Client not paying - what to do?(10 Posts)
Never had this happen before. I finished the job last week, he said he was happy with the work, but stopped communicating with me when I tried to arrange payment.
Anyone been in this situation? Any suggestions about how to deal with it?
What terms of payment had you agreed? A lot of people expect 30 days, so it could just be that he doesn't think he has to do anything about it quite yet?
Thanks for the reply!
He has 30 days to pay, the problem is I can't send the invoice. We arranged for payment through Paypal, and he stopped contact when I asked if the address he used there was the same one he was emailing me from.
I do have a physical address, so if I don't hear from him I guess I'll have to use that.
I would send an invoice to the actual physical address rather than through paypal, signed delivery so he can't claim he didn't get it.
I would produce an invoice on the PC, and pdf it. Make sure you date it not today but when the job was finished, so that he has 30 days from then not from now.
Then attach the invoice to an email to the email address you know, make some comment about how his email appears to have problems at the moment so you are also sending it through the post. If you're near enough, I would hand deliver it if you think he may deny receiving it.
I have been in this situation and luckily managed to get all the money back in the end. Often, clients go a little shady or close-down comms with you when they're a little brassic. Not great for you, but unforytunately it happens from time to time. Have you firstly sent an invoice?
If not, then first things first, send one and outline your payment terms in that!
If you've sent the invoice, a polite email reminder to say that you've finished the agreed work, please let me know if you need another copy of the invoice so we can settle the bill. Absolutely do not do any more work for this client until it's settled (if there's any on-going work), and state that in the email. Offer them a get-out i.e. if you'd like to discuss alternative payment arrangements (two or three separate payments rather than one for example). If the client has an accounts dept. it may just be that they're not the people to be billing and as such, the invoice has just got lost in the business somewhere. Contact the company and ask for the accounts payable department or at least where to send invoices to.
In UK law we can charge an 8% interest rate on late payments but you will need to have stated this in the original agreements with your client. (Nice to know for the future though, as it can help!)
If you get no response in 3 working days (that's how long I think is fair) PHONE THEM and just ask if they've received your emails. Sometimes they just need a gentle nudge!
If after the payment date comes and goes, and you've heard nothing (and you've done all of what I suggest), you have a couple of choices: 1. Write it off if it's not that much money or 2. Call in a collection agency - they're not that expensive and although you'll have to give them a payment, so only worthwhile if it's a decent amount you're looking for.
In future (hoping that they pay), always, ALWAYS, always get a deposit from this client BEFORE starting any work.
HTH and good luck!
Thank you for all the advice! I had a feeling this was a good place to ask.
I've sent an invoice by email (he's a sole trader, so no accounts dept), and I'll give him 72 hours to respond. Then if I don't hear anything I'll send the same invoice by recorded delivery - he's in the UK but a different country to me so I can't drop it off. Hopefully he is having temporary cash flow problems, and will pay up.
Gem You're right about getting a deposit. I feel like such an idiot for not doing that. I can only say I've been very lucky in the past and clients have paid promptly - think that lulled me into a false sense of security
Always get your invoice out as soon as the work is finished. If you are a lone trader put this on your invoice at the bottom with a request for payment within 7 days. Some companies will only pay after 30 days but have special terms for lone traders, so put it there all the same. It's always useful to mention payment arrangements when you take on the job. Ask about their payment turnaround times. If they're a small company or a lone trader they are usually able to be more flexible. I sometimes ask for an upfront payment in return for a discount. Bear in mind there are some who don't want to pay, at least until they have to. Be vigorous and fearless in following up those who don't want to communicate once the job is done. They will respect you more for it if you don't let them mess you about.
Hi - I'm a freelance editor and have recently had the same problem with a puoblishing client. If you look at the Late Payment of Commercial Debts website - https://payontime.co.uk/late-payment-legislation-interest-calculators - it has lots of good advie. Hope you have been paid!
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