Utilitybidder gets disconnected by developer
Unplugged after developer allegedly left unpaid
Utility price comparison site utilitybidder.co.uk has been reduced to an almost blank template over the weekend following an apparent run-in with its web developer.
The developer has apparently pulled the plug on the site, leaving only an unflattering message on its home page, in what appears to be revenge for the company's alleged failure to pay for his work. The out-of-pocket developer warns his coding buddies that utilitybidder may prove to be less than reliable once it comes to cutting an invoice.
A notice on utilitybidder.co.uk (screenshot here) states that the site is offline, alongside a snarky rider.
"If you are another web developer that has been paid to change this then make sure you get paid up front."
The Reg reader who brought the disconnection of utilitybidder.co.uk to our attention said that the developer has changed the admin passwords, preventing the early restoration of the site.
We left a recorded message with utilitybidder this morning but are yet to hear back from the price comparison site.
By early afternoon the site's voicemail inbox was full, so it was not possible to leave a second message. We'll update this story as and when we get to hear utilitybidder's side of the story. ®
He must have decided to be diplomatic as there was an even stronger message up earlier on in the day.
"Sorry our site is offline as we refused to pay our web developer and he put this here and then changed our passwords.
You could always try calling or emailing us but its better you just go to Uswitch as they are much more professional, we suck."
"what else could I do."
The word is, if you are owed at least 750 quid, that you submit a "Statutory Demand". This document should be prepared with the aid of a solicitor (to make sure it gets done right), and then it should be served on the non-payer (with evidence of service logged with a county court - all private detective agencies have a sideline in this kind of work). When done to an individual, it effectively says to pay up or face a creditor's petition for bankruptcy. When done to a limited company, it is the same, except that the penalty is involuntary liquidation, **no matter what the size of the company**.
Yes, you heard it right. If the largest plc in Britain owes you £750 (and you can prove it) and won't pay within the three weeks specified in the demand, you can file for them to be wound up by a court (and if they still won't pay and can't prove that they don't owe the money, the court is obliged to do it). Real companies don't let this happen, needless to say, and the arrival of a Statutory Demand usually shakes loose the money owed, unless they really don't have it.
The voice of experience speaks here of the versus-individual mode of things. The tale was long, and somewhat depressing, but with a few WTF-inducing moments to lighten the mood. Along the way I learned more than I ever wanted to know about English contract and insolvency law, and heard a full District Judge tell the debtor that she would not be able to "bamboozle" (his word) the bankruptcy hearing judge if it came to that.
This is a comment in the source of that front page too:
"You may wonder why this site is offline, if you are reading the source then you are most probably a web developer that has been paid to change this.
I put this here as the company in question broke our contract and left payments outstanding, as a last resort I put their site offline, what else could I do.
Make sure you are paid up front, even if you have a contract, they aint worth shit."
Jarndyce v Jarndyce.
To take anyone to court requires so much time, effort and money, that for anything less than a third of your expected annual income it is pointless and self-defeating. The legal system really doesn't give a toss about you. They don't do justice, they do due process of law. This ensures that lawyers make money, a lot of it. For the rest of us, the legal system is just butthurt, grief and aggro, and lots of it. Even if you are the good guy. Even if you have a just cause. Even if you are standing in a pool of white light from on high with a halo and wings.
You might get some relief by posting an honest account of your experiences in a blog to prevent others from falling prey to those who screwed you, but even then, there are libel lawyers out there who will happily destroy someone for publicly telling the truth. And the bad guys might take more direct action if you upset them.
The legal system and justice are two entirely separate things. You want a world of grief and a chunk out of your life and pocket? Phone a solicitor. Otherwise, just accept that you've been screwed and walk away.
Never get in so deep that you become reliant on one deal and do everything that is humanly possible to avoid the English legal system. Even if that means handing over your hard-earned money to someone who has cheated you and watching them walk away smiling. Actually going to court as the good guy is still worse than that.
It doesn't work and they have absolutely no plans to fix it because it works for them just way it is.
Not for me
Can't see why the developer should resort to legal action, that's just going to cost him more, so he is more out of pocket and probably won't get anything.
At the end of the day if I don't pay my utiliity (ha!) bill I get cut off. Don't see why hosting etc is any different.
Of course I'd have been suspicious of anyone who's domain is registered to a house address with no real details.
When I did run a web design company we resorted to having stage payments for most projects as its the only way to ensure you get paid. At each major milestone an invoice is submitted and if you don't get paid you stop working (and get on with something that does pay). It also means you get paid if the client puts the project on the shelf for a number of months (or years in some cases).