Richard Bucker

Should Freelance Programmers Offer Warranties?

Posted at — May 11, 2012

I’m currently in the contract phase of negotiations with a potential new client. Every time I read the contract I see something new that I did not pick up on the previous time. It’s only two pages and yet I find myself skimming instead of reading. (and in case you’re interested, he reads my blog)What is challenging for me right now are the number of vectors of risk against the bottom line. It’s generally understood that everyone is going to disagree on the cost of a project, specially when it comes to cost per hour. And even if you cost the job instead of the labor; both parties are going to try to estimate. Of course there is the underlying incentive to work hard, shave time, and so on.And then I saw the clause referring to Warranties.Up until this point in my freelance career I had never offered a warranty. When the client took possession of the code they were obliged to test it and release me lock stock and barel… upon payment. But if there is an uncompensated warranty period it creates a potential burden beyond the development period and into other projects that might be ongoing.Warranties are like an insurance policy offered by the manufacturer. There is a embedded cost in every toaster that pays for the claims. Some of that money goes to major claims and others for self insured. But what is the right amount for freelance software?