46

I am an independent contractor for a non-profit. I usually send my invoice to the president who ensures she pays me within a week of sending the invoice. This responsibility was moved to the Treasurer in May and he is yet to pay my June and July invoice.

I sent him an email last Thursday to remind him that my June payment has not been made and I have not heard back from him since then. I saw his response to someone's else email after I sent him the email which means he must have seen my email and I am pretty upset.

I am thinking of sending an email to the president to let her know I have not been paid but I don't want to have issues with the Treasurer since we work together but it will most likely keep repeating itself if I don't do something about it. Any advice for me, please?

The position is a remote position so we don't get to see each other

  • 45
    Does your contract include penalties for late payment? – thursdaysgeek Aug 5 at 23:26
  • 5
    No, it doesn't include penalties for late payment – Bernice Aug 6 at 0:04
  • 95
    "I don't want to have issues with the Treasurer" ... you already do. – Lamar Latrell Aug 6 at 8:43
  • 6
    "I saw his response to someone's else email after I sent him the email which means he must have seen my email" That doesn't follow. Individual emails get lost in transmission sometimes (though not often) and even if he received it he might have accidentally deleted it while intending to do something else. – alephzero Aug 6 at 10:58
  • 2
    Did you make sure your Contract doesn't allow delay of payments for e.g. 3 months? I worked for years as a Contractor for a rather large company and it is common practice for (especially bigger) companies to include a clause that from the moment they receive the invoice, they have till the end of the month + 2 months time to actually process the invoice and issue payment. – TheRealOha Aug 6 at 13:09
94
  1. Call the treasurer. Sometimes email gets lost in transmission, or automatically marked as spam: she could be simply not receiving your email! It's best to resolve this simply if it's a simple problem.

  2. Stop performing work for this organization until they've paid you for the outstanding invoice(s).

  3. Send a final email to the Treasurer and copy the President on the email. Let them know what your acceptable time frame is for receiving the payment.

  4. If they fail to pay the invoice(s) in the time frame you specified then send them a Demand for Payment letter informing them that your next step is to get an attorney involved.

  5. If the Demand for Payment letter doesn't motivate them to pay the invoice(s) then consult an attorney on what your next steps should be.

  6. Make sure that your invoices clearly state your payment terms (Net 15, Net 30, etc.)

  • 142
    All good points but I would: 0. Pick up the phone and call the treasurer. – G. Allen Aug 6 at 1:02
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    +1 for call the treasurer - your emails might be getting marked as spam and he's not seen them, or he's dismissed as spam after a quick scan (seriously I get half a dozen like that per day). Make sure he's seen your emails and knows they are genuine, then you know for sure if this is deliberate or just a mistake. – nurgle Aug 6 at 8:33
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    I would contact the attorney before making the threat of attorney involvement. Plus, what G. Allen said. – mcalex Aug 6 at 8:57
  • 2
    Disagree with stop doing work for them.... Unless you can afford to not work. The work that's been done needs to be paid. – xyious Aug 6 at 18:31
  • It could be that for #1 the treasure was either never informed of the change by the president or somehow there was a miscommunication. So she might be ignoring your emails with a misunderstanding. I think it's best to call the treasurer first as well then escalate to the president. – Dan Aug 6 at 18:40
49

Any advice for me, please?.

You tried sending emails to the Treasurer already, and you have already 2 months due of payment (!). This is what I suggest you do:

  1. Sometimes emails aren't as effective as picking up the phone and calling this person. You can also stand up and walk to their office/cubicle if possible. These ways are more efficient in getting a response from someone.

  2. Explain to this person that your payments have not been done, and that it is highly important for you to have your payment. Politely remind them to complete the payment and ask by when should you expect it to be done.

  3. Wait the amount of time you are willing to wait for the payment to be completed (just, don't wait for another 2 months!).

  4. If that time expires, write an email to the Treasurer, copying the President, and exposing the situation (again) in a professional way (simply state the fact that you are still waiting for your payment and if there is anything you can do to help complete the process). This should be enough for the Treasurer to understand the urgency and pay you, and the President will also be aware of this situation and probably take steps to make sure this doesn't happen again.

