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Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow payers

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  • Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow payers

    Hey Guys,

    Just a question for a job that I need to act on quite soon -

    I'm doing work for a (very) well regarded Australian fashion designer, working on all the post for a fairly extensive look book. The designer himself likes to get the files off the photographer and liaise with the retoucher directly. Not my favorite system, but anyway.

    I've done one job in the past in which it took him roughly three months to pay me. Granted, it was over xmas, and supposedly an accountant lost the email....Right. I've also heard from a few photographers + retouchers that they have had similar experiences working with him. My first job with him was under 1k, and this job will most likely be over 2k. What should I do to make sure I get payed in a reasonable amount of time? At least in this case I know he is slightly dodgy so I can be prepared before hand.

    Is it a case of watermarking the images and not handing over finals until a %50 deposit is payed? Is it a case of just having a decent, basic contract?

    Any advice is appreciated, as I'm about to quote and lay down the rules for how the job will work....


  • #2
    Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

    Enquire politely as to when they can pay you and press for a commitment of 1 month (or whatever your terms are). Then you can badger them if they don't cough up on time! Tell them you own the retouched files until they are paid for. Charge 10% higher than usual and offer a discount for prompt payment! Be nice - repeat business is good even from tardy payers.


    • #3
      Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

      In the end you have to decide whether it is worth working for him or not. Can you put up with the slow payment or not. How well do you know him? Can you politely bring up the subject and will he be receptive to your concern? There is a risk of alienating the client so you have to be tactful in bringing up the subject. You are being paid, albeit, late; but he is not stiffing you for the work. If the late payments are intolerable, then you may have to move on. Communicate. If you play hardball with watermarks and late payment fees he may cut you loose. At last count there were 1,394,662 retouchers in the world.



      • #4
        Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

        I wouldn't call a client 'dodgy' if they pay withing 90 days.. it's not that unusual, especially for big jobs and well established clients...

        Withholding final files? Watermarks? I would never do that, it sets everything on wrong track.

        If you think your client is seriously evasive, unstable and unreliable - don't work for them.


        • #5
          Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

          I know a lot of big companies are on 30, 60, 90, even 120 day turn payment cycles for contract workers. Just keep in mind that the longer the payment cycle is, the greater the odds the company is not financially stable or they have very irregular cash flow (seasonal business). The idea behind these payment cycles is that it's a form of business to business interest free credit. The least financially stable companies I ever did work for were on 120 day cycles - I stopped working for them! Eventually they stopped hiring contractors. Not a big surprise to me...

          Always discuss payment policies up front before the gig starts with whoever your contact is. You're contract and invoices might state net 10 days - but the contact at the business might not have any ability to speed up payment to match the agreement terms. I've had this happen to myself, and it's frustrating to see your contract ignored. Ask them what their payment cycle is for contractors. For many it varies based on how big the amount of money is. Once you know what the policies are, you can move forward with crafting an agreement. If you are working for a big company, you might be better off sending in multiple batches of smaller amount invoices - it could help you beat the internal payment policies governing large payments.


          • #6
            Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

            KTG has summed it up really. Communicate.


            • #7
              Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

              I also agree with KTG, although he's probably off on his retoucher number by 5 or 6.


              • #8
                Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

                Thank you all for the well considered and detailed advice. It has been helpful. In the end the job turned out to be much, much bigger than the original quote, which is great. I've communicated all concerns with the client and i've managed to get half up front on commencement, which actually surprised me. Don't ask, don't get I guess.

                As a friend in the fashion industry was telling me, cashflow is always very tight and companies will avoid paying contractors if they can until the last moment, but if you are communicative and strong willed they will deal with you quicker.

                Thanks all for the help, much appreciated.


                • #9
                  Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

                  Well done!


                  • #10
                    Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

                    Beer's on you then JR! You got 50% up front - heck, you should be giving us advice!


                    • #11
                      Re: Help? - protecting yourself from slow, slow pa

                      Hah - cheers guys. If we all lived in the same place I certainly would be going to the pub.


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