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How to Get Deadbeat Clients to Pay Up

How to Get Deadbeat Clients to Pay Up

I’ve been in the freelance writing business for a while now, and I like to think that I’m somewhat of an operations expert when it comes to being a solo entrepreneur.

Right from the start, I set up a system for everything from quoting projects to handling contracts to invoicing and tracking client payments. And everything was going just swimmingly until the first time one of my clients didn’t pay up.

At first I was in denial. I kept thinking, “Oh, I bet she just missed the invoice.” My inbox gets pretty cluttered sometimes, too. But as I make the final edits on this post at noon on August 28, 2011, I have come to accept the fact that I will never see another single cent from that delinquent client. The invoice — a measly $60 in total — is now more than 150 days past due.

It’s a little disheartening to get stiffed like that. But I try to remind myself that my system must work pretty well if it’s only happened to me once in all my years of freelancing. Here are a few suggestions I have for dealing with your past due clients.

Get It In Writing

First of all, get a signed contract before you begin work on a project (especially if the client is unknown to you, but even if they’ve been recommended by a friends or colleague). In almost all situations, a written contract is a must.

Use an Invoicing System

I use an online invoicing service that automatically sends 30, 60, and 90 day past due notices to clients with outstanding balances. Only a few of my clients ever receive the 30 day notice, and those that do get it either pay immediately or contact me directly to let me know what’s going on.

Make Personal Contact

In addition to auto reminders from my invoicing service, I also attempt to reach clients with a short email or a phone call. I’ll say something like, “Hey, I noticed that you recently received a past due notice from me. Let me know if there’s a problem or if you think my records are wrong.”

Stop Working

For heaven’s sake, stop doing work for non-paying clients! Sometimes, clients will promise over and over that the check is in the mail, and you’ll want to believe them. That’s all fine and good, but don’t you dare start another project for them until that check has been received and it clears at the bank. After 60 days of non-payment, I suspend work on current and future projects, no exceptions. No client has ever had the gall to complain to about this policy.

I credit these practices for keeping my bookkeeping tasks from turning into a total nightmare. And although my outstanding payment record isn’t completely spotless, it is very manageable.

Remember not to lose your cool if you’re having trouble getting clients to pay invoices. It happens to all of us at some point, no matter how thorough, how diligent, or how convenient we make it for clients to pay. We can do our best to ensure these kinds of things don’t happen often, but we can never be 100 percent certain that it won’t happen to us at some point in our entrepreneurial careers.

Have you ever dealt with a deadbeat client? What did you do?

Image credit: turner890

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About Emily Suess

Emily Suess is a freelance writer in Indianapolis. She also blogs at Suess’s Pieces, home of Writers' Week and the 2012 Brave Little Blogger Contest. Read more about Emily.
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58 Comments on How to Get Deadbeat Clients to Pay Up

  1. Emily,
    These are all good tips – especially in this economy. I do have to say that calling customers that become past due deadbeats is something those of us in the credit and collection industry try to stay away from. It is just insulting and this client or customer may or may not be a deadbeat, but if they aren’t and might continue to do business with you – would still be a client or customer. I myself have fallen behind at times in my life and would not consider myself a deadbeat – just someone who struggled due to financial distress who did get back on my feet and am no longer a “deadbeat”. Though – there are some “career debtors” out there who obtain credit from you with the intention of not paying and that would be considered a deadbeat.

    • Good points, Michelle. I certainly don’t recommend making harassing phone calls to clients. As I mentioned in the post, however, sometimes just asking the client if they received the invoice is enough to spur them into action. Who knows? Maybe they aren’t getting the invoice after all! Technical glitches happen every day.

      It’s a delicate situation for sure. My list certainly isn’t all-inclusive, either. It’s just a starting point for those who struggle to collect payments to think about how they can handle invoicing more efficiently and effectively.

