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Any advice on dealing with a consistently late payer?


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#1 RPassacaglia

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 10:11

Currently I spend a couple of days a week travelling to quite a distant town to do home visits, and most of the people I visit for lessons are quite good with payment. If they pay as they go, they pay me while I am there or just before, or they pay for several lessons in advance. All payments are by bank transfer because my business account charges a fortune for any other type of payment, so I don't accept cash or cheques.

 

There is one particular family that I visit in this distant town, and they have two little girls I teach every week. I have been visiting them for a couple of years. The mother is always late paying me and I always have to text to remind her. She pays as she goes, by bank transfer. Eventually I got so fed up with it and reminded her that my terms and conditions clearly state that payment should be on or before the day of the lesson, and I pointed out that because I have to drive a long way to get to her, I am out of pocket until she pays me. She was incredibly apologetic, and told me that she keeps forgetting because she is so busy. The next lesson she sat down while I was teaching her girls and made the payment on her phone, there and then, as it should be. Since then, several weeks have passed and she has gone back to being late and needing reminders. The latest: after last week's lesson I sent her a text reminder three days after the lesson, which is showing as read, and I have had no response or payment. Now six days have passed and I have sent another reminder, but have still received no payment. The next lesson is tomorrow and as it is a long distance to travel without being paid, I'm not sure what to do.

 

One thing worth noting, I am not going to be seeing this family for much longer because they are moving house in a couple of months, and they are going to an area which I won't be able to visit. But, I'm wondering about terminating lessons a bit earlier because I'm fed up with not being paid when I drive such a long way, and it is actually quite a rough area which I don't like driving around on my own.

 

If I say to them that I'm not going to turn up tomorrow because I haven't been paid for last week, I might never get paid. If I do go tomorrow I might get paid for last week and this week, as has happened a couple of times before with them. Then again I might not get paid at all, and then I would be even more out of pocket. Not sure what to do.

 

Edited to add: I have been visiting this family for a couple of years, and the mother has been consistently late for all this time. While I understand that she may be distracted with the house move currently, that hasn't been the case for all the time I have been visiting them.


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#2 Dorcas

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 10:28

RuthP, if they are moving house, then I think the mother is understandably distracted.  However, I would text saying that you accept she has a lot on her plate on the moment, or some such, but explain you will be unable to deliver anymore lessons until payment is made according to your T&Cs.  Basically, acknowledge the position she is in, but refuse to work without payment.  

 

Good luck.


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#3 Norway

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 10:29

I would turn up and ask for the money straight away. If it isn't forthcoming, then don't teach the lesson. If it is, do the lesson and then call it a day. She has had enough chances. Maybe move to payment in advance for each half term with your pupils in future, especially as you are driving a long way.


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#4 RPassacaglia

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 10:31

RuthP, if they are moving house, then I think the mother is understandably distracted.  However, I would text saying that you accept she has a lot on her plate on the moment, or some such, but explain you will be unable to deliver anymore lessons until payment is made according to your T&Cs.  Basically, acknowledge the position she is in, but refuse to work without payment.  

 

Good luck.

 

Yes, good point about her having other things on her mind at the moment, however she has been a consistently late payer for a couple of years. But yes, if I acknowledge how things are for her at the moment, it might help soften the blow. Good idea.


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#5 Norway

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 10:36

Oh and be sure to retrieve any loaned books or other items on your next visit!


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#6 HelenVJ

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 11:04

Pay as you Go never worked for me as a system - it was a constant headache. All my families now pay by bank transfer for a series of 10 lessons upfront, 4 times a year, and reimburse me separately for music books, exam fees etc. This system has reduced the late payment problem considerably, and I've only had one problem family in recent years. Would you be able to invoice your families for 10 (or 5?) lessons in advance?


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#7 ma non troppo

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 11:19

I can't imagine the headache of pay as you go - all those numerous small payments to keep track with! I'd certainly change from this and charge in blocks. When people ask me how much I charge I give the price for a block of lessons, not for each lesson - because taking on a student isn't all about the "contact time" as we all know.

I think I would turn up, demand payment for both lessons and not teach unless I received all payments here and then. But after that I would terminate lessons.
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#8 BadStrad

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 11:45

All my pupils are pay as you go and they all pay on time because if they don't there is no lesson. For families who have been consistently good payers, I've bent my rules twice, and the money was dropped off later in the evening when they'd been to Tesco where there is a cash point. I don't take cheques as time wise it is the same as a lesson to get to the bank and back.

