What do you do when a client continues asking beyond the signed agreem…

What do you do when a client continues asking beyond the signed agreement? He did a recap after our 1st phone conversation that said 3 rounds of notes from the client. He is my client, his client is person B, whose client is company C. I have done 7+ rounds of internal notes/versions for A, have done 2 completed rounds of notes and versions for B, and now company C is asking for further changes (official notes #3), which would be version 4 (The final completed version post 3rd round of notes), but then obviously they would want to look at it and give another round of notes. Everything has been approved (music, story / picture lock, graphics and even color), but now client C (my clients clients client) is having me change the music, which obviously changes the flow, remove images and make changes to lower thirds etc, various logos (bug, intro/outro etc) which were already approved, etc. I did not request any payment up front (which is totally my mistake, I should have known better), the client A has been professional and great up to this point, but they now are trying to get more and more saying, with your background in advertising you know how it is. Its a $750 flat rate worth over $1500+ now, which in the agreement was supposed to be done by 9/20, but to no fault of my own, their clients have taken excess days and have pushed it into my other gigs and now we are in october and I feel like Im being taken advantage of despite their appreciation. Client insists that our first conversation we agreed upon 3 TO FIVE rounds of notes, however in the immediate phone recap email he sent, it does not say that and only says 3 rounds of notes from the client. He is extremely meticulous, so had that been said, he would most definitely have written it into the email agreement! Person A is my client, but even so I have honored person B to be the client. They are breaking their own contract if this does not turn out to be the final edit, and I have yet to get paid. What do you do? I thought everything was great since we had things written down & signed, but now I fear not getting paid unless I submit to unlimited revisions until its done. I think its ridiculous having to please 2 generations of clients past my own client, once the first 2 tiers have already approved. Tomorrow they are coming to my home studio for the 3rd in person edit session (I have blocked off a half day/4 hrs), that clearly proves and shows that there have been over 3+ official versions & edit sessions. I sent an email asking for them to confirm and to please bring the check, but that is the first and only email I have not gotten a response from (they have been prompt for all other emails). The main problem in addition to me worrying about unlimited revisions before getting paid, is now that their lack of scheduling and managing of client expectations is now spilling into my current gigs, which I am on an extremely tight deadline for.

Kyle Koch: Where to start…We have in our contracts a clause that says 1 major change (music and/or story structure) and 2 minor changes (graphics and/or shot change).We also are very clear that ‘story lock’ includes music and once lock is agreed to, additional charges will occur if changes happen in that Dept.On a flat fee, you should also flat the hours. And be very detailed in emails about completing changes and how many of the budgeted session hours have been used.Having different levels of clients is normal, but you have to provide them with clear time limits when all changes need to be provided. We use www.frame.io or Vimeo review for notes.If your clear during the process, you can avoid rocky endings.

Video Collaboration, Solved.

Julian Habib: I appreciate the response. I will definitely do that in the future, but where do I go from here in his current project? I too use frame.io for all of my client notes.

Kyle Koch: From here …For in-term delivery I would provide a link via Vimeo (preferably embedded in a branded web page) but not give them the final files until they pay. …See more

Julian Habib: Id feel safer just sending them the next cut over frame io. I actually do not even have contact with Client B or C. All right, so moving forward I will do this 3rd in house session (for official version 3/3), and after that will charge hourly. I appreciate the advice!

Kyle Koch: As long as they can’t download it. We embed ours in a branded webpage so that if they share it with anyone, our logo, website, etc is promoted.

Julian Habib: I know its easy to rip off of youtube, but with vimeo pro private links / password links is it possible to rip from there also? I do not have a branded site set up for my freelance work. For my company back in TX, I have a site but for freelance I do not.

Kyle Koch: I’ve been there with a client like that … didn’t do his due diligence for approvals up the line (even after I asked several times if the client’s client approved in principle to the 1st cut). Ended up recutting the entire piece, but did charge for it.

Kyle Koch: If they are willing to rip the video, then you shouldn’t work with them anyway.

Julian Habib: What kills me is normally I wouldnt have any problem scheduling more time for them, even on the clock, but Im cutting a feature thats due the 16th or sooner and its already getting close and its a lot of work and stressful enough as it is trying to meet the deadline… and now Im making time appear out of nowhere for this client that didnt get things done on time (or even in the same month!)

