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Taking Care of Business
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Old June 7th, 2003, 05:04 AM   #1
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Non paying clients?

I have a some clients who still owe me money. I suppose there are many more professionals in the same situation.
I came across this site:

http://www.lineproduction.com/

that proposes to publish a blacklist of clients who don't pay or disappear etc..
It was started by TV line producers, who obviously run great risks by advancing payments to crew etc. but many of us often find ourselves in a similar situation, running a small production and laying out a lot of money, hoping to recover it from the client eventually.

Are there any other black lists on the Internet. Is it a good idea, legally dangerous..? Any input welcome!
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Old June 7th, 2003, 05:37 AM   #2
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I think it is a good idea. If you only state the facts on how you weren't paid and not state your personal negative feelings, then it might be okay, you aren't slandering them. But I'm not a lawyer so I could be wrong.

I do a lot of small local projects and when I'm burned by a producer, I make sure to tell the other people who do video and anybody else who might know of them, although there aren't many here that I know.

I've also gotten into the habit of keeping the tapes until I get paid, money in hand. But that only works if they actually need the tapes or need some post production work.

I'm sure a lot of us out there have horror stories about non paying clients.

The really bad thing here in Japan is you can't sue people even if you wanted to, the lawyers are too expensive and contracts don't mean a thing. You really have to ask around and see what kind of rep they have, and a lot of the bigger clients, companies all pay you a month after the production has been finished, that's the way they do things here.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 09:07 AM   #3
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Yeah, it legally dangerous. You are right, if you do not have all the documentation it can be called slander or libel, depending on the situation.

When you have a bad situation turn it over to a collection agency. Collection agencies do not always get the cash, but they do report deadbeats and it makes it harder for deadbeats to stiff anyone else. Further, once you have a working relationship with one, you can run a credit check on proposed clients in advance.

Another thing it to demand a certain amount of cash when you start shooting, another when editing, and final amount when you deliver the finished product. If you get stiffed along the way, you at least get some of your money.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 11:05 AM   #4
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Where I am (Spain) these collection agencies are not readily available. Also, in most cases, non paying customers are from other countries (Germany, in this case) which makes collection a wee bit harder.
Payment up front is the most sensible thing, but clients are not always prepared to do that.
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Old June 10th, 2003, 12:09 PM   #5
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If they are not able to make a down payment, that is a indication that they may not be able to make the final payment. By having them prepay a portion keeps everyone honest. Plus if they suddenly abandon the project you have at least recovered some of your costs.
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Old June 17th, 2003, 04:18 PM   #6
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For any pay gig, even for someone I know and have done business with before, I ask for a deposit of at least half and sometimes a bit more.

It's a reasonable business procedure.

In that number I make sure it covers any expenses I might incur and all that sort of thing and rarely do I not include "plus general and reasonable expenses" in agreements.

Sometimes it's tough to say "payment on delievery of final cut" (or whatever) because a lot of companies are set-up for "Net 30" and that's that.

I'm lucky that I've never had to chase anyone and when dealing with small businesses there's a trick I did once that worked:

I delivered to them the commercial on a VHS tape. Quality was below broadcast and at the bottom of the screen it scrawled 'copyright' then my (then) prodco's name and his company name. There was no way he was doing anything with that. He liked it and cut me a check and I delivered to him a 3/4 inch master and cashed that bad-boy.

There's a (sometimes) fine line between covering your ass and seeming "unprofessional" with your payment demands.

A guy that I got started with told me that he charged a price and never gave discounts to anyone, even his regular clients. It sent a message. Now, what he did for his regular client (a charity that ran a yearly tennis tournement) was put in a lot of extra time and effort on their projects and even cut together a little music video for some awards banquet and made copies of tapes for kids for free and stuff like that. He gave them the "value add" and the personal attention but he charged them to the hilt for his services.

You have to charge a professional rate and no one should blink twice at a payment due upon start of project and like Nathan said, there's nothing wrong with scheduled payments at different stages of project: 33% on start, 33% on completion of first cut (or shooting or whatever) and 33% due upon delivery.
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Old June 17th, 2003, 08:30 PM   #7
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smart

I've just recently started my little video production company in n.y.c. and I got my first gig doing a mini-documentary on this popular d.J. and I was wondering how to charge him. I read your reply and it made a lot of sense--i'll break up the payment and get the rest upon completion of project.
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Old June 17th, 2003, 08:38 PM   #8
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"Non paying clients", thats why you have a hitman. :D

Just kidding, anyway, I think the idea of giving them a copy of the finished product on VHS, with a watermark, where there's no way they could do anything with it, and then make them pay up, and then give them the real deal.
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Old June 25th, 2003, 04:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
I think the idea of giving them a copy of the finished product on VHS, with a watermark, where there's no way they could do anything with it, and then make them pay up, and then give them the real deal.

The thing about any stuff like the above is that you have to do it in a way that doesn't make it seem like you are trying to keep the client from ripping you off.

no quicker way to lose future business and recommendations.

Keep 'em happy but at the same time don't give them the key to the barn before they pay for the cow. (if you know what I mean)


Even from non-payers there's always a chance of a recommendation. Someone sees the work you did for them and they ask the client "hey, who did that for ya?"

and when you deliver the final product make sure they've got at least 4 or 5 of your business cards.
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