I’m An April Fool

Today is the first anniversary of a business transaction that’s likely to haunt me for a while, as well as a milepost on an economic road that seems to have a lot of potholes.

In the middle of last winter, I got a call from a local multimedia company with which I was well-acquainted. In fact, it was the first place I’d applied for a job in the multimedia business back when I first got involved with Director, although they didn’t hire me. But I got to know some of the principles back in the pre-Internet era, when I worked on the newsletter for the Oregon chapter of the International Interactive Communication Society (long defunct) and one of the company’s co-owners was the president of the chapter (later, things got so bad that I was the president of the chapter, but that’s another story).

In following years, I did a couple of subcontracting projects with them, most notably a series of Shockwave3D articles for Intel’s Game Developer site. Never a problem working with them, never a problem getting paid.

So it was without any trepidation that I agreed to do some Flash work for them last February when one of their developers left, signed the contract, worked in their office, etc. As called for in the contract, I invoiced at the end of the month, which meant a smallish invoice for February, then a good deal larger for March (which was dated 1 April 2008). Payment was 30 days from invoice, so even though I hadn’t gotten a check for my 1 March invoice by the time I wrote out the 1 April invoice, I wasn’t concerned; I had six weeks of solid work under my belt with a company I’d done plenty of business with in the past. And even after another week had gone by, when I was asked to make a few minor changes just after getting back from a trip to Phladelphia and getting the smart car, I didn’t have any compunctions about it. That is, until the company principles pulled me aside after I’d made the changes and said that they couldn’t pay my invoices.

And that’s where the saga gets unpleasant. It’s not as if I’ve been swimming in work for the past couple of years, so there’s no guarantee that if I hadn’t taken the project at Planet Productions that I would have been earning any money during that period, but it’s possible. What really torques me off about it though is that there’s no way they didn’t know weeks before that they weren’t even going to be able to pay my invoice from work for February, which was less than a third the amount of the invoice for March’s work.

The first payment I got covered my 1 March invoice. I got it in October. A month later I got about a third of the amount on my 1 April invoice. It’s been nearly five months since I saw anything. So far, about 47% of the total amount I invoiced has been paid. Today’s the anniversary of the largest of the three invoices.

April Fool.