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Non paying Client

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#1 Nikk Hearn-Sutton SOC

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 11:22 AM

Hello how is everyone doing.

I did a live to tape shoot and the client said that he would pay us after strike and did not. So I spoke to him and he asked to have him invoice him,which was no problem now he says that what I shot was poor and is delaying paying me if at all. Now here is the kicker. The conditions that I had to shoot in was unbearable. I had roughly maybe 2 feet to work with besides a banister out a foot from the stage plus they did not block off where I would be so, I had patrons in there seats having there feet out so I had to watch where I was going plus that banister and they would not let me have my AC to join me cause it was a union house.

So, not only I not having my AC and having union guys who have no idea on what to even when I tried to explain how to "dance" and I forgot to add that is was on triax. Now it sounds as if he will not pay me for my services. I could go on and on about it but I but I am so Irate about it. could spit :angry: . Any suggestions on what i can do. I've never in my career as of yet dealt with this.


Edited by NikkSutton, 06 May 2008 - 11:23 AM.

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#2 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 04:34 PM

Hi Nikk: Your message reads to me as if you agree the work was marginal but you are offering "excuses" or reasons why you think it was potentially bad or not your best. Is that true? Which is it? If the work is not good your client could very well have some claim or a leg to stand on legally to withhold payment; right or wrong as it may be. In the case of triax someone should have noticed right away and discussed it with you if it were a problem. If you hired a painter to paint your house and in your eyes he did not do a good job would you want to pay him? Would it matter that he said afterwards that bushes were in the way of his ladder? Would it matter if he told you prior to starting that the bushes were an issue and you said deal with them and paint anyway?

It could just be the guy is trying hose you and is looking for any reason to brush you off.

On the other hand, if you disagree and the work was good you'll need to go to small claims court assuming the job is under whatever $$$ limits your local Magistrate or Justice Court dictates. You can do it yourself and don't need a lawyer in small claims. He'll say the work was not good, you'll make him show examples or the whole unedited segment and maybe in the process you'll have accidentally gotten a shot of all the obstacles to show the court what you were up against or maybe it simply comes down to a matter of aesthetic tastes between you, him and now the magistrate.

And finally, you can usually download the small claims forms and fill them out yourself, then you have to go to the courthouse and file them along with a fee. What I've done in a few circumstances is fill out the small claims forms and send them to the client with a Certified letter demanding payment by a specific date otherwise I'll file the claim. The ready to file form lets them know you mean business.

Good luck!
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#3 JobScholtze


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Posted 07 May 2008 - 04:52 AM

First of all, the should have told you sooner. Not all kind of reasons and at the end its your work. BS.
Pay up, make them a final letter. What i do and did is that if the keep refusing to pay me, i'll email all of my collegues overhere and none of them will ever work for that client. Nobody wants to work for free.
I think i would go over there and let the client show me the work he isnt happy about. And also the raw material. Lets see what he comes up with. If he is right, you could give him a deal. ( No equipment payments or so ) If he is wrong, tell him to pay within 5 days. If not, take legal actions. But not paying is not an option in my book.

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#4 Alan Mehlbrech

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 10:31 AM

You mentioned union house- see if there are any avenues through the local that can get this taken care of.

Alan Mehlbrech
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#5 Dan Coplan

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 06:46 PM

Worst case scenario write the loss off of your taxes. Did a job for a company that got screwed themselves and couldn't pay. Was doing the paperwork to take them to court when they filed for bankruptcy leaving me with no possibility of going to court. Only thing I could do was write it off.

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#6 Colin Donahue

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 09:46 AM

A few years ago I was able to successfully collect my money from a non-paying client.
It was a little different situation than yours but it still may work for you.

I shot a show with my own betacam for a small production company . The show was to air on Discovery Channel . The production company paid the first invoice, but not the second. No reason or excuses, they just ignored me. (Ironically the show was about "Repo" men who reopossses cars from non paying owners!)

Someone had once told me that the footage we shoot is our property and that we have rights to it.
Often in a Deal Memo there is a section that states that you are releasing your rights and the production company owns all the footage you will shoot.

Just by luck I had never signed that section. I contacted Discovery Channel and got the number for their legal department. I faxed them a letter claiming my rights to the footage and said I would sue them if they broadcast it without my permission. The very next day the production company called me and said they were going to "investigate" why I had not been paid! The day after that I recieved a Fed Ex with my check.

I don't know if this works with multicam or outside of California, but it is worth a try

Colin Donahue
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#7 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 10:47 AM

A client filing bankruptcy can bite you in the A$$ in a totally unexpected way, particularly if they have made previous payments to you within 90 days of filing BK.

It's a perfectly legal clause in the bankruptcy laws called "Preferential Treatment" where the unpaid vendors of a bankruptcy claim can sue any and all the vendors, executives, owners of a bankrupt company who were paid within 90 days of filing; and there is virtually nothing you can do about it. Sound F'd up.... it is! Preferential Treatment was created to protect unsecured and secured vendors from the bankrupting company paying their friends first and also from the executives taking big chunks prior to bankruptcy; I was neither friend or staff, just a plain vendor.

I had a client who was always a slow/marginal pay and were on a weekly pre-payment plan during a project; pay on Monday and we work the rest of the week. They/we were seven weeks into a ten week $50k project when they filed bankruptcy. I felt pretty smart that I had collected $35k and had been paid for all the work performed to-date. Almost three years to the date later (statute of limitations on it), I got sued as part of a group with about a thousand other vendors who were paid during that 90 day preferential period. I had never heard of Preferential Treatment and it sounded ridiculous to say the least. It was a large group of the unpaid vendors joined together suing all of us that had been paid; they wanted the entire $35k plus interest and attorney fees. I fought as best as I could afford but ultimately had to cut my losses and settle for $15k plus pay a specialty attorney $5k to represent me.

Sorry to go a bit off-topic but for those of you who are ever affected by a bankrupt client you should know this.
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