Pick Up the Phone
While it's better to have correspondence in writing, you may get antsy wanting to make a simple phone call to clear the matter up. Most of us give people the benefit of the doubt. Even after being ignored, we still want to believe it's just a miscommunication somewhere in the company and that their true intentions are to pay you.
If you're ready to make a call, don't go nuts with the speed dial. Just contact the business manager. Remember, this is the person who writes the checks and is the last person you sent a letter to.
When you get in touch with this person, you can ask if they received your letter. This will open the door for them to discuss your situation. They'll say they have no idea what you're talking about, tell you the check's in the mail or they'll start telling you why they're not planning on paying you.
If they say they don't have any idea what you're talking about, offer to fax everything you sent to them via mail. If the check is on the way, tell them you're glad to hear it and look forward to receiving it. If they say they're not planning on paying you, find out their reasoning and then move to the next step if it seems as though the conversation isn't going to get you anywhere.
You can send a certified letter to a particular person to make sure you're invoice and letter is received or even to let them know you're planning on taking this to the next logical step. What you'll often find with certified letters is that they're usually ignored or not signed for.
Certified letters are more beneficial to you when you're prepared to take the battle to court. Your certified letter can let the client know you're about to file a lawsuit to get the money you're owed.
Tell them if you don't hear from them by a certain date, you're headed down to court to file the papers. Just be sure you give them another reasonable amount of time and don't send your certified letter on a Monday with the demands that you receive your check by Friday.
When to Get Down and Dirty
Your politeness has gone unnoticed. It's clear this client is going to avoid you at all costs and, unfortunately, that cost is to you.
This is the time when you take your battle to court if you're interested in pursuing this further. Many lawyers will give you advice for free on the phone on how to handle your case. Many TV stations also offer legal shows or have legal segments, on occasion, where you can get free answers to your legal questions.
Unfortunately, if you're at this stage, you're standing at a road most freelancers don't have to deal with. You should get paid for the work you've done, though, so your only options are to sue or write this whole experience off and move on without taking any action.
The Client Relationship
Most freelancers find their payment issues resolved with the business manager and they don't have to deal with phone calls, certified letters and/or lawsuits. If you've followed the politeness rules, the client shouldn't have any problems dealing with you in the future. However, the big question is -- do you want to do business with them?
If you are going to have to fight for your money every single time you complete a project, you may find it's better to let that client deal with some other freelancer. Sometimes it's best to be the one to walk away from a troubled client or you may find yourself at some point having to deal with phone calls, certified letters and/or lawsuits with this very client.