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  1. #1
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    Default Small claims for payment

    I'm owed around $1600 for work that I did for a local shop that was behind and need help. They are 5 months late and I've tried everything except bringing them to court. I would appreciate some much needed advice on this subject. What you require, what to be prepared for, and any small thing that most people wouldn't know unless they've been through this.

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    Bring a purchase order for the parts, your invoice and proof of delivery, plus copies of all correspondence used trying to collect. Due note even if you win a judgement the court does nothing to help you collect. I am pretty sure all states are a little different, but they all do the basics the same. You might want to try a local collection agency in lieu of court. On an amount that size they will probably take 1/3, but you will spend no time going to court, paying court fees and you could still never collect. If the collection agency fails there is no charge.

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    You have been scammed by nasty people who never pay anyone not mandated by law (wages) ......the usual strategy of these nasty people is to stall,ignore,then dispute the work ,dispute the payment when you attempt recovery thru the legal system.....Now there is a similar theme in another item here a few months ago...refer to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Bring a purchase order for the parts, your invoice and proof of delivery, plus copies of all correspondence used trying to collect. Do note even if you win a judgement the court does nothing to help you collect.
    I don't know Florida but in California, the court doesn't exactly help but there is a process for discovering assets. Once you have a judgement you can get an "order of examination" where you can ask about all their bank accounts, credit cards, and any other assets you might be able to attach. Lying under oath is perjury, which is criminal rather than civil, so you have a bit of a handle there.

    You can also demand what they have in their wallet, right then and there, which can be kind of fun

    It's not great but there is *some* help from the legal system.

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    Put a review on Google maps. Be truthful. You can put up pictures, so put up scan of invoice including amount billed. Let everyone know they are non payers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mebfab View Post
    Put a review on Google maps. Be truthful. You can put up pictures, so put up scan of invoice including amount billed. Let everyone know they are non payers.
    That could anger them to the point the guy would never see his money. I would threaten to expose them and tell them I was going to do that before doing it, to see if that gets them to cough up the money.

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    How much time do you want to waste for $1600?

    I consider my most valuable asset in business my time. It's one thing that cannot be recovered, you can't earn/buy more of it, etc.

    I agree with Mebfab. I would give them a reasonable chance to pay, then out them within the bounds of the law. Then move on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by josh2204 View Post
    I'm owed around $1600 for work that I did for a local shop that was behind and need help. They are 5 months late and I've tried everything except bringing them to court. I would appreciate some much needed advice on this subject. What you require, what to be prepared for, and any small thing that most people wouldn't know unless they've been through this.
    I would go to small claims court first. Many times, a company will pay up when they receive the subpoena in the mail. For the few dollars that it will cost to file and a few hours of your time, I would go that route first.

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    If the company is local you could file a small claims action for whatever it costs to file and serve the papers. Then there is a wait for the trial which can be a month or two. If you get a judgment you have no guarantee that you will collect. In California, the plaintiff can't appeal but the defendant can.

    As mentioned above, you can do an Order of Examination and bring the defendant into court to have him sworn. Then you can question him about his assets. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

    At $1,600 you are below the threshold where it's cost effective to do all of the above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    At $1,600 you are below the threshold where it's cost effective to do all of the above.
    Probably ttue. But on the other hand, I know of at least one place that would go to small claims for even a hundred dollars. They got the reputation of being a company you didn't want to shortchange, so in the end it was worth it to them.

    Also, at least one runthrough of small claims is a good educational experience.

    And there is the matter of principle ...

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    It goes against the grain but you could try and settle for a lesser amount. Say 1000.00 dollars, one time deal, payable immediately in lieu of going to court to avoid the hassle. If they don't honor it haul them into court and out them publicly.

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    Start adding 18% percent or 25% penalty after the 30 day period...
    Lookup whats allowed by law in FL.

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    If they aren't going g to pay the $1600 they won't be paying the extra %25 either.

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    Yeah but in 4 years they owe 3200.00

    Compounded interest ??? it would be.....

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    Various ways.

    You can chase them legally for max payment down the line.
    A 1800 $ gets to 9000$, easily.
    2-3 years.
    And you do not need to pay lawyers 4000$ of that.
    3-4-6 meetings and letters, 1200$, recovery 7800$.

    You can chase them for payment through local industry.
    If they don´t pay You, the local steel merchants will close their credit lines, probably late on payments.
    They either pay everyone, or close shop.

    Depending, you might be able to get a lien on what you made.
    Even if they sold it, it might not matter.

    Liens are often enforceable against the owners of small businesses.

    If You have a proper invoice, you have good standing.
    Ie any invoice from an established business delivering typical product, is basically seen as valid by collections agencies and courts.
    Unless Your invoice was disputed at the time, which seems not the case.

    If you contact the credit agencies, with an unpaid invoice, the biz is likely to pay You immediately, for 1600$.
    The credit agencies will rate insolvent a biz that wont pay invoices.
    Only delay is ongoing court action.
    Highly unlikely for 1600$, with culpability, no ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmccull166 View Post
    Start adding 18% percent or 25% penalty after the 30 day period...
    Lookup whats allowed by law in FL.
    a little thing called usury, then they will be suing you, and they will win

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    Start with a letter sent by Certified Mail to the responsible person/owner/agent of record reminding them that their payment is overdue. Attach copies of invoices and other relevant documents.

    In the letter say that you are assuming they somehow misplaced your original invoice(s) but if they do not submit payment within 30 days after receipt of the letter you intend to seek redress in small claims court.

    Be polite and businesslike and make sure the letter is addressed to the correct person with their full name and title. If the business is incorporated the state will have information as to responsible parties and otherwise it should be available at the county level or even local city hall as to who registered the business.

    Receiving a certified letter with your full name and legal title tends to get more attention than just addressed to the company in general. In Massachusetts all corporations have a Registered Agent and that is the person who gets served with legal documents. An example would be:

    John Q. Smith, Registered Agent
    Acme Widget corp.
    100 Main Street
    Anytown, Yourstate USa

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmccull166 View Post
    Start adding 18% percent or 25% penalty after the 30 day period...
    Lookup whats allowed by law in FL.
    In California, judgments carry 10% interest by operation of law. It may be similar in the other states.

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    Over the years in both my industrial supply company and machine shop I've had my fair share of dead beats ignoring the 30 day in house net accounts. Sometimes small amounts then sometimes amounts that actually hurt. What I found to be the least expensive and very affective was my local BBB. These people thrive on going after local businesses that don't pay their bills.

    If I had someone ignoring me or not at least trying to work something out I would copy the invoices and drive down to my local BBB. All I had to do was hand them to a case worker and usually I had my money in a few days (With Penalties). If they ignored the BBB then the case worker filed against their credit ratings and in some cases get their D&B number revoked or severely downgraded (Not a good thing if you supply government facilities).

    All this is free and it gives you a good paper trail if you need to pursue stiffer legal actions. Not sure how it works in your city but in my little hole in the wall town in Tennessee the BBB post businesses that have un-addressed delinquent bills in the local paper once a week. That will really get a customer’s attention........

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    That could anger them to the point the guy would never see his money. I would threaten to expose them and tell them I was going to do that before doing it, to see if that gets them to cough up the money.
    While I'm not a lawyer (duh), I think this strategy has you committing extortion (threatening in order to extract money), no matter how "justified" you might be.

    If you want, tell them in 30 days you'll perform this action, then sit back and see if they send funds. At that point you can decide to not post any reviews, or do so anyway. At least no threat has been conveyed in the meantime (although their lawyer could state there was an implied threat - ah, the joys of language and law).


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