How and When to Follow up with a Late Payment
Dealing with a late payment situation will always feel awkward. After all, you don’t want to upset a client in a world that is all about networking and referrals. Plus, you’re probably excited to have just completed a gig and you don’t want anything to ruin that vibe. However, the bottom line is that you should get paid if you were told you would be paid. So, how do you follow up when you don’t receive compensation as expected?
Remain Professional. It’s important to come across an assertive rather than angry. Understand that you deserve to be paid for your hard work, but don’t convey arrogance when you follow up. You can include any written documentation you have to support the client’s claim that the pay was to be a certain amount and receives by a specified time. This will help the client, who is likely working with a wide array of talent on a wide array of projects, focus on the details agreed upon in your contract.
Document. Again, it is important to keep adequate documentation at all stages of the production process from the first contact with the client to the last. This means, while you’ll want to have phone and face-to-face contact to establish rapport, it’s also important to have written documentation to support the terms of your contractual relationship.
Dealing with Let-down. If a client never pays you despite your best efforts to follow-up and leave a paper trail showing you’ve done your due diligence, particularly if the client completely ghosts you, chalk this up to a learning experience and steer clear moving forward. Hopefully, you will still be able to view the final project and add the experience to your resume and reel. In any industry, there is always the risk of not getting paid for work completed, although it doesn’t happen often. Do your research to ensure your work (whether it be images, voiceover, or footage) is not being used illegally and/or without your consent.
Not receiving payment when you expect it can be frustrating. It is important to handle it in stride, though, so you don’t burn a bridge with a client that will eventually pull through. The general guideline is that you should be paid within six weeks of the wrap date. If you’ve been waiting for longer than this, reach out to the client to better understand when you can expect to be compensated.