Why You Should Never Take On A Client Who Begs For A Discount

There are plenty of great clients out there and then there are the terrible clients. The problem freelancers seem to have is spotting that terrible one. While there have been several tips and signs I’ve posted in other articles about ways to avoid the bad ones, it seems through experience, I’ve found another – discount clients.

At first glance, you may wonder why potential clients who ask for a discount up front are going to be terrible clients. Maybe they really really want to work with you, but they’re short a few bucks. Shouldn’t we be kind and lower the prices and help them out? No, no and no.

What are some of the problems with working with a client who asks for a discount?

They Don’t Value Your Work

When pricing goods and services, one of the basics of economics is that you have to price an item at what the market thinks it’s worth. If you price a necklace at $100,000, but it’s faux gold and cubic zirconia, the market obviously will not think it’s worth that amount and therefor, you’ll never sell it.

The same goes for pricing web services. While not everyone will buy from you, some clients will think you’re too expensive and some will even think you’re too cheap, your prices should already be what your own market can bear. If a client comes to you and asks that you lower your hourly rate in half, the client obviously does not think you’re worth what you’re asking and therefor will become a PIA in the future.

They Always Ask For Extras With Their Scope Creep

You’d think a client who asks for a discount, and is generously given one, would back off on the extra revisions, requests, content and PSDs they’d normally try to throw at us right? Nope. These clients are notorious for pushing your limits and you’ll find yourself constantly caving in or telling them “no”. You’ve already lost half your profit from just the discount, why not lose more?

Crazy Demands and Jumping Hoops

Many of these kinds of clients will ask you to sign a contract 50 pages long stating you’re not to talk, think or dream about the project on pain of death. That they can sue you if you misspell one word. That they can copyright your HTML code. Whatever it is, don’t sign it, please.

The PSDs are nuts

Even if you make it past all of the above hurdles and finally get down to coding the site – you’ll often find these “cheap” clients also have “cheap” PSDs. They layers may be unnamed, out of order or unorganized. They may slip things into the PSD that they didn’t tell you – forcing you to either bite the extra time or pluck up the courage to protest it. Or even worse – they make you’re life as a developer as difficult as possible.

I had a job once where there were several PSDs that I gave a big discount on. Each PSD had a different sized logo, a different sized and colored header, a completely different layout and even a completely different sized container! Instead of spending most of my time coding a homepage, then quickly coding subpages like normal, it was like I was coding several different homepages! I lost even more money thanks to that.

The Exceptions

Of course there are always exceptions to every rule. If you have a client who’s come to you for several jobs and then asks for a discount because their client is cheap, or they’ve fallen on hard times, by all means do it if you can afford it. There’s no reason to be nasty about money, but remember you’re a professional business, therefor you need to stand up like one.

Your Turn

Have you ever had a problem with “discount clients?” What happened?