Thursday, January 17, 2013

Benefit of the doubt?

Though somewhat skeptical by nature, I still want to believe people mean well and want to do the right thing.  That circumstances beyond our control- not intent to deceive- can impact timing and results.  Sometimes that belief is tested.

For example, a feelancer agrees to do a certain small project for a specified rate.  Due diligence shows the company is a legitimate business.  Often there’s also an element of trusting your gut.  Are there red flags to keep you from going forward?

 You do the work, there are no complaints or concerns raised or requests for revisions.  The client says the check is in the mail.  It doesn’t arrive.  You contact the client.  Excuses are made, the money is promised.  You don’t want to give up hope that the client is telling the truth about reasons for the delay.  You follow up in a timely manner and even send a self-addressed stamped envelope.  No reply.

Sure, you could’ve asked for a deposit up front.  But for a small job, it’s not always worth the effort. 

What now?  You could let it go, or spend more valuable time pursuing your money... say by posting the story on Yelp (or another review site), reporting the company/contact to the BBB or going to small claims court.   Only you can decide if it’s worth the time and effort to try to prove you’re right.  There’s no guarantee you’ll get paid.  Or should you endeavor to protect other vendors from a similar outcome?  Maybe this is the first time this has happened.  If it's happened before but no one reports it, the contact may continue down a less than truthful path.  

Will this be a lesson- make you less likely to trust the next person who says s/he’ll follow through on something, whether it’s business or personal?  If the client eventually makes good, would you trust him/her the next time or respectfully decline the work? 
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.  Sometimes the pudding takes a long time to cook.  Other times, unless you do a chemical analysis, it can be difficult to know if the pudding contains the promised amount, variety and/or quality of contents.


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