A friend told me he needed my services to code the web and DB system (it wouldn't be a basic system at all) for his business. However, his business partner is quite dishonest and rude. When we sit together to make up a design document, he often refers to programming as a matter of nothing - something that can be bought for a price. Last time, he told me that there are plenty of programmers, anyone can do it.

Next, he tried to explain ME that his friend is creating eshops for very little money. During our sittings, it's obvious that he has absolutely no idea about web programming and he has very little clue about what he really wants and talks about.

How do you handle with this type of clients? I am quite hot tempered. There is a price I can chew over this "little" problem however I am not sure if they can pay for it.

edit: Thx for your response, I'll try the triple request for money thing ;)

30 accepted

If you're having doubts before even starting a project I'd be inclined to say don't bother. It sounds like you're freelance so you totally have the luxury of deciding who you do and don't work for. If working for this guy will make you unhappy (which will in turn result in you producing sub-standard work) then you're better off not doing it.


My partner and I have a name for clients like that. We call them 'Jerks'.

We have been doing freelance web development for 8 years and have discovered that it is just not worth doing business with some people. Jerks are one type we avoid, the other are 'Cheapos'. Ironically, 'Cheapos' (people who want to beat you down on every quote) are also the most demanding... they can literally eat you alive.

If you absolutely need the money, then you can try what we have tried a couple of times with success: estimate the cost of the project, then triple it and require 1/2 of the estimate as a retainer. Be firm on this price. If they curse you and walk away, you've saved yourself a lot of grief. If they go for it, then you may come out ahead. You'll have to deal with the Jerk, but at least you'll be well paid for your efforts.

95% of people are neither cheap, nor jerks, so why make life hard on yourself? Find some nice, reasonable people to sell your services to.

-- John


I've dealt with these before. It usually doesn't work out. Even if you do the job, you'll have a hard time getting paid.

Whenever someone says "So-and-so will do it for less", the obvious answer is "Well then, go to them."


It all comes down to money. How badly do you need the job? If you can do without it, then I'd politely explain that you don't appreciate being treated this way. If they have other avenues they'd like to explore, go for it. If not--if you're meeting expectations--then stop being an ass.

Practice that a couple times so you can keep your cool.

On the other hand, this could just be a misunderstanding. Maybe this person feels inadequate because they don't understand how webdev works. Try showing him some code--first a sample instance that they might actually understand. Then, show him a real, complex example that will blow his mind and encourage him to appreciate the skill required to convince computers to do your bidding.


This one sounds like a complete no-no to me, regardless of your friend's involvement.

You simply cannot work for people who think that fully functioning decent websites are nearly free to develop. Setting up an eBay shop is one thing, but setting up a standalone system is another. I guarantee you that he'll keep on being rude, and he will expect miracles ("can you add full reports to the website? Can you do it in a day, I want graphs, and aggregate reports and X Y Z, I can do that in Excel quickly, so you should be able to do it on a website in hours yes?"). He won't understand why you want to charge so much per-hour and will bitch about it. Even when you point out that contractors range up to thousands per day he won't get it.

You can supply a breakdown of costs (from hosting, through to each component in the design and implementation). Don't let the other person bully you into making this a long, lossy project for you. Let them take your offer, or suffer. If this other person is so cheap, why aren't they using him anyway?


I'm pretty sure this guy is a complete asshole, but you need to observe what he is actually doing... using his sales skills. You said he was a business partner. Sounds like he is the money/talking partner and your friend is the technical/engineering partner.

Selling is a skill where you are convincing someone to buy something. In this case he is selling you the "idea" that your skills are worthless. He is doing this so he can buy your skills at a reduced price by convincing you that you are not good enough. There are lots of people like this in business.

Your job is also to sell the idea back to him that your skills are valuable. Having said that the time and effort to convince him might not be worth it and by the sounds of things he will always look for the bottom dollar quote. Don't let that asshole convince you that you less are than. Hold your head high.

Your friend has obviously told him about your background as an independent developer and you are in a hard place because you want to do a good job for your friend, but you have to deal with this asshole at the same time.

My advice is to say NO. I would pass this job on to someone else. Your time is valuable and there ARE good clients out there who will pay for your time. Keep looking and you will find them. On the other had if you need the money you might have to be thick skinned about it and suck it up. Just never be shy to say NO.

Good luck :)


I would just be polite at all times, don't respond to what he says if it isnt directly related to the job in hand. Then factor into your quote the fact that this guy is rude. If you know how much money it would take for you to deal with his rudeness then simply ask for that much. If they can't afford it then walk away. Just treat his rudeness like another (unwelcome) part of the job.

I must add that this only applies if you feel that you are able to work with him like you would anyone else. If working with him is going to lower the quality of your work or get you a bad reputation then don't do it.


Give 2 rates/prices.

