003When you are a work-from-home contractor, the odds say that you will at some point deal with a sketchy client. Whether it is a cheap client who doesn’t want to pay you or an unstable one who seems to enjoy making your life miserable, I’ve noticed that there are always red flags in the early stages of the client-freelancer relationship to let you know what is coming.

One of the biggest, reddest red flags there is concerns your payment. Specifically, it concerns clients who don’t pay you – or pay you wrong – and refuse to fix it in a timely manner.

An Aggravating Example from My Own Personal Experience

It was Fourth of July weekend and I was spending time with my husband’s family up north. The weather was great and the soon-to-be-husband and I were enjoying a pleasant afternoon on Mackinac Island. Desperate to expand my collectable plate collection, I checked my bank account to see if my paycheck had been deposited.

Much to my surprise and elation, it had. However, my “big” client at the time had deposited two checks into my account. One for the amount they owed me and one for another $150. Always one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I quickly emailed someone in charge to ask about the extra money. After some confusion, they informed me that there were two Elizabeths working for them at the time and they had paid me for both.

Mind you, I don’t understand what a common first name had to do with it, but I was willing to roll with it. I was told “that it’s much easier to just withhold $150 from my next payment” and to enjoy the extra cash while I was traveling.

Swell, right? Wrong.

On the next paycheck, they withheld $300. I quickly sprang into angry email mode and asked for my 150 bucks back. After much hemming and hawing, they told me that they would correct it on the next payment.

This was not okay by me.

Don’t Ignore the Flag

Ultimately, I convinced them that they should pay me the amount I was owed on the spot – which they did. However, that first payment issue was a major red flag that I ignored. In the six months I spent working with that client I had six distinct payroll issues, all of which were blamed on the fact that there was a different freelancer with the same first name.

Learn from me, run far, far away if the client can’t handle paying you correctly.