Thursday, October 30, 2008

Update on my first deadbeat client

Remember that deadbeat client I was having problems with a while back? Well, here is the whole sordid story. This will be a long post, so bear with me — it's worth taking the time to read!

My deadbeat client is Bill Cameron, the owner of METROMODE Magazine. His company is called Cameron Ink, Inc. Click here to see his MySpace page (which he recently changed so that it no longer mentions METROMODE, even though it's in the URL).

Basically, I was hired to write for the magazine earlier in the year by Bill's editor. I wrote for the April issue, it was published, I got paid. So far, so good.

The second issue I wrote for was the June issue. It was a double issue, so I wrote a total of three articles. I was also promised a kill fee for an interview that I put a lot of work into, but that just didn't happen. I was owed a total of $325 for this issue, which I was supposed to receive about a week into July.

Shortly after the June issue was released, I received an assignment for the next issue, which was supposed to be released in August. The article was due around the same time I was supposed to receive payment for the June issue. For the August issue I was to be paid $100.

When I didn't receive payment for the June issue, I emailed the editor and discovered that he hadn't been paid, either. I then started emailing METROMODE Magazine's owner, Bill Cameron. Bill claimed that he didn't have the money to pay me yet due to an advertising mixup, but would pay me as soon as the ad revenue for the issue started coming in.

I followed up with Bill once or twice a week over the next several weeks, but the story was always the same: He couldn't pay me yet, but he would as soon as he could. Oh, the details changed — he stopped citing the advertising mixup as his excuse, and started saying instead that it was because he was having to delay the August issue due to the economy; and he talked about a payment plan, but refused to give me any concrete details — but the end result was always the same. No money.

Eventually I began to believe that I was being strung along, so I contacted the editor and the other writers to see where they were at. The editor, I discovered, had been paid in full for the June issue, but not for the August issue. Neither of the other two writers had been paid for either issue. Between the four of us, the amounts owed totaled more than $2,000!

When payment for June was roughly two months late, the four of us sent him an email (via my email address, but approved and signed by everybody) demanding payment for both issues within two weeks, or we would report him as a nonpaying client to WritersWeekly.com, the BBB, RipOffReport.com, etc. Initially Bill's response was to basically threaten to not pay us at all if we reported him. (What he said was that if we reported him, he would put every penny he had into bankruptcy procedings, to ensure that we wouldn't get anything.) Then he changed his mind and started talking about a payment plan.

After some discussion amongst ourselves — because we wanted to be united and unanimous about everything — we decided to accept a payment plan, but only if he would make a first payment of $50 to each of us by the original deadline, and give us concrete dates and amounts for the rest of the payments. At first Bill agreed to this, but then he tried to talk us into a deadline extension. After we refused, he started saying that he couldn't give us a payment schedule, either.

Bill did not meet the payment date, so we went ahead and filed our complaints. You can see the Rip Off Reports here:

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/380/RipOff0380179.htm http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/380/RipOff0380166.htm

WritersWeekly.com also has a Whispers and Warnings forum thread about it:


During Angela Hoy's investigation for WritersWeekly.com, Bill suddenly announced that when the "August" issue finally went to press at the beginning of October, he decided to cut my article, supposedly because he needed the magazine to be shorter if he was going to be able to afford to send it to press. (Since he has repeatedly singled me out as the one "spearheading" the complaints, I am pretty sure I know why he really cut my article!)

Citing a writer's contract that he never gave to us to sign, Bill claimed I was only owed a $50 kill fee for the cut article. Since I have numerous emails back and forth where we discussed payment of the full amount, I refused to back down. Angela also told him that since I did the work, he owed me for the article. Eventually, Bill gave in and agreed to pay me the full amount of $425.

Also during the WritersWeekly.com investigation, Bill said he would pay us each $50 by October 25, and the rest by the end of the November. He said that in early October. Two of us did receive payment on October 25, but since he didn't mail the checks until the day before (why did it take him three weeks?), one person didn't receive their check until October 28, and the other person has yet to receive theirs at all.

We'll see whether he can come up with $2,000 more to pay us all off by the end of November. Since it took him four and a half months to come up with just $50 for each of us, I think I am more than justified in being skeptical!

Finally, I want to warn other writers, especially Colorado freelance writers and Denver freelance writers, about Bill Cameron and METROMODE Magazine. His website contact page was recently updated to say that he is hiring freelance writers. Anyone considering working for him should know that he does not have the money to pay for articles when he assigns them — he apparently doesn't have money at all until his advertisers pay him, after the issue comes out. Judging by the fact that he still owes his last group of writers more than $2,000, I would say this strategy does not work very well!

I ask my fellow freelancers to spread the word that Bill Cameron of METROMODE Magazine is not paying his writers. I just hope anyone considering writing for him will be smart enough to Google the magazine first!

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