How to Deal with Difficult Clients Who Don't Pay on Time

How to Deal with Difficult Clients Who Don't Pay on Time

It is the classic dilemma of every freelance designer: What to do about a client who has not paid you for services rendered? You may feel very angry, especially if the product in question is a website that you built for the client. After all, you likely poured your heart and soul into the project. You tried to make the site just right, and the client said it was great but never paid you. Meanwhile, the website is live and the client may even be making money off of it!

In a case like this, you may be tempted to take vindictive action. One designer, for example, decided to replace the client's homepage with a ominous warning screen. The text on the screen read: "This company does not pay their web designer! No one responds to emails or voicemails. What kind of company is that? Not one you want to work with."

The designer may have felt better for a while after posting that message. However, there are several problems with taking such an approach. Consider:

  • If you take down the client's website, you may end up cutting off your nose to spite your face. After all, it will be harder to prove that you upheld your end of the deal and delivered a fully functional website.
  • If you go a step further and replace the client's site with a nasty message, you are really shooting yourself in the foot. Regardless of why the client has not paid, you are now advertising to the world that you will stoop to shaming a client you have a dispute with -
    not a good move for your professional reputation and could have legal ramifications, to boot.
  • Your best bet in a case like this may be small claims court. This is exactly the sort of thing they are designed to handle.

The bottom line: As the old saying goes, never argue with a fool; he will only drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience. Instead, stay professional, take the high road, and retain your good reputation.

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