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Brian Hays

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 11:36 am

People that don't pay..

We have several customers that have owed us money for around 3 months. They purcahsed cd's with the understanding payment would be made immediately upon reciept of goods. Dozens of calls & excuses later I am more than a little fed up.

What do you folks do?

I am deciding between...

1) Small claims court.
2) Passing their details on to a debt collection agency.

Think I am favoring 2 as it seems less hassle.
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Rodney Gold

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 11:39 am

The cheapest option is a lawyers letter - if that doesnt work , take legal action. Be careful that it doesnt cost you more than the debt and the silver lining to all this is that it might be you get a tax break in writing off the debt.
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Brian Hays

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 11:50 am

We are only talking small amounts Rodney, so lawyers would almost certainly cost more than the debt. There is no way I am going to let it go though out of principle (:)
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Rodney Gold

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 12:11 pm

I once sat in a clients busy reception area chanting "I want my money , I want my money" - worked a treat:)
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Alan Drury

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 12:13 pm

I know what you mean Brian, a customer of mine told me of his method which he used with good effect, he got hold of the court form, filled it in with the customers details setting out the amount including court fees and interest, then faxed to his customer who would not pay with a note saying unless cheque was received within 2-3 days the form would be posted to the court. Apparently it has worked very well.
Alan
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Rod Gray

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 12:30 pm

Contact your local county court and request a small claims form and simply fill them in yourself.

As far as i remember, the cost is very small.
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John Childs

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 12:39 pm

Brian,

I don't bother with debt collection agencies. I found in the past that, like everyone else, they only wanted easy money and only recovered the type of debt that you would probably be able to get paid yourself without too much bother. Anything that required a bit of effort on their part got left.

County Court is quick and easy. The days of hacking off down to the court yourself are long gone. You can fill the forms in on the net and pay with a credit card - it takes ten minutes.

OK, you pay the court costs, but then you will have to do that if it gets so far that a collection agency takes them. And, of course, the costs just get added to the debt so, unless your customer has gone broke, you recover them anyway.

http://www.courtservice.gov.uk/cms/3610.htm

Good luck.
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Lee Harris

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 12:49 pm

Hi Brian

Know just how you feel. Jenny, my partner & I had to go to small claims court for the sum of £400. Cost us £50.00 to set in motion. We were helping an organisation to raise money for charity – I was Chairman of Tractor Challenge. And it was verbally agreed that we could claim for postage, paper etc – I gave my time- any way, we claimed but they did not want to pay. Went to court and lost. Reason. The agreement was not in writing. There’s a lot more to this story but that going off topic.

I agree. It’s the principle. Why should they get away with it.

You can get the forms from www.courtservice.gov.uk

Good luck with it.
Regards
Lee

PS Going to name names????
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Post Tue May 18, 2004 1:16 pm

Hi Brian.
Unfortunately this happens to all of us.
I am lucky to have a brother who is a lawyer.
The three times that I needed him to write me a letter, he did it for free. (he has also done 2 divorces for me for a case of Corona apiece)
But the letters got INSTANT results.
I have no idea what a lawyer really charges for such a service,
but it is probably about the same as a small claims court fee.
Another thing that I have seen folks do is to post the slow-pay
person's name in a big sign in their office by the cash register.
But that almost sounds like slander.
I would try sending the people certified letters (the kind that they have to sign for) and ask for a receipt from the post office.
That way if you do have to take it to small claims court,
you have proof that they did get a letter from you requesting payment.
Sometimes a polite yet forceful letter from you will get results.
Good luck!
Love...Jill
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Carrie Brown

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 2:03 pm

As Jill said it happens to us all at one time or another and so annoying!!!! We have been quite lucky I suppose in that during the two years we have been established we've only had to write off two small amounts totalling about £300, both companies went bust so no chance of getting the money!

What I have done in the past with a couple of slow/non paying customers is deal with it as a utility company would ....... I send a polite reminder letter, then a 2nd reminder letter exactly one week later and then a final the following week, I leave it a couple of days then call & let them know that we are about to hand over the debt to a collection agency (which as John said doesnt usually get your money back) and state if they are having trouble paying in full we are willing to be flexible & accept the amount in splits e.g ... £600 owing - we will collect £150 each week ..... and they have paid like that. I know this way would not suit many but its the way we find works for us as a last resort & we would rather get the money bit by bit than get nothing at all! These people have even come back to us for us to do more work & we have, but on a pro-froma basis - no money no work!

Carrie :D
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Brian Hays

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 6:10 pm

Thanks for your advice guys, I will go download the forms.

One particualar customer is really p*****g me off, I have made at least 20 calls & had a whole host of excuses.

