HELP! My Web Developer is Holding My Website Hostage: What Can I Do?

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Holding My Website Hostage

Cropped image of tied up businessman sitting at the chair with dirty wall in the background

This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, please get in touch with a lawyer.

If you have ever had a web developer holding your website hostage, you know how frustrating it can be. They may ask for more money than you agreed to, or they may refuse to hand over the website and domain until you pay them in full. What can you do in this situation? Read on for advice on how to handle this unprofessional behaviour!

Holding My Website Hostage

As web developers and Digital Marketers, we see this scenario far too often. Part of the problem is that anyone can call themselves a web developer. There is no governing body or accreditation process to work in the industry. As a result, we’ve seen some “less than professional” behaviours when trying to extricate our clients from a bad situation.

Control Issues

Not having control of your domain can be a big problem. If you’re not careful, your web developer can hold your business hostage. They may threaten to delete your website or refuse to hand over the domain unless you pay them more. This is unprofessional and completely unacceptable behaviour.

Not only does this result in rebuilding a website, but you may also have to register a new domain. Which has the knock-on effect of putting you back at ground zero in terms of your SEO rank! It means reprinting business cards and stationary and updating all your marketing collateral.

What to Do?

If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do:

– First, try to reason with the web developer. If they are holding your website or domain hostage, explain that this is unprofessional and that you will be taking action if they do not release your property immediately.

– If reasoning does not work, send a formal cease and desist letter demanding that they release your website and domain immediately. You may want to consult with a lawyer before doing this.

– Finally, if all else fails, you can contact the hosting company and explain the situation. They may be able to help you get your website and domain back.

If your web developer is holding your website or domain hostage, the first thing you should do is try to negotiate with them. If they are demanding more money than you agreed to, see if you can reach an acceptable compromise for both of you. If they refuse to hand over the website or domain until you pay them in full, see if they will agree to release it to you for a partial payment. If you cannot agree with your web developer, your next step is to contact a lawyer. Explain the situation to them and ask for their advice on how to proceed.

No one deserves to be held hostage by their web developer! If you find yourself in this situation, take action and get the help you need to resolve it.

Tell-tale signs that you are working with a less-than-professional developer

  • registering everything in their name
  • not responding to requests promptly
  • giving you limited access permissions (not providing you admin-level access)
  • refusing to hand over control of the domain name
  • asking for more money than what was agreed upon
  • threatening to delete your website if you don’t pay them more money
  • holding your business hostage by not releasing the website or domain

These are all unprofessional and unacceptable behaviours that no client should put up with. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do:

What to do if you find you are working with an unstable or unprofessional developer

  • determine if you have access or control of your domain / your hosting environment / your website
  • Try and get admin-level access (see tips on how to do this)
  • make a copy of the website onto another server (just in case things go south)

Once you’ve established what you have control of, try to reason with the web developer.

Your last resort is legal action – in these scenarios, no one wins (except maybe the lawyers).

If they are holding your website or domain hostage, explain that this is unprofessional and that you will be taking action if they do not release your property immediately.

If reasoning does not work, send a formal cease and desist letter.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, please get in touch with a lawyer.