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[phpug] Small claims court in NSW, Australia?

Phill Coxon
Oct 12, 2012 at 2:44 am
Just wondering if anyone on this list has ever taken action against a
non-paying Australian client in the NSW small claims court?

I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to make a claim from NZ.

From the info here it looks like it may be possible:

http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/lawaccess/ll_lawassist.nsf/pages/lawassist_debt_small_claims_home

I did a considerable amount of work for a client in Australia
(AUD$8000+) who then turned around, refused to make payment and
has ignored all requests to negotiate a solution.

I managed to remove some of the work from her server before she locked
me out but something like 70% of it is still in use.

I was going to walk away but a friend who is a lawyer locally said it
would be worth exploring the possibility of sending a demand notice and
filing in the NSW small claims court.

Does anyone have any experience with doing this from NZ?

I'm still leaning more towards walking away and moving on but if anyone
here has had success or insight I'd appreciate the feedback.

Thanks!

Phill

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25 responses

  • David Neilsen at Oct 12, 2012 at 3:03 am
    Hi,

    I don't have any insight, but I would like to know how you get on if you do
    follow it through.

    Also, who was the client? So others can avoid her in the future.

    David Neilsen | 07 834 3366 | PANmedia ®

    On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 5:03 PM, Phill Coxon wrote:

    Just wondering if anyone on this list has ever taken action against a
    non-paying Australian client in the NSW small claims court?

    I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to make a claim from NZ.

    From the info here it looks like it may be possible:


    http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/lawaccess/ll_lawassist.nsf/pages/lawassist_debt_small_claims_home

    I did a considerable amount of work for a client in Australia
    (AUD$8000+) who then turned around, refused to make payment and
    has ignored all requests to negotiate a solution.

    I managed to remove some of the work from her server before she locked
    me out but something like 70% of it is still in use.

    I was going to walk away but a friend who is a lawyer locally said it
    would be worth exploring the possibility of sending a demand notice and
    filing in the NSW small claims court.

    Does anyone have any experience with doing this from NZ?

    I'm still leaning more towards walking away and moving on but if anyone
    here has had success or insight I'd appreciate the feedback.

    Thanks!

    Phill

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 12, 2012 at 5:13 am

    On 12/10/12 16:03, David Neilsen wrote:
    Also, who was the client? So others can avoid her in the future.
    I'm not going to mention names at the moment as it's highly unlikely
    that she would hire someone in NZ again.


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  • Jevon at Oct 12, 2012 at 4:18 am
    Is the contract based on NZ or Australia law?

    Jevon

    On Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 5:03 PM, Phill Coxon
    wrote:
    Just wondering if anyone on this list has ever taken action against a
    non-paying Australian client in the NSW small claims court?

    I'm trying to figure out if it's possible to make a claim from NZ.

    From the info here it looks like it may be possible:

    http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/lawaccess/ll_lawassist.nsf/pages/lawassist_debt_small_claims_home

    I did a considerable amount of work for a client in Australia
    (AUD$8000+) who then turned around, refused to make payment and
    has ignored all requests to negotiate a solution.

    I managed to remove some of the work from her server before she locked
    me out but something like 70% of it is still in use.

    I was going to walk away but a friend who is a lawyer locally said it
    would be worth exploring the possibility of sending a demand notice and
    filing in the NSW small claims court.

    Does anyone have any experience with doing this from NZ?

    I'm still leaning more towards walking away and moving on but if anyone
    here has had success or insight I'd appreciate the feedback.

    Thanks!

    Phill

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 12, 2012 at 5:39 am

    On 12/10/12 17:18, jevon wrote:
    Is the contract based on NZ or Australia law?
    Good question.

    She was a long term client for 3+ years.

    The previous project I did with her had a contract based in NZ law.
    With the combination of earthquakes, family members passing away etc. I
    wasn't on the ball and flowed into the next projects with only a scope
    of work and an invoice for 10 hours pre-paid which clearly noted that
    additional hours would be charged at the standard rate.

    So as such there is no set contract for this work which is my bad. I'd
    never had a problem with her before so I wasn't expecting an issue.

