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#1 Michele Peterson

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 12:38 PM

Unfortunately, for the first time in 5 years, I have come across a freelance employer that hasn't paid me. It's was only 1 day job for $250, but still, I expect that money. I'm no longer worried about being nice and saving the connection because I'll never work for anyone again that plays games with paying me.

It's been 50 days since I worked. He avoids some emails, and others responds and says it will be sent out the next day. I gave an invoice directly to him on the day of production, sent a 2nd email with a duplicate invoice 30 days after working, and just mailed a 3rd copy of the invoice by certified mail a couple days ago. My hope if that the certified letter will get his attention that I am preparing to have to go to court and get him to pay up.

I'm looking for any advice anyone might have that has worked for others in getting their checks.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 01:16 PM

Often the threat of court is enough to get them to pay up. However, if you never signed anything, e.g. had just a verbal agreement for the cash, well then he may grow brazen and argue he never agreed to pay you. . .
But sadly, sometimes you have to go to bat for your money. You just have to ask whether $250 is enough to justify a court proceeding.

Also, if you want to, give these folk:
http://hollywoodcrew...t.blogspot.com/

their info.
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#3 Stephen Williams

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 02:33 PM

Hi,

Turning up and waiting in reception for a cheque often works, if it's a company where they have clients arriving, turning up with a couple of screaming kids will often speed up the process.

Stephen

quote name='Michele Peterson' date='Sep 9 2008, 07:38 PM' post='250061']
Unfortunately, for the first time in 5 years, I have come across a freelance employer that hasn't paid me. It's was only 1 day job for $250, but still, I expect that money. I'm no longer worried about being nice and saving the connection because I'll never work for anyone again that plays games with paying me.

It's been 50 days since I worked. He avoids some emails, and others responds and says it will be sent out the next day. I gave an invoice directly to him on the day of production, sent a 2nd email with a duplicate invoice 30 days after working, and just mailed a 3rd copy of the invoice by certified mail a couple days ago. My hope if that the certified letter will get his attention that I am preparing to have to go to court and get him to pay up.

I'm looking for any advice anyone might have that has worked for others in getting their checks.
[/quote]
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 02:38 PM

You know that's a brilliant idea Stephen, I had never thought of it. . . Rather, almost, evilly genius.
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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 02:40 PM

Unfortunately, for the first time in 5 years, I have come across a freelance employer that hasn't paid me. It's was only 1 day job for $250, but still, I expect that money. I'm no longer worried about being nice and saving the connection because I'll never work for anyone again that plays games with paying me.

If this has only happened once, and has inspired you to never let it happen again, then it's worth the $250.
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#6 Michele Peterson

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 04:04 PM

If this has only happened once, and has inspired you to never let it happen again, then it's worth the $250.


If you have sure fire way to never let it happen again, I'd love to know what the secret is.

I get contracts & deal memos in writing, keep my own copy, keep copies of call sheets, don't work for anyone that is known to be sketchy or is obviously sketchy, but other than that, how can anyone know for certain, in advance that an employer is not going to send out your check?

Edited by Michele Peterson, 09 September 2008 - 04:05 PM.

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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 04:17 PM

Burly friends.

Pickaxe handles.
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#8 Serge Teulon

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 05:39 PM

Burly friends.

Pickaxe handles.



:lol: that was the first thought that came to me when I saw the post!!

I don't know how it works in the US but here in the UK you can blacklist someone by following certain procedures.

Stephen - Love the idea of using the screaming kids....just hope I never need to resort to that. But great idea!! :P

P.S my record from invoice date to being payed is 4 months.

Edited by Serge Teulon, 09 September 2008 - 05:41 PM.

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#9 Ira Ratner

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:39 PM

Man, some of you guys live in a totally different universe than me:

I grew up in Brooklyn, and if someone "legitimate" owed you money and they didn't pay, you called them up and said:

"Look, you scumbag. If I don't have a check in my mailbox within two days, I am going to do things to hurt your business like you can't imagine. Now, I'm not saying what, and I'm not saying that these things can in any way be perceived as illegal, but they will certainly be hurtful to you in monetary ways that you can't imagine, possibly OTHER ways as well. I'm sure you do NOT want to go there with me on this issue, so I expect this check to be mailed by end of day for the agreed upon $250, and not an effin penny less."

