An old client of mine says A owes me X amount. He is delaying payment for the past 3 weeks. One week he said - "His account is in an inactive state", and next week "He is in debt, he is broke". I am not sure whether he is gonna pay me this weekend or delay it more. He is supposed to pay on Friday and Friday he says he will pay on Monday and when Monday comes, he gives some reason and says he will pay next Friday. One week he said, "He was in an emergency in the hospital for the whole weekend".

Last week I told him: "I will take your word for it once more and trust you again. Hoping to get it cleared by next Friday". Yet to see what he responds on 14th April..

Aim: To get this week's payment and past pending payments. I am not sure how to deal with this person. He is so open to lying. How can I phrase my requests for my money back, to put pressure on him so that I can get my money asap?

  • 1
    You might think about posting on money.stackexchange or workplace.stackexchange or freelancing.stackexchange. No matter how good you are in interpersonal communication, that wont make someone pay who doesn't want to pay. A small claims court will.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 13, 2023 at 22:28
  • Do note moderators aren't online 24/7 to handle your edited posts immediately, don't delete/repost your questions to circumvent e.g. closure of the first one. If you do that too often and your next versions still have flaws that can't be fixed with an edit (and are closed/deleted too), you might end up facing automatic system imposed restrictions that no moderator can lift for you.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Apr 14, 2023 at 6:33

1 Answer 1


When a client is not paying on time, no matter what excuses he gives you, at the end, you still have done work and not getting the money for it. That's a fact.

Now, it's not the first time he's delaying payments, even after being asked and asked again. You gave him a deadline last week. He pays, end of the story. You learnt a lesson for no or little money, but you'll have to make sure that this doesn't happen again. Now, he doesn't pay...

You have multiples choices to handle this situation:

  1. The hard way: let him go. Forget about the money. A client who doesn't pay on time is usually not worth the hassle. You should not bother and waste time and energy chasing your earnt money. If they're having financial problems, you'll face the issue again and again. They might be trying and take advantage of you, just like scammers do.
  2. The tough way: you stop working until you are paid. You inform them in a very formal and professional way that work will resume as soon as you have the money in your pocket. You can also send a new invoice with late fees (like: 10%). Include a schedule with increasing late fees (+15% / +25% / +50%...) for each week late. In this case, make sure it's legal in your country and know that you can upset the client, even maybe lose him.
  3. The soft way: you set a last barrier, you inform the client that no more extra work can be done until full due payment is received. You send a friendly reminder and keep their ship afloat by bailing out the water but you row for free no more. There is the risk of loosing more time, money and energy though.

Now, even if it's a little late, you've probably learnt by now that you should never ever deliver the full product before you get full payment. We all did mistakes like that, based on trust or lack of boundaries. Just don't let that happen again.

I've tested all three options mentioned at least once for the last 5 decades. Option #1 loses money but saves time and energy, helps protect you mental health if you know how to get away with the loss. Option #2 is the most professional and effective way. It protects your business ethics while saving you time and money as well. Helps putting the mental charge aside for a while. Option #3 is the best way to waste a lot of time and money, with bitterness and sometimes anger at the end. I did that for almost a year for a friend's client because I didn't want to drop any of them. Lost $15.000 worth of work and paid $3.500 taxes on the money I never got.

Therefore, in your case, because you want to protect your investment and not lose the client right away, my best advice would be to use option #2. You can navigate between options, pick a little of one here and there, but stick to standing your ground: no monee, no workee.

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