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Thread: Customer not paying

  1. #1
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    Customer not paying

    Curious to hear what you guys have resorted to to have an invoice settled?

    Urgent request from a customer to sort out his DB where things are tripping and circuits are dead following an inverter install. Family with young kids without power 60% of the house.

    I drop everything, spend a day and a half splitting his DB into essential & non-essential, identifying circuits, labelling everything and writing a 2 page report on what needs doing on the PV side of things.

    I gave him a guestimate when I started of my day rate and estimated time needed.

    I get huge thank you's and "everything is finally working" messages. I think happy days. I send the bill and there is silence. Ignores my calls and messages.

    This is a first time for me - I have never had a client do this. I'm so flipping angry because so much of my personal integrity is vested in this job.

    Thoughts of parking him in to his property before school run, pressing past him and cutting as many circuits as I can comes to mind.

  2. #2
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    So sorry to read this ! Makes me angry as he / she happy to pay for a bad install but to make it work then they don't pay!

    Old boss used to say, open the kiosk and shove a 1000V DC with the megger.

    Super frustrating that and so sorry, I don't actually have anything helpful to say as I too am owed money from a builder and dont know what to do to get it.

    Sent from my CPH2197 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Derlyn's Avatar
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    Use it, don't use it. Been in this game over 40 years. As hard as it may be, forget about it and move on.
    Keep on sending him reminders every 30 days. This has happened to us all.
    If it's a day or two's labour without much materials, no big deal.
    On bigger jobs you would obviously not have started without at least a 60% up front commisioning deposit.

    Just write it down in your little black book and move on. If you let it get to you, you're done. These things happen in the real world.

  4. #4
    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    How long has it been since you invoiced him? What steps exactly have you taken in your efforts to get paid?

    Try the mister nice guy approach first, if you get aggressive or confrontational you burn that bridge and can't go back and try it later. Send him a whatsapp or email explaining you did a professional job at a fair price and went far out of your way to make it urgent, tell him you're a small business with employees you need to pay and you've also got your family to feed. Lay it on thick how emotional you feel when you give everything you can then can't pay your guys or pay your bills because you're not getting paid. Even ask him if it's just a tgemporary cashflow problem that's holding up payment and does he just need some time? Ask him if he can pay it over a few weeks instead of a lump sum.

    In the mean time start getting your ducks in a row regarding paperwork and other evidence that he legally contracted you to undertake the work and he was happy that the work was completed to an acceptable standard. Also use your Mr niceguy approach with the primary aim of starting a conversation....any conversation then secondary aim of him admitting the debt. Be medothical and persistant trying to contact him but not psychopathic, send him copies of the invoice as well as statements; convince him by your actions that you're in it for the long haul to get paid if necessary.

    I've had debtors who still haven't paid after more than 6 months or even a year of pestering but I keep sending then copies of the invoice and a statement twice a month then all of a sudden one day out of the blue the amount appears in my account. This has happened a few times in fact.
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  5. #5
    Diamond Member Blurock's Avatar
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    What I do not understand is that people are prepared to pay upfront for imports or on-line purchases, but then they demand terms and screw the locals when it comes to business.
    Good advice given from the Forum guys. I have also moved on after being screwed by customers. The legal system is a mess and not worth pursuing as it appears that even some sheriffs will take a bribe rather than attach good as ordered by the court. I've been supplying information from tracers but they return empty handed every time! For years now!

    As a result, my business is cash only. I buy for cash and sell for cash. No compromise, no sleepless nights. Cash in the bank!
    Excellence is not a skill; its an attitude...

  6. #6
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    I have a little experience, If I had to collect all the outstanding money owing to me, I could have paid cash for my house without taking out a bond

    I talk from experience,

    Dont waste your money joining an association thinking you will recover debits, never worked for me , the R80 000 is still outstanding.

    A lawyer will cost you more than the outstanding debt.

    Small claims court, what a waste of time and money, never even been able to recover a cent, a lot of time and money wasted.

    Dont trust family, the cousin was the auditor for a firm which managed the customers account, suddenly he was a partner in the company which bought out the poor customer who lost everything. Only R10 000, but still takes time to recover.

    Payments become slower and slower, dump the customer before they become a problem.

    Watch the writing on the wall, listen to people and watch out for companies or customers in financial trouble, watch and listen to other contractors and the wholesaler, they are the first to identify payment problems.

    Word of mouth, the best way to make sure you will get paid, I had a problem recently, a mate recommended a customer contact me, my first thought was if the person is doing building work, why dont they have an electrical contractor they normally use, warning bells already. Heard the whole "big projects in the pipeline bullshyte" which made me even more nervous, anyway I was told by my mate the customer was good for the money, they weren't. A quick facebook post warning people about the dodgy builder, highlighting the builders customers name. It took less than an hour and I got a call from the builders customer and was paid in full.
    Comments are my opinion, unless regulations are attached to support the comment. This is social media, not a court room.

  7. #7
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    I could write a book on excuses, but here is another one you need to be very careful because it happens in such a subtle way over a period of time.

    You start doing work for a big company, in the beginning you quote for the whole project, accommodation, travelling,(I use to do work all over SA and neighboring countries) labour and material.

    In the beginning everything goes well, you get paid on time and everyone is happy, then there is a slight shift in management, suddenly there is talk about projects not making enough money and you are expected to reduce your bill. at the same time there are promises of extra for the next project.

    Then they cut the travelling and arrange to pick you up with your equipment, then they provide the accommodation and so it just gets worse and worse.

    Then they take over material purchases because the project go over a million, so as a small business you dont have the resources, before you wipe the crap out your eyes, you doing these project worth millions, battling to get your hourly rate, because they keep telling you they didnt make money on the project, yet the boss is buying new houses, wifes car is upgraded every 3 months and kids are all sent to private schools, you battling to pay the bills at the end of the month, spending more time away form home than you are with your family and we all know how that ends.

    Dont think not being paid is the only problem, beware people dont give a crap about you or your business, if you make them money they will suck the life right out of you until you step up dump them. They know a good thing when they have it, it takes a couple months, but they will come begging you to do the work for them again, dont.
    Comments are my opinion, unless regulations are attached to support the comment. This is social media, not a court room.

  8. #8
    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    It is always to be wise after the fact.
    I have noticed that as business dwindles, the chances of getting paid get worse.

    Just recently a friend of mine also has had an experience, in which he allocated 15 days to do the job. The customer was to provide the fork lifts and cranes for the execution of the job. Of course there delays in getting the equipment, and the job took double the time. In the meantime the teams were on site and getting paid standing around. So end the job and he does not get paid the 30 days but only 15 days, and the customer says not my problem that your team was waiting.

    So I suggested that in future, work in which customers supply equipment or raw materials, you quote an installment based payment process, over say 4 payments, then get paid a deposit for your labour up front for the first installment, when it runs out, you ask again for the next installment. This way you can control your labour cost.
    If the customer does not want to play ball, walk away, he is going to be a problem to pay when the job is finished.
    There is also always what I call project creep which is expected to be done for free, with the installment process, this can be quoted up front and becomes the 5th installment.

    Just getting so damn difficult to do business right now.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
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    This has become a bit of a challenge, upfront payments, they sound good if its for the entire job, however as we are all aware, in many cases the job gets a few additions.

    Like tens of thousands of rands worth of additional work, you think the customer is good for the money, so trust them, you finish the project and ready to hand over all the documentation, and that when it turns nasty.

    Suddenly they want a breakdown of the time spent of site, a detailed list of materials, then they start accusing you of doing work they didnt ask you to do and boy the list goes on and on.

    Beware of people (customers), I have learnt not to trust anyone.
    Comments are my opinion, unless regulations are attached to support the comment. This is social media, not a court room.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member Derlyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blurock View Post

    As a result, my business is cash only. I buy for cash and sell for cash. No compromise, no sleepless nights. Cash in the bank!
    Exactly, my brother. You and I sing from the same hymn sheet.

    That is also why, years ago, I stopped with the COC story for house sales. I ain't no credit provider.

    Also, Justloadit mentioned something that I have been implementing for yonks, breaking a quote up into multiple phases with an upfront deposit for each phase and final payment for that phase before proceeding with the next phase and strictly adhering to it. That reduces the risk of taking a biggish knock. Works well.

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