  2. I have an account that I could not call a deadbeat — they have always paid. But they pay very, very slowly. The procedure is pretty simple. I deliver the product and invoice. I wait until it is due. They don’t pay. I call my contact, he apologizes, and talks to the bookkeeper. Another week goes by, and I get no check. I call and talk to the bookkeeper myself, and he acts surprised that I didn’t get the check already, fiddles with the computer and tells me, “oops, it’s scheduled for the next run.” Which is in a couple of weeks.

    This is not a business that is struggling. Mine is. I really resent being the banker for a company that can afford to pay on time, but chooses not to.

    I recently changed the terms on this account from Net 30 to COD, and told them why I was doing so. I got a call from the owner — from whom I had never heard before — apologizing for the slow payment and promising to be more prompt in the future but asking for terms. I’m currently debating about extending them Net 10, just to see if he’s for real.

    They do a lot of business with me, and they do eventually pay, but it usually takes 60 to 90 days, and the product I deliver (fresh meat) is often pre-sold and out the door within 24 hours of delivery. Any advice?

    • Bill, that situation sounds excruciating. I really do believe that businesses should be diligent in paying their bills. Don’t they expect the same from their customers and clients?

      If it were me, I wouldn’t start a new project until the previous one was paid in full. I’d inform the client of your new policy and see if it doesn’t get them to move more quickly when it’s time to pay.

      Maybe you could simply state that your policy is changing for all clients–that way you could avoid pointing the finger?

      Every situation is so unique, but I hope you’ll find a viable solution.

      • Emily,
        I totally agree with you on this. As a Designer & Developer, I totally understand the pain our peers undergo. We can’t call everybody as a deadbeat because some of them may have genuine reasons to not make payments on time, but at the same time, I don’t support them. I just have one simple question.

        Let’s say we have built an e-commerce website with shopping cart for a client and this client ended up becoming a non-paying client who is making excuses for non-payment and has passed the due date of payment. When some customer of his places an order on his newly built website, does he ever ship even a single item without receiving payment in full for it? Absolutely not! Does he consider how broke or poor the customer is before sending out the items? Definitely not! Does he make an exception for at least 1 or 2 customers a day and let them pay for items after 60 days (unless that’s the original offer)? I bet that’s a 100% No!

        When all the answers to above questions are no, I don’t see any reason why the non-paying clients expect others to cope up with them and let them pay whenever they want to! For only true and genuine clients, I can think about adjustments and work-arounds, but for someone who is doing this for a rip-off, its a no no! If I am asking payment for the work that I did, then I am doing the right thing! If legal action is needed, that shall be taken to its full extent for recovery.

        Even we have our own bills to pay and living expenses to take care of. Sadly, these things wont wait just because we have non-paying customers. So I believe asking for payments (at least 50%) in advance would help circumvent such kind of situations. The rest of the payment could be made based upon milestones achieved. Do you think this could help us even better? What say?

  3. Hi Emily!
    You are right about “not losing your cool” — the link back to my rant on collections reminded me that none of those approaches was really very effective.

    Keep in mind, however, that filing a lawsuit is within your rights and can be effective for everything except maintaining customer loyalty! OK, you’re not going to small claims court over $60, but you might for $600 or $6000. A quick salvo from a lawyer (or even an email from you CC’d to a lawyer) can go a long way toward shaking a client’s money tree.

    Times are tight these days, and lots of people with nice cars and homes are still having problems paying small bills to vendors. I’m currently waiting 70 days on $800 from one guy. He’s not my favorite person anymore. But when I wrote to him to complain, I realized that I’d probably get “more flies with honey than with vinegar”, so my first few emails were polite, asking him to “help me settle the matter”.

    If it gets to 100 days… then I’ll try the lawyer trick!

    Thanks for the link, and best regards,
    David Worrell

    http://www.RockSolidFinance.com

    • Absolutely. If it gets to that point, business owners should seek legal advice in trying to collect–particularly for bigger invoices. Because of the costs associated with collections, it’s often a last resort. But sometimes it’s the only hope we as freelancers and small business owners have of ever recovering what we’re owed.

