A Large Canadian Publisher Owes Me Money. What Can I Do?

A Large Canadian Publisher Owes Me Money. What Can I Do?
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Hi Angela,

Throughout my long freelance-writing career, I’ve used your “deadbeat” suggestions as a template for a demand letter at least three times when companies wouldn’t pay me for my work. It worked every time. Well, almost every time. In one case, I was sent partial payment for my work (one-third); then the company went out of business. But I understand that other writers received zero, so even then, the letter worked.

But, what recourse do I have if the publisher isn’t in the United States? Threatening to report them to the attorney general and other U.S.-based organizations won’t work.

I ask because a Canadian magazine owes me money. It’s part of a pretty large, fairly well-known publishing company with a portfolio of several publications.

After I wrote the story to my editor’s specifications, she decided she wanted a much longer, more detailed sidebar, which took a ton of additional time and research, but I cheerfully complied and didn’t ask for more money for the extra work. She said (in writing) that the pieces were great and she loved them, and I have the emails to prove this.

Nearly four months have passed, but I have not received one penny. My editor has been giving me the run-around, telling me that she put a “rush” on my payment (she said this on January 11), and she has sent me a few other emails telling me that she’s asked the accounting department to “find” my invoice.

Realizing that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I contacted the accounting department directly. I asked, “When will I get paid?” I received this beat-around-the-bush response:

“Please accept my apology for the delay in replying. It has been quite a difficult start of the week for me. We are working hard at meeting all of our financial obligations…”

This sounds to me like there are no immediate plans to write that check.

I then wrote a note to the magazine’s editor in chief, who has not responded.

Do you have suggestions for next steps?

-M

Those sounds like a bunch of lame excuses that actually mean they don’t have the money. You definitely want to be the squeaky wheel because I bet they owe a LOT of other people money, too. Whoever squeaks the loudest has the best chance of being paid.

I still recommend using my advice in “More Than One Way to Expose a Deadbeat” because exposing them online will still harm their reputation.

Canada even has their own Better Business Bureau. See: http://www.bbb.org/canada

Let ’em have it! If they can’t afford to pay writers, they should not be HIRING writers! When you don’t have the money to pay someone, yet you “hire” that person anyway (and don’t pay them), that’s a crime – even in Canada.

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