[FreelanceFilter] I need a lawyer's advice! (or other freelancers) I work as a freelance web/Flash developer, and getting money from clients after the job is done is always a huge pain in the ass...
posted by kaseijin to work & money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have come to the conclusion that there are 6 basic types of clients out there:
1) The client who wants to pay you hourly...and runs up hour after hour after hour, with you reminding him that time is money, and he's running up quite a bill...and then gets sticker shock when his job is done, and refuses to pay.
2) The client who makes *tons* of out-of-scope changes and additions after the job is done (but before you have your check), and demands that they be made, or he's not going to pay you at all.
3) The client who feigns ridiculous outrage over something utterly trivial, which you likely either suggested changing weeks prior only to have your suggestion snubbed, or which was a change specifically requested by the client himself...and refuses to pay on grounds of his "outrage."
4) The client who pitches a massive fit if you try to push back even an internal review conference call...then never pays you, instead giving you a "check's in the mail" runaround for months.
5) "No... I don't have any examples of designs I like. I don't even really know what I want, but I'll know it when I see it. I dunno, just make it fun. (5 stabs at "fun" later) No...that's still not fun enough. Can you add some starbursts? What about comic-sans? That's a fun font! Why don't you make it look more like a PowerPoint presentation, but use that font to fun it up some?"
6) Wonder-client. This one's rare.
Anyway, I'm in a sticky predicament with a client of the 4th variety. So, here goes:
Prior to leaving for grad school and starting my (now second) extended stint of freelancing, I was working at a prominent advertising agency here in town. After my departure, some friends at the agency needed some Flash work done, and contracted me.
They handled all interaction with the client, sent estimates, received purchase orders, etcetera, and did the visual design of the site. I did the build, programming, and sound work, and offered a lot of extraneous web advice -- some taken by the client, and some not.
I was to bill the client directly rather than bill the agency, despite my minimal contact with them, and the agency had all of my estimates approved.
Because of this, I never had in my hands a purchase order, never got to draft a contract, and never recieved a deposit up-front for work to be performed. I *do*, however, have a lengthy e-mail paper trail involving both the agency and the client detailing what was to be paid, to whom, and for what services.
Upon completion of the job, I invoice the client in two parts - each with a note explaining that payment is expected within 30 days. The client agrees to this term via email, and tells me that they have put the information "in the system" to be mailed out on a certain date (30 days exactly after invoice).
30 days pass. 40 days pass. 50 days pass. After many calls and several emails of escalating urgency on my part, and after several claims of "oh, it's in the mail," and, "I'll send it out first thing in the morning," on their part... I finally get my check for the first invoice. They tell me the second one will be on time (it was invoiced a few weeks after the first).
Now, it's been 60 days since they got the 2nd invoice, and I have no sign of payment. I have not heard back from emails I have sent. The project manager at the advertising agency called them and was told that the person responsible for mailing the checks was "out for a few weeks."
What is my recourse, here? What are my options? I need the money, obviously, or I would have done the work. Can I take down the site for non-payment? Would that be legal? Would it be ethical? It would certainly piss them off, and it would probably piss off the agency that acted as intermediary. That might equate to a real cost in terms of potential work down the road (and they might turn into the client that flat-out refuses to pay at all), but then.... the client is also currently using goods that have not been paid for in full.
What should I do?