Client not paying. What do you suggest?

44 replies
Hi Guys,

I guess it had to happen at some point but I have a client that paid me a 50% deposit. The project was completed but now he is ducking and diving in terms of paying the balance. He is not returning my calls or emails and I don't really want to go the legal route as I don't have the cashflow.

What would you suggest I do?

Thanks
Di
#client #paying #suggest
  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    Originally Posted by DianaHeuser View Post

    Hi Guys,

    I guess it had to happen at some point but I have a client that paid me a 50% deposit. The project was completed but now he is ducking and diving in terms of paying the balance. He is not returning my calls or emails and I don't really want to go the legal route as I don't have the cashflow.

    What would you suggest I do?

    Thanks
    Di
    Is it ranking? Is it in a popular niche?

    I'd send him a Breech letter, give him 15 days to respond, if he doesn't pay up or partake in a payment plan... you take his website away, and it's time to find one of his competitors and rent it out.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lori Kelly
      Did you do a website for him?

      If you'd rather not mention the service product, send me an email, okay?

      Did you have a written contract/agreement with him?

      If it was me and it was a website, I'd take it down.

      I would continue to call him and let him know that I understand these are difficult economic times but I would be more than willing to set up a payment plan. I'd go that route for a while and see what happens.

      You're absolutely right about not going the legal route. I've learned there's usually one big winner in that scenario: the lawyer.
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    • Profile picture of the author GeorgeX
      Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

      Is it ranking? Is it in a popular niche?

      I'd send him a Breech letter, give him 15 days to respond, if he doesn't pay up or partake in a payment plan... you take his website away, and it's time to find one of his competitors and rent it out.
      I do suggest it to as the best idea. I advice you to ensure getting paid before the Project ends. It is always a good practice to retain loyal customers.
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    • Profile picture of the author beestaff
      Absolutely agree with you iAMnameless! I dont like to mention this in business but some of clients have no belief and behave rule and unfair.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aditeo
    ehh dont go legal way only if you have the money and that sale worth it . Otherwise .... take down its website
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  • Profile picture of the author AustinDigital
    depends what services you provided for him, which you never mentioned.
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  • Profile picture of the author Stranger Danger
    Yes, I think the OP should return to the thread and provide more information.
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  • Profile picture of the author wadboram
    Stay professional as long as you can but always have plan B as suggested by members here.
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  • Profile picture of the author SiteSmarty
    If it's a website design, eat it and do this for your next one:

    -Take the 50% down payment
    -Do your work on YOUR development server
    -When they approve, get the other half of your money
    -Move your work over to their hosting

    Write the 50% loss off on your taxes and forget it. You can have a few more clients by the time you chase this dude around for your money. I feel for you though. Not getting paid sucks.
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  • Profile picture of the author wilder1047
    I've had this happen to me once.

    Wouldn't reply to my phone calls or e-mails.

    So, I just went to his office, he came out and greeted me like all was well, got his cheque book without me asking and wrote me a cheque for my work.

    He then decided to show me an e-mail he was getting from an SEO in India, while going through his inbox to find it, I saw all of my e-mails I had sent to him, all unopened, haha.

    Sooo, wasn't really sure what to make of it, but took my money and moved on..
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    • Profile picture of the author DoWhatWorks
      I agree with wilder1047....If you can, stop into their place of business. Sometimes, they are just really too busy to make time to sit down and write a check. Nevertheless, they won't want to make a scene in their place of business, so a friendly pop-in will probably do the trick. Maybe even bring in a $7 plate of cookies from the local bakery to really play it up. It would be hard for them to not pay you what they owe you after you bring in a tasty treat. :-) A $7 plate of cookies is a lot less costly than having to hire an attorney. If they don't have a check on them, just ask them what time you can stop in tomorrow. Gotta love the disarming power of cookies! :-)

      -Terry


      Originally Posted by wilder1047 View Post

      I've had this happen to me once.

      Wouldn't reply to my phone calls or e-mails.

      So, I just went to his office, he came out and greeted me like all was well, got his cheque book without me asking and wrote me a cheque for my work.

      He then decided to show me an e-mail he was getting from an SEO in India, while going through his inbox to find it, I saw all of my e-mails I had sent to him, all unopened, haha.

      Sooo, wasn't really sure what to make of it, but took my money and moved on..
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  • Profile picture of the author PhilaPM
    I'd take it down until they paid me in full. I've actually had the opposite happen. Lol. I had done a website for a guy in exchange for a discount on our kitchen he installed. He wasn't happy with the site and said I owed him $3,000 and I was like "yeah, ok". He had registered the domain name himself so he went in and changed the name servers and took down his own site! Its been down for like two months now and he never put up a new one.

    Patrick
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    if you have access to his site I would shut it down and refuse to open it again until he paid what was owing. If you can't shut it down but have access, delete info until he pays or kill important parts of it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Assefseer
    if he didnot pay then warn him.otherwise you can spam his website or remove his website links..
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    • Profile picture of the author Stranger Danger
      Originally Posted by Stranger Danger View Post

      Yes, I think the OP should return to the thread and provide more information.

