How do you guys make sure you get paid?

J. Landman Gay jacque at
Sat Feb 19 00:45:41 EST 2005

On 2/18/05 8:58 AM, Lynch, Jonathan wrote:

> When I was a freelance videographer, I got burned once after giving a
> guy a music video I created for him before getting full payment.
> He never paid me. It was a small, simple project, and it was only $400
> dollars that I got shafted out of, but I learned from that lesson. From
> then on, the client got the finished product when I got the final
> payment. I was nice (even apologetic) about it, but very strict about
> that rule.
> If you create an application for someone, and periodically e-mail an
> updated version of the incomplete app to them, to make sure you are
> creating exactly what they want, then how do you prevent them from just
> keeping the last incomplete version, using that, and not giving final
> payment?
> Yes, you could always sue them, but that is such a mess.
> Also, how do you ensure that they do not change their mind and decide
> they don't want it at the last minute, after you have put great work
> into it?
> Or - are these things not really problems because they happen too rarely
> to be a concern?

Maybe I've just been lucky, but in the 18 years I've been doing this I 
have only been burned once, and that wasn't for a huge sum (big enough 
to make me mad though.) I tried collecting for six months, then 
converted to Richard's view and just gave it up.

I do what others have suggested. I used to have big contracts too but 
now I don't unless someone specifically wants it. I charge by milestone 
and if they don't pay, they don't get any more software.

I have only had two clients who I didn't completely trust (unwarranted, 
as it turns out,) and I put "expiration dates" on those deliveries. I 
explained that I was very proud of my work and I refused to let 
substandard software be released. I told them that when we were 
absolutely sure the software was working correctly, I would remove the 
"beta" designation and the expiration. Of course, the removal didn't 
happen until the final payment was received. I told them both in advance 
that I would be doing this, and they didn't seem to mind since I made it 
sound like I did that for everyone.

I charge a portion of the fee to start work unless it is someone I have 
had a previous working relationship with. With those people, I am very 

I think that most people are basically honest if you are honest with 
them. Many of my clients come back for other projects.

Jacqueline Landman Gay         |     jacque at
HyperActive Software           |

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