Atelier Milano, Unpaid invoice Dispute, Atelier Milano is a made-to-measure clothing service company. I was assigned to - Disputes Register
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Atelier Milano
Ref: 1813
Filed: 02/12/2022

Accused Company:

Atelier Milano

File a Dispute against this company

Company number: au-0 milano&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-au&client=safari#

Allegation: Unpaid invoice

Value: AUD 250.00

Dispute details:

Unpaid Invoice from Un-contactable Client

Atelier Milano is a made-to-measure clothing service company.

I was assigned to work on a contractual basis as a Social Media Manager & In-house Communications Assistant by Atelier Milano’s owner back on March 2021.

I was given the tasks of creating the company’s website and daily social media content (photography, videography and editing) for multiple social media platforms, managing all of the company’s online platforms and performing administrative work as an in-house Communications Assistant on a part-time basis. I was working both in the studio & store and remotely.

At the beginning of our time working together, we established that she would pay for my services on an ongoing split payment basis, which was meant to be paid for every two weeks.

However, throughout our time working together, she would frequently pay her invoices late without giving me any notice.

This leads me to keep needing to remind her of her payment and almost always met with resistance from her for various reasons (her clients haven’t paid for her services, she has just paid for other things, etc.).

She later then told me that the business situation is a little hard because many events were cancelled due to Covid. To help her with this situation, I offered her a lower amount of payment plan, as she still wanted my service to continue because I was supporting her business on the online side (which was the part of the business that needed to perform during Covid when in-person services were halted).

On December 2021, she was unable to pay for my service at all. At this time I have performed almost 3 months' worth of service that wasn’t paid completely (starting October 2021).

I was planning on stopping my service because she showed an inability to continue paying for my services, and by this point, her unpaid invoice was accumulated to more than $4000.

However, when I told her about this, she showed me that she was eligible to receive a Business Support Grant from Austrade and is applying for one. She said that when her grants were sent to her she will pay off all of the unpaid invoices, and the upcoming ones.

On December 2021, she said that she still wanted to continue with my service. Therefore, I offered her a lowered service package that was not all-inclusive and with less in-person service than the previous one.

At first, she told me that the grants will be sent to her on January 2022. I realised that this was the only way that she was able to pay for her at the time months of unpaid invoices. Therefore, I agreed to it.

We continued to work together until January 2022.

In January, when it was time for her to pay her invoices, she told me that there was a miscommunication on her and the grants agent's side, and it turns out that her grants will be granted in June 2022.

I decided to stop providing service altogether because I was afraid that her invoices would accumulate even bigger and that I wasn’t going to be paid for my services at all if I kept going. I was working for her on an almost full-time basis and wasn’t paid for around 3 months.

At this point, the accumulated unpaid invoice for service provided was over $7000.

Because of this situation, I assigned a payment plan for her of $500/month until the grant is paid to her business on June 2022. She told me that she will pay my invoices in June, and in which I followed that I wouldn’t be able to wait until June 2022 and receive no payments at all (due to the history of her resistance to paying her invoices, I was worried about her commitment in paying for the service), and because at this time I just recently graduated from uni and hasn’t secured any jobs after Atelier Milano. I also know that when I have no in-person meetings with her, it will be more challenging to remind her if she didn’t pay her invoices on time. At this point, her business was picking up because event restrictions were easing due to fewer Covid cases.

We ended up agreeing to a $500/month payment plan for January 2022 - June 2022. And since that time, I stopped coming to her studio and only communicate with her through SMS, social media or email.

During the January-June payment plans, I was again met with late payments from her without any notice or reason. When I tried to contact her when I wasn’t receiving the payment on our agreed-upon date, she was not responding at all. First, I tried contacting her through email in which I reminded her of her late invoice. When the email was ignored, I tried contacting her through SMS which was also fully ignored by her. When I was not able to contact her at all I decided to call her, and she blocked my number.
She blocked my number and my social media profile.

However, after these attempts, she still sends the $500/month payment plan. So, I decided to let it go and wait for the end of the month to contact her again (which was always met with no response, but she would still send the invoice on her own time usually a couple of days late). She was not communicating with me at all and ignored all of my messages and emails.

When June 2022 came I reminded her that it was time to pay for all of her unpaid invoices, as this is the time when the grant money is sent to her. And she gave no response to my notice at all.

As she already blocked me from social media and phone numbers, I have no way of contacting her at all. Therefore, I decided to visit her fashion studio (which was my previous place of work and where we held in-person meetings), to discuss her payment plan.

When I brought to her attention about the business grants payment and ask her why she didn’t pay all of her unpaid invoices with the grant money as promised or gave me any notice about it, she told me that the grant money wasn’t as much as she thought it would be.

During this meeting, the owner of Atelier Milano showed me hostility and anger when I expressed that I wanted to receive my unpaid service payments. She told me that she doesn’t need to give me any notice if she was going to pay her invoices late, and she kept degrading me and my work during this conversation.

This was surprising for me as throughout the time we worked together for almost a year, she never mentioned any complaints about my work. We have always discussed any strategies or planning at the start of the work week, therefore she has full awareness of the projects I was working on for the business.

However, as the communication started to get heated, a client of hers came into the studio for a session, therefore she agreed that she would continue to pay for her invoices in a payment plan of $500 and would tell me if she was going to pay her invoice late.

She then continued to pay on a payment plan basis of $500/month. Until November 2022, she was paying her invoices (still late with no notice, no response to emails, and needing frequent reminders).

However, when it was time for her to pay her final invoice of $250 (due 14th of November), she hasn’t sent the payment at all and showed no intention of doing it.

Attempts to resolve dispute:

1.) Assigning payment plans to help ease the client with paying her invoices.

2.) Follow up & reminders through email.

3.) Reminders periodically through SMS, and social media messages which were ignored. So, I contacted her through phone calls and was blocked.

4.) In-person meeting.

Response to accusation (by accused):

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Christie Natasha

Adelaide , Australia