Would you use Social Media to chase non-payers?

In December of last year, I was contacted by a recent graduate of our All You Need to Know to sew workshop, asking if she could book a private session. She had seen a high street skirt that she wanted to make for her university aged daughter, who was due to return for the holidays in a few weeks time. She didn’t have a pattern (just an image of the skirt) and had only just started to sew a few weeks earlier. It seemed like a very tall order – think redwood tree tall – but she was adamant she wanted to make this for her daughter, so we arranged a date and three hours worth of my time.

The day came and went without much fuss – we were close to finishing the skirt, but I wasn’t concerned that she wouldn’t be able to finish it at home (which she had said she was happy to do). She had an architect’s degree and taught at a local college – she was an intelligent woman who understood the basic structure of what we were trying to do.

A few weeks after our session, I sent an email via Facebook asking for payment, which came to just under £70.  Her reply was that she was putting a cheque in the post and thanked me for reminding her.

I am going to cut to the chase and tell you that as I write this (the evening of 1 April), I have not had any payment from her. She had (supposedly) posted cheques (lost!) and then asked for bank details to send the funds.

I come from a background that it isn’t what you say that is important, it is what you do.

And what she is doing is actively not paying her bill.

The money isn’t the issue for me – I promise you £70 isn’t going to make or break me. But what causes me to get my knickers in the biggest god almighty twist is that a few weeks after we had our private session, she emailed me to tell me that she had decided to make the jump and start her own line of lino prints to sell-here is a quote from her e-mail:

“It’s all new and needed some courage to go public. Difficult to get these home-based things off the ground, and your studio has provided me with lots of inspiration!”  

Not paying someone who is part of the creative profession (when you too, work in that same field) is unforgivable.  We work really hard to share the love of what we do and having someone refuse to pay you is like a huge kick in the creative nether regions.  It was wrong – just plain wrong.

It was then that I realised how lopsided social media can be with regards to the ratings that we small businesses strive to achieve. The barometer of how well we are at what we do gets played out every day in social media – by how many stars out of five we are given, reviews that are left and even how quickly we reply to queries. If we don’t perform, we don’t survive.  But someone can come into your business, use your services and then hide behind the anonymity of their screen to avoid paying their bill.

Or can they?

What would you do if you knew that person’s Facebook page?

Or their Twitter handle?

Or (in this case) their newly created Facebook business page?

Would you “out them” on their own social media accounts about their non-payment?

We have had many a heated discussion about this over the last week when the idea of it was first brought up over dinner. I personally, am a bit uncomfortable with the notion of chasing someone via Tweets and Posts but then as was pointed out by a very reasonable, level headed, friend “they don’t seem to be too uncomfortable with not paying you”.

Ouch. 

Truth hurts.

So what would you do? Would you use the power of social media to get them to pony up on their payment?

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