  • 3
    Great answer, +1. I would add a couple of bits mind. After calling the treasurer, sending an email follow up with a summary of the conversation goes a long way to documenting the interaction. Also, somewhere between points 2 and 3, I would notify the treasurer of how long I would be willing to wait. This gives you a stronger precedent to escalate after it has passed, rather than it appearing like just leaving the issue to get cold for an arbitrary amount of time. – Jiv Aug 6 at 9:17
  • 1
    I would make 4 a written letter rather than email – user151019 Aug 6 at 14:49
  • good points @Jiv The email will also serve as paper trail (evidence) that the conversation took place and, as you say, make this person realize OP is for real on this – DarkCygnus Aug 6 at 16:15
  • valid suggestion @Jiv although the email has the feature that you can copy to the President (as to make it the last step to escalate). Don't know how you could CC someone in a written letter (perhaps send a physical copy?). – DarkCygnus Aug 6 at 16:16
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    "CC:" stands for "carbon copy". It is a totally obsolete technology, left over from typewriters. It means you made another copy to mail to the CC:'ed recipient. And that's how you CC: someone on a SnailMail letter: you print a second copy and mail it separately. – John R. Strohm Aug 6 at 16:39
10

I am thinking of sending an email to the president to let her know I have not been paid

You should send a reminder to the Treasurer, and CC to the President.

While the President paid you promptly, it's not a huge surprise that the Treasurer would manage vendor invoices more slowly. Still, you want to make sure you actually get paid.

  • 10
    Still, this isn't your problem - Oh, it most definitely is Bernice' problem; she's the one out of pocket. – Justin Aug 6 at 8:40
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    Unfortunately quite a lot of treasurers will have a habit of letting any invoice gather dust for 14-90 days past its due date before even thinking about paying it. If it is important for you to get paid on time, you may need to negotiate an exception. -- Of course it is possible that he is just temporarily behind on work, but I would not count on this. – Dennis Jaheruddin Aug 6 at 12:39
  • Also the treasurer may be unaware that this is more of an employee situation than an invoice from a company (yes I know it is contract work, but regular contract hours/position is different than paying for a rental of some equipment). Plus the Treasurer is probably unaware of the priority that the President previously put on paying this invoice. – Phil M Aug 6 at 17:29
0

You've already got a number of good answers to your specific situation but I'll outline how I handle things like this in general, which can then be used in your specific situation.

  1. Send email to X person about Y issue. Flag said email to follow-up in 2 days.
  2. If you get to day 2 and haven't heard back, Reply All to the email you sent and flag it for follow-up in 2 days. This keeps the thread intact (so you and the recipient can both see the history) and say something like "I never heard back on the email below."
  3. After doing step 2 a couple times (each time adding the reminder flag), I Reply All again and usually add the person's manager and add some polite (but to the point) note like "Is there someone else that help with the issue below? ." That way once you get to the supervisor-type person, you can clearly show the history of your requests without a response.

NOTE: 2 days is just an example period. You should adjust based on the urgency.

In your case, send your first few emails to the Treasurer. Once you've given them a few times to respond, add the President to the thread. If calling is an option, you could definitely go that route if you still aren't making any progress but I would make sure that the email thread is sent to the President before calling. I like to make sure that "the boss" is aware when their reports (the Treasurer) aren't getting things done in a timely fashion.

I don't know where you live but you may have some legal grounds to threaten with since they are so far behind on payments. You'd have to investigate your options there based on local laws.

-2
  1. Get your notes organized, if you haven't already. You need to know exactly when you sent what, where.

  2. If it is not malicious, a call to the Treasurer will resolve the issue. There's a chance it is malicious, so you must record that call (check the local laws to find out if you need to say some magic words when recording). In the call the goal is to agree to a date by which the payment must arrive (do not agree to anything more than 2-3 business days), and after the call you must email a summary of the call - including the date - to the Treasurer. During the call, don't make any threats, don't mention escalation at all.

