A Bad Ass way to win over a non paying client


Pretty sure we have all experienced this at least once in our careers, some more than others. Last year I was unfortunate to get sunk three times, and it really affected my confidence more than anything else.

There was a fourth attempt but this time I tried a technique that initially, I didn’t feel too good about enforcing, but it worked.

There are a number of situations that you can be faced with, all with differing variables, so I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution, and often there is just not a solution at all. However, if you are faced with a situation similar to mine, you may want to try this at home.

A little background

Not going to name names as it was sorted out in the end, but I will explain the general scenario for you. A nice logo project for someone who needed a new identity for a reasonably substantial company. I had got a small deposit, so I didn’t feel overly concerned about getting the full payment when invoiced.

Needless to say, the invoice was ignored. It was ignored a handful of times and my patience finally got the better of me. This was about 4 months down the line. I knew in this time the client had implemented the logo and had been up and running as a business.

So this was a perfect time to try this plan.

It’s not actually that Bad Ass, but it sounded good in the title.

Counting on the fact that the client was using the new logo in day to day use, I wrote a reasonably diplomatic letter stating that if the invoice was not settled withing 7 days, I would take steps to either re-sell the logo design or re-use it in it’s entirety for a new client project I had coming up.

I was simply counting on the fact that the client would hopefully not feel too good about seeing their unique identity being sold off a number of times to other clients, or re-used for another major company.

It’s quite amazing how one can get attached to something like a logo, and only then realise the importance it has.

After a few emails of huffing and puffing by the client, the unpaid invoice was paid in full.

It won’t work every time

This is by now means a sure fire method, but I think in cases such as this, where the client has used and is using the unpaid logo in day to day use, a motivation to pay is not out of reach.

This method is not really devious or unreasonable. It’s just playing with the cards you have been dealt and recovering as best you can from a unfair situation.

Don’t put all your trust in a contract

As I have written in other posts, I have a much tighter system in place now. I still don’t have a contract, personally don’t believe in them. A contract would not have helped me in the above situation. I require full payment or a 75% deposit for first time clients. Full payment upfront usually for all overseas clients as this is a tricky one to get bad-ass legal on.

For a current identity project I am working on, that has a high budget of around £3000, we have negotiated a staggered deposit arrangement. 50% up front, a further 25% mid way and the final 25% on completion.

The more you can get upfront, the less you will worry about collecting the final invoice, and that level of peace of mind is priceless during a lengthy project.



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Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2010/11/03 & Post Updated: 2010/11/03
Filed In Categories: Brand Identity, Opinion

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