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I got burned by this as well. A very well known silicon valley company found me here, on HN (I solved one of their puzzles for fun). We agreed on a fixed-priced project. The project wasn't specced well, just a bunch of screen designs without describing exactly how they work. I kept asking for the specs, they always replied "yeah, coming soon, nothing to worry about!". I trusted them. Most of the screens were trivial, a few were complex. At first glance it all made sense. Started working, went through about a third of the project, till I got to one screen with some convoluted UI. It wouldn't work they thought it would, would require a massive redesign, lots of extra work affecting other parts of the app. I told them about it. At first they didn't believe. Then they agreed. Then they wanted me to do all the extra work as "in scope". I declined. Lost two weeks of pay.

Again, this was not some cheap and poor startup, a major company that just raised a ton of money with lots of tech media coverage.

In the end, it's my fault for not going through the exact UI logic on each of the designs, but it's easy to miss when there are 100 designs.

I wouldn't say it's your fault for not going through the exact UI logic, but more for not scoping the project properly from the beginning.

If there is a clear scope laid out in the initial contract it's more clear who is on the hook for anything outside the scope, and easier to recoup losses when the client fails to deliver the requirements properly.

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