HELP! I paid for a service I did not get.
What do I do?
1. Let’s break this down a little bit.
What evidence do you have?
- A contract
- An email/FB message/text any communication - even voice message can be helpful
- Nothing except a verbal conversation.
Obviously, I recommend you get things in writing because it is easier to trace things back when they are written, especially from an email server or in an instant message or text. A contract is even better because the contracts should be pretty clear. If you don’t understand a contract - do not sign it.
Don’t worry if you don’t have anything in writing, it doesn’t mean everything is lost, but it does make things trickier to “prove”, if you take the matter to court.
2. What were the terms of the agreement?
- Payment amount
- Time frame
- Who, what, why, where, when and How would it be delivered?
This mainly links back to any written documentation because the devil is in the detail. Any contract worth its salt should have all of these details set out, and any business owner who is trying to do the right thing, should be following this up with an email explaining everything clearly. If you find yourself mixed up with someone who is shifting things around and making changes, etc., chances are that haziness is either (1) a sign of disorganisation or (2) a sign of shadiness. Either way, you need to be ensuring you are clear about this.
The terms of the agreement set out the expectations of both parties - you and them. If they can’t do that, I would be questioning their ability to run their business effectively.
There are plenty of people out there on the internet - there will be someone else who can deliver the service, trust me.
3. Did you pay anything?
- How much did you pay in full?
- What was that for? deposit/full amount/part payment?
Make sure you can link the payment directly to the service you are complaining about. Sometimes online traders start offering something small, and then add on things sprinkled with free gifts or “pay what you can”. Don’t be scammed by this kind of business practice. It is important to be able to link each transaction back to a particular event.
4. How did you pay?
- Bank statements
- Have you got a receipt or receipts?
- How can you trace the payment?
In online business, try not to pay cash unless you can track it back, and even when you can, try to pay with a service (like a credit card), PayPal, Stripe, etc., where you have recourse if the business doesn’t deliver. Even when someone appears to be trustworthy, just be cautious. Most people, including me, have been tricked by people who seem genuine and turn out to be something else.
5. Did you receive anything at all?
Example - you got:
- Two out of 10 coaching sessions
- Just A “lookbook” for an entire branding package
- Access to an incomplete website
- One week of a month’s work of Social media posts
- Partial copy for an entire website copy
Be honest here. Even if you think the work is crap, it is important that you acknowledge you did get something. If it is not up to the standard you believed it would be, you could be protected by the consumer law in your country/state/district/province.
6. What makes you think you didn’t receive anything?
For instance –
- Because I didn’t
- Past experience (I should have got more)
- I am an expert
- Grandma told me
You need to be super clear here. The best way you can “prove” this, is to link it back to the original offer and the contract/agreement if you can. That is why I recommend you get a contract in writing.
7. What next?
There are plenty of options
- You could contact the person, in writing, and check in with where they are, setting firm boundaries
- Write a formal letter about your concerns to them
- Follow through with the consequences set out in your letter
- Google them, and see if they have a shonky past
- Try mediation
- Speak to a lawyer and maybe start a court action.