Kyle Koch: It is good to communicate that info. To client: “Your flat fee budget has been spent. Now you’re asking me to not only work for free, but at the expense of other paid work. No business can succeed if it gives up paid work in lieu of free services. Qual…See more

Julian Habib: Solid. Youre the man!

Monica Fischetti-Palmieri Williams: Never never work for a flat fee.

Julian Habib: Ironically enough, this is the first time Ive done such a thing in many years. I charge daily/weekly or hourly. :/

David Di Francesco: First thing, accepting flat rates is always shooting yourself in the foot. They dont care if they take up more of your time, it doesnt cost them anything. Second, have you voiced these concerns to client 1 (the one who will be paying you, if I understand correctly)? Its seems to be completely reasonable for you to bill for the extra time. At worst, give them one last round of notes on the house if they really put up a fight, but make it clear that any further revisions will be billed a x rate. Clients never mean to waste our time, but at the end of the day, money talks and billing properly is the best way to get clients to properly organize themselves and keep their respective clients in check. Ive done many sessions in my career in advertising and Ive seen many producers say thatll cost extra, and have the client go oh, ok nevermind then. It should be the same for you. Also, Ive always felt clients respect you more the more you set your limits. But I reiterate, package deals are the devil. If the client is so positive its a quick project that wont take more that a day, tops, then they shouldnt have any problem paying a daily rate.

Julian Habib: Thank you for the advice. I feel like after this round I should charge hourly for any additional changes, but part of me feels like I should comp them like you said just to get through the project. The crappy thing is that this was supposed to be repeat business, but if they do not honor their contract / agreement, then how can I trust their word in the future?

David Di Francesco: Comp them as a last resort, if you really feel its necessary and your client freaks out. And learn from the experience 😉

Stuart Ferreyra Gambirazio: At some point or another, we all end up biting a bullet (or two). From it we learn and adjust.

Mia Cortez: I agree that flats are undesirable and you should avoid them. Your situation is tricky but I would suggest telling them tactfully that you can’t deliver a final until you get at least one payment (half) mentioning that you have extended many courtesies of extra rounds of notes. And then the other half at whatever NET that was originally agreed to. Moving forward, add a clause that you go into a day rate if the project pushes past an agreed lock date.

Julian Habib: Thank you for the response. Do you do half up front then?

Mia Cortez: Most clients are on a normal NET payment structure. For new clients, I have done half upon delivery of first cut and half at delivery of final cut. It’s a small sense of security that has worked out well.

Marc Cahill: Don’t hand over any media or outputs until you’re paid in full.

Craig Parkes: Given they have broken contract simply inform them when they next come around that you will not deliver the final product until either they A – Pay the full amount or B – agree to a new increased fee.The whole idea of invoicing and payment terms is based around trust. By breaking the contract re the amount of revisions and not responding to your request for payment they have broken that trust.If they are smart theyll pay straight away to simply avoid having to go back to the client and explain the issue.If they cant pay straight away then they will have to go back to their client and negotiate the extra costs. If you lose the client and dont get paid at all then at least you wont have delivered the final version so they will learn the lesson that breaking that trust has consequences.

Michelle De Long: That isnt worth the money you are getting at all. You are practically working for less than minimum wage. This doesnt sound like a very professional corporate client as that is way to low for a project budget. I would invoice them now for half and tell your client that you are over the 3 rounds of changes agreed on so you need to charge more. Show him/her the e-mail. They need to go back to their client and bear the bad news not you.

Justin Amore: I unfortunately ran into a similar situation years ago. The way I handled it was by saying we’re beyond our original agreement. Pay me the full amount you owe me and I’ll suck up one more rev and that’s it. Put a window burn on the output and explain the window burn comes off when You’re payed. Your client should understand and they need to let their client know they have surpassed the original deal. You’ve held up your part of the deal and their lack of client control is not your responsibility. Good luck. You’re being responsible for keeping your client happy. Good luck.

Kim Segel: 1. Once youve hit the limits of your original contract, full payment is due. Get that payment before any further work/meetings/conversation.2. Now, you are ready to negotiate the NEW contract, which will be hourly, and paid incrementally. (Remember, the old contract is dead. This is a new deal.)3. To keep it non-confrontational, refer to a new client/job/whatever; dont make it about, I wont work for you! this makes it, Im in big demand – you better book me while you still can!

