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Non-paying client - need advice on what to do next

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Seraphine

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Hi everyone

(just so you know, I will NEVER GRANT CREDIT AGAIN!!! This was the first time, and the last, so I have learned my lesson, so don't think you need to lecture, but I'd be grateful for advice on what to do next. Thanks in advance!)

I am a mobile tech. I had a potential client call me to do a set of acrylics for herself and for her mother as a birthday gift. She said she couldn't do the appointment that week as she didn't get paid until the end of the month, but like an idiot, I said I would be willing to do the appointment and she could pay me when her cheque came in.

I know, stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, I did the appointment, and both sets turned out very well. The mother was very pleased and took my cards to hand out at her work. The daughter was super-keen and asked 1000 questions about her new nails, I left instruction sheets, and everything seemed fine. The following week, the girl (Ashley) calls me to say that her nails have fallen off, and that she doesn't know what happened. She also told me that she'd gone through half a bottle of cuticle oil. As she was quite young, I felt like perhaps I didn't outline the oil use well enough (no wonder they fell off if she'd gone through that much oil!), so I told her I'd redo them without charge. She said she had my money for me for the first appointments and would pay me.

When I came for the appointment, Ashley told me she'd given her mom the money in an envelope to hold onto for her, as she was afraid she'd spend it. As I was supposed to see the mother for an appointment the following day, I didn't worry about it. I did the new set, and left instructions NOT to overuse the oil, and also to CALL ME if any of the nails fell off so I could see what the problem was. Her mother left me a message cancelling her appointment, so I texted Ashley and asked how her nails were, and when could I come by to pick up my payment. She said they'd all fallen off again, and as she was working full time she didn't have time for an appointment. She told me she'd send me the money instead. This was just before Christmas.

As Christmas was hectic for me, I didn't do anything except send a text reminder her of her payment, but last week I got serious about trying to get a hold of her. I called her phone twice, and both times, after she answered, a message popped up saying "sorry, you've been cut off - please leave a message and I'll call you back". I left a message, and have not heard anything.

I want to send her a recorded letter to chase payment next (she owes me £50), but I'm unsure of what to say. I'd like to outline:
- how much is owed
- the dates involved
- what she promised me in regard to payment
- what I've done so far to get in touch

I'd like to say, "please send payment by 15 Feb or....." What should my "or" be? I don't know about taking her to court over such a small amount, so how should I proceed?

I haven't spoken to her mother (the girl is 18, and she made the appointment, not her mom), but should I get her involved?

Again, let me reiterate that it was stupidity on my part, so I don't plan on repeating this mistake! But I'd like to try to get this money rather than just forget about it. I'd even be happy to accept monthly payments for a few months if she can't afford it all right away, but I want to be paid!!!

Thanks in advance
Dawn
 

Verve Designs

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hiya-

I don't know the legalities but maybe just the threat of a small claims court order may push her in the right direction? You're right to get everything down in a letter professionaly (with dates and deadlines).

If she doesnt pay it probably isn't worth your while actually going ahead with a claim as the consumer (rightly in a lot of cases) are quite protected and it would probably boil down to your word against hers. Eventually you might have to put it down as a lesson learnt hard. Sorry!

You might also want to give her mum a call (or better still a knock on the door!) and embarrass her into paying.

Shame theres so many dishonest people out there.
 

sarah bell

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Hi there

I think after all this time, you should put it down as a lesson learnt, if you feel you could go there and speak to her or the mum face to face, as a letter might just get put in the bin.
 

stampy

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Hi Dawn, sorry to hear about this. Another geek was in a similar situation recently, can't remember who, but it was a good thread with some excellent responses! Maybe do a search, HTH! x
 
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becki x

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Hi there

I think after all this time, you should put it down as a lesson learnt, if you feel you could go there and speak to her or the mum face to face, as a letter might just get put in the bin.
You know you've made one mistake,your second was to beleive they just fell off and the third was to do them again free ! :D I'm not getting on at your,but read your thread back to yourself hun,really .

