Remote project legal saga - opinions appreciated. Remote project legal saga - opinions appreciated.
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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie


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    Default Remote project legal saga - opinions appreciated.

    Hi all -

    I'm in the middle of a very frustrating and increasingly anxious saga with a remote 'contract' job I was involved and I would really appreciate some external thought from this awesome community. It's a pretty long story, and I've cut loads out, but I needed to provide some background too. So for anyone who has the patience to read it; a sincere thank you in advance.

    ...........

    In January an agency got in touch with me through a friend to create a touchscreen app for them to use in a museum for a client of theirs. It seemed simple enough; the designs and copy were being provided and they were sending me the exact model of the touchscreen so I could use it for testing (I made sure of this as I know different
    screens can behave differently.) I was also told an IT team would be on hand at the museum where the screens were to be installed for the period of the project to help test and for any questions etc.

    Perhaps foolishly I didn't create an actual contract, because as far as I could see it what would needed to have been drafted up was already written out and agreed to in email which is just as legally binding.

    I started on the project and soon1 screen became 2 screens until I was eventually tasked with producing 18 touchscreen apps. I wasn't really complaining as the money was good, but as a company they were very unprofessional and inefficient. There was no agile or anything like that, and I'd complete an app and then they'd make a change. This along with some other issues on their side massively delayed the project and in the end they got sued by the end client in mid-summer and the project manager had a nervous breakdown and quit, along with another employee that was helping run it. Up until then I'd been invoicing periodically, and they'd been slow paying. But after they were sued they stopped paying, and I (along with other contractors) downed tools until we were paid. During this period the on-site IT team also packed up and left as I believe their contract was up (from what I understand the project was meant to be delivered in April.) Eventually however the agency paid me and I produced another 3 touchscreen apps, they said thanks and i invoiced them, relieved to think it was over.

    However... I could not get payment for the final 3 apps and was eventually told it was because these final apps I produced were 'freezing'. For weeks I fought to get any kind of detail on this, and I thought it might be a payment delay tactic. The on-site IT team had already left, and I was given the number of the exhibition center to call which is in Norway, so when I'd call their English would be poor and impossible for them to describe the problem. The only person who could speak decent enough English was the manager who was so angry about the previous legal problems they'd had with the agency that he'd just yell at me. They did however eventually send me a video of the screen freezing while using it.

    If I logged in via Teamviewer I could not force this issue, and I could not replicate it on my version. But it transpired that the 3 touchscreen monitors being used for the 3 final apps were different to the others and different to what I was told and had been sent. My argument was that it could be a touchscreen issue as all the others on the normal monitors are fine and it's essentially the same code with different copy for each app. (HTML/JS in an electron wrapper on PC).

    It's worth noting here that I then out of the blue had my outstanding payment paid!

    They then offered to fly me to the center, but I declined as I was worried I'd go there, not be able to replicate the issue, and still be in the same position. So they shipped me the monitor being used for these final 3 'freezing' apps and its massive - like 2m wide massive and completely different to what I was informed was being used - but I managed to set it up in my office to test and try to find this elusive bug (they also sent one of the PC's). But it worked perfectly, and I left it on for days, testing it multiple times and could not find an issue. In the end I set up a monitor next to the touchscreen with devtools on it and set up a camera, and used the touchscreen for 20 minutes straight, going through the whole thing multiple times (including the bit that froze in the video they sent), bashing the screen, using all sorts of weird gestures, just trying to break it but all fine. I sent this to them as an unlisted youtube video stating I can't find the problem and it must lie elsewhere in the environment you're using. My only suggestion was I rebuilt it in something like react native just so it's a totally different app; that way we could help eliminate the root of the problem.

    They've replied with a very threatening email saying my role is not finished, they are not paying for me to do that, questioning my professionalism and inferring they will get sued again. I'd really like to know what would be the decent & professional thing to do in this situation? What would you consider my responsibility?

    I was told the screens would have no internet connection, so could not use any testing software (Rollbar etc) to monitor it. There is no on-site I.T team (my friend who is an IT contractor tells me there are loads of environmental factors that could be causing a screen to freeze) and I feel that some of these possible problems go outside my role as a frontend dev. The monitor I was briefed with creating this app for is not being used, without informing me. I cannot physically recreate any problem after hours and hours of testing over the past several months now, and cannot find any bug in any log or in the console. Also, this has now gone on far too long and I informed them while waiting for information about this 'bug' that I was starting a new contract and I'd need to get it wrapped up, but they were slow in getting back and now I'm way outside of the time I said I could give them. I've not put a real timeline in here, but it is often several weeks between being able to get info out of them.

    There's also been the pull of working for them again; they have some really fun contracts like overseas amusement parks where they fly their contractors etc and the money is good; but if i step away from the lure of that for a moment and see that in one project included a lawsuit, people leaving, severe payment delays, catastrophically bad management and a nervous breakdown from the project manager that should possibly be a warning sign!

    Any thoughts would be very much appreciated - and thanks again for reading, I know it's taken your time.

  2. #2

    Respect my authoritah!

    NotAllThere's Avatar
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    Once you got your final payment, you should have refused further work. Frankly, I'd just walk away now, eschewing payment if necessary. You've already done more than many people would.
    Down with racism. Long live miscegenation!

  3. #3

    Super poster


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    I assume you have records of all communication and can prove your due diligence in trying to reproduce the bug.

    In this case I’d walk. This is a situation where no contract benefits you. You’ve been paid. The client has accepted the work. You have no SLA and no contractual obligation to perform further diagnostic work.

    Let them threaten you. It’s unlikely to go further but IMO you’d have a solid defence.

    Don’t work without a contract in future.

  4. #4

    Contractor Among Contractors


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    A very well written, and sad story.

    That said, I'd walk. Amusement parks aside, is the rest of it worth it?

    File it all under 'Experiences', and while not being paid can also happen within contracts, sorting contracts or work packages would allow segmentation of work and subsequent payment. It would also clarify when tools can be downed.

    Best of luck.

  5. #5

    Super poster

    Scruff's Avatar
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    Enjoy the use of the 2m Screen and PC.
    I was an IPSE Consultative Council Member, until the BoD abolished it. I am not an IPSE Member, since they have no longer have any relevance to me, as an IT Contractor. Read my lips...I recommend QDOS for ALL your Insurance requirements (Contact me for a referral code).

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