Just wanted to share a recent experience after reading yours. 25 years ago when I started in this business I received a very valuable lesson. If the customer can't (or won't) give us the 50% deposit we require to begin their project, it will be a nightmare trying to collect the rest. Thankfully I've stuck to my convictions and very rarely been stuck. Recently however, I almost fell into the poor-me trap. We created a proposal for someone who was in desperate need of a sign. The proposal was a rush as they we're submitting it to their city for an enhancement grant. We told them up front that we had to have a 50% deposit, and because of their story decided to spread out their balance due to be paid over four months. This wasn't a big job, $ 4k, and they were approved for $ 1k grant from the city. The city required them to pay us the deposit and then they would be reimbursed for the $ 1k grant portion. The client ask us if we would give them an invoice stating that they had paid the $ 1k deposit, when they hadn't, to submit to the city. They in turn would give us the money when the city gave it to them, and when the sign was installed they would make the first (of now five payments they need) to us as they would have the money then. The timeframe is very tight or they loose their $ 1k grant so essentially they were asking us to build their project completely out of our pocket with the assurance that after it was done, we would receive their first payment and the grant money. (Total of which doesn't equal the 50% we require before begin to build anything.) I felt a lot of compassion for them because of their story and almost caved in, until thankfully, common sense finally set in and told them that we were sorry but we had to stick to our policies. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed and we aren't a bank. As of now, we haven't heard back from them.