What to Do When a Client Doesn’t Pay

Ask questions. Negotiate. And be ready to cut your losses.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva

How many times have you been unable to collect from a client?

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When we asked this question in a poll, 26 percent of you had never gotten stiffed from a client… yet.

That’s good. But a lot of us have gotten stiffed or burned when we’ve not collected money from a client. It’s happened to us.

If you’re one of the smart ones it’s only happened once and never again.

What do we do when there is a billing dispute? First, yes, get paid up front and that’s a good policy.

Let’s talk about some situations where there is a billing dispute. First, if you have a big job and they want you to do some cleanup or catchup work and you estimate it will be a minimum of $2,000, you want them to pay you $1,000 up front before you do the work. If they’re not willing to pay you $1,000 now what makes you think they’ll pay you $2,000 later? Right, so they should be willing to pay some money up front.