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  1. #1
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    Urgent urgent help

    Hello anyone,

    I am in urgent advice from someone who can help.

    I engaged a developer for a website and things have turned nasty. This developer is holding the source code, under delivered and asking for full payment to proceed with development or handing over the source code. Not being happy with months in delay I asked for a severance payment to go else where to finish the code. This developer has asked for full advance payment to release the code with weeks of functional design yet to be done. This is completely unacceptable on my part.

    He's threatened to remove the source code off his development server until such a large payment is made without fully coding to agreed expectations. His review on Freelancer is poor from other customers. He's also deleted another customers website over a $250 dispute. This resulted in a bad review from that customer who was able to recover his website from the host company. This developer ignored a lot of the customers review in response and simply stated he got what he deserved. A 49% completion rate tells me he's the problem not the customers.

    My feelings are he would do the same with my development without a reasonable fee to get the source code. He's also ignored some milestone deliverable's including providing the source code on a timely basis. His arrogance is overwhelming.

    My questions is as I am not a developer - can the source code be obtained from the dev server at the moment or is it more complicated than that? I have access to the front end and back end of the development as a URL to the dev server.

    Can i take the source code in anyway?

    Please trust me when i say, this person is devious and all I want is to secure months of work and what I paid for so far.

    I have no means of legal action and he's holding the whole matter to ransom on his own terms and that is full payment ahead of delivery. I've had enough of delays which is now 8 months for a website which is not that complex.

    Can anyone please advice me if it's possible to retrieve the source code and tell him to stick his threats after that? I doubt anyone in their right mind would have engaged this person if they knew what they were in for from the start. My restricted budget was the reason i went with him and he's a good salesperson. But as soon as I paid for 80% of the site development, his persona changed and so did the quality of the work and correspondence. Now the project is held to ransom.

    Please someone help with my question. Please don't criticize me for getting involved in the first place but the amount of money is substantial to me and I want to get out of this with no more bruises.

  • #2
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    I have no means of legal action
    I think everything is said right there. I think you should cut bait and hire a different developer and this time After ironing out the design and cost get a contract that spells everything out.
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  • #3
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    Agree, and no, you cannot get his backend code from just having a url to the site.

  • #4
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    Well, it depends on what you define as “source code”, i. e. what the site is made of. Is there a CMS involved or is it a plain static HTML site? Because if the latter is the case you could just save the pages (Ctrl/Cmd+S) and you have everything you need. If there are server-side scripts involved then you can’t get them that easily.

    However, you could still save the output HTML pages so you have at least the templates and the design, and you could hand the job over to someone else to work with that. This way not all is lost.

  • #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by VIPStephan View Post
    Well, it depends on what you define as “source code”, i. e. what the site is made of. Is there a CMS involved or is it a plain static HTML site? Because if the latter is the case you could just save the pages (Ctrl/Cmd+S) and you have everything you need. If there are server-side scripts involved then you can’t get them that easily.

    However, you could still save the output HTML pages so you have at least the templates and the design, and you could hand the job over to someone else to work with that. This way not all is lost.
    The info I got in the early stages is below:

    on LAMP platform (Linux Apache MySQL & PHP). Where Linux is the operating System, Apache as the web server, MySQL is for backend database and PHP is programming language.

    He's demanding that the money be wired to him to avoid Freelancer, to be paid in US dollars and further to this, he want's 90% of the money upfront when I believe about 70% is completed. Perhaps less.

    Totally an arrogant thief.

    Where is anonymous when you need them? This has got me depressed - it's $3800 worth of contract plus $1500 for phase 2 so it's not small money to me. I may lose the $2500 paid so far unless Freelancer get involved.

  • #6
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    So, let’s get this straight: You hired that person via a freelancer bidding site and he wants to get the money directly, basically breaking the terms of use of the site? And you haven’t actually paid him yet and he threatens to delete his work if you don’t pay the full amount? So, if I understand it correctly, so far you haven’t lost anything except time, is that right?

    If you really care that much about the code he wrote and there is a legal binding contract (and I suppose hiring him over the freelancer site is kind of binding, too) you should go the legal way. Otherwise, since you haven’t actually lost any money, f*ck that person and their code and hire someone else, even if it means yet more time to lose.

    And once again, the saying proves its validity: You get what you pay for.

  • #7
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    I have paid 2 milestones $1000 and $1500 to date via Freelancer.
    The total quote is $3800 in AU dollars for phase 1.

    He's about 70% through the requirements of phase 1 and 6 months in delay.

