When Projects Go Bad 10: Unpaid & Unhappy
Following on from a project going bad and a relationship deteriorating with a client, its quite natural that we now turn our attention to clients who won’t pay.
No Great Surprise
When you’ve had a bad experience with a client it can often not come as a great surprise that they haven’t paid you. This can be especially painful if you’ve tried to resolve the issue, given extra time and effort to the project, they’ve gone along with it and now have just gone quiet.
Away From Her Desk
As you begin chasing up this client all of a sudden a mad tidal wave of work and meetings and sick days will hit them. No matter how and when you try and get a hold of them they won’t be in. No doubt the receptionist has been told to give you the run around. One sneaky tactic would be to have someone else phone and then if they manage to get through, you can at least speak to them. Another would be to find another contact, preferably someone in admin or accounts.
If you believe that the client is withholding the rest of your money due to what happened on your project, and are now talking to accounts then don’t give them a sob story. They don’t need to know the full ins and outs of what has happened. I would say you were chasing it up and that’s that. The main reason you’re talking to them is to affirm that it’s being withheld by your client and not due to an accounting error or something similiar.
Once you’ve affirmed that your client has decided not to pay you, you and then take the next steps. The first thing I would do is to create a folder with all communication logged throughout the project so you can demonstrate that you’ve done everything they asked in their original brief. After this send them a written warning that court procedures will take place if you don’t hear back from them.
On the Lawyers Front
I’ve said this many a time but small claims is a time consuming, stressful and will cost you money. The threat of lawyers however can be extremely useful. Befriend a lawyer and ask them to back you up if needed. They don’t need to do all that much a demand for money in a lawyers letterhead will normally mean they take you seriously.