This topic is especially close to my heart as I have in the last few years had incidents where colleagues have called for urgent help but then for whatever reason have not paid.
In the last few years I have on numerous occasions helped colleagues out at short notice when they have had deadlines that were virtually impossible to achieve without assistance. No problem I can pull the odd late night or early morning, or even work on Christmas eve, to help them achieve their deadlines. All hunky dory or so you would think.
Of those colleagues I have helped, some I haven't billed of my own choice. The one from Christmas Eve for instance. I did the best with the transcript I could but wasn't happen and was not going to be able to make the deadline. I sent back what had been done with time for her to complete the file even if it was going to be late. As my Christmas gift to her, and because I was not happy with the state of the file I elected not to bill her. She appreciated the gesture too, especially as it was Christmas Eve and I had spent time working rather than with my girls.
On the other side of the coin are those wonderful colleagues, where everything is going great until time comes to pay the bill. I have one outstanding from 18 months ago and one from six months ago. Now while I am understanding when you get in trouble financially what I do think is that it really should be done to the contractor to have the courtesy and manners to keep me in the loop on a fairly regular basis about when I might possibly expect payment. What I don't expect when I am following up for the umpteenth time about when I might possibly get paid, bearing in mind that I think 18 months is a lengthy period of time to be understanding, is the same old sob story expecting me to be sorry for you and telling me how its not your fault that you owe me the money as you were advised to withhold work from the client and therefore didn't get paid. I've heard it more than once, I've been sympathetic and now I'm just feeling plain irritable. As for the second one, well they've just vanished off the face of the earth. All emails bounce and the one number that she advertises just goes straight to voice mail.
I know, why haven't I written the debts off? Well why should I, like any other client you undertook to pay me for work which I did, why should I not be paid?
All that said, to me the most valuable aspect of working for colleagues, whether its for payment or not is communication. But then that goes for all clients as well. And remember communication is a two way street.