Stop check fees are a part of doing business March 2, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
I am currently in the process of deciding if I ever want to work for this client again, and it is all over a $31 stop payment fee. The long and short of the story is an agency that I worked for twice in 2010 owes me about $1400 for a job I did for them in early December. The payment was overdue by 30 days, so I sent them a reminder. They informed me that they had mailed the payment on December 31st. Turns out they mailed it to my old address since that is the address they had for me on file. I haven’t lived there since June 1, 2010. My former landlady had contacted me in early January to tell me that I had received some mail at the old address (including what looked like a check) and asked for my address to forward it to me. Needless to say she didn’t and when I called her again two weeks ago she told me she would, but still hasn’t.
I contacted the client for them to reissue the check. They told me they would have to stop payment on the check, and they would be charging me the stop payment fee. Even though the problem happened through absolutely no fault of my own. They claim it’s my fault because they say I didn’t notify them when I moved. My correct address was on the invoice, and oddly enough none of my other clients have had problems updating my address or sending payments and 1099-MISCs to the correct address.
Legally I am correct, but in order to get paid I am going to have to eat the stop payment fee. What is up with agencies feeling they can pass on fees like this onto the little guy? If I have to stop payment on a check it’s not like I can pass the fee on. I would never charge the Illuminating Company or even one of my subcontractors a fee to stop payment on a check I wrote them. It’s part of doing business and should be written off by the company. Am I wrong in feeling this way? Agency owners, what say you? The opinion on the Business Practices listserv was either that it was silly of the agency to charge me the fee or just write it off and not quibble about $31 in the grand scheme of things.
I can tell you this though… there are some major negative feelings on my end towards this client, and I will not be working with such a petty, nickle-and-dime agency in the future. Since I only translated this job at the end of 2011, two jobs for them in 2010 and several in 2008, this won’t be that big of a loss. There are plenty of other good agencies out there that value their translators. All over a stupid $31 fee that they could have easily written off as a business expense. I hope it was worth it to them.
Update: I received the replacement check (for the full amount) today and in response to my e-mail letting them know and thanking them I received this e-mail:
Accounting told me that your old check came back to us, I guess your landlady never sent it to you, but to us. So we have re-sent it to the new address. Therefore, don’t worry about extra charges 🙂
All’s well that ends well.