      Originally Posted by DianaHeuser View Post

      I did a website for him but I am not hosting it. Just revamped his existing site and added some additional functionality.

      Thanks guys, will pop in later to read properly.

      Just swamped at the moment
      -Do you have control of anything? Do you have any contracts or agreements in place for leverage? Is this client local to you - and are you currently in S Africa? If so, I do not know the local laws where you are at.

      Regarding your problem with non-paying client...I think you will be able to answer your question better than anyone else at the moment.
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  • Profile picture of the author DianaHeuser
    Thank you for the helpful suggestions. I appreciate it. Going to pay them a little visit tomorrow and see if the 'face-to-face' approach works.

    Thanks again,
    Di
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  • Profile picture of the author Cyberdog1
    You must have a way to control some part of the site as you revamped etc, you must have log-ins somewhere.

    Wait a little bit longer - There could be many reasons why he cannot pay, maybe offer an installment option for him in case he has financial issues at the mo.

    If he does not pay a penny in the next few months then I'm sure myself and a few other WF members can destroy his site from the outside for you!!

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  • Profile picture of the author seo-it-right
    If you have done a website take it down, we did this to a client and they soon paid up. Really annoy me people like this, quick enough to say yes but not so quick to pay over!
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    • Profile picture of the author Sean Collins
      Ouch, that is frustrating.

      I have had things like this happen, and believe it or not one thing that has SOMETIMES been effective has been to offer ANOTHER service.

      Not a big service, but something they want/need.

      Maybe this works because it gets them back into a buying mood.

      So, for example, you did SEO.

      But their Facebook page doesn't exist, or isn't updated, or they don't have a G+ page. Or they need a places page.

      It's good if it's something THEY think is urgent.

      An unclaimed places page, bad reviews (or no reviews), that kind of thing.

      Offer a deal to get it done for them fast.

      Then, of course, tell them that you need to settle that last invoice so you can get started immediately.

      This only works if they are not jerks, and/or having real cashflow crunch.

      Also, obviously, you need prepayment on the new little task.

      True story: One client got really mad when I said this last requirement. "You're not going to work on this new project till the last invoice gets paid? We're a 400-million dollar company!"

      I still laugh at that reply, it's irrational like an unsolveable zen koan. (ps that invoice got paid quickly.)

      Weird option number two: Offer something with high perceived value, but which is REALLY simple to do, as a thank-you for settling this. Something that you could get from fiverr, for instance.

      I understand the temptation to get mad, but I also know that sometimes you need to make payroll. (Payroll is especially urgent if you are the sole employee!)

      To help prevent this in the future: if you don't already do so, see about taking debit/credit cards.

      This helps greatly, especially when you have email record that says "I am running 50% payment now, and the other half 30 days from today."

      That 400-million-dollar company paid by check, which is not acceptable anymore. There is no need for us here to be anyone's banker.

      Paypal has a handy virtual terminal, if this is usable where you are.

      (In my experience it works nicely with every card but Amex, which regularly requires card owner to make a phone call to Amex authorizing you to run the card via virtual terminal. Once they call, however, you can run payments thereafter on the card.)

      Please post here when the issue is resolved.

      Sean
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  • Profile picture of the author Daedalus
    I hope your direct approach works out.

    Personally, I'd never pay the remaining 50% if I didn't receive the goods. However, I have always kept my part of the bargain due to some principles that I find important, I just don't trust that people (especially if it's the first time that I'm working with them) share them.

    I think you made it sounds like you have no choice - as if they pulled a gun at you so to speak. You could damage them severely if you wanted, from devaluing their rankings in the SERPs to building a website and offering their design for free to anyone who wants it which would completely devalue their website in the eyes of their customers. And I'm not even being creative here.
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  • Profile picture of the author 919492
    Best thing is to go visit them and just talk.. Maybe they are not happy with the product that you produced.
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  • Originally Posted by DianaHeuser View Post

    Hi Guys,

    I guess it had to happen at some point but I have a client that paid me a 50% deposit. The project was completed but now he is ducking and diving in terms of paying the balance. He is not returning my calls or emails and I don't really want to go the legal route as I don't have the cashflow.

    What would you suggest I do?

    Thanks
    Di
    Hi Di,

    WOW! Do I feel for ya girl.

    Di, send me a PM and I'll send you a very POWERFUL phone script to help ya out! This script was created by one of the most influential financier business minds out there (hint: Oprah Winfrey - financial guru guest, many times over)!

    However, I have connections, which is how I was able to acquire it.

    Again, PM me if you think that this can help you.

    Onwards and Upwards,

    JMB
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    • Profile picture of the author Twoddle
      If you don't want to have to take the website, in the future, simply put a blank index.html on the website which effectively stops any potential customers
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  • Profile picture of the author josephjabawaba
    You'll need to give him legal notice of your intention anyway, so send him a letter giving him ten days' compliance and an indication of what you'll do should he choose to not act on it.
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  • Profile picture of the author DianaHeuser
    Just to give you an update. The face-to-face visit worked. I popped in and asked them if he was uphappy with the work I done and if that was the reason he was not paying. He said not at all, and promptly made the payment into my bank account.

