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Web Design Con Artists

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Yesterday I received an email from a client whose friend was having trouble with their current web development company. Without naming the site or the people involved I can say that the friend is a person who has been in the public eye and the site is a small ecommerce website.

The email I received flows a little like this

The current web company takes months to fix any problems, such as those involved with the ability to purchase online. A small text change is being quoted at £175, and once agreeing to allow the site to be moved they quoted £10,000 to hand things over, but apparently not an exact copy of the site due to not wanting to give away ‘secret code’. Doing so will apparently open them up to hackers.


So on reading this I was of course ashamed that there are still con artists around pretending to be web agencies, and I’m not even talking about the likeable con artists in Hustle that target only the wealthy and morally unjust. Nope, instead we just have some bastards out for a quick buck.

Of course I have only one side of the story that’s been passed though a couple of people, but I’ve heard this kind of story enough times to know there’s likely some truth to it. So why the extortionate costs?

The secret code

Lets first look at this and the £10,000. Unfortunately some web companies build websites so ingrained into a particular system that to copy the website in a usable form means giving away of copy of this system too. Even I would be hesitant about releasing such a system, that’s why I don’t build websites in such a way. Instead every site I build should be workable on just about any other server, the way it should be.

So what is the £10,000 for if they won’t copy the site? I think I’m maybe missing a little bit of the story here but either way you shouldn’t be charged for moving your website. If you do it should be the nominal amount it would take for someone to copy the files to another server or to disc; 1-2 hours tops.

£175 for 5 minutes work?

If the change that’s being charged at £175 is indeed such a small and insignificant change the why is it being charged at £175? Is it because they think they can get more money from someone in the public eye? Most companies may charge their hourly rate for any work carried out and I would respect this as your likely talking about £50. But if it were me both as a freelancer or at Bronco and we are talking about the smallest text change then it would be done free of charge, hell it would take more time to print and send an invoice than to do the job.

So what was my response

Of course I sympathised with the situation, I’ve had clients with a similar story and of course they become wary about working with others. But the point of the email was to see if I would undertake the work. When it comes to freelance work though I like to keep the workload light and not take anything on that would take too long to complete, like an ecommerce job, simply because it would eat up all my free time, or take ages which isn’t what the client wants. If I have any concern in doing a job I simply won’t take it on, I want to make sure I can do the perfect job for someone rather than potentially let them down.

But the kind of person I am I still want to help, so passed on my work email address so that if the client does in fact want to work with me they still can, just through a more established agency that will deliver probably a better solution in a quicker time; Bronco.

Naming and Shaming

I would have loved to name and shame the company involved but I can’t. Morally I wouldn’t want to do anything that would make the situation worse for the client and then there’s the fact I cannot be 100% positive on who is to blame. I have a couple of companies in the frame from doing a little digging but no concrete evidence to say who built and maintain the website.

So what’s the moral of the story

If you’re a web company make sure you’re fair, sure we get annoyed with some clients but we always need to be doing things for the clients best interest. If you’re a client try to find a web company through word of mouth and recommendations, if someone you know has had a good experience then you will most likely too.