Zachary Weintraub: In no other business than ours would there be a question of you getting paid. Tell the you need to be compensated. I think you are overthinking it. In fact, if you dont ask for money, they will respect you less.

Zachary Weintraub: Also, when i give a flat rate, which I try not to do, I give limits on changes, just as you did, but I also say, any additional changes will be for a day rate of . . . .$$$

Kyle Koch: Another good contract clause to include is one about “Both parties agree to ensure all work and feedback is done in a time-efficient manner. If delays occur due to waiting or disorganized client feedback then additional charges to cover session time overages will be applied.”

Adrian Smith: I think you have to be polite but firm at this point. Explain that you have already gone beyond the scope of the agreement on good faith – but that any further changes must be on the clock at your normal hourly rate.If nothing else that should speed the decision process along. Its amazing how fast decisions can be made when theres money involved.Be firm stand your ground and refuse to make further changes until terms are met.

Kai Yu: If you have to do a flat rate, make sure that you have a firm end date. And clearly state that any work beyond that date will be more money. Explain that this is because you dont have any control over the process, and you cant afford to work indefinitely and you may have other jobs on the horizons. Literally tell your clients this.

Stephen Mylo: this is one reason why im quitting editing.

John Hedlund: Remind them what they signed and if they want anything more it will cost them.

Stephen Mylo: tell them that youre dating a high class lawyer 👌

Tyler Purcell: Burn in (watermark) on every export… Thats really your best protection from any of this. You can do that now, its something you can just say hey until we get paid, all future versions will have this watermark and be done with it. You learned a big lesson and its not too costly. Ive lost several thousand dollars during my lesson learning times and now, I only work with people who either pay 1/2 up front OR are friends and I know have my back. Ive been very lucky and have been paid on pretty much everything I do, thanks to implementing policies like watermarking AND getting up front payment.

Greg Steinbrecher: Im going to go a little out in a limb here by respectfully disagreeing with other options. Youve been abused! Your services have been stolen. Theyre getting away with this behavior because youre being polite.End the situation now. Your clients have broken the contract so there is nothing for you to fulfill. Notice how when you asked for payment, they suddenly dont respond. Classic sign.Halt work entirely until paid in full AND IN CASH ! No checks, no invoices. Since youre a nice and reasonable person, you can deliver watermarked output, but do not surrender project files. Your edit, on your system, belongs to you, its proprietary to your business and you own it. Just like photographers own their photographs, you own the edit.I know you dont want to take a hard stance against anyone, but you must protect yourself and your reputation. Dont be a jerk about it, though. Simply and plainly explain that your contract is with client 1 and has exceeded the original terms and, as such, youre willing to deliver a watermarked output due to the project is clearly not complete and through no fault of your own. State you need payment in full on the original contract in order for you to move forward. You can offer to remove watermark after payment has cleared, but cash is best. Doing this gets you out. Either they go to someone else but have to start over again thanks to your watermarks, or they pay you what is owe and you turn down the remaining work.Again, cash and keep the project files; do not negotiate on these.

Ron Eigen: I recommend finishing this job with a smile. It sounds like you are close to the finish line. Let the client walk away happy. You have put a lot of work in and theres no sense in burning a bridge. Then, learn from your mistakes for next time. In the future if you accept a flat rate mark in the written or emailed contract. X amount for Y rounds of cuts, any work beyond this must be requested in email and will be billed at a prorated rate agreed upon by both parties. This tends to keep clients honest and pushes them to take their rounds more seriously. Good luck!

Kyle Koch: Couldn’t agree more.

Mark Kiss: I think if you are going to give a flat rate, do your budgeting, then at least double it! That way at least youve built in a pad if you ever find yourself again in this situation. But personally, at this point, Id insist on payment of 75% of my fee before any additional changes are made.

Evan Wright: Get up and leave. Its their problem, they will need to spend money to fix it. They can pay you or someone else. If they are smart, they will pay you.

Cathy Mayville: The length of these posts says it all…I cant even read them. Get paid and get out. Who cares if you work with them again