Yes! We serviced a chain of stores for several months and would only receive small checks in the mail from them. When we would contact them, they would promise payment would come soon. By then they owed us a few thousand, and we stopped delivering until they paid us. Well, in the meantime they went out of business and declared bankcruptcy. Needless to say, we still haven't received a penny of it and I don't think we ever will.
@jessbru99568 That must have been very frustrating, but you handled it so well. Good for you for listening to your gut instinct!
I had a client that was a referal from a CPA that I already shared work/business with. We had a working relationship for a couple of years. Because it was a referal from this CPA that I trusted, I did not take an upfront deposit. This was a late September rush job to get this person's work entered for an entire year in desktop--manual entry. This customer was a high end real estate broker on 5th Avenue in Naples. Anyway, it was also the year my daughter got married, so my days to work on this project were few. I worked day and night, late into the night to get this done for this lady.
Sent it to the CPA and they did the tax return just in the nick of time before the October deadline. Needless to say, you know where this is going...the lady never paid me one red cent for my work (the CPA got paid). I went to the CPA for help in getting paid and they did very little for me. That relationship ended. I tried to be paid on this acct. for several years. Sending statements, calling her, etc. She answered the phone and apologized and promised to pay, but never did. I allowed this woman's name to be in my emails and files and looked at it daily and let it bug the crap out of me for 4 years.
Then one day I was meditating and she came up in my brain! I decided that she was toxic in my life and I needed to let it go. I actually wrote her a letter letting her know how I allowed her promises and her email promises to linger in my life, causing me needless stress and I was releasing her from everything. I used this as a learning tool for me, I ALWAYS take an up front deposit. No waivering!
Of course, my husband wanted to kill me (or go to her office and make a scene). But my company policy is firmly in place. Lesson learned. And I hope anyone reading this learns the lesson too. I led with my heart to help this person out because I felt bad for her. But the only reason she was late in getting her records ready was HER fault. Not mine.
Ah, typing it out made me feel better! Thanks Audrey!
What an experience, @lynda. Thank you for sharing your closure on the situation. I think that is so classy and big of you, allowing yourself to be free of it and to see it as a learning situation. We can all learn from your experience and how you handled it! I am also happy to hear it helped you to type it all out. We are all here for you!
Thanks @AudreyPratt for letting me vent. I just hope someone reads it and decides to take the deposit always. You are worth it!
I have a story about not getting paid.
I did some work for a client, maybe about $2000 worth of services. The person who managed me got laid off, and suddenly MONTHS went by without getting paid for the remainder of my work. I freaked out. I thought it was $2000 I would have to say goodbye to!
I consulted with some other service-based entrepreneurs and they told me the best option was to go through collections, rather than through a business lawyer. A collections agency takes about 30% but they're willing to dog after a client to get the money. I sent an email to the client and let them know that if they didn't pay me, I would be sending them to a collections agency.
Guess what? They immediately paid the bill!
@EmmaSiemasko - I was hoping the story would end in your favor. Well done and thanks for sharing these great tips!
I had an extended family member (FIL's cousin) see my work on a blanket made for a graduation present. She decided that she wanted me to make her wedding dress. First mistake- doing business with a family member. I was used to small projects that I would invoice for when I was done with the project, so I treated it no differently. Second mistake - not being prepared with a paper trail of estimates and what work was actually being done. I was in the process of designing the dress when the bride's sister called and told me that she wanted to pay for the dress. Third mistake - dealing with someone from out of state, and outside the actual customer.
When it came time to send the bride the invoice, she had completely freaked out saying I had overcharged her. But the price the sisters were trying pass it off was my initial quote for just the labor cost for the dress. It didn't include the cost of supplies, or the fact that she decided in the middle of me making the dress that she also wanted me to make her veil.
The bride and groom decided that if I didn't take the amount they were offering $450 less than what I was charging, that I could sell the custom made dress and veil to someone else. I took the payment as a loss. And now every. single. time I give a written estimate before they leave the first consultation. No matter how small of a job it is.
Actually, yes! It helps to let the clients know approximately what they'll be paying ahead of time, and keeping up with price changes if there's something that causes the price to change. Then the client doesn't get price shock and I have written proof. I also have an agreement that I have written up for larger projects with a payment schedule, % upfront for supplies and part of labor, and then the rest at time of completion. I have them read it over and sign it before we begin with a project. Then they know what's expected and I'm not out several hundred dollars for my time.
For my alterations clients, they don't get to take the garment(s) if they don't pay. It's written into my policies.
@HeatherCarver Lessons learned the hard way really have an impact on us, right? That feeling of recognition, when you realize so clearly how you should have done something to make the current situation better -- it's a terrible feeling but also the *best* opportunity for learning. Thanks a lot for sharing your story. Maybe someone else here can learn from your example before they find themselves in the same pinch?
There have been a few times as a content service provider that I've chosen not to get paid because it was both a benefit to me as well as to the client. When I was starting out I worked for a non-profit to make some informational brochures. I did the work for free, which was good for them and their bottom line and gave them incentive to work with me despite my very meager professional portfolio. For me, I got the job! And when I did good work for them I was able to list them as clients and also use the work I did for to bolster my portfolio. That enabled me to get future work -- for pay! -- more easily. Obviously chosing to not get paid it not a good way to go always, but for me when I was starting out and along the way when honing a new professional skill it's been a good occastional strategy.