How Do I Handle an Unpaid Invoice?

How Do I Handle an Unpaid Invoice?

Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose – author of TimePeace: Making peace with time – and I am a business and efficiency coach that specializes in time management, project management and work-life balance strategies. I help busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff. I have a knack for taking big ideas and converting them into smart, sound, and actionable ideas.

At the end of the day, I transform the way you run your business into a business you love to run.

Today’s comment came from a busy professional and an entrepreneur:

How do I handle an unpaid invoice?

I am looking for some advice regarding an unpaid/disputed invoice.

I recently did some work for a large construction company, which was on a labour-only basis. Unfortunately, I never signed a contract.

The materials were constantly being ordered late and it took even longer getting the contractor to source the correct materials. This resulted in many wasted visits to the site, which I invoiced for.

Then, as the job was overrun and with the wrong materials on site, I was asked (verbally) to do what I had to do to get the water to 136 flats. I did what was asked and after rectifying a small leak everyone was happy and I left the site.

I have since invoiced the company and after a few weeks of no reply I am now told that the leak has caused damage. I don’t believe this is true and they also charged me for a outside contractor to come in and rectify snagging items. I made a credit note to them for over £2000 to off set against a £4500 invoice just so I could wash my hands with them and at least receive some payment.

They have not paid the remainder of what I invoiced for and I also don’t understand where I stand as I was NEVER asked to return to site to rectify the snagging but they expect me to pay someone else who has.

You have learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, without anything in writing (an explicit contract), there is very little you can do (without great additional expense and time on your part).
Best recommendation is to design a Contract Template right now – and commit to using it going forward. Create your contract with the mindset that you will hit some problems on this project (with materials, weather, subcontractors and even payment). Try to cover those typical issues as clauses and contingencies in your contract.
If you create a detailed Contract Template – then you can customize it per client (assured that you have covered all the important issues). If new issues come up – add those clauses to your contract template so it will be covered in the future.


You don’t have to marry the first person you date. Each person you interact with will give you better clarity on who you really want as a partner.

Consider the salesman quote: “SWSWSW-Next.” In this instance, this means, “Some will work, some won’t work; So What; just investigate the next opportunity.

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