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I have had it up to here...with waiting to be paid by my clients...is it unreasonable to expect payment in under 8 weeks?

(34 Posts)
hattyyellow Fri 15-Aug-08 10:29:37

Every month I invoice my clients on the last day of the month.

Every contract I have done has been for a small team, where they have asked me to work exclusively for them. I work 3 days and they are fully aware that this isn't just pin money, but over half our monthly income. I'm just a one woman band doing my old job freelance, not some huge consultancy who can afford to wait for payment.

My husband and I both currently work 3 days each as the childcare costs for our twins don't make sense to pay for care every day.

Every month I have to wait 8-9 weeks to get paid. Every month we end up maxing our overdraft and using credit cards to pay childcare and food. We're not extravagant and if we got paid even roughly monthly we could cope. Dh is self-employed too and gets paid erratically which doesn't help!

I'm so sick of chasing payment. Is it just me? Is there a magic trick? A friend advised me to put "payment within 14 days would be greatly appreciated" on my invoices. I feel like I may as well write "please feel free to work the pants off me whilst not bothering to pay me and my children quietly starve".

I think we're going to have to cancel our holiday. We were just going for a few nights away in the UK to have a break, but unless I get paid we can't afford the deposit.

Sorry, am pregnant and emotional. Where are those deep breathing exercises from the midwife..

Jux Fri 15-Aug-08 10:53:32

Didn't John Major bring in some legislation that self-employed/small businesses should be paid within 60 days? It's a long time ago, I know, but made some difference to me as I was just starting out. (Some people still took 3 - 6 months to pay me though.)

Do you put your payment terms on your invoices? You know, "Payment: on receipt of invoice" or something. That can make a difference if you draw your attention to it.

WideWebWitch Fri 15-Aug-08 11:03:12

What do you agree upfront with your clients re payment? There's no reason why you shouldn't (with new clients OR existing ones) say "I invoice at the end of the week and my terms are 7 days.

Are they large companies you work for or smaller ones? If smaller it should be easier to negotiate this. If you've done the work you should be paid. There is no reason for them to keep you waiting this long and they are taking the piss frankly.

If it;'s a big company who sets terms? Procurement? Finance? Or do they accept diff terms for different suppliers? What needs to happen to get an invoice paid, is there a purchase order than has to be matched or a receipt or what?

Tell me more but you are not being unreasonable and your clients should not be putting you in this position.

hattyyellow Fri 15-Aug-08 11:09:02

Cheers all.

It's small organisations I'm working with - the project manager sits next to the finance person who deals with all invoices! It's hardly a massive hassle to pass the invoice in. They all also use a number of freelancers so they should be used to dealing with us.

I'm not sure they could cope with weekly invoicing if they are so rubbish at monthly ones!

I agree with them that I will be paid monthly and that I will invoice them on the last day of the month for the previous month's work. I've completed all the work I've been asked to do and have also paid out for extra nursery sessions for DD's when extra work has been needed.

I'm particulary cross as my current client had a long rant at me when I started with them about how their freelancers must only work for them and I agreed this. And I've just been ranted at about providing an update report for the organisation which I am helping them provide work for "they need to know what we are paying you for as they are paying us"...err apart from you're not actually paying me with any of that cash...

Cappuccino Fri 15-Aug-08 11:12:00

I worked for a company like this and the only way I could survive was to use money from savings as my 'wage' and replace it when they paid me

not a lot of help to you I know

eventually they did pay me but it was a waiting game

I don't work for them anymore wink

snowleopard Fri 15-Aug-08 11:20:51

It is a right pain hatty, and I know how you feel. I know how much money I've got coming in and it should all be fine as I'm not badly paid, but i'm always going to the bank and shifting money between accounts and sorting out overdrafts because of late payers. The fact is companies think of their freelancers' pay and non-urgent and non-important because you are just one person and have little leverage - even when personally, they appreciate you and want to use you.

