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+ - Getting paid (politely) when the customer balks

Submitted by
networkBoy
networkBoy writes "So I've got my first non paying customer. I did some consulting work for a local startup semiconductor company, partially by referral, partly by favor. For the favor part of it I had already dropped my normal rate by $5/hour and the total billable hours came to just over 13 hours plus parts, all of this on a verbal agreement. While I know the main lesson from this is going to be "get a signed quote you idiot" I was wondering how others on the /. Community have handled situations similar to this in their independent contracts? In a nutshell the work was bringing up 6 machines (with mixed hardware configurations), with Win XP, Office, and a half dozen custom applications, having to track down appropriate video card and chipset drivers. My initial verbal quote, to which they agreed, was 2 to 3 hours per machine plus parts (one video card, one hard disk, and a half dozen CMOS batteries). Once I dropped off the machines my contact at the company decided that it should have taken only one hour per machine (never mind the non-billable hours that the machines were busy but I was idle, waiting on progress bars).

The best plan I have right now is to submit a past-due notice to the company, and ultimately follow that up with a 1099 to the IRS showing forgiven debt, figuring if they won't pay me then I can at least sick the Treasury Dept. on them. Anyone have a better plan or a good way to word the past-due notice to get attention while not outright burning any bridges with them? I've already determined that trying to take them to court would really only end up being a break even for me given the time it would consume for the filing and such."
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Getting paid (politely) when the customer balks

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