Working for oneself can be a daunting task. I have been working for myself for 15 years. I started my own business when I was 25 and have had my own businesses ever since.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was to NOT trust people that hired me. I have had probably 1 or 2 clients over the years decide not to pay me just because they didn’t want to – AFTER the job was completed – whether to their satisfaction or not. This has happened to me several times as I said and every time it happened I would get just a little more jaded than before, and trust clients just a little less each time.
Of course I have iron clad agreements with them and every payment is outlined in detail. However, when a client rips you off, you can either write it off as a loss/bad debt on your business taxes or you can fight back with the law. I typically will fight back, as I am doing in my current situation with a client whose entire house I completed from top to bottom, including interior design, building design, a brand new 800 sf addition, all materials, finishes, paint, furniture, toilets, and lighting. When it came to the end of the project, instead of paying me the final $12,000 that they owed me, instead they refused to pay me. They cut off all communication except for a snide and ridiculous letter stating that they weren’t going to pay me anything else for concocted reasons. The real reason is that they ran out of money. I know this because we were privy to their loan disbursements and the loan ran out and when it did, they could no longer afford to pay me OR my contractors (plumbers, electricians, carpenters/etc).
So I have now filed a mechanic’s lien against their home.
It’s always heartbreaking for me when a client relationship ends on a sour note because I genuinely like most of my clients by the time the project has ended. So not only do I feel a brunt of indignation from their refusal to pay for services rendered, but I also feel stung by the loss of potential friendships with my clients. Residential design is very personal and you get to know your clients well but ultimately it’s business, not friendship. Being such, it’s important not to let clients like these get away with it, you must fight back, and that is what I intend to do.
I will keep you posted!