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I received a cheque 3 months ago, which my client gave me to start a project and there's no date on the cheque. My client told me to ask him before depositing the cheque. The cheque was advance payment for the work. So I didn't start or complete anything the client wanted me to do.

So it's been 3 months. I've been calling him every 4 days and he just says "Sir, please give me another 4 days or a week". I've issued a receipt for the cheque while receiving the cheque. What should I do or how should I deal with it?

Note: I haven't started the work.

Update: The Client was short on money at the time but now he paid the advance amount in cash. I've started the work and cleared the milestone policy with the client to which he agreed. Thank you all for your time to educate me. This will surely help me in the future.

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  • 13
    Have you done the work the cheque relates to? Jan 2 at 12:42
  • 6
    Not yet, I thought I would do the work after the cheque is cleared. The cheque was the advanced payment for the work. So I didn't completed or started anything the client wanted me to do. Jan 2 at 16:04
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    An undated cheque isn't a cheque. It's just a piece of paper that your "client" used to con you into thinking there might be some money available one day. Unless you think the client is eventually going to pay for your time spent phoning every four days, just throw the "non-cheque" in the trash and forget about the whole thing. At least you didn't make the bigger mistake of doing the work and delivering it before you got paid.
    – alephzero
    Jan 3 at 0:45
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    If you can't cash it, the client didn't make the advance payment.
    – chepner
    Jan 3 at 15:19
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    Drop the client, they're a timewaster. Also, "issued a receipt for the (uncashable) cheque" was a bad idea, depending on the country, tax regime etc. it might come back to bite you, a dishonest client could allege they had paid you the advance, don't issue a recept until payment clears.
    – smci
    Jan 4 at 9:24
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The receipt is irrelevant. It only means that you acknowledge that you were given a check, not that the check was any good.

Since you have not yet started the work, I recommend that, if you have something more productive to work on, you simply return the check and drop the client. It is clear that this client will be a struggle to work with, even if he eventually comes up with the money for the deposit.


If you had already done some work on the project and need to get paid:

It is likely that if you deposit the check, it will bounce (Not Sufficient Funds). If you do decide to deposit the check, be prepared for that possibility and do not spend the money right away. If you go directly to your customer’s bank and show them the check, they could probably tell you whether or not the account has enough money in it to cover the check.

If you find out that the money isn’t there, you have a few options:

  1. Continue to be patient and give the client more time.

  2. Send the client another invoice with a late charge added. Hopefully on your first invoice, you had included a due date and a late payment policy. If not, make sure that you do so from now on. Find out what types of charges/interest rates are legal in your state/country.

  3. Threaten to sue or send the debt to a collection agency. Depending on the amount of the debt, following through with this threat might not be worth the expense.

  4. Ask for a partial payment. If they don’t have all the money right away, ask for half now, and half later. He might be willing to do this, and then you have a smaller problem to deal with later.

  5. Eventually, you may need to simply write-off the debt. Of course, any work that this client wants you to do in the future must be paid in advance.

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  • Thanks for the information. I'm new to this as it's a startup and I don't have any experience dealing with this. Anyways I will make note every point you said. Thanks again and happy new year. Jan 2 at 14:12
  • 4
    Sorry I think you didn't get me. I'm a startup founder not the client. Jan 2 at 18:02
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    You've missed option 6, calling the whole thing off as a bad job and moving onto something more productive.
    – Valorum
    Jan 2 at 20:45
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    @Valorum Yes, I see now that the work has not yet begun. This wasn’t clear to me earlier. I agree that just ignoring the check and dropping the job seems best. Jan 2 at 21:14
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    When you start out in business, you tend to cling to clients and offers of work that a year or two down the line, you wouldn't touch with a barge-pole
    – Valorum
    Jan 2 at 21:17
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As you've clarified in comments, the cheque is advanced payment for work you haven't done yet. Given that, unless waiting for this work is actively stopping you doing some other work, I would just drop this and do something else. You can always chase the client occasionally to see if they still want the work or not.

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    This seems the most sensible option to me. Even if OP decides to deposit the cheque and it clears (which seems unlikely), this is a terrible start to the relationship.
    – Valorum
    Jan 2 at 20:43
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    I agree to both of you. I haven't stopped working on other projects. It's just that the cheque concerns me and so i asked the question. Thank you. Jan 6 at 8:37
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There is no country tag so I will go for France (even though I do not think this is the right country) EDIT: the country tag has been added following my suggestion, I leave the French aspect below anyway in case someone stumbles upon the question.

The cheque

A cheque must have a date on it, it is part of what makes a piece of paper a cheque (it can be written on anything, provided some clearly defined information is there). Of course everyone uses the bank-provided ones, but some elements must still be filled in, including the date. You should have not accepted a cheque without a date on it.

You then have a year and a day to deposit it, some people kindly ask you to deposit it at some specific point in time so that they have funds ready.

Not having funds for a cheque to clear is a serious offence and great problems ahead for the account owner (forbidden from having a bank account (or an extremely limited one)).

The request

When you receive money for a job it is for something. Not necessarily work, it may be used to buy materials. I recently paid ~50% of a job which was not started so that the contractor could order the materials. Then the job was done and the remaining 50% paid.

What the money is for does not matter - you have in your contract "x€ in advance" and you are free to get them. It is a contract so if you do not do your job you may be sued (in France, depending on the exact naming of that advance money, it may be the money or twice the money)

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  • Though if the cheque has no date, it is not yet a cheque, so no crime has likely been committed. If someone provides a cheque to be cashed at some point in the future it is usually written with a future date. Writing cheques that you've asked not be cashed is a very different thing to cheque fraud (though still not great). Jan 4 at 22:00
  • @ThomasRedstone Not in France. If a chèque has no date, the recipient can add it himself (this was brought to court: Cass. com, 22 septembre 2015, n° 14-17901). As for the future date: it does not work like that. You can cash a chèque even if the date is in the future, and giving one with a future date is a fraud (the fine is 6% of the value of the chèque). And of course kindly asking someone to cash a chèque at a future date is something you may ask, and someone may honor this request or not.
    – WoJ
    Jan 5 at 10:34
  • @ThomasRedstone in the USA writing a check that you know will overdraw is a crime regardless of date on it. Of course situations arise that you may unknowingly write an overdrawn check and that is not a crime.
    – crasic
    Jan 5 at 18:22
  • So what if I put a date on it when client agrees? Jan 6 at 8:40
  • @karanugale: like I said, in France, when you have a chèque that is only missing the date, you can add it yourself (I mentioned the court decision, the exact link is legifrance.gouv.fr/juri/id/JURITEXT000031227556, but keep in mind that in French law precedents are not binding (though in that case, it is likely to be followed)). Are you in France?
    – WoJ
    Jan 6 at 8:51
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If the money is not in your account then you haven't received an advanced payment, period.

This client is living in your mind rent-free and keeping you from focusing on other clients.

If the work has not been started then then set the check aside and forget about it until this client contacts you. Preferably you would return the check.

I am not sure if this client is trying to dodge taxes at your expense so be wary of that.

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  • What do you mean by "Dodge taxes at your expense"? Jan 6 at 8:42
  • @karanugale Based on this comment under your question I am starting to wonder if the client is going to claim this "advanced" payment as an expense to lower their tax liability and expect you to claim it as revenue which raises your liability. I'm not a business owner so I'm not certain about the logistics of this situation. If you think this aspect is hogwash then still consider the first 80% of my answer.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jan 6 at 13:14

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