    She continually came back to me requesting more work across several
    projects which I completed and then lost the plot when I sent her the
    invoice and she lost the plot.

    Somehow in her mind she'd forgotten that we were working on a fixed
    price basis. I pointed out that she was thinking of the previous
    project. She disagreed so I sent her all the emails, the invoice etc and
    invited her to provide a copy of the fixed price agreement she thought
    we had. It didn't exist so of course she couldn't produce it so started
    into a spiral of denial, blame, deceit etc.

    I haven't heard from her since.

    So to answer your question:

    * no actual contract for the outstanding work - simply an invoice
    stating work will be charged on an hourly basis ongoing billed in AUD.
    * The previous contract stated NZ law.
    * I have emails from her agreeing that I did complete the detailed
    breakdown of work that I sent her at her request and another one stating
    she agreed to pay about 40% (which she didn't). I suspect these would
    give me an advantage if it is possible to make a claim in Australia.

    My thinking is that if I can make a claim in Sydney then she gets sent
    the letter from the court and has to reply within 28 days or default, so
    it forces her into taking some sort of action and thinking about
    resolving it.

    On Monday I'll call the NSW LawLink helpline and ask directly if it
    possible to file a small claims case from another Commonwealth and if I
    can do it all from NZ (or need a representative in NSW).

    Still very interested in any thoughts anyone has to share.

    I'll most likely still walk away from it


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  • Jochen Daum at Oct 12, 2012 at 5:47 am
    Hi Phill,

    Have you tried a debt collector. Many people simply don't think of
    actually disputing the work and the debt collector talks them into
    accepting it first. I can recommend someone in Auckland.

    Kind Regards,

    Jochen
    On 12 October 2012 18:39, Phill Coxon wrote:
    On 12/10/12 17:18, jevon wrote:
    Is the contract based on NZ or Australia law?
    Good question.

    She was a long term client for 3+ years.

    The previous project I did with her had a contract based in NZ law.
    With the combination of earthquakes, family members passing away etc. I
    wasn't on the ball and flowed into the next projects with only a scope
    of work and an invoice for 10 hours pre-paid which clearly noted that
    additional hours would be charged at the standard rate.

    So as such there is no set contract for this work which is my bad. I'd
    never had a problem with her before so I wasn't expecting an issue.

    She continually came back to me requesting more work across several
    projects which I completed and then lost the plot when I sent her the
    invoice and she lost the plot.

    Somehow in her mind she'd forgotten that we were working on a fixed
    price basis. I pointed out that she was thinking of the previous
    project. She disagreed so I sent her all the emails, the invoice etc and
    invited her to provide a copy of the fixed price agreement she thought
    we had. It didn't exist so of course she couldn't produce it so started
    into a spiral of denial, blame, deceit etc.

    I haven't heard from her since.

    So to answer your question:

    * no actual contract for the outstanding work - simply an invoice
    stating work will be charged on an hourly basis ongoing billed in AUD.
    * The previous contract stated NZ law.
    * I have emails from her agreeing that I did complete the detailed
    breakdown of work that I sent her at her request and another one stating
    she agreed to pay about 40% (which she didn't). I suspect these would
    give me an advantage if it is possible to make a claim in Australia.

    My thinking is that if I can make a claim in Sydney then she gets sent
    the letter from the court and has to reply within 28 days or default, so
    it forces her into taking some sort of action and thinking about
    resolving it.

    On Monday I'll call the NSW LawLink helpline and ask directly if it
    possible to file a small claims case from another Commonwealth and if I
    can do it all from NZ (or need a representative in NSW).

    Still very interested in any thoughts anyone has to share.

    I'll most likely still walk away from it


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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 12, 2012 at 9:05 am

    On 12/10/12 18:41, Jochen Daum wrote:
    Hi Phill,

    Have you tried a debt collector. Many people simply don't think of
    actually disputing the work and the debt collector talks them into
    accepting it first. I can recommend someone in Auckland.
    I'd be happy to try a debt collector.

    The issue of course is that she lives in Sydney - I assumed (quite
    possibly wrongly) that debt collectors in NZ can't chase debts in
    Australia.

    Definitely worth following up though - thank you for the suggestion.


