When a Client Refuses to Pay....

It is every freelance writer's nightmare to work for a client who conveniently goes "poof" after completion of the project. And yes, it happens more often than we would like. What can you do about it? Nothing!! Take it as a lesson learned the hard way and move on. In India, you have only yourself to depend on to safeguard your rights and interests as a freelancer (atleast as far as my knowledge goes).

Out of the many clients that I have had, two turned out to be rats (and I hope the count stops here). And no, it was not because they were not happy with my work, it was simply because they did not want to pay up for the services they used. It is rather nice of a writer to waive off a certain part of the payment if the client appears to be dissatisfied but for a job well done, you certainly deserve the goods!

A certain magazine, I don't know if I should mention any names here, refused to pay for the two stories they commissioned me to write. The eds were after me to deliver it on a short notice - complete with photographs and all but simply chose not to respond to my mails and messages when it was payment time. After a series of reminder mails, I started feeling like a spammer and gave up on them.

An academic writing agency called 'Academia Research' canceled out my account a couple of years ago for no apparent reason when the payout balance reached $800 (ouch, that hurt!). A similar pattern followed- multiple mails, no response. It may be worth mentioning that they did this to one of their "premium writers".You can find another reference to Academia Research's scamming tendencies here.

Two miserable clients later, I am now smart enough to safeguard my interests (or so I think). Here are a few measures that I have adopted hoping that they would help in the event of any unforseen shitty behavior on part of the client:

- Always make note of the complete address, phone number and mobile number of the client and go through the website thoroughly to get a fair idea of their reputation.
- If you happen to be working for an unknown individual/ small business, request them to make half or part of the payment in advance.
- If it is a long-term project, ask them to make payments in parts at different stages of the project. For example, tell them that the next phase of the project will begin only after the dues have been cleared.
- Sign a mutual agreement with all the terms, conditions and method of payment.
- Avoid accepting payments in cash. Instead adopt modes that can be documented in your bank records should you need to produce evidence later.
- Maintain a folder for all the invoices.

While these tips do not guard you against being ditched by a client, they may help upto an extent.

Have you had clients who ran away with your money? Do you have any smart ideas that the rest of us could use? Would love to hear from you.


  1. Hi Suchi,

    I am also an Indian freelance writer (http://freelancewriterjourney.blogspot.com/).
    I have also come across such kind of situations more than once. I can understand your concern and feelings. I know what goes in the heart when you see a blank response from a buyer after delivering your work. The work on which you have spent hours and hours.

  2. Dear Shuchi,

    I think you must name the magazine, so that none of us gets caught in its trap!

  3. Hi Shuchi,

    I think you must name the magazine so that we don't get caught in the trap!

    Priti Salian

  4. Well the magazine was "Fashion and Fitness"...they claimed that they couriered my check but I never received it. When I asked them to resend it, they kept putting it off and its been several months since then. I have given up any hope now....HIGHLY UNPROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR!!

  5. Thanks, Shuchi. I'll keep that in mind.

  6. Thanks shuchi.. for letting other writers know that such incidents do happen.. will keep it in mind!

  7. Thank you :) Hope it never happens to you and others ever again !

  8. Hi
    I worked with a client writer crowd...The mistake i have done is that i have not taken his number and don't knw the name. He said he will pay me by still did not received any amount. He is forcing me to for video chat, which i denied. There is no use for any freelance writer to do video chat...his mail is is writerscrowd@gmail.com

    Priya Bohra

  9. I liked your comment "In India, you have only yourself to depend on to safeguard your rights and interests", the most bitter truth any Indian citizen would be feeling.

  10. I encountered a fake client only once and I simply posted the articles in my own name on my slideshare account. Its simple, you dont pay me work remains mine

  11. Unfortunately we all fall prey to such people, I just had a similar experience with Caleidoscope.in a website which ended up having the most popularity for my article and now shamelessly decided not to pay.. Whats more, I posted my invoice on their FB page and it started a plethora of disgruntled writers asking them to pay up.. But they just deleted the post..

  12. I have screenshots of the post and mails in which they have promised to clear my dues by a certain period.. Can we take legal action against them?


Drop your views here...



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...