Vagueness Creates Conflicting Expectations for IT Service Provision

Jake Posey's Employment Contracts Legal Blogs

Licensed for 14 years

Attorney in Austin, TX

Jake Posey

Serving Austin, TX

Small businesspeople who provide custom IT or other services regularly encounter situations in which their expectations do not match those of the customer. This is surprisingly common in industries such as web design, software development, and even artwork. They will make a claim such as “if you don’t like it, we’ll redo it,” with the thought that there may be one or two revisions before the job is considered done. Some customers, on the other hand, interpret that to mean, in a nutshell, “endless free updates” – and come back year after year to demand exactly that.

Another common issue surrounds the definition of the term “satisfaction.” When businesspeople and customers define it differently, there will inevitably be times when both end up feeling scammed. This problem arises when the term isn’t clearly defined in advance.

These scenarios may seem extreme, but they are actually common complaints among IT service providers and their customers. Attorney Jake Posey noted that the solution for both parties is to put all of the details of the hiring contract in writing and have both parties sign before work begins or money changes hands.

In it, the service provider should list how many revisions will be provided, the allowable scope of such revisions, over what timeframe they may be demanded, and if any ongoing updates are included in the base price. A limit on updates is especially important for any type of work where the product normally needs to be refreshed, such as web design and coding.

Finally, there should be a plain-English version of the contract included if the main part requires dense legal language. That way, people can’t legitimately complain later that they didn’t understand it.

All of this may seem a bit stiff to people who are used to setting up jobs over phone calls and handshakes. However, the benefits of having all of the details plainly delineated right from the start are well worth the initial formality.

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