A friend of mine yesterday told me about a webguy who he had paid, who then decided he wanted more money for the job, AFTER he was paid in full
So my friend, a well-respected and seasoned businessman, decided he would not support such unethical business practices. But, unfortunately, this guy took down his site.
So he did his homework and forced this vendor's hand through saying he would use this site. His site files were promptly returned.
And that's when I told him what happened to me... and he convinced me to report this, even though I considered spilt milk. So I hope the time I spent here to recount it, saves you some grief
should you be considering dealing with this company:
Owner Name: John Flynn
Owner Website: www.kickstartmedia.org
My case is simple. I told John exactly what I wanted, described the look and feel to suit my target audience of 45 and older experiencing certain health issues.
After waiting 3 working days past the promised first draft due date of two weeks AFTER I paid half upfront, I called him.
It was obvious nothing had been done to that point, although I was told "Oh, we were just talking about your site." Interestingly enough, less than three hours later I had a simplistic PDF thumbnail sent that was supposed to represent the customized skin of my blog template.
At this time I was also leading a project advisory team representing various health services.
I gave a polite acknowledgement reply to the email I received from John with the attached PDF, but I was floored when I opened what he sent me. I far cry from the promise that was on the site when I purchased as below:
"We've got a great team of people that are dependable, creative and ready to blow your expectations out of the water"
I decided to get over my shock and pass this by my project team to get their response. BTW: I had run a very successful PR and design firm and we had produced award winning work, so it is not as if I do not know the elements of good design. If any one of our designers would have tried to pass this off, even as a rough draft to one of our clients back then, they would have been fired on the spot.
To give you an idea of the group's response, one of the advisory members, a lawyer who was representing services for disadvantaged women said, "My 16 year-old son could have done better than that."
So right after that meeting I decided to call to pull a stop to this, when John called to get my feedback.
Let me say that I have never been spoken to so demeaningly by a vendor. Enough said...
To my surprise, my project team members got back to me later that day in absolute disgust. You see, I was also in charge of recording our bi-monthly tele-meetings and I had forgotten to turn off the MP3 recording because his call beeped in as we were all hanging up. And I forgot to press "Stop Recording". So not only did the group get our current strategy session, but they got his incoming call to me!
I can't print what two of the men said, but suffice to say that after they heard the call (on top of seeing the PDF) I was unanimously advised NOT to continue with this design firm.
Yet how was I to know. I thought I was in good hands because he was (at that time) listed inside the Studiopress blog site(the site where I bought my blog theme) as a someone who customized these particular blog templates. I have since noticed that the referral list that included his name
and contact info, is no longer available.
The efforts to try to get him to refund my money over the next six weeks resulted only in more aggravation and insult. Then, my family had a life-threatening health crisis that took its toll for over a year and I had no more energy to pursue this. On my last call to him during this time period, he said he would give me a refund on this condition: If I referred two $2,000 clients to him!
Humm, I am an unhappy customer, so he thinks it is perfectly ethical to suggest this. Obviously, he also thought I am the sort of person who would turn around and make myself culpable in convincing two unsuspecting people to hand him over money so he can possibly again NOT deliver on his promise that he boldly stated on his home page (at the time) and therefore, possibly sting two
more people with his then posted website promise: ".... you will be wowed by the results".
So although this post will serve me no good, at least you will be forewarned of my experience.
And, at least I did NOT try to get my 50% deposit of $1,000 back... by knowingly deceiving someone like you and taking a $500 commission for referring them to buy one of his then $2,000 Studiopress blog customizations. Which, by the way, is not rocket science (blog skin customization, I mean).
Oh, add to that price tag another $500 fee
(which was in the contract he sent me)... if you want him NOT to promote himself
, with a link at the bottom of your site back to his site. As per the contract
I received, it said: "Since this is our primary way of developing new clients if you would like the link removed and no credit given please add $500 to the price"
That same contract said: "There will be no surprises... (except how good your
site looks...)" You may want to read this resource article online about the warning signs when hiring a web designer. Note item #4 below
about the inclusion of the designer's website link at the bottom of your
(((link redacted))) 9 Signs You Shouldn't Hire THAT Web
Guy (Point #4 below applies in this case)
4. He Wants a "Designed By ...." Plug on the Bottom of Every Page
"You've paid this person to create a marketing tool for you -- not a billboard for him.
Your website is a launch pad for your business and Poindexter McScooner is simply the
man behind the curtain -- keep him there."
Yet, cases like mine happen all the time as my business friend can attest simply because some "at home online service providers" rely on the fact that they KNOW it is NOT worth the customer's time or expense to travel to their state of business to take them to small claims court.
Meaning, they KNOW going in that they can get away with not giving you fair return on your money, even though we as consumers pay them half upfront "in good faith" based on what they publicly state they will deliver.
Maybe this is why he did not have a need to have (according to the contract sent to me) a "no refund" policy, so that if I was not happy he could tell me "after the fact" that all of a sudden there is such a policy. Tough luck for believing the pre-sales pitch.
And... Maybe even tell you, like he did to me, that the ONLY way to get my money back was to send him business (2 referrals worth $2G each to him at the time, $500 each to me)
Think about it... this is a no lose business model, for THEM.
My response (and recommendation of my project group) was to halt
the situation so he would not spend any more of his time and waste my money on
a project that he (or whoever he may have assigned to do this) obviously did
not have the sensitivity to my audience to undertake.
I learned it's best not to throw good money after bad. So I simply wanted to cut my losses and get back a fair portion of my investment because little thought and time was spent in providing the thumbnail PDF design I was emailed. Yet he argued that he had already spent my $1,000 in his time on this so no refund of any amount was in order! At the time, his homepage said:
All of our designs are custom made with our users in mind
Gee, how naive of me to believe I'd get what I paid for (in good faith, in advance) --- I guess I should have asked for a definition of how I'd should get ready to "... blow your (my) expectations out of the water"
I certainly did not think that would mean (after waiting two plus weeks) a hastily created PDF with a logo inserted on it (a logo I had already previously paid a professional logo firm to design) plus a professional photo (that I also supplied them)... so they could simply add a colored background
and a generic photo from iStockphoto of a group of twenty-something young women and men with their arms defiantly crossed, no less.
Hello? And my target market had been carefully described to him as over 45, etc. ???
So, I am thankful for places like "Ripoff Report" for evening out the playing minefield that exists online... even if it's too late for me.
I decided to keep and frame my itsy bitsy $1000 PDF as a reminder to tread carefully, despite website promises as I just might get what they think I paid for.
If you need to see this $1,000 piece of work to help you choose wisely in dealing with designers, I am happy to share my hard-earned lesson.
After all, if a picture is worth 1000 words, no need for you to pay "a dollar a word" to get ripped off, too!
To your successful online adventures, hopefully without the "mis". P.S.
I went back to his site before posting this and noticed he has changed his promotional wording
and also now has his contract posted online with a NON refundable clause in it.
Although he still charges his $500 fee to NOT have his website link at the bottom of your site (that you paid good money to have "customized") so that he can ride on your site traffic and continue to profit off you. Think about it. CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.