Getting Paid On Time

Money is the foundation of our trade (or any viable business for that matter). It allows us to maintain a stable life, while it’s also a booster for when we need to expand our knowledge or upgrade our hardware. But what happens when the money stops flowing, and a client needs a subtle nudge?

Don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world (yet). First thing to do is to find out why you haven’t been paid. It might have been because of a problem in your client’s accounting department (went through that), an invoicing mistake on your part (I did some myself), or in a very rare case: a client gone rogue.

Whatever the reason is, you should have a contract in place with precisely declared payment terms, to protect you from such eventuality. If you don’t have one, there’s only so much you can do.

Don’t go about showing clauses from your contract to the client just yet. You could always do one of the following (in that order):

  • Double-check your stuff: invoices, payment details, banking details, everything.
  • Send your client a friendly reminder, saying that you’re waiting for them to fulfil their end of the deal.
  • Ask about the issue to be investigated, maybe client’s accounting is missing some of your details?
  • Change your invoicing schedule to compensate for long payment terms (if you can).
  • If this doesn’t help, use your contract as a leverage (if there’s something in it you can actually use).

The last point is the most difficult to do if you wanna keep your cool. I did it by sending the following email to one of my clients:

It’s sad to say, but unfortunately [X amount of time] has already passed since I sent you my last invoice, yet the payment is still missing.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in the past Y months, and it worries me deeply, that even though I’ve consequently extended the payment terms written in the contract, the delays are still occurring. Because of this, I might be forced to withhold pushing updates or doing any work, until a payment for any future overdue invoices has cleared.

I’m not sure who’s fault is this, but please do let your accounting team know that there are some problems with the invoices I send.

Believe it or not, but I’ve received a very polite and apologetic reply with a confirmation, that this issue will be investigated and solved internally ASAP. The money arrived within an agreed additional period (7 days), even though client’s accounting procedures were probably older than I am, and therefore harder to skip/budge.

I hope that the above experience can help you solve some problems with getting paid, without resorting to calling for legal help. Keep in mind that I’m in no position to give legal advice, neither this writing is supposed to be deemed as one.

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