What do you do when the client won't pay?

My friend Mike at “screenflicker”:http://www.screenflicker.com/blog/2005/08/dealing-with-overdue-accounts/ has a post up that rings (unfortunately) near and dear to my heart.

He describes his experiences trying to get a client to live up to their end of an agreement, weeks and weeks after their site went live. I find myself in a somewhat related position. And I hate it.

The money at stake is not huge – about a grand. But its enough that not getting it will sting. It’s not really enough to pursue through the courts. Besides, that would probably take years. In his article, Mike suggests going to a collection agency. That’s a plan I hadn’t considered.

Usually, I’d suggest pulling the site (not sure of the legalities involved). In my case, the site isn’t up, so that’s not an option. Still, all the objectives outlined in the agreement have been met. I’ve done my job, and I’d like to be paid for it.

Have any of you ever gone the collection agency route? Any suggestions or war stories to share?