Tuesday, March 2, 2010

$100 and restoring my faith in humanity, kindasorta

Late last spring I did a small brochure project for a new client who'd been referred by a local designer. Slam-dunk project, total price tag of $400. Wrote it, revised it, invoiced it.

Then waited. Then sent a reminder invoice, then another with a cc to my lawyer, then a phone call. Etc., etc., etc. I continued to follow up regularly; not only did I never get a check, I didn't even get a response. The brochure was on a real-estate-related topic, so I chalked it up to bankruptcy (not the only such case in the past year).

Fast forward to yesterday. I stopped by my office mailbox, and--lo and behold!--there's a check in there for $100, with a hand-written note: Hope to send more soon. Thanks for your patience.

In addition to learning what a "debtor in possession" is, I'd describe the experience as similar to finding a twenty in a pair of pants I hadn't worn in a while--not life-changing, but a pleasant surprise. Mentally, I'd written it off to a project that was so small and quick that (naively, in retrospect) a deposit didn't seem necessary. But, the net effect of the $100 and note was to restore my faith...maybe not in humanity, but at least in small businesses willing to do the right thing despite financial challenges.


  1. 2009 was a bad year for non-paying clients. What really sucks is that you can't write it off as a loss on your taxes.

  2. You can't write off services rendered and lost anyway. Jake.. you're a good egg. Last year I had to do that X10. I agree with you. It's a great feeling to get a partial payment when you think all is lost.

  3. Nice. I'm pretty good about getting money. I'm relentless, but I say, even if it's $25 a week, pay me SOMETHING. Show your good intent. I've been there. Be cool and give me something to show you still love me!

  4. It's always inspiring when someone has a conscience. Though I must say that given the prior lack of response, I'm curious what spurred the check. Sometimes what bothers me more than lack of payment is the lack of a response. Just talk to me, work out a plan with me, and I will nice about it. It's the cowardly silence I can't stand.

    Unexpected money just tastes so much better, doesn't it?

  5. @Anon, I learned that from my CPA a few years ago. Bad deal, but nothing you can do about it.

    @GT, coming from the Egg Man hisself, that's high praise--thanks! And as I'm doing my 2009 taxes, I'm (unpleasantly) reminded of all pay-day no-shows...

    @Adchick, that's a good approach, and one of my follow-up emails said something about "If you'd prefer to pay in installments..."

    ...which leads me to @VA, I'd love to know what the kicker was. If I ever find out, I will let all y'all know.