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My Client looks like they won't pay out....where do I stand?

LauraVest 15 33 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 3:12PM
Hi Everyone,

I really need some advice please. I did a job for a client 6 weeks ago (product shots on white) and havent recieved any payment yet. I am dealing directly with the client, not through any third party. At the 4 week mark they rang me and told me that they had passed the images onto a graphic designer and he had said that they were'nt good enough and wanted me to re-shoot.

Unfortunatley I was going on holiday and couldn't do it, but I don't see how I could have done anything different to the first shoot. I have done similar work before that has been used for a catalogue and for websites so I don't see what the problem is. I wondered if they were trying to make the images huge as I shot them with the intention of being used in magazines, but they assured me that it was for a magazine and they had said they weren't suitable.

They have had them re-shot by another photographer whilst I was on holiday.

I feel in a really tough position as I feel like my work was suitable and they had ample time to tell me other-wise. Am I entitled to my pay? My invoice was seperated into shooting time, photoshop time and CD of images (usage). I am thinking that I would only ask for my time to be payed for and obviously the return of the CD.

Communication between myself and the Client is, well - i don't know how to describe it. I've rang twice and spoke to two different people and I am waiting for them to return my call. I just don't know where I stand for payment. It's a fair bit of money and took two days out of my week to complete. We had agreed my rates in writing before I completed the job.

Any advice would really help me out,

Thanks in advance,

Tandberg 18 1.2k 2 England
2 Oct 2007 3:24PM
Why were they not good enough,You should have a clear reason as to why they were not acceptable..

Did ya have a contract,You said you had agreed rates in writing,Fair enough but that aint a contract as such..

A chap on here went to the small claims court,but settled before it got to that stage.

Could you do that and are ya willing to do that.

I'm no solictior or owt,but i'm sure some member will have a better idea as to what to do...

But i dont think it will be a cut and dry case this
csurry 19 9.2k 92
2 Oct 2007 3:40PM
I think Dave is right and the first thing you need to establish is why they were not good enough.

If too small and you provided images as requested then I think you have solid argument. Also did they ask for larger copies, which you may have had.

I have seen something similar where it was a simple misunderstanding on behalf of the print house, they had used the thumbnails directory and not the main images. There was an agreed payment and no one lost out except the commissioning company as they paid twice, but did it to keep all parties happy as it was a genuine mistake.

If it is a question of quality then I think the issue gets a whole lot more muddy.
Slaterm 15 496 1 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 3:43PM
they should give you some idea as to what is wrong with the images. It could be that there is nothing wrong and this is a cash flow problem.

If there is genuinely a problem with the images then they may have an argument and might not have to pay you. In short you need to find out exactly what was wrong.

If the amount in question is less than £5000 then it will be a small claims court matter - so no legal costs involved if you fancy a crack at getting the money out of them.

Other consideration will be whether they can damage your business - will chasing payment cause them to talk to other potential customers in a less than glowing way? If so, think twice before pushing this.

Hope this helps
zed 17 551 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 3:53PM
Laura, are you a member of the BFP (Bureau of Freelance Photographers) because they will chase non payments up on your behalf....If you are not a member, get in touch with them anyway, they may be able to help.

SuziBlue 18 16.2k 10 Scotland
2 Oct 2007 4:03PM
Just out of interest - what are your payment terms with them? Do you ask for payment after a week following receipt of your invoice? Or upon publication? Or whatever.

Unless you didn't have payment terms agreed, it seems odd that they would have left it so long to flag up what they say is a problem, particularly as they haven't said what the problem is. It's the graphic designer who is kicking up a fuss about them and not the client, interestingly ...

I'd contact them in writing, being pleasant and saying that you'd be grateful for their feedback on why the images were rejected as you have an outstanding invoice with them for the work that you supplied to their original specification. And copy it to the graphic designer if you have their details. Nothing is impossible to settle if things are discussed openly, fairly, and pleasantly Smile

I suppose they didn't find a cheaper photographer instead ... and thought they'd dump you .. ?? hopefully not Wink
stevekhart 15 4.5k 3 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 4:50PM
Might be worth asking yourself if you would want to work for them again? Doubtful by the sounds of how this job has gone, but if you think it's worth staying in with them then I think it might be worth understanding why the images were inadequate, get a sample of the replacement images from the other tog and perhaps offer a credit note off future work with them if they settle this one. Just my 2c.
culturedcanvas 16 4.7k 59 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 4:57PM
They have commissioned a service, you have performed that service, they have had someone else re-shoot which is their choice however you are still owed the funds legally and have recourse for non payment through the court should they not pay up.

