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Jack Norflus

Client refusing to pay balance.

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For the first time in 23 years I have a client that is refusing to pay me the balance on an outstanding invoice.

With out going into too many details I did a job for a first time client back in March. I receive half payment about 45 days later in April with a letter stating that everything turned out great and they were have some money issues. I was annoyed but appreciated their gesture of half payment and I figured that the rest would come soon. Then I had no additional contact with them until May when I email them regarding the balance and after two emails over two weeks they responded that they would send some additional money soon. A few weeks later they sent a check for $100 at the end of May.

Then a few weeks ago at the beginning of July I contact them again by email.

I got no response. After about 4 or 5 emails over about 3 to 4 weeks inquiring about the status of the payment no answer. Then 5 or 6 phone calls - that went straight to voice mail - I still got no response.

I then sent yet another email stating that I will start charging interest on the balance at 120 days.

Then about a week later at 120 days I sent another invoice via email with interest added on. Still no answer.

Then a week later I sent another email stating that if payment is still not made after 7 business days I will send the mater to collections. In the meantime the DP who is stilled owed money as well contacted them for his money and they sent him an email saying that they would send him some more money soon but they don't know when.

Anyway after that I got a nasty email back from them stating that my contacting them is harassment and I should stop harassing them and I should not contact them again. And If I was nice to them things would have turned out differently.

Anyway I have all my email that shows nothing harassing nor any of my voice mails said anything other then please contact me regarding the balance with my phone number.

 

So I can do small claims court but the amount owed is small and if I don't have work on the court date I am OK with that - but if I loose work that day then financially its not worth it. So I am thinking about using a collections agent - but I'm not sure how successful that will be.

Do I have any other choices?

And does anybody know if the audio files that I recorded and they successfully used is my property till they paid me in full?

On a side note after some Google searches I find out that the clients husband is a fancy entertainment lawyer.

Ant thoughts or ideas?

 

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My opinion is that you are the author of that  sound recording and you have a mechanics lien on it until the bill is paid.

I would contact your clients client and let them know that you have not  been paid.

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This isn't a crewing service, is it?

I did a job for a particular crewing service in early July 2012. My company furnished all the gear, I was the shooter and I hired a sound person (through my company I occasionally don a variety of hats).

Job finished, I immediately sent all the footage to the client (to be used on PBS and/or web) who had hired the crewing service.

I billed the crewing service. My sound person billed me and I promptly paid him.

Then, the wait and followups began. One of the crewing service's principles moaned on the phone about one of their major clients stiffing them. Like that is supposed to be my problem?

Finally, after five and a half months the person again moaned but said, "I have your invoice right here and I'll get a check out to you right away."

Imagine my satisfaction when I received a check from them in my mailbox. Imagine how displeased I was when I discovered the check to be for only one third the amount owed.

More months of nonpayment followed, until this June I decided that before a full year was up I'd pursue the balance with vigor.

My plans included: getting a judgment from Small Claims Court, contacting the state attorney general's office (the crewing service is from out of state), a complaint letter to the Better Business Bureau, contacting the service's client, and some on-line actions (you have to be really careful about this one).

I called the crewing service to issue a final ultimatum.

The principle I had spoken to previously was no longer with the company, which, it turns out, was now under new ownership. Before I could unleash the full force and fury of my ultimatum, they insisted they were trying to make things good with people, and requested a followup invoice.

I emailed a copy of the invoice, reflecting the previous payment. A few minutes later I received a check number and assurances it would be mailed immediately.

A couple of days later I received the check. It cashed. It didn't bounce.

I don't know if this long and winding tale adds any wisdom, but it seemed pertinent when I started writing. Now, I'm not so sure. Maybe some of the above-mentioned measures could apply.

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Even if missing work to go to court results in a loss more than what the client owes, advocating for yourself and asserting yourself in the face of their unprofessional and unethical behavior is invaluable; you may feel better, stronger, cleaner, and more resolved having done it.

best

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I told a company that owed me when I first moved to LA, that I would be posting on various industry forums about the situation, naming them by name.

I was paid quite promptly.

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Check out Nolo.com's free information (and inexpensive books) on small claims court, lawsuits, and setting disputes:

 

Main page for these topics:

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/lawsuits-court

 

Check out this page on how to write a demand letter:

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/demand-letter-settle-dispute-30105.html

 

 

Nolo's stuff is written and/or edited by lawyers. And their goal is to help you resolve disputes before going to court. I've found their information to be really useful...has helped me collect on some bad debts without going to court.

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Jack, I was a bill collector for several years. You are not harassing them. You are entitled to call them four times per day from 8am-9pm Mon-Sat. If they do not want to be contacted via phone then they must send you a cease & desist letter in writing. At this point I would just raise your stakes a bit and file the paperwork in court already or hire a collection agency. Keep in mind you are allowed to charge interest/late fees since they are far past due. 

