Re: "Kill" fees in contracts?

Subject: Re: "Kill" fees in contracts?
From: John Hedtke <jhedtke -at- OZ -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 02:20:20 GMT

Gail Bergan <gbergan -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com> wrote:

>Hi everyone,

>I was wondering if anyone has experience including "kill" fees in
>their contracts. Specifically, a charge that is some compensation
>should a project fall through the cracks through no fault of the tech.
>writer--more along the lines of the company losing interest or having
>a lack of committment to the project. I've experienced this recently
>and it really took a toll, because in anticipation of being
>unavailable for a considerable length of time, I turned away other
>work. Now this company is talking to me again about a new project, and
>I'm wary.

"Wary" seems hardly the word for it. The phrase "bugger 'em"
immediately leaps to mind.

I've had clients that have jacked me up through their own incompetence
-- I had one this spring that set new all-time records for stupidity
in a field with some strong contenders -- but I'll *NEVER* work for
them again.

Well, maybe "never" is too strong a word. Let me put it this way:
this client dithered around for 3 months not getting me anything to
work on while it was continually a "real soon now" basis. In the
interim, I could have worked on a whole 'nother contract, gone on
vacation when I'd planned, and *not* had to jam up a bunch of other
contracts in April. I figure that they cost me $8000 in billable
time. Were I to consider working for them again, I'd personally want
to see how I could add that to the price of the contract, plus
guarantees that they actually got stuff to me on time, plus penalty
clauses, plus extra charges just for the irritation value of working
with, uh, Richard Cranium types. This might not be "never" -- this
particular client is stupid enough to possibly buy into it. :) And
like the Good Book says, "Welcome the strangers, and take 'em in." :)

Seriously, it's always a bad idea to sign a contract with someone you
don't trust. I'd urge you to be unavailable to them.

>Has anyone had any success at getting companies to accept kill fees as
>part of the contract? What percentage of the contract is customary?
>How do you go about enforcing it if you need to?

Enforcement could be tricky, but if the kill fee is below the Small
Claims court limit, it could be very easy. It's as soon as it hits
the superior court level that it gets dicey for attorney's fees.

Yours Truly,

John Hedtke

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