I have a remote client that I'm contracted for adding new features to their training website. Half way through the project, my client notified me that some data was missing for a two month period (I was contracted during this period.) The client in question has very strict security policies. I am not allowed access to their servers or databases. One of their IT guys gave me a copy of their live database, so that's what I've been working with. I'm positive I'm not to blame, because I have no possible way to alter the live database, only my copy. My client is generally understanding, however, I feel that she doesn't understand the situation technically enough to see it wasn't my fault. How do I convey to her (without seeming more guilty) that it was not my fault?
In addition, they want me to recover any data that is in my copy, which partially has the missing data. This is outside the scope of the project. How do I approach my client for addition hours? I feel she thinks it is within the scope because she isn't sure who/what caused the data to disappear.
I value this client, and I hope to build a long term relationship, but I'm worried this situation will put that in jeopardy.
Any advice on how to best handle this situation?