Getting Paid, when they are not paying

Anybody who has been in business and especially freelancers soon or later runs into someone who will not pay for services rendered.

Usually us freelancers are on the “bottom” of the list when the money gets tight and the company has to decide whom to pay. As a graphic/website designer my work is easily transferrable to someone else…..

And so it was. I was working for a company where the marketing director worked in the States and the research, and management were here in Israel. In general it worked out fine as the marketing guy in the States and I got along just great and payments were regular and on time…until they weren’t.

At one point they started to get sporadic and late, not too late but enough for me to take notice. When we were two invoices behind and I was still working, I decided that it was time to stop the work or at least threaten to.

However my threat to stop working is limited as I wrote, I’m easily replaceable, so the strategy had to be different, more personal.  The marketing guy was coming to Israel in a few weeks and of course I had reserves then as well, but perhaps could use to my advantage.

The background: The marketing guy was an ex marine who infact trained in an Israeli army base in the Negev (where the IDF trains for urban warfare in a fake arab village (complete with broken cars in the street). The CEO of the company was an ex Israeli Paratrooper. Since I’ll be coming from reserves, I’ll just make sure that I’m a bit dirty and that my weapon is outfitted with some kind of optic site (we don’t always get them but they look cool-and they work well.)

The Plan: Simply to spend more time talking about the army and our experiences and less about being paid. (Paying me, the graphic artist is not really going to affect their bottom line, its  just easiest not to do). Once were all “friends” and we have something strong in common, it will be harder for the CEO not to pay me, especially with the Director of Marketing pushing for me as well.

I enter the CEO’s office and meet the Marketing guy for the first time (a big guy 180cm, wth a tattoo on his army-something to do with the marines.). He quickly looks me over, notices the boots (dirty), the army shirt hanging out (very typical israeli reserve), and of course the weapon, I notice a small smile). A quick introduction and we all sit down, but now for attention getter: I sit but have to take out the double magazine from my pants pocket as its uncomfortable, so I stand up take it out, look to where to put it and put it down on the floor next to my weapon which is between me and the marketing guy.

He looks at it, looks at me and with his eyes asks if he can pick it up. I tell him feel free.  He picks up the double magazine (a double magazine is two magazines together, in Israel we tape them together, using electrical tape and a cheap metal “cup” on the bottom). I did an especially nice job of taping my two magazines together, knowing full well that in the Marines they have a special piece of equipment that does that and they don’t use electoral tape. It was however a conversation starter….

So the next hour was spent on Army stories, equipment failures, the value of electrical tape, etc. My late payments? well that was taken care of as well, that was mentioned as I got up to leave and return to my unit. (actually I was going home for a few hours and see my family first)

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