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Payment Issues

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HeinekenMan, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    I have had payment issues with only a few companies since I started freelancing almost five years ago. I gave up on one or two companies, but the current situation is the most puzzling. So I thought I'd share.

    Last fall, I covered some stuff for the Naples Daily News. It tried multiple times to get the company's accounting department to pay me, but it never happened. Once, they claimed they mailed a check. I never got it. They said they were going to stop payment and issue another check. Well, I never received that check, either. Skipping ahead five months, I decided to cover another event for the paper. That was in late April.

    In May, I approached the accounting department. They assured me a check was on the way for the new work. In June, I corresponded several times with the same person after I was never paid. I mentioned that I also had never been paid for work I did in the fall. That's when they told me they had been mailing checks to my street address in Naples. I don't live anywhere near Naples, and I've put the correct address on all of my correspondence, including the paperwork they required and each of my invoices.

    Four weeks ago, I received a check. It was for the work I did in the fall. I was told that the other check would be coming, too. But it never came. So they said again that they were going to stop payment on it and issue another check. That was three weeks ago. I went on vacation two weeks ago. When I came back, I discovered that the check still hadn't arrived. I reached out to my contact. She told me the check was most likely mailed on July 2. So I waited. Now it's July 13. Still no check.

    After playing nice, I finally voiced my frustrations today in an e-mail to my contact. She now tells me this has never happened before and that "outside vendors" are issuing checks now. One little check isn't going to make that much of a difference in my life. But I try to stay on top of these things. And I don't know whether to laugh of cry over this deal. Meanwhile, I keep wondering how this could happen. Is someone stealing money? Is the company broke? Is someone really that incompetent?
  2. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    If you're staying pretty busy otherwise -- and it sounds like you are -- I'd cut them loose. Customers get one chance to get this part right with me. If I have to wait more than two months, sayonara. Flip it around -- if you were late getting work to them or if your work was shoddy in some other way, would they continue to use you?

    Edit: I'm still waiting for payment on work I did last fall. Not a huge amount of money, but it's enought that it would come in handy. I'd sue in small claims court, but there are some caveats I won't go into here. But every time I see something on this subject, it gets my dander up.
  3. When I was freelancing a lot, I would allow a place one screw-up, on the theory that anybody can make a mistake. But if it happens a second time, cut 'em loose. When the SE or whoever calls asking why you don't want any more assignments, let them know why.
  4. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I wouldn't let it slide. Get your money.
  5. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Never give up on any uncollected money. It's your damn money. Do not let accounting f*ck around with you.
  6. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    Just a short update...

    After raising a little hell, I received a check in the mail in mid-July. It included what appears to be some extra compensation for my trouble. I'm glad. The sports editor is a good guy, and I like working for him. The payment issues had nothing to do with the editorial side. Coincidentally, he needed a stringer in my neck of the woods, and now I'm waiting on another check! It's only been a week so far. I have my fingers crossed that this will go smoothly.
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