Joined: April 17th, 2004, 9:02 am
Location: North Carolina
|To all of you out there that it may concern:
I'm absolutely beside myself about this, and I have no desire to see this happen to anyone else... especially the part about being told I have no talent (after,of course, my article was received and accepted)
I wrote an article for Next Step Magazine (they posted on writersweekly.com about a month ago), and I expected to recieve payment. As per their freelance work agreement, I assumed they would send the money along in 30 days. Day 30 (Friday, April 9th) came and went, and no money.
I thought I'd write the editor (a very nice woman named Laura Hammond) and inquire as to the location of my payment. I was sent a letter back, which essentially said "Our bookkeeper is having personal problems right now, but we'll get the money to you ASAP". I figured that was fair, and went back to watching my mailbox.
Well, Day 33 (Monday the 12th) came... and Tuesday, and Wednesday. Still no money. So I sent along the following e-mail on Thursday.
E-mail #1- From me to the editor on Day 36
By now you must be aware that I have a personal affection toward you and the magazine. I am,therefore, in something of a crux about how to proceed, as I am somewhat furious at your accountant.
I am aware that you are not responsible for the problem I am presently in, but since you are my only connection to the magazine accountant, I am trusting you to resolve this matter.
I had expected a check for services renderded on Friday (April 9), as I had submitted my work-invoice exactly thirty days earlier. You were, as ever, pleasent and sympathetic, and I assumed that the situation would be handled, either by you or your accountant. I have watching my mailbox for a week now, and I have seen no signs of advancement.
I recognize that your accountant has personal problems to resolve, but now *I* have personal problems (created by her inability to do her job!).
Because of her failure to compensate me in a timely fashion (read: Postal Service; I wasn't even asking for Same-Day Air), I was unable to pay my car insurance yesterday. I now have until tomorrow to pay my car insurance, or the state of NC will suspend my driver's license and/or jail me.
Now *my* personal problems supercede hers... and so does my sympathy and patience!
I assume and hope that this very afternoon I will be sent a check for $100 (less the cashier's check fee... I previously requested certified funds, which is now imperative), and that this check will be sent Federal Express Same-Day Service at no charge to me.
Laura, I apologize if I have ruined your good opinion of me, or if I have angered or inconvienced you, or come off like an overbearing prick... I am somewhat angry and decidedly confused about how to proceed; having been nice about this is going to end up costing me sixty days and that presumes I don't get jail time! (NC suspends your DL for 60 days if your insurance lapses for even for one day. I've managed to squeeze 48 hours out of my agent by having him fudge some paperwork, but that runs out tomorrow at 5pm, and he wants his money).
I feel like a total bastard, but I have 'personal problems' of my own to attend to, and that limits how much 'understanding' I can have, under the circumstances. If I do not recieve a check tomorrow, it is highly likely I will have to retain legal council to defend myself in traffic-court.
I've already told my attorney once that I will *not* inititate a breach of contract suit, but he tells me it may be the only way to avoid losing my license. Essentially, he maintains that if I sue you, I can claim that I intended to pay my insurance (which I did), and I am presently attempting to pay up by suing for the necessary money. This clears me legally, but it screws you, and I am delaying this action as long as I can.
Laura, I really don't know what to do. My lawyer and insurance agent both want money (or blood), I'm jammed up by the state of NC, and I really like you (thusly I have no intention of beginning a lawsuit). This is slipping out my control rapidly, and I need your help. *Please* send me the money ASAP.
Thank you very much for your time and attention... I'm really sorry if I've thrown a bucket of water on your day. Please don't be too enraged at me.
I think the tone of my letter shows that, although pissed off, I am still reasonable--maybe even friendly.
In truth, I have no such problem with my car insurance. I supposed that it would suffice to get across my point,though... said point being "I'd like my money, and quickly, thank you".
I received letters back. I present them to you in order of reception. The first one is from the editor, who I have previously commented is truly a nice person.
E-mail #2- Editor to McLuckie on Day 36
(same day, notice... they respond to e-mail rapidly)
Your payment went out on April 12, one business day after April 9. Our accountant did not work on Good Friday.
It's really too bad that you're contemplating jail time based on your inability to budget for a re-occurring cost, such as car insurance. If you're waiting so anxiously for a mere $100, I honestly suggest that you pursue a more reliable career than freelancing.
If you have any other questions, you may refer them to Next Step publisher Dave Mammano. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not exactly the kind and soothing tone one would expect for a wronged writer, but I can accept that I screwed up her day... and $100 isn't a *great* deal of money, I admit.
But take a look at what the publisher (David Mammano) sent me... His comments are indented. I would have highlighted the offensive comments, but you can read for yourself the combative tone. My responses are non-indented.
E-mail #3- Publisher to McLuckie on Day 37 (and McLuckie response)
" >This is David Mammano, the founder and publisher of The Next Step Magazine.
>I resent the tone of your e-mail.