    I put up a proposal for Phase 2 with additional functionality to some aspects of Phase 1 to stop his constant complaining about scope that would cost an addition of $1500

    He now wants the $1500 up front not having finished phase 1 and half of phase 2 $750 wired to him outside of Freelancer to continue.

    He has also refused to provide the source code as agreed in Milestone 1 and 2 payments.

    So, I have spent $2500 with 70% completion, no source code and threats if I don't comply to his demands.

    I offered him now $1000 to hand over the source code - total $3500 with 70 completion so i can go to another coder to finish it.

    He's gone silent and playing a game now.

    I have Freelancer engaged and told them everything. They are encouraging me to communicate and resolve it, yet I am cornered with this bastards demands and I know once he gets his money he will then start to dictate more terms because he still won't supply the source code. He'll just keep holding the whole project to ransom and I don't know what his next demands are to be.

    Plus he wants US dollars now!! Wired to him! Outside of Freelancer so he can avoid a further drop in his ranking and a scathing review. His last review was indeed scathing because he there was a conflict over scope and he deleted the customers site and kept the $250. When I read that, I knew that the customer is probably in the right and this greedy asshole would rather keep the $250 than avoid a bad review.

    I need a hacker to grab my code and teach this ******* a lesson. It would still leave me in the dark having to go through delays and finding another coder to take it on.

    Beware of Indian companies. I don't trust them at all. they pay their coders a pittance and expect western rates for themselves. It's now just a manipulation game.

  • #8
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    Can you tell us who he is and his website?
    Tell us as much as you know about him.

  • #9
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    I can't right now. I don't want to make things worse.

    I will go to town on this guy if he screws me over with the source code.

    I will leave all his details and correspondence for google results to show up if it comes to that. Last night I lost the plot and wrote him a very scathing and ranting email which I shouldn't have done but his last threat was my way or the highway. Im not going to pay him outside of Freelancer up front. No way.

    I wish there was a hacker to turn to get the source code but this trust is impossible to get from someone you don't know. it could backfire on me as well.

  • #10
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    How about telling us what coding you need done?
    What is your phase one?

  • #11
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    Well where would I start?

    At the moment I am waiting on Freelancer to come back to me. I have offered him $ for the source code and walk away.

    After that I'll seek another coder. It's a mess at the moment but I wanted to know if it was possible to get the code off the dev server via URL. It doesn't seem it's possible or ethical.

  • #12
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    Are you and the developer from the same country?
    I think Freelancer could/should work better than it actually does...
    There is no way you can get the server side source code unless you find a way to break into the code/server which is something I would recommend against.
    Last edited by wlf; 01-28-2014 at 04:54 PM.
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  • #13
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    You cannot retrieve server side code via URL assuming the host is properly configured. You must use ssh/sftp or similar protocol to move the file from the filesystem.

    Do you not have a contract in place that defines the requirements, expectations and phase deliverables? There should also be renege clauses defined for each phase in order to outline the risks and stakes should one side decide to abandon or under-fulfill their side of the bargain. If you have no such contract, you may still be able to get in touch with the arranging company to see if they have an obligation to provide mediation services. If you have no contract and the arranging company has no obligation to provide mediation services, than you're hands are tied. You can either pay the extortion price and hope you walk away with what is promised, or you can cut your losses and walk away.

    As mentioned, you really do get what you pay for. When I was doing web development, at least a quarter of my contracts were returns from unsatisfied clients of offshore development. I typically raked an additional 15% premium then I had originally tabled for the tender.
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  • #14
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    Thanks to all for providing feedback.

    I have engaged an Indian company via Freelancer.com. I am in Australia. This Freelancer I am told used a word.press type of template to code it with php. I've been advised it's rubbish coding. It's about 70% complete.

    He now wants $2000 US dollars wired to him before he releases the source code. I can't trust him. Freelancer.com is hardly helping. I offered him $1000 via Escrow, he's rejected this and also a milestone payment via Freelancer to avoid a review.

    His ranking on completion is now 63% and his last review was bad. The last customer claims he deleted their website and kept the $450 for the work. The customer was able to restore their website via their hosting partner.

    This guy is pathetic, useless and a thief from my perspective. The website is about 70% complete, badly coded (I'm told) and 5 months in delay.

    If someone was capable of getting the source code off his server, I'd pay them $1000 instead.

  • #15
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    I'm on pins and needles now, curious as heck to what your website is supposed to be for. I sure wish I knew that. Maybe it could be done correctly and without drama by someone on this forum?


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