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  • Jochen Daum at Oct 12, 2012 at 7:40 am
    Hi,
    Have you tried a debt collector. Many people simply don't think of
    actually disputing the work and the debt collector talks them into
    accepting it first. I can recommend someone in Auckland.
    I'd be happy to try a debt collector.

    The issue of course is that she lives in Sydney - I assumed (quite
    possibly wrongly) that debt collectors in NZ can't chase debts in
    Australia.
    I thought the same until I was asked to translate a letter from a
    German debtee for a local collector.

    Jochen

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  • Nataliya Sharp at Oct 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm
    Baycorp is in Australia so they may be able to help
    On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 8:39 PM, Jochen Daum wrote:

    Hi,
    Have you tried a debt collector. Many people simply don't think of
    actually disputing the work and the debt collector talks them into
    accepting it first. I can recommend someone in Auckland.
    I'd be happy to try a debt collector.

    The issue of course is that she lives in Sydney - I assumed (quite
    possibly wrongly) that debt collectors in NZ can't chase debts in
    Australia.
    I thought the same until I was asked to translate a letter from a
    German debtee for a local collector.

    Jochen

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 16, 2012 at 12:45 am
    I called Baycorp.

    They told me they can take on a debt for a client based in Australia.

    $50 + GST to join as a new client. $10 + GST to load a new debt.

    However, because the debt is considered to be incurred in NZ (where the
    work was undertaken) any default judgement against a credit rating will
    also only incur in New Zealand.

    Given my client lives in Australia that's really only going to
    negatively affect her if she moves to New Zealand and wants to get
    credit here.

    Likewise if I take her to small claims court the Baycorp person said
    that would be done in New Zealand but enforcing the judgement would be
    very difficult and costly - requiring legal action in Australia.

    So really she can ignore it all and it pretty much doesn't affect her.

    The one thing that Baycorp can do is harass her.

    They can call her, write letters etc for up to 6 years. However, while
    they say they will do that I expect they'll actually only make calls,
    write letters etc for as long as they think there's any chance they'll
    get their 30% cut. It also wasn't made clear whether calls / letters
    etc are an additional cost on top of the 30% or included.

    So I'll weight it up for a day or two and decide if it's worth it. My
    client is definitely a stress ball so having debt collectors call up
    frequently might be enough to stir up some sort of settlement.

    I'll also still give the NSW small claims court a call directly and
    double-check directly whether a claim can be made there.

    Any additional comments / thoughts are welcome.

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  • Michael Robinson at Oct 16, 2012 at 12:28 am
    If you decide it's not worth it to pursue the debt through baycorp, you
    could make a simple text-only website explaining the situation from your
    point of view, clearly naming the client and the work you completed.

    If she's such a stress-ball, and does rely so much on her reputation,
    then giving her a preview of the site with a note explaining that it
    will go live within x days unless you are paid in full, she might cough up.


    On 16/10/12 13:15, Phill Coxon wrote:
    I called Baycorp.

    They told me they can take on a debt for a client based in Australia.

    $50 + GST to join as a new client. $10 + GST to load a new debt.

    However, because the debt is considered to be incurred in NZ (where the
    work was undertaken) any default judgement against a credit rating will
    also only incur in New Zealand.

    Given my client lives in Australia that's really only going to
    negatively affect her if she moves to New Zealand and wants to get
    credit here.

    Likewise if I take her to small claims court the Baycorp person said
    that would be done in New Zealand but enforcing the judgement would be
    very difficult and costly - requiring legal action in Australia.

    So really she can ignore it all and it pretty much doesn't affect her.

    The one thing that Baycorp can do is harass her.

    They can call her, write letters etc for up to 6 years. However, while
    they say they will do that I expect they'll actually only make calls,
    write letters etc for as long as they think there's any chance they'll
    get their 30% cut. It also wasn't made clear whether calls / letters
    etc are an additional cost on top of the 30% or included.

    So I'll weight it up for a day or two and decide if it's worth it. My
    client is definitely a stress ball so having debt collectors call up
    frequently might be enough to stir up some sort of settlement.

    I'll also still give the NSW small claims court a call directly and
    double-check directly whether a claim can be made there.

