Dumping Clients | Contractor Asks Our Advice

Dumping Clients

Dumping Clients


A contractor has asked for our advice on dumping clients.

The client added extra complexity when I was not looking and now it is way over budget. I would like to dump them. Would Professional Insurance cover it if they sued us?

Website Upgrades


During a quiet time, we accepted a job from a supposedly friendly client, to do some upgrades to his website, a website we built 3 years ago.

The Website is generated from a spreadsheet of products (CSV), with menu nesting down to 5 levels.

The original program was already very complex.

At a meeting the client requested a series of amendments which we time-quoted for.

I requested that the client supply a new sample spreadsheet, so that we could begin development.

While I was busy on a different project, the client slipped a new level of complexity into the proposal.

I started to do the implementation but for the first time in my career even though I’ve gone vastly over budget, I don’t think I can get it to work, and even if I can, in any case I can’t see an end to the project.

I want my business partner to cut our losses and send the cheque back.


Could we be exposing ourselves to legal consequences?

Is this the kind of thing Professional Insurance would cover?

Dr. McLaughlin’s Contractor Surgery Reply

Did you agree the new level of complexity?

How did they just ‘slip it into the proposal’?

Surely you would have to agree it?

Did you? If you did it is your problem.

If you did not then you only have to implement what you agreed – without the ‘new level of complexity’.

Change Control

For the future you would be best to have a better Change Control system in place. It’s easier than dumping clients.

I do hope you did document what you agreed with the client.

If you did, then you can just deliver what you agreed, otherwise you may be in more trouble.

I would say that the first step would be to appeal to their better nature by saying that there is more in there than you and they agreed.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

I doubt if you would be able to just walk away from it. Dumping clients isn’t so easy if you agreed to do the work.

After all this happens to companies all the time, big and small, and they just have to grin and bear it.

You could walk away, but you would be taking a big risk. They could, potentially sue you as you haven’t even delivered what you both agreed was agreed.

I doubt if any Professional Insurance would protect you from projects going over budget because of a poor Change Control system and projects taking longer than budgeted – otherwise they would be paying out every day of the week.

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  1. The fact that you asked if you insurance would cover it indicates that you already know that they would not. PI insurance covers your negligence *not* your deliberate reneging on a deal.

    However – you *may* be in the position of the guy with a million pound loan. *They* have a problem. They might sue you, but it will take ages and they still won’t have a working system. Start negotiating.

    Point out that it’s taking much more than planned; you have to keep feeding the kids; and it can no longer be your top priority.

    You are not reneging on the deal; but it may well take substantially longer to complete…


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