If it goes on much longer I will have no problem naming & shaming Lee :)
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Simon Clayton

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 7:42 pm

Burn down there business premises....! :cool:
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Robert Lambie

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 8:34 pm

i can understand your frustration mate. happens to us all at some point.
i personaly would loose the profit on the goods & probably fork out more to make sure the clowns cough up, just on principle alone... i hate this kind of thing.. its hard enough getting business never mind low lifes like this not paying once the deal is done..
we have a members forum on this site for this type of cutomer, name and shame them into paying. if they still dont, at least we all know to stay clear from reading your experiences.

this is a quote form an old post i made about a chat i had with my lawyer:
He says that there can be no legal action taken against anyone if the person posting sticks to facts only!
As long as there is no malice in the post. Then it is deemed as passing “advice” to a fellow group members and nothing more. At that point it is up to the member reading if he will continue to do business with the person/company in question.

He gave a couple of instances. One being the recent rape allegation by the 7 footballers.
He says every one of them was named and shamed on public Internet forums
On huge sites far busier and better known the uksignboards.com
No legal action was taken in anyway. Not on an individual or the site owners.
No requests were made/enforced to remove them.

Can Gareth Gates sue the SUN papers because he is seen leaving a strip bar at 3am with Jordan?
The front-page coverage shamed him and killed his squeaky-clean image & reputation. Ultimately doing him harm in many ways as well as financially.
Could there be a case? Even if so.. Can he deny it?
The papers are only passing on having seen him and took photos. It is up to us to decide what we want to think.

I for one would like to see someone take me to court for advising others about my dealings with a customer.
Seriously though.. What would they say?
“Yes ma’lord, I bumped this guy for £5000 and cost him stress, grief, pressure etc due to my selfish actions and I got away with it into the bargain” but but but… I think he should be reprimanded in some way for advising other good business folk in public to be wary of dealing with me because of it…

Ide like to hear member’s views on this. If you find the time. I think advising each other of bad debt customers will save us all a bit of grief in the future.
I know we all have had this type of customer so why not let us know?
I’ve just coughed up good money on asking legal advice on the matter so that’s a good start and should at least encourage some that are wary..


if you would like to have access to this forum let me know brian and ill grant it. :wink:
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Bill.

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 9:20 pm

I've had the pleasure of my first debt, an amazing £25 :-? Not a fortune, and not worth the costs of going to court or even chasing it up, but its annoying to say the least. Admittedly it was a quick job, a few minutes really, but its the principal of it. The guy said he'd be in the following day because (immortal line coming up) "I forgot my wallet!" :roll:

I agree with whats been said though, if someone owes you money, take them to court, badger them silly and if all else fails, the chant idea sounds excellent :D With the gent who owes me cash I made one phone call, basically saying that I'd telephoned him 3 times, he'd promised to come in 3 times, he obviously has no intention of paying. I thanked him for his support so early on in my business and said I would be sure to recommend his services to every new customer I get! That told him! :lol: :lol:

Cheers, Dewi
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Nigel Fraser

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 9:33 pm

This one really gets me wound up - but I'll try and stay calm (hot)

I use a combination of the phone calls followed by a letter and then one final call before I use either the small claims court or solicitor.

I found this online solicitor very usfull and economic too plus lots of info aswell http://www.thomashiggins.com/ you can also get more info etc here http://www.payontime.co.uk/

Hope you manage to wring it out of the little sods somehow Brian :wink:

Nigel
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Marcella Ross

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Post Tue May 18, 2004 9:38 pm

Why not try threatening them with reporting them to FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft). If you own the copyright and they haven't paid, surely it's the same as piracy....????? The threat may be enough...!

Marcella.
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Timmy Mallet

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Post Wed May 19, 2004 9:18 am

I have been lucky over the three years I've been going, only one chap owing me £58. My auntie works in the legal business, so I am lucky for the odd letter reminder for free. The only pleasure I have for my £58 is that his name is the only one on a non paying customers list I've put in my office window for all to see. It has the desired effect on people at the counter to. I did check with my solicitor prior to putting his name in lights and as long as it's the truth. I'm not saying this is a great solution for all but in a small comunity like where I am it don't have get arround about bad debtors....

Timmy....... ( a good payer)
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Mike Fear

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Post Wed May 19, 2004 10:03 am

May sound like closing the door after the horse has bolted....

What I tend to do is just not give people credit terms unless they are long standing customers ( and I do this for all my various businesses ) - I tell people they have to pay up front before getting anything. If they're not happy with the goods / job, I'll take the stuff back or undo the work and refund them.