    • Sarah

      Hi I’m 24 years old and my boyfriend just inherited a small buisness that his father owned about a year ago. He died suddenly and we really have no idea what where doing. There in another company that owes us over 14k. They agreed to pay but never have and still to this day have not. Can I get some suggestions on how to handle this? We’d rather get some of the money and have a lawyer or collection agency(?im not sure if that even applies) deal with it because we have so much going on. Would really appreciate some feedback!

  4. I’m currently dealing with this as well. I have a real estate agent that owes me over $400. This is the second time that she has literally just disappeared from contact with me, for a month now. I am supposed to do about $225 of work a week for her, but I haven’t done any for 3 weeks now for a variety of reasons. Last time I talked to her was the first of August and she will be 30 days overdue on that invoice on the 9th. I also use a cloud based accounting system and it shows me when invoices have been viewed. She finally viewed it yesterday for the first time, so I’m hoping that means she will be cutting the check today since the person who pays her bills does so on Wednesdays. Its very frustrating, if I had the overhead it wouldn’t be a big deal…but as it is these things cause me to get behind on my bills as well. Since she has done this twice now I have no intention of doing any more work for her without a retainer.

    • The fact that she opened the invoice is a good sign. Not a guarantee, mind you, but a good sign. At least she can’t claim she never got the bill.

      I totally understand your frustration, and I think it’s good that you’ve put off doing more work for her. When clients disappear from contact for any length of time, I think that’s your cue to start looking for new gigs.

      Best of luck getting your accounts settled. I hope you get paid quickly!

  5. In the seven years of my web design business I have experienced “slow payers” several times. I agree with the points above and especially that a contract is a must. I have eventually been paid for every project. I recommend being patient with the client but staying in their thoughts. Some small businesses have cash flow issues. You are much more likely to get paid and might be able to cut in the line of other people waiting to be paid by being patient and keeping communications open. Being demanding or forceful probably wont help you or end well. Always keep a slow payer as a part of your cash flow planning this will allow you to be more patient and increase your changes of getting paid and salvaging your relationship and brand. Nothing worse than an unhappy client even if you are in the right.

    • I understand what you’re saying, but I still absolutely believe that when a bill is due, it’s due. No questions. Small business owners need to be responsible about what they’re are spending and taking in, and they need to be honest with the people they contract to do work.

      If you really love working with a particular small business that’s bad about paying bills, you’ll have to be very selective about the other clients you take on so that you don’t one day find yourself in the same situation.

  6. There’s a difference between slow payers and no-payers. Slow payers are just (intentionally-make no mistake) taking advantage of you because they can. You have to decide if the volume of business they represent is important enough to you to continue putting up with thier delinquent ways. And, if severing ties with them would damage your reputation with other clients. Best advice I can think of is alway keep it one hundred percent professional. Nothing personal, just establish policies and follow them dispassionately.

    No-payers, on the other hand, need to be identified as quickly as possible, and cut off immediately, as Emily has recommended. Again, the exploitation is intentional, and they will get away with it for exactly as long as you let them. Think nothing of filing a lien against someone, or entering a small claims action, for amounts that exceed the costs to do so. You deserve to get paid, and they need to get the message that they are legally required to honor contracts into which they entered.

  7. I can recall an instance in the business of a close relative of mine. He had one client who habitually let invoices stretch to 120 or 150 days. Eventually he got fed up, and made the decision to sever ties with them. Before telling them so, he pestered them to get one more set of cheques.

    After several weeks of badgering, they sent him a series of cheques to bring themselves current to 90 days. He threw the cheques in a drawer, waited a week, and called them back, telling them he had lost the cheques, and would they please put a stop payment on them, and issue him new cheques. Of course, they grumbled and groaned, and dragged their feet, but eventually, they sent a new set of cheques.

    He cashed them both.

    Well… they went nuts. They called him every name in the book. ‘But,’ he responded, ‘I did tell you to put a stop payment on the first set. If you had, I would have been unable to cash both sets.’ He knew they’d be too cheap to pay for the stop payment. They threatened him with legal action, but he knew they’d be too cheap to pay for that, too. And, after all, they owed him all that money, and more he never did collect. But, he got hisself some satisfaction out of it.