How do you plan on proving they didn't pay ?

I think a lesson has been well and truly learned here (well i sure hope so :wink2:)
 

Seraphine

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Oh, please believe me, lesson learned.

As I'm fairly new to the business, and also somewhat trusting of people, I didn't want to make waves when I had just gotten two new clients. The "magically falling off nails" was a bit suspicious in hindsight, but as her nails didn't have any damage to them I didn't have her sussed as a picker. I use the same product on myself and all my other clients, and none of ours just "fall off". But a while back I was still nervous about my skills.

I feel dumb writing this all down for you to read, but if it warns other newbies from making the same mistakes, well, so be it. I have email addresses, text numbers, postal addresses, and I thought that if I sent the letter recorded that at least she'd receive it. (plus, I KNOW her mobile phone works). Perhaps mentioning court might make her move, I don't know.

Thanks again
Dawn
 

Poshfloss

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Hi Hun,
Don't be too hard on yourself, yes you have made mistakes, Go and knock on the door, see her Mum, she may not know anything about all of this, You may shame the mother into paying, or if not, then she knows what her daughter has done. And most importantly that you are not afraid to face them, they will be more likely to hide from you. If you are nervous take a friend along with you for support, and they will make a good witness to what is said. Now if you don't get paid, you can still say you learn't your lesson, and they are still the cons. Good luck Lotsa luv and a big hug x
 

'chelle

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Hello
I'm sory to hear bout this, but on the bright side, you've learnt from it now and you wont find yourself in this pickle again!
Write to her outlining treatments and dates like you said, then tell her that you are issuing a final demand for full payment within 14 days or you will commence county court proceedings without further notice. Ring your local County Court and find out what the cost of a small claim is (i think its about £100 but may differ in Scotland), and tell her in the letter that your claim will be for the treatment cost plus court costs, then show the total of what your potential claim will be. Dont forget to mention in your letter that a county court judgement will affect her credit rating.
This doesnt mean you have to commence action (although I would personally), but just the threat of this might see her stump up the cash quickly. YOu have said that you would accept installments, I wouldnt personally because she has already shown that she isnt true to her word, and I think it likely that you will see a tenner from her then she'll change her mobile number!!!
I do hope you get the money, its an awful situation to be in. For the record though, trust no one in business!! I have good friends who are clients, and I chat on a friendly basis with all my clients, but no matter how nice they may seem, I treat them all the same, no one gets special treatment, no one gets credit. That way, not only do you never find yourself in this situation again, but you give a professional image by doing so

Good luck again and best wishes. Let us know how it turns out.
 

Merk

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Lesson learned indeed. I've dealt with a few people like that over the years. Usually persistant phone calls and letters with the mentions of lawyers and small claims court usually will get the money outta 'em. Being that this girl is young and impressionable throw the small claims court idea at her. Also I used to work for a credit bureau. We were taught to guilt the people into paying there bills. Worked like a charm. Heck, get her mother involved. Send the girl a letter and her mother a letter. If for some reason that doesn't work, at least you know you tried, right?
 

Anna from Toronto

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I used this method not to really get the money back but to teach people respect for my time.
People have a choice of not paying but then they usually don't come back.... this way you get rid of clients that cost you more then you actually make from them.
I had this client (long time ago) who used to miss her like every second appointment.
That made me start implementing charges for missed/cancelled at the last minute appointments.
I started asking all new clients fill out and sign this:

