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Author Topic: The 'You get paid when we get paid' BS thread  (Read 3044 times)
buckshot
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« on: October 15, 2013, 08:39:59 AM »
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Would appreciate advice on a situation that, up to this point, I've luckily not encountered before:

1. PR company licenced 6 of my images on a 5 year licence.

2. Licence expired 4 months ago and they agreed to renew.

3. Some 4 months later - no sign of payment. They say they haven't been paid by their client, and they can't pay me until they are. I'm too old for this BS - rent a car for 4 months without paying and see what happens - why should my images be any different? Furthermore, my deal is with them, not their client (a big brand, not short of a dime) so this excuse is lame. I bet the PR company's staff are being paid...

4. In the meantime the images are out there being used.

Any way for me to get across my dissatisfaction / speed up payment without it coming back to bite me?

Thanks in advance.

Jim

P.S. I've got to go put gas in the truck later on - must remember to tell the guy behind the counter that I'll be back to pay him when I get paid - can already see him dialling 911...
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2013, 09:16:21 AM »
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It is simple: either you have such a condition in your contract with them, or you do not. If you do, tough luck. If you do not, you can sue them. Many businesses operate like that. May or may not be fair, but if agreed in advance, at least you knew what you are getting into.
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2013, 09:45:18 AM »
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Yep, unfortunately the only thing we have at our disposal in many cases, is a lawyer.  You can try and threaten it yourself accompanied with a Due Immediately Invoice, but you better actually be prepared to back it up.  As mentioned, it all comes down to the contract.
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Colorado David
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2013, 11:50:22 AM »
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With most licensing agreements I've seen, the license is not active until payment is received.  Therefore any use before payment if a violation of copyright and enforceable as an infringement.  How badly do you want to keep this client?  I suppose you could get fed up with certain clients to the point you're willing to send them on their way.  Are they a real infringement risk?  Meaning might they stiff you in the end?  Try sending an invoice with a finance charge.
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Bullfrog
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 05:58:05 AM »
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Contracts are really just instruments to use if and when you go to court because its negotiation and salesmanship that keep customer's happy and enforcing contract terms is what lawyers get rich on.

It sounds like the client has changed your (verbal) contract with them without advising you.  

I think the decision is your's alone to make and will depend on your relationship with the client and how much you are prepared to loose.  If its 4 months and still no payment - I tend to feel its a lost cause because even the worst companies pay within 120 days or become a member of a collections team.  The other consideration is your reputation: when companies learn they can exploit you, they will continue to do it.

If after trying to collect you determine its a relationship you are prepared to loose, I would invoice for a pro-rata period of time used now, and if they won't pay, put them in collections.  While collections rarely get's results, they will have a mark on their credit and that can hurt them.

Again - that's the hard line - and your last choice.  I would start by phoning today and asking for payment politely and see where that goes, follow up immediately with a past due notice, and hammer away for 2 weeks with a phone call every day if they don't pay after that specified period of time.  If you can, show up at their office.  Be persistent -  but don't threaten action unless you are 100% committed to following through.

Yes, its aggressive, but squeaky wheel gets the grease - just sitting quiet and waiting is what they are counting on.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 06:01:16 AM by Bullfrog » Logged
joneil
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2013, 07:15:23 AM »
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   Here is my question - how do you know for a fact that the PR has not been paid?   Maybe they have cash flow problems and are looking for the "weakest link" not to pay .  Maybe they are just plain cheap.   Bottom line is this - why assume that somebody dishonourable enough not to pay you is still honourable enough to tell you the whole truth?

  I say this because I have run into similar situations before myself, in other areas of business, and more than once I found out after the fact that yes indeed, the people who claimed not to be paid were paid, they just took the money and spent it on something or somebody else.  You have to keep after them or you never will get paid.

   If you are never going to do business again with these people, then instead of a lawyer, you can turn the account over to a collection agency.   You usually loose a third off the top of anything that is collected, but 2/3rds of an unpaid bill is better than zero.   
   
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Colorado David
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 08:09:02 AM »
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I used to have an office manager who was so skilled at getting payment from past due accounts.  She would always allow the client an opportunity to save face.  In the event that the invoice continues to go unpaid, which means they are using the images without a valid license, can you go directly to the end user and notify them of the infringement?  Obviously that would be well beyond the chance for the agency to save face.  I've had agencies use my money for quite a while, but I was still paid.  I've been stiffed three times.  Once the agency was going out of business and hadn't told anyone they were in financial trouble.  Once the client went to jail for fraud (he raised money from investors fraudulently.)  And lastly I went to Alaska on a shoot for a client who simply had no intention of ever paying anyone and never had the means to do so.  I'd better get off of this thread or I'll spend the rest of the day really angry about that last one.  It was a big chunk of money.
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2013, 02:27:44 PM »
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   Here is my question - how do you know for a fact that the PR has not been paid?   Maybe they have cash flow problems and are looking for the "weakest link" not to pay .  Maybe they are just plain cheap.   Bottom line is this - why assume that somebody dishonourable enough not to pay you is still honourable enough to tell you the whole truth?

