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Client issues with payment

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  #1  
Old 11-05-2010, 02:46 PM
demandapanda demandapanda is offline
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Client issues with payment

So I have this one pain in the ass client, I was stupid in not invoicing them often enough so now they owe me over $700 and they're asking for a discount.....on a rate that is already extremely low and discounted because they say they didn't "budget" for how long it takes to retouch their shitty photos....they're basically so cheap they refuse to hire a photographer and I get images from a point and shoot to look like they were taken on a product table. I just want them to pay me and after that never want to work with them again. But they're basically refusing to pay the full invoice. I don't even know what to do, this is like a joke. I normally only work directly with studios/photographers who don't give me any issues and know how things work, this is a designer, pretty much hobbyist who doesn't know how anything works at all on the creative end. I'm just done with this person, just want my money and I don't want to lose any more than I already have, they're already getting a ridiculously low rate. What do I say/do?
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Old 11-05-2010, 03:02 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

Do you have any written agreement, contract, or statement of work? Any correspondence from the customer about the work or the price - either in written or email form? Do the operate a legitimate business with a company name / address / website?
Has the customer asked for a discount because he feels that your work does not meet expectations or because he estimated how long it would take you but it took you longer? Or what reasons specifically has he given you? Was there an up front clear statement of work, verbal or otherwise?
Regards, Murray
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:17 PM
demandapanda demandapanda is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

I have emails of the agreements and me telling her how much my rate will be hourly. I tried to keep her up to date with how long things took as much as possible, especially any time I knew she might be uneasy about the amount because I didn't want to keep working if I hit her budget limit. She's completely satisfied with the images, I mean, they're perfect and compared to the original image....you wouldn't even know they were the same photo, seriously. The bulk of my work is retouching product for fashion magazines with actual photographers. She knows nothing about photography and sends me snapshots of her bags and what I give back to her looks just as good, if not better than what you would see in a magazine. Quality isn't an issue, and even how long they took, I do them relatively quick, she's just insanely cheap. She says she had no idea how long it would take, but I even sent her an email on the second day of a job about how long I had spent on it so far and she kept asking for little tweaks here and there (which add up time wise) and sending more images for me to work on. I save every single email with this woman. I've basically been waiting to get paid for the bulk of what she owes me so that I can finally break it off with her, I haven't wanted to work with her for months, but I don't want to tell her I'm not willing to work with her again until I get paid.

I have no doubt I could take her to court, but I'm not sure how to politely tell her I can't give her any further discounts and that it's unfair for her to expect me to work for the same amount I could make working in a retail store when I'm using skills that cost me A LOT of money to gain in school and using extremely expensive equipment to do the work on (my computer, hard drive, wacom, etc.)
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:32 PM
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Re: Client issues with payment

If you have a friend that is a lawyer you could have them write a letter saying that you will take legal action if they don't pay. Then you are taking a risk that you will get nothing unless you do take some action. Legal action, however, takes money and the $700 would be gone in no time. Or take what money you can and realize you have learned a valuable costly lesson. Some of us have learned this lesson at even a higher price! Good luck.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:46 PM
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Re: Client issues with payment

You could take her to court but it would cost you way more than the money she owes you.
First of all you should always have some type of contractual agreement that the customer has signed that includes a rate (hourly or fixed) that describes what the deliverables are as well as min / max limits on time or $ and tweaks / reworks etc. It does not need to be a major legal document. When you are dealing with the type of customer you seem to have, you need to have a clearly define statement of work, deliverables, commitments, and most of all limits. That doesn't mean the customer will honor its part of the agreement but it does give you better footing to protect yourself.
Furthermore when dealing with this type of customer, you should also consider only delivering watermarked proofs and only hand over high quality images after you receive payment.
When you do recv payment, however much that is, inform the customer that it does not cover your cost and see what happens. If you do not get the difference, cut your losses, and chock this one up to one of life's cruel learning lessons regarding business practices the nature of some people, and move on.
Good luck and regards, Murray
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:43 PM
demandapanda demandapanda is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

Is there anywhere that has good examples of retouching contracts? I normally work with studios who just don't pull this kind of crap so I have no need for any kind of contracts or anything with them.

I know taking her to court isn't worth it, I assume I could take her to small claims, but she's actually loaded so she might hire a lawyer and then I'd be afraid of them somehow coming up with some way to counter sue, I don't know what they could do that for, but maybe legal fees (she can totally afford to pay me, she just cries poor....which when I've been to her upper/midtown high rise condo is ballsy to do). I don't want to go to court, I just want to tell her in a professional manner that it's completely ridiculous that she expects me to work for any less than I've already agreed to and that I won't be giving her any more discounts.
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:59 PM
demandapanda demandapanda is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

ugh, I just sent an email basically explaining that it's unacceptable for me to lower my rate to the same amount I could make at a retail job when I'm using expensive equipment, paying rent on my work space and utilities, using skills that took tens of thousands of dollars and years of school and professional experience to gain, etc., etc. I offered to let her pay in parts over time, but said I couldn't offer further discounts.

I don't know if any of that is professional at all, but I'm just done caring.
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Old 11-06-2010, 01:09 PM
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plugsnpixels plugsnpixels is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

Lesson #1: Have a contract

Lesson #2: Get a down-payment

Rule of thumb: The less they are paying, the more they are expecting (applies to wedding photography as well ;-) )
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Old 11-06-2010, 01:52 PM
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D Thompson D Thompson is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

Quote:
Originally Posted by plugsnpixels View Post
Lesson #1: Have a contract

Lesson #2: Get a down-payment

Rule of thumb: The less they are paying, the more they are expecting (applies to wedding photography as well ;-) )
#3 - Watermark image. Remove after payment received.
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Old 11-06-2010, 06:14 PM
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twopoint0 twopoint0 is offline
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Re: Client issues with payment

The client really wants to step up in quality, but there's only a really small budget on this one....ads demanding tons of experience for low pay, or ones for unpaid "interns" with retouching, Flash and page layout experience. Even worse are clients trying to renegotiate by withholding payment.
It's sickening.
I don't have any advice on getting paid, I'm just blowing off steam. Hopefully, they'll send you a drop dead emergency job that you can hold until you get paid!
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