Unpaid invoice for freelance work

18 posts in this topic

Posted

It just occurred to me that a company I did some work for still owes me money from August 2009. I sent out several reminders last year, but it was kind of forgotten about. I am not in Germany at the moment, so I can't send them a Mahnbescheid. It was not a huge amount, but is it too late to try to claim it back?

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Posted

No peachy, you're still good.

 

Have a read here.

 

It basically says that from 31st Dec 2009, 3 years onwards your payment request gets invalid, not sooner. So you still got a bit less then 2 years. However, I'd swing in action immediately.

Good luck!

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Posted

Not sure of the legal side of things, but from a business relationship point of view I'd only follow it up now if you did ask a few times for payment, you can write to them explaining that having looked back at your accounts you found an 'anomaly' and would like this invoice paid asap and be helpful with it telling them if they need further information to help make payment to get into contact (and make sure you re-send/attach the invoice).

 

If you didn't chase payment previously then it's going to look like you don't know what you're doing if you ask now (certainly don't ask for payment if this is a current/repeat customer as that will tick them off a treat), just make sure you don't do it again.

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Posted

Hi Peachy,

 

According to German law you can still ask them for your money and you can still send them a Mahnbescheid although you are not in Germany. The reason for this was because you were offering your services in Germany to German based customers. So all parties are responsible and liable under German law.

 

Send them a reminder and if they do not respond write to them again in a polite tone stating that your lawyers will sue them. This is how it is done in Germany.

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Posted

That might be the way things are done from a strictly legal standpoint, but dcgi's advice is rock solid from a business point of view. Is it a significant amount?

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Posted

Ok... So I will tag my question here...

 

On Saturday 4th April 2010, I attended a clients house and gave a quote for installing satellite...

 

The quote was accepted and I did the work immediately..

 

The Following Monday, I sent the invoice.. ( Not a trivial amount)

 

About 6 weeks later, I sent a reminder, by normal mail..

 

Another 6-8 weeks passed and I sent a second reminder... Still no Payment

 

A few weeks later, I sent third reminder... Normal Post!

 

So, a week or 2 after that, I sent the first official "Mahnung" Einschrieben mit rückschein..

 

This came back to me, UN-signed for.

 

So, I drove to the Property to hand in the second Mahnung by hand.

 

When I got there, the house was empty, letterbox sealed and the antenna was removed!

 

I have contacted one of the "co-owners" and he asked who the invoice was adressed to.

 

It was actually in his wifes name, but in the mean time, they got divorced, She has moved back to Ireland.

 

He Kindly gave me their Her lawyers details, but they havent answered my mail. His wife hasnt answered her mail. and he has sold the stuff that was installed and not paid for!

 

So, The Husband was the one who gave me the "go-ahead" but his wifes name was always on the invoices as she was the one who inittially contacted me for other satellite work before they moved to this new property..

 

How would you suggest that I proceed with claiming the unpaid invoice? Can I claim intrest on the debt from 2010?

 

The husband is still here in Munich.

 

I dont know where he lives exactly, but Many TTers Know him, so it shouldnt take much to find his address!

 

Thanks for reading!

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Posted

I hope Sarabyrd can chip in here as I am sure she know the correct answers, but out of my own little legal understanding in this matter:

 

1. if you have set in one of your due-notices/official Mahnung a date from which onwards you would demand interest, then of course you can claim the interest ever since this point in time. AFAIK it is however necessarry that in some of your invoices or due-notices you gave a clearly defined period of time after which you would claim xyz% of interest in order to be entitled to do so. Could be, however, that after such a bad case of fraud - which it seems to be - you have also other legal claims for interest from the HGB or BGB anyway, not sure though

 

2. If the husband sold something that was not paid and from where he must have know that is was not paid for yet he is in deep shit legally - because that is either fraud or embezzlement as you cannot sell something that does not belong to you. At the same time the buyer is also in trouble as you can't become legally owner of something stolen, either, not even in good consciousness (i.e. if you believed the owner was the right/correct owner).

 

3. one problem may occur from your invoice being for the wife and having received the go-ahead from the husband - but that does not allow him to sell your goods/property to someone else.

 

Wish you best of luck, what a Wixer.

 

Cheerio

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Posted

is it why you were looking for this dude http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=225908???

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Posted

Hi,

I'm a web designer and 3 weeks a go I did a freelance job, which was a logo development for a company that whats to invest in star-ups.

I work for 5 days and they don't want to pay me.

I have send 2 invoices.

Can someone be so kind and tell me if there some free legal advice in Berlin?

Or what to do next.

They also told me that they were going to tell the design community that I was a bad designer if I wanted payment.

Is this consider a treat under German law?

I also told them we can consult a design company, so they can be sure this is the time it takes.

They didn't answer.

