Thrifty Business

Please pay my invoice

Hey free range beauties,

This blog is a little difficult to start, because I don’t want it to be all ranty or les mis, but this is a subject that really bums me out – clients not paying, or the creature we will all come across at one point or another, the invoice dodger.

You do a job, you do it well, you invoice… and nothing.


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Sometimes the client or agency even has the audacity to use your work, profit from it and still refuse to pay.

My top excuses (based purely on humour factor) are:

  1. ‘I’m on holiday (for 2 months) please stop harassing me with your invoices’ (the lovely Goddess Golders Green)
  2. ‘I don’t check my emails’ (looking at you Flesh & Flour Muswell Hill)
  3. ‘Sorry who are you?’ (Dragonfly TV)
  4. ……….. *radio silence* (Nesan Supper Clubs)

I get it, really I do. You don’t WANT to pay, and what can a lonely feeble freelancer do to make you, huh?

So you ignore contact, shun our ‘gentle reminders’ and pretend suppliers don’t matter, that we don’t also have bills to pay and actually have better things to do than chase you daily.

You wonder if at some point we’ll get bored, and we probably will, we’ll also start to feel embarrassed, like we’re the guilty party here. Like we did something wrong. ‘Urgh’, you must be thinking, ‘that copywriter again. Why won’t they just pipe down, we’ll pay when we pay.’

How do you people sleep at night?

OK that’s as ranty as I’m going to get in this blog piece, because this isn’t about complaining, that won’t get us anywhere and wow have I spent months upon months bellyaching over unpaid invoices, until I realised just how easy it was to file a claim with a small claims court.

A fellow creative recently have benefitted from this advice (fingers crossed they pay you girl!) so I hope it brings you guys peace and payment too…

Here goes.

First, you don’t need a lawyer. Not for small sums of under 10k anyway, and if you’re owed more than that you really should start thinking about protecting yourself by taking advance payment deposits or signing new clients out to a GoCardless direct debit.

So you’ve sent and invoice, it’s over 30 days overdue… here’s what you do when the client you worked so hard for turns into a pay-shirking invoice dodger…

  • Do not send multiple ‘gentle reminder’s.  An automated service should remind your client their payment is due. Don’t get emosh about it, sometimes people do genuinely forget, so send maybe one reminder then use an automated system like FreeAgent to send weekly reminders.
  • Start collecting evidence. Presuming you have a contract or agreement in writing, Chuck it in a folder, then any correspondence, especially any emails that state client is happy with the work and has signed it off.
  • Send an official email. Here a template I use, written by a lawyer (thanks Greg)


Dear [INSERT CLIENT NAME]

Include title of project
Sum outsanding:

I write in respect of the above project and the sums outstanding in relation thereto. 

An invoice in the sum of [INSERT TOTAL OF INVOICE] was issued to you on [INSERT DATE OF INVOICE] by [INSERT METHOD SENDING]. A copy of which is produced for ease of reference. 

I note that we have received payment in the sum of [INSERT SUM PAID (IF ANY)] and the sum of [INSERT SUM REMAINING] is currently outstanding. 

It is assumed that lack of payment is an oversight and that payment will be received within [7] OR [14] days of this letter. Should you fail to make payment then this matter will be passed to my solicitor who will be instructed to raise the appropriate proceedings in the courts. 

Should you have any queries please contact me on [INSERT PHONE NUMBER].

I look forward to receiving payment in early course.

Sincerely,


v
  • Give them one final 24 or 48 hour notice email, remember – don’t accuse or insult, don’t write anything that might be considered unreasonable, assume they have merely forgotten but inform them court action will be taken if there is no contact or (most importantly) and indication of payment date. Here is one I wrote earlier:

To whom it concerns at [company name],

I am writing in request of written confirmation you have received my last email regarding outstanding invoice [INVOICE NUMBER]. 

Payment of the aforementioned invoice is now a month overdue.

I am also informing you that if we do not receive confirmation, within 48hrs, of your intent to pay the outstanding invoice (NUMBER) and the date you will pay Idea Dolls Ltd. (within the next 7 days from now), we will regrettably be forced to begin proceedings with the Small Claims Court at the end of the 7 day period.

Following this period we will have given you every reasonable opportunity to avoid such action.

I hope we can resolve the matter.

  1. What you’ll need: dates and times of any correspondence, PDFs of emails, details of witnesses, company address and contact details, a cup of coffee because those are always nice
  2. Expect to pay from £35 depending on the amount you’re claiming, you’ll get this back + 8% interest (or if you’ve pre-agreed interest in your terms & conditions, set it as high as you like)
  3. Hit send! Your invoice dodger will receive an email from HMREV, they have 30 days to respond, if they do not, you automatically win and will be awarded the outstanding amount. This doesn’t mean they will actually pay, but HMREV is a much better debt collector than us freelancers and I’d much rather have the Queen sending reminder emails… it’s cool and gives me a sense of satisfaction – kind of like dobbing in a bully.

It’s unfortunate when contracts break down like this, most of all it’s disappointing. Sure, the money is one part of it, but it’s the feeling of being violated, of someone using your work and not paying for it that really gets me, and I get all vigilante when it comes to this kind of stuff.

This week I’m filing a claim for my guy against a cafe he worked in over Christmas, which incidentally is right under my house, we see the owner daily – he even follows my stories on Insta – hey Heseyin, get off my Insta and pay the invoice! I see you viewing every single story.

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It’s not a huge sum, but it’s the principle. His excuse is he ‘doesn’t check the emails’ and my boyfriend, being of a polite, British constitution would probably just let this asshole get away with it, but I’m already on the warpath with one agency so might as well make an example out of this supposedly sustainable, independent-brand supporting cafe (who doesn’t see fit to pay their staff) too.

My plan is to document the stages in my insta story, to show you step-by-step how to file a claim.

I was unsure about whether I should name and shame, or if that’s unprofessional, but they really do deserve it.

So, ending on a slightly aggro note as I psych myself up for a morning of filing claims with The Money Court (we’re coming for you Flesh & Flour)

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Sending peace and love and hoping you don’t don’t ever have to put this advice to action.

But if you do and have any questions at all… get in touch!

Xxx

Siena


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