There is a late payment act that lets you claim compensation and interest on late payments, - sorry HTH now but google it, there's lots of help online - and when I've done it it's worked brilliantly - cheque the next day - but of course te downside is you might piss off your client. i have one very regular long-term client (besides a variety of others) and tbh I wouldn't use it on them in case it damaged the relationship. In this case I would ask for a meeting with them and explain you can't go on this way as you need a reliable income. Explain that as you are working for them only, they need to treat you well as you have no other clients to tide you over.

Meanwhile I would look at getting other non-exclusive clients and gradually getting into a situation where you don't have to depend on them. AFAIK if unless you're signing an exclusive contract, if you're feully freelance they can't dictate that you don't work for anyone else - but check this out.

WideWebWitch Fri 15-Aug-08 11:30:59

I thionk you need to bring it up with the person that approves the invoice then AND with the finance person.

You can be v professional about it and say "this is the situation. I wait x to be paid and it costs me X in interest (don't give details). Under the relevant legislation I can claim £xxxx but I'd rather you just paid me to terms. The other option is that I consider putting my prices up considerably to cover the cost of doing business with you.

And DEF get some other work and STUFF them asking you to be exclusive, not on to ask that of a freelance/contractor imo.

hattyyellow Fri 15-Aug-08 11:47:13

Cheers all, this is so so helpful. I chased again at start of week but am looking at a huge nursery bill that needs paying due to me agreeing to do extra work last month. I haven't been paid since mid-June for May work and things are getting difficult. It's so reassuring to know I'm not the only one!

I'm pathetically nervous about rocking the boat because (a) my boss at this new client is a bullying nasty piece of work who got fired for bullying from his last job sad and (b) dh is launching a new business next month so we have money pouring out of our accounts all over the place.

(For those of you who kindly helped me with a thread a while back, DH is starting his new clinic to provide physio, he's been given the contract to provide all physio to the local council so that swung it for us as it's some guaranteed income/patient numbers)

But you're right, it's our money and we're entitled to it.

I've actually e-mailed some old clients this morning, one of whom mentioned one day a week potential work in the autumn and the other is a lovely old boss who's always been a pleasure to work with and has put a lot of work my way. Hopefully I can quit the contract and find something else.

Not being paid, plus working for vile people really isn't a good combination is it! Particulary whilst pregnant sad

WideWebWitch Fri 15-Aug-08 11:49:08

Poor you and what fuckers they sound. I'd be LIVID if I hadn't been paid for MAY, it's bloody AUGUST! I would look for something else.

Cappuccino Fri 15-Aug-08 11:52:50

I don't understand tho how they can force you to be exclusive

I remember something dim in the back of my head from some business info saying that if you were working freelance you could technically employ someone else to do the contract for you

the point is you aren't employed by them, are you? they pay you to provide a service, and techically you could send your equally-qualified colleague in one Tuesday instead of you

I think

this is prob cobblers mind; I don't take a lot of notice of important things

hattyyellow Fri 15-Aug-08 12:42:14

Cheers girls, they haven't forced me to be exclusive - they just requested it and as they wanted 3 days per week and that's the maximum I can work I agreed.

They paid me for May in late June, sorry bad structuring. But I haven't recieved June payment yet and have no idea when they plan to do July.

Have just e-mailed again and will mention it on phone again later today. It's really good money which was my main interest in taking it, but I don't know if it's worth this amount of stress.

So how promptly do you all get paid? Do you invoice monthly for ongoing clients? Or does the spread of clients help balance the books?

WideWebWitch Fri 15-Aug-08 12:45:37

I work through an umbrella company so my timesheet is signed on a Friday and emailed to the agency, I create an invoice via an umbrella company on each Friday (MUST DO IT IN A MINUTE! have spent too long buggering about on here!) and I am paid on the tues following via BACS.

So for eg this week, I will logon and enter my timesheet in a minute, and the money will be in my bank account, cleared by 26th August.

Earlybird Fri 15-Aug-08 13:14:25

When you chase for the money, who do you speak to? How do they explain/justify the delay? Though there is no excuse that would be acceptable....

hattyyellow Fri 15-Aug-08 14:06:55

What bliss to have a date for payment waterwitch*!

