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Client doesn't want to pay. What would you do?

By capbauer ·
I have a client that does not want to pay me for my past work I have done. I have submitted time sheets and have described to them all the work I have done but they don't want to pay up. What would you guys do in this situation? this is very frustrating and I think I might just pull the plug on the bastards. would this be a good idea?

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Do you have a contract?

by kristinafh In reply to Client doesn't want to pa ...

If so, that's a step closer to enforcing payment. If you don't have a contract, do you have other documentation (like email) that shows some sort of level of acceptance by the client that you should proceed with the work?

What's their specific beefs? They didn't ask you to do that work? They didn't like the quality?

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What Did They Ask You To Do?

by Wayne M. In reply to Do you have a contract?

I don't mean to jump on the pile, but do you have any sort of Statement of Work, RFP, signed proposal, or work authorization?

Without out these, there is probably little chance that you can justify your billing statements. Proving you have done the work is not sufficient, you must be able to show that they wanted the work done and asked you to do it. This may just end in in the category of lessons learned.

As for going forward, I suggest you consider the practice of ignoring sunk costs. Forget the past and look at the relationship going forward. With a more formalized work authorization process in place, can you continue to work profitably with the client? Look at both the financial benefits and emotional costs of going forward, though.

Good luck, I can commiserate with what has to be a very painful situation.

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Wayne? You would reall y continue?

by jdclyde In reply to What Did They Ask You To ...

I would NOT be able to perform ANY services to a client that does not pay their bills.

If they stole from you this time, they will do it again.

Yes, refusing to pay for services renderd is the same as stealing from you.

This is ALL on the ASSUMPTION that you had a valid work contract AND all the work was done as requested IN THE TIMEFRAME that was contracted.

You still haven't told us what grounds they are refusing to pay you on. They don't believe you put in the time? The quality/quanitiy wasn't good enough? They are just jerks?

Talk to your contact, if that doesn't work, go up the chain to owners.

If this IS the owner AND you have a valid work agreement, take them to small claims court. They won't like to have that kind of publicity.

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Disagreements and Write-Offs are a Fact of Business

by Wayne M. In reply to Wayne? You would reall y ...

Billing disputes are not uncommon and rarely is either party completely in the right.

One needs to discuss the situation, understand the viewpoints of both sides, and objectively analyze one's own responsibility for the impasse. Based on this analysis and the scale of the nonpayment, there are a wide range of options. I would never presume to automatically assume "never work with them again" is the correct answer.

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Suggestions

by BFilmFan In reply to Client doesn't want to pa ...

Unless you have a contract with them, you are under no obligation to provide them with additional support if they are refusing to pay.

If you have a contract, have your attorney begin action to enforce it.

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hope this helps

by nssatomic In reply to Client doesn't want to pa ...

We had a client like this once. She didn't pay us for our past visit because there was something that wasn't configured properly. All she had to do was tell us and we would have fixed it at no extra charge.

When she finally hit us up again for more work we made her pay us for the previous bill and pay us in advance for the work she wanted performed.

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Additional Note on Contracts

by Lukas Kasha In reply to Client doesn't want to pa ...

I had a project I was bidding on worth about $20k USD 6 or 7 years ago. The potential client complained that he had been burned by several previous IT contractors and was leery lest it happen again. I didn't know if the guy was being above board with me or not, but since it was custom software he was asking for, I assuaged his concern by adding a clause in the contract that if the client wasn't satisfied with the end result he was under no obligation to pay me - but if he didn't pay he had no right to use the software I'd written and I was free to do with it as I saw fit.

Given my experience with him after that, I'm willing to bet his previous problems with the other IT guys were self-induced.

At the end of the project, he refused to pay the agreed upon price, saying that it wasn't worth that price to him. No problem, I told them I'd just exercise that clause in the contract and take the software back and we would part ways. Turns out he wasn't willing to do that, either, he just wanted to dicker the price again after the fact hoping that I'd get exasperated and give in just so I could get paid something. Long story short I stuck to my guns, and he ended up paying rather than losing the software or risking small claims court.

Since then, I've used this clause in many of my contracts and I've not had another problem like it. Having it there also front-loads the conversation about expectations, and has encouraged both me and my clients to be more proactive about discussing them.

And by the way, the next time that client called for another bid, I doubled my rate. It was the only way it was going to be worth-while to have to deal with them again. For some reason, they didn't see the _value_ in that.

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