  • a price for doing the site from the ground up
  • a higher price for fixing someone else's crap.

Making the statement "You get what you pay for" is often true in our business. Try reinforcing that sentiment.


taking everything you say at face value, the only logical solution is to fire the customer

You do not want to do business with anyone who is dishonest or dismissive of your value. The former will reflect badly on you by association (to a much larger degree than you might think!), and the latter will guarantee that no matter how stellar a job you do it will not be appreciated.

Spend your time finding honest customers who appreciate the value that you add to their business. Not only are they much more fun and rewarding to work with, they will also provide referrals that will help you find more customers like them.


Not really a "quick fix" answer, but Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play would be a great read to help with this


This is hardly a programming question, but none the less; First you have to make sure that it is indeed him who is being unreasonable. Whenever you meet people who apparently act irrational or immoral, there is a good chance that you just don't understand their world view. Maybe this person feels intimidated by you, or he has bad experiences that he is projecting upon you. Maybe he's just an egocentric prick. Whatever it is, you should at least try to find out, before making a judgement. If nothing else, it will make you better suited to understand people in the future.

Once you know what you're dealing with, you should confront him with the flaws of his stance. This is mostly to give him a chance to realise that he is wrong. Maybe this will prevent a similar situation in the future, and if nothing else it will make you feel better about your self. Then, if he doesn't change his attitude (And chances are that he won't), you should break off the relationship. It's going to give you much grief otherwise.

Of course this pertains to a situation where you actually have a choice. If you need the money, then just suck it up and try to minimise the damage. Make sure to write everything down, and never commit your self to something that you can't or won't do.


A couple of things. First, is the problem really with this guy or your reaction to him? Are you confident enough in how you do your job to not let this guy's (wrong) attitude affect you? People are going to think/say stupid things, but you can't live your life strictly by other people's viewpoints. Consider what, if anything, of what they are saying is true, learn from it, and let the rest go.

Second, life it too short to put up with the aggravation of rude, insensitive people. Unless you are desperate or the amount of time it would take is extremely short -- yes it is a sliding scale -- I'd be tempted to take one shot at talking with them about why you are hesitant to work for them to see if things can be changed (for the sake of your friend). Perhaps, the guy is really just clueless and having someone set him straight is all it will take. If things can't/don't change, then I'd walk away and not look back. I don't think that raising your rate, regardless of whether they accept or not will make you feel any better. Dealing with the issue directly is the only way to really resolve anything.

As others here have said, I'd make sure that, if you talk to him about it, you do so in a manner that is completely business-like. Don't give him any excuse to dismiss your views because of your attitude.

Good luck!


Reminds me of a blog post I made on a related issue: however hard you try to be nice and professional you will still have to deal with difficult people.

Having good Conditions of Sales is important if you choose to go ahead; with difficult people you may end-up having to rely on this to get paid for your work.

My advice would be not to work for someone if you feel, before you even started, that it's not going to work out well.


It is probably best to walk away. When you say:

"Next, he tried to explain ME that his friend is creating eshops for very little money."

Trouble is he is probably right. He is probably talking about something like Yahoo! Merchant Solutions or Actinic Designer sites. Both of which are cheap and plenty adequate for a lot of people. You won't be able to produce a bespoke system for anywhere near their price and if he doesn't already want a fully bespoke site he will probably be unwilling to pay for one.


Have always found it a useful things to rate clients both before and after a job, and assign them a "grief factor".

This can from a multiplier of sorts for any subsequent quotes, for the really good ones, it means they get a lower price, and keep coming back. Some people are good to work with and some just aren't worth it whatever the price.

The bad ones end up being black holes of need, and even if you triple the quote, you make more money from the good ones at the lower rate, and the bad ones will tie you up so much you have to reject work from good clients.

Whenever I get the "my (friend || brother in-law || cousin || friend's friend || cat || kid in pre-school) does this stuff ..." type of line, I politely suggest they go and see them, as my internal grief meter has just hit 11, and I have suddenly become very busy.

Whatever you do, try to do it politely, because these are often the sort who will spread a lot of bad blood about you if you give them an excuse.

Based on what you have said, grief factor 11, politely decline and run away.


Walk away. There is no discussion to be had, given your description and assuming you don't want to be milked for all you're worth and then discarded - [Clients vs Grinders][1]).


The better the job you do, the less obvious the quality of the work, so it is unlikely that quality work will convince this person of anything. As has been said, it is down to you, if you want the job, and it is yours without reference to this person, there is no reason why his attitude should affect you, after all, ignorance is his problem, not yours.


Since your friend wants you to do the job, you better try best to make it done. Just talk to the business partner about the web and complete it as fast as you can. It saves your own time and if you don't want to see that person next time that is just fine.

When he talks about something stupid, you can filter it automatically in your mind.


FOIP (or Fist over IP)