Unpaid Freelance Designers Take Over Website They Created

Unpaid Freelance Designers Take Over Website They Created

Designer turned Fitness SF website into PSA for freelancers after not receiving payment for redesign of the site

Daniela Walker
  • 18 february 2013

If you were looking to sign up online for a free pass to one of Fitness SF‘s four gyms on Friday, you would’ve been out of luck. In its stead was a letter by web developer Frank Jonen, who had been hired for a redesign, stating that after refusing to pay for his work, he was taking over the website.

The letter not only listed Jonen’s grievances but also became a Public Service Announcement on behalf of freelancers everywhere who may have had an invoice or two ignored. Reads the letter:

I am writing this on the behalf of the tens of thousands of freelancers and small businesses out there facing larger corporations who can afford to starve them out… What Fitness SF is trying here is exactly the same ploy. Give a barren advance, rake up a huge bill and ignore every invoice. Rush fees, heavy overtime and weekend work are expected to be free.¬†You don’t get to sleep for days on end, but you do get to wait on your money forever.

It’s people like this who cause company after company to go bankrupt.

An injury to one is an injury to all of us. We need to make a stand against crooks like this.

FitnessSF responded to the allegations, stating that Jonen never completed the work.

Frank was hired on May 16th, 2012 to develop a functional website for our brand. A $5,000 payment was made to him on the same date. In his proposal, he stated that the website would take 10 weeks to complete. He missed numerous deadlines including our brand launch in September. In December, he voluntarily passed the incomplete and non functioning website to our new design firm.

The homepage of Fitness SF has now been replaced, directing vistors to a new site.


Whosever version of events is correct, the sad truth is that time and time again, freelancers either get ignored, underpaid for their work or there are long delays between work delivered and payment received. Jonen, at the very least, brings the plight of the freelancer to a greater audience and you cannot fault him for that.

See the whole letter:


FitnessSF // Frank Jonen


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