    Any additional comments / thoughts are welcome.

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  • Bruce Clement at Oct 16, 2012 at 12:47 am

    On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 1:20 PM, Michael Robinson wrote:
    you
    could make a simple text-only website explaining the situation from your
    point of view, clearly naming the client and the work you completed.

    If she's such a stress-ball, and does rely so much on her reputation, then
    giving her a preview of the site with a note explaining that it will go live
    within x days unless you are paid in full, she might cough up.
    I would be very very careful about going down this route as it could
    open you up to being sued by her. Most countries have laws limiting
    what you are allowed to do when pursuing debtors, I'm not sure about
    the limits of NZ law, but a minute's googling found the UK rules
    http://www.bankruptcy-insolvency.co.uk/debt_factsheets/harassment_of_people_in_debt_by_creditors.php
    which includes "19. Creditors cannot try to embarrass you in public or
    threaten to tell a third party about your debts." as NZ law is often
    similar to UK law I wouldn't be surprised if the rules here are
    similar.



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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 16, 2012 at 1:02 am

    On 16/10/12 13:20, Michael Robinson wrote:
    If you decide it's not worth it to pursue the debt through baycorp,
    you could make a simple text-only website explaining the situation
    from your point of view, clearly naming the client and the work you
    completed.

    If she's such a stress-ball, and does rely so much on her reputation,
    then giving her a preview of the site with a note explaining that it
    will go live within x days unless you are paid in full, she might
    cough up.
    Even if someone's completely in the right, the moment they start
    throwing mud it just makes them look bad too. I'd rather walk away.

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  • Bob Brown at Oct 16, 2012 at 1:37 am
    I've heard that there's a lot of companies in Christchurch in the same
    boat who are chasing debts in Australia after people shifted there in
    the post-quake exodus. It sounds like a hopeless situation :(

    I wish you all the best!
    On 16 October 2012 13:15, Phill Coxon wrote:
    So really she can ignore it all and it pretty much doesn't affect her.
    Any additional comments / thoughts are welcome.

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  • Berend de Boer at Oct 12, 2012 at 6:34 am
    "Phill" == Phill Coxon writes:
    Phill> Still very interested in any thoughts anyone has to share.

    Phill, you probably will win, but you won't get your money.

    I've won small claims in NZ court, trying to extract the money is a
    completely different matter.

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

    On 12/10/12 19:28, Berend de Boer wrote:
    Phill, you probably will win, but you won't get your money.

    I've won small claims in NZ court, trying to extract the money is a
    completely different matter.
    Thanks for the feedback.

    The interesting there here is that this person's reputation is
    absolutely vital to her.

    She's built an entire personal brand that focuses on values such as
    integrity, leadership etc. It would be *highly* embarrassing and
    damaging for her brand if this were to become public knowledge.

    So getting the payment may well be the easy part - it's getting some
    sort of judgement against her or having a debt collector turn get in
    contact that would be the tough part.

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone - I have some good leads & ideas to
    follow up on Monday.

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  • Rory at Oct 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm
    Defamatory website - not a good idea.

    Have you tried the emotional and personal approach?

    Writing her a letter explaining how you did an amazing job of her website,
    really went the extra mile so she and her customers would have the best
    possible experience, etc. etc. (which is true, otherwise you wouldn't be in
    this situation now) and how you are hurting (financially, emotionally,
    unable to feed kids, etc.) by her unwillingness to pay. How you had really
    hoped this would be a long term business relationship as you enjoyed
    working, you saw great potential for developing her website to be something
    amazing, etc. etc.... and how her unwillingness to pay means it wont now
    happen.

    Also, have you asked yourself why she is refusing to pay? If it is because
    she doesn't have the money then suggest an instalment plan. If its because
    she is unhappy with the work then offer to improve it if she will pay half
    of what is outstanding as a goodwill measure, and so on. As a goodwill
    measure you could consider offering her the 30% you took away. You have
    built it anyway and its probably not much good to you sitting on your hard
    disk.

    If you dont feel this approach is appropriate then perhaps a friend could
    write on your behalf e.g." ... are you aware of how much my friend Phil is
    hurting because he spent a heap of time on a project for you and needs the
    money....."

