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A regular client of 3 years typically orders prints from us quarterly came in over a week ago with an order. Sometimes this client comes in with the designs and sometimes we do the designs in house. When we were finished with the designs we sent the proof and then heard word from the client that they actually had the designs already produced so we used the designed provided. We had sent a bill to the client Monday in regards to the prints and design time we spent. Now the client feels that they shouldn't have to pay for the design time. So what to do?

  1. Let it slide and remove the design charge?
  2. Proceed with the request to be paid?
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Did the client specifically ask you to do the designs? –  Ryan May 1 '13 at 16:28
    
yes the client knew we were designing when the order was placed. –  Gramps May 1 '13 at 16:39
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There's no correct answer to this. It really comes down to the relationship you have with this client. Sounds like they are a consistent reliable client, so maybe give them a pass on this one, with a note saying "We'll eat the costs on this one this time, but in the future, please note that we do need to bill you for our time, so please be clear when you have existing designs premade." –  DA01 May 1 '13 at 16:52
    
I'd let it slide or see how they felt about paying 50% of the design fee. As DA01 comments, it really depends upon the relationship and how important it is to you. –  Scott May 1 '13 at 17:33
    
Maybe you could add more detail about what happened. I'm finding it hard to understand what the client sent you and what they asked for, and whose fault the mistake is. –  thomasrutter May 2 '13 at 2:28
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3 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I personally would let it slide since they are a regular client. It sounds as if it was a communication issue, so you may want to let them know somehow,

"Hey we removed this item from the invoice due to a misunderstanding, but please note that our design fee is XXX for furture reference."

That way they are aware, and you look like the "good guy" to a good client.

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Agreed - when dealing with regular clients, it's always important to view the relationship as long-term. If it's possible to keep the client happy by absorbing a minor cost, that would be my preference as the business owner. Obviously, that approach has limits, and if they start taking advantage of the relationship by expecting it, then you're better off without them as a client. –  Omegacron Feb 18 at 19:12
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The comments under the question tell more of the story. In fact, they should have been part of the question from the start.

If the client has requested a reprint with changes this is a different matter.

Assuming the client was given the opportunity to proof anything before it went to press the first time and that the newly requested changed are unrelated to any printing issues (bad color, misaligned plates, etc), then I would say the reprint is 100% billable in all instances. As is the original piece.

If approval for printing was given and costs incurred based upon that approval, this moves the matter from client relations to business survival. You can't cover costs if a client fails to correctly proof something when given the opportunity to do so. Hopefully you are getting proof approvals in writing (a form or email or something).

Even if the client is one of your best clients, allowing them to correct issues after the fact and expecting you to cover the costs is simply business suicide. Make no mistake if you allow the client to do this once, the will expect it again at some point in the future.

All my clients understand, once design approval is given, they are locked in for that cost and any changes in the future are additional costs.

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THREE. Also be consistent. What would you do with other clients? A weeks work should not go unnoticed. Let it slide, still appearing on the invoice by charging it with the used amount of time but $0,00, copyright remaining yours. In case similar things appear a year from now, you and the client should have something to refer to. If your design becomes relevant again, you can charge the agreed fee anyhow, transferring the copyright. From what you have described, I don't see that the fault was all yours. Working for free is not the way to go at all of course, but client is always king. Talking about money, won't change the situation. As the client relies on your services that you have to offer and as it is also in his interest that you can provide in the future, I think he will do his part too. Not to take any chances in the future, I would ask him what 'you' can do to help him. Three years sounds as a long time, but in effect there have been only twelve orders. But yeah, be the good guy.

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