Non payment?


Well-Known Member
I have a client who I've worked for a few times in the past who has always paid cash on delivery. A month ago I took on a job for her and during an email with proofs, I mentioned that she could pay via bank transfer if its easier than getting to a cash machine (they live in the stick). She seemed very keen on the idea and asked me to send the invoice that day and she'd make the payment whilst their leaflets were being printed. A week later I called to let them know the order was ready and she apologised for not making payment as she'd been ill in hospital. Having worked for them before I thought not a problem I know she'll pay so delivered the order and as I'd thought she was very apologetic for the delay and was going to do it right away. Almost 2 weeks later and no money (now nearly a week over the 14days specified on the invoice) so I emailed a reminder and got a reply saying she was in hospital again and would be home at the weekend and would make payment then. Fast forward another week and still no money. Again I've emailed explaining that I understand her poor health is the likely delay in payment but I can't afford to finance unpaid invoices over extended periods. This time she's not even bothered to respond!?!

Where do I go from here? There's no formal contract but a reasonable email trail to constitute an order.
Dave, my advice is suck it up and take the hit (for now) my friend! Shit one you're out of can only hope that you may see payment eventually, seeing as you have worked for this client before without any problems! It's so tough and I can relate, but you just don't know what is going on in other peoples lives! It's hard sometimes to strike a balance from client to client...if it were me I wouldn't want to be the guy hassling someone who is potentially seriously ill about a payment ( bad PR for yourself? ) I know we all gotta make a living but I'd hold out and see either way!

Also, lesson learned for yourself (as I have also learned over time) 99% I won't/don't work unless I have a deposit, plus printed items are to be paid in full before they are even printed, regardless of client. Caught out a few times before myself...I just make sure I'm at least cost covered now! That's what works for me, I know everyone is different, just hope you get a resolution at some point and that you're not out a lot a bucks!

Good advice Phil - I am also adopting the deposit and printed items paid before print approach now after recent troubles.

It seems in these cash strapped times the trust has diminished or gone in a lot of business relationships and transactions...!
I just dont buy it that she's been as ill as she reckons. Especially when she's posting photos of the past few weeks work on facebook.

I used to work 50% on agreeing quote and 50% prior to print but this seemed to put a lot of small businesses off dealing with me so I moved to 50% deposit prior to print and 50% on/before delivery which has worked well but there's been a few cases where that's slipped to cash on delivery.
I was burnt once or twice in my very early days, now everything is deposit plus balance of payment before print. Funnily enough one of the idiots who ripped me off back in the day just emailed me out of the blue last night asking for some design work!! (He feigned ignorance and amnesia when I refused unless he paid up front)
I used to work 50% on agreeing quote and 50% prior to print but this seemed to put a lot of small businesses off dealing with me so I moved to 50% deposit prior to print and 50% on/before delivery which has worked well but there's been a few cases where that's slipped to cash on delivery.

I always work on the policy that; if they don't want to pay 100% of their print up front, then there's something odd about it. You can't go into Asda, take your food and pay later, so people can't do it to me. Strict but fair I feel.
I have a client* who has done exactly the same thing...promised to pay when I delivered the goods, blamed the bank, promised to pay, said that she had paid (not to my bank account!), agreed to pay weekly and made one payment. Then when I chased her (having put up on the website that it was suspended due to non payment of bills) said I was being 'petty' for wanting more money before I reinstated the website! We are going down the court route and sending in the bailiffs. Don't let people get away with it - keep at them, make them pay a bit at a time if necessary. If you have designed work for them (esp. logo) then tell them that they cannot trade using it without breaking copyright. They are bullies and must be dealt with!
*she came 'recommended' but has also taken a friend for quite a bit.
I have one simple policy - if people don't pay on time, I ask when I can expect payment. If it doesn't arrive by then they get a 7 day solicitor's letter. If they don't pay by 7 days the solicitor takes it to court and they could be faced with a CCJ on their credit record. If people don't pay they're stealing off me and my staff. If they have financial problems then you need to apply pressure quickly to get to the top of the pile before they go bankrupt.
I did quite a bit of freelancing for a design company a while back and although they always needed a nudge on the due date they alway paid up until I did a website for them (for one of their clients). It took me months to eventually get paid for all the work and I was even having to chase them while I was on the other side of the world. I did the polite approach for a bit but then It became hard to get hold of them. I ended up advising them that I'd be seeking professionally advice on recovering the money and would be sending them a formal letter. That did the trick.

Since then I've learnt to ask for a deposit especially on big jobs and charge a late payment fee if the due date is missed as well as making sure I have a good contract in place.
I won't start artwork without 50% deposit + SIGNED ORDER DOCUMENT/CONTRACT
I won't print without full payment of the entire order (artwork + print+SIGNED ORDER DOCUMENT)
If they don't want to do it, gently explain why, if after a gentle and reasonable explanation they don't want - they are probably the kind of clients that will be trouble down the line.

even if its just a little flyer