You buy a shiny new car. You drive a lot. You don’t do scheduled maintenance, like recommended oil changes; you never check the tires. Time goes by and one day something sounds funny – whatever it is, something’s not working right anymore. It won’t crank or the battery’s dead or the clutch is sticking or the window won’t roll down all the way.
You take it to the shop. You explain the symptoms and say “I want you to fix it but I don’t think I should have to pay for it.”
The shop owner smiles at you in a highly amused fashion.
A client emailed me this week to talk about the CMS-based site I built for her in 2008. Something was wrong with her gallery – one of the images was now showing up on the wrong side. And there was a problem with the login.
This site has only been updated once since launch, when I did an hour of maintenance work and discovered that the CMS and many of the plugins were outdated. That was many months ago.
The client said “I want you to fix it but I don’t think I should have to pay for it.”
I, too, smiled in a highly amused fashion while replying to her email and explaining that I’d be happy to fix it and it would be billed at the normal hourly rate. I haven’t heard back, but that’s fine. I don’t do free maintenance for clients who don’t make any kind of effort to keep their sites up to date (and I do provide documentation on how to do that at the time of launch).