Topic: Client not paying...

I know similar topics have been addressed here but I'd like to know people's thoughts on methods of action to take when a client won't pay.

Let me start by saying that I give my clients net 15 to pay me in full. If they don't pay me by the 15th day, I go and disable their website. I don't give them a warning (if I did, there's a chance that my access could be removed from their site - unless it's a TXP site, then I just revoke everyone's privileges and disable the home page) It may sound mean, but so is not paying me the money I'm owed... I've spent time away from my family sometimes well into the early hours of the morning.

I'll add that I've even toyed with the idea of having the home page redirect to my payment page... but that to me does seem a little over the top.

Anyone else have any methods that work as well?

Daniel Marino | www.iamdanielmarino.com

Re: Client not paying...

Hey Daniel  -

That sucks - sorry to hear it.

Are these business clients? Net 15 might be a bit short  - most businesses seem to run net 30 these days. 

Do you call them once the site is disabled?  It's uncomfortable, but have had to do it a few times.  The other thing I've done is just keep sending invoices - by mail - in hopes that eventually they'll get tired of seeing it coming in.

Other than that no help here...have never had to resort to anything heavier handed.

Re: Client not paying...

Boyink wrote:

Are these business clients? Net 15 might be a bit short  - most businesses seem to run net 30 these days.

Yes but have never had an issue with net 15 in the past. Also I received a down payment from them within minutes of our initial discussion. They haven't been responding to my emails either... Usually they contact me pretty quickly after they realize that their site isn't working smile But on occasion I do contact them first.

Daniel Marino | www.iamdanielmarino.com

Re: Client not paying...

My practice is to insist on half up front, before I start working.

FWIW, the bigger the company, the longer it can take to pay bills. I have personal experience with Accounting/Accounts Payable/approvals/layers of management taking a long time.

"I was blind, but now I see!"  John 9:25

Re: Client not paying...

They're a pretty small company (less then 10 people) - and they've already put up 30%

Daniel Marino | www.iamdanielmarino.com

Re: Client not paying...

I haven't had a consistent policy for payment - it's been a mix of money up front when the client isn't local (usually 1/3) and just bill as I go for local clients.  But recent events make me think I'm going to go the $$ up front route for all clients in hopes of making sure they're serious and being able to cover hours for other freelancers I bring in. 

Dan - have you called them?  I'd do that, ask for accounts payable, and just -- in a nice tone of voice - say you're calling to inquire on the status of an overdue invoice.

Re: Client not paying...

Hey Dmarino...

I would say this is one area in business you have to establish your rules upfront. This also means you have the set what the policy for no payment and establish this is upfront because, and I'm no lawyer, but if you don't put things in writing up-front and get a signature you could open yourself up to some type of small claims court. Unfortunately this is the way the world works, even though they didn't pay you.

My recommendation is to have your policy upfront and also what you do in the case of no-payment...this is our policy:

1) On the day that payment becomes late, I sent a personal email reminding them that their payment is late because they might have forgotten.
2) 15 Days out - I send a follow-up snail mail letter and a copy of the invoice. Still nice and friendly
3) 30 Days out - I send another follow-up snail mail letter and a copy of the invoice along with a finance charge and explaining that if the payment is not paid in full that all services will be terminated within 15 days.
4) 45 Days out - Follow-up with any action promised. If you don't this is legally seen as harassment.

Overall, make sure you keep a very consistent policy or else you can put yourself in legal hot water. Again, I'm not a lawyer - but be consistent with all of your clients and set known policies.

Synergema embarks with its clients on a voyage toward clear communication of vital truths. Destinations vary, but our essential commitments do not.

Re: Client not paying...

Boyink wrote:

Dan - have you called them?  I'd do that, ask for accounts payable, and just -- in a nice tone of voice - say you're calling to inquire on the status of an overdue invoice.

Good advice.

"I was blind, but now I see!"  John 9:25

Re: Client not paying...

As Mike said, I would agree that 15 days is pretty short. 30 days is very normal in my experience. Maybe I'm a softie but depending on the client I expect it to take about 2 months... but it comes. I like sccrwoohoo's steps. I don't exactly do that, but its consistent with everything I have seen timetable-wise.

As a side note: Twice I have had clients change their own financial system while I was working on their project. In those cases it threw them off (both non-profits) but there was lots of communication so we had clear timetable work out between us. That to say, sometimes there are reasons, and as usual communication is the key.

"Bear 270, young man. Bear two, seven, zero, over." - Musings of a flight simulator guru, me.

Re: Client not paying...

Two years ago, I changed my billing from net 30 to net 14, simply because clients were not paying for 45-60 days. My attorney recommended it, she also has net 14. It's clearly stated in the contract. Invoices are being paid more quickly by clients, but few if any, pay on time. Last month I instituted a late fee for invoices, which I had not included in the past.

I agree communication is key. I have sent email reminders, and made follow up phone calls  for late invoices. What makes the difference in getting paid, as I'm sure many other web developers/designers have discovered, is when the client asks for additional work to be done on the site.

One client contacted me for additional work, who had not paid their bill, and who had received two phone calls and three email reminders.  I responded I would make the changes as soon as I received payment for the overdue invoice.

"Change is inevitable, growth is intentional" - Glenda Cloud

Re: Client not paying...

You all make good points and maybe I am being a little hard. I haven't decided what course of action to take as of yet, but I think I'm starting to learn towards follow-up communication just to see where things stand. Thanks for the advice.

Daniel Marino | www.iamdanielmarino.com

Re: Client not paying...

For bigger projects, such as a new website or a website relaunch or a major enhancement, I would recommend moving toward having the final payment before the site launches, especially if you don't control the website and don't have much leverage otherwise. It is amazing how clients can pay on a timely basis if that is what stands between them getting the site launched or not.

In my experience, the only times where I have had trouble with getting payment are when I launched their site before getting final payment. Most of my clients are great. But for some clients, it seems that paying the web developer drops way low on the priority list when they already have what they want, especially when finances are tight.

The difference between sacred work and secular work is not what we're doing but why we're doing it. - AW Tozer

Re: Client not paying...

30 days, 15 days, I don't really think the number here matters as long as they agreed to pay you in whatever timeframe was set up.  Typically I set mine at 30 days, and I've never had to "turn off" a site before, but we try to make it a point that if 30 days won't work for you, lets find something that will.

Regardless of the time period though, if that passes I see no problem with suspending their site.  I use a shared hosting plan for most of the sites I do, so no point in a non-paying client using up my bandwidth.

Re: Client not paying...

We've had to shut down 3 websites in 13 years for invoices over 90 days past due.  Eventually, all three businesses gave up having a site, though they all did settle up with us.  We do assess late fees when invoices get to 30 days past due, but it rarely makes the impact we wish it did.

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Client not paying...

Just want to chime and say thanks for all the great advice. My company is having a very similar situation and I knew I could count on the folks at Godbit to deliver sound advice.

You can teach what you know, but you'll ultimately reproduce what you are.