If I provided a service to someone online but we are both from different states and they do not pay, what are my options?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If I provided a service to someone online but we are both from different states and they do not pay, what are my options?

I started using a website to provide clients with my video editing skills. I was hired through the website/app by a man and we proceeded to communicate about the video that needed to be edited. This was about a month long process and at the end of it he told me he didn’t like the video but it was a nice try. I kindly told him that I understood and I provided him with my rate which he knew ahead of time and how many hours I put into this video and the total amount. All of which I tracked in a spreadsheet. The total was 210. He has stopped responding to me so I reached out to the people who run the site and they have been trying to get ahold of him as well, with no luck. What is my next step? I provided this man with a service and put a lot of time and effort into it and I expected to be compensated for that work. There was no written contract, it was all verbal. At the start he initially asked

me how payment was going to work and when I wanted to be paid. I have no clue if this is something small claims court can handle, however if it is how does it work if we are in separate states and this was an online transaction? Who do I reach out to?

Asked on March 4, 2017 under Business Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Small claims court does not handle cases across state lines; while you could sue him for the unpaid amount which he owes you as per the oral agreement ("oral," not "verbal," is the correct term), you'd have to sue in "regular" county court, which will increase the cost and complexity significantly. If the "total was 210" refers to $210 (not 210 hours at some hourly rate, which could easily be several thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars depening on the rate), then it is almost certainly NOT worth the cost to file a cross-state lawsuit: even if you filed it pro se (no attorney), the filing cost alone would equal or exceed what you hope to recover.

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