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I'm in the process of finishing and delivering a web development project. The contract specifically specified that client is responsible for adding all content and installing. The deliverables specified are the WordPress theme. I ended up using a lot of content from their existing site because I needed it to make sure everything worked as promised.

I also included 30 minutes of training to show them how to use the custom dashboard I created. I did the training yesterday and gave the client an admin login so they could inspect my work. I offered to do a staff training session at an additional hourly rate ( original agreement was project priced) and also include the database to use as an example on how to add the content. The client declined and said they would handle the training.

They mentioned they were going to do some training today and didn't even ask if they could use my server and installation. I just got 3 emails that new admin accounts were added and it looks like they started migrating some content.

Should I tell them that it will be an extra charge for the database or bill them for using the server? This has been one of my largest projects and first time to encounter this situation. What's the professional thing to do without letting them take advantage of me and keep the relationship intact?

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So the problem is, they're adding content on the version that you're hosting, rather than installing it on their server as they agreed? –  Satanicpuppy May 26 '11 at 21:16
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Let it go. Doesn't sound like a big enough deal to potentially sour an assumed good relationship over. If it really bothers you, then revoke their admin access now that they have had time to inspect your work.

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+1 for "Revoke admin access." Never give out admin rights in the first place. –  Satanicpuppy May 26 '11 at 21:58
    
Agreed it's not really a big deal and I just spoke with them about an additional feature required and they said just bill us for the additional hours. –  Chris_O May 26 '11 at 22:59
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@Chris_O suggest you offer to set up a separate training server for them so they don't accidentally interfere with production/your work - for a nominal fee of course –  Steven A. Lowe May 27 '11 at 3:08
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Bring it up casually, and see what they want to do with it. I would say something like 'BTW, I noticed you've been using my test server. Is that just for this week(?) of training or will you use it more regularly, because then we should make some hosting arrangements.'

That way you're not too aggressive about getting every last penny from then, but also limit the duration of your free service and possible broaden your relation with them to hosting. If you don't want to do the hosting yourself, you can bring their business to a partner, who might repay you someday with some business of his own.

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+1. The informal approach, with a lead into a formal agreement (with charges), if done correctly, has little chance of upsetting the customer. Put yourself in their shoes, you gave them an admin account and they are using it. Fair enough I say unless you were explicit when the account would be shut down. –  mattnz May 26 '11 at 22:13
    
Thank you for the advice. It worked out and they are paying for some additional services. –  Chris_O May 26 '11 at 23:00
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I always specifically write into contracts that the client is responsible for their own hosting. I hope you have a similar condition in yours (you only mention content and installation in the question).

Assuming you do, I would simply send a polite e-mail asking them if they are satisfied with the result, and reminding them that if they are finished testing/inspecting then they will need to acquire their own server or hosting plan in order to put it into production. Then disable the extra admin accounts they created (but not the original one).

If they persist in using your server that way even after a polite warning then (and only then) would I revoke all of their privileges. Unless you are somehow incurring direct costs from their usage of the service then there is no justification for trying to bill them extra.

Who knows - maybe in the client's mind, this is still part of the acceptability testing. Far better to sort out such a misunderstanding with a calm reminder than to go in with guns blazing.

(P.S. I'm assuming that "admin" means an administrator of your product; if you've given them server admin rights then you should revoke those immediately. Only give them the privileges they actually need for testing purposes!)

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