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Thread: COD late payments

  1. #1
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    COD late payments

    Hi all,

    I run a sole prop IT Company, and did work for a client about a week ago. Labour, call-out etc

    Invoice comes to R880,00

    I have a signed job card for the work completed, but haven't received any payment yet.

    SMS the client, no reply. E-Mailed the invoice, no reply or payment.

    My question is, how long is the waiting period before I can start taking legal action?

    I'll probably have to go to Small Claims Court, but just wanted to know how long must I wait before I can take legal action?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Send a registered letter now pointing out that they're in breach of their terms and demanding immediate settlement.

    I wouldn't start legal action before 30 days has passed from doing the original job and there are a number of circumstances where you need to give 21 days written notice before commencing legal action anyway. It may or may not apply in this case, but sticking to that routine as standard practice comes with a hoard of benefits.

    The problem might be a cash flow cycle thing. Allowing 30 days to pass gives the client a decent shot at paying the bill - whether it be after payday for employees or some point in the monthly cycle for businesses.

    Some people are bastards and some people are simply struggling. Make sure you're dealing with a bastard before you sue. And when you do, knowing you're now dealing with a bastard, make sure your ducks are in a row all along the way. The slightest technical hitch can cause serious misery.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Thank you Dave.

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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    I sit with the same problem. Invoice is R18K, client short paid by R6K since they feel that a lot of the work was over-invoiced for. Part of the R18K invoice included MS Office, Quickbooks & Antivirus licenses so the R6K was pure labor. We spend a whole week at their premisis doing a lot of work (migrating data from old PC's to new PC's, cleaning out virusses, upgrading MS Office, diagnosing & fixing compatibility issues with Quickbooks 2002 & Windows 7). We're still trying to get the money from them since October last year.
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    I'm going a different route with these people that don't pay. My amount is small, and I'm not going to waste time trying to get it.

    However...

    I'll blacklist them. If it takes me 6 months, I don't care. Blacklisting is WAY better. They won't be able to buy anything on credit. ABSA blacklisted me for R900 odd, so I'm damn sure I can blacklist for R880.

    I'd say go with this route. I'll find out the procedure to do this, and let you know. I worked for a small company and we had lawyers that did debt collecting. I think I still have their details.

    Awesome people. They call the client, send out letters, & if they don't pay, BAM! They blacklist them.

    Let me see if I can post the details so you can contact them. I think they take 6% as a fee, but I can live with that.

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    Platinum Member Neville Bailey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    ...the R6K was pure labor. We spend a whole week at their premisis doing a lot of work...
    Here is an extract of an article on News24 a few days ago, by Georgina Guedes, which highlights the quandary that many small business owners face, who charge for their time and expertise:
    There’s a tale about a plumber who is called out to deal with a blocked pipe. He gets to his client’s house, assesses the problem and then bashes the offending pipe once with his fist. It gurgles into life. “That’ll be R500,” he says to his client.
    “R500!” she says in horror. “But you just bashed it.”
    “That’s R500 for knowing exactly where to bash it,” he replied.
    A friend of mine recently had some business cards made. She was outraged by the layout fee charged by the printer who converted her word document into a business card layout. “It took him two minutes!” she said, indignantly. “It was just text.”
    While I felt that the printer could have been more upfront about the associated costs of layout and design, which I agree were fairly minimal activities in this case, I also pointed out to my friend that it wasn’t something that she could have done herself. She wasn’t paying for the 10 minutes of his time, but the years of training he’d had to be able to do it so quickly, like the plumber.
    Anyone who works in an industry where they bill for time and expertise rather than a tangible product runs afoul of this kind of reasoning at some point, just like the layout artist and the plumber. Architects, writers and IT technicians all get squeezed for discounts on their time, while clients willingly cough up for fittings, printer bills and computer equipment.
    Aside from the fact that everyone’s out for a discount, people just don’t attribute the same value to services as they do to items. Once you’ve seen a plumber bash a pipe, you reckon you could do it yourself the next time. And you probably could, as long as exactly the same problem presented itself. But when the blockage is somewhere else, you need to call the plumber again.
    As a writer, I frequently run into the kind of arrogance that assumes that because a client knows how to start with a capital letter and end with a full stop, my part in the process is irrelevant. Rather than paying me to do the job well, they’ll have the secretary who writes the terribly witty signs for the ladies loo to edit the annual report. And then, just because they’re a bit anxious about her grammar, they’ll send it to me for a “quick once over”. Then the trouble really starts.

    It’s very difficult to justify the costs of fixing something that a client doesn’t perceive as terribly broken in the first place. They’ve happily inserted reams of text peppered with “thinking out the box”, “going forward” or “cutting edge solutions”, and think they’ve communicated effectively.

    They call in a professional writer because something tells them they should, but think that I’ll just correct one or two glaring errors and charge them R250 for the job. Try to justify the time and expertise required to create a document that’s consistent, well-written and contains the right messaging, and the client will go blue in the face. In this case, I find that bright, sparkly, red track changes really help.

    Photographers often have the same problems. People honestly think that a grainy, badly-lit, terrible-contrast photograph taken with a cell phone is a perfectly acceptable image for publication. If anyone in the production process complains, they tell their designers to “fix it up in Photoshop” but they don’t want to pay for that, either.
    It’s as if the whole world fails to understand that the expertise and quality control that goes into writing a report, building a house, taking a photograph or fixing a computer is the result of years of training and experience. They wouldn’t call us if they could do it themselves, but then they resent the fact that they had to pay for it when we make it look so simple.
    So, consumers of services, this is an open request to you to pony up and show some gratitude for a job well done. You should be asking yourselves, “can I do it that well myself?” or “do I know where to bang the pipe?”
    - Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. She believes in paying for services, whether they are performed by friends or providers.
    Neville Bailey - Pastel Accounting Consultant and Photographer
    neville@accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
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    Have you tried a phone call? It forces them to give you some sort of answer. SMS and emails can get lost is a disorganised client's daily schedule.

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    Alright, let me call him. He probably won't answer, but let me try anyways.

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    Hi all,

    OK so I contacted a debt collection firm here in Cape Town and immediately got a response from this client. Complaining about how he isn't satisfied with my service etc etc

    Point being, it's funny how when debt collectors call people, they respond.

    I have another question though, and I'm going to ask it here.

    This client is now complaining about my service, saying how he had to get another "highly competant MCSE IT guy" in to fix the stuff I had to fix etc etc

    My question:

    Surely when you have your own business you WILL get people that complain about your services etc etc. After all, you cannot please everyone.

    Is it best to learn from your mistakes and just carry on? I mean, I cannot beat myself up over this one client who is unhappy.

    Thoughts?

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    Andrew,

    This is one of the lamest excuses.

    In all honesty, between you and me (I'm in a similar boat as you), did you really give them poor service? Was the issue resolved? Do you have a signed-off timesheet / invoice indicating what you invoiced them for?

    South African's, in general, don't like to pay. For anything. And they'll try and get out of paying for anything wherever they can. Unless they have proof of the other IT firm redoing your job (I would checkup with them myself), they have no leg to stand on and are just plain jerks for not holding up their part of the bargain.
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