Bloody Bloody Bastard client has done a runner - what can I do?(17 Posts)
I am self-employed and I have had one client for 2 years now who has needed bits of work every 2 - 3 months, nothing major, maybe £300 each time. He is a terrible payer, and typically only paid for one piece of work when the next bit fell due, but I kind of got used to that. BIG MISTAKE
Somehow I fell into the trap of doing some extra bits and he owes me £875, part of it dating back to March this year. I didn't panic too much because I knew he needed me to do a big bit of work in the middle of September, but that deadline has passed and I can't get hold of him. His home and mobile numbers go through to voicemail and he never calls back. His company website says it is undergoing maintenance, and emails are being bounced back saying the account doesn't exist anymore. I know he was moving house and I don't have the new address, all I have is the company's registered address, which is nowhere near where I live. They don't have premises, jusr ran out of his home.
This guy owns and runs the company and is the only employee too. There are 2 other directors who I never met who were just family members. The three of them also are directors of another company but I don't know anything about them.
So what can I do - is there anything I can do to try and get to him, maybe through Companies House? I have home addresses for the other 2 directors but I don't know if I should write to them, or what to say?
Also, I have a cheque for £300 which he wrote out almost 3 months ago and asked me to hold on to for a while which I only just discovered. He may well have forgotten about it - should I just bank it? If there is no money in the business which is a high possibility, what would happen?
cash the cheque quick. the worst that can happen is that is bounces. and yes i would write to the other 2 directors
What do I say to them exactly - I mean what can I "threaten" them with?
If the other two directors are family members, chances are they have nothing to do with the running of the business. (when I was a company, my dad was Company Secretary... he didn't do much!)
I think you need track him down - can you do this by stealth, phone the people at the new address (or the other directors) and say you have a cheque for him but don't know where to post it to. Or do you have his bank details? If so, you could try contacting him via the bank, to tell him that you are pursuing a claim via the Small Claims Court.
But I suspect - as you do - that there isn't any money to be had. I'd try the cheque first, then take a view after that.
I am going to try the cheque first although I am not very optimistic. I don't have any phone numbers other than the ones that go through to voicemail. I will look into the small claims court but I don't know if I have enough info about the company to pursue that.
Yes, bank the cheque. If it clears, that might be as good as it#s going to get because he's almost certainly gone bust, though it's also worth writing to the other directors saying you have been unable to contact Mr Bastard and would like to know what's happening ie has the company been formally wound up and if so who is handling the liquidation.
I do feel your pain. My last decent payer has now been taken over by the miserable fuckers who sacked me after I threatened legal action for 4 months' outstanding invoices, so I now regard my freelance writing career as finished, and if I write now I will have to consider it a hobby.
OK deep breath. Don't panic.
Both DH & I have had issues like this in our businesses, and here's what we do:
Bank the cheque. See if it clears.
Document what he owes you in a formal letter addressed to him at the registered company address. Keep it factual and professional:
"I am writing to you with regard to fees outstanding:
Project 1 : £xxx
Project 2 : £ xx
(Include amount of cheque too if it has bounced.)
As this amount is now overdue for payment I am requesting that payment is made within the next 7 days.
Should the amount remain outstanding it will be necessary to pursue this further through the small claims court.
Send the letter registered/ signed for mail so that they cannot say they haven't received it.
If he doesn't then pay up, you can pursue a claim online via https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/csmco2/index.jsp
(can't remember how much it costs though - might be borderline as to whether it's worth it )
Do you have any documents confirming that he contracted you to do the work?
These are now overdue
Sorry - random line at the bottom!
Companies House records should be able to give you company details and tell you if a company has folded, surely?
Thanks for all the advice. Am seriously tempted to refer to him as Mr Bastard from now on too!
It looks like the company hasn't been officially closed down, so I will try the letter route and see what small claims might be like.
I think if you go to a branch of the bank that the cheque is written on - they can tell you if there are sufficient funds available.
Will it cost you if the chq bounces - I'm not sure if some banks charge both parties.
I paid the cheque in this morning and I felt like I was doing something really sneaky ???? They said that if there is any problem with it I would be notified within 7 days. If it bounces they said I wouldn't be charged, but Mr Bastard would be charged. So fingers crossed for a few days ......
THE EFFING CHEQUE BOUNCED. I am so upset. I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I really got my hopes up, and now I think that's it, all that work for nothing, and Mr Bastard gets away with it.
Now on to Plan B I guess, contact in writing and consider the Small Claims Court.
I just cannot believe that this is how some people operate, and think it is OK to do this.
Gaaah. I've been watching this and hoping (against hope) that it would be OK.
I think it is the Small Claims Court next. Whippet's advice looks pretty thorough - but I wouldn't hold out much hope tbh.
Then go and get a better client and take that as the best form of revenge!
OMG I actually got hold of Mr Bastard today - I rang his mobile and withheld my number and he picked up. I was so shocked I didn't know what to say. More amazing though was the schock in his voice when he realised who I was!
I said I was extremely concerned that I hadn't heard anything, hadn't been paid and the cheque had bounced and he was very apologetic about the cheque. He said he was due to get in touch this week and new the deadline had passed but still wanted me to do the work when he gets himself organised, but apparently things have been manic and he has just let a lot of things slip. He claims that the business is suffering so he must pay me out of his own pocket and will be doing that this week, and then give me a call to sort out the next piece of work.
Don't worry folks, I am not a total moron and will not be doing any more work.
I said I looked forward to receiving payment this week and hearing from him. I said if I hadn't heard or been paid by the weekend I would give him a call and then have to take steps to recover my money "some other way". He just said yeah yeah no problem and that was it.
I don't really know why I called or what I expected him to say, but at least I feel I have tried everything. Now I am going to concentrate on drafting letters and getting organised for the Small Clains Court.
Still gutted. Bastard.
I have a client a bit like this. He's always got excuses as to why he hasn't paid yet. His latest deadline is the end of next week, and if he hasn't paid me by then, I am going the small claims route too.
A friend of mine suggested that I get a chip and pin machine and ask clients for a deposit to "secure" the work. She says you can hire them through the banks for something like £25 a month. I've not come across it before in my industry and am a bit worried that people will think it strange. But I am tempted to do it with the smaller companies as otherwise I may end up getting stung again.
I have one client with money problems - I only do work for him now if he pays me cash after every shift I do.
Sorry to hear about this and I really hope you get your money somehow.
Whippet's advice is spot on - get that letter sent by recorded delivery. The sooner you get the letter sent the better.
Good luck and I hope you get some joy through the Small Claims Court.
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