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Bad Pay Client

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Ty FordBad Pay Client
by on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:16:15 pm

The British Museum called me LD a few months ago and had me go down to the Walters Art Museum and record two experts, one from the Walters, one from the Met. These recording are being used by them for those little hand-held tour devices. Per their requests, I got it all nicely, put the files up on my servers. They were very attentive and nice during this phase, but faded rapidly when it came time to pay me.

Weeks passed and excuses became more creative. I explained to them that this was not appropriate and they should just pay me the $250. I have only been stiffed twice in 25 years. All for small amounts. I know some of you have been stiffed for tens of thousands of dollars, maybe more. You're probably thinking, big deal.

I told my contacts at the British Museum, Iona Keene, Nicholas Maynard and Ms. Yanyan Zhang that should they decide not to pay me, I would make an effort to settle the matter by making their transgression public to alert other production companies about the problem. IN the past, shaming the discrepant payer has resulted in me being paid. Did I work for them again? Nope. Don't care to.

Cow may have some folks in the UK and I think I have contacts on another forum there as well who may make "local calls" for me. It took that a couple of years ago to get paid for a Polish job I FTP'd to Sublice.

I'm also planing to send a cautionary note to the Walters and Met to warn them about the British Musuem's bad behavior. Anything else you can toss in?

Regards,

Ty Ford

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Mark SuszkoRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:28:40 pm

Well, if they didn't pay, you still own that footage and so you can ask them to cease and desist using it. I might also contact the head person at their fundraising arm, say, the Development Director, to discuss the bad publicity implications of a breach of trust by people using the Museum's name, and their action's impact on fundraising.

But before all of that: are you sure you've pursued all polite avenues fully? You want to go to war over $250? Or is it the principle of the thing? $250 is a lot to me, that's a week's worth of groceries or more for my family, if we clip coupons. Then again, by itself it won't bankrupt me to book a loss of that amount. Any kind of hired legal help is going to eat that money up in short order. So, what is it you really want to do here? Go key the guy's car? That costs more than $250 to fix, would that make you "even"? Absolutely, nobody likes to get taken. It stings. But have a sense of proportion on this. It's Passover tonight, and Easter next week. maybe you could let it go, you know, for the karmic payback later.


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Chris TompkinsRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:35:19 pm

This is really sad that a company of that caliber would be stiffing a contractor like that.

If it were me, I would keep bugging them for at least another 8 months.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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Greg BallRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 18, 2011 at 10:25:27 pm

All the more reason to get paid in full before delivery of the video.



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Brendan CootsRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 27, 2011 at 9:18:06 pm

I agree with Mark's comments, except that I wouldn't worry about legal costs. This is strictly small claims court material so there shouldn't be ANY costs outside of your time and energy serving the defendant their notice.

Brendan Coots
Creative Director
Brandflow Video Studio


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grinner hesterRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 2:27:22 am

I dunno, man. Sometimes folks would rather have a bad video than great one. Go figure. Last client that stiffed me got video with a creativlt swapped vo uploaded. It was quite enjoyagble for me in the end. I still laugh at it... her? mmm not so much. Never piss off your editor. Thats my motta.



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Mike SmithRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:14:05 am

That shocking for the British Museum. It's hard to believe that these are really British Museum employees, and not contractors in some hired agency using their name.

Anyway, the UK has a cheap, fast-track "small claims track" in its county courts for amounts up to a few thousand pounds. There need be no lawyers involved.

The court fee is quite small (about £50 i think) and can be added to the sum being claimed.

The court hearing the case will be close to the defendant (London, I guess) but you don't have to attend. It may be that pointing out in a legal letter to your client that you intend to pursue this route, and will add in extra charges for court costs and lost interest to the amount you claim unless they settle in the following 15 days. This may induce them to settle. Teh official website says you can claim :

" Claiming costs if you win

As well as the amount you’re asking for you might be able to claim:

* any court fees you have paid
* up to £260 for legal advice for some claims
* loss of earnings for you and any witness (up to £50 a day)
* travelling and overnight expenses "


I don't know if there's an advice source close to you (British Embassy?) that might help.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/ManagingDebt/Makingacourtcl...
http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/ex306_e.pdf
http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/ex160a_web_1010.pdf


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Ty FordRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 1:44:03 pm

Mike,

Thanks so much for your efforts on my behalf. I will try as many of these as possible.

