Freelancers' Questions: When to send a late payment letter?
Freelancer’s Question: At what stage should I remind my client to pay me, in writing or otherwise? And whenever I do give them a nudge about payment, what should I say in any supporting letter or email?
Expert’s Answer: 1. About one week after issuing the invoice and prior to the expected payment date, make contact with the client by telephone or email. Confirm the invoice has been received and that there are no issues with the services provided thus far.
2. On the due date, ensure you send a statement if no funds have been received.Remember a statement is just that a statement of the account, it is not a request for payment.
3: At seven days overdue, send a reminder letter or email to the client requesting payment.
Reminder of Payment Letter/Email
Outstanding Account Value - £ (Insert sum)
The above sum was due for payment on XX/XX/XX but as at today's date no payment has been received.
Should your company have any legitimate reason for non payment please contact us within the next seven days so we can fully investigate any issue.
Should no query exist please be aware our payment terms are strictly XX days and we make no provision for extended credit terms in our pricing structure.
4. Between seven and fourteen days overdue, a telephone call should be placed to accounts payable to query why no payment has yet been received. Make a note of any promise of payment and the person who promised it.
5. At fourteen days overdue, a second stronger letter requesting payment and warning of further late payment charges should be sent to the client (a potential outline of this letter will follow on Freelance UK).
6. Between day fifteen and day thirty, you should make regular contact with the client by telephone to ascertain the reason for the delay. If you have provision for cessation of work due to non payment this must be illustrated to the client.
7. Keep notes of all calls or emails sent to or received from the client regarding payment. This will help you should a promised payment not arrive as you will have the record of the broken promise.
8. If no payment is received by day thirty, send a third letter – a final payment demand (a potential outline will follow on Freelance UK). Still unpaid at day thirty means you MUST carefully weigh up the risks involved in continuing to supply services that have yet to be paid for. Can your freelance business survive should the next invoice be unpaid?
The expert was Sid Home, managing director of Safe Collections, a debt recovery and credit reporting agency that specialises in helping freelancers, contractors and other small businesses .