If I were the OP and I had left books at the pupils' house I'd go along, but "remind" the parent to pay me before starting to teach. Otherwise I'd say no more lessons until payment was made. I value my time and I'm not going to waste it on a family who doesn't. And that goes for kids as well as parents. Once I was paid with a pile of coins because dad didn't go to the bank, so the kid raided the piggy bank. Dad wasn't very organised but he only ever missed that once.
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#9 jenny

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 11:45

I charge for 4 lessons in advance and nearly all of my families now pay by bank transfer. I have 3 who still prefer to pay cash but they always pay on time. I text all of my pupils/parents with a reminder the week before payment is due. This seems to work really well. You're in a difficult situation with this family, especially as you travel a long way to teach the children, and you must be quite relieved that lessons with them are stopping soon. I would hesitate about driving to them when you haven't received payment or any replies to your messages. Yes, moving house is stressful, but how long does it take to send a text message? Let us know what you decide to do.  


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#10 maggiemay

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 12:00

I think you pretty much have a consensus here, Ruth - at least as far as ‘getting tough’ is concerned. 

 

It’s not easy - especially if you like teaching the child/ren, and progress is good.

But honestly - two years ? 

It sounds as though mum has had plenty of chances. 

 

All my families (except one) now pay online: I bill twice a term, and the money appears in my bank account. 

The one family who still pays cash is just about the most prompt payer I’ve ever had. 

 

Good luck with sorting this one. 


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#11 RPassacaglia

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 12:22

If I were the OP and I had left books at the pupils' house I'd go along, but "remind" the parent to pay me before starting to teach. Otherwise I'd say no more lessons until payment was made. I value my time and I'm not going to waste it on a family who doesn't. 

 

Luckily I have no books to retrieve from their house, so I am tempted to just say I am not turning up for any more lessons until I have received payment for the last one. But then I won't want to go back anyway even if I do receive the payment I'm due, because I am fed up with constantly chasing up these payments. None of my other current clients are this bad. If I do go tomorrow, I will definitely still terminate lessons early. 


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#12 Misterioso

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 12:52

 

If I were the OP and I had left books at the pupils' house I'd go along, but "remind" the parent to pay me before starting to teach. Otherwise I'd say no more lessons until payment was made. I value my time and I'm not going to waste it on a family who doesn't. 

 

Luckily I have no books to retrieve from their house, so I am tempted to just say I am not turning up for any more lessons until I have received payment for the last one. But then I won't want to go back anyway even if I do receive the payment I'm due, because I am fed up with constantly chasing up these payments. None of my other current clients are this bad. If I do go tomorrow, I will definitely still terminate lessons early. 

 

 

I can fully understand your feeling like this Ruth, and (if it was me) I would go with my gut instinct and not turn up. But when you contact them to let them know, make a point of saying that you must have the money for the last lesson by XX date, and then follow up with an invoice as a reminder. Since you teach two children in the family, it's not an insignificant amount, and regardless whether lessons continue or not (that's your call) she needs to pay her dues.


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#13 Dorcas

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 14:47

 

RuthP, if they are moving house, then I think the mother is understandably distracted.  However, I would text saying that you accept she has a lot on her plate on the moment, or some such, but explain you will be unable to deliver anymore lessons until payment is made according to your T&Cs.  Basically, acknowledge the position she is in, but refuse to work without payment.  

 

Good luck.

 

Yes, good point about her having other things on her mind at the moment, however she has been a consistently late payer for a couple of years. But yes, if I acknowledge how things are for her at the moment, it might help soften the blow. Good idea.

 

 

I missed that they were constant late payers.  Under the circumstances, just text, 'I am unable to attend until payment is made', then if she does pay, terminate due to consistent late payment.  If you want to avoid any bad feeling, as you never know who knows who, then use the softer approach.  Either way, personally I would not keep going back.


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#14 thara96

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 16:02

Lots of suggestions! Good luck!


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#15 DMC

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 17:46

For the sake of your health, sanity, credit worthiness and wealth, always charge up front using a legally recognised signed professional contract.

You'll also find you get fewer cancellations.  :)

 

Late payers - get rid if poss. There's plenty of nice people out there who want lessons and will pay when you ask them to. This late payer is hogging their place! ;-)


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