Ask A Doula: I didn’t get paid!

I made a big mistake! I told my client they could pay me for my postpartum doula services at the end of the week. I worked for them thirty hours the first week, and they “didn’t have the checkbook” at the end of the week. They said they would pay me Monday, so I came back Monday and worked another 5 hours, and then they asked if I could wait until they got paid the next Friday. She cried with gratitude for how much I helped her and asked me to not hold it against her. Well, somehow I still didn’t get paid that Friday! I finally wised up and am not working for them any more, but I really need to be paid for the 60 hours of work I have already done. Neither of them is answering my calls/texts any more.

Oh, wow, that stinks worse than a big pile of manure, and I am really sorry you’ve been cheated like that. Some people will push and push and take anything they can get from people without regard for others. My answer is going to have two parts: How you can collect now and how you can avoid this in the future.

What you can do now to collect with this client:

  • Send a certified letter through the post office, with signature required.
  • Go to small claims court
  • Offer a payment plan
  • Talk to your accountant about writing it off as bad debt.

What you can do in the future to avoid this happening again:

  • Contract requiring payment in advance – no exceptions!
  • Have – and carry with you – a credit card processing device
  • Have a late fee policy in your contract – find out what your state allows and charge it
  • Do not work without a contract and payment.
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