Freelancing is difficult, but very satisfying work. There are many challenges and one of most financially / emotionally devastating challenge has to be not getting paid for work completed. A client not paying for work done is a lesson I learned almost too late but I’m glad it came when it did.
My experience is probably the same if not slightly different from what every other freelancer has faced out there. I had a contract, it was signed and the client even confirmed that they would make a payment – I even received a payment commitment date.
I know what you’re thinking – how did I even decide to work with such a tricky character? This was more than an acquaintance, a friend really and who better to get as first clients if not friends and people I trust? Except, friends don’t do what this person did to true friends.
What did I do regarding the client who did not pay for my exceptional services?
I completed work and met my part of the agreement; I produce fantastic work and that’s what I gave even in this case. With that, I have no regrets – but what I have regrets about is the fact that I almost allowed this bad experience and hard learning curve shift my motivation and commitment to my business. I followed credit control practices, sent collections reminders and the last communication was a final demand letter (which was also ignored). I am still researching the next steps and I’ve found some useful information such as below.
A client is not paying for work done | What can you do?
According to Legalese: If a client owes you less than R15 000.00 and you’ve already sent your letter of demand, you can (if you’re not a registered company, but a sole proprietor) approach the Small Claims Court and get a court order to ensure that your client pays you. The Small Claims Court is a court specifically for a layperson to have quicker, easier, cheaper access to a court to settle a debt. You won’t need a lawyer and if you have a written, signed contract and an invoice, it will make your case that much stronger. Sometimes the shock of being served a summons will result in the client settling the amount outside of court.