*earlybird
I chase up the project manager who is my boss, when I ask for payment.

Following my e-mail today the finance director has replied to say payment has been sent today.

Hurrah! I have kept up the momentum by replying to thank and explain that as I have been set back by late payment for June, I would like payment for July as soon as possible to compensate and would like a date for July payment by the end of the day.

Thank you all so much for the moral support! I was giving them a month before I chased up, but I now think I'll start chasing up after a fortnight and then every week after that until I get paid - if they get pissed off, so be it. <firm and resolute emoticon>

girlnextdoor Sun 17-Aug-08 17:38:59

It's quite simple- all you do is put on your invoice- "to be settled within 28 days"- this is the standard time, but you could put 7 days, 14 days, or whatever.

You may even want to think about slapping on a late payment charge- like BT does!!!

alternatively, ask for 50% upfront and rest paid on completion, with 7-28 days.

moocowmrs Sun 17-Aug-08 17:48:57

Is it a government organisation you are working for eg nhs or council ? has they have targets to reach for paying their invoices within 30 days.

When I used to pay consultant type invoices they where often within 7 days and they would ring on day 8 to see where the money was.

nancy75 Sun 17-Aug-08 17:52:54

my dad has his own company and after years of chasing long overdue payments he added payment to be made within 14 days of completion of works. failure to pay within 14 day will incure a penalty of 5% of the invoice amount.
it took a while and he did actually re invoice some companies in the begining with the extra added (he took it off again as goodwill the first time) now he gets his money when its due.

hattyyellow Mon 18-Aug-08 11:09:30

Cheers everyone, this is all really helpful. I started off last year requesting payment in 28 days on my invoices and now have changed that in the last few months to payment within 14 days - doesn't seem to make a blind bit of notice!

I do like the 5% charge for late payment..think it might seriously piss off my clients though..

elkiedee Mon 18-Aug-08 13:00:44

I think that you need to risk annoying this client - if you don't, you can't afford to work for them anyway. You shouldn't be paying to work for them.

Particularly if they're asking for exclusivity, I think you should be asking for payment on much shorter timescales. Like weekly.

snowleopard Mon 18-Aug-08 13:08:53

Lol at "It's quite simple!" - sorry girlnextdoor! I have Terms: 30 days on my invoices, have done for ever; it doesn't work.

I would say on average I get paid within 60-90 days but there are always a few every year that go awol and I have to chase and chase them. At the moment I still haven't been paid for one invoice for over a grand that I issued in April, and that's entirely normal. The latest ever was 18 months and it only got paid when I used the Late Payment Act and charged compensation and a big pile of interest. A very few clients - usually small ones - pay promptly within 30 days.

I'd think twice before dumping this client, because you probably won't get much better behaviour elsewhere! But I do think you should be able to have multiple clients and I'd try to work towards that.

girlnextdoor Mon 18-Aug-08 15:04:57

snowleopard read Nancy75s answer- it is the same as mine.
You have terms, then you have extra payment due for late payment, then if not paid you use the small claims court. You give them deadlines and mean it- and also maybe ask for % paid upfront. It works- I know, I do it!

girlnextdoor Mon 18-Aug-08 15:07:07

hatty you are being too kind to them and too selfless- you are running a business not a charity. The choice is theirs whether to be pissed off or not-if they pay on time they won't incur late payment charges- their choice.

snowleopard Mon 18-Aug-08 15:53:04

Hmm maybe it depends a bit on your business gnd - I know I can use the law to make them pay, and I've done it, but I also have to be careful not to annoy clients and get a reputation for being difficult (even though I would be completely in the right to enforce payment). And for almost every invoice it would be a hell of a lot of admin...

traceybath Mon 18-Aug-08 16:07:41

i think that lots of businesses are finding it tough at the moment and cash flow is a real issue.

they therefore pay whoever shouts loudest! i'd definitely be chasing all the time because you don't want to end up not getting paid at all - do you know how the company is doing?

traceybath Mon 18-Aug-08 16:08:18

oh and perhaps worth invoicing more often - even weekly?

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