Client refuses to pay for services - help! Client refuses to pay for services - help!
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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie


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    Default Client refuses to pay for services - help!

    Hello,

    I am hoping someone can help me with a problem that I'm coming across for the first time. I am a designer, and recently provided some wedding stationery for a client. I have a bank of emails confirming they were happy with the original cost and further costs (when their amends went beyond the first set originally costed for).

    After doing (what I hoped) was the final set of changes, and sending the design off to them - I received no response. Weeks went by, then months… I began to get concerned they had taken my artwork to a printers without paying me. I sent her an invoice for my services to date with still no response. I then sent a letter and the invoice to her parents (as theirs was the only address I had), asking for them to send this on to her so I could get an explanation and payment.

    Eventually, today I received an email from her saying that she was not happy with the invite and so had decided to use another supplier and was not going to pay me for my services. She also said that we did 'not have a contract'.

    Where do I stand on this? Surely email correspondence counts for something? Also can I get payment for the item even though she wasn't happy with it and chose not to use it?

    The cost isn't substantial, so I'm unsure how far to push it… but it's upsetting and I feel really quite angry!

    I hope someone can help me :-(

  2. #2

    Contractor Among Contractors


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    Yes, emails do count, and could evidence the verbal contract.

    Options:

    (a) write formally to them with copies of relevant emails
    (b) get a solicitor or collection agent (Safe Collections posts in here) to take it up
    (c) small claims court (easy enough online, but there is a small fee)

    Downside is that if there is a email chain, a dishonest respontant, will be tempted to add other fictions in, eg fabdicated letters purporting to have cancelled contract. It then becomes your word against yours, and you can end up throwing good money after bad.

    Court/agency/solicitor may just scare them into compliance, but if they dig their heels in its not so easy.

    IME Judges in small claims court can be somewhat irrational in their decision making.

  3. #3

    Contractor Among Contractors

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    Implied terms in contracts for services

    I'm no expert but you may be covered under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

    Though not identical, there's an interesting worked example at the bottom of this law firm blog page where the customer is unhappy with some graphic design work, but the freelancer is still entitled to be paid. No written contract is in place.

  4. #4

    More time posting than coding


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    We're currently going through small claims action against a client who hasnt paid us in full. All we have is email evidence.

    If you've sent them an invoice and this is now overdue, send them a letter stating that the invoice is overdue and give them 14 days to pay. if they dont pay send them a "letter before action", give them 14 days to pay. If they still don't pay file a small claims court case stating that you did the work, had confirmation from the client that they were happy with the work but didnt pay the invoice.

    PS send the letters by Special Delivery because you can get the signature from Royal Mail ;-)

    Our claim has gone to the point that we are going to court with the case in September.

    If you need any more advice, drop me a PM.

    GE

  5. #5

    Faqqed Off

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktd007 View Post
    Eventually, today I received an email from her saying that she was not happy with the invite and so had decided to use another supplier and was not going to pay me for my services. She also said that we did 'not have a contract'.
    That last part is where their argument that they don't have to pay falls down completely - there is evidence that there was a contract in place, through the email trail. There is also evidence of a contract being in place via their actions - it doesn't have to be a formal written contract, as shown in Brogden's case as far back as 1877.

    Quote Originally Posted by ktd007 View Post
    Where do I stand on this? Surely email correspondence counts for something? Also can I get payment for the item even though she wasn't happy with it and chose not to use it?
    Absolutely - you bent over backwards to accommodate their requests, and deserve to be paid for your work.

    I would send another invoice reminding them of their late payment (see The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013 - Pay on Time for details), so that you can show that you have tried everything to be reasonable about the matter. When that doesn't work (and it probably won't), follow the advice on the small claims court website (link) and claim for what you are owed. At the worst case, you lose the court case (which I don't think you would) and lose the £30 you pay to file the case.

    If it's more the principle than the money, I think that's the better way, rather than paying for a lawyer to argue for your money.

    Good luck.
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  6. #6

    Ddraig Goch


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    Reckon your customer is trying it on and has in fact used the designs and now just wants a freebie. Like others have said, difficult to prove now.

    The scumminess of people never fails to amaze me. Mrs runs her own beauty/aesthetics business and a few people have tried to rip her off - not just one or two. Getting them to pay later is nigh on impossible - I could tell you some stories.

    One thing I've noticed is that there a lot of people who want nice things but just can't afford or aren't willing to pay.

    Reckon about 25% of mrs bookings get cancelled on the day. Its as if people (its mostly women) REALLY want the treatment and then on the day wake up and realise they cant afford it. Unfortunately, some decide to go ahead and try to blag it or try a con job.

    Quite possibly this person you did the work for really wanted some nice designs but then later or even at the beginning decided they couldnt/didnt want to pay for them.
    Amazing how people think its ok to do this and not have a problem with it.
    Rhyddid i lofnod psychocandy!!!!

  7. #7

    Ddraig Goch


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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFaQQer View Post

    If it's more the principle than the money, I think that's the better way, rather than paying for a lawyer to argue for your money.

    Good luck.
    Agreed and following on from my post, it does wind you up.

    BUT, these sort of people do this all the time, and know what they can get away with. They know a small claims court summons means nothing really unless you follow it through, which costs more money. They also know that if it comes down to it all they;ve got to say is the work was substandard so Im not paying and they're likely to get away with it.
    Rhyddid i lofnod psychocandy!!!!

  8. #8

    More time posting than coding

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFaQQer View Post

    Absolutely - you bent over backwards to accommodate their requests, and deserve to be paid for your work.
    This

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFaQQer View Post
    I would send another invoice reminding them of their late payment (see The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013 - Pay on Time for details), so that you can show that you have tried everything to be reasonable about the matter. When that doesn't work (and it probably won't), follow the advice on the small claims court website (link) and claim for what you are owed. At the worst case, you lose the court case (which I don't think you would) and lose the £30 you pay to file the case.

    If it's more the principle than the money, I think that's the better way, rather than paying for a lawyer to argue for your money.

    Good luck.
    But as far as late payment legislation goes, keep in mind it only applies in business to business transactions. If the OPs customer is a private consumer (and from the sounds of it, they are) then this legislation does not apply.

    Our suggestion would be to send a letter demanding payment as agreed in seven days or you will issue a small claim.

    If they don't respond, try filling out the small claim forms but instead of submitting them to the court, send these along with a further demand for payment. This trick is used by quite a lot of DCA's that pursue consumers and we understand it can be quite effective.

    If that doesn't work it would be a case of actually filing the claim and waiting until the case is heard. As others have said starting a claim is very easy and lots of free advice can be found on the net. Hope that helps.
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