  3. If the date passes without payment, or the call fails to set an acceptable date, call the president, and take it from there.

This answer differs from a standard billing procedure, because you seem to have a working business relationship you don't want to jeopardize, and multiple successful prior interactions directly with the president.

  • Don't just make a verbal agreement on the phone, that's worth the paper it's not-printed on. Email the treasurer after you hang up to confirm what you just agreed to, and cc the president for good measure. – user90842 Aug 6 at 21:48
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    @GeorgeM It seems you you missed the part where I said you must record that call. It seems you also missed the part where I said after the call you must email a summary of the call - including the date - to the Treasurer. And I advise against escalation at this stage, and instead advise to do that only after that final deadline has been missed, because the OP explicitly mentioned a desire to not escalate when not necessary. – Peter Aug 6 at 21:53
  • Recording a call will land you in jail where I live, that's why I can't take that seriously as legal maneuver – user90842 Aug 6 at 22:03
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    @GeorgeM It seems you you missed the part where I said check the local laws to find out if you need to say some magic words when recording. Recording a call is legal in all Western jurisdictions, and probably all jurisdictions in the world. You may be referring to some jurisdictions where recording a call without informing the other party is illegal, which is something the answer specifically addressed. – Peter Aug 6 at 22:07
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    I think in the USA, CA this is the exception rather than the rule. Most states and provinces in north America will allow single party consent. There are laws in other jurisdictions about unwarranted breaches of privacy including video tape and audio recording where privacy was expected; however in a business context that wouldn't readily apply, it is prudent to record such statements, particularly in the cases of sale made by phone, how without a recording would you be protected? In CA one could defraud people by knowing the caller would be punished for exposing them? Seems absurd. – Quaternion Aug 6 at 23:53
-2

I apologize for the brevity of this answer but it is in fact a very serious suggestion that, your having invested the time to actually perform, would provide you with the absolute best strategies I can think of for negotiating this situation.

  1. Read the book "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss.
  2. Use all the techniques in it.

Example: send an email with the subject "have you given up on responding to my invoice?"

That should get you a response.

  • Are you serious? This answer reads like a joke. – Please stop being evil Aug 7 at 5:39
  • @thedark It sounds like you are feeling upset. Have you read that book? How can you judge the quality of an answer whose content you know almost nothing about? Do you think it’s smart for the OP to take the risk of screwing this situation up because he didn’t take an actually helpful suggestion seriously? And what is driving the attitude behind your comment—have you just completely given up on tact, common courtesy, and constructive guidance? Or are you content to frequently knee-jerk react and then barf all over other people? – CodeSeeker Aug 7 at 5:50
  • No, I'm not upset. I'm a bit confused by your suggestion: "have you given up on settling this amicably?". That's a needlessly aggressive statement that would, with any of the non-profits I've worked with, be a huge red flag that they should consider another contractor rather than continue to be associated with someone who's verbally disgraceful and unprofessional. Treating every situation like a high-stakes negotiation is bad advice, even if we assume the advice in the book you mention without support or explanation is in fact good advice for its intended use case. – Please stop being evil Aug 7 at 6:59
  • It is, however, funny, which is why I wasn't sure you were serious. It's relevant because, since you are serious about this, the answer shouldn't be deleted just because it is wrong-- that's what downvoting is for. Joke answers, however, aren't a good fit for the network, and are certainly delete-worthy. – Please stop being evil Aug 7 at 7:01
  • @thedarkwanderer Now that was way more constructive! Thanks for taking a second pass at it with a more measured and thoughtful attitude. But let me ask you one question. Why would an employee be worried in the slightest about setting off red flags when the employer has already red-flagged the hell out of everything by not paying him for TWO months? That is a high stakes negotiation in my book. How is that not a high stakes negotiation in yours? Is not failing to pay for two months the unprofessional behavior? And disgraceful? How are you getting the opposite out of this situation? – CodeSeeker Aug 7 at 7:02

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