Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grrrrrr....bound to happen!

I had a new experience I could have done without. I went downtown to the Court House and filed a suit in Small Claims Court!
I have been in business for 3 1/2 years and this is just the second time I have gotten a bad check from a customer. Good track record, says something about my clientele, don't ya think?
The first bounced check was about a year ago, and the girl that wrote it called and informed me before I even got notice from my bank! She came in, made it right, and all is good with that customer. In fact she has been back since painting.

I wasn't so lucky the second time. Jennifer Butler bounced a $102. 39 check on June 1st. (It was almost 3 weeks before I was notified that the check didn't clear) Of course I contacted her, and she put on the whole "what??? that can't happen!!! I will be contacting my bank, I have over $1000.00 in that account!" and she promises to stop in and pay me. I don't hold my breath, but am hopeful.
Couple days go by, I don't hear from her so I go to her bank.
"Can you run this through again?"
They check, "sorry, still won't clear," the teller tells me.
So I go back to the bank the next two days. I said to same teller, "I was hoping maybe there was a payroll check deposited and this check will clear now."
Again she brings up the account. "No, and I don't think that is going to happen!" she tells me.
"Oh? no activity on that account?" I asked.
"Oh there is activity!" Then she says to another teller (loud enough so I can hear) "This is not the only bad check written, more than likely this account will be closed soon, won't it?"

So I gave up on the idea of collecting the money this way. I called her again, of course she is avoiding my calls. So I try her a couple of times from my cell phone (not leaving a message in hopes she would answer an unknown number). I guess curiosity got the best of her because she called me back. She was shocked when I told her who I was.

I asked her again, "When can I expect you to come in make this right?" She gives me some song and dance, says she will be in in the next couple of days. I told her at that time that if I didn't get it by end of week I would be forced to take it to small claims court.
And of course, I don't see her that week. She doesn't answer my calls from my cell phone now. I take one last ditch effort using Shannon's cell phone. BINGO! she answers!
Again, she is shocked, and this time has a terrific story to tell me: "I am in the hospital with my daughter, she just had surgery! We will be home tomorrow, but I won't be able to leave. I will have to send you the money."
"That's fine, I'll hold off one week." I am only prolonging the inevitable, I know, but I just don't want the hassle and cost of filing in small claims court.

Funniest thing she says to me (with an attitude), "I am not that kind of person!"
I said, "I don't know what kind of person you are, all I know is you owe me money!" That is the last time I talked to her.

Which brings us to yesterday...Max went with me since this was new territory to both of us and not to mention I don't like driving in downtown Fort Wayne. The one way streets get me every time! (But that's another story)
I was surprised to find they have moved small claims from the court house to an annex building. Sad to think that a separate building with a separate court room is needed just for small claims!
I knew there was a fee to file, but had no idea it was $76!!! This made me think twice about guarantee I am gonna collect even if I win the suit. There is another fee of $13 if you want sheriff to deliver the notice of suit. So we decide lets go all the way with it so we pay the $89 and file the suit. Of course we are suing for court cost and an additional $25 service fee that I charge for returned checks.

Bottom line, Jennifer Butler now owes me $216.39!

And now I wait until August 25 for my court date. (Amazing they are booked this far back!)

Now that I have been burned twice I am thinking about getting the machine that clears a personal check know like running a credit card. Guess I will look into the cost versus what I have right now.

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