Client contacts our company that his site is down, we do some investigating and the only way we can access the site is on a mobile phone. From the office computers the site never loads and times out. Since we don't host the site and I've never logged into it before I don't have a lot of details so I suggest they contact whoever hosts their site. This is where things get weird.

Client tells me that the site is hosted on someone's home server. I tell him that this is quite strange in 2018 and rather unlikely and ask if he was ever given access to the site to log in or if he has access to his domain registration, GoDaddy.

He says he doesn't understand any of this and would rather I just contact his current developer and figure it out with him. We agree that he needs to get access to his site so we are going to migrate it once I get access to it.

I email his current developer letting him know the client has put me in contact with him to troubleshoot the issues with the site. I ask him some standard questions like: where is the site hosted? Can you access it from a computer? Do you have some security measures in place to block certain IP ranges? Can you give me from access to get the files? Will you send me a backup of the site for me to load up on my server?

*2days pass*

Other dev: Tell me the account number and I'll transfer the domain.

Me: I'll have to get back to you on that once I talk to the client and set up his GoDaddy account since we believe the business owner should own their domain, not their developers. In the meantime you didn't answer any of the questions I asked. Transferring the domain won't get the site on my server so I still need the files.

*3 days pass*

OD: You are trying the wrong domain. The correct domain is [redacted].com I'll have my daughter send you the files when she gets in town. We will transfer the domain to you, the client will forget to pay and the site will go down and it'll be your fault.

Me: I appreciate your advice, but the client will own their domain. I'm trying to get the site online and you have no answered any of my questions. It's been a week now and you have not transferred the domain, you have not provided a copy of the site, you have not told me where the site is hosted. The client and I are both getting impatient at this point when will we receive a backup of the site and the transfer of the domain?

OD: Go fuck yourself, tell the client they can sue me.

If the client is that terrible, wouldn't you want to hand them off to anyone willing to take them? I have never understood why developers and agencies try to hold clients hostage by keeping their domain or website and refusing access. From what I can tell this is a freelance developer without a real company so a legal battle likely isn't going to go well since the domain is worthless to him as the copyright to the name is owned by the client. This isn't the first time we've had to help clients through this sort of thing.

  • 2
    Ow, what an asshole
  • 2
    Ding Ding! Lawyer time!
  • 0
    @karma yeah, I told him I'd inform the client of his decision and wished him luck.

    I've seen this sort of thing play out a number of times and in every single one of those occasions, the client received their site/domain and a few times even managed damages as well for lost business during the transition. The longer this guy keeps the site offline the more damages the client can claim.

    When I have a client that refuses to pay or is just a terrible human, I can't wait for the email from someone asking for the site. I confirm with the client that's what they want, they already own their domain because I don't want it, I backup the site as is and toss it to the new developer the same day. Bye Felicia!
  • 1
    @zickig that's why I stopped worrying and started licensing with contracts.
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