I've recently had the misfortune of hiring a developer who failed to deliver a working product by the arranged date. I have the software, but it produces errors on installation. The developer said the product works.

I had wanted to give the developer the benefit of the doubt, but they have ignored all requests to show me a working demo. I set up a website specifically so that they could install the software, but they have done nothing (it should be a matter of uploading the zip and changing a few things in the configuration). They have also ignored all requests for information on their configuration. Actually it is really difficult to get any reply from them at all. It is almost 1.5 months after the deadline.

Possible ideas

  • Have a third party check the software.
  • Put in a claim with Paypal (although I think it is too late and isn't covered anyway).
  • Make it public (I'm assuming it isn't defamation because it is true).

QUESTION: What should I do (or not do) about this?


  • I've noticed that even if the software was to work there are a number of features that I requested (prior to their acceptance of the job) that they have ignored.
  • I've found comments on the web about the company saying that this situation is normal for them. They seem to use errors in their software as an excuse to extort more money from their clients. Actually this was a relief as it backed up my belief that I'd been scammed.
  • They don't have a phone number on their website.
  • The developer is based in the US.


The arrangement was that I paid 25% of the cost of the development. The developer would keep all rights for the product. The product was integrating an already existing open source component with a CMS. I produced icons and did the styling for part of the component (completed). The developer would have the component done with the features I requested by mid December.

EDIT2: The developer said that they would be able to provide all the features I requested.

EDIT3: There is no documentation with the software.

  • 1
    Stack overflow is not at all the right place for this question.
    – dave
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 4:43
  • Sorry. I suspected that. Do you know where I can post this?
    – moomoochoo
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 4:45
  • just learn how to code and move on with your life... personally, I'd just make couple of reviews on their services and hit them with couple of negatives so people can see how bad they are...
    – Robin Van Persi
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 4:45
  • I don't know of a stack exchange site that seems to fit, maybe something like hacker news?
    – dave
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 4:46
  • What was your arrangement with the developer? Fixed cost for list of features you provided? Fee per hour worked? Or what? (By the way, this is the reason I strongly advise against fixed cost for agreed features -- you will spend the rest of your life arguing over whether the delivered product met the specifications rather than over whether it's useful.) Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 4:48

3 Answers 3


From the attitude you have described, I don't think you can comfortably rely on the code you have even if some of the functions work.

The guys don't look professional and I would not use such a software for anything serious. As a result hiring a consultant to look at it won't really work well if the software is large. It is not easy to evaluate the correctness of a software you don't know about without serious work.

I guess it all depends on how much the 25% you paid represent to you...?

If the amount is not that large, then taking them to court may cost you more money and effort than what you have paid. Also, publishing the information may again cost you.

If the amount you paid is not significant, I suggest you leave it at that. This is of course not a happy decision but I think it may be the least expensive in terms of effort and money. You could also ask a lawyer about the expected fee the lawyer would ask for and take that into account. But when it comes to law, consider that you may not win. It is always possible.

  • I think you have some very good points there. For me, the time wasted on making the icons and trying to get the component to work make that 25% much greater for me. Security was a major motivating factor in getting someone else to do the component. The irony of it all is that even if I get it to work, I have to wonder about how secure it actually is.
    – TryHarder
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 6:03
  • You are correct, you can't trust such people for security stuff.
    – NoChance
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 14:59

You have the right to sue, if you paid for work that didn't actually function. That is a significant threat, but be prepared to compensate for a refund.

  • How would I start a case in America? I'm not sure where to start since I'm not based in America.
    – TryHarder
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 5:08
  • You pretty much will either have to come here or file the lawsuit in your country.
    – Rig
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 5:22
  • @Rig OK. Thanks for the info. I will look into it.
    – TryHarder
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 5:31
  • Problem is depending on the company they may not really give a damn if you sue them overseas :P
    – Rig
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 5:35
  • 1
    Unfortunately, I suspect they never gave a damn from the start :X
    – TryHarder
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 5:50

I think this falls under the category of "Stupid-Tax" I suspect that your best bet is to consider it an expensive lesson and move on. Any attempts to recover the money you already spent will probably be more expensive than its worth. For example Spending $5,000 to get back $6,000 seems kind of pointless.

In future I would demand weekly updates with demos. Don't expect a final product after 4 months, but know that every Monday they will show you what they have done in the past week. Or even do a daily stand up via video conference

Stupid Tax is a term I borrowed from Dave Ramsey it refers to the times when you do something dumb that costs you money.

  • You might like to elaborate on 'stupid tax'. In hind site, the fact that a developer has products on the market isn't sufficient proof that they can program. Maybe it is a bit vindictive, but I would like to make them earn that money. If they get away with it scott free they will just do it again and again and again.
    – TryHarder
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 7:35
  • I should elaborate a bit. I had access to the software while it was being developed. I reported the errors from the start and they claimed that they had fixed the problems in the updates. However, this was not the case. I also gave them access to a site that I installed the software on, they never even bothered to log in.
    – TryHarder
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 7:47
  • I added an explanation on "Stupid Tax". In this case they did a bad job, but you probably should have stopped them much sooner
    – Zachary K
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 10:07

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