    Clearly the hard-line business approach isn't working, so maybe a softer
    emotional approach might. We often ignore the fact that business is people
    and people everywhere have similar needs. Its very easy to remove the human
    factor from business dealings when sometimes an approach that demonstrates
    vulnerability reaps results.

    I speak from experience. I have a small business client who owed me a
    considerable amount and when I asked why he wouldn't pay I heard all about
    how difficult it was for him, how his business had collapsed, how his
    partner had left him..... and how he intended to turn his business around
    once he felt stronger, etc. We worked out a monthly amount he could afford.
    He also needed some more work done to help him turn it around which I
    agreed to. The good news is that he is almost back on his feet and I am
    very confident of being paid, and he has also promised something extra. The
    other good news is that his monthly repayments have been a nice source of
    steady income and allowed me to develop a whole new e-learning product
    which is already generating income.

    Sometime small businesses need to be very flexible - thats our strength.

    I hope you manage to re-connect with your customer and you both find
    satisfaction. As another poster mentioned, please let us know the outcome

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 17, 2012 at 12:53 am

    On 17/10/12 08:34, Rory wrote:
    Defamatory website - not a good idea.

    Have you tried the emotional and personal approach?
    Sure did.

    Fundamentally the issue started because of a misunderstanding in her
    part. She thought we were working under a fixed price contract and had
    forgotten we were working on a consulting basis.

    She was thinking of the previous project which was fixed price and fully
    completed.

    I explained it all in detail, showed her the emails, sent her copies of
    the previous fixed price project and invoices etc and encouraged her to
    produce anything else to support her argument.

    She couldn't because it didn't exist.

    When I invoiced her for the outstanding work I said right up front that
    she could do a payment plan if it suited over several months because it
    was a fairly large amount.

    Even though she finally admitted that she had got her facts wrong and
    that there was no fixed price agreement she declared it entirely unfair
    that she should pay for months of work that she thought she was getting
    for the equivalent of 10 hours payment.

    I did my best to negotiate a win win solution in good faith but it
    quickly spiralled downward. She refused to respond to my requests for
    her to come back to me with a suggestion solution for over a month while
    continuing to ask me to do more work. When I refused to continue working
    for free she got even more irate.

    I finally offered her a one off AUD$3000 payment (under 50% of what she
    owed) so we could settle and go our separate ways.

    She refused, complained that paying the AUD $3000 would bankrupt her
    business etc. She also claimed that she didn't own the business, her
    fiance did - in stark contrast to what the Australia companies office
    records said - and that it was him refusing to pay, not her etc.

    In the end I warned her that if she didn't pay the AUD$3000 within 5
    days I would remove all unpaid work from her servers. I did this
    knowing full well she'd lock me out of everything, which of course she
    did.

    That was a real dilemma because up until that point she did not know
    that only I had backups (her ISP wasn't backing up because her account
    was over it's usage limit). If I'd deleted everything she would have
    had NOTHING and her entire online business would have been gone instantly.

    Tempting as it was I decided to be the better person and warn her in
    advance that I would remove unpaid work. So she locked me out and
    backed everything up immediately. Frustrating for me but at least I feel
    I acted ethically rather than being accused of holding her entire
    business to ransom.

    I continued to give her several extensions on the AUD$3000 deadline
    asking if we could please find a win-win solution. I received tirades
    back about how it was all my fault for not correcting her
    misunderstanding that she thought she was receiving months of work for
    the equivalent of a 10 hour budget.

    Lots of manipulation, denial, blame, claims that I would destroy her
    business and drive her into bankruptcy etc.

    Keep in mind that she just married her fiance who is an experienced 747
    pilot earning over half a million dollars a year and that she claimed it
    was his business, not hers. Her latest online magazine has 20+ pages
    covering their huge and extravagant no expenses spared wedding.

    Inability to pay really wasn't an issue.

    The problem was her ego - she could not admit that she'd made a huge
    mistake and would not take responsibility for it.

    I openly admitted my part - that I should have invoiced outstanding work
    much earlier. That would have raised her misunderstanding much earlier
    giving her the opportunity to pay or ask me to stop working. That is why
    I offered the hugely discounted AUD$3000 payment. Pretty generous I
    thought.

