GET PAID! Fighting back against bill-evading clients.

For this article, it was suggested that I address a topic about which I’m passionate. Well, it doesn’t get any more passionate for me these days than discussing the topic of getting paid.

As many of you know, my business card says “Suit” and I’m the guy who deals with the business of the organization and I own the task of fiscal management. Clatter&Din has been in business for over 17 years now and we’ve had our share of flakes and liars… as well as, not surprisingly, an overwhelmingly huge percentage of honest, stand-up clients. We also strive to deliver extremely creative, professional results while remaining pliable to a fault when it comes to working within tight budgets and timelines. Working well with others, it’s just who we are… and we’re thriving and growing because of it.

That being said, a disturbing trend we’ve noticed lately in our dealings with a few clients (albeit primarily larger institutions), is that they are becoming ever so more creative in finding ways to postpone payment for services rendered. I have filled out the most daunting SAT-test, labyrinth-like vendor applications, dealt with the most frustrating non-working online payment systems, and had Candid Camera moments on the phone with AP departments merely trying to either get set up for payment or collect on an overdue invoice. I don’t have time for this.

A particularly nasty new trend is emerging (do I really want to publish this to the world?) where a company will print some egregious terms on their PO and by signing the PO, I am now somehow subject to the terms they make up. Really cool terms, like “We’ll pay you when we get paid” or “I’m not your client here, my client is now your client, so if I don’t pay you, you get to go after my client, who doesn’t know you and has great lawyers on retainer.” I’ve spoken with my attorney about this—here’s my free legal advice for the day—and he says that this is basically a scam and I should just X out the PO-induced terms and sign the PO.

All I’m saying is that my company works hard, we do great work, we work with clients on the price and the terms, so why would an AP department now try to basically trick us into having to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get our invoices paid? Until I can just call all my vendors (including AFTRA and SAG) and just say, “Hey, I’ll pay you when I can!” I have to push back and be the suit I’m paid to be. As a community, we should all push back as well, and not let these tactics solidify. We work hard for our cash flow and we have enough challenges as it is. I’m sure many of you have seen this behavior yourselves; please, let’s not be enablers!

Peter Barnes is often out at a party, but when he’s working, it’s usually at Clatter&Din. Visit

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