Technology

Disgruntled web developer hacks website to try to get $3000 payment

Renee Thompson /

A disgruntled website developer is believed to be behind a website hack that occurred on the website of electricity and gas comparison site GoSwitch.

According to Mumbrella, visitors to the comparison site’s homepage on Wednesday morning were greeted with a banner ad saying ‘Pay Up Jamie’, which appears to be a reference to founder of digital agency DCODR Jamie Silver.

The GoSwitch site was emblazoned with the words “Jamie at DCODR didn’t pay the developer of the site and has an outstanding balance of $2975.00”.

A music video for the song ‘Bit*h Betta Have My Money’ by pop singer Rihanna was also added to the site.

DCODR’s website lists Go Switch as one of its clients along with Chris’ Dips, Need It Now and the Victoria Racing Club.

Mumbrella reports a red banner with the words “until the outstanding balance is paid in full the intellectual property that powers this site is being stolen” also appeared.

Craig Reardon, founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, told SmartCompany this morning GoSwitch’s web developer has used its power to get a message across in a very public way.

“The polite thing to do would be to take the site down and say the site is unavailable,” he says.

Reardon says he has heard of SMEs using different “embarrassment techniques” to highlight payment issues in their industries.

“I’ve heard of tradesmen going into shops and yelling about quality of food because it haven’t been paid,” he says.

“It’s a digital equivalent.”

Reardon says while he senses the web developer’s frustration, there are other approaches to expressing concerns over pay.

“There’s a bit of a culture of the rebellious young tech designer, but the industry is growing up a bit and has to put in pretty professional business practices.

“It’s tempting, but most of us would not do that.”

Reardon says from a business perspective, the public message probably just inflames the situation.

But questions also need to be asked of the business, Reardon says, because for web developers in most cases there are payments at various milestones in the development process.

“You have to look at the agency and say were payments enforced at those times,” he says.

“You have to say, how did it get to this stage? Everyone wants to be paid on time.”

Reardon says the best case scenario is the alleged non-payment is “cheeky” but it can also be seen as unprofessional.

“It’s at best cheeky, at worst it’s not a great look for them,” he says.

“You would have reservations about going with them knowing they could take this approach.”

SmartCompany contacted Jamie Silver, GoSwitch and DCODR but did not receive a response prior to publication. 

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Renee Thompson

Renee Thompson is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at Fairfax Media for the Bendigo Advertiser and at another regional Victorian media outlet.