    But there was never any compromise on her part.

    The final email I received from her resentfully stated that she would
    pay the AUD$3000 even though she still claimed it was horrendously
    unfair. Even then it would only be over a 6+ month period. I've never
    seen a cent of it.

    So the lessons here for me are:

    1) Get a good, clear contract up front with clear specification.

    2) Invoice regularly no matter what other crazy distracting stuff is
    going on in my life :) Or... set project points and get paid for each
    section up front before continuing.

    3) If working with NZ clients have payment clauses in the contract that
    allow for agency collection fees

    4) If working with international clients get paid up front, always. :)

    5) Stick to the specification and refuse to do anything outside of it
    unless it is requested in writing and agreed to with an accompanying price.

    In many ways for the last 4-5 years I've been both exceptionally lucky
    and naive.

    All of my work has been word-of-mouth or referral - I've never done any
    marketing (which is why I don't even have my own website!). It's only
    been since the global financial downturn that I've started having
    problems with clients misplacing their ethics, asking for more while not
    willing to pay for it etc.

    With most of those clients I had no contract, no clear specification,
    just a virtual handshake and good-will. Those days are over for the
    moment.

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  • Trevor Ulyatt at Oct 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm
    Re exposing these defaulters to public scrutiny -
    I had a measure of success with an NZ client who simply would not pay
    (for no reason) by posting the matter, simply stated, on a community
    website. I checked the legal position in advance and it turns out that
    if what you post is demonstrably true then it cannot be construed as
    defamatory or libellous. I manipulated my postings so that any Google
    search on this client by name or by company would bring up clear
    warnings on page one. I also had Fair Go do an expose but that probably
    doesn't help you as your client is in Australia. It eventually got
    results. I got paid in exchange for removing the postings and having
    Google remove the indexed URL's.
    That's my twopence worth.
    Cheers all.

    On 17/10/2012 11:01 a.m., Phill Coxon wrote:
    On 17/10/12 08:34, Rory wrote:
    Defamatory website - not a good idea.

    Have you tried the emotional and personal approach?
    Sure did.

    Fundamentally the issue started because of a misunderstanding in her
    part. She thought we were working under a fixed price contract and had
    forgotten we were working on a consulting basis.

    She was thinking of the previous project which was fixed price and fully
    completed.

    I explained it all in detail, showed her the emails, sent her copies of
    the previous fixed price project and invoices etc and encouraged her to
    produce anything else to support her argument.

    She couldn't because it didn't exist.

    When I invoiced her for the outstanding work I said right up front that
    she could do a payment plan if it suited over several months because it
    was a fairly large amount.

    Even though she finally admitted that she had got her facts wrong and
    that there was no fixed price agreement she declared it entirely unfair
    that she should pay for months of work that she thought she was getting
    for the equivalent of 10 hours payment.

    I did my best to negotiate a win win solution in good faith but it
    quickly spiralled downward. She refused to respond to my requests for
    her to come back to me with a suggestion solution for over a month while
    continuing to ask me to do more work. When I refused to continue working
    for free she got even more irate.

    I finally offered her a one off AUD$3000 payment (under 50% of what she
    owed) so we could settle and go our separate ways.

    She refused, complained that paying the AUD $3000 would bankrupt her
    business etc. She also claimed that she didn't own the business, her
    fiance did - in stark contrast to what the Australia companies office
    records said - and that it was him refusing to pay, not her etc.

    In the end I warned her that if she didn't pay the AUD$3000 within 5
    days I would remove all unpaid work from her servers. I did this
    knowing full well she'd lock me out of everything, which of course she
    did.

    That was a real dilemma because up until that point she did not know
    that only I had backups (her ISP wasn't backing up because her account
    was over it's usage limit). If I'd deleted everything she would have
    had NOTHING and her entire online business would have been gone instantly.

    Tempting as it was I decided to be the better person and warn her in
    advance that I would remove unpaid work. So she locked me out and
    backed everything up immediately. Frustrating for me but at least I feel
    I acted ethically rather than being accused of holding her entire
    business to ransom.