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Posted

After you send all the appropriate Invoices, Reminders and Notice Letter by registered mail; then you can go after them with the Mahnbescheid. Having done the same IT work many years ago, I'd recommend working on a COD basis (i.e. please have the company cheque ready when I leave for the day/week). :ph34r:

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Posted

berlin978 - if you did the work 3 weeks ago, it is a little early to be thinking about Mahnung. Did you agree with the client that payment would be made immediately on receipt of invoice? The standard here (and somebody chime in if I'm wrong and it is just usus) is a month from date of receipt of invoice before they have to pay.

 

However, the statement later in your post that they don't want to pay you at all seems a little strange. What kind of agreement did you have about payment? Did you make them a written offer for your work?

 

As an aside, I see you are a US citizen. Do you actually have a permit for freelance work?

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Posted

Let me rephrase that. Were they happy with your work, is there some reason they would not want to pay? Have you provided "Terms of Trade" on your invoice? I.e. "Payment Strictly COD", "Payment Terms Strictly 7 days"? Have you confirmed in some way that they actually have received your invoice. Did you speak to anyone at their office? Or even better, maybe you can you walk over there, hand them an invoice and politely ask them that you expect to be paid within the terms.

 

I assumed some of these basics may have been covered off. :rolleyes:

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Posted

I hope the OP and others have resolved their problems by now.

 

I'm also having trouble getting some invoices paid and I've also got a question for everybody out there about these so called "Terms of Trade" on invoices. I followed some template for writing German invoices a while back, and I have "ZAHLUNGSFRIST : Fällig zum angegebenen Datum" next to "ZAHLUNGSTERMIN : (a date which is at least 2 weeks away from the RECHNUNGSDATUM)" , but that's about the extent of any terms I've got on there.

 

I've been sending my invoices and communication electronically, but the customer doesn't reply to the emails so there's no confirmation that she received them, although I know she got them because I've spoken to her in person. I've sent them a couple of times (they date February-June..they were piling up because I continued to do work for her) and also a friendly reminder in mid July for the whole lot.

 

So what do you guys think:

a) What else should be stated on a German invoice, if anything?

B) How to proceed getting my money if this is a (German) customer I'm still dealing with/want to deal with again in the future regardless.

 

Thanks.

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Posted

naushikaa,

even if you send your invoices by email as a courtesy, you should always send them by snail mail if you do want to be sure of getting paid in Germany. German courts have consistently taken the line that the only proof of receipt of documentation is either the confirmation receipt of a registered postal delivery or hand-delivery by a messenger who may be called as a witness.

 

Case laws on this aspect have been established based on a variety of reasons ranging from existing postal regulations and guarantees, statutory contract law, through to the possibilties of local hardware, software or network interruptions causing failures of email delivery. Curiously you have a better chance of a court accepting the receipted printout of a fax as proof of delivery, but that is still not deemed to be as reliable as the Post.

 

Anyone in Germany who already has poor morals when it comes to paying their bills is unlikely not to take advantage of such commonly known chances to extend their credit. Send your invoice by post and, if it's not paid in 30 days, follow it with a reminder that it's past due with a notice stating that if funds are not credited to your account within 7 days collection costs and interest at *% over usual bank rate may be added. After that send a final demand including a small (no more than post & admin costs) mahnung fee for late payment, by registered letter with delivery confirmation receipt, (Einschreibenbrief mit Empfangsschein).

 

* 2-3 % over that month's bank interest rate is common - if set too high it may be obviously unenforceable and thus not taken seriously.

 

2B

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Posted

I only send an invoice by post as a second reminder. So it's a step you'll need to take eventually if the invoice hasn't been paid, but not one you need to automatically take with every invoice unless you really want to.

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Posted

I have a slightly more niche issue than an invoice that has simply been unpaid. The company I work for are currently simply disputing the quantity of money I am invoicing for.

At the beginning of March I was moved from one team to another. I had previously had a standard wage that was agreed upon many months ago and had been consistently paid. I was moved onto a team that has a set pay structure (largely performance based), however there was no conversation between and any manager that my pay was being changed to this structure, so I have been working for the whole of March on the assumption that I would be paid as I have been for the last 6 or so months.

I am guessing that since there is a very solid precedent for me having worked for a particular rate, I will have a legal basis to expect that rate until I have been told otherwise. Does anyone have any information on this and what steps I would have to take to put pressure on them should it come to this.

Would it simply be the same process of Mahnung and Mahnbescheid for the difference?

If I do not refuse the smaller sum of money in order to get some of it, does this perhaps make my position less strong to get the remainder?

 

I would be extremely grateful of any advice.

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Posted

Contracts take precedence over precedents, what does your contract say?

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Posted

thanks fr the reply yorkshirelad.

my contract says nothing about pay.

It is extremely vague as up until now I had pretty much just been getting a flat rate per month.

Previously I had always agreed pay structure directly with the CEO, so when I was demoted at the beginning of the month my position is that since he made no mention of a pay change for me directly, despite having a one-on-one conversation about the change of task, there was no reason for my pay to change.

Their argument is that since I was in a group meeting with the rest of the team where a new bonus structure was explained, I tacitly agreed to this pay by not actively taking issue with it.

Once again thanks for any advice.

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