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Professional Webmaster Business Issues Forum

Creating a "deadbeats" page
debtors, debt, deadbeat

 2:20 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm considering creating a "deadbeats" page on my web site, to post warnings about the clients that I have had who have not paid their accounts in full, or at all. The purpose of the page would be twofold; to shame them into paying, and to warn others what my personal experiences were in dealing with them.

I wouldn't write anything slanderous or any sort of personal attack... just what I condider to be true from my perspective in regards to the situation.

I *know* that I shouldn't be asking for legal advice here...but I would just like to know if anyone else has tried this, and what your experiences were.





 2:23 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't.. Setting aside any possible legal ramifications, what's the purpose of this other than to make non-paying clients look bad? I think that it will simply make you look petty to people that view your site..

Spend your time building yourself up instead of tearing them down.. It's much more productive..

BTW, if they are non-paying deadbeats, file and get the money or at least a judgement..


 5:13 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Feydakin . . .. haha . . . Dune is one of my favorite anthologies. :-)

Bad idea, as Feydakin said, petty, no one wants to hear someone complain and that's just how it would look.


 6:32 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your replies so far...

...true, on one hand, I did think that it might look petty...and I *hate* to complain publicly...

... on the other hand, the main point of such a page would be to get them to actually pay their bills! I have already exhausted all legal means which I could use to get them to pay...one deadbeat in particular has used a shell company to hide under, so that they can continue to operate under another name,without paying their creditors (I am only one person out of many who is owed money by this particular individual). The amount of money I am owed is significant, and I basically feel that this money has been stolen from me. With that in mind, I think I can swallow being accused of looking petty... :)

but then again, I'm still mulling over what to do! thanks for your input...if anyone has ever done this, I'd still like to hear of your experiences...


 1:17 am on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

The amount of money I am owed is significant, and I basically feel that this money has been stolen from me. With that in mind, I think I can swallow being accused of looking petty...

You're right, it has been stolen from you. But can you afford to look petty and unprofessional in the eyes of other potential clients?

Revealing your personal business dealings about being owed money and expressing your frustration and anger in a public arena will certainly make you seem emotionally immature and may cause people to think twice about hiring you.


 3:28 pm on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Look at it this way: Did you learn anything?

  • Get a larger retainer
  • Bill for work as it progresses
  • Know thy client
  • Trust thy instincts
  • Always have individuals sign personally for smaller jobs
  • Get a credit check
  • Anything else?

Business involves a certain amount of unplanned pro bono work. Sometimes it just happens. Imagine how many business deals went south when Katrina hit.

Sometimes a deal gone bad is the result of doing business with people who never intended to pay you in any event, maybe because they didn't have the funds to start with or maybe it was because that's their approach to doing business.

If you are going to be self-employed you really need to be a good judge of character and you also need to turn down work when your instincts tell you to.

Learn the lesson and move on. Focus on making money and marketing.

SOBs are already paying the price for their ill nature. Trust me on that. They already live in a world where no one is to be trusted, eveyone is a dupe, love is a word and so on. A hearty SOB will laugh at your efforts and a darker one will sue you for libel and claim your did lousy work.

Claim the lesson without cynicism, admit your role in your plight, have a good cry and a good laugh at yourself, and move on.


 5:08 pm on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

ahhh, yes, all good advice...thank you all...

It seems like this is one of those situations where you lose either way, as the reaction against your recourse can be worse then the original effect...

good points WebWork, thank you...

And btw...I while I have learned my lesson, I guess here is a warning to you all...this wasn't a typical client where you do your best to judge the situation... this was a major IT consulting firm with many years good standing in my city... where it was simply unthinkable that this would happen... as it turns out, the unthinkable can and does happen!


 5:15 pm on Sep 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Talk to your accountant.. In most cases you can write off bad debt on your taxes and come out pretty well that way.. We had a major deadbeat a fwe years ago and did that.. It's not the same as getting the cash, but at least it's not a total loss..

As for business dealings, I have three rules that have taken me quite a few years to learn..

1. Never work with charitable organizations unless you are 'donating your time'.. When they finally decide to not pay you, you will be stuck.. And it will happen..

2. Never work with 'large' companies as a small or solo operation without being paid in full, in advance.. You tend to be looked at as slave labor and food..

3. And finally, the most important, if at any time during the presentation or customer qualifying process they make the statement, "we are good <people>" run as fast as you can.. The ones that have to keep telling you how good they are tend to be the worst :)

[edited by: jatar_k at 5:32 pm (utc) on Sep. 23, 2005]
[edit reason] removed specific targetting [/edit]


 1:49 pm on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is teh shell business in the same line of work as teh main business?

Does it have the same directors? And stockholders?

If so you may be able to lift the corporate veil and go after the mai businesss. Speak to a lawyer.

A supplier used to deal with in China did a similar thing, it made interesting reading but nothing more he never gained teh money he was owed.

At the end of day I wouldnt do, try and get some from invoice insurance or payment up front.....


 2:11 pm on Sep 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would read all the advice above, and want to add just one thing.

Suppose a potentially lucrative NEW client sees your deadbeats page first?

Would they think twice before doing biz with somebody who hangs out all the dirty laundry? -Larry

Automan Empire

 12:23 am on Sep 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Talk to your accountant.. In most cases you can write off bad debt on your taxes and come out pretty well that way..

**Blanket disclaimer, check with your accountant and legal counsel**

Depending on your local laws, you may be able to file the amount of loss as income paid to the deadbeat.

Here in CA, my accountant was able to file an IRS form 1099 showing the debt as income to the crook. When they fail to declare this amount on their tax return, it may trigger an audit. I never heard anything from my two deadbeats, but the person who described this technique said that a very angry customer arrived out of the blue to pay the whole amount with interest!
This will take care of your problem privately, without the dirty laundry effect. IMO, returned checks under the counter glass at a bricks and mortar business, or a "hate mail" page on a "fun" website are acceptable, but building a deadbeat page onto a serious ecommerce site does sound like too much.
It is absolutely amazing how indignant a deadbeat can be with you when you sic the authorities on them, eh?
Good luck,


 3:10 pm on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't do this.

I think it sends the wrong message to prospective clients:

1> "See how often I have problems with my clients?"
2> "When I have a dispute with a client, I'll deal with it in public"

I'm sure you'll lose more than you gain by chasing bad debts this way.


 3:33 pm on Oct 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with all of the advice that posting your failure to be able to collect a debt could hurt you more than help you.

I also appreciate that it would be nice to make some of these jerks pay for their actions.

Maybe what's needed is a site solely dedicated to exposing deadbeats! Any takers?

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