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How Long Is Too Long

How long do you wait before asking for help in getting a client to pay?

I am going through a bit of a struggle with a client who owes me money on a couple of projects. I completed the first project, sent them an invoice on the 1st of April and was asked to do two more projects in the meantime. I completed those and was then told I would be receiving payment within a few days. Long story short, I haven't seen payment for even the first project, much less the other two and they haven't responded to an email since the 11th.

It isn't a vast amount of money, just a couple hundred dollars, but to me it makes a difference. I have bills that need to be paid out of that money.

It has been suggested that I go to Angela Hoy of Whispers and Warnings, but I am not wanting to make the move too soon. How long would you wait before asking for outside help to get a client to pay.?


I think if you were told that payment was coming in the next couple of days and you have gotten no reply from the client, then it is time to go to the next step. Don't wait. It's been a month or soon will be. Give them a "If payment is not received by X date, then I will do XX" and actually do it. The irreverent freelancer gave me this tip and it helped with one client and you know how I took care of the other one!

April 25, 2008 at 10:48 AM  

I really have to agree. Once the client doesn't uphold the contract, something needs to be done. I don't see any reason why giving them any grace period is necessary - especially when they gave you the terms of the agreement by stating that they would be paying you on such and such day.

April 25, 2008 at 11:50 AM  

Hmmm Invoicing usually comes with written terms such as net 15 or net 30. I personally only send out checks and payments once a month (with the exception of odesk), so if i used your services i would have negotiated terms ahead of time ;)

If i was in your position I would wait 15 days send a polite reminder "past due" invoice and let them know interest will occur on any invoices past 30 days.


April 28, 2008 at 12:55 AM  

I too would send reminders at the 30- and 60-day marks. My rule of thumb is no more than 90 days, but if you clearly outlined shorter terms, I'd say anything beyond 60 days is fair game.

April 28, 2008 at 6:08 PM  

Thanks everyone!

I did finally receive partial payment and their reason for being so behind. It seemed legit enough, so hopefully I will see the rest before long and won't get that panicky feeling again.

With the seeming recent rash of clients stiffing people, I was really starting to get upset.

April 30, 2008 at 9:08 PM  

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