There’s nothing worse for a freelancer than not getting paid by a client. While most clients send payment, there are those few who choose not to pay for the work they requested. This is frustrating and daunting, but there are ways to ensure you receive the money owing.
Upon completion of a project, always submit a formal invoice to your client. Be sure to include the following information in the statement being sent.
- The client’s name or business name.
- A detailed description of the work completed.
- Remittance information (should also be in the contract)
Give your client a few days to respond to the invoice sent. Remember, snail mail can often take time to reach the recipient. Emails can end up in spam or junk folders, so patience is important. A great way to know if a client receives an invoice is to ask them contact you upon receipt.
Send Out Reminders
Wait approximately 5-7 business days before sending out your first reminder. Start by issuing a gentle note to your client. It is important not to appear abrupt or harsh, as it could simply be an oversight by the client.
Sometimes a second reminder is necessary, this is the freelancer’s chance to act firmer with their statement. It is essential though, to always remain professional. Include a copy of the contract and invoice with the second reminder. Also, give the client a certain date, in which you expect to receive payment.
File a Complaint
If a client is refusing to pay, there is the option to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Available in both Canada, as well as the United States, filing a complaint with them will not guarantee you receive payment. The complaint will go against the company and hopefully prevent them from scamming someone else.
Some online freelance marketplaces, for example Elance, offers their own methods to resolve financials conflicts between contractors and clients. They offer an option to file a dispute against the client, in which they have two days to respond. From there an arbitrator could be appointed to settle the situation.
Small Claims Court
While this method may seem a little extreme, it might be necessary. Depending on the size of the project completed and the amount of monies owing it could be worth while. Be sure to research the costs involved though, as taking the client to court for a smaller project could cost more than the it is worth.
While most clients are trustworthy, freelancers face the odd one who just won’t pay. This is a potential issue for anyone who is self-employed. Refer to the above methods to help receive the money that is owing.