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.