand that we're taking them to Municipal Court, since the amount they owe for
one payment is over the California limit for Small Claims Court. Fortunately,
the contract calls for the loser in any litigation to pay legal expenses, and
we have LOTS of evidence (save your email!) to prove that we did what the
client wanted.

Normally we wouldn't touch a fixed price contract. (Btw, "little" was
sarcasm.) We thought, with our decades of experience, that we could write a
contract with enough bells and whistles and checkpoints that we could get out
of it if the CFH started to misbehave. We were wrong. The CFH did not supply
much in the way of source material, didn't give us access to the system until
well into the contract, and finally redefined the term "review" to encompass
many, many iterative reviews (baaaaaaaad juju!). They did, however, pay for
most of the milestones, although they argued about each one. Meanwhile we were
working nights and weekends and generally trying to be nice to the CFH. Big

The real kicker came when we were at "final review." After getting the product
relatively stable, the CFH decided to change some features and insist that we
include them before they'd sign off - for no increase in pay. We objected,
they got shrill, we offered evidence and a revised invoice, they denied that
they had agreed to anything more. We spent hours on the phone trying various
negotiating tactics, including a discount on future work, but they kept getting
more and more shrill, insisting that they would keep all of the final payment
if we involved any lawyers.

So now we're in the process of shaking a large lawyer at them, and we're no
longer satisfied with the amount of the invoice. Frankly, I hope the CFH's
president has to change his shorts when he gets our demand letter, delivered at
his home tonight.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems


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