What is the craziest thing you've had to do as a business owner to get someone to pay a bill?
I worked for a company that sold sponge rubber padding for under Oriental rugs. A store in Atlanta ordered a single roll. It weighed 125 pounds and cost $250. He asked to have it shipped prepaid freight and to set up a credit account. My boss approved his credit because he had a name known to the boss. It turned out he was not a member of that family.After two months and two invoices and no payment, I placed a call. He asked for forgiveness for this oversight. I could expect a check next week. Another 30 days and no payment, I called again. “I can let you pay 1/4 now, 1/4 each month until you have paid this. Otherwise I need to inform my employer.” He agreed to this. He was 100 days past due when I fessed up to the boss. He told me to get the phone number for the Atlanta Area Lawyer Referral Service. A lawyer down there agreed to take the case to small claims court for half the money. You can’t deduct bad debts from your taxes without making a legal attempt to recover.Our lawyer goes to court. The defendant claims he never received the goods. Our lawyer ask if we can get him a copy of the delivery bill of lading. I call the freight company. They tell me that records over 90 days are archived but he will do what he can. He took a week but he came up with it. We faxed the bill of lading to Atlanta.Back in court, the defendant tried to claim he was mistaken about which shipment he was being sued about. Our lawyer claimed that this was his first and only shipment, so what was there to be confused about?In giving his verdict, the judge asked our lawyer how much time he was forced to spend on this case above the usually time for small claims? The lawyer said that this case was about 5 billable hours over. The judge asked his billable hour rate. For non-contingency cases, $100/hour. Then the judge asked the defendant if he had his checkbook with him. Upon an affirmative answer, the judge told him, “Write a check to this lawyer for $500, another to this court for cost plus a fine for contempt for $1000.” Then he needed to make one out for $750 for our firm for payment and double punitive damages.He was not forced to make these checks. He could have appealed the ruling to a higher court. It was the judge’s opinion that a higher court might just add a zero to his judgment. The DA might want to prosecute on perjury charges if he saw this transcript. “Do you wish to appeal?” Our lawyer overnighted our check.