    Thank you for all your advice. I have learnt something out of this though about how to structure my payment schedule though.

    Di
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  • Profile picture of the author agkfl
    Good Job.

    I suggest working with a contract , with a cancellation clause, and payment scedual. Split in 3-4 parts for payment, or mid project payment.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeff Baer
    sometimes when I build a website I watermark a key element so that they have no choice but to pay me to remove it. Hard to do with SEO.

    If it's SEO, maybe one of his competitors can benefit from your research.

    I don't recommend the legal route unless it's big $'s
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    • Profile picture of the author goldog
      Good to hear that you got paid Diana.

      The thread brings up some important points about doing business in this niche. Getting paid is only the beginning. The question of ownership, legalities, etc... may be the light bulb in this thread.

      Some of us don't like "contracts", some view it like having a pre-nup. It could ruin the romance. But a written agreement is important so that both sides know in advance when payments need to be made and what would happen if they are not. I am not an attorney and I don't know the laws where you live but I do think it is important to walk through some scenarios.

      In a case like Diana's where you've done work on an existing site and you don't control anything it could have been hard to do much about a non payer. Some of the suggested remedies could hurt you in the long or short run.

      Even if you were to control everything the damage to your reputation in town may cause problems down the line. For instance, a domain which includes a business name may need to be handled differently than a generic name. I would think an existing site vs a new site would also need differing agreements.
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  • Profile picture of the author TyBrown
    Small claims court doesn't take much money. I think you might pay a fee like $50 or $100 is all.
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  • Profile picture of the author domsdel
    Glad you got paid there! Its always a pain on the finance management those who do not pay on time.
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  • Profile picture of the author anamikasingh
    That's extremely bad.Don't go for legal authorities.You must be having all details that site.Find out his/her competitor and leave at auction.
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  • Profile picture of the author mayankgangwal
    Hi,
    I am facing the problem but my problem is that i bid on a project and got it now client is not getting online since i completed the project and submitted to him.
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  • Profile picture of the author atlantarobin
    Personally, I'd write it off as a learning experience and learn to price your projects knowing that this will happen. Always get what you want in your 50% down, assume that you'll never get the other 50%, and the minute they don't pay, send them another steal of a deal they can't pass up, price it with your new knowledge, and get it in the followup deal.

    That way you never lose a client, never lose sleep over a client NOT paying the back end 50%, and always profit. There's a million things you can do for little money for that client that can help make both of you happy. Right now, he's ashamed he can't pay you. What can you do to help him feel better about that? Just a little twist in your thinking may help turn the situation around...
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  • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
    If you want these people to take you seriously then you have to get their attention. Send their hosting company a DMCA if they are in the US and they will be required by law to take the website offline. If they file a counter notice then just take it to court if it's worth it to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author vasionit
    Hard truth but just move on and don't waste time. plenty of opportunity out there, just consider lucky to get 50% and don't make same mistake again.

    I normally ask 70% advance before I touch anything and also sign some agreement. I hold the key for core business part, if they don't pay rest, they are in losing end.
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  • Profile picture of the author Hasanabd
    Hey diana , i suggest maybe seeing a lawyer but that has affordable price , i wish i helped you
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  • Profile picture of the author Chronic IM
    Hello! If he wouldn't pay you and you don't wanna go through legal routines, just take down the site. If you're still doing updates for the site, just take it a little slow, maybe stop the updates definitely, he'll contact you then ask for the balance. Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author PhilinGood
    IMO, the best thing to do is to replace the main banners or main page contents with the following "This Website Has Not Been Paid Fully By This Company, Careful With Your Dealings With Them". It is FACT, not harsh and gives customer option to consider dealing with them. Improvise what suits you.
    Once they see this they will want you to remove it. This is where you request, "Show Me The Money!"

    Hope it helps. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Anne0521
    Lots of advises already from other members. What I will suggest is to never give up! You deserve to get paid because I'm sure you work hard, really hard to meet his demands. Stay professional, don't stop calling him and reminding him then if nothing happens, you go to plan B.
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    • Profile picture of the author DarrenRM
      Do not use any revenge tactics whatsoever. The people advising you to put up negative messages about the company you're dealing with are immature. You may live to regret action like that. Resolve it like an adult and you can count on their patronage again or maybe even get referrals because of them.

      When I have trouble getting paid, I email them with a "Content removal notice".

      I make it look like an automated email generated from some kind of CRM software I use. Of course, it is written manually by myself but it is made to look like it came from my "system" because of non payment.

      If and when the customer gets in touch with their apology (and payment) I can downplay the email and tell them to just ignore it, and that it was sent without me realising.

      Whatever situation you get into with non payments, do not go out of your way to make the other guy look bad. That sort of nonsense hurts their ego and can backfire on you. If anything, by helping the none paying customer save face you will learn their respect because they know you used tact in raising the point about not being paid.

      If you insist on playing games and having an eye for an eye, at least exhaust the reasonable options first.
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