Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 188.8.131.52
As I have everything in email from my correspondence with the client, there are no doubts about
1) Work was contracted.
2) There was an agreement.
3) Payment was agreed upon at a price to the mutual satisfaction of both parties before the work began.
4) Payment terms were also agreed upon, along with a due date for such payment, which has now passed.
Now, I've come up with a few courses of action on my own:
Of course, given the amount of knowledge my fellow webmasters have here at WebmasterWorld, I thought you all might be able to give me some better and or novel ways to approach and deal with this situation. Thanks.
If you are in the UK, you can threaten them with the law, if they don't succomb to that, then go through to the small claims court, i think it costs £8, usually at this point they are more than willing to pay !
If your not in the UK, there must be a similar action that you can take, with the same results.
I would forget e-mail. It is really easy to get nasty in e-mail without really realizing it and as much as it might annoy you to not do that, you are in the position of trying to get what you want - so getting into an e-mail shouting match won't do you any good.
Call the client - make sure you are talking to the decision maker - and just say "I have a bill that was due XX date. When can I come pick up my check?" Don't say ANYTHING else - although the pause that follows can be VERY awkward.
The client will do one of two things - stutter and stammer and say "we'll cut you a check". If that happens, say, "I'll be in your neighborhood on Wednesday. Why don't I just stop by and pick it up?" Don't accept some vague "We'll get a check to you later."
Option two is the client tells you to go jump. If that happens, hire a friend who is an attorney to send a demand letter - but realize that if the client is really trying to stiff you, it will be very difficult to collect. Unless the amounts involved are very large, filing suit is really not worth the trouble. The true deadbeat client knows this.
My best advice - don't get too emotional about it. Put the client on the spot, try to get your money - but don't obsess, don't spend hours writing nasty e-mails, don't waste billable time fretting about it (all of which I have done when in your position :)) It isn't personal, and when you let it become personal (which I have done) you lose.
If reasonable efforts to collect don't work, chalk it up to experience (always work from an advance) and spend the time you might otherwise spend harassing these jerks looking for new business. It will pay much better in the long run.
Showing up at their doorstep always shakes them up a bit. I am a big guy. People always tell me they are glad I am not mad at them. I use to have a few bouncer jobs. I am a pretty good web developer but I am an excellent collector ;)
I would get the client on the phone (it may take several tries), explain that you sent a bill on such and such a date and what your terms are and gently point out that they are xx days late in payment. Then ask what the status of the payment is. I find that I get a lot better results in actually talking with the client versus contacting them via e-mail.
Your client may have run into cash flow problems and is too embarassed by it to tell you. If you think that that is the case, offer to work with them on setting up a payment plan. I've had this happen with a couple of clients and by arranging a payment plan, I at least get paid and still keep a good relationship with the clients.
Afterward, barring an appeal, the judgement becomes final. You send them a demand letter for payment. If they don't, here comes the good part: You send the Sherrifs Deputy to go to their business and literally shake down their pockets, safe,cash register and bank accounts.
I've won hundreds of cases in the course of employment a couple years ago.
There's a couple details I left out but my wife needs a ride to work right now and I gotta go.