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Website Design Ripoff. What to do?

By 11 February 2013 26

I recently decided that my 1980′s website needed upgrading.

I contacted a company and was told I had to pay half up front which I did. I was then emailed the Terms and Conditions which I signed and was then asked for the rest of the money.

Yes, I did pay it, what a fool!! Upon rereading the terms and conditions again, it stated that they could only ask for half the money up front.

I brought this to their attention and they became quite rude. After a few conversations with them I lost faith in their ability to produce a professional website on my behalf.

I then asked for a full refund and was promptly given a big fat NO.

Anyone got any suggestions on how I can get my money back without having to go through Fair Trading and represent myself in Court.

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26 Responses to Website Design Ripoff. What to do?
#1
M0les1:17 pm, 11 Feb 13

I’d write them a letter, then go to fair-trading/small claims. Due process is the best approach.

Maybe try something like squarespace.com next time?

#2
Madman1:43 pm, 11 Feb 13

I would recommend you contacting the ACCC and seek advice.
They would be able to provide you with the correct avenue and possibly advice that will lead you in the correct path.

#3
notdingers1:52 pm, 11 Feb 13

How did you pay? Depending on how much money maybe get a lawyer to write a letter to them.

Otherwise if the claim is under $10k (I think) you can take the matter to the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal. They also have some places to get free legal advice listed on their website here

This tribunal have the power to award claims but is not a full on court, it is a more informal environment that aims to resolve disputes, plus it only costs between $50 and $127 depending on the claim size.

#4
smcphill2:03 pm, 11 Feb 13

Madman said :

I would recommend you contacting the ACCC and seek advice.
They would be able to provide you with the correct avenue and possibly advice that will lead you in the correct path.

ACCC will refer you to the ACT Office of Fair Trading. They can attempt to contact the company on your behalf in an effort to mediate a reasonable outcome.

In practice, what usually happens is the company in question simply ignores all communication coming from the OFT. When this occurs, the OFT is completely powerless to do anything about your plight, and you’ll be sent a letter saying “we tried, but those nasty people won’t play. Off to the courts with you!”

So sure, contact the ACCC / OFT, but don’t expect any resolution forthcoming as a result. I guess the outcome of the OFT’s involvement would go in your favour once you get to court…. whenever that happens.

#5
Balthazar2:03 pm, 11 Feb 13

Disappointed with the title of this article. “Website Design Ripoff” attacks the whole industry, when you should just be attacking the company that ripped you off. There are good hard working people out there who will get labled as “rip off merchants” just because they design websites. This could happen in any industry and the majority should not be tarnished by the extreme minority, that you happened to have encountered.

#6
BimboGeek2:15 pm, 11 Feb 13

Write them a letter saying why you changed your mind and noting that they haven’t started yet and copy it to the office of fair trading.

If your only complaint is that they asked for cash upfront which you were willing to pay then maybe just stop being an idiot and let them do their job.

#7
smcphill2:25 pm, 11 Feb 13

Balthazar said :

Disappointed with the title of this article. “Website Design Ripoff” attacks the whole industry…

I design websites, and I’m not offended, or feel attacked by the title.

Perhaps if the title was “Website design: what a ripoff”, or “Paying for website design? Fool!”, your umbrage would be justified.

#8
Mysteryman2:25 pm, 11 Feb 13

Balthazar said :

Disappointed with the title of this article. “Website Design Ripoff” attacks the whole industry, when you should just be attacking the company that ripped you off. There are good hard working people out there who will get labled as “rip off merchants” just because they design websites. This could happen in any industry and the majority should not be tarnished by the extreme minority, that you happened to have encountered.

You’re right! I’m positive that everyone considering the commission of a website will view this post and determine that all web designers, without exception, are “rip off merchants”.

Shut down the internet, everyone!! We’ve all had our fun, but the rip off merchants can clearly no longer be trusted.

#9
Paul00753:21 pm, 11 Feb 13

You could also talk with your accountant. My one prepares and sends letters of demand, and so on, so it might be worth asking them for help too.

#10
m@3:22 pm, 11 Feb 13

BimboGeek said :

Write them a letter saying why you changed your mind and noting that they haven’t started yet and copy it to the office of fair trading.

If your only complaint is that they asked for cash upfront which you were willing to pay then maybe just stop being an idiot and let them do their job.

This. Also, if the first installment was a non-refundable deposit and you’ve simply changed your mind—you’re unlikely to be entitled to a refund of that payment.

Write a letter of demand; be prepared to take go to court. Keep copies of all correspondence.

#11
Ben_Dover3:32 pm, 11 Feb 13

Ben_Dover said :

Anyone got any suggestions on how I can get my money back without having to go through Fair Trading and represent myself in Court.

Go to their office with a bucket of water, theaten to pour it over their servers.

#12
Pork Hunt3:52 pm, 11 Feb 13

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

#13
Roundhead894:06 pm, 11 Feb 13

Pork Hunt said :

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

… especially since the World Wide Web was only invented in 1992.

#14
Sam G4:58 pm, 11 Feb 13

Hot and cold clients are the reason up front is required at all. Don’t forget you engaged them to work for you. Don’t forget you went ahead and paid them. Your best bet is to do another 180, get over your issues, apologise for being a fool and follow through with your commitment.

