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Payment Issues

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Russell, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. Russell

    Russell Member

    Hi all, I am having regular trouble with one client in getting payment anything near on time. The client is on the whole a good one and puts a lot of work my way so I’m trying to be patient and not go too overboard. My payment terms are within 30 days but they consistently take 60-90 days to pay up, and I’ve even had cheques bounce in the past.

    An added issue is I am also getting hassled by printers that I have sent work to on their behalf, who are owed a lot of money from the same company.

    I have a good working relationship with them but get the same response: As the work I produce for the company is for a specific client account they are waiting for payment from this client in order to pay me.

    They have suggested me (and the printers) invoicing their client direct but I am not comfortable with this, as it seems they are just passing the buck. I don’t have any direct contacts with their client and all the work I do is via them.

    Any tips on how you would deal with this situation? I want to keep relationship on good terms but as it is a large amount of regular work it is screwing up my cash flow.
     
  2. tbwcf

    tbwcf Active Member

    I would like to say wait until your invoices are paid to date then bin them off but you clearly don't want to do that... If you have had a cheque bounce before that does not bode well for their finances and ask yourself seriously if its worth doing the work with the risk of not getting paid. It would be better not to have the work taking up your time and use that time to approach new clients to replace the work.

    If you are keen to keep them maybe you should adjust payment terms a little. They are clearly taking longer than your 30 days to day so maybe as your not getting the money on time anyway and to safe guard yourself a little... change your terms to 50% upfront with the further amount payable in 60 days. That way at least you have something up front and make sure you are very strict on your 60days.

    Personally if it was me (considering cheques have bounced and they owe printers money too as well as good knows who else) - I would sack them as a client - but I know thats easy to say when your detached from the situation.
     
  3. Sunburn

    Sunburn Active Member

  4. Russell

    Russell Member

    Thanks guys, that PDF is really useful for the legal position, have saved it. I will have to adjust payment terms going forward, I'd tried to get downpayment into my contract previously without success as they would not agree to it. At the time I let it go as I needed the work but do need to take a firm stance or it will continue to slide.

    With the bounced cheque they claimed it bounced as it is a separate account for this particular client and funds hadn't been transferred. I stopped work and refused to hand over files until it was paid and they transferred the money from their main account the same day, may have to try that again.

    Everything is telling me to not continue producing work for them until new payment terms are agreed, and all outstanding money paid. It just is a worry how they will take that, the work I am doing for them has been up to 50% of my income over the last few months and it was a hard fought account to get and great work.

    I have little doubt that they will pay up eventually but need to set firmer guidance on payment. Had a call from the printer and they are getting solicitors involved, it does amaze me how little regard some companies have for their reputation when it comes to payment.

    I'm thinking a politely worded email stating I'm downing tools until payment is brought up to date, and a revised contract going forward, good plan?
     
  5. Sunburn

    Sunburn Active Member

    Hey Russell, I agree, writing a nice polite mail stipulating that you are changing your T&C's / contracts would be a nice way to enforce a little more punctuality in payments, however you should not be scared to back up such a reasonable change with reasonable force.
     
  6. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Sounds like a good idea Russell, I would state in the e-mail that from a personal view you've been really happy working on their projects, but from a business perspective this is putting added pressure on your business to chase up payments, and manage cashflow when payments are that delayed.

    If they're managing all the work/projects then they should be managing the payments with their client in due course, it does sound like someone is stalling on payments along the chain, so I would add details of interest payable on overdue invoices into the new T&Cs to see if that could help speed things along? Possibly an easier thing to have passed than the 50% deposit setup?

    Good luck!
    Greg
     
  7. Russell

    Russell Member

    Good point Greg, need to do the whole 'compliment sandwich' thing. I have overdue payment interest policy already in force and also offer a % discount for early payment but this hasn't changed their payment patterns. They obviously don't take payment terms very seriously as other providers are having the same issues.

    Really does get my goat when you bust your arse to meet deadlines and clients don't do the same when it comes to payment. Definitely the biggest downside to freelancing. Oh well still a couple of weeks till xmas so with a bit of luck Tiny Tim won't have to starve.
     
  8. *chloe

    *chloe Junior Member

    Depends whether or not you can afford to lose that client.
    Altho since hes not paying you, you arent really losing anything :/
    Ive had this problem as well, ive been owed money for over a year now !!
     
  9. berry

    berry Active Member

    A Good client who doesnt pay is a Bad client.
    Cashflow is key to survival.
    Your contract is with an 'agency" or middle man but the end client is the link in the chain - am i right?
    It is up to the middle man to pay and not pass on his cashflow issues down the line. The contract is with you and him. have you done a credit check on them and the 'client'?
    I would tread with caution.......
     
  10. Russell

    Russell Member

    The company is a PR company so basically and they pass the design stuff from one of their accounts my way. My contract is with them and as you say their Cashflow issues should not become mine. I've stopped the planned in work till payment is brought up to date, once / if that comes in I'm not going to work for them on a net 30 basis as they have consistently proven they can't honour it. So in the new year I'll either insist on min of 50% upfront or just cut them loose.
     
  11. *chloe

    *chloe Junior Member

    thats what i do, i do a %50 deposit that has to be paid before i start.
    really useful
     
  12. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Same here, always have done, and good to hear Russell, fingers crossed they don't become a bad client as Berry says :)
     
  13. Russell

    Russell Member

    Timely post Greg, had a call today and they went into depth into their current situation. They are owed nearly £500K from their major end client and have had to lay off staff in the short term till it's paid, and they can pay their suppliers. I do feel for them but wish they could have been upfront about the situation earlier rather than ignoring my emails.

    Still, doesn't change the fact that my payment is their responsibility so I'm sticking to my guns and crossing fingers it's sorted soon.
     
  14. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Unfortunate situation for them to be in, but yes as you say would have been good to know sooner, at least you know now. I'd be sticking to your plan too, you don't want their problem becoming a problem for you!
     
  15. Russell

    Russell Member

    Unfortunately it already is as I'm owed £4K. :( and with other providers owed a lot more and taking legal action, I will be quite far down in the pecking order. Only time will tell.
     
  16. tbwcf

    tbwcf Active Member

    Ouch! I really hope it gets to you!
     
  17. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Ah, sorry to hear that Russell! May be worth consulting the expertise of a debt collection company if it's really overdue, they know which letters to send and calls to make to improve your chances of getting the funds. If it sounds like something you might consider let me know as I've used the services of one debt collection company in the past who may be to help...

    Good luck, Greg
     
  18. Thewholehogg

    Thewholehogg Active Member

    Torch 'em.
     
  19. Russell

    Russell Member

    Cheers all, may take you up on that Greg. They've asked if I can give them till the end of the month so I'll see what the situation is then, at least they're talking to me now.
     
  20. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Cool, fingers crossed they can resolve the situation before then, wonder if setting up a payment plan may help to ease things along?
     

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