    I continued to give her several extensions on the AUD$3000 deadline
    asking if we could please find a win-win solution. I received tirades
    back about how it was all my fault for not correcting her
    misunderstanding that she thought she was receiving months of work for
    the equivalent of a 10 hour budget.

    Lots of manipulation, denial, blame, claims that I would destroy her
    business and drive her into bankruptcy etc.

    Keep in mind that she just married her fiance who is an experienced 747
    pilot earning over half a million dollars a year and that she claimed it
    was his business, not hers. Her latest online magazine has 20+ pages
    covering their huge and extravagant no expenses spared wedding.

    Inability to pay really wasn't an issue.

    The problem was her ego - she could not admit that she'd made a huge
    mistake and would not take responsibility for it.

    I openly admitted my part - that I should have invoiced outstanding work
    much earlier. That would have raised her misunderstanding much earlier
    giving her the opportunity to pay or ask me to stop working. That is why
    I offered the hugely discounted AUD$3000 payment. Pretty generous I
    thought.

    But there was never any compromise on her part.

    The final email I received from her resentfully stated that she would
    pay the AUD$3000 even though she still claimed it was horrendously
    unfair. Even then it would only be over a 6+ month period. I've never
    seen a cent of it.

    So the lessons here for me are:

    1) Get a good, clear contract up front with clear specification.

    2) Invoice regularly no matter what other crazy distracting stuff is
    going on in my life :) Or... set project points and get paid for each
    section up front before continuing.

    3) If working with NZ clients have payment clauses in the contract that
    allow for agency collection fees

    4) If working with international clients get paid up front, always. :)

    5) Stick to the specification and refuse to do anything outside of it
    unless it is requested in writing and agreed to with an accompanying price.

    In many ways for the last 4-5 years I've been both exceptionally lucky
    and naive.

    All of my work has been word-of-mouth or referral - I've never done any
    marketing (which is why I don't even have my own website!). It's only
    been since the global financial downturn that I've started having
    problems with clients misplacing their ethics, asking for more while not
    willing to pay for it etc.

    With most of those clients I had no contract, no clear specification,
    just a virtual handshake and good-will. Those days are over for the
    moment.
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  • Berend de Boer at Oct 17, 2012 at 12:17 am
    "Phill" == Phill Coxon writes:
    Phill> she declared it entirely unfair that she should pay for
    Phill> months of work that she thought she was getting for the
    Phill> equivalent of 10 hours payment.

    You let the bill rank up and didn't regularly invoice (monthly for
    example) or send a pro-forma invoice now and then? That's not a good
    look.

    --
    All the best,

    Berend de Boer


    ------------------------------------------------------
    Awesome Drupal hosting: https://www.xplainhosting.com/

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 17, 2012 at 1:43 am

    On 17/10/12 11:23, Berend de Boer wrote:
    You let the bill rank up and didn't regularly invoice (monthly for
    example) or send a pro-forma invoice now and then? That's not a good
    look.
    As I said - I totally admitted up front where I was at fault. I was
    dealing with Christchurch earthquakes, significant injuries, family
    members dying of cancer etc. I wasn't at all on the ball as far as
    invoicing at all. Totally my bad. In hindsight of course I could have
    done better.

    Which is why I offered both a payment plan right up front when I
    invoiced her and then a massive discount to try and reach a win-win
    solution when she complained.

    On the other hand, my client claims she thought she'd paid for a fixed
    price 10 hour project with a specific scope of work and then continued
    to ask me to do well over 100 additional hours work across entirely
    different and new projects and believed it was all included.

    I sent her multiple emails during the period where I was working giving
    time estimates for additional projects she asked me to work on. She
    refused to acknowledge those emails in any way even when I forwarded
    them to her again to prove that I had discussed how many hours tasks /
    projects would take in advance.

    Yes, I was an idiot for not taking care of invoicing and I let my client
    down as a result.

    However at very best she had convinced herself she had the deal of the
    century - all the work I was doing for a non-existant 10 hour fixed
    price project that she never referred to.

    At worst she was taking me for a ride from the start knowing that I was
    dealing with a lot of personal stuff in my life.

    I think the truth is somewhere in between.



