Freeloading ClientsI am sure everyone has come across a client that always tries to make any excuse to avoid paying. They demand lower prices, use tactics to get work done for free, and force business owners to waste time chasing after money. These types are identified as “freeloaders.”

  1. Free Advice Freddy

Problem: A potential client contacts you about doing some work for him. He asks for a written proposal, samples of your work, references, meetings, conference calls … but still he offers no real work.

Solution: To avoid freeloaders receiving free advice, you should establish a time when a contract or payment must be made in order to go further with this customer.

  1. “Sample” Work Suzie

Problem: You’re asked to do sample or “spec” work, for which you won’t be paid, to ensure you’re a good fit. But somehow, the work is never up to par, no matter how many hours you spend redoing it.

Solution: Don’t offer time up to clients who are not going to pay. Instead, put together a portfolio with information and your best work that potential clients can refer to. Also try and ask yourself if you really want to deal with a client who will constantly be asking for things to be redone.

  1. Do More Danny

Problem: You’re hired to do a job that you’re really excited about. You’ve signed a contract stating that you’ll do the work at an agreed-upon price, and you’re confident about your ability to complete it in the time allotted. But shortly after you get started, the client calls you and says, “I forgot to tell you, but we need this other thing done, too. Can you take care of that as well?”

Solution: Include in the contract that if the scope of the job changes, extra charges will be made. Also note that if the client is being vague, you must get clarification. This is another way that freeloaders can trick you into doing more work for less money.

  1. Commitment Issues Cynthia

Problem: One of your clients is keeping you busy … too busy. In fact, her constant changes and updates are eating up all your precious time. But it’s not making you any extra money. Until it’s done, she won’t pay you, but it seems it’s never done because the client keeps changing her mind.

Solution: Make the amount of revisions you are willing to do apparent in the contract. Go through all the details of the job beforehand with your client so that you both are aware of the costs of redoing the work.

  1. Bargaining Billy

Problem: A potential client contacts you about a job and asks for an estimate. You work up what you know to be a fair rate for such a job, but the client thinks this is an opportunity to try haggling with you over the price, and insists that he knows other people who will do the same work for less.

Solution: To avoid this situation you must hold your ground and justify to your client why your prices are so. Try and explain the value you provide for that rate over your competitors. You can also assure him that you’ve set a fair rate, but if he truly thinks he can get the work done elsewhere for less money, he should probably go ahead and do it.

  1. Excuses Elizabeth

Problem: A client who, by all appearances, seems completely normal and pleasant, completely changes after you send your invoice. All of a sudden, everything in her life is falling apart and keeping her from being able to pay you… but she’ll “put the check in the mail as soon as I can.” You never receive it.

Solution: In these cases, you have to stand your ground. Refer to the contract that you made and let your client know that you are not afraid to take legal action in order to be paid. You can also receive help from a collection agency to assure that you will be paid for the work you have done.

When you notice a potential client showing these freeloader symptoms, the best thing to do is to avoid them and not accept their business.

However, if stuck in a situation similar to the ones above, the best way to stop the freeloaders from winning is to have a concise contract. This contract goes over all the instances in where toxic clients can fool you and protects your work from being undervalued.

You must also make it apparent to your toxic client that you have a collection agency if they are reluctant to pay for your work, and that you are willing to take legal action.

Thank you Steve for this article and thank you all for listening.


Edited article by Emily Sutton on