As a self employed locksmith that takes on commercial work we will all encounted the odd non-payer, perhaps through bad management of finances or just sheer cheek and trying it on with the small guys.
Chasing a debt is usually pretty straightforward in my exprience and the usual threats of action and removing locks, etc usually does the trick.
I have already published a short guide to chasing debts for locksmiths in a previous post which you might want to read first.
Eventually we all come across one that really tries it on though and will ignore or dispute everything you send at them. Unfortunately I've have had a couple to deal with lately.
I completed work for a property management firm based in London a few months ago, collecting keys from workmen and changing locks. I left the keys to be picked up by one of their agents later that week who was supposed to post the money (I was away at the time.)
I was surprised to find he took the keys without leaving money as agreed and was straight on the phone to them when I got back. I was told they 'forgot' and they will pay asap...
As you can imagine this went on for a while, me chasing the debt to the point where I would ring every day to be told 'so and so is in a meeting at the minute, can we take a message, blablabla'. I began to lose patience and sent the final demand, a seven day letter from a solicitor.
This was ignored and I sent a message to the directors phone stating I am going to pursue this if not settled immediately. He finally replied and assured it would be sorted... It wasn't
Having never taken anyone to court I was dubious about incurring further losses myself but decided I needed to make an example of these assholes.
Issuing a Small Claim
The process itself is fairly straightforward; Firstly you need to register an account with Money Claim Online
The next step is to fill out the 'issue claim form' on the website. This requires company name, trading address, money owed, etc and takes no more than half an hour to fill out. It costs £25 to issue.
Once completed this is then sent to the debtor giving them 2 working weeks to respond to your claim wherby they can dispute, pay up or Ignore.
My debtor chose to ignore.
At this stage you can now log in and have to option to request judgement. Since the client decided to ignore all corespondance the judgement went in my favour.
To enforce the judgement and recover money you now have the option to request a warrant of execution. This allows a bailiff to attend on your behalf and collect the outstanding amount or goods to the value. This cost me a further £75 however, this and the other £25 for issuing the claim can be added to the grand total. Larger debts may incur larger collection fees.
Once accepted this is dealt with at the debtors local court. This process can take sevceral weeks and I myself am still waiting for the results of this step. I will update accordingly.
Part two can be found here.