Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

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tepples
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Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by tepples » Tue May 23, 2017 4:59 am

Recently I received an offer to program a very simple NES tech demo for €20. The work described in the requirements was roughly the same complexity as the "Blob Ball" minigame from Tengen's Klax. I replied that I would need more money because that much money would barely buy enough time to spin up a new copy of nrom-template and draw tiles for the background and sprites. I counter-offered €80 for a tested and documented program, at €40 per hour for two hours. (I expressed it in euros rather than U.S. dollars to attempt to meet the prospective client halfway.) The prospective client tried to haggle me down to €40, and I replied that the program would not be complete but there would be pseudocode (with links to Wikipedia's articles about pseudocode in both English and the prospective client's native language) to allow anyone who knows 6502 assembly to complete the work.

But in this post, Punch wrote:
"Protip to the OP: PAYPAL ONRY! (or whatever site your programmer agrees to accept money from)"

When I asked in an IRC channel how to express politely that €20-€40 isn't enough for custom programming work, one user recommended a wire transfer instead of PayPal because it was so hard for a PayPal seller to win a purchase protection claim. The two grounds for such a claim are "item not received" and "significantly not as described". PayPal's user agreement defines the latter to include "The item is missing major parts or features and those facts were not disclosed in the description of the item when you bought it." Particularly the pseudocode part is likely to be seen as "significantly not as described".

What should a contract programmer do in advance to protect himself from PayPal purchase protection claims? PayPal also has a seller protection policy, but only for physical goods shipped through a carrier offering delivery confirmation, not services, and not for "significantly not as described". Or what other payment method is suitable for payments of this scale (less than 100 euros, British pounds, or U.S. dollars) without adding the $25 fee of an international wire transfer (source)? If "Bitcoin", then how to find a reputable exchange for me and for my prospective client and not look like the ransomware purveyors in the news recently?

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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by FrankenGraphics » Tue May 23, 2017 5:17 am

You couldperhaps formulate a contract which states that what is paid for is the service of 2 hours of coding, rather than the program itself.
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gauauu
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by gauauu » Tue May 23, 2017 7:10 am

This isn't the answer you're looking for, but my answer is: don't do business with someone that you don't have reason to believe you can trust.

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rainwarrior
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by rainwarrior » Tue May 23, 2017 2:44 pm

Aside from dueing some dilligence to figure out whether your prospective partner is likely to pay you for your work, the main thing I'd suggest is to write an actual contract with all the requirements in it.

Be very specific with the requirements, and don't let them be vague. If they want to change something later, if it's outside the contract they must re-negotiate. Writing a good contract is actually difficult, and you should probably expect to make mistakes while you're learning (...and those mistakes will cost you time and money). If they don't know what they want, it will be difficult to satisfy them: nail those ideas down before you agree to them.

If you're being paid by PayPal, be sure to attach the contract to the invoice.


IMO, just the labour involved in writing a proper contract is worth more than €20. I probably wouldn't even be willing to consider such an offer.

There are things like Fiverr though that seem to facilitate small jobs and transactions, though, I think they get around this by keeping the stakes small enough that people pay up front and they can side with the seller in most disputes. (By the way, there aren't really standards for whether contract work should be paid up front, after the work, half and half, etc. this is generally a negotiable item.)

Whenever someone asks me to do NES work for them, my first question is: "What's your budget?"

FrankenGraphics wrote:You couldperhaps formulate a contract which states that what is paid for is the service of 2 hours of coding, rather than the program itself.
I wouldn't really recommend charging by the hour. You should estimate how long it will take for yourself, and that may factor into the price, but your time is not really what the customer wants directly. If you finish early, are you cheating them? If you take longer, should they pay you more? They wanted the result, not for you to spend a specific amount of time. (There are contract situations where selling units of your time is appropriate, but this probably isn't one of them.)

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tokumaru
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by tokumaru » Tue May 23, 2017 3:41 pm

rainwarrior wrote:IMO, just the labour involved in writing a proper contract is worth more than €20.
I guess some people don't understand the difference between paying for a copy of something being sold to the general public and paying for software customized specially for them.

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whicker
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by whicker » Tue May 23, 2017 6:58 pm

tepples:

I hope you don't find this odd when I say your work is worth more than what is being offered.
At my workplace I've been advised by those that deal with the haggling daily: Don't ever quote "number of hours", just give an expected completion date.
As rainwarrior also said, just have a basic single line-item called "programming" and charge accordingly. Adding any more information only causes ridiculously frustrating negotiation.

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Myask
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by Myask » Tue May 23, 2017 8:02 pm

^^^ Sounds like you know what you're talking about! I'm sure Tepples is
tokumaru wrote:
rainwarrior wrote:IMO, just the labour involved in writing a proper contract is worth more than €20.
I guess some people don't understand the difference between paying for a copy of something being sold to the general public and paying for software customized specially for them.
In the age of digital distribution, the costs per-copy are practically nil after that first one…which requires all that labor to produce.

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infiniteneslives
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by infiniteneslives » Tue May 23, 2017 11:02 pm

It's rather easy, just use payment between friends option. You forgo the fees and all the protections that those fees are paying for. You can't claim buyer protection for payment between friends. If you're worried about it being an issue, prob sounds like something not worth taking on though..
If you're gonna play the Game Boy, you gotta learn to play it right. -Kenny Rogers

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Sumez
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by Sumez » Wed May 24, 2017 12:52 am

I hope this is purely theoretical and you're not seriously considering going into a deal with someone you don't even know or trust, for a two hour €80 deal.

While I recognize that €80 is obviously more to some people than others - for a professional contract, it's simply not worth it.

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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by FrankenGraphics » Wed May 24, 2017 1:41 am

rainwarrior wrote:I wouldn't really recommend charging by the hour.
You're right. That wasn't thought through to include a time factor as the base of the service.
http://www.frankengraphics.com - personal NES blog

Bratwurst
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by Bratwurst » Wed May 24, 2017 5:54 am

infiniteneslives wrote:It's rather easy, just use payment between friends option. You forgo the fees and all the protections that those fees are paying for. You can't claim buyer protection for payment between friends. If you're worried about it being an issue, prob sounds like something not worth taking on though..
This. But I'd also say it sounds like whoever is trying to contract you has no appreciation of the work/skillset involved and has no business haggling you down from €80.

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Zutano
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Re: Planning for PayPal disputes as a contract programmer

Post by Zutano » Wed May 24, 2017 10:07 am

Refer him to me, I'll quote him €150 for the same job. He'll surely come running back, willing to take your price of €80 :wink:
http://zutanogames.com/ <-- my dev blog

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