Need advice on payment terms for client that's bailing

by j77
6 replies
I have a global client who contacted me earlier in the fall to write up six articles of about 1500 words each, including conducting of interviews with their six subjects onsite at this global client's headquarters. Turns out, I find out today that things just didn't work out. It ends up being a bureaucracy thing.

They want to break off and will write the material themselves. And their marketing people won't write it - it will be the business people writing it. Like I said, bureaucratic mistake on their end but such is the global brand world sometimes

What do you propose I charge them, percentage-wise? They are asking for my suggestion on fair value settlement of the charges.

Here are some details:
-- Project was for 6 articles to be written and involved interviews for 6 of their partners, which I flew out to their headquarters and did for them onsite.

-- 2 of the 6 articles have been delivered to them and I was working on number 3 when I got the news today.

-- They are also requesting the audio and text dictations of all interviews, which I do have so that's not a problem for me to provide all of that. This wasn't part of the agreement, but I have no problem giving to them. However, I do feel I should be compensated for this though and don't plan to provide this until I receive payment that we agree on.

--Travel reimbursement and expenses have already been documented and agreed on payment terms separately, so I'm not concerned with that part.
I'm thinking of charging them 70% of the agreed final project price. Should I be charging them higher? Lower?

I've been in the business for 15 years. It's a first for me that I'm experiencing this, so while I look at my history and laugh this one off, I do want to make sure I'm getting maximum compensation from the client ... errrr ex-client

Thanks for any advice any people here can provide or would want to share their opinions.
#advice #bailing #client #payment #terms
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Assuming you were on track to meet deadlines for the project, I think 70% is reasonable due to giving them the notes/audio from the interviews. They will have two completed articles, one draft article - notes/audio from the remaining interviews.



    If it were me I'd probably go 60-65% and ask for a recommendation and future consideration/referrals.
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    • Profile picture of the author j77
      Thanks for the input and your opinion here. Yes I was meeting all the deadlines we agreed. I'm kind of leaning the same to go with the 60/65% just to make this more attractive for them, potentially cleaner and smoother but at the same time I want to make sure I don't short change myself. The 3rd one is very early stages but enough that I started it so I wouldn't even say it's a draft version. But I did go there to conduct all the interviews so that part of the project was finished.

      I'm not concerned with the recommendation/referral from them. They're clearly not someone I trust at this point and it's not something I'd trust them to ever put for a referral for me.

      At the same time, I am being completely respectful and courteous to my contact there as I don't know all the details and never will behind the reasoning. It could be and very likely is just internal games where marketing and the business is in-fighting. Don't care . They don't want to continue, I'm just looking to go back and suggest a final payment to them.

      My email reply was going to be courteous and to the-point, not even as a suggestion but just kind of saying something to the effect of:

      "Very unfortunate to learn this. I will email you an invoice for 65% of the project agreement, plus the travel expenses I had previously itemized for you. Would you like those as separate invoices? Upon payment, I will also provide you both the audio and exported dictated PDF files from each of the interviews."

      Happy to hear any other opinions from anyone else who's ever gone through a similar case or if there's a protocol.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    "Very unfortunate to learn this. I will email you an invoice for 65% of the project agreement, plus the travel expenses I had previously itemized for you. Would you like those as separate invoices? Upon payment, I will also provide you both the audio and exported dictated PDF files from each of the interviews."

    I would delete the "would you like...." question. That leaves the door open to negotiation. Send one invoice - list the travel as a separate item and be clear that payment is 'due'.


    Would be interested to know how it turns out for you.
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    • Profile picture of the author j77
      Coming back to this finally. Thank you for your realistic advice.

      Yes I did follow this and it worked out. I sent a short email saying that it's unfortunate that they're cancelling the agreement and saying the charge will be 65% and that the invoices will be sent after the weekend. They came back and said they didn't think it was fair to charge that much based on just two articles, but I replied back immediately with the invoices attached and a long bullet list of all of the time and work I had already put in, turning over all the source interview material, recordings and transcriptions, travel time and project time invested on their project that I would have used on other clients.

      Basically a bullet list of about 10 different items as to why I'm charging the 65% and ending it saying something to the effect of, "Oh and BTW, you're cancelling an agreement and that 65% is more than fair based on the bullet list above and you terminating the agreement. I do expect full payment on these invoices. Regards." Period and done. It was quite gutsy and very to the point and blunt, but it worked. Would it have worked for a smaller business? Probably not.

      And maybe they push back if I didn't have all the source interview material (audio and dictations) that they didn't have.

      Lesson learned, too close a call. In the future I at least put it in writing at the very beginning that any cancellation to the agreement before end of project means at least 70% is due.

      This is a huge global client though that everyone here would know, so it's unfortunate but I move on ... Thanks again for the advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Thanks for the update - glad it worked. Add a 'cancellation' fee into your contract going forward but I think you managed it well.



    You knew what the work was worth and handled it professionally. If you don't stand up for yourself...who will?
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    Saving one dog will not change the world - but forever changes the world of one dog.
    ***
    On the outside, everything is fine. But deep down, inside my boot, my sock is slipping down.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jerrico
      yea and make the cancellation fee 40% buhahahaha
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