Charity Work in Costa Rica, for a Gringo

I should warn you up front that this is NOT about the many charitable organizations doing good work for the people of this country. Instead, it is about ME and some charity work I did for a gringo. I didn’t THINK it was going to be charity work when I did it, but that’s how it turned out. Before we go any further, let’s look at the video I did.

I don’t like to pat myself on the back too much, but I think it is a pretty well done video. I want to point out that it was not I who solicited the job, but that I was asked by the person who owns the business to do a video to promote his projects, of which there are several.

I was a little wary even at the start, because there were no real specifications or guidelines, other than he wanted something impressive, something that would make people stop and take notice. But we agreed on a very reasonable rate and I began to run ideas past him and put together some test videos for him to look at and (hopefully) get an idea of what he wanted.

We exchanged dozens of emails and the ‘script’ was changed (by him) dozens of times. It was very difficult to get him to make a decision, and he seemed to be rather secretive about just how he intended to use the video. I was working blindly in a lot of ways, but eventually after weeks and weeks of work we came up with something he found acceptable. Great, I thought to myself. I put together an invoice that actually under counted the hours I had put into the project, because even though the reason the video took so many hours to produce was due to lack of guidance and all of the work I did when he kept changing his mind, I didn’t want to charge him that much. I gave him a break, I thought.

When he finally responded to my invoice, he expressed outrage at how much I was asking, which came to around $1000. He thought the figure was ridiculous and accused me of trying to take advantage of him. I explained that he had agreed to my (very reasonable) hourly charge, and documented all the work I had done. His response was to deny that he had agreed to my quite modest rate. I sent him back his emails where he agreed to the rate, and he backed off on that claim, but still thought it was too much.

I am a realistic person. I know that I have no way to force him to pay what he agreed to, so I told him to set his own figure. He said about half of my figure was fair in his eyes. Well, I told him, alright, pay me that and I won’t bother you again. I sent reminders about once a month for a few months, till finally I put it point blank and asked him if he intended to pay me. He said money was tight and he couldn’t afford to pay me right then. I told him I was flexible, and he could pay me a little every month. He ignored this suggestion until I finally told him to set ANY price he liked and just pay me that. ANY PRICE HE LIKED. His reply was that he didn’t have the money.

I can’t speak for you, but if somebody tells me he doesn’t have enough money to pay ANYTHING, it means he has no money at all, OR it means he simply has no intention of paying anything. Perhaps he is indeed penniless. In which case, I encourage you to visit his web site and offer to help the poor guy out. You can find him and his company at and

By the way, if you have some video or audio work you’d like done, my rates are quite reasonable. But I hope you will excuse me if I ask for a deposit in advance.

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  1. michael alan says:

    I'm SOoooo over these types of guys….and believe me, I know him, not 'him' specifically, but yeah, I know the type of 'him'. Like I want to buy a house, sorry, 'casita' from a guy dishonest of the true reason as to why he either can't or won't pay…. and trying to make you his rationale.. You are toooo NICE. I got a couple ideas for some blog posts of my own…… the power of keywords is truly remarkable. 😉 btw- nice video.

  2. Janet Wright says:

    Gorgeous video, and would have been worth what you charged. Now I know of one more person to avoid in Costa Rica. I am so sorry that you got burned, but you did a beautiful job and did a lot of people a good service by posting it in spite of his non-payment. Just remember – karma can be a bitch. He will get what he deserves and so will you.

  3. Jim Sanders says:

    Does this guy use the video?
    If so, and if you copyright your work, You might
    be able to go after him under international
    copyright laws.
    You might consider putting a mechanic,s lien
    against his business.
    I'm getting ready to foreclose on a guy that bought one
    of my orchards so I can appreciate what you're going
    Good luck,
    Jim Sanders
    still in California…..

  4. Serves you right. Enjoy your bad karma for badmouthing Costa Rica.