(Note: This is written in the sense that I am speaking to a person not in the industry. Perhaps a potential client or someone seeking or getting pr/social media/marketing.)
There is a fire inside me right now. I have been screwed before out of getting paid because a check bounced, or someone forgot and sent it much later then it was supposed to be sent. But never have I dealt with this following situation. I guess it comes with the territory but it shouldn't have to.
When I was working for other companies, I noticed it seemed like we were always dealing with clients that weren't paying. Granted it was for much larger amounts then I am personally dealing with but I soon found out, this is a common practice in the industry and its almost to be expected. I had a very hard time believing this. How can people just not pay? Are there that many unprofessional people out there? Well sadly, the answer seems to be yes.
As a freelancer, you take chances. One of them is financial. If a client doesn't pay, that affects you more then ever. So what is one to do when this happens? Some suggest getting paid before, or getting a down payment. Others, who are established enough, take the chance and just hope for the best. Should that not happen, you then decide to take the loss, or take things to a higher level, small claims court most likely.
How do these people sleep at night? Everyone has their bills to pay and for someone to just blatantly steal from someone else is horrible. Stealing is exactly what it is when you hire someone to do something and they do it and you refuse to pay. Now, the crux of the situation is WHY do people think they can do this in our industry?
For some odd reason, people seem to view PR and Marketing as a negotiable job, regardless of what is signed in a contract. To me it seems that a very common argument given is "I didn't get what I wanted." Well if you want to pay someone for actual results, there is a system for this and it is called per diem. You want to to only pay for results, then that is a different arrangement all together. You can't just decide that is what you want and refuse to pay after the fact.
What people don't get is there is a lot of work that goes into our jobs, whether you can see it or not. If it really takes logging every single call and friend request and idea given in order for client to see what they are paying for, then so be it, but you as a client need to state that in advance. If you don't trust someone enough, don't hire out of house.
But if you sign a contract for a particular time of service, and nothing states anything about results, you can't decide not to pay them in the end. Maybe as a client you want WWD and only WWD but never say anything and I get you everything but WWD. At the end of the term, you cant say you didn't get what you want and you aren't paying. Work was still done if you like it or not. Even if work isn't done to a satisfactory, when you sign that contract you a promising to pay. You don't pay for advertising and if sales don't go up, you don't get your money back. That's just not how it works and for some reason people don't get that.
As a publicist or social media manager, especially one working on my own at the moment, I will only take clients I like and feel I can do something for. I don't just sit around and then expect you to pay me, I am not a criminal. I don't steal. In the initial meetings, you as a potential worker talk desired results but you almost never guarantee anything for the most part. If goals are something you have in mind, again, that's a different arrangement all together. You have to be fair and realistic to your marketing or pr people. Of coarse they are going to get excited at the meeting and hope to get you a bunch of things and improve your company. That is the whole purpose of our job! But if that doesn't happen, it doesn't mean they didn't try and it certainly doesn't mean that you can or can not pay them at your discretion.
To be honest, this isn't about the money (although that plays a HUGE role). The fact is I am just saddened and sickened that people conduct themselves like this. It is so unprofessional and just mean.
I am trying to avoid details because clearly something is going on in my life and I will be going court. But after this is over, you better believe I will use my pr expertise and connections to make it known what is going on. Anyone know a good lawyer?