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What do you do with worthless clients???


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alright, i've got a situation i'd be interested in getting feedback from some of you more experienced freelancers out there on. i've been doing freelance work for a few years now, and i've never seen the likes of what i'm currently struggling with. i've had the typical issues with people not paying on time, etc, but this client takes the cake! here's the scenario and timeframe so far:

[*]October 2005 - initial discussion
[*]December 2005 - agreement/deposit paid
[*]March 2006 - initial design approved
[*]May 19, 2006 - design completed/initial programming complete/[b]invoice sent[/b]
[*]June 19, 2006 - follow up on invoice/still no content provided
[*]July 1, 2006 - follow up on invoice/still no content provided
[*]Today (July 11, 2006) - informed that they're "holding off" for a bit

here's the long and the short of it: stupid me, i only charged a percentage up front (i've learned to get half up front on everything now), so my invoice they have represents about half the work i've done. i have since received an email saying my check would be sent out today (almost [b]60[/b] days after invoice was received), but we'll see how that goes. i've done all the programming, etc for them, but i've never received any content, so i can do no more. i've got an additional set of hours i'm fixing to send them just to catch everything up to speed, but i don't expect to see payment on that for at least another month.

any suggestions on how to deal with clients like this? how do you pull payment on projects that they're unwilling to work on? sorry for the negativity, but i'm absolutely frustrated to no end with this project at this point, but at the same time, to cover my own reputation, i want to complete it professionally. any thoughts on how to word or deal with people like this?

any recommendations greatly appreciated.
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i don't know if you can pull a payment off a situation like this...

generally, you would have a set number of days within which they would have to respond. i would say 75 days. if they don't respond, then they are no more a priority though they would still be your responsibility since it would be unethical to a certain extent to just leave them hanging after taking that advance no matter how much you think you deserve it....IMO.
it sounds a bit harsh but i think you might have to implement something like this when necessary because you have other things to do as well.

but you should make such a condition known to the client at the initial inception.
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Well, I have had a couple clients like that before. And there is really nothing that you can do in the mean time, just remember for the next. Always get half up front no matter what. Only do the work that they have already paid for, if you do more, if something goes wrong, your fault...you are out the money and time. Always remember, you are the professional...YOU are supposed to be in charge, if you aren't, you are going to get screwed over. Finding your own way to be in charge might be hard starting off...but worth while.

and just a little side note for others - never upload to their server until the project is complete and you have been paid. No Excuses!
I know that might sound obvious but you never know...

obsidian: just hang in there and keep talking to them, stating that you have done whatever amount of work and you ned to get paid if the project is complete or not...that is their fault for not following though.

freelancers - you always want to be a step ahead, if the project falls apart you want to stay on top. If they cancel the project you don't want to be begging for money, you want them to have lost out on the deal. YOU are the professional...stay that way...in charge of YOUR business.

A good site to go and sign up on is guru.com there are ways to protect both the professional and the client including escrows and project ageements. So if anything happens outside of what is listed in the agreement guru.com goes after them. This is a great site and i have gotten a lot of work from it.

Hope this helped let me know if anyone has any questions about anything.

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i've been a member on guru for a couple years now, and that's how i've met some of my best clients. just a side note, chris, i [b]did[/b] set forth before we began that i expected payment within 30 days of receipt of invoices, but i guess there's still no way to force someone to comply with that even if they've agreed to it...

koobi, thanks for the input. i agree. when it's something that they've failed to come through on, you can't do any more work for them. i even told them up front that if payments lagged too far behind, i would require the remainder of the project cost before i continued working on it. here's the biggest clincher for me: i finally at lunchtime today received the payment for the invoice that was outstanding, and they did not pay the tax on it, even though it's an in-state sale, and i made it very clear in the invoice what the total with tax was.

people really can get under my skin sometimes.
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yeah freelancing can be a bit*h sometimes :/
it's either REALLY good or REALLY bad.