You need to show you have made all reasonable attempts to resolve this but failing that file an N1 small claim in the county court and it's likely they will pay.

If they are not communicating with you then you have little chance of resolving this. i would write or call once more asking for a chance to review the shots and the reason they weren't suitable but inform them you still need paying.

As an aside I often use this tactic as a way of reducing the invoice amount charged to me by suppliers Wink

stevekhart 15 4.5k 3 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 5:05PM

Quote:As an aside I often use this tactic as a way of reducing the invoice amount charged to me by suppliers

You're a bad man Dan!
veggiesosage 14 82 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 5:07PM
An awful lot depends on exactly what you agreed with them and, of course, how much you can prove that you agreed with them. The standard method of proof is, of course, having everything in writing but just because you haven't got something in writing it doesn't mean you haven't got a contract, it just means that it will be more difficult to prove.

If they were very vague about what they wanted and you complied with what they said then they haven't really got a leg to stand on even if they later find out what they've got doesn't suit their purpose.

I agree that first stage is to write a polite but fairly detailed letter explaining that you feel you have fulfilled the contract, refer to any specific requirements they specified if there are any and ask them for their views as to why you haven't as suggested above. I would also make it clear that you still require payment in this letter, keeping it all nice and polite as the others have said and asking them for payment and/or reply within 2 weeks.

Give em about 3-4 weeks, if nothing, send fairly short and to the point leter saying if they don't pay within 2 weeks you will take them to the small claims court. Keep copies of everything!

Again, 3-4 weeks later, if you've heard nothing, you have to decide whether you want to go through with a court claim as there is a fee involved and further fees if you need to take enforcement action. Some details about how to do all this here
miptog 16 3.6k 65 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 5:13PM
Agree with Dan. I would try phoning, if that doesn't work, write a lettet stating that if you haven't heard within a set time you will start a small claim proceeding. Meanwhile I would closely check what the terms and conditions were of your agreement and contract with them.

I would also consider if the Client can be damaging to you in any of your future work.

culturedcanvas 16 4.7k 59 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 5:19PM

Quote:Agree with Dan

One of the most worrying statements I have heard in a while Wink
dave thelens 18 936 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2007 5:22PM

Quote:Agree with Dan. I would try phoning, if that doesn't work

Never never phone ... there are no records of phone conversations, write and ask them what was wrong with the images and why they have not paid.

If they they give valid reasons for rejecting your work and you can show that you have offered to correct these then they are in the wrong not to pay you.

If however they give valid reasons and you can not show that you were unable or unwilling to correct these reasons then you will have great difficulty in proving that they owe you ... would you pay for something thats unsuitable ???? I doubt it

2 Oct 2007 5:57PM
I don't think, under these circumstances, County Court proceedings would help you. They have reshot the images claiming that yours were not up to standard, I dont think a court would be in your favour under these circumstances.

I'd follow Suzi's and Steve's approach and put it down to experience.

Although if they still have the large files have you asked them to return them? If they refuse you might have a case then???
Hanners 15 875 10 Ireland
2 Oct 2007 6:56PM
Getting paid
"Equally important to photographers working commercially is getting paid on time. Compared to some famously slow paying advertising agencies, design companies are relatively prompt to pay. Always clearly state your expected payment terms – 30 Days Net being standard practise – and reserve the usage rights until your invoice has been paid in full. Stating that you are reserving your rights might prove to be of some use to you later should the company prove, for whatever reason, be unable to honour your invoice. This should be included in your terms and conditions and, to form part of your contract, given to the client prior to the shoot

Sending a Statement of Account to the accounts department as close the due date as possible will give you some chance of getting paid promptly, as very few companies today will pay invoices without some nagging. In practise, the difference between getting on the list for eventual payment is often as simple as laying down some sort of marker that gets someone in accounts to pull your paperwork out of a large pile of those to be paid eventually, and put into that smaller pile for immediate payment.

As the 30 Days Net payment period is now considered “best practise” by the larger corporate, you ought to reasonably expect that this should trickle down to the design company that you’re in turn working for. Remember, when attempting to collect your debts, that it is nothing personal, but be polite, firm and dutiful when you do need to speak to someone in the accounts department."

This is an extract from the AOP Beyond The Lens (page 133)
I hope it’s relevant, if not I hope it’s of use to others

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