CLIENT CONSULTATION AND PROFILE FORM
*
*
NAME…………………………………………………………………………….DATE……….…
ADDRESS:……………………………………………………………………………….………....
CITY:.……………………………………………….POSTAL CODE………………………….…
HOME# ( )…………..……..WORK# ( )…….…………...CELL# ( )……………….…
EMAIL:…………………………………………….…….BIRTHDAY (DD/MM)………………..
*
*
IN ORDER TO PROVIDE YOU WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE SERVICE, PLEASE COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
*
1. If you work outside the home, what type of duties do you perform on daily basis?
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
2. Do you do a lot of work around your home such as cleaning, gardening, etc? YES/ NO
3. Are you currently taking any medication? YES/ NO
If Yes, please explain………………………………………………………………………………………..
4. Do you have, or have you had, a history of: Diabetes, Heart Disease, Thyroid Problem,
Circulatory or Muscular Disease, Hypertension, Allergies
If Yes, please explain……………………………………………………………………………………….
5. Do you have a history of picking or biting at your nails or cuticles? Always Sometimes
Rarely Never
6. Have you ever had an allergic reaction to any type of nail enhancements or other nail related product?
YES/NO If Yes, please explain…………………………………………………………………………….
7. Have you ever experienced a nail infection of any sort? YES/NO
If Yes, please explain………………………………………………………………………………………

*
I acknowledge that these Enhancements should be rebalanced every 3-4 weeks or professionally removed by a nail technician. These Enhancements are not guaranteed and are my sole responsibility once I leave the salon. Any breakages or repairs must be paid for. (please initial here ……… )
*
*
The time you book is reserved for you only.
We reserve the right to charge for appointments cancelled, broken or changed without 24 hours notice.
A minimum of 1/2 the normal charge will be assessed and added to your service ticket upon your next visit
(please initial here……….)
*
Due to potentially hazardous chemicals in the salon, please make other arrangements for your children on appointment days. We will not be held accountable for injury or accidents to, or caused by, unsupervised children.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

That client that used to not show up stopped coming... and that made room for new clients that did respect my time.

Now, if anyone doen't show up, they pay up and noone is upset.
They don't have to feel bad/guilty, I don't lose money.

Personally I don't believe in "bigger tip next time" route. Tippng is optional, paying for my time- is NOT :D

*
*
 

Seraphine

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Great idea - thanks guys!! Anna - love the sheet, I think I'll implement that into my client sheet that I use now.
 

1999judy

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I'd ring her and ask what time was a good time for me to pop round and pick up the money owed.
 

soriminah

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A lot of my clients have their money out when I get there. You could always implement a payment on arrival policy. Especially when doing nails it's easier to get them to pay up front because you can use the excuse of not wanting them to dent their polish by digging around in their wallet if they're having polish applied.
 

pippadoodle

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I had more or less the same happen to me a few weeks ago. I did post a thread on here and had some wonderful replies that were extremely helpful.

non-paying client - any advice please

I did eventually get my money back, I telephoned several times, but always out. I then put one polite reminder through her letter box. Followed by a 2nd requesting payment within 3 days. The client then put a sorry letter through my door with the money and a £5 tip enclosed. I so hope it comes to a successful conclusion for you.
:hug:
 

Seraphine

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Thanks Karen! I'm glad things worked out for you - I read your thread and hoped things would be okay.

I sent a recorded delivery letter today, so I'll watch to see that it's received tomorrow and hope she gets in touch. In the letter, I outlined my attempts at communication with her, our original arrangement regarding payment, and finished with this:
I am requesting that you please settle your account for £50.00 as soon as possible. You can send a cheque to my address at the bottom of this letter or contact me to collect the payment in cash. Please understand that this issue needs to be addressed by 15 February 2008, and I would be grateful if you would contact me before this date. I do not wish to take this matter further, but as a service provider I would be able to address it in small claims court if I cannot get a satisfactory resolution from you.

Please contact me as soon as possible to make payment arrangements.

Best regards
....


I hope this works! I'll let you all know - thanks for your words of advice, and for not throwing things at me for being so stupid.

Wish me luck!




 

pippadoodle

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Excellent letter. Keep us posted. :hug:
 

soriminah

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Very well worded letter. Fingers crossed for you in a speedy resolution.
 

Susie H

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I like the way you've worded your letter, very professional fingers crossed that you get a good result.
Oh and you weren't stupid, you were trying to be nice, but next time you want to be nice make it a complementary nail art:)
 

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