anyway, about paying 50% up front. not many clients would do that...unless they know you and your work. you're lucky you have such clients. most won't go over 40%
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[quote author=Koobi link=topic=100207.msg395312#msg395312 date=1152641027]
anyway, about paying 50% up front. not many clients would do that...unless they know you and your work. you're lucky you have such clients. most won't go over 40%

well, let me throw in a disclaimer... any projects that i've done under $1000, i get 50% up front. if it's over that, we usually come to some sort of agreement on payment options, but i review each case separately. that's one benefit of doing good work for people: once they trust you and want you to work with them, they're willing to work more with [b]your[/b] preferences to keep you on with them. i've got one client like that that i'm getting ready to start my 4th project for. the first one, i catered to their every need, now, it's something like this, [i]"Hey, I've got this project, and I want you to do it for me. Just let me know how much it will be so I can get you the deposit."[/i] that's the kind of client i'm willing to put other things on hold for :lol:
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As I mentioned before guru.com is a great site. That is probably the safest and best places to go. I'm also on scriptlance.com which is kinda the same thing, but most of the people on there are going for the low ball bids, and I haven't gotten any work from there. elance.com is another good on like guru.

Some more good sdvice:
- Make sure you have a good online portfolio
- Make sure you bid on projects you know you can complete fully (don't make promises you can't keep)
- Quote fairly, don't go too high but don't go low enough where it's not worth it for you.
- Have "projects" on your website. Lots of people want to see e-commerce, dating, or just plain brochure sites. If you don't have some or any of these make up a mock site so people can see what you are capable of even though you don't actually have it in your portfolio.

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So... I thought I'd throw in my story:

I used to work for a company that bought another company.  I took over the design of the sub-company's website (they remained seperate entities).  I did this throughout my internship with the main company.  When my internship ended and I moved on, I retained the sub-company as a client and did a complete redesign of the website from the ground up, adding in a lot of cool features.

The redesign was done and up in a seperate folder on their server.  I got paid fairly quickly after submitting time (I normally work on "hourly" rates for projects like this one).

The problem came with the content, like your problem, obsidian.  I did 2 or 3 main templates for them and they still didn't have any content for me.  I was eventually "let go" from the project because the new website wasn't online soon enough for the CEO, even though I was working for the marketing department.  The marketing guys said it was there fault for not getting me content.

The funny thing is, I got paid for nearly all the work that should have been done on the site.  The person they hired to finish the site is the daughter of the CEO.  It's been almost 8 months since I left the project and they STILL don't have a new website up.

There's just some clients that drag their feet endlessly.  That's one reason I wasn't sad to see that client drop off my list.
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[b]akitchen[/b] - yes, 2 of my repeat clients were direct contacts from guru. however, most of my other good clients are people i've met through references. besides that, i don't really know what to tell you :P -- i'll add this disclaimer in, though: you've got to screen your clients from Guru carefully, because those that have [b]no clue[/b] what they're asking will post upwards toward $2K worth of work with a budget of "under $250", so you've really got to pick and choose people that at least have some idea of what they're asking for to get paid well.

[b]ober[/b] - thanks for the story. this sounds eerily familiar, except that in my case, i've only been paid about half of what i've worked... brings me back to my motto... the world would be a great place to live if it wasn't for the people ;-)
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Heh, I have had a pretty much exact same experience with one of my clients, except mine started in January 2005 and is finally being sorted this week. I personally haven't found it that frustrating, yeah they still have ~£500 (~$920) left to pay and all I have to do is dump their provided content into a few pages but I have had plenty more work in the mean time to keep me busy. But for clients like this, I just don't drop everything I'm currently working on to please them when they're finally ready.

Yeah they're a pain in the arse, but every industry has them. Oh, and I also have had a few clients that pay their invoices 30-60 days after they have been issued, this appears to be standard practices in some industries, that time delay. Don't know why.
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yes, my contract that i have people agree to is set up to allow them for NET 30 terms which seems a standard practice. figure it this way: you send the invoice out on Monday. if mail is fast, depending on where they are, let's say they get it on Thursday. Then, if it's a large corporation, it may take them 2 weeks to get the invoice moved through to accounts payable. once that's done, it has to pass through payroll to cut your check, and then it has to be sent out by distribution. it can [i]easily[/i] take a company 30 days to process an invoice with all the red tape :P
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