Most people won't complain ( after all, if they are honest and intend paying, why would they ? ) - the very few who do complain, I just tell them to go somewhere else - makes you very wary if someone is that reluctant to pay up front.

I've only been caught a couple of times in the past - both by people who claimed they needed stuff in a hurry and would send a cheque by return - and guess what... the cheques never came ! Both were for small amounts but I took both people through small claims ( after giving them 3 written chances to pay within 7 days ) and won and got all my costs back.

I know sometimes people are worried about losing work from businesses if they operate this way, but I've never really had a problem ( who wants business from people who arent going to pay on time or at all anyway ? ) - if I go into Tesco and buy some milk and say 'its for my business, so can you invoice me and I'll pay you 30 days from the end of the month ?' what would they say ? put it this way and 99% of customers see your side of it.

One that I'd like to try though... if you've done some signs on someones vehicle and they don't pay - just turn up and start removing them - until they pay you they don't own the sign, so can't stop you - as long as you don't damage the vehicle you are completely within your rights - I bet it would only take you removing the first couple of letters for them to find their chequebook :lol:
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Brian Hays

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Post Fri Jun 04, 2004 5:38 pm

Got a cheque (check to Jill) last week...











....got it back this morning "refer to drawer"

(:) (:) (:)
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Post Fri Jun 04, 2004 8:32 pm

:evil:
Ya want me to go ruff them up Brain?
Just say the word! GRRRRRRR
I'll take it outta their measly hide!
Want me to send a big hand-painted sign
over to put in your shopfront that says
"__________ Doesn't pay their bills!"
How can some people sleep at night?
Love...Jill
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Brian Hays

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Post Fri Jun 04, 2004 11:21 pm

Great plan Jill, ceptin I don't have a shop front! :) :)

Can you do the same for non shop keepers? :0)
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signworxs

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Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 12:11 am

Had the same problem once with a supermarket owed us £8000, they asked if they could pay it in two lots and we agreed, first cheque ok second one was rubber twice, solution............................high tensile chain and chubb padlock and fastened their doors shut late at night with a sticker with our contact numbers on. Early next morning got a call from the owner all frantic. Told him it was only cash that removed the chain.............got it by lunch time, oh did I mention that my business partner at the time was also a door man ooops I meant security opperative :lol:
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Bill.

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Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 12:22 am

Like your style Paul :D Extreme measures for extreme circumstances, and it beats waiting for the court's system to kick in, well, sort of waddle in, but you know what I mean :D

Its a real shame that you have to do this type of thing to get the monies you're owed though. The thing is, a sign in my humble opinion, is the main selling point to most businesses, as is their vehicle graphics. Why should the signmaker wait for thier cash when the signwork is bringing business in for the so called customer :-?

I've only recently started accounts for customers, as up until now its all been cash on completion. No doubt I'll have some non-payers, but I'm hoping for the most part that the vast majority are honest business ppl who will pay their bills!

On the bright side of things, at least the future non-payers may get a surprise in future, I'm off to buy a big chain and a lovely padlock tomorrow :wink: :wink:

Cheers, Dewi
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popcornpro

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Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 9:52 am

My business is becoming very complicated and my role is becoming more to do with management than anything else. I traded on a part-time basis for a few years before leaving teaching and working full time, offering web print multimedia and of course signage!

I employ my brother who runs the signage. Since starting him I have made a point of getting him to insist on 50% up front and the rest on completion. I had a salary as a teacher and didn't rely on the business money but have soon had to learn that cash is king.

I am constantly owed 20K and find it hard to get the money in. The only area where money comes in easily is the signage work because I insisted on wee bruv's mindset to be get paid now... not 3 months.

Last week I signed up to an online Lawyers. It only costs £10 per month and you have access to a wide variety of contracts, form employment to setting up partnerships to ... wait for it... a credit control pack. It has everything required for putting a policy in place for business.

We are going limited soon, so I can give my brother the share I promised him if he knocked his pan in (he is). Because of this I want to make sure that the new business has everything in place with my existing clientbase. All jobs must has a purchase order & sign-off design sheet & a delivery/acceptance form completed for each job. I know this sounds like an admin nightmare but I know as we take on larger jobs we will not have a leg to stand on if payment becomes an issue and we have to go to court.

To some of you this might be common sense, I crept in to business not knowing anything... somethimes I don't like what I have become. I had to tell a customer the other week: I am not a bank, you are not borrowing money from me for free, stop stalling and just pay me.

Anyway, Saturday morning rant over.

