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Dealing with a potentially non paying client.

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Andrei-Cristian MurgescuDealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 2, 2010 at 8:57:30 am

Hi,

First, sorry for posting this in the AE forums but I really didn't know where else I could post it.
To keep it short, I'm about to finish a motion graphics project for an American client and I have a vague feeling in my guts that I might not get paid.
This is our first collaboration and until know things went smooth. He asked for an invoice for the advance payment, however (allegedly due to the accounting department) the payment has not yet been made, and as we're nearing the end of the job, it's already too late for an "advance payment" anyway. Their accounting dep. sent along a contract and a W-9 form, I told the guy to tell the guys in accounting that as I foreigner I might need to complete form W-8, etc. etc.
Now, I don't know if they're really up to something or if my paranoia has kicked in too much.
The question is, how do I deal with this particular case. How do I protect myself without offending my client in the case I'm wrong and just paranoid?
I'm asking this here because I know there are lots of Americans here and you guys know better how to politely tackle this kind of issues. I'm an European and some approaches may be different.
Like I said, I have no solid reason to believe that I'll be ripped off, aside from the delayed advance payment and that feeling in my gut (feeling substantiated by previous experiences). Apart from that everything went smooth and I would really like to keep a good relationship in the future with this client provided it's just my paranoia kicking in now).
Any thought on this would be highly appreciated.

Thanks guys!



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Walter SoykaRe: Dealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 2, 2010 at 12:33:08 pm

The Business & Marketing forum might be a good place to try -- questions like this come up pretty often there.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Andrei-Cristian MurgescuRe: Dealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 2, 2010 at 12:39:58 pm

Thanks Walter, I made a similar post there. Perhaps one of the admins could delete this post.



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Tim VaughanRe: Dealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 2, 2010 at 1:12:48 pm

I've been there are time or two. Google the company and if there are any complaints against them. Check the local business bureau in that area as well to see their business standings. Also, things that I do consider is how large the company is as well as how long they've maintained their physical address. If they are a young start up company that just appeared out of nowhere, I'd highly recommend watermarking the project, or delivering in sub-par quality with the understanding that upon full payment they will receive the full-rez. However, some larger companies (enterprise/global) can take up to 90 days to process payment.
Trust your gut on this, as there are TONS of ways and the people to figure out how to scam you out of money and work. Sometimes, though, ya just end up on the short end of the stick. Wish you luck!

Tim


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Andrei-Cristian MurgescuRe: Dealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 2, 2010 at 1:20:45 pm

Like I said, it may just be my paranoia and I really don't want to offend anyone while still giving myself *some* protection.

Thanks for the feedback Tim. Much appreciated.



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Steve RobertsRe: Dealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 2, 2010 at 2:18:20 pm

Yes. Give them the final, but post a big watermark or something on the video until you get paid. This shows you did the work, and would like to deliver, but want to get paid. Re-check your original deal memo to see what your terms were (like you haven't done that already ...)

(I'm not a lawyer.)



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David JohnsonRe: Dealing with a potentially non paying client.
by on Apr 3, 2010 at 2:39:37 pm

It sounds like you're well into the project already so Steve hit the two main points for that scenario very well ...

  • sincerely convey that you are willing, able and intend to deliver
  • diplomatically convey that you only work for pay

About avoiding this dilemma in the future, as you've found, addressing those two issues mid-project can be very awkward. I'm not an attorney either, but I've had some experience with this subject and strongly believe that a signed contract is the best way to start any business relationship since it benefits both parties to set clear terms up front when a project is proposed and accepted.

Any contract should include:
[1] Payment terms ... perhaps including an up-front deposit that is enough of the expected total to prevent a financial loss once time/money has already been spent on the job in the event the clients change their minds or something similar.
[2] Deliverable terms stating what will delivered in return for payment and when ... perhaps a watermarked or otherwise fully viewable but not usable production, then a final deliverable upon receipt of balance due.


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