This is one problem area which most of the small designers / design companies face one time or the other. First of all you, as a designer, have to analyze as why the client didn’t pay??
The project was delayed?? Finished Project was not as discussed earlier?? If yes, then what caused this?
- Client not approving designs timely or
- Client not providing material on schedule or
- Client changing specifications too many times or
- Is it you were not able to finish it within deadline of the project?
If you have a proper valid agreement / purchase order signed by client then the recourse should have been mentioned for all above situations in it. If you didn’t include any one clause of above four in your agreements so far, then make it a point to do so now onwards. However, assuming that none of the above was included in the agreement and now you are not getting your money, let us look what other options do you have.
In case 4, fault is yours. So you can talk and try to convince the client. It’s totally up to the client if he pays or not. You can’t force him in this case (Don’t talk about holding back his domain etc. I have seen clients changing their domain names altogether in such cases).
For rest three cases (Case no. 1 to 3) you should talk to the client sternly and make him aware that the delay was on his part and he should clear the dues ASAP. Still, if client doesn’t listen then you have nothing much to do. If client’s domain is in your control then at most you can try and sell his domain through one of numerous second hand domain-selling companies. These companies will not charge you any upfront fees but if your domain gets sold then they will take some percentage of the sell proceedings. If you are lucky enough and domain name is attractive enough you may get more then your client was to pay you otherwise :(( Nothing.
This brings us to one conclusion or you can say evergreen solution to this problem. One should have proper agreement / purchase order signed by both parties / the client before you start working. The agreement should have all the payment related clauses (at least four clauses as mentioned above) in place along with the action to be taken in case any of these situations arises. If there is no agreement signed but you received a purchase order from client then make sure to send a letter from your side to the client. It should have scope of the project / delay clauses (caused by any party) / payment schedule etc. and get a copy of this signed by the client. Don’t hesitate to ask about the competent signing authority in case of medium or big organization. Try and stick to payment and work schedule. Don’t be lenient on this front otherwise this may lead to you loosing money.
If you have a website and you have all the communication recorded properly with you, you can play another dirty trick to get your dues, in first three cases. Put client’s detail on your website under a defaulter’s list and write all circumstances there. May be the client feels sudden change of heart and agrees to pay you. Mind you, this may lead you to legal tangles if you are at fault and client decides to file a defamation case against you.
You are welcome to share your ideas on this topic. Happy Working.