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Dealing with a Contractor Bully

How does one best deal with acontractor refuses to give source files as a start-up? Obviously, we've asked for them and they are ignoring requests.

35 Replies

Michael Brill
1
0
Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
more info: person or company; did you hire them directly or through a site; does your agreement define ownership of source code; where are they located; is there a dispute; etc.
Duane Nickull
2
0
Duane Nickull Entrepreneur • Advisor
Chief Marketing Officer, Co-Founder at Cheddar Labs
If it is in the contract, you do not pay until the source code is provided. If you have paid, then you need to ask a lawyer. Have you paid them?

Duane Nickull
PS: And only deal with nice contractors like me in the future ;-)


Merci Victoria Grace
1
0
Merci Victoria Grace Entrepreneur
Growth at Slack
Did you pay them already? Was it specified in your contract that they give source files? Either of those criteria give you leverage. Many contractors won't give source files if they don't have to.
Blake Garrett
1
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Blake Garrett Entrepreneur
Founder and CEO at Aceable
Do you have any mutual connections that you could use as leverage? I had a somewhat similar situation when I first started and the only way I could resolve it (without getting lawyers involved) was to find a mutual connection that the other party respected. The three of us had a meeting and it was resolved... there was too much social pressure for the contractor to ignore the request once it came from the respected party. I learned that when I don't have leverage, get creative in manufacturing it... If you don't have a mutual connect, maybe there's another way to create leverage to end the relationship amicably and with your code in your hands. Good luck!
Fahad Siddiqui
0
1
Fahad Siddiqui Entrepreneur • Advisor
Startup Founder
Too late to say, should have stayed away from contractors, but done is done.

It's all negotiation at this point, and not sure how much damage you've already done if you've made many requests.

  • Talk about bringing in more business contingent on getting the source code.
  • You could try offering more money.
  • You could try extorting them. (although, nobody wins this one)
  • You could get creative, and get into some social engineering. (I wont elaborate)

Best thing to do is learn from what happened .. and hire people. Contracting may seem like the easy way out, but so much gets lost in translation, it's not worth the trouble.
Alison Lewis
0
0
Alison Lewis Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO/Creative Director
Yes. and Good Idea.
Brian McConnell
0
0
Brian McConnell Entrepreneur
Head of Localization at Medium.com
Have they been paid?
David Berry
1
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David Berry Entrepreneur
Lead Android Engineer at Moxie
The best way to deal with it to make sure the terms are agreed upon in advance and in writing. Make sure you have a contract that specifies that the work done is a work for hire or has clear transfer clauses built in. Once you've got the legal foundation for the work then make sure that the work practices are inline with the contract terms. If it's work for hire, insist that code be regularly placed in a repository that you control. If it's not, then make sure that the delivery dates line up with the payment dates so you're not putting out cash until you have the work in hand. If it wasn't spelled out in advance and/or you've already paid them, then it's a lot more complicated since your realistic leverage is gone so you're left with just having to work with them and hope they're reasonable. You may have legal options even if your contract wasn't clear, but those are notoriously hard to enforce and vary widely between jurisdictions. David W. Berry
Jonathan Barronville
1
0
Jonathan Barronville Entrepreneur
Software Engineer at npm, Inc.
It really depends on the reason why the contractor isn't giving the source files.

In any case, please try to put yourself on both sides of the equation first. I have a similar problem right now, but I'm on the other side. I'm the contractor, I've provided all of the source files, submitted my invoice, and almost 3 weeks now, but no payment has been received from the MassChallenge startup. The founder is refusing to pay me. Had I known, I wouldn't have provided the source files too.

I'm in no way saying that you're in the wrong or anything like that. As a contractor myself, I can tell you that contractors generally just like people who are reasonable and understanding, and people who actually understand how contracting works. So if I were you, I'd first try to figure out the reason behind all of this, examine it carefully, equally considering both sides, be reasonable with each other and work out a solution. There are two things that, as an early-stage startup, you really don't want to come out of this: (1) having to take the matter to court and (2) getting your reputation destroyed by one angry or unsatisfied contractor.

That's just my 2?. I hope you're able to work this out and find a good solution.

- Jonathan
Will Froelich
3
0
Will Froelich Entrepreneur
While this doesn't help you now, in the future, just have your developer use source control. Github is a popular tool for this. Let's you pay and own the account, they just check in code as they go. Lets you have control and see the progress they are making.

Keep in mind that contractors get screwed by clients; often. The only leverage you have sometimes is the source code. If you really are the good guy here (you paid in full) then hopefully you can work it out.

If the contractor really is shady; is it possible you tried to save a buck and went with the cheapest and least reputable person?
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