What to do with not getting paid for part time job?
April 3, 2016 2:22 AM   Subscribe

I did some part time freelance work but did not get paid as agreed. What can I do? How to revenge?

Someone asked me to help do some more transcription work for him after I had successfully finished the first one on Mturk. He would pay me by PayPal, So out of Mturk work.

He doesn't pay me any upfront amount, just send me the audio files and asks me to transcribe, and then pay me based on the length of the file.
It worked the first two times, but since then he often disappeared/stopped responding after I sent him the finished work on time. Each audio file he sent takes me about 20 hours to finish.

The last time since not hearing from him for about two weeks, I politely sent an email asking if he would pay me. He replied rudely accusing me for urging him while he was busy traveling.
I thought I was done with the asshxxle.

But, a month ago he asked me again if I can help and this time he would pay me promptly, and I said yes. He said he would send me the file by next day. One week passed, I didn't receive anything. And I have my schedule of work to do. And then I happen to fell ill and very ill the following week, so didn't reply when he sent out the file, nor could I work on it . Finally after another week, I replied, explained, and promised I could finish it soon if he still need it. He replied promptly said yes he definately need it and urgently. So I worked my ass off and delivered in a day. Then this guy just disappeared again. No acknowledgement of receipts, no reply, no payment, no nothing.

It's been two weeks since I sent him the work. Yesterday I sent him an email asking. If he hasn't replied by tomorrow I think I am going to take some action.

I have his name and contact info, and all the audio files he recorded as interviews between him and some foreign social celebrities, the content of these interviews mostly warrant censorship in those foreign countries. And this person is actually somebody with a name( MIT visiting scholar webpage has his info), but the people he interviewed are much bigger names than he is.

I don't want to violate the law, but since there is no formal contract between him and I, which he takes advantage of, I think I can publicate all his info as well as the content of his work, send them to those celebrity interviewees and his affiliated organizations (such as MIT ), see what's there reactions?

Help and opinions are needed. Thanks very much!
posted by pack2themoon to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"I think I can publicate all his info as well as the content of his work, send them to those celebrity interviewees and his affiliated organizations (such as MIT ), see what's there reactions?"

I don't think that is a good idea. Even hinting on this in an email might be blackmailing but I am not a lawyer.

One thing I did not get. The first time the asshxxle paid you finally? Likely he will pay you this time too if you nag him a little bit. Then, never work for him again.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:27 AM on April 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

So he's paid you every time but has consistently taken a while to do it? Two weeks isn't really that long then. Yeah, he lied about paying promptly, but that was kind of anticipatable... I would have insisted on being paid in advance, or withheld the file until paid.

But since you didn't do that, wait another week and tell him you're going to take him to court for it.
posted by metasarah at 3:50 AM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Let me say first that I'm having a lot of sympathy for your position (small business with translations, repair services and as an artist - some people are just really slow paying...)

I would, in your place, structure the business part of the enterprise. A few suggestions:

Who are your clients? Individuals should always pay up front (it's totally normal to ask this); businesses get billed together with the delivery of the work.

Ask for a billing address. Don't do any work for anyone before you have that billing address, like, a physical mailbox address. This is the address that has to appear on the bill you send, even if you send it electronically.

Set a fixed payable-by date for your business exchanges, like 14 days, or a month. Ok, so over here in Sweden, there are laws that protect business owners: we're entitled to add interest to a reminder bill. If you're in the US, a payable-by-this-date billing solution may be subject to other rules - no matter. What it does to you is to calm you down before it is time to get antsy. "You promised me this and that" in a follow-up e mail is emotionally much more challenging for you than saying in your bill: "This payment is due on (date)."

Don't worry about someone's status. Whatever their transcripts' content may be, whatever their position is - it doesn't matter either way. You deliver a service they're asking for, they pay within an agreed-upon timespan. Everything else is unprofessional.

Revenge is also unprofessional. Someone who didn't pay shouldn't get a new batch of work done before payment for the previous one has been received, that's all. If they behave rudely at any point in your exchanges, it should be "sorry but no" on the first subsequent occasion, or in some extreme cases perhaps: right away. Own your pride. That's your revenge.

I hate to say this but it's important. Make sure in your exchanges with clients that your grammar, choices of past or present tense and spelling are correct. This pickiness sucks, I know. Correct writing makes a difference, no matter whether you're a native or non-native speaker (I'm writing this as a non-native English speaker). Also, never send anything when you're still angry. Revise what you want to send to difficult clients at least once in a different sitting.
posted by Namlit at 4:30 AM on April 3, 2016 [23 favorites]

The best thing to do with this jerk is to just never do any work for him ever again: write it off as a loss and a lesson learned the hard way.

