What to Do When a Client Doesn’t Pay: 5 Steps You Should Take
It’s been months of hard work and long hours, but the client’s project is finally finished. With a sigh of relief, your team sends the final invoice.
Now all that’s left to do is wait. And wait. And wait some more. In the blink of an eye, weeks have passed and the client hasn’t paid for the services rendered.
It sounds like a nightmare, but it’s more common than many would expect. 58% of freelancers have experience dealing with a client who simply won’t pay.
But workers have rights, whether it’s a single freelancer or a large corporation, and it’s important to know them. Read on to learn what to do when a client doesn’t pay.
1. Stay In Contact With The Client
No matter how many times you attempt to contact them, continue trying to get through to the client. Try all communication methods possible, from fax to text messages.
Keep all contacts offline and as professional as possible. Even though the client is clearly in the wrong here, a business will always look better if they remain professional.
2. Keep A Paper Trail
There’s a two-fold purpose for persistent communication attempts.
First, it shows that a business has exhausted every avenue of contact possible. Second, it gives a business a chance to develop a paper trail.
Ensure these communications include:
- What services the client agreed to pay for
- How a business has held up their end of the agreement
- When/how much the client agreed to pay
- Notice that the client is refusing to pay for services
- How long it’s been since the client ended communication
These communications will prove quite useful in the event of a lawsuit, so keep them handy and organized.
3. Halt Project Progress
If the project is still in the works, it may become necessary to halt progress immediately. Otherwise, a company could waste precious time and money on something they may not end up getting paid for.
This can certainly be frustrating, particularly for contract work and freelancers, as steady work can be hard to come by. Still, one’s time will be better spent seeking and working with a new client willing to pay for the time being.
4. Consult Any Prior Agreements
Before the project began, both the contractor and the client came to some form of agreement about the project’s scope and terms. Whether this was a verbal or written contract can make a difference.
Remember, a paper trail will always look better in court as it’s irrefutable evidence. A verbal agreement is still an agreement according to Texas law, but the terms and conditions will be far more difficult to prove in small-claims court.
Sort through emails, phone records, and text messages to find any sort of agreement both parties made.
5. Contact A Lawyer Immediately
If the client still refuses to pay the invoice, it’s time to contact a lawyer and head to small-claims court. Though this is a last-ditch effort, it may become necessary if all else fails.
Indeed, it may be frustrating and time-consuming. But, a legal professional with a distinct knowledge of business law can greatly increase the odds of a victory in court.
Final Thoughts On What To Do When A Client Doesn’t Pay
A client refusing to pay for services is an infuriating offense but businesses aren’t left defenseless. Don’t settle for a lack of payment.
Are you in a situation where you wonder what to do when a client doesn’t pay? Let us help.
Get in touch for a free consultation and see if Manfred Sternberg and Associates can help your case.