About their employment status, all of the folks I had email contact with had British Museum email addresses.

nmaynard@britishmuseum.org
IKeen@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk,
YZhang@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

Regards,

Ty Ford

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Bob ColeRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 6:58:36 pm

Good for you, Ty, for pursuing this. It is taking more of your time than it's probably worth, but if you didn't go after them, they would "win." And they shouldn't. It is extremely disrespectful to hire someone and then not pay them promptly. I feel your indignation.

Meanwhile, I'm curious what most of you consider "overdue." It seems that slow payments have become more common.


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Malcolm MatuskyRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:13:27 pm

It happens, but now you can post a video on youtube about how the British museum treated you can perhaps others will want cash in advance next time. Bad PR travels 10x faster than positive!

Did you have a written contract? Don't' bother with court without it.

Good luck getting paid, I've been stiffed for quite a bit more, and once by a large insurance company in NYC for the same amount of money. Funny story, I told what happened to a gaffer friend of mine, who knew a tv reporter that did the local "shame on you" segment at one of the local stations and after he called the company I had a check fed-x'd to me within a few days. Pays to have friends in low places!

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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Ty FordRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:21:39 pm

Bob,

The few times I have had to resort to this sort of malfeasance, I consider it a "personal hobby."

Over 30 days when Iona told me she'd "take care of it right away!!!"

Regards,

Ty

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Bob ColeRe: Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:29:46 pm

[Ty Ford] "Over 30 days when Iona told me she'd "take care of it right away!!!""

I'll bet that Iona SUBMITTED the invoice "right away" and the clock for payment (within the bureaucracy) only started then. You may be pleasantly surprised.


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: British Museum Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 20, 2011 at 12:49:07 am

Hey Ty,

Contact me off forum (mads [at] macmillion.com), I'm a 5 min walk away from British Museum - if I can, I'm happy to help.

However, do note that UK museums, charities, government, consultancy companies, PR companies and so forth are notoriously bad payers first time. In all likelihood your invoice is sitting on a desk with someone on holiday, or they got it into accounts on the 16th, when the payment run is only done on the 15th of every month and so forth... A system that is always difficult to get through, but after the first payments those big NGO's are normally very good.

All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Please do visit our faceBook page here: http://www.facebook.com/MacMillionProductions

Mac Million Ltd. - Digital Media Production
Blog: http://macmillionltd.blogspot.com


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Ty FordRe: British Museum Bad Pay Client
by on Apr 25, 2011 at 7:55:16 pm

Ah! The smell of money (minus the $20 wiring fee)

Using Mike's excellent "How to get your money under British Law" primer and suggesting Mad's proximity to the museum itself might result in some face time, I sent a note to their "Communications Dept." instead of the folks I had been dealing with.

In their defense, they had a wrong number series in the three long numbers required in the wiring process, but they should have known that if they had bothered to pay me promptly.

Job done and thanks to everyone who rallied.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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Aaron CadieuxRe: British Museum Bad Pay Client
by on Jun 7, 2011 at 10:35:25 pm

Good for you for calling the museum out by name in a public forum. I'm surprised though that you haven't gotten a lecture by one of the many holier-than-thous that reply to posts on the cow. I had the stones to call out a deadbeat client by name on this forun in the past. By the way I was lectured on the Cow about it, you might have thought that I kicked a puppy or something.

Anyway, it's good to see another professional out there who doesn't let a client walk all over them. In my book, 250 is a lot of money.

Best,

Aaron


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Bob ColeRe: British Museum Bad Pay Client
by on Jun 7, 2011 at 11:38:05 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "one of the many holier-than-thous that reply to posts on the cow."

Is someone calling my name? No, Aaron, I'm totally in favor of other people calling out bad pay clients. I wouldn't do it myself, but I appreciate the warning from others. Mainly, when I advise people not to air their dirty laundry here, it is in employee-employer situations, when they think they have anonymity which they don't actually have (i.e. they do not name their employer, but sign their real name, apparently unaware that their "discretion" is totally undermined by Google).

St. Bob
(holier-than-thou?)


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Ty FordRe: British Museum Bad Pay Client
by on Jun 8, 2011 at 12:34:23 am

Aaron, Bob,

Yeah, well, I told them I would do exactly that and they still didn't get it. They deserve it. If I acted like that with the local utility company, I wouldn't have the juice to send this email.

I don't do it in anger. I follow a very specific set of steps and at each point make it clear to them that if they don't do this by a specific time, then something bad will happen. I tell them exactly what that will be.

Will I work for them again? Probably not and who would want to?

Will others whom they may approach be more careful? I hope so.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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