But if you do agree to work for him again: first, make sure he has totally paid up for the previous work. Next, make sure he pays in full, in advance for anything you ever do for him in the future: he has proven he can't be trusted to pay promptly, and he'll never change. And get a written contract, too --- without one, you have no hold over him, and no proof he ever agreed to pay you in the first place: it's just he said/you said.
posted by easily confused at 4:37 AM on April 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Thanks every one. I'm too naive, I think I can't get my money back.
Now I'm thinking about to report this person to the related country's ministry of foreign affairs and probably they can investigate his censored speech/report and retract his visa for entrance.
posted by pack2themoon at 5:58 AM on April 3, 2016

It really might help future answerers (not to waste time on wild guesses) if you told us how many payments are still due.

DID this person pay for the previous gig? Did they only not (yet) pay for this last gig?

OR did they not pay for the previous gig and you nevertheless decided to work for them again?

Also not trivial (as per your update and your mentioning foreign countries and stuff): which legislation applies?
posted by Namlit at 6:15 AM on April 3, 2016

I realize you're angry and want to lash out, but reporting him, trying to think of ways to revenge yourself upon him, etc., virtually guarantee you won't get paid. Get a free invoice creation service, create an invoice with a due date of a week from now, send it to him. Then start tacking late fees on (not big ones, just $25 every invoice or something) whenever he fails to pay.

But yes - if you email him and threaten action or anything else guarantees that you will NOT get paid.

I personally would still take his money next time except require that he pay in advance.
posted by arnicae at 6:17 AM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Most businesses are based on a 30-day invoicing schedule, so 2 weeks really isn't that long of a wait (some of the businesses I worked with when I was freelancing had 60 day invoicing). If you require payment faster than that, you're going to have to get that agreed upon by both parties in writing. Actually, both parties should agree upon payment and the speed of payment before any work is done.

This is one of those "learning experiences" you may have to write off. 1. Don't work with someone who is difficult if you don't want to, and 2. Get everything in writing in advance, and maybe 3. Get some payment up front (50% isn't unreasonable for stuff you can't withhold), oh and maybe 4. Receipt of materials comes upon payment. Don't give this guy his files back until you get your money.
posted by xingcat at 6:58 AM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

What you really want is your money, not revenge. Going after revenge, even if it works, does not get you paid.

In general, if you want to freelance, you will want to adopt a more professional, structured approach to doing business. Your operations should follow a standard pattern, like a flowchart. "Determine best course of revenge" will not appear on that flowchart.

You don't have to figure this all out tomorrow, but over time, watch or study what other professionals do (there's good advice elsewhere in this thread) and copy pieces of it for yourself.

I don't think two weeks is long enough to give up on getting paid. Two months is more like it. Two weeks is, unfortunately, a normal amount of time for a payment to be late.

Given that this guy has already paid you a few times, it seems fairly likely (not guaranteed) that he will pay this bill eventually if you are persistent. Getting visibly angry will make this less likely, not more likely, and trying to punish him will pretty much guarantee he will not pay you.

Keep sending emails. Short, polite reminders. Send another one today or tomorrow, then every few days. I do once a week, but you can probably do every 3-4 days in this case. Polite (polite), patient, persistent.
posted by mattu at 7:31 AM on April 3, 2016 [10 favorites]

Trying for revenge, especially public revenge, will drag your name down as much as his.

Now I'm thinking about to report this person to the related country's ministry of foreign affairs and probably they can investigate his censored speech/report and retract his visa for entrance.

I think you're being extremely unrealistic about how much anyone other than you cares about this and that it's going to lead you into doing things that will cause you trouble down the line. Read the good advice that other people have given you above, step back from the situation, and cool down about this before doing anything further.
posted by Candleman at 7:36 AM on April 3, 2016 [10 favorites]

So much drama.

I don't chase invoices until 30 days past date of issue. I chase again at 50 days. At 60 days I get pushy and re-invoice with a penalty and interest (my original invoice states I will do this). I get paid.

If you're not happy with this guy's payment speed, insist on money up front or refuse the work. This revenge thing you're talking about is crazy.
posted by foolfilment at 7:51 AM on April 3, 2016 [12 favorites]

I don't think the ministry option is wise or likely to be fruitful. However, if he has a job with an institution then you might consider escalating your invoice to them.
posted by biffa at 7:52 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

How much money does this person owe you? You fell ill and were late in doing the work and now he is late in paying and you want to extract revenge rather than try to get paid? I do not think it is a prpper use of this site for us to advise you on revenge.
posted by AugustWest at 8:18 AM on April 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

if he has a job with an institution then you might consider escalating your invoice to them
And here is the thing. In my experience working for [people at] institutions, their payment routines are almost always convoluted, while the payment discipline is often somewhat slack. Some institutions actually expect the payee to find out by her/himself about the claim-your-payment-routine: not by sending an invoice, but by hunting down and filling in some PDF form which is hidden somewhere down below, eight levels remote, on the institution's website.
In that framework, you and your client seem to be still pretty darn much in the green, and perhaps that person isn't even your true Nemesis: it might well instead be some lame administrator, or it may be that your visiting-scholar-from-another-country-person hasn't found out about the routines properly (no excuse, perhaps, but still).

