[APG Public List] client who ignores billing

John john at jytangledweb.org
Sun Feb 21 21:12:55 MST 2010

On 2/21/2010 3:02 PM, Thehensons at aol.com wrote:
> Hello,
> Any thoughts from your experiences with a client who has ignored my billing?
> History: I received a $100.00 retainer in late October after meeting
> with a client to do genealogical work. After using up the retainer, I
> called the client to see how many hours he would allow. He said "40
> hours" to me over the phone.
> I completed the work,spending 24 hours, plus copies and postage. In late
> December I sent him a bill and two large priority packages. I haven't
> received anything from him.
> Should I call him or write him a letter? Or, hire a lawyer! By the way,
> I have two items that belong to him: (1) a family history written in
> 1943 and (2) a master's thesis written by a family member in the 1970's.
> Alice

As others have suggested, send a certified letter requesting payment
or a payment plan. Remind them that you had an oral contract (maybe
written?) and that you honored your obligation and expect that they
will honor theirs by paying for your services.

Then I'd put in the letter that if I don't hear from you by [some date],
that you will pursue it in small claims court. But keep the letter
cordial and non threatening.

You might want to call the small claims court to verify, but years
ago I had someone smash out a window in my car and I got his
plate number and filed a police report. He was a deadbeat, so I took
it to small claims. Cost about $40 to file as I recall. Well, he
ignored them too, so a court date was scheduled. I put in for the
cost of the repair and courts costs, just what I spent. He didn't
show up for the court date, and the judge found in my favor for
the amount I requested. (I should have padded it!). Then the court
sent him a letter that if he didn't pay, they'd come and seize
property and sell it until the obligation was met. He then sent
me a payment plan for about 4 monthly payments, and paid. (all but
about $30 of it).

And next time, I would hold off on sending any results until it
was clear you'd be paid.

Just my $0.02 .


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