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Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls

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David JackelProblem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 12:56:50 am

This year we've done several video shoots for a company that does software demos. The deal is that we shoot the tapes, mail the tapes to them, and they edit the final product.

So far they've paid every invoice late. Additionally, they rented studio space from a fellow production company in our office building for one of these shoots back in June, and still have not paid that invoice, which was only $200.

For the last shoot, we made a deal where we wouldn't send the tapes until they paid the invoice. The guy who signed the contract claimed he misunderstood our agreement, and was very pushy about getting us to send the tapes. He would not respond to email and only wanted to talk on the phone, so I only replied with email until he finally did too.

He ended up sending us a partial installment payment, so we gave him a partial delivery. That may have been a huge mistake, as he may have been able to use the tapes we delivered to finish the project for his client.

I've emailed and called this company repeatedly, and have received no response.

Does anyone have any advice on how to move forward (besides, of course, never working with them again)? Has anyone worked with a company like this?

Small claims court may be in order here.



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Mike CohenRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 2:48:58 am

Search this forum for "grinder" and you will have your answer.

I think you answered your own question.

Mike Cohen


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Mark SuszkoRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 5:06:30 am

Unless its more than two grand and you have nothing but time to kill, small claims is probably not worth it, except maybe emotionally.

Try this; since your relationship is already burned, try going over that guy's head to whomever is paying HIM, HIS customers. Find out where he's selling the video, and pay them a call and ask if they can put in a word about you getting paid.

I can practically guarantee you the guy will be calling you again shortly, but not exactly what he'll say.


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David JackelRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 2:58:00 pm

That's a great idea, thank you! Doing it right now...


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Brendan CootsRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:29:44 pm

I've been seriously considering building a new Yelp-like web site where businesses can rate the experiences they have with their clients. If sites like Yelp are legal in terms of defamation law, I see no legal reason one couldn't start a site where vendors can (perhaps anonymously) report clients who pay late, play games or otherwise aren't worth dealing with. One check of the site and you'd know if that new client was a known grinder. It would save a lot of people some real losses, and it would probably keep some of these companies more honest if they knew their BS was public knowledge and will make it harder for them to find new vendors.

I have a few clients that are huge, well known and extremely wealthy corporations, yet they try to pay late (or not at all) and violate our contracts almost every time we work with them. Some of their employees, in a rare moment of honesty, have told us that management expects them to play games with vendors "just because." If the vendor world knew what they were up to, some of these companies would never produce another video again until they changed their attitude.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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David JackelRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:37:57 pm

This is a very good idea.

The tricky part is that Yelp reviews are easily forged. I did some video shoots for a photographer/model's agent who didn't pay (turns out he didn't pay scores of people and is now in big trouble), and his Yelp page is saturated with phony praise that he probably added himself.

With that said, I think this would be very helpful - at least within the realm of this forum, so that video professionals could work together to identify non-payers. The photographer I mentioned was exposed when his victims discovered each other and started networking.

Dave


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Mark SuszkoRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:17:26 pm

David, Brendan, while attractive in principle, I can't see a way to make that idea work fairly and reliably without a lot of risk of lawsuits. Typically, every city's media community is pretty small-town, and everybody knows everybody else's business; if you have a problem with a deadbeat, or if YOU become one, it gets around plenty fast just thru the "jungle drums". But the grapevine carries little in the way of a paper trail for lawyers to sniff out and try to sue you over.


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Brendan CootsRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:36:04 pm

I hear you, but sue for what? I can jump on Yelp and type out a scathing, damaging review of a restaurant without any fear of being sued, and clearly Yelp is under no threat (I'm sure they have many a disclaimer on the site). How is that different than my hypothetical proposal? Even if a particular accusation is untrue, it seems to me that this is protected speech - otherwise Yelp and all other review sites would have been sued out of existence.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Nick GriffinRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:36:07 pm

I agree with Mark. (Yet again. Sigh...) I will add one additional thought. As good as this would be as a resource, it would never be worth risking the COW to obtain. Ron and Kathlyn have created an amazing community and giving a gaggle of lawyers any excuse to interfere with it, distract it, or slow it down would NEVER be worth it.

So, Brendan, please proceed with this. Just set it up off-shore and cover your tracks with a few dozen shell corporations. Bermuda is a bit cool this time of year but Grand Cayman is delightful.


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Brendan CootsRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 11:29:21 pm

Haha, yes I was not even remotely suggesting this to be something the Cow would be involved in at all, just a personal pursuit of truth and justice.

And yes, I would consult a lawyer before even considering it further.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Richard HerdRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 9:37:46 pm

In the archives, David Roth Weiss posted about small claims court, a fine piece worth reading.


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David Roth WeissRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:32:23 pm

Thanks Richard. I'll create an opening for you in our PR department whenever you're available.

David

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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grinner hesterRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 12, 2009 at 3:59:54 pm

Blow it off and move on. If I understand correctly, you are waisting time and energy over 200 bucks. That's an hour or two of billing with a real client. Focus on calling those guys, not grinders.



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cowcowcowcowcow
walter biscardiRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 13, 2009 at 3:29:51 am

[David Jackel] "Does anyone have any advice on how to move forward (besides, of course, never working with them again)? Has anyone worked with a company like this?"

1 - Never give your raw materials or master away to a new client (or problem client) until your invoice is paid in full. Period. I don't care how pushy they are. I've dealt with corporations that have VERY slow pay accounting departments who can cut a check really quick when they find out that video presentation won't be ready for the CEO because I have not received payment.

2 - Move on to new clients. We're talking a few hundred dollars here? I've had clients stiff me in the neighborhood of $100,000 or more over the past 8 years. Do I worry about it? That's what lawyers are for. I just keep working and expanding my business.

Oh and I send a Christmas Card each year to those who still owe me money as a friendly reminder that I haven't forgotten about them.....

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Blog!

Twitter!


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Aaron CadieuxRe: Problem Client Doesn't Return Calls
by on Dec 14, 2009 at 7:10:26 pm

Go there in person and talk to him face to face. Don't call ahead, and go during a time when you know he'll be there.



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