Hey, do you want me to contact them for you? It would be my PLEASURE. (Email me at ratner@mail.myacc.net with the particulars. I'll also find some lawyer names in your area to quote for the email--one of which may happen to just be my COUSIN!)

And I strongly disagree with a post above:

This $250 shouldn't be a lesson to YOU. It should be a lesson to HIM!

I hate, hate, HATE hearing about this kind of crap.
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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 06:55 PM

Man, some of you guys live in a totally different universe than me:

I grew up in Brooklyn, and if someone "legitimate" owed you money and they didn't pay, you called them up and said:

"Look, you scumbag. If I don't have a check in my mailbox within two days, I am going to do things to hurt your business like you can't imagine. Now, I'm not saying what, and I'm not saying that these things can in any way be perceived as illegal, but they will certainly be hurtful to you in monetary ways that you can't imagine, possibly OTHER ways as well. I'm sure you do NOT want to go there with me on this issue, so I expect this check to be mailed by end of day for the agreed upon $250, and not an effin penny less."

Hey, do you want me to contact them for you? It would be my PLEASURE. (Email me at ratner@mail.myacc.net with the particulars. I'll also find some lawyer names in your area to quote for the email--one of which may happen to just be my COUSIN!)

And I strongly disagree with a post above:

This $250 shouldn't be a lesson to YOU. It should be a lesson to HIM!

I hate, hate, HATE hearing about this kind of crap.


:) This post above is the reason that the NY and Chicago branches of Local 600 actually get sh** done and work FOR their local crews and why the LA branch is so ineffective. It's all about taking charge of a situation and applying the right amount of pressure in the right way. There's a time for being nice and political and there's a time to drive in like a bulldozer. Not every situation calls for the baseball bat approach, but just letting things go doesn't help anyone either. :ph34r:
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#11 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 07:02 PM

I like the show up unexpected way. I've done that before; in front of the guys employees. He said he didn't have any money, so I asked for $20. He gave me $20 and looked like a schmuck in front of everyone.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 07:41 PM

My record is well over a year.

I'm currently owed about $300 by a website based in San Francisco for an ENG job I did for them.

P
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#13 Dan Goulder

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 09:34 PM

If you have sure fire way to never let it happen again, I'd love to know what the secret is.

I get contracts & deal memos in writing, keep my own copy, keep copies of call sheets, don't work for anyone that is known to be sketchy or is obviously sketchy, but other than that, how can anyone know for certain, in advance that an employer is not going to send out your check?

According to your stated (and proper) criteria, you only deal with companies that have an established and positive track record. That should normally be sufficient. However, if you have any doubts about anyone in the future, you should ask for partial payment in advance, and then compensation in full at the end of every working day. If they balk at that, you've every right to be suspicious.
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#14 Dan Goulder

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 09:38 PM

"Look, you scumbag. If I don't have a check in my mailbox within two days, I am going to do things to hurt your business like you can't imagine. Now, I'm not saying what, and I'm not saying that these things can in any way be perceived as illegal, but they will certainly be hurtful to you in monetary ways that you can't imagine, possibly OTHER ways as well. I'm sure you do NOT want to go there with me on this issue, so I expect this check to be mailed by end of day for the agreed upon $250, and not an effin penny less."

If you want to guarantee not getting paid...follow the above advice. Acts like that generally only work in front of the camera.
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#15 Michele Peterson

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 02:51 PM

ask for partial payment in advance, and then compensation in full at the end of every working day. If they balk at that, you've every right to be suspicious.


I know from my own experience being a Segment Producer having to manage small crews that I would have balked at having to go through so much extra effort getting extra cash or writing extra checks and doing the extra paperwork/accounting for that many more payouts. Obviously, you are correct that someone not intending to pay would balk at that, but many Producers/PM's would balk at having to do that extra work for someone when other crew (who are just as qualified) will work for one check at the end of the billing period. Maybe a few people have enough clout to demand that, but then I would imagine those are the ones not as likely to be dealing with low-budget producers that screw people.
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#16 Walter Graff

