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Always get your quote in writing

Monday, January 05, 2009

While I am ranting away I learned a valuable lesson this last week. Always ask for a quote in writing because you may be on a very different page than the contractor you are working with. Also, contracts are very good to have as well. A signed contract from a previous contractor saved me a couple of thousand dollars when he did not fulfill his end of the contract.

I got my quote over the phone. Big mistake. Big misunderstanding. He said he charged $20 an hour and I am like wow cheap but he did come with a reference.

I wanted him to move the cat tree on the left up a little, add a little to my css, add in a couple of boxes at the bottom of the page so I can put in specials. Nothing major. In my mind I am thinking 2 to 3 hours tops. He tells me I should convert from tables to divs and I say sure. He says to pull out the javascript and I say sure. Both seem very minor. Then I ask for a quote and he says he figures around twenty but if he goes over he will let me know.

I am thinking twenty DOLLARS and also thinking "Wow, that is really really cheap but if he can do all that in one hour more power to him. I think, he is probably quoting low and will probably end up calling me"....never ever imagining that someone would turn this into a twenty HOUR project. My whole website store took less than that. I could have taught myself CSS in that amount of time.

I get a bill for $400 and a page that looks like crap in ie6, with a style sheet not attached to the xml...just a lot of buggy stuff and because I was thinking $20 and once I get the basic layout I will beautify it into what I really want I get an ugly assed looking page too (my fault...he did say he wasn't an image guy). A contractor that can take a 3 hour project and turn it into a 20 hour one (actually 40 cause he said he spent 40 hours and was cutting me a deal and I could throw in some clothing to make it even!) ....well it can happen so get your quote in writing.

I do not think this contractor was cheating me. I honestly think he took 40 hours of his time to work on tweaking my front page. I do not think him a bad person. He just worked in a very different way than I do. I should have been suspicious when I got a long paragraph about how my facebook logo wasn't showing up and the reasons why and how it might be fixed and I am like dude, don't worry about that, it will show up once you are on my server. I think this contractor was overly diligent and slow as molasses because he was probably teaching himself along the way. Hence the cheap $20 an hour price tag.

IF I had gotten a quote in writing from him I would have realized that he intended to take 20 hours to tweak my front page and all the pain that followed could have been avoided. My bad. Lesson learned.

I just spent 5 hours learning some CSS and redid my page.

Here was our starting point:

Here is what I got from the contractor:
Really ugly in explorer 6 as is most everything

Here is my redo:

And now I know some CSS. :)

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