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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Time To Fire The Client?

Here's the situation. Last year I found a client who wanted me to write keyword rich articles for him. They weren't too arduous, just a couple of keywords a few times each - and the pay was relatively good. He paid two weeks after invoicing and kept to that schedule.

Then came Christmas, and things changed. I did several jobs just before Christmas, so in January I still had three invoices outstanding with that client. All of a sudden I wasn't getting prompt responses to emails. I chased for two of the invoices and got various runaround stories (no-one's in to sign the check, we have paid it into your account [they hadn't] and so on).

So I got tough and when they asked me to do some more work, I said they needed to pay two of the three outstanding invoices first. They did, then they paid the third one and then they asked me to do more work. I did, because they had paid. But then I waited nearly eight weeks for them to pay me. I chased them several times.

In that time they asked me to do more work. I replied that I would only consider it after I had been paid, which they finally did last Friday. Now they have asked me to do more work. But I'm worried. How long will I have to wait for this payment? Can I really afford to spend the time to do the work and not get paid? I don't think so. At the same time I wonder whether I am jeopardizing a relationship with a client who was good, and might be again. My gut feeling tells me it's time to fire this client and find someone new to replace that income. What do you think?


Brenda Marie Hoffman said...

I have to agree with you and do what Donald Trump does so well: tell the client, "You're fired."

Dana Prince said...

I'm with you on the struggling part, as you know since we share this client.

I'm inclined to think future projects might need to be paid for in advance. They know my integrity and know about their lack thereof. I felt at first that I would work with them, understanding hard times but the lack of response = a lack of respect at this point.

Too bad though, it was fun while it lasted. :(

BloggingWriter said...

Thanks, Brenda. I see you've written an AC article on getting ripped off. I will be sure to check that out once these deadlines are over.

I thought you might feel that way, Dana :) I suppose it doesn't hurt to ask - as you say, I always deliver on time - maybe at least a 50 per cent deposit.

Lillie Ammann said...

I agree with Dana that requiring prepayment is reasonable. I always require a deposit before starting work for a new client and expect payment for one project before starting another. These terms are clearly spelled out in the information package I send out to anyone requesting information about my services.

Maybe you could send this client a letter that you have established a new policy and attach terms requiring prepayment (or at least a deposit and payment upon completion).

I do state in my policy that terms can be negotiated, and I have several clients that I bill monthly. These are long-time clients who have established a reputation with me, and I do a lot of different things (at least a little something almost every day) for them. I just keep track of my time and bill at an hourly rate at the end of the month. But everyone else gets an invoice with the work.

Jul said...

I agree, prepayment sounds best, but at the very least I'd require them to agree to very specific payment terms, which include penalties for late payments. It costs your time when you have to go chasing down payments, so if they're going to require chasing, you should charge them more for that.

BloggingWriter said...

That's a great idea, Lillie - and I think I will add that to my terms in future. I have been very lucky so far - not many bad clients - but including that in the deal would make it less likely that I'd be hanging around waiting for a check.

Katherine Huether said...

I think that you should say yes to that one round but in your acceptance of the project say to them something like: My career is going in a different direction and I no longer have the time to fit in your project. I understand that you have been a good client and a steady source of income, and for that I thank you. But at this time, I can no longer accept work from you after this round is complete. I will invoice as usual after this project is complete. And then if they do not pay, sell the articles on Constant Content or turn them into free ezine articles with affiliate links in them. :)

BloggingWriter said...

Good thought, Katherine. I asked them to pay me at least some up front and they are thinking about it, so we'll see what happens. However, I like the way you put it and I will keep that in mind if it happens again. :)