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 04:27 PM

How about a phone call? This generation seems to think that email is an effective way of communication. It's one way to communicate, but nothing beats picking up the phone and asking what's the story. No need to be nasty, simply ask if they got the invoice, if it's being processed and when payment might be sent out. That is my first move. Second is a second call. Then a certified letter with the same question. Then a letter from a lawyer asking the same. It rarely goes past a first phone call. Recently it went to a second for $1500 owed me for a day some 90 days ago. They sent the check. As for a 50 day wait, nothing new. Most people don't pay for 45-60 days. 30 days in some ways is a dream for most. Almost something that hasn't been a norm for years.
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#17 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 06:20 PM

How about a phone call? This generation seems to think that email is an effective way of communication. It's one way to communicate, but nothing beats picking up the phone and asking what's the story. No need to be nasty, simply ask if they got the invoice, if it's being processed and when payment might be sent out. That is my first move. Second is a second call. Then a certified letter with the same question. Then a letter from a lawyer asking the same. It rarely goes past a first phone call. Recently it went to a second for $1500 owed me for a day some 90 days ago. They sent the check. As for a 50 day wait, nothing new. Most people don't pay for 45-60 days. 30 days in some ways is a dream for most. Almost something that hasn't been a norm for years.


I'm dealing with a situation as we speak where the production company insists that an email was sent that I never received. At issue is that this mysterious email that was amending the deal memo that I had already agreed to.

So, imagine the disaster after the shoot when I submit an invoice per the agreement when I'm presented with this brand new piece of information that I supposedly had been sent.

The lesson for any Producer here is to VERIFY that all crew have all of the necessary information. Simply assuming that emails or other mailings get there isn't enough. That's why we have telephones , certified mail, and personal meetings.

The punchline of this (so far) is the accusation on their part that I somehow deleted the important email so therefore, they are not responsible for paying according to the already agreed to deal.

It can be a disappointing business for the naively optimistic like me. :( You want to think the best of people, but damned if this business doesn't attract some truly shameless. It makes me want to pursue firefighting where you're worst enemy doesn't try to pull something on you... it just burns until you hit it with enough water. ;)


Bottom line: Get every detail in writing. God created unions, contracts, and paperwork for a reason. I used to insist on this way back when I had to work on indie movies. Up til now, verbal and "sparse" emails have been enough to satisfy both client and me. But it looks like it's time to dust off the personal deal memo I drew up a long time ago and stop assuming that everyone is on the up and up. :( Handing out trust too easily can end up costing real $$ in the end.
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#18 Serge Teulon

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 06:27 PM

My record is well over a year.

I'm currently owed about $300 by a website based in San Francisco for an ENG job I did for them.

P



Over a year!!?!?!?
My lawyer said that if you state in your invoice that payment should be made within 30 days of invoice date then you can actually charge a delayed payment fee.
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#19 Walter Graff

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 09:16 PM

Over a year!!?!?!?
My lawyer said that if you state in your invoice that payment should be made within 30 days of invoice date then you can actually charge a delayed payment fee.


You can write whatever you want on an invoice, just try to collect the interest. It's not something that has worked for most who tried it. You have to have an agreement with your client to charge interest and have it enforceable so it means nothing.

Very simply, make a work for hire contract if you think you need it, but then again, to go to small claims court and win a judgment does not mean you will get it either.

It's all about communication. DO NOT USE EMAIL as primary means of communication. Use the phone and be nice. You know the old phrase about bees and honey, it works.
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#20 Dan Goulder

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 11:55 PM

I know from my own experience being a Segment Producer having to manage small crews that I would have balked at having to go through so much extra effort getting extra cash or writing extra checks and doing the extra paperwork/accounting for that many more payouts. Obviously, you are correct that someone not intending to pay would balk at that, but many Producers/PM's would balk at having to do that extra work for someone when other crew (who are just as qualified) will work for one check at the end of the billing period. Maybe a few people have enough clout to demand that, but then I would imagine those are the ones not as likely to be dealing with low-budget producers that screw people.

I just wanted to reiterate that the advice I gave would only apply to someone who I had serious doubts about to begin with. For the record, I do pay my crew in full at the end of every day, and those are the terms I've chosen. (I generally work with a small crew.) That's probably beside the point, as every situation is different, and I can certainly understand if someone found that to be too much of a hassle.

I guess the best advice would just be to not let anyone run up too large of a debt to you between payments. If you're not to be paid until after the whole shoot, be REAL sure of who you're dealing with.
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The Slider

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC