Client has not paid in over 7 months — no agreement — what late fees can I charge?

 

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Client has not paid in over 7 months — no agreement — what late fees can I charge?

Hello Folks,

I have my own small video production company in New York state, just outside NYC. A client reached out in early February and mentioned her close friend, an owner of a sizable international fashion brand (I will call her Natalie), would be having an impromptu wedding at a restaurant in two days. I don’t shoot weddings, however I figured, as a gesture to my client I would handle it for her. I told her whatever Natalie could afford would likely be fine – Natalie and I agreed upon $800 for 3hrs of shooting and the delivery of a 30 second highlight video. No agreements were signed, based on the nature of the engagement.

All of the work was completed in a few days and an invoice was submitted to Natalie on 2/22/20 with a due date of 3/22/20, which she acknowledged and said she would pay asap. One month passed and no payment arrived. I reached out, she said she would send an ACH payment immediately. She sent confirmation that the payment was sent, 2 weeks later, no payment arrived. A number of alleged payment attempts and correspondences later, payment was still never received. Fast forward, I still have not been paid and Natalie has stopped responding to emails and calls.

I plan on sending the payment to debt collection, however I am now inclined to include late fees. Without any agreement in place, what late fees can I justifiably tack onto this invoice?

Any information/advice is welcome!

Client has not paid in over 7 months — no agreement — what late fees can I charge?

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5 Replies to “Client has not paid in over 7 months — no agreement — what late fees can I charge?”

  1. Unfortunately, in most (maybe all) states, you cannot charge late fees unless they have been disclosed to the customer before providing services.

    Personally, I would not mess around with collections. I would take them to small claims court.

    Also, please tell me you did not give them the video before they made payment.

  2. If you don’t have a contract, you can tack on as many fees are you’d like, but she has no obligation to pay it. At best, she’ll pay you the agreed-up price of $800.

    Sounds like your challenge (as is with most small businesses) is collecting payment for the work that you’ve done. If the work was done in NYC, you both live in the city (not sure since you mentioned your company being just outside of NYC), and you’re a sole prop, smllc, or a S/C-Corp with one employee: you, check out the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Law. The city may help – at least provide her some incentive to open her wallet.

    Going forward, DEFINITELY get a contract no matter how small the job. You can even borrow and tweak the template from the “Freelancing isn’t Free” site: [https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dca/downloads/pdf/workers/Model-Contract-Freelance.pdf](https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dca/downloads/pdf/workers/Model-Contract-Freelance.pdf).

    Good luck! We’ve all been there at least once and running your own business is a continuous learning (and occasionally freaking out) process.

  3. $800 isn’t enough. It’s honestly not worth pursuing in any way legally. Personally, that’s your prerogative. πŸ™‚

    At the end of the day, it’s all “labor”. You still have the “product”. So, you’re not “out” anything yet captain.

    If you have a serious perspective client, and they want an IRL example, you have something to show them. If you get 10 additional $800 (paying) clients as a result of that “asset”, then chalk it up to 10% on the marketing budget. πŸ™‚

    In the long run, not having a “contract” can actually be a USP, depending on how you present it. Less money at a single time, more often in the process, and you are covering your labor, while demonstrating value to a potential (serious) client.

    FWIW – There’s always another way of looking at things, and applying that “fuck you” energy. πŸ™‚

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