The cheque is in the mail (2)
Chennai 7th September 2010
When I finished yesterday’s blog I realized that there is still a whole other side to the story. If you manage to collect your due payment the story ends happily, but what if you keep chasing and the client for some reason fails to pay you? In this part of the world quite a common situation. They may just ignore your invoice, ignore your calls, have a million excuses (right or wrong), but meanwhile keep pressuring you to deliver your next stage of work. Ever been there?
So what do we do? Stop working until we get paid? Even though our contract stipulates that we have the right to withhold our work in case of non-payment the reality is that sometimes it is not so clear cut. Our assessment of work completed is not necessarily the clients view. So do we force the issue? Somehow going to war does not work very well, certainly not in this part of the world. If you want to be right it means you will blame someone else to be wrong! Not always a good thing in Asian culture. The downside of holding back is then that the client will accuse you of not having done the work, since you obviously will not want to issue it to them as that is exactly your leverage and bargaining power!
Sometimes the client becomes excessively demanding (or non-demanding when it comes to quality issues for instance) to a point where you want to say to the client your way or the highway. This is when we feel that our name is on the line. Do we throw in the towel (and forego part of our remaining fees) or do we hang in there and try and make the best of it. There is the saying that the absentees are always wrong, so quitting the project seems hardly the recommended way. But I have personally experienced two projects in recent times, where the client just simply stopped talking to us. A sort of silent death…of course you can then forget about the remainder of your fees.
While we have tried debt collectors (with mixed success), generally the best way is to accept “defeat” and move on if any further diplomatic talk fails. If the relationship is broken, it is hard to mend it. Count your losses and move on…