    :)

    • Ha! That’s the best deadbeat client story I’ve heard yet.

    • Alyssa Gregory

      Wow. I wonder if they changed their ways with other service providers after that experience…

  8. Anyone ever had any luck with charging a finance charge on overdue amounts?

    • I would suspect this would only fly if it had been included in the original contract.

  9. I realize if they’re not going to pay, they’re not going to pay, but if they’re just being slow about it perhaps the fact that it’s accruing interest would help change their minds?

    • Another good suggestion. I leave this verbiage off most of my invoices (because the overwhelming majority of my clients are excellent payers), but I do use it sometimes for brand new clients. I don’t really have enough evidence, though, to say whether that’s what motivates them to pay or whether they are just conscientious.

  10. I purposely set up my business model such that clients pay in advance for a monthly or quarterly service, just so I don’t have to deal with this issue.

    However, I know that doesn’t work for many freelance operations. I would like to suggest though, for those that are doing weekly or monthly work, if a client is consistently behind, but you want to keep them as a client…tell them you will continue to work for them but only if they pay upfront. They’ll grumble, but if you otherwise have a good relationship with them and they like your work, it’s a potential solution.

  11. Terri, you’ve reminded me of something else that works pretty well. I’ve experiment with payment milestones like the following as part of my contract:

    33% due to start the project
    33% due at the half-way point
    34% due at completion

    or

    50% due to start the project
    50% due at completion

    I tend to only use this for big projects like extensive website copy or books where the total is likely to be pretty high. Clients I’ve worked with on this model have never grumbled at all. In fact it’s probably easier to make these kinds of “installment” payments. Plus, payment milestones help make sure that everyone is invested in the project from start to finish.

    • Alyssa Gregory

      Definitely a good way to do it for some projects, Emily. Very common for web/graphic design work, especially when there is a all-inclusive cost.

  12. I am currently dealing with a dead beat. Now she doesn’t answer her phone or texts. last Time she replied, we told her as long as she pays as little as $25 Dollars a month (she owes us $1200), we won’t take her to collections. I’m Going to try the lawyer trick Because i know she travels to California and other States on “Business”. (She owns her own business). And I know she can get by with paying us what she owes us and be done with it. We have change our contracts because of it. So now we’re charging late fees.

  13. Curious as to what invoicing system you’re using.

    Great piece. Thanks!

  14. For our website clients, we require a deposit to start work – period. Which also acts as the kill fee if need be. But for copy projects, I’m often dealing with a corporation – and therefore, have to work in their system/timeframe and not my own.

    I will say this: No one should fear putting late fee, interest or other such clauses into their standard contract. Even for “paying” clients. If someone has an issue with this, they’re probably not worth wasting your time on. I always say to my clients, “Requiring a deposit up-front, and signing a contract that stipulates what happens if either of us (including me) doesn’t meet our contractual obligations, protects us both.”

    Because, you know what? It does! Just my two cents.

  15. I do have a standard late charge and a notice in my contracts that state service will be suspended at a specific point the client’s billing cycle. I also offer a referral incentive that is only applicable to clients whose accounts are current. This too is spelled out in the contract.

    I have to say the only clients I have ever had that failed to pay on time, who argued over my half hour minimum charges, etc are coaches. I did actually have one of them, who habitually ‘lost’ invoices send in a request for additional work as a reply to an email where I had attached all the overdue invoices. Then she emailed me five minutes later and said she didn’t have any copies of the past due invoices and was I actually sure I had mailed them?

    As a result, I no longer accept Life Coaches or Business coaches as clients. A number of the people I network with have had similar difficulties in getting paid for services rendered. While eliminating an entire client base from your target market might not be an option for everybody, it was the right solution for me. I found that the hours I was eating up trying to get payment sometimes outweighed the hours I had put into the project I was trying to get payment for with this particular type of client.

