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What to do when companies don't pay – my dealings with Balance PR.

December 17th, 2008 · 12 Comments

Scrooge - perhaps he's doing the accounts for Balance PRHere’s the story – about 2 months ago, I did some freelance PR work for Balance PR, working on a music promotion thing. The job was at incredibly late notice, but they needed something doing that I was in a very good position to help them with, we agreed a fee and I got on with it.

For various reasons, the job with Balance PR was curtailed half way through, but the work that I’d done had gone well, and I invoiced according to the hourly/daily rate we’d agreed, on the 16th October. that makes the due date 15th November.

Fast forward over 2 months and I still haven’t been paid, despite email and phone assurances from them that I’d be paid, and even that I’d BEEN paid. ‘The cheque will go out monday’, ‘we’ll make a bank transfer tomorrow’, ‘the cheque has been sent by registered post’. Continuous failure to complete the payment has meant that I’ve come away to the USA without the money for the job, and I’ll have to file an LBA from here.

I had a couple of lame reasons for non-payment, a couple of what sounded like heart-felt apologies, and a whole load of ‘I’m sorry, Ryan isn’t in the office at the moment’ followed by a never-answered mobile call. No meaningful explanations, no offers of compensation, just lots of fielded calls and missed payment deadlines.

So, my advice is, if you ever get asked to work for Balance PR is to ask for the money up front or write very stiff non-payment clauses into your contract with them, and have it signed and witnessed. Whether or not this is systemic in the company, I’ve no idea. But I do know a couple of other people that have had to wait for a long time to be paid – way past the due dates of the invoices.

Companies that treat freelancers like this need to be exposed. It’s a stupid, petty and illegal thing to do, and makes life harder for everyone. What have Balance PR got out of not paying for me? About 75p in interest in the bank on what they owe me? Bollocks, it’s just piss poor practice.

There are contact details on Balance’s website should you wish to email or call them and suggest they sort out their business practice.

So, Freelancers, please use the comments to list things you’ve done to get payment, and also to list companies that haven’t paid and how it was resolved – please do only list your own verifiable experiences (I’ve got the email trail for all of this, with lists of missed dates and broken promises),

And if anyone from Balance PR wants to publicly apologise, explain, be contrite, etc. Feel free. The floor is yours. I’d rather you just paid me though, plus an extra £100 or so for the time I’ve spent having to chance the invoice due to your incompetence.

The reason I’m writing this publicly is because Balance are a PR company. That’s public relations. We are the public. and if you piss off the public, lie to them and break legal contracts, they tend to ‘go public’. It’s just the way it is.

The life of a freelancer can be amazing. We’re in a position to do what we do best for a whole range of people. Balance are in a position to use some of the amazing pool of freelance knowledge in London. Let’s face it, if you’re in PR, you need specialists to call on. So why make their lives more precarious because you can’t be bothered to make a bank transfer to pay an invoice? The money’s tiny in PR terms. For me, it’s a lot, and it could end up the difference between going overdrawn or not at the bank. I have to budget well to live on what I earn, and my budgeting shouldn’t have to compensate for the lack of business ethics of the people I’m working with.

It’s a shame really, because the job itself was a fun one, and with a few more weeks notice, could’ve been great. Will I be working for Balance PR again? not without cash up front…

[EDIT] this was finally all settled, without the need for legal action… just. Case closed 🙂

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup