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Is there ANYTHING that can be done about persistent bad payer?

(9 Posts)
madamez Mon 16-Jun-08 20:20:07

I work in a specialised area and there are basically only about 4 companies who I can work for. One of these companies has now bought out one of the others - unfortunately the buyers are horrible, horrible bad payers and always have been - they lose invoices, change the payment dates, the person who signs the cheque 'is in a bad mood today/on holiday' etc. The company has changed hands about 4 times now and the 'new' owners claimed that there would not be any problems after the first late-payment-that-took-3-phone-calls-to-obtain. But what a surprise, the following month's money was late too (3 phonecalls) and so has this month's payment been.
I can't really afford to refuse to work for them any more because of the specialist nature of the work (and they pay a reasonable rate when they do pay up). It's just so miserably stressful every month, waiting for the payment - they should pay on the 10th according to their written terms and conditions, and my rent is due on the 16th, so I always have this agonzing few days of repeated phone calls and promises and it's making me feel quite ill. If I threaten to charge them for late payment, can I make it stick legally? Has anyone else ever managed to get a company like this to behave decently?

sophiewd Mon 16-Jun-08 20:23:11

Yes, I think you can, a lot of the invoices I get have late payment fees if the invoices haven't been paid by 7 days after receipt.

whomovedmychocolate Mon 16-Jun-08 20:23:53

You say there are only four companies you can work for - do they have the same limited choices? If so, I'd be very tempted to put my price up for the problem customer and use the extra money to compensate for the late payment in terms of cashflow.

We have different terms for various customers. The good ones we give 30 days, the bad ones, seven days. And we are fecking annoying if anyone is late paying. I've even turned up at someones office to helpfully pick up the payment because they were so obviously busy.

But I'm afraid it's the lot of the small business and the self employed. Everyone pays as late as possible.

You can of course provide a cosmetic discount - a bit like parking tickets - ie bills paid within 30 days receive a 20% discount (of an inflated bill).

madamez Mon 16-Jun-08 21:15:47

Unfortunately they wouldn't turn a hair if I stopped working for them - there are other people who could do what I do (basically I am a writer and these companies are publishers of magazines on a specialist subject). And they set the rate of pay, as well.
I simply cannot afford to stop working for them altogether - I cannot turn down any work just now. I am tempted to threaten them with late payment charges though, and see if that makes any difference - yet I worry that they will just suddenly 'not need any more work from' me...

JoDivine Tue 17-Jun-08 13:34:14

I think the only thing you can do in your situation is either dump them - but as you say that would be difficult/financial suicide - or try and build up a cash buffer so that you are not desperate for their cash. If you plan for them paying you 60 days late, then when it happens, it isn't an emergency.

If you try and charge them late fees, they will likely laugh at you, I suspect.

Have you considered broadening the scope of what you write on? It is so easy to think "I can only write on subject ABC" when there may well be a ton of other things you can do.

Hopefully these Dilbert cartoons will make you smile one here and another here ... you certainly are not alone in being treated this way sad

madamez Tue 17-Jun-08 14:59:45

Thanks for the cartoons anyway Jo - had forgotten how much I love Dilbert.
THe trouble is, the bastards lie and say they will put through a BACS transfer and then it doesn't go through and my rent bounces and it costs me £38 angry - still, at least I found out today that rather than paying the letting company with my debit card (for which they charge me an extra £23 and then lose the payment so the landlord goes ballistic) I was at least able to put the money from my bank account directly into letting agent's, with correct reference number, so hopefuly that will work.

Flufffy Thu 03-Jul-08 21:30:02

Have a read.

This might help you.

quickdrawmcgraw Thu 10-Jul-08 21:07:46

What I do is get my neighbour (who is fortunately a kick ass business woman) to ring as my 'accountant' and tell them sharply what they owe me and tell them she will be sending a courier round to collect the cheque at 5 that evening and to have it ready.
After months of me unsuccessfully pleading, she has the money for me the following morning. grin

Always invoice with a note at the bottom of the invoice about late fees at x% per day after 30 days.

YerMaw Thu 10-Jul-08 21:31:34

You are legally entitled to charge interest. Details here

State clearly on the invoice your payment terms and that interest will be charged if the payment is late and then make sure you charge it. It probably won't light a fire under them, but it might cover your charges.

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