  I say this because I have run into similar situations before myself, in other areas of business, and more than once I found out after the fact that yes indeed, the people who claimed not to be paid were paid, they just took the money and spent it on something or somebody else.  You have to keep after them or you never will get paid.

   If you are never going to do business again with these people, then instead of a lawyer, you can turn the account over to a collection agency.   You usually loose a third off the top of anything that is collected, but 2/3rds of an unpaid bill is better than zero.   
   

Too true, excuses tend to become ever more transparent the more you look at them.
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David Eichler
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2013, 03:19:24 PM »
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I have had freelance assistants tell me there are photographers who don't pay them until until the client pays. :-)

Btw, I pay freelance assistants upon their completion of their work.

Wonder if the OP's client's graphic designer, web designer, printer, etc., are also accepting payment when the client pays.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 03:23:43 PM by David Eichler » Logged

paulgrundy
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2013, 10:59:29 AM »
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Jim,
After 4 months I'd say it is time to take the gloves off.
Send the PR company an email giving them a 7 day deadline for payment. In that email say that if payment is not received by this date you will send the invoice directly to "John Smith, Marketing Director" (google the right person) of their client.
I've used this method 3 times over the years and each time I was paid straight away. One agency even phoned me to make sure the cheque had arrived.
Of course the consequence will be that this PR agency will never use you again but you will have been paid.

Paul

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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2013, 02:50:47 PM »
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I have a line in my invoices which states the license will not transfer until I have been paid. They are clearly violating your Copyright and you need to decide if it's worth the battle. I also have a problem with financing a Clients project since I'm usually the smaller business. This has been remedied by requiring a retainer equaling 50% of the estimate or a 5% discount if it's paid in full in advance.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2013, 03:19:57 PM »
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Get a lawyer. Not to sue, at least not right away - that's a messy and expensive business. Rather, to write letters on impressive, legalistic letterhead. The lawyer must be in the deadbeat's state (because it is state laws and courts that deal with debts). I have done this more than once in my paying business (pharmaceuticals, not photography) with good results.
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Peter
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2013, 09:16:50 PM »
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... They are clearly violating your Copyright...

What are you talking about!?
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Slobodan

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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2013, 09:30:43 PM »
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Would appreciate advice on a situation that, up to this point, I've luckily not encountered before:

1. PR company licenced 6 of my images on a 5 year licence.

2. Licence expired 4 months ago and they agreed to renew.

3. Some 4 months later - no sign of payment. They say they haven't been paid by their client, and they can't pay me until they are. I'm too old for this BS - rent a car for 4 months without paying and see what happens - why should my images be any different? Furthermore, my deal is with them, not their client (a big brand, not short of a dime) so this excuse is lame. I bet the PR company's staff are being paid...

4. In the meantime the images are out there being used.

Any way for me to get across my dissatisfaction / speed up payment without it coming back to bite me?

Thanks in advance.

Jim

P.S. I've got to go put gas in the truck later on - must remember to tell the guy behind the counter that I'll be back to pay him when I get paid - can already see him dialling 911...

So they paid you for the first 5 years.  Right?  Did you get all the money they owed for those years?  Were there any problems with payments then?  If they didn't stiff you before, why assume they will now?  What are the terms for the renewal?  How many years?   When you answer these questions,  you'll get more informed responses from us? 
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HarperPhotos
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« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2013, 04:42:53 PM »
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Hello,

Just this year I had a small agency do the same thing to me.  After four months I emailed the agency and informed them that if I did receive payment within 24 hrs I would contact there client and inform them that I had not been paid and that I owned the copy write to the images they where using in print and on there website. I had my money that afternoon.

Cheers

Simon
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Simon Harper
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angolden
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« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2013, 08:59:48 AM »
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The lawyer must be in the deadbeat's state (because it is state laws and courts that deal with debts). I have done this more than once in my paying business (pharmaceuticals, not photography) with good results.

If you don't already have a clause in your contract stating the legal jurisdiction (if you live in Texas, state that the contract is governed by the laws of the state of Texas) you should add one. It is always better to play on your home turf and as you gain experience, you start to develop a better understanding of the legal peculiarities of your particular state instead of having to worry about some obscure law somewhere else undermining your contract.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2013, 11:08:06 AM »
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If you don't already have a clause in your contract stating the legal jurisdiction (if you live in Texas, state that the contract is governed by the laws of the state of Texas) you should add one. It is always better to play on your home turf and as you gain experience, you start to develop a better understanding of the legal peculiarities of your particular state instead of having to worry about some obscure law somewhere else undermining your contract.

Not a good idea. First of all, I doubt any client would agree. Even if they did, you need to take legal action in their state because that's where their assets are. Using my own example, a court in North Carolina would have little or no ability to enforce a judgement on someone who lives and works in New Jersey, so the deadbeat would just laugh. This is why m local attorney advised me to get a lawyer in NJ. Which, BTW, is working out just fine.
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Peter
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