  16. Excellent topic! I totally agree that when an invoice is due it should be paid. A client who deserves understanding is one that at least communicates with you. I learned to research a prospect before accepting the contract. If it is someone who has worked online you will no doubt find some type of feedback on them.

    In the last 15 years I’ve learned to say no to a prospective client if i don’t have a signed agreement, a legal address, and a retainer for services. I use a payment plan option to encourage them to agree to a term contract and lock in a monthly retainer. This is a win win option. Client benefits by an awesome rate and i don’t worry about unpaid invoices.

    • Great point about verifying a legal address. That, combined with a signed agreement and a paid retainer could be the trifecta of getting paid on time!

  17. Having a signed contract with an initial deposit is. a must. If a client signs a contract and gives a deposit they are more likely to follow through EVERY time I have NOT done this, I’ve gotten screwed. I like the automated invoice suggestion.

    This s a frustrating issue as I’m dealing with a deadbeat now who has sent these nice rose scented emails promising payment only to cut off all further communication and ignore voice ails…personally there are times when I think the mob has the right idea about situations like this….

  18. Great article and advice, Emily! I agree 99% with your advice. The only thing I would change is that I wouldn’t wait 60 days to cease working for that client. My rule of thumb is 15 days. If the invoice is past due by 15 days, and the client hasn’t been in touch, I stop working, call the client to ‘nicely’ tell him/her that their payment is past due, and mention that I’ve moved on to other projects. When the client calls to protest, I gently remind him/her of our contract terms, and let him/her know that I’ll be happy to resume work just as soon as I receive the past due payment.

    My first client stiffed me to the tune of $700. After the fact, I ran a credit check and discovered, too late, that he had a habit of stiffing his vendors. I dragged him into small claims court and won the judgment by default (he didn’t show up for the court date). Before getting the sheriff to collect on the judgment, I emailed the client one last time, and when he heard that there was a warrant out on him for non-payment and a sheriff ready to serve the warrant, he paid up.

    My point is that some deadbeats are habitual non-payers, and they’ve become so because no one holds them accountable. It takes lots of time to get a deadbeat to pay up, but every time someone fails to go after a deadbeat that only reinforces their deadbeat ways, and they merrily move on to stiff someone else.

    =>Donna Caissie, the ExtraOrdinary Assistant

  19. Nicole

    Hi Emily! What advice do you have for freelancers who work outside of the United States? I have a new client who made a small down payment when I sent him the first few pages of the book I was ghostwriting for him and promised to send a payment for every few portions I sent. By the time I finished half of the project, I sent him an invoice which he ignored for two weeks. He completely blew me off for the first time since he always answered my emails promptly in the past. My mistake is that I wasn’t really able to keep my cool but it kind of worked because he suddenly replied to me and promised to pay for everything, including the second half of the book I hadn’t finished yet. He even specified a date for paying. Another mistake I made was I went on to finish the project even though he refused to pay on time what was already due. My problem now is his payment is already two days past due and he has not yet replied to me to acknowledge that he received the project. I just want to know what steps I could take to make sure I receive the payment. I certainly don’t want to let it go because the work I did for him is worth two months of my usual earnings, but I’m not sure what to do as I live halfway across the world and we’re separated by different legal bounds. Thanks so much in advance!

    • If I understand correctly, you’re only two days out on the current payment you’re waiting for. That’s not really enough time to consider the client a deadbeat this time around, whatever his past record may indicate. If you don’t have a working contract, my best advice is to tell you to keep in touch with the client until the bill is paid in full.

      It’s too bad that you finished the project and handed it over already, knowing what you do about your client. At least by withholding the end product you would have a little leverage to get the final payment from the client. But live and learn, right?

      As for dealing with clients in other countries in the future, it might be in your best interest to tell clients that you will work with them through a site like oDesk or Elance where reviews and site policies help to protect both parties from getting ripped off.

      Hope that helps.

