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In 18 years as a Tech. Writer, I have only had TWO bad experiences with clients.
The first one was a company for which I wrote a User Guide. At first, they
paid well, then all of a sudden, they stopped paying me. After several
attempts trying to reach the right people at the company, I found out the
company had gone bankrupt. It seems the President was sued for 40 million
dollars by someone in the Far East. The Far East won the lawsuit...The
President lost the company and most of his assets. So my $1,500 or so was
all the way at the bottom of the list of creditors...!
The second time I got screwed by a client was just a few months ago, when I
accepted to do a super rush job for someone - cleaning up a couple of
manuals, in FrameMaker. I had ONE WEEKEND TO DO THE WORK!! That place was
the most chaotic place I had ever seen. Nobody knew what was going on, or
who had the information I needed. They didn't know FrameMaker, and they
didn't even know the PC environment, although that was the platform I was
expected to work on. I finished Sunday night, at midnight, alone in THEIR
office (they had left me the key...!), exhausted. I still had not received
one cent for my work. For two and a half months, I called and put pressure
on them to send me a cheque. They kept on telling me: "Our client still
hasn't paid us. As soon as he pays us, we'll send you a cheque." Was anyone
of you ever told this? After a while, I told them I didn't care if they
didn't receive their cheque. I wanted mine! I went to their office
(unexpected), and I planted myself there. I told them I wouldn't move until
I got my cheque. Then came the news:
They said they were not satisfied with the work that I had done, and they
were not going to pay me the full amount. I could easily have taken them to
court over this, but I decided to accept the lower amount (about half of
what I had estimated, which was, mind you quite high, because this was a
super rush job).
However, this was the last time I will ever start a job, even super rush,
without asking for an advance on the estimated (and agreed) amount. I
usually ask for about 30%. This shows me if they're serious. For the rest,
you gotta go with your gut feeling.
Hope this helps.
At 10:59 AM 5/2/97 -0700, you wrote:
>Forgive the diversion of this thread. I've just recently started
>contracting, and would be interested to know if 2% is a valid estimate
>of the number of companies out there who are bad to work for. Could some
>of you long-time contractors put a real percentage on the number of
>no-pays ( or fight-to-get-paid) companies?
>How do you minimize the chances of this happening?
>Thanks in advance - this group is always so helpful!