Neither my problem nor my concern. Although it was kind of you to take out of your day to tell me.
>If you are running to the mailbox
>for a $100 check, this is a result of abysmal life planning on your part and
>not by an inability of my bookkeeper to do her job
> (as you stated).
I would submit that the inability of your bookkeeper and, by extension, your organization, to fulfill your payment obligations does not constitute poor planning on my part...but poor execution on your part. I am wholly sorry if my expection of timely payment inconvienced you.
>Poor planning (or no planning as it seems in your case) is no reason to lash
>out at others and blame them for your incompetence. It appears that you
>have a real lack of talent to make and/or save money and you should look in
>the mirror instead of sending threatening e-mails to editors of magazines
>that are just trying to help you get started in the field.
See above. And if you read my letter, I repeatedly and expressly brought forth my desire for this to *not* become a courtroom action. I was informed by my attorney that legal manuvering would save me, and I was not (and miraculously, still do not) intend to sue.
As to 'getting started in the field'... I have no high expectations of a writing career. (Insert snide comment here). As a part-time writer, I simply expect to be paid on time.
>You should be ashamed for sending such an e-mail to Laura. If you have to
>contact a lawyer, go to court or jail because of a short lapse of a $100
>payment, you have some major financial management problems and I suggest you
>get some help in the area of money management right away.
Suggestion noted... although my stockbroker suggested that perhaps the people who failed to pay me could use some help in the area of money management.
>By the way, the check I sent you was not in certified funds. I am not
>required to do that and have no interest in doing so.
Touche. Such is life.
>Instead of responding to this e-mail, I suggest that you stop being "the
>victim" for a day and think about ways to improve your situation that don't
>involve blaming others for it.
Would that it were possible for me not to continue to be 'the victim'... of breach of contract. Isn't blame appropriate when one person has lived up to his obligations (such as a writer completing a piece), and one party has not (timely payment, per se)?
>In fact, I would prefer to never hear your
>name again and am sure Laura would concur. If you insist on antagonizing us,
>I would have no problem having you blacklisted with The American Society of
Do as you see fit. Of course,it will be some amount of trouble for you, and of no real consequence to me.
Should you decide that blacklisting me is *absolutely* imperative, I presume you will not at all mind if I forward our correspondance to various freelance recruiters. I would be interested to see if other freelance writers are as understanding as I am about delayed payment.
Regards... and cheers!
Please note: In the above letter, the publisher of a magazine that has accepted my work says:
1) That his failure to pay me is part of my poor planning, and not the fault of his bookkeeper
2) That I "have a real lack of talent in making money"
3) That I "have major financial management problems"-- I think my response in the above e-mail covers that
4) That "instead of responding to this e-mail... stop being 'the victim' "
5) That if I continue to antagonize him, he will have me blacklisted with the American Society of Journalism.
All this over what his editor calls "a mere $100". Hmm.
After I recieved the above letter, I contacted our esteemed moderator (Angela), with the intent to seek recourse. She suggested I post here; this morning, as I was preparing to do so, I received this last letter from David Mammano.
E-mail #4 Publisher to McLuckie on Day 38
"Boy, I am happy that I do not have to live the sorry excuse of your life. And, FYI, the terms of our agreement were payment sent to you within 30 days - not received in 30 days.
According to our terms, we should have put your check in the mail on 4/9. 4/9 was Good Friday and we didn't cut checks that day. We sent it on the following business day which was 4/12. Wow - one business day late . I will certainly go to confession for that one and pray that God has mercy on my soul. For that one day, I sincerely apologize because I am sure that such a man of your virtue has never been ONE DAY late on a payment.
I am not used to dealing with such saint-like men as you. Thanks for the enlightenment! You have really opened up my eyes to my evil ways. I just feel terrible. How could I do such a thing to a man of such integrity and honor? Shame on me. The more I think about it, you are so right. How dare I send your check one business day late and force you to contact your lawyer, stockbroker and insurance company.
Maybe I should just fold the company that I created from scratch because now that I see the light, I realize that I am just a late paying, insensitive miser.
Or, could it be that James McLuckie is just a gambling, alcoholic, loser?
Hmmm...I'll have to ponder that one....
Now, I don't entirely mind the snide comments (I rather enjoy the "sorry excuse for a life" comment). And I am a gambler (a talented one, truthfully).
But not only does Mr. Mammano go out of his way to be offensive in the first paragraph, *and* admits his culpability in the second paragraph, but he borders on defamation of character with the "alcoholic" remark.
I *still* haven't gotten my check. I will post again when/if I recieve it.
Suffice it to say that I am eagerly (if not hopefully) awaiting payment, and I will not do business with this group again. I heartily advise all of you to avoid Next-Step Magazine at all costs, and I would be glad to see if anyone else has a view (in favor or against me) or an experience with Next-Step that they would share.
Thank you all for your time and attention, and I hope that this doesn't happen to any of you.