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  • Berend de Boer at Oct 17, 2012 at 12:24 am
    At Wed, 17 Oct 2012 11:49:21 +1300,
    I wasn't at all on the ball as far as
    invoicing at all.
    That's a problem obviously, so that'll cost you some points if you go
    to court.

    But as I said before, you'll win, getting your money is a vastly
    different step.

    All the best,

    Berend.--

    All the best,

    Berend.

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  • Paul Bennett at Oct 17, 2012 at 12:44 am
    Please forgive Berend - he's probably Dutch*

    *half my family are Dutch - we're outstandingly blunt at times.

    Regards,
    Paul Bennett
    MoveForward - Web Development for Design Companies
    http://www.moveforward.co.nz
    06 308 9722
    027 255 8495


    On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM, Phill Coxon wrote:
    On 17/10/12 11:23, Berend de Boer wrote:
    You let the bill rank up and didn't regularly invoice (monthly for
    example) or send a pro-forma invoice now and then? That's not a good
    look.
    As I said - I totally admitted up front where I was at fault. I was
    dealing with Christchurch earthquakes, significant injuries, family
    members dying of cancer etc. I wasn't at all on the ball as far as
    invoicing at all. Totally my bad. In hindsight of course I could have
    done better.

    Which is why I offered both a payment plan right up front when I
    invoiced her and then a massive discount to try and reach a win-win
    solution when she complained.

    On the other hand, my client claims she thought she'd paid for a fixed
    price 10 hour project with a specific scope of work and then continued
    to ask me to do well over 100 additional hours work across entirely
    different and new projects and believed it was all included.

    I sent her multiple emails during the period where I was working giving
    time estimates for additional projects she asked me to work on. She
    refused to acknowledge those emails in any way even when I forwarded
    them to her again to prove that I had discussed how many hours tasks /
    projects would take in advance.

    Yes, I was an idiot for not taking care of invoicing and I let my client
    down as a result.

    However at very best she had convinced herself she had the deal of the
    century - all the work I was doing for a non-existant 10 hour fixed
    price project that she never referred to.

    At worst she was taking me for a ride from the start knowing that I was
    dealing with a lot of personal stuff in my life.

    I think the truth is somewhere in between.



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  • Jochen Daum at Oct 17, 2012 at 12:26 am

    On 17 October 2012 11:53, Paul Bennett wrote:
    Please forgive Berend - he's probably Dutch*

    *half my family are Dutch - we're outstandingly blunt at times.

    I thought we Germans were known for this ;)

    Jochen

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  • Paul Bennett at Oct 17, 2012 at 4:27 am
    Well, you are neighbours, so it's bound to rub off over several hundred
    years :)

    Regards,
    Paul Bennett
    MoveForward - Web Development for Design Companies
    http://www.moveforward.co.nz
    06 308 9722
    027 255 8495


    On Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM, Jochen Daum wrote:
    On 17 October 2012 11:53, Paul Bennett wrote:
    Please forgive Berend - he's probably Dutch*

    *half my family are Dutch - we're outstandingly blunt at times.

    I thought we Germans were known for this ;)

    Jochen

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  • Phill Coxon at Oct 17, 2012 at 3:39 am

    On 17/10/12 11:53, Paul Bennett wrote:
    Please forgive Berend - he's probably Dutch*

    *half my family are Dutch - we're outstandingly blunt at times.
    Hi Paul!

    I'm not the least bit offended by Berend - he's totally on the ball. I
    screwed up big time when it came to invoicing clients during that
    period. This client wasn't the only one that took me for a ride as a
    result, just the most recent and the most expensive.

    All up I had 3 overseas clients refuse to pay for work totalling about
    $16,000 so it has been a painful lesson and I am definitely taking
    ownership of areas where I could have done better so that I can provide
    better service to clients in future while minimising the risk and stress
    on my side.

    Thank you so much for your other email with your example contract - I
    immensely appreciate that and will work through it tomorrow.

    I also really like some of the content on your website and will send you
    a few additional questions if you don't mind. I don't want to take up
    too much of your time, but you seem to have things sorted and I'd like
    to pick your brain on a couple of other things.

    Thanks again!


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