Sorry if this sounds blunt. Also if you need to make a decision like this again, pick from a tender, use ozlance.com.au

#15
deepsouf9:14 pm, 11 Feb 13

As others have suggested, go to Fair Trading initially. If that fails, you can goto ACAT (which is designed for individuals to take action without lawyers or formalities like the rules of evidence). Engaging a lawyer to write a letter of demand could be an option, but know that if they ignore it and you end up in ACAT anyway, no legal costs can be awarded to you. According to you, they required full payment up front (contrary to the T&C of your contract) and they haven’t designed your website yet. At a minimum, you ought to get half of your money back, as it was only supposed to be paid after the work was done. The other half is tricky because it would be a cancellation and refund – you should check the T&C and their website to see if they have any policy regarding this.

#16
Tony4PM9:16 pm, 11 Feb 13

Roundhead89 said :

Pork Hunt said :

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

… especially since the World Wide Web was only invented in 1992.

Maybe it’s a site about the 1980s ? :)

Ahh…1992, I remember it well… IRC, Gopher…and a new fangled thing called Mosaic? It was a new frontier back then.

#17
Mr Evil10:18 pm, 11 Feb 13

Go to their office/business premises and threaten to smash up all their Star Wars/Lord of the Rings/Star Trek toys with a baseball bat if they don’t give your money back. :-)

#18
Leon10:25 pm, 11 Feb 13

If you want to waste a lot of time and energy fighting them for 100% of the money, then that’s up to you.

If on the other hand you want a website, I suggest that you either (1) ask them to make you the website you have paid for, or (2) ask them for the 50% of the money that the contract says you didn’t have to pay up front, and put that money towards the cost of a new website.

If they provide you with an OK website, then you’re ahead.

If you don’t like it, you can start again, but a little wiser this time. At least you’ve made them work for their money.

#19
poetix10:37 pm, 11 Feb 13

Pork Hunt said :

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

Some people seem to relish doing very convincing impressions of what one might have been like:

http://clug.org.au/

That felt good.

#20
Conan of Cooma7:33 am, 12 Feb 13

poetix said :

Pork Hunt said :

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

Some people seem to relish doing very convincing impressions of what one might have been like:

http://clug.org.au/

That felt good.

Ah, Linux nerds, the 5th lowest echelon of nerds. They even order pizza! What’s the bet they all have a server at home called Gandalf or Frodo?

#21
watto239:23 am, 12 Feb 13

Tony4PM said :

Roundhead89 said :

Pork Hunt said :

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

… especially since the World Wide Web was only invented in 1992.

Maybe it’s a site about the 1980s ? :)

Ahh…1992, I remember it well… IRC, Gopher…and a new fangled thing called Mosaic? It was a new frontier back then.

mosaic, wait i surfed the web using Lync which was a text only browser. Even downloading porn was possible, using ASCII encoded files… not that I’d know.

#22
aceofspades9:25 am, 12 Feb 13

Conan of Cooma said :

poetix said :

Pork Hunt said :

A 1980′s website. I’d like to see that…

Some people seem to relish doing very convincing impressions of what one might have been like:

http://clug.org.au/

That felt good.

Ah, Linux nerds, the 5th lowest echelon of nerds. They even order pizza! What’s the bet they all have a server at home called Gandalf or Frodo?

They probably have uptime dating back to sometime in the 80′s too. A concept other OS’s don’t seem to know anything about.

#23
NM196810:17 am, 12 Feb 13

Firstly I am not attacking all web design companies, just this particular one. I am now working with another website designer and am more than happy with the results.

As for being hot and cold, maybe I am from the old school, but since when do you pay for something and receive absolutely nothing in return? They spent absolutely no time on my new website whatsoever. I did not change my mind simply because they asked for money upfront. I changed my mind because after a conversation with someone from the company, in regards specifically to graphics, I was sent a link to pictures they would use on the website. These pictures were to say the least, basic black and white icons. They didn’t depict my industry correctly and lacked any imagination whatsoever. My kingergarten son could have done better.

I did contact ACCC who contacted them to no avail. I was then directed to Fair Trading and sent documentation to go to Court. Really don’t have the time or the strength to do this. Going to the office and pouring water on their computers sounds like more fun.

Will ask the Accountant as suggested, any letters will more than likely be ignored.

I have definitely learnt from this experience and will never be gullible to pay the full amount again. I am sure that 99% of businesses are honest and reliable, I just chose the wrong one and will cop it on the chin.

#24
Holden Caulfield10:24 am, 12 Feb 13

NM1968 said :

…My kingergarten son could have done better…

Maybe as well as design advice you should ask your son for a few spelling tips.

#25
Hosinator11:39 am, 12 Feb 13

If you paid by credit card simply call your bank and get them to reverse the funds. Tell them that the services haven’t been delivered and won;t be delivered and you fear the person you paid will abscond with your money.

Small claims court is a massive pain, we’ve just gone through it and understand why companies thumb their nose at it. We wen’t through six months of process and winning our case, to not seeing a cent of our money.
It would be easier if you hired a debt collector or a couple of roid heads from your local gym to visit the company with a baseball bat.

#26
zorro294:26 pm, 12 Feb 13

i don’t understand why you asked for your money back? especially after you paid the money

at any rate…the service hasn’t been rendered so it’s unreasonable/unlawful for them to keep the money

if you can’t get the money back directly by asking the company/writing a letter, ACAT is probably your next best option (it’s a pain and slow, but it’s a good avenue for individuals to rectify situations without lawyers etc)

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