View Full Version : small claims court or collection agency?

07-06-2012, 11:48 AM
Unfortunately I am faced with an account that is over 90 days past due for the first time as a business owner. Anyone have any experience trying to collect accounts that are past the point of "may I please have my money?"

I'm considering a small claims court or local collection agency.

07-06-2012, 12:46 PM
I would start with a certified letter requesting payment of the past due account (along with pertinent facts/dates etc) within a specific time frame/number of days.

If they don't pay up, when you take them to small claims court this provides written evidence that you made efforts to get paid beyond just phone calls.

Other avenues: I sold a used wide belt sander to a friend (don't say it) for $2500. He paid $1,000 down and was to pay $375 per month to pay it off. I went a year and was tired of waiting for my money so I started calling and leaving messages but was not getting any return calls. Finally, I started being more firm and "unpleasantly serious" and simply said "If I don't receive the $1500 balance within a week I will be setting in front of your place with a trailer waiting to load up the machine." He finally called back all apologetic and stuff and paid me within a few days.

In another case, I paid a used machinery salesman $3000 for the sliding table for a SCMI sliding table saw. He told me where to have it picked up in Atlanta but I called and there was no such saw there. He kept telling me there was a misunderstanding and he was "working on it". Later phone calls were not returned. A few months later I was in Pataskala, OH and looked him up thinking I would "take care of the situation". I found an empty house with overgrown lawn. Stopped at the neighbors house and found out he moved to Florida where I tried to track him but there are way too many with the same name down there. I stopped and left a report with the local police. I still continue to look him up because I figure there's a good chance he'll resurface in the woodworking industry. Found out from a machinery dealer in Nebraska that he took a guy for $25K. If he owed me that much I would've sent Guido to bust his knee caps.

Edit: just found him and I was correct. He started another used machinery website...http://cornerstoneremarketing.com/Contact-Us.html Now to figure out how the scare the bejesus out of him. :lol: Thanks for making me think about this !

07-06-2012, 03:46 PM
Check into the costs associated with it as well. I know collection agencies usually buy the debt from you at a discount (so you would only get some fraction of what you are owed, not the whole amount). Not sure how much you are owed, but when I looked into doing this a while back, it was going to cost me more to go after the guy than it would to just let it slide. Still burns me knowing that he got away with ripping me off though.

07-06-2012, 04:16 PM
Holy cow, James, what a turn of events here.. can't wait to see how this turns out!

My only experience is at a more corporate level, but yeah like Isaac said you only get a fraction of what's owed, they get the rest.

07-06-2012, 05:59 PM
Similar to Tim - all at corporate, but a collection agency fee will usually run you at least 30% or more and with only one account, depending on the amount due, you may have trouble even finding an agency to take the claim. I agree with the comments about the letters. Send it certified, return receipt required and keep that proof. If the deadbeat is not in CO, you may get a judgement in a CO small claims court, but you still might have trouble collecting.

Do you have any lawyer friends willing to write you a letter on their letterhead to scare the debtor even more? Any club members perhaps willing to do some pro bono work? Good luck!

07-06-2012, 06:22 PM

07-06-2012, 07:29 PM
My local collection agency will take the single account at 33%. Pretty much what I expected there.