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Unpaid work.. what can I do?

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  • Unpaid work.. what can I do?

    Hi guys,
    I'm a retoucher. I have this client "X". We collaborated on a few project and he always have been paying me. Last time I send him the retouched images and he told me that he'll pay.... ("I'll pay you within a few days" etc..) and that was 3 months ago. I still haven't heard from him. He also put the retouched images on his web page.

    Can I do something in this case to get my money? Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

    Unless you've got a signed piece of paper - you really don't have much going for you.

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    • #3
      Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

      Originally posted by cardmaverick View Post
      Unless you've got a signed piece of paper - you really don't have much going for you.
      Right. But since you didn't in fact sign a contract you may use before & afters in your portfolio.

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      • #4
        Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

        If the images are being used in promotional material for a real client, send them a bill for the work - it'll stir things up a bit! You could, in future, say all work is your property until paid for.

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        • #5
          Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

          We still don't know whether there is a contract or not, but is it common practice in the industry to deliver a full job without even a down payment?

          I understand you wouldn't have doubted this client due to previous experience, but something went wonky all of a sudden and you had no financial remuneration while they have and are already using the goods (for free).

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          • #6
            Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

            No, there's no contract. I trusted him because of our previous projects.

            Thank you all for the answers, I guess there's only one thing I can do - to learn from my mistakes!

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            • #7
              Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

              Are you still able to discuss this with him? The fact that he took your work and is using it without paying must put him at some sort of legal risk.

              Repairman said to send a bill – after trying to talk once more, do that (you have a right to, I believe). And keep screenshots of his online use of your work too as evidence.

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              • #8
                Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

                Originally posted by dilz View Post
                No, there's no contract. I trusted him because of our previous projects.

                Thank you all for the answers, I guess there's only one thing I can do - to learn from my mistakes!
                That's probably the case, unfortunately.

                You can and maybe should send him a bill as a courtesy notice. But be nice. If he's been trustworthy in the past he might actually be intending to pay you and just hasn't gotten around to it. At least that's the assumption you should make.

                As Mike suggests, see if you can talk to him. Maybe you can make arrangements to get partial payment if he doesn't have all the money right now. It's worth a try.

                If he wants you to work for him again then politely ask for a down payment or half in advance, etc. plus (if possible) a little extra for the past assignment with the outstanding balance.

                As far as your rights go, he owns the copyrights because he took the picture. The copyright for any derivative work made from an image still belong to the image maker unless contractually specified otherwise (check the copyright.gov sight to be sure).

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                • #9
                  Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

                  Robert, I would tend to decline/refuse additional work until the client was caught up with past payments. Otherwise this account would be a downward spiral of diminishing returns! Of course, a talk with the client before going any further would give a sense of what the problem is this time around.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

                    His last email was something like "I promise I'll pay you before Christmas, you have my word". After that I've sent so many emails with no answer. I even threaten him in my last email that I've found a legal way to get my money. But I don't know if he has actualy read those emails.... I have also sent him Paypal invoice.

                    Thank you ALL!!

                    plugsnpixels, I'll take a screenshot, thanks for the advice!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Unpaid work.. what can I do?

                      Originally posted by plugsnpixels View Post
                      Robert, I would tend to decline/refuse additional work until the client was caught up with past payments. Otherwise this account would be a downward spiral of diminishing returns! Of course, a talk with the client before going any further would give a sense of what the problem is this time around.
                      That depends. He could require payment in advance until and unless the unpaid balance is caught up. That way he'd at least not be any further in the hole, plus he'd have a ghost of a chance to keep a relationship.

                      If the customer doesn't ever approach him for another job then the money's 100% sure to be lost forever, in my experience. If the customer does approach him again, at least there's a ghost of a chance of being paid something for the new work, but that's probably about it.

                      Either way, if it's gotten to this point it's very unlikely there will ever be payment. Slim chance but I wouldn't bet on it.

                      Finally, taking the customer to small claims court would almost certainly cost more than could be recovered, as court filing/serving fees tend to be a few $100s.

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