  20. Nicole

    I agree with you that two days is such a short time to think of the client as a deadbeat. I’m thinking of giving it another week before I follow up on the payment again. As for oDesk and Elance, I have accounts on both websites but I never really found the need for them in the past. Oh well, there’s always a first time for everything. And issues like this are part of the risk I took when I decided to go solo. Thanks for your advice, Emily! Will surely keep in touch with my client and give the other suggestions on this site a try.

  21. Patrick b.

    is there a lawyer I can CC: when sending my final request for payment from a client before filing a small claims? Also would I be legally entitled to post all emails and unpaid invoice online so its searchable when looking up the clients name?

  22. I’m not sure what exactly you’re asking, Patrick. But if you need legal advice about taking a deadbeat client to small claims, you definitely need to get in touch with a lawyer. I’m no expert when it comes to legal matters.

  23. Our main problem is getting that final payment on time. Despite our best efforts and communications we get to the end of a lot of website projects and the only thing left undone is the tasks that the client had to perform. At this point they start to complain about the over all cost that they had already agreed to and try to extend the project and final payment. We have everything in writing and I stay firm to our proposal and the times and payments that were agreed upon and they end up making the final payment begrudgingly.

    It just seems like some people always try to barter or “come out on top” some how, and there is nothing you can do but follow the steps you discussed and stick to your guns.

    I have found that being upfront about pricing and the procedures from the very first meeting are very beneficial. I take very thorough notes and even record a lot of our meetings. Nothing like having an audio recording to back you up when they say “I never agreed to that” or “I don’t remember ever discussing that.” It seems very tacky and un-trustworthy but you can never go too far when trying to CYA.

  24. Hi Emily
    I had a Heating and Cooling company that I rebuild their website for twice in Cedar Rapids Iowa. I produced a nice website (per her markups) which she changed her mind about the look and content after the first 30 beta pages were complete. Twice she approved my work and told me to move ahead with the build. So I built it again 30 web pages each time. When almost complete through tracking on the beta site I noticed someone besides her was looking at every page of the site. Since the site was near completion I published the site and sent the invoice for my hours and hours of work. I was told by her to take the new website down because she had hired another designer to build the site. This other designer was using my beta site to build his site. And she never told me so I worked on and on. She never paid me one dime for any of the work I did. Then she told me to send any billing or letters to her lawer. I never heard from him. GA from Cedar Rapids

  25. I found this article while searching for relevant content to send out to my twitter followers (We are @getpaidfaster).

    So many freelancers and small business owners completely mis-understand the best ways to ensure payment, and beyond that the best way to address the inevitable non payer. That’s right, regardless of how perfect you are up front you will still have non payers from time to time (unfortunately).

    Your best bet is to have an expert ally who will not only teach you to fish, but catch one for you occasionally. Have a look at my company Cambridge Receivable Solutions, LLC if anyone owes your organization money. We have seen it all, and figured out the best ways to deal with each scenerio. There is quite a bit of free information on our blog as well.

    Thanks for a good article Emily, and good luck everyone.

  26. ACedarview

    If you did work for a client through an agency, what about exerting pressure by contacting the end-client regarding the non-payment? I haven’t seen this possibility. Assuming you know you are being stiffed. Some would question the ethics, I suppose, but the client is not being ethical, and it’s not libel if it’s the truth.

  27. Kerry Brockie

    Hi there,

    I am in need of help. I have been an independent Consultant for almost 2 years now and I recently signed a contract that was put together mutually with the client to help with their sales and Marketing here in Canada. I started on May 01 2013. I started with providing client lists to add to their CRM system over 6,ooo contacts. Then proceeded to provide a business plan, 1 page marketing info for clients and a power point deck to start doing webinars and also email campaigns to generate new business and get their name out there. I also had 3 face to face meetings to discuss this company and also was trying to figure out their CRM system, Ringio Phone System, Tracking portal system & Mail Chimp email blast system which was thrown over to me via email and no support to walk me through any of this.

