"The check is in the mail"

By Katharine Swan On Friday, May 08, 2009 At 11:54 AM

One of the things I hate is dealing with clients who are slow in paying. I'll actually sometimes decline to work again with certain clients who are especially bad about this, and I'll give preference to clients who pay with PayPal — despite the fees that are deducted for each transaction, it's worth it in order to get payment quickly and remove the possibility of the "check is in the mail" excuse.

A couple of months ago, I had two clients around the same time saying they had mailed a check, yet neither was arriving. This was the first time I'd actually had this happen with two clients at the same time, so I was actually concerned that something was happening to our mail! As it turned out, one client had forgotten to mail the check (it sounds suspicious, but I actually believe him because he went to the trouble to meet me in person and hand-deliver it), and the other had simply lied — clients may claim that "the check is in the mail," but the postmarked date will tell the real story later on!

Do clients really think we're too dumb to note what the postmark says?

I personally don't advocate working with a client who gives you cause not to trust them, even if they do ultimately pay you. Have you heard the "check is in the mail" line before, only to get it a week or more later than you would expect? If a client lies about when they've sent payment, but they still pay you, do you still consider that grounds for terminating your relationship with them?


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Blogger Headroom Says:  

I'm love IT and have done for 15 years. I opened a small business within my community to give something back. A client approached me to network a 10 of PC’s and 4 printers that had intermittent problems on the network. I made a visit to see him and agreed a quote. I completed the job as planned. Somehow the promised cheque just would not arrive, for over two week I waited.

I contacted the, and even after his promise it had not been posted. I ended having to return and collect it by hand. During the contract with the client we had build up a good repertoire, agreeing to recommend each other’s clients. However, this episode did not give me confidence in doing future business with them.

It unfortunate for both of us as we lose out on what could have been a brilliant business relationship. If a client is going to be dishonest, It’s not worth the effort.

Anonymous Krista Says:  

Yes, I do consider this grounds for ending a relationship. There is one client in particular that is consistently slow paying. I contact them after 30 days, and they check with accounting. Then they wait another week or so to send the check, which takes another week or two to reach me. The worst part is these are tiny assignments and the checks are often for $30. This is the third or fourth time I've had to go through this to get paid, and I'm not doing it again. It's not worth the frustration for $30. I left another client for the same reason, and will do so again.

Blogger Katharine Swan Says:  

Headroom -- exactly, it's the dishonesty that gets to me.

Krista, it's even less worth it for the little checks, I agree! I worked for one company that I had to harass each time a check was due before they'd actually pay me. I only worked for them through two paydays. It's ridiculous to have to do that.


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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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