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Home » Blog » Delivered What You Promised? We Won’t Pay.

Delivered What You Promised? We Won’t Pay.

Posted on February 12th, 2015 by Gecko Recruitment

woman with fingers in ears

You have delivered what you promised, you breathe a sigh of relief, but then they drop the bombshell:

“We won’t be paying you the full fee because….”

The excuses may range from the mundane to the ridiculous, but the outcome is the same. They won’t be paying a portion of the fee. In recruitment terms, this often means the final payment (that can be from 33-66% of the total fee). In their eyes, this is justified, but for you it often comes out of the blue, and it is a body blow. Inside, your blood is boiling, but how should you react?

Well, we all have different negotiating styles, but I would like to share my take:

There are three scenarios (to which should be added the nuance of how important this client is to you and how much you want to work together again):=

1. There were issues with the project, and you weren’t expecting the full fee.

2. There were issues with the project, but receiving the fee is fair in your view.

3. The project delivered on its objectives with no issues. The full fee is due.

So, taking these scenarios one by one:

1. If there are serious problems with the project, you should be openly talking about the consequences as the project goes on. Rather than expect them to spell out the costs to their business at the end and then enter a protracted negotiation as to how much they will be paying you, it is better to assess things and at least agree a ballpark figure on the potential discount. The damage to the relationship is minimised, and they will appreciate your honesty. Mistakes happen, but sometimes you have to hold your hands up and take financial responsibility. This is irrespective of whether or not you want to work together again.

2. There were a few minor hiccups along the way, but nothing that has had a material effect on the client. In this scenario, the most common stance is to continue to the conclusion but to be expecting a discussion about the fees. This is the most difficult scenario as unless you have a highly prescriptive contract, it is open to interpretation. Only agree to significant fee amendments if you work in a limited market or are keen to retain the client’s loyalty for the future. Otherwise, you should negotiate hard. You have earned that money, and you have every right to expect to receive as much as possible.

3. You have delivered to the letter of the contract with no issues whatsoever. In this case, if a client backs out of the deal you should be extremely firm. There is no negotiation here. Gather all the supporting materials and provide them with a watertight case that you should be paid the full amount. Stick to your guns. If it is a small amount, they will not want to spoil their reputation in the market, and will often back down in the face of resistance (most bullies do). If it is a large amount, you have every right to take them to court, so don’t enter into negotiations at all. Inform them that you will be talking to your solicitor – and let your solicitor handle the rest. It doesn’t matter whether you want to work with this business or not, don’t let yourself be bullied. If you let it happen once, it will happen again.

This has happened to me a few times – usually the final scenario where someone is just trying it on to get a discount at the last step instead of at the outset. Recently I faced a scenario two but I backed down a little in the interests of long-term business. These are tricky situations that can make or break relationships – good luck with your choices.

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