I promise, two words all freelancers, small agencies, and the self-employed hear more than they care to. We all have had clients that when we hear those two words, we know we’ll be calling back, and quite often calling back, and calling back, week after week still trying to get paid.

I don’t want this piece sound like “woo is me” or better yet “woo is us,” rather, it’s a tongue-and-cheek look at the promises we are given when we are trying to get paid. How we deal with our frustrations, and the decisions we have to make because of those unkept promises. Sometimes it drives us crazy trying to figure out what do you do with a long-time good client who has run into hard times.

Someone suggested to me that I should collect everyone’s best promise stories and turn them into a book. That being said, and I’m not sure it will happen, but if it is going to, it would be great if you’d leave your stories in the comments section below and we’ll see where it goes.

It’s difficult when you have a long-time client that suddenly becomes a nightmare. The billing that is the reason for this article was for an annual hosting and website care plan that is billed annually. He’s been a client since 2010, and never any problems – which made this so much harder.

This all started at the end of July and end in the middle of October, fees were due at the end of June:

July 26th– When are you sending the check?

July 30th– Hi, haven’t received anything, when did you send the check, or when will you be sending the check?

The latest probably tomorrow. Let you know in the morning.

August 1st– Did you send the check yesterday? I never heard from you.

I’m in court nothing serious will call you tomorrow morning after I send it.

Ok, thanks.

August 6th– Good morning, well another week and promises have come and gone. Honestly, when are you going to pay?

August 14th– I haven’t heard anything from you, I’m taking the website down at 5 tonight if I don’t hear from you.

Please don’t I can’t talk now.

August 20th– Well I thought I’d ask, when are you going to pay me?

At a meeting call you at 9:00 tomorrow morning.

Please follow through and pay me by September 4th.

Will do, thanks so much.

During the telephone call, he agreed to pay by September 4th.

September 4th– It’s September 4thand I haven’t heard from you, what is today’s story? (The amount he says he’s paying isn’t the total due, and I have no idea where he came up with this amount.)

I’m paying $400 on Friday via credit card. I promise. Can’t afford to lose the site plus it’s the right thing to do by you. Thank you.

It can’t be any later than Friday.

September 7th– I’m so embarrassed. I deposit a check for $7,500 yesterday. It a trust check and the bank will hold it for 3 or 4 days. Monday is a Jewish holiday, so the banks are closed. My sister said she would pay my past due bill to you today and now she says no. I have 20 dollars on me. I will get on the cell soon and try to hustle to pay you today. If no and you shut me down I hope, we can get it running next week….

Call me now, I’m in my office. And no, the banks are not closed on Monday for the Jewish holiday.

3 minutes

September 11th– What’s the story now? If I don’t hear from you by noon, the website is coming down and there is a $250 restoration charge.

The story is that tomorrow should be our day. Jewish holiday made it hard. I asked my sister for $40 dollars. Call you tomorrow.

October 8th– What’s the latest story?

The latest is my cousin is lending me 20k until I sell my brownstone. He told me to call him tomorrow.

October 10th– What transpired with the call with your cousin yesterday?

Patti, I need until Monday promise. I’m so grateful.

Your promises are worthless. We’ve been doing this since the end of July. What is going to happen on Monday that you are actually going to pay me? I firmly believe come Monday you’ll have another excuse. You have until NOON on Monday. I would like to see some kind of proof that this is actually going to happen. And it’s not just another worthless promise.

I didn’t eat dinner. I am on this ASAP.

As you can more than likely guess, I didn’t receive anything on Monday. On Tuesday, I reached out to someone who also knows him and found out his situation is much worse than I could have imagined. While he has the assets to pay the bill, unfortunately, they can’t be converted to cash with a blink of an eye; he’s an art dealer.

I’ve made the decision to keep his website live, since he can’t convert those assets to cash without it. Besides, seven years of being a great client has to count for something.

Do you have a story you’d like to tell, but don’t want to put it in the comments section, let’s chat?

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