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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71049
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Client will not pay me a brochure as they pulled

Customer Question

Client will not pay me for designing a brochure as they pulled out of printing it last minute as the print price was higher than I estimated (I outsource the print but broke my neck to design their brochure urgently and did not have enough time to research about print).
How can I get paid for spending two solid days designing and another searching for printers.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Did you agree a price in advance?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, I sent a proforma invoice as follows:

Brochure design 2 days @ £250 per day

Print 50 x A5 full colour 300gsm (outer) 100 gsm (inner) brochures 265.00

Litho print (if needed) - Gold letter on front page 135.00

I said to the client I am a designer, not a printer and that I can outsource the print. Then I got a quote from the printers and put it in my pro-forma invoice.

I met the client on Tuesday and they gave me a go-ahead designing on Wednesday. They wanted the brochures printed by Monday. Now, it was a very urgent order so I have been getting it ready to print non stop these 2 days. On Friday night I went to the printers with their existing brochure as they said do not compromise with the quality of paper. So then the printers said their paper was thinner. So I called the client and suggested I find printers who have thicker paper but it will probably be more expensive. They agreed. I spent the whole eve and next morning finding printers. However the price was almost double from the first price I quoted because. They decided not to print. I invoiced them for my design work (£500). They say nothing was ever printed and I failed to deliver. I am very upset as I dropped everything to design for them and get it done in such short space of time

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
But did you agree to deliver a printed item to them?
I realise you may perform different roles within the contract but was it agreed that you would deliver? It does seem to have been from the prices you quoted.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Well yes, they needed a printed item by Monday. And it could have been delivered if a) they agreed to have it on thinner paper and b) they didn't stop the print when the price for thicker paper changed.

I did deliver 5 printed brochures to them on Monday that a friend printed for me so that they have something for their meeting but they did not mention them in their reply to me.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I'm really sorry but that is a problem.
What you seem to have agreed is to deliver printed leaflets. You did not. I realise that might not have been your fault but there isn't really a test of fairness in this life. Come what may, they ordered a product and haven't received it.
It would be different if they had instructed you only to do the design. What you seem to have agreed though is that you will resolve the outsourcing for X price. You could not do that and the increase made it unprofitable but I'm afraid they are not liable for that.
You can always demand the design back though since they haven't paid for that either.
I'm very sorry but this is just plain breach of contract and they would succeed on the facts that you present.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

But I would have delivered if they did not stop the print at the last minute.

I believed I have delivered design services which is one part of my proforma invoice and they should pay for my time on this as they are the ones who stopped the printing.

How can I demand the design back, I have sent them 4 example covers and a 10 pages brochure designs. Though the files are not high resolution they could get someone to replicate them. Is there a sentence I could send that does not allow them to use any of my designs? I guess I have to get them to confirm this.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
But the reason they stopped print is that the price had increased to double what you quoted.
I am sorry but you were under an obligation to print at the price you quoted. You did not.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No. The price of print in my pro-forma is outlining the paper thickness and that is all true, I could have printed for that price, on that paper.

However, I called them just to warn that the paper will be thinner than their existing brochure.

I suggested to try find printers who can print on ticker paper but will be more expensive. They agreed to that.

If I am not going to get paid how can I make sure my designs are not used?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If the reason for the increase was down to the changing nature of their demands then you are not in breach.
If so, then you would have a claim at least for the value of the work that you have done.
But they will be saying you agreed to print for that price.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, ***** ***** what I believe strongly. Please, could you tell me whom form that company I should talk to about this - I am sure that the person who hired me and his secretary are not communicating any of this and if I am to take them to small claims court I think I should notify someone senior first?

Also, do you think I could succeed at small claims court? - I have an email saying 'I agree to your fees' and another saying 'go ahead with the print'.

Only when I called to say the paper is thinner then their existing brochure things started to change.

Many thanks in advance

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I wouldn't even think of talking to them. Put everything in writing.
I am really sorry but I am not going to be able to guarantee success. I rather suspect they are saying that you quoted X amount and then tried to increase the price and if that is accepted then you will lose.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

But they are lying, they said that I called on friday to say I cannot deliver for Monday and gave them a double price.

What happened in reality was that the brochures would have been printed for Monday. Just on thinner paper so I preferred to call them and let them know.

I offered to look for another printer (and said it will be more expensive). They agreed. It still would have been delivered on Monday. But they did not go-ahead the print.

I was going to email them, that is in writing right? Or you mean on paper and post it?

What is your advise on an action, I need to do something as their email is a lie and I strongly believe they should pay me something.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Sometimes lies are accepted.
I would put a letter before action in conventional post.
If you are intent then you can sue at the small claims court but I cannot guarantee success.