6 steps for dealing with cheapskate clients

Over 70 per cent of freelancers say a client has stiffed them on paying their invoice. The best way to avoid these cheapskates is to use a solid contract and get paid upfront. 

But, if preventative measures have failed you, here are six steps for getting what you deserve.

01. Don't work without getting paid

By working without pay, you remove your client’s primary motivation for paying you in the first place. “If you are still invoicing for past work and you’re not getting paid, immediately stop,” suggests Brennan Dunn, founder of Double Your Freelancing.

02. Charge late fees

This handy invoice template comes from Free Agent (click to see the full infographic)

This handy invoice template comes from Free Agent (click to see the full infographic)

Begin to charge payment late fees when your contract stipulates it will happen. Most invoicing software can automate late payment fees for you. Resend your invoice with the added late fees. Start sending it by email and snail mail if you don’t get a response.

03. Don't leave it alone

Always pursue payment truancy. Half the payment horror stories on Clients From Hell could be solved by the submitter being less polite. You’re running a business, and that business needs money to survive. An automated warning that a client is about to be charged late fees is an excellent way to motivate clients without baring your teeth.

04. Waive late fees for a short time

By saying you'll waive late fees for a limited time, the combination of urgency and savings can motivate clients to pay up.

05. Send a letter from your attorney or a collections agency

Attorneys and collections agency are hard to ignore, but they’re not cheap solutions. Consider this option as a next-to-last resort.

06. File with a small claims court

The final option is to resolve the issue in a small claims court. Make sure the amount is worth it, as this option will drain time and a bit of money. See GOV.UK for guides in the UK. In the US, the process and point of contact varies from state-to-state, but this guide from the California Department of Consumer Affairs may be of use.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts magazine issue 268. Buy it here.

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A creative communications specialist, Bryce Bladon is perhaps best known for running clients From Hell – a cult blog that “brings readers to tears with unbelievable, always hilarious anecdotes from those on the frontlines of freelancing.”