Top five client excuses for not paying

So 2013 is approaching and I'm betting, like me, that many of you will be wondering when your clients are going to pay you. For example, of my nine accounts, three have just assured me that payment is “being processed'“. Great! Of course, the fact that these payments are for July 2012 is of no consequence …

Clients, God love 'em, are our bread and butter. Without them, we cannot function. Yet they seem to not understand that, in order for us to function – as in have the time to ensure their press release finds its way to somewhere slightly more well-known than Jhumri Telaiya Times – they do, occasionally, need to pay us.

Now I could go into a proper rant about this but, quite honestly, it wouldn't fit into 400 words. So instead I'm going to list my top five client excuses for not paying. Now these are not made up, the emails are actually there in my inbox and have been for some time. I take them out sometimes and cry – no actually, I moan, but I think that's healthier. Below are my top five – one of which was sent to me twice in a year by the same client who must have some kind of standard email called "Excuses to stall payment for a month". I wish I could name and shame, but I have standards and lack the freedom that journalists have!

1. “So sorry for the delay. We moved office last month and things have been a bit hectic." – Sent six months after payment was due.

2. "I think we paid you. I'll check with the girl who managed your account. She actually left but I'm sure someone else manages it now. I'll find out and get back to you ASAP." – This was sent twice in one year and it still cuts deep.

3. "Well – you did promise that we would have one opinion piece which was not achieved. I'm aware that you over-achieved on features, interviews and response but I'm not happy." – We were five more features, six more interviews and 23 pieces of coverage over target... bigger picture please Mr. Client!

4. "Could you send me the invoice again. So sorry. Actually I'm on holiday for a month from tomorrow but there's really no one else this can go to." – Two words: Down. Tools.

5. "Apologies, but we are going to have to reduce our retainer. We'd like to back-date this if possible." – My personal favourite.