Collecting on past due invoices

I’ve been working for a company on a freelance basis for over a year until the recent retail shut down. I invoice them monthly & although they have always been slow to pay they do eventually pay, usually on 90 days & with a lot of prodding from me.
Now, they owe me for several months of work, dating back to January. I keep asking for payment & getting the runaround. They have the product I designed and are very happy with it. I was recently told they want to continue to work with me again when things settle down in a few months.
I just want to get paid. It’s a huge company with multiple business channels, they can afford to pay me (and the many others they owe money to) they just choose not to–their philosophy is along the lines of we’ll pay out when money comes in and not before.
I am reluctant to pursue this in court right now, as I that will probably anger them & not get me paid, ever.
Any ideas on how to word my emails to them in a more effective manner that might persuade them to release at least some of the funds?

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Hi Luci,

  1. Contact the account payable or purchasing department and sent a collection letter requesting payment of the invoice (use Legal Business Pro) if this doesn’t work don’t hesitate to contact/cc higher-ups including the president of the company.
  2. If the debt is not too large, the first option you should consider is suing the client in small claims court. The limit is normally between $2,000 and $7,500, depending on your state
  3. If the client owes you substantially more sue the client in Superior court

Now, after they pay and if you want to continue working with this company change your client agreement and start charging more, including late fees and so on,


Last year NYC passed the ‘Freelance isn’t Free Act’. Here is the webpage for information: []

You might also want to reach out to the Freelancers Union for some advice. They sponsor many networking sessions.

I’ve been freelancing for the past 11 years and I’ve been very lucky that over the years, all of my clients have paid me on time. But I also have had many clients that are not in the apparel industry.

Good luck!


Many large companies who use freelancers often forget that for these small vendors, the payment is more meaningful in a personal way than their other large vendors. I suggest you ask the person who hired you to advocate to Accounts Payable on your behalf. Do the leg work for this person by pulling out the section of your contract that shows what the payment time period is. If it is 90 days and that is creating a hardship for you and they like your work, ask if they would consider shortening that. If you have the name of the Accounts Payable person, call and respectfully ask if they can give you insight as to when you will be paid.Tell them what your contract states so they don’t have to go chase it down. I’ve seen them go to the CFO and cut a check within the week.

Hi! I have had a lot of experience with this unfortunately. The good news for you is that they have paid you in the past so if the worst comes you have proof of their intent to pay you.

Sometimes it has taken clients over a year to settle invoices with me. The most important thing is to just keep contacting them every couple of weeks. Sometimes creating a payment plan when they pay you in increments is a good option.

If you NEED the money and you are willing to settle you can always offer a slight discount to just settle it. In my experience if people have paid you in the past, they will eventually pay you it just might take time.

I have never had to go to court, usually contacting them in a friendly and consistent manor does the trick. When that doesn’t work I reach out to the owner of the company or someone else higher up to try to get it taken care of.

What I have learned to put on my invoices to get me paid:
I always put terms in my invoices that say “Net 90 days + interest after 90 days”. I never collect interest I just offer to wave it if they pay. Like I am doing them a favor not to charge them that.

I put an option for 5-10% discount if they pay in the first 10 days of receiving the invoice.

I have always found this webpage helpful: