Hi all,

In the summer I worked for a guy, but instead of paying me he now ignores me and I'm not exactly sure what to do. It's a little complex though so I'll start from the beginning.

I do catalog, pictures, computer work etc. Right now I live in Tompkins County, NY. I was asked on the phone by a person to build a catalog for his company (food wholesaling), we agreed that he'll pay me $20/hour and half of the transportation costs ($50), since he is located in NYC. For that I was supposed to take and clean up about 100 new pictures of items and use other pictures I already had (since I worked in this field for some time) to give him a full catalog. At the time I made it clear that I cannot come twice to NYC so if he has more items he will have to find some other way of taking their picture. My estimate for the work was about 15 hours. We did not write anything out since I knew his salesman and trusted that he'll be able to get him to pay me. My person of contact during the project was this salesman, since he knew me and also knew the items well.

I took the 100 pictures, supplied my own pictures and finished the catalog at the beginning of August. However, there were two issues. 1. That it took me about 24 hours, because that person didn't know computers, so his data was all messed up and he also used different data types than is standard in that business and my estimate was based on normal business practice in this field. However, once I was over the 15 hours I continuously told the salesman that I'm above the estimate and he said it was fine. 2. It turns out he had more than 100 new items that needed pictures - he has an additional 150 , but none of them were in the warehouse when I was there, except the original 100.

I told him that from my point of view, the project is complete, since I did what I was told. But that I didn't mind taking the additional pictures and fixing them if he was willing to pay for full transportation, or if someone else took them. I had sent him a full invoice on 8/13. But than he stopped picking up my phone calls and through the salesman he always said he will pay me later. Finally, I was able to talk to him on 09/01 and after a lot of argument because he didn't want to pay for more than the 15 hours, not even for half of the original transportation I lowered the price so for the additional 9 hours he will only pay $10/hours. That was my only option because otherwise he wouldn't pay me, even so he hung up the phone on me. I sent him a new bill on 9/02. Since than he completely ignores me and even the salesman now quit seeing who he was dealing with (this person has a pretty bad name when it comes to paying, though I didn't know at the time). He also owes that salesman money which he isn't paying. I sent him a email and faxed him a letter last Monday saying that if he doesn't pay me by 11/03, I revoke the discount, since I only gave it to him so that he will pay me, but he still hasn't paid me yet.

Now, since we do not have a contract, not even a email contract, I don't know what to do. I'm pretty sure I can get a signed statement from the salesman, though he wasn't on the phone when we discussed payment. All I can prove is that I completed the catalog and he used it to make more sales, not how much he owes me. So I don't even know if I can sue him. Also, he can claim that it wasn't completed since I'm missing the 150 pictures, but the salesman can support me that we only agreed for 100 pictures and that he didn't have these items at the time. I know that I should've asked for a contract, I was even warned by other companies that he will never pay me, but it was already too late by than. So is there nothing I can do? What would the a court do in such a situation? I'm a student so this money is very important to me, especially since I spent for transportation and lost money on other side jobs I missed the days I worked for him. Also, if I sue him, I believe I would have to go down to NYC and this alone will cost me another $100. What can I do?

I really appreciate any help.
Thanks,
Matt