    Needless to say 4 weeks in I get an email after providing all this info that my contract has been suspended as I had not updated my activity report in 24 hours. I was of course in shock and tried to explain to them I was on the road the day prior and was looking to update that next morning. The accounting person came back to me and said I needed to document to them every cell call/Text/ email I had made since I started and until then I would not get paid. My contract states 30days notice and they owed me for 2 weeks prior to suspending my contract but refuse to pay this. I went ahead and provided this info to them and they came back and said the way I provided was too confusing and now wanted a excel spreadsheet with all detail. I went back to them and said in no way am I going to provide anymore info to them without having my outstanding invoices paid. The president then said he would give me a call to discuss and to this day I have not heard back from them. I am now out 2 week invoice payments and 2 weeks on a suspension contract. WHAT DO I DO? I feel I have been taken advantage of and once they got the work they required out of me they took action to right me off.

    Any thoughts on this? I am out about 6k to date.

    • Hi Kerry,

      My recommendation as a freelancer is this: Don’t do phone calls. You want a written record of all of their communication with you from here on out.

      Go over your contract with a fine-toothed comb. Was it actually stipulated in the contract when you had to update your activity report? Were you actually in breach of that provision? If not, let them know they’re in the wrong, and remind them of 30-days notice term they agreed to.

      Let them know you plan to report them publicly on this client scorecard (https://www.freelancersunion.org/client-scorecard/) if they don’t remit payment for the work you provided. You might want to mention that securing work from freelancers and small businesses will be much more difficult for them in the future. Set a deadline for receiving all payments you are owed, and then follow through with writing your report for the Client Scorecard if they don’t pay up.

      $6,000 is a lot of money. In this case, you might want to get legal advice.

      Finally, in the future, insist on receiving a partial payment upfront before you begin any work. Amounts up to 50% of the total estimate are normal, and any client that balks is probably not one who intended to pay in the first place. It’ll help you avoid dealing with other deadbeat clients.

  28. CynicalOne

    As a web designer I sometimes get people (sometimes they even admit this) that agree to pay a certain price for a project then when it’s completed want to renegotiate the price. Sometimes they’ll even say, now that you’ve done the work, it be a shame to not to get paid anything (bedsides the deposit I require) wouldn’t it?

    I’m considering a novel approach. I often deal with people that sign a contract as a person, not representative of a company. I have two of them that are currently deadbeats,. They ordered a website, I made it they are trying to get me to give it them for free.
    Most states have a law called “Theft of service” if not the same act is usually covered under their theft laws. Here in Georgia if it’s over $500 it’s a felony. I was thinking of pressing charges.

    It’s going to barber getting a haircut and then saying, I don’t like your prices, I’ll pay you $1.00 instead of the $20 you charge. When the barber refuses and the client leaves, he’s committed a crime.

    Had any any experience with this approach? Your thoughts?

  29. Banderman

    I have a quick question. (bet you’ve heard that one before). I have a small IT Support company that has been going strong for 18 years. My problem is that I trust people. Anyway, I don’t get ripped off often, but it happens. When it does happen, it’s usually for a relatively small amount of money; say $150.00. Recently a new customer that was referred to me had me buy some RAM memory, install it, and they keep ‘promising to put a check in the mail’. After 2 weeks, no dice. It appears these people are not going to pay; no doubt their thinking is ‘it’s a small amount of money, what can he do’? Small claims, too small amount to justify. Collection? Too small amount. Any ideas how to get my $150? I called today and the ‘office manager’ was crude, rude, and curt; all I asked was did they put a check in the mail yet. That really steamed my clams.

  30. SF

    Can someone share with me the statute that defines the 30 day reply time that non-paying (and difficult, ‘non-paying’ happens to everyone once in their careers but that this particular client is just ignoring the bill, ignoring phone calls is encouraging me to take legal action) clients have to reply to the remit payment letter sent by the attorney?

    (I’m assuming there is such a statute).

    Thank you!

  31. SF

    Also, I forgot to add I am in New York, NY. But the statute from any city, State would be helpful/give me some guidance as to how to find statute for New York.

    Again, thank you!

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