The Art of Conning Grandma: 5 Scams Website Agencies Use

The 12 Labors of Conning People Into Paying Stupid Money

1. “We actually need *more* money to build the CMS and back end coding”

This is how you change a heading. Wow so hard, please pay me $3,000

2. “It’ll take us 5 days to replace that section of text”

Like hell it will! It takes between 5 and 30 minutes, depending on the amount they have to copy and paste from your word document. This just means they don’t have enough staff to cover your project or can’t be bothered. If you’re paying by the day, this is an easy way to inflate their invoice.

There’s really no excuse for this fraud

3. We’ll need another $3,000 to cover the costs of updating the header image”

Uploading a new image, provided it’s not a massive mp4, is not even priceable

4. “The earliest we can update your blog post/ header/ profile picture is next Thursday, it takes time”

I’ll bet my second bonnet that the answer is they don’t have anyone covering your project until then. If you can, always work with one freelancer instead of an agency to avoid this crap. There is no conceivable reason that an agency will take over a day to change a picture, section of text or header, beyond the fact they’ve not got someone covering your project development.

NEVER accept lengthy delays for easy edits

5. “The CMS got broken!” “It caught a Fimble virus!”

If something ‘breaks’ be very, very suspicious

Bonus Round!

6. “Your video/image is too big so I can’t do nuffin’”

Yes you can kittens, shrink the MP4 size and get hot on it. They shouldn’t even be bothering you with things like this. It’s their job to get around problems.

7. “We weren’t expecting you not to like our first draft so that’s another $50,000 quid plus delays!”

Nope. It’s a given that clients are almost definitely not going to love your first concept. If they can’t work that into their deadline and work schedule, that’s on them, not you.

8. “Wahh, I had to spend all day redoing that section!”

Doubt it. If you can’t make a stock graphic a different colour, add a subheading or change sectional copy layout in under an hour you’re a total idiot and shouldn’t be charging your services.

9. “It’s not working for some reason. Not my problem”

You are paying them to understand it. They can inform you of a problem, but it should only ever be that they are working hard to fix it. It’s not on you to accept delays or answer what’s gone wrong.

10. “I figured I’d wait until our meeting next week to ask”

This is hands down the one that gets my blood boiling! If the delay is that they didn’t ask you a yes/no question seven days ago, no way should you be paying for seven days of them sitting dribbling in front of Netflix. If it can fit in an email, they should communicate with you efficiently. If it doesn’t, they can call. The apathy is just criminal.


In short, don’t let them see you coming. They are in business because you think coding is something smart people do, something you could never understand. You will be immediately read as an idiot to defraud if you’re a woman, elderly, or someone estranged from the tech world. I was in a project where a web agency didn’t even bother to speak to the woman managing the project, they just warbled CRM jargon to a random man because they just presumed she’d be reassured by the fact he understood it, and not question their delays (it backfired hilariously because she’s a digital specialist). Charities, in particular, often fall victim to this sort of thing because they don’t know what they are getting into.

If you can, always work with a freelancer.

They will want a good review from you because they’ll have a smaller potential clientele, they will want to give you more time to you and your project, they will want your product to look good in the end so they can put it in their portfolio, and they will have time to go through what you want without over delegating to an intern who hasn’t ever done website building in their life. You can also pick up a phone to a freelancer at any time without scheduling a meeting a week in advance with a snotty misogynist and his smirking team of overpaid wombles. My experience with freelancers has been overwhelmingly better than agencies, and I’ve overseen website development for scores of clients.



26 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store