Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Be A Bad Client: Late Payments & Whatnot

Photo taken & edited myself.

I've been playing around with this post in my head for a while now because I wasn't 100% sure about whether or not I should write about it. But Cath, from Sea.Ess.Em.Jay, originally told me that I should do a post about it and in my heart I know that if I don't do a post about it, even though my little blog is still quite small, it will set a precedent for all freelancers and what's acceptable regarding their treatment. So I feel like I need to do a blog post, at least to just warn other freelancers out there to be on the look out for people like this company.

In October, I was approached by a company in Cape Town to do some freelance copywriting for them. I happily helped them out for about 2 weeks, on and off, and then about a week after that, they contacted me again to do more work for them. I mentioned that I had already taken on work for someone else and that any work they wanted done would have to be done after hours, which they were happy with. They agreed to Skype me that EVENING to discuss the work.

That evening came and went and as I didn't have the relevant contact details to find out what was happening, I assumed they weren't going to Skype me that evening. At 20:45 I got a phone call. I wasn't even asked if it was a convenient time for me to talk, The Person just went straight into talking at QUARTER TO NINE AT NIGHT. I had already switched off my computer for the night and was in the process of going to sleep and politely said that I would get to the work the next day. The Person agreed.

The next day, a Friday evening, I was again waiting for The Person to Skype to fully explain the work and once again, I heard nothing from him. I then contacted him to find out what was happening and he replied and said that he would email me the next day, a Saturday, with the work. I said that's fine. Saturday comes and I head off to the Bay Harbour Market with a friend as I still want to enjoy a bit of my Saturday. While I'm out, I get the email with the work so as soon as I get home, I open everything up and then have to phone The Person again to try and figure out what exactly it is that he wants from me. He then says that another person will be emailing me the work to which I agree. At about 15:00, I get an email from The Second Person to say that he will be emailing me in the next HOUR. TWO HOURS LATER, at 17:55, I receive the work. By this point, I am highly annoyed. I've been messed around, not been given proper briefs and have had my time wasted. So I replied and said that unfortunately, as it was already 17:55 on a Saturday evening, I was not able to do the work. I never got a response.

Then on the 23rd of October, I get an email from one of the people at this company asking for my invoices so that they can pay me. I happily invoice them and expect payment within the next few days. By the Tuesday the following week, I have still not received payment, which is fine, but I emailed them anyway just so that I knew what was going on.They replied and said that I would be receiving payment soon. By the 3rd of November, I was STILL NOT PAID. By this point, I am adding on 3% per day after the last day of the month that payment is late, as stated in my invoices. Eventually, I receive payment. Unfortunately, not only did this company not have the respect to pay me on time, but they also did not have the respect to pay the interested amount because they were late.

The fact that this company thought that it was okay for them to pay late and then to not pay the interest is shocking and disrespectful. I have struggled to wrap my brain around the fact that a professional company in Cape Town can think that it's okay.

So, I have very kindly compiled a list of 4 reasons why freelancers deserve to be PAID ON TIME. 

1) Respect

Paying someone on time, is first and foremost respectful. It shows that you value their services rendered and their time. 

2) Bills

Just like everyone else, we have bills to pay as well. The bank won't postpone my bond repayment by a few days just because my clients are being lazy and rude. I wish that were the case, but it's not. I have bills to pay and you need to respect that.

3) Work = Payment

If I've done the work for you, I require payment promptly. If I can have the decency to deliver work on time, you can have the respect to pay on time.

4) Freelancing is a Job too

Just because I'm freelancing doesn't mean I don't have a real job. You have to pay your permanent staff, so you might as well pay me at the same time. You needed me to do work for you, so obviously, my work is pretty important. Please don't think I don't have a real job and that paying me isn't really important.

I'm pretty sure there are other reasons, but really, companies shouldn't even need to told why they need to pay on time. Freelancers, if a company is delaying payment, you are perfectly within your rights to add interest (within reason, I've been told) and to fake a little lawyer's call to the company. Also, please keep blogging / Tweeting / Facebooking about it. The more companies think they can get away with it, the more they think it's acceptable. Which it's not.

And for those companies reading this, DON'T BE A BAD CLIENT. Have the respect to pay us on time. If there's a problem, please let us know! We'll be faaaar more understanding if you let us know what's happening and why you won't be able to pay.  

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