Late payers leave small businesses to struggle
FIVE years on, Cheryll Harper still wants answers.
Left unpaid $25,000 with the collapse of Walton Construction Queensland in October 2013, she is still struggling with an industry where there are those, that despite what the contract says, pay when they choose.
Looking in from the outside, the amount for the work and material Enzign Paints supplied to the heritage houses as part of the Coles Nambour job may not seem much.
But running a small business with overheads and wages to meet, it can and was devastating to the cash flow.
"The building game is very competitive," Ms Harper said.
"There is not a lot of money to pay workers. Every time you get a job you are told you are 10 per cent over (on the quote). When we do work on the Coast we have to run so tight and be defect free and even then have to chase the money."
Despite contracts stating payment in 14 days, she said, they can stretch to 30. Sometimes the wait for money can be for 50 days.
"We have wages to pay," Ms Harper said. "When they don't pay on time we have to carry it."
On the Nambour Coles project in 2013, her business lost half the progress claims and all the retention money, which is 10 per cent cash withheld against satisfactory completion of the work.
She would still like to know what happened to the money.
Ms Harper said the old houses they worked on had lead in the paint and had required a lot of work for which they didn't get paid.
"The tax man and the liquidator got paid but not the subbies," she said.
"If the work is done, you should be paid. When you aren't there should be an investigation as to why."
The Walton contract was her company's first big job.
"It was hard to recover," Mr Harper said.
"We went back to housing (work) and had to take a loan out. We were lucky to survive. It hits hard."
Surviving, she said, came down to doing due diligence and sticking with people you know.
"Walton is on-going but we've lost hope of receiving anything back," Ms Harper said.
"There are people responsible. Why isn't ASIC doing something? Where does the buck stop?"