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home : columns : dear harriette February 19, 2020

12/31/2019 7:36:00 AM
Reader upset with client's delayed payment

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a client who owes me a substantial amount of money, and I have been waiting for nearly five months for the check to come through. It's crazy. Ninety days is standard for this company, but it's almost double that now. When I asked about the payment about two months ago, I was assured that it would be paid in a matter of days. I don't want to be annoying, but I do want my money. How should I proceed? I want to keep them as clients, so I need to tread lightly. -- Time To Pay up

DEAR TIME TO PAY UP: You have every right to follow up about your payment. Point out that you are now in a new year, and you had hoped to be up to date before now. Speak to your contact person and ask what the holdup is and whether you can physically come in to retrieve your check. If they pay electronically, ask to have the money transferred immediately. Press to learn when you can expect your payment. You can be firm without being rude. It is your money, and you deserve to have it. Let your client know that you have been patient, but you need this invoice to be paid. If you still get no response, you may have to go directly to accounts payable. Small claims court is a worst-case scenario.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is in high school. He is mainly a good student, but he struggles in a couple of classes. He comes home frustrated by certain lessons, including his inability to understand some of the things that one teacher is sharing. I have suggested that he request private time with the teacher to review his questions, but he says that doesn't help. We had a meeting with his adviser to try to get some help, but he is still struggling.

Should I write to the principal or complain to the teacher? It is important for my son to pass these classes and to learn the material. I want to advocate for him, but I realize he is a teenager and should be speaking up for himself. -- When to Step in

DEAR WHEN TO STEP IN: Ideally, you should coach your son to be proactive. He needs to learn how to advocate for himself. But when he does not do so, you should step in and be his cheerleader. Ask him what he is doing to get the support he needs. Recommend that he meet with the teacher. Find out if he completes that loop. Ask him to speak to his adviser for guidance.

If none of these things work, then schedule a meeting with the teacher first, followed by the adviser and principal with your son, where you talk about his challenges and ask for support. If nothing works internally, consider hiring a tutor to help your son strengthen his understanding of the subject matter.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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