I did some work for a friend and charged her less than my regular rate because of our friendship; I was happy to help her, but I was definitely doing her a favor. The total amount I charged came to about $2,000. A couple months after the job was finished, she still hadn’t paid me, and when I finally (nicely) asked about it, she said her business was struggling a little because of the economy but she was going to pay me shortly. As I’m sure you have guessed, she never paid. Now she’s on the offensive–getting angry, acting insulted when I bring it up, crying and yelling, and generally making it impossible to talk to her. My husband, who is a lawyer, called to talk to her about it, and now she is freaking out saying that I am being aggressive by having him call her. Obviously our friendship is over, but I want to know if you think I should continue pursuing collection of my fee or should I let it go and move on? This has been stressful and I just want it to be over.
Let’s pretend you’re in a restaurant.
You order 12 appetizers and some lobster and a rare wine pressed by the feet of albino mice in the 16th century. The total bill comes to $2,000. When the waiter brings your bill, you wave him away and say, “Oh, I can’t pay you right now. Business has been bad lately and I just don’t have the cash. But I swear I’ll pay you just as soon as my next paycheck comes. See you later!”
I don’t think the manager of the restaurant would come out and say, “Okay, sure. Just give me a call when you’re ready to pay. Have a great night!” I think he would most likely have you arrested.
People who hire people to do things for them and then after the fact announce that they’re sorry, they just can’t pay, are HORRIBLE, DISHONEST PEOPLE WHO KNOWINGLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS. (Can you tell this has happened to me before? It makes me very, very, very, angry.) Your friend had to have known the state of her finances; it’s even possible that she asked you to do the work instead of someone else because she thought she could capitalize on your friendship and not pay you.
Treat her as you would any other client who stiffed you: do whatever you have to do to get the money. Don’t be bullied by her behavior; she’s counting on you to back down and run away because she’s being awful and contentious.