Cheers,

Rich
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Mike Fear

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Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 1:25 pm

Just goes to show that people will generally take the pxxx whenever they can, especially if it involvs money :(

A lot of the problem is that so many businesses buy stock or services with money they dont have - they use the invoicing time to hope that they get money in to pay the bill, and when they dont stiff the supplier - especially if you are a small business and they think they can get away with it.

Beware of the small claims court though - in theory you will win if the case is clear cut, however - it will probably take 12 months before you actually get a judgement in your favour, plus you then have to wait a month to get the money - all you usually get back is what you were owed, plus your court costs - it is very hard to try and claim additional compensation or interest charges. You go through all the hassle just to end up in the same position as if they had paid straight away.

Many companies know this, and will deliberately not pay suppliers knowing how long it will take before they are made to pay - or will either dissapear or declare themselves bankrupt and reopen under a different name etc.. while the case is going through and you have no chance of getting the money back.

Far better not to offer any credit in the first place ( unless its a really good customer you know is legit and will pay on time ) - the only people who will really object to this are ones who weren't going to pay on time anyway, and you'd be better off without them.

Having a contract is a good idea, but wont help you get the money any quicker with small claims - if a major large company are not paying you for a large bill that you cant take through small claims, chances are you'll never get it as you wont want the expense of going through 'proper' court to try and get it.
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Brian Hays

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Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 8:08 pm

Not really fussed about how long it takes, not even going to lose much sleep over £139+vat either. It's the principle though, don't like people taking the p***. I would hope the fact I now have a bounced check would make my case pretty water tight?

I have spoken to a friend in the same business as me & he know the guy. Said he is not surprised as the guy hasn't got a pot. If I can't afford something I don't buy it, would also be terribly embarrrsed if I were to bounce a cheque also.

Winds me up knowing he is probably using my stuff quite often! (:) (:)
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Mike Fear

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Post Sat Jun 05, 2004 10:31 pm

You shouldnt have any problems in small claims - it is guilty until proven innocent - you make the claim and its up to you to provide some proof you did the work, the defendant than has to prove he paid you for it - the bounced cheque will show he didnt.

The other thing that the banks dont often tell you - every time you pay a rubber cheque into your account it counts against your credit score with them, which is really unfair as its not your fault the customer is a (oh i swore !) !

If the customer is sneaky though, he'll admit liability in court, and then claim he has no money and offer to pay you £1 a week or something stupid - the courts often think this is acceptable and you get lumbered.

If it was me, I'd go round with the boys and just remove whatever he hasnt paid for - he'll either suddenly find the cash in his back pocket or will let you do it - you'll lose out on the money but gain the satisfaction that at least he's not get free use of your stuff.
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Martin C

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Post Sun Jun 06, 2004 12:49 am

Not sure if this is the right place but it seems an appropriate theread!!?

Last year I done some work for a UK Sign Boards user. They didn't pay! :(

I've tried to track the guy down but without sucees so if anyone knows the wherabouts of:

Stuart Horsburgh

formerly trading as

Abacus signs
Unit 6
Tweedvale Mills West
Walkerburn
Peebles
EH43 6BE

Please can you tell the bxxxxxxx that payment for the special Silver Trophy I done for his Rugby Club is still awaited! :evil:
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popcornpro

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Post Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:44 am

If it was me, I'd go round with the boys and just remove whatever he hasnt paid for - he'll either suddenly find the cash in his back pocket or will let you do it - you'll lose out on the money but gain the satisfaction that at least he's not get free use of your stuff.


I have decided to do this with a customer we have. Owed me £355. Paid £50 as an installment. Finally after 6 months of chasing just said, "I am not paying, don;t like it. You keep switching my email service off." Of course I do, you haven't paid me for the work or service I provide!!!

Sick to death of this guy and out of principle I am selling my debt to an unregistered debt collection individual. 50/50 and at least I get cash in my pocket and not have a bad day when I think of how I am getting screwed by this guy.

We have to have some principles. And yes, my ego was dented... simply not paying... who do these people think they are???
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Pryam Carter

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Post Sun Jun 06, 2004 7:17 pm

I know a bloke called Gypsy John who is very persuasive!!! :evil:
He even gets you the interest. :D
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F. Skierk

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Post Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:39 pm

I cannot afford to not be paid. I ask for most, if not all upfront.
People that do not pay their bills sometimes have good reason. (Sometimes (!) )
I know I would struggle to pay my supplier if one of my customers didn’t pay me. :o
Not because I didn’t intend to pay, more just how things work out.
I do not take credit for this reason & pay upfront or go without. Clocking up large credit bills is asking for problems should the time come when you do not get paid when expected.
On the other hand, people that ignore phone calls & wait for letters and court should get what is due. If everyone paid when they should business would run so much better for us all.

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