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Anytime I work for a new client, one that is NOT from an established and known company, I politely tell them since I have no prior business relationship with them I need the payment for services at the end of the show... HAVE THAT IN WRITING... This has worked great for me...

  I seldom work for strangers much anymore, and if I do, as I said, it is usually from a known company.

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Oh man. I am going through something similar now-- it has been over a year. Hopefully (just yesterday, coincidentally) this latest round will put a nail in it. 

 

My personal opinion is that messing with lawyers for this sort of thing takes too much time and (potentially) money-- but that contacting people directly and firmly on the phone could work nicely.

 

Don't put up with their BS. and +1 for it's the principle of the thing. People and companies shouldn't be allowed to steal.

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If you do take them to small claims court, can you add on the amount that you would lose if a job calls you for the court day; add on an average day's rate and rental to the amount you are suing them for?

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If you haven't yet send a statement, a proposed repayment schedule and a polite yet firm letter outlining your concern at being stiffed that outlines your concern regarding ownership of the work you've done via certified mail, return receipt requested.

If they're local, file a workman's lien immediately, like Monday first thing. If you are too busy, hire an attorney to do it.

If not you should start looking for a labor lawyer in their town. If you signed an independent contractor agreement a court will most likely find that you're actually an employee and then it becomes a federal case.

Best regards,

Jim

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couple of points include that if you havenot been fully paid for it, the client does not own it...

 

" you will make public to the industry folks you know (and on forums, like Henchman mentioned) that this company has stolen money  from you "

caution:  you could possibly be sued, and lose!

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A few weeks later they sent a check for $100

 

"I have your invoice right here and I'll get a check out to you right away."

 

 

It's 2013 now and you Americans still mess around with checks. I don't quite get it..

 

Everywhere else (at least in European countries) companies use online bank services and pay directly to your account. That's why we have IBAN account numbers.

 

99% of the time I send my invoices via email in PDF format and my clients pay to my bank account in 7-14 days. Maybe once or twice a year I will have to print out the invoice and send it in an envelope like in the 90's.. ;) And I still get paid in less than 14 days.

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I had a company owe me a decent amount, and the entire crew for that matter, for 3 days work. No one was paid for 4 months.  Each of us sent one email a day and called twice a day.  The cam op would show up at the office asking for a check every week as well. The entire crew got the same phone call every week of "the check is in the mail" or "the check must of gotten lost in the mail."  When has anyone's mail gotten lost?  I heard through the grapevine that the production company was changing names and forming an new business entity to avoid collectors and unpaid invoices.  This is something they did once before, and are trying to do again.  I immediately sent an intent to sue letter and got paid within a week.  The rest of the crew formed a group to take them to small claims but were all paid in cash before the court date.  

 

Since then the company did change entities and puts all their freelancers on NET 60.  The only crew that works for them now are all low-rate and college student "interns"  Full Disclosure: the unpaid crew, including myself, were all on staff 6 months earlier.  Then our paychecks bounced one day and we all walked out.   

 

If you are not compensated for your time and skill on a job and do nothing about it. You let them win and leave them open to doing to someone else. 

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couple of points include that if you havenot been fully paid for it, the client does not own it...

 

" you will make public to the industry folks you know (and on forums, like Henchman mentioned) that this company has stolen money  from you "

caution:  you could possibly be sued, and lose!

 

This is where it gets dangerous posting online.  Words like "stolen" are fodder for them suing you.  If you ever do post anything about a company online, leave your emotion out of it and only report facts that you can prove. 

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Cheque or check? Doesn't matter. "Checks" here it's over (party is over with uncover ckecks).

PDF Invoice > Internet Bank or bank account.

If someone going to pay or receive check -s here it's red alert (from you/for you and the bank).

 

7-14 days? You are very lucky Tapio!

 

Jack: Talk with lawyer. The only way.

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Cheque or check? Doesn't matter.

 

According to my English dictionary it's the same thing. But don't hesitate to give me grammar advice also in the future.. 8)

 

(Though it wouldn't hurt if also you did some spell checking every now and then before posting.)

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According to my English dictionary it's the same thing. But don't hesitate to give me grammar advice also in the future.. 8)

 

(Though it wouldn't hurt if also you did some spell checking every now and then before posting.)

 

Me? To give you a grammar advice in the future? Better no. Haha

BTW I have a friend who is sales manager in paper business (for big print houses).

Two years now the distributors (most from Italy I think) say: The money (in cash or bank) - The paper. Other ways no.

 

I think to start this model in beta version (for new clients) to see the "feedback".

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My example was between "company" and "company" (Greek importer - Italian exporter).

Italian exporter say: The money (cash or bank account; first) - Your paper. No other payment methods.

 

And it's not only the one.

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