So what we apparently are dealing with is someone who "replied rudely accusing [you] for urging him while he was busy traveling," and being somewhat late with payments while working at an institution, is that right?

Because then, you also might re-read that e-mail, ask yourself how rude it actually was, revise your use of "accused" (because you actually urged him while he was busy traveling, so, stated fact, no matter you knew or not), and just bury your revenge plan for now.
posted by Namlit at 8:23 AM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's been two weeks since I sent him the work.

If it's going to be a significant burden for you to complete something on an accelerated timetable, charge them a rush fee. If dealing with someone is more hassle than you want to deal with, don't keep them as a client. If you want your clients to act like professionals, you have to act like a professional. That means sending them invoices with reasonable terms and bothering clients about them only after a reasonable period has passed since that due date. 30 days is the standard invoice due date; if you're not going to give them 30 days, they should be paying up front. A reminder on the due date is appropriate, but only a polite one, with bothering people more after 60 or 90 days--revenge never if you want to actually still be employable afterwards. You've got your life where you have to deal with things like being sick before you deal with client work; your clients have their lives where they have to deal with a lot of other things before they get around to paying translators.

If you want to do contract work, you need to get used to managing your finances so that this isn't a problem for you. Or else you need to go find W-2 employment where you can absolutely predict when you get your paychecks.
posted by Sequence at 8:42 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

A typical collections schedule for post-paid work looks something like this (stopping when payment is received).

- day 0: submit invoice due 30 days in the future.
- day 30: submit a new invoice.
- day 45: send a polite note that payment is still outstanding, in which you verify that you have followed correct invoice process.
- day 60: submit new invoice, and polite reminder to your contact that payment is now 30 days past due (including contractually agreed late fees)
- day 90: submit new invoice, and notice that all in-progress projects will be paused until payment (now 60 days past due) is received.
- day 120: send notice that account is 90 days past due, and is being sent to collections.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 9:02 AM on April 3, 2016 [11 favorites]

There's a lot of good advice about how to get paid as a freelancer above, but that isn't what you asked for.

You asked for advice on how to get revenge.

You were naive in your practices, which is understandable. But it doesn't entitle you to destroy someone else's livelihood, especially when there are common-sense steps you could and should have taken to protect yourself after the first time you had an issue with this client.

You should expend the effort instead on gaining maturity, both professional and personal.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:46 AM on April 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Do you really think this is an appropriate response? I mean, what is your goal here? To get paid? Or to blackmail him and get revenge?

He took forever to pay you the previous time and he was rude about it. Now you are acting surprised and upset the same thing is happening again. He doesn't sound very professional, but neither do you. Tell him you need to be paid by the end of the month and let it go. I'm a freelancer, sometimes it's taken me like two months to get paid. Freaking out this bad over TWO WEEKS is totally uncalled for.

Now I'm thinking about to report this person to the related country's ministry of foreign affairs and probably they can investigate his censored speech/report and retract his visa for entrance.

How much is this transcribing worth? If it's anything less than like a million dollars, this is completely irrational and he is not the one who is being an "asshxxle." Do not do this. Let it go.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

[Couple of comments deleted. pack2themoon, revenge questions aren't allowed on AskMe. We've allowed this one so people can give advice about getting payment or how to handle non-payment, but revenge is a total no-go here, including using AskMe to hint at the person's identity.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm a freelancer too. Chasing payment is annoying and exhausting. Ways to mitigate the annoyance:

1. Clarify in advance what invoice process they prefer: "For work like this, I typically submit an invoice via email with net-30 terms, and payment can be either by cheque or bank transfer... Would that work for you?" (net-30 means they pay within 30 days)

2. Email the invoice promptly, using a subject line like "Invoice for work completed March 3 2016". That way it's obvious at a glance what it is and when it's been too long.

3. CC the invoice to your own mailbox and use a service like Boomerang for Gmail to send it back to your inbox in 30 days, so you don't have to keep track at all.

4. In 30 days when it comes back, if it's been paid, just archive it. If not, send a polite nudge.

5. Use Boomerang to also send that nudge email back to yourself every X days (14 days is my usual duration for the nudges, whatever feels right.)

6. Nudge diligently, every couple of weeks. "Just checking in on the below invoice from March 3." Be very nice til they pay you. If it suits your relationship with the person, you can add an explanation why you need payment asap ("sorry to nudge but I had some unexpected bills this month and this delay is causing me difficulty").

7. Once they pay you, decide if they pay well enough to make it worthwhile for you to put up with their bullshit. If not, put them on your private list of people who will forevermore be told, "oh darn my schedule won't work out with this job, thank you for thinking of me and best of luck with it!" Sending those emails to jerks feels great.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:25 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Update: still haven't heard from him, sent another email today.
What if he decided not to pay finally? What can I do legally?
posted by pack2themoon at 3:50 PM on April 4, 2016

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