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Getting a client to pay

Two of my friends recently did a side project for a small client.  Abrubtly, out of the blue, when the project was 90% completed, (and barely over budget) the contract was "terminated", and the company's owner sent an email saying "he won't be paying most of the cost since the project wasn't completed nor was it to his satisfaction".  There was a contract, and he/the company owes them around 8k.  I've never had to deal with a situation like this. Usually I only have to huff and puff and clients eventually agree to pay, if they even complain at all.  Both my friends are in their early twenties, so age may have a factor in it.  Is it worth it for them to hire a lawyer?  Should they just take the loss?  I know they should have not given any of the code until payment, but sometimes thats not always possible.  Thanks in advance.

vince
Friday, June 04, 2004

It is always possible to withhold code until payment and that's what experienced people do.

There's a standard procedure.

1. Always require payment of 25 to 50 percent before starting. That ensures they're serious and will pay, and commits them to working with you (once they've paid you something, there would be a cost to turf you out and start with someone else.)

2. Get regular payments. If they're not forthcoming, stop work.

3. Give the impression that a) you're not dependent on a single client and b) you can afford to wheel in a lawyer if necessary.

In your current situation, yes, go see a lawyer. You can probably establish via emails or other documents that there was a contract ( this doesn't have to be written down) in which your lawyer can calmly give them the choice of paying $8,000 now or $50,000 in three months time.


Friday, June 04, 2004

You can probably establish via emails or other documents that there was a contract ( this doesn't have to be written down) in which case your lawyer can calmly give them the choice of paying $8,000 now or $50,000 in three months time.


Friday, June 04, 2004

Would you give me $1000 to get $8000?  That is the real question.  Of course it is worth it.  In addition, he can fashion a contract for them in the future. 

The mistake I see made, especially by new contractors is they do not want to create a problem by asking for a client to sign a contract.  It's only business and a client unwilling to agree to terms in advance is a client that is going to be a problem.

MSHack
Friday, June 04, 2004

Get some friends who are really good with steal pipes and pay a courtesy visit to the faithfull customer. Don't forget the ski masks.

RP
Friday, June 04, 2004

steel pipes. I didn't meant for you to steal the guy's pipes, just break his kneecaps.

RP
Friday, June 04, 2004

Stealing his pipes, especially if he has a very good collection of pipes, may well be more productive than stealing his knee caps.

Giving back bits of severed anatomy is tricky.

Personally, I'd use a lawyer, which is considerably more hurtful in the long run for them.

Simon Lucy
Friday, June 04, 2004

Go ahead, steal his pipes.  Assuming they're copper, the recycle fees will more than pay for your lost $8k.

Recycler
Friday, June 04, 2004

Sort it out if you can by daily pestering, calling a lawyer, withholding code. You still may have to write off some or all of the money, though.

More importantly learn from this. Do better next time with the contractual and invoicing side of things. Many small businesses get into this situation. The good ones only let it happen once.

Herr Herr
Friday, June 04, 2004

Go talk to a lawyer. Might not cost you anything just to bat around the issue and get an estimate on various options. A "you owe my client money" letter on law firm letterhead might be enough to show the customer that you're serious and convince them to pay up.

John C.
Friday, June 04, 2004

Agree with the first poster on how it should be done.
You'll need to handle it better next time.

People who don't pay already have lawyers and
don't really care if one more piles on. They are
expert at delaying and fending off creditors.

If you have small claims court try that and get
something back.

son of parnas
Friday, June 04, 2004

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