CanI charge a client’s credit card if they signed a release?

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CanI charge a client’s credit card if they signed a release?

I am a psychotherapist. I saw a patient for 6 sessions and gave her a reduced rate of $75 per hour. She signed the treatment agreement which stated that she would pay all fees. She also signed a credit card slip that I could charge her card. Told me she was in financial stress and after the 6 sessions did not want to pay, did not return calls, text or e-mail. I charged her card 90 days later for $125, since I have the original agreement to charge each session. She still owes $175 and is demanding I return her $125 saying I legally did not have the right to charge her card. Wants to pay $10 every 2 weeks. Who is right?

Asked on September 13, 2010 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Generally that is not against the law - to have someone sign an authorization to pay and to charge their card.  It was a contract between the two of you and she is liable to pay and you are permitted to charge pursuant to the contract.  That being said, it may be best for you to have someone read the agreement in your area to make sure that it abides by local law and, in the long run, to work out a different payment arrangement from this point forward or to charge her card for smaller amount periodically.  You could also try suing her as you have that right as well.  But make her understand that even given your profession you are a business person and she entered in to a business agreement.


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