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Florida store wont pay


#1

Hello all,

I am having trouble with a store in Florida that won’t pay a 10 month
old invoice. I have emailed, faxed and called, and so far have only
been sent $150 of a $800 payment. They originally agreed to a 45 day
payment, but the buyer I was in contact has since left. I am based in
Israel so I can’t go there and demand the money. Every time I have
called, the owner has put me off with some excuse, (staff changes,
cant find the invoice, bad cash flow) until eventually she said that
they have no cash at the moment, and they will pay me $150 a month
until the full payment is made. Since that call they have not replied
to my emails or sent any checks. I am really frustrated and can’t
believe a store would actually avoid payment like this, as luckily it
has never happened to me before.

I don’t feel I have any way to get the money, apart from threatening
to bad mouth her to people in the industry, which isn’t my style. I
thought of sending a lawyer’s letter saying that if the payment is
not paid within a certain time I will initiate legal proceedings.
But I am not sure how I would proceed after that if they still don’t
pay. Any advice? I tried looking this up in the archives, but could
find anything. If it has been discussed before please send me the
keywords to find it on the archive search engine. Happy to also
receive any advice direct to me to at @Laura_Cowan1

Thanks in advance,
Laura Cowan
Judaica Designer and Silversmith


#2

Put their name on the Internet, this way other dealers will not get
hurt like you have.

Lloyd.


#3

Laura

I’ve had trouble with a store in Florida and with jewelers locally as
well. You’ve done everything you can except knock on their door. I am
not in favor of the “bad mouth” approach either but I do know that
warning other associates in the industry that these folks have a
habit of stiffing you or paying late could save other jewelers from
the same problems that you are going through. There is no excuse for
this treatment and we all struggle to pay our debts on time. It’s
disrespectful of them to ignore your requests for payment and sending
a lawyer’s letter could be your last hope.

My dilemma is the same as yours so I’ve discontinued working with
those accounts who are not willing to pay on time. It’s not worth
the headaches. I wonder if I got stiffed by the same jeweler in
Florida as you have ?


#4

Laura,

I dont kow how prominent the Jewelers Board of Trade is in Israel,
but in america, if youre a member, you can use them as leveridge to
get payment. The cost is 750 a year approx and if you are dealing
with american jewelers, membership is a must. you can get credit
reports, etc. Threaten JBT action and you will get results.

-Zane


#5

Deja Vu, I too am having trouble getting payment or any reply from
an account in Florida. I’ve never had anyone do this before so it
actually surprises me, I guess I’ve been lucky and naive! Marta Irvin
in Georgetown, CA


#6

Hi:

I’ve been stiffed too, but the store was in Wisconsin. Now, I only
work with stores that pay up front unless they have an excellent
reputation, or are local. End of story. If the store does not like
my policy, too bad.


#7

just thought of a possible solution. Have you heard of the Jeweler’s
Board of Trade, the JBT? I suggest that you call them and ask for
their advise. You can also, find out if they, the bad store, is
listed, then you can notify the bad store that unless you recieve
full payment within say 1 week, you will call JBT back and notify
them of this debt. It might help. Dennis


#8

Is the store in Florida Jewish run? If so, perhaps you could get in
contact with a local Rabbi to be an intermediary.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


#9

Hi Laura,

my name is Laura too! I myself have had this problem and I know it is
NOT FUN!! The first time it happened I talked to a lawyer friend who
told me what to write in a letter that led the buyer to believe that
"my lawer" had written it. This was the one thing that scared her
enough to finally pay up. Another time this happened to me I
threatened to file a report with the Better Business Bureau and they
paid up that week. You have to be tough with people who do not pay.
Once I have finally gotten my $ I never do business with them again,
it sucks to lose customers but who needs that kind of stress. My rep
once even went so far as to bring a police officer into one of her
stores to get paid. It is theft and it’s illegal…they need to pay
you so i say get legal on their ass!

Good luck,
Laura :slight_smile:


#10

Any suggestions as to where on the internet to post these names? Is
there a website? I’ve often thought about starting one, but time and
the fear of a lawsuit has stopped me.

I feel like I always have at least one bad account that I’m battling.
Right now, there’s two. Fortunately, they are both local accounts
and while they are too small for a collections agency to handle (from
what I’ve been told my many a collections agency), I am planning on
sending them to small claims court. I want to be a thorn in their
side and send them a message that even though I am small, I am
mighty!! Even if I take them to small claims court and they still
don’t pay, which I’ve been told does happen, it’ll be a black mark on
their credit rating. Sounds a little vengeful, but I’m tired of
rolling over and waiting a year for someone to pay a $500 invoice. I
think if someone is having $$$ problems, they are going to pay the
ones that are threatening first, and the quiet ones get ignored.
That’s what I would do!

I exhibit at wholesale trade shows, and pick up a lot of accounts
from these shows. What I have recently started doing is requiring a
current credit card on file if someone wants terms. I make them sign
a credit reference sheet stating that if they are granted terms, I
must have a current card on file for every order. Any order over 45
days late will be automatically charged to the card. If the card is
charged, then the terms revert to COD (meaning credit card payments
only, checks bounce!!), for the life of the account. Burn me once,
shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. If someone doesn’t want to
supply a credit card then I won’t do business with them. I find it
shady that one could run a successful business, where bills are paid
on time, without a credit card.

I think it’s crazy that some stores immediately expect terms when
you’ve met them once at a trade show. Oh sure, I’m gonna send you
$3,000 worth of jewelry and just trust that you’re gonna pay! When I
started out I was sooo trusting, good karma and all… but good
karma doesn’t pay my bills! Some people are put off by my terms, but
I explain very nicely that I have had some problems in the past
with overdue accounts and have learned that I need to cover my ass.
Sometimes, if they are very haughty about it, I blame it on my
"business partner" (hee hee), and explain that this is the agreement
set up between us and I am not “allowed” to break it. I make it very
business-like. Sometimes it’s hard being the “designer” and the
exhibitor as it puts you in a bad position. You want to be nice and
you want people to like you and your line and sometimes you just
need a “bad cop”.

I have also made many friends with other exhibitors at these shows
and we exchange info after shows such as “have you done business
with so-and-so? How are they?” Or, if someone doesn’t pay, I let my
friends know ASAP so they are forewarned.

I have just come to terms with the fact that there will always be
accounts that don’t pay. Even accounts that you’ve dealt with for
years can come up with money problems at the drop of a hat. But,
this is a business, and I have bills to pay as well, and my
suppliers expect to be paid on time.

My 2 cents, for what it’s worth. Hope it helps and thanks for
letting me vent a little- boy that felt good!!!

-amery


#11

I would contact the Better Business Bureau, in their city and
register a complaint. I think you can do this on the internet.

I think it is dreadful that any one has to go through all of this.
We work hard, and the time involved in making many of our more
intricate pieces far exceeds what we receive for them. I had only
one bad experience many, many years ago, and was never able to
receive any payment, or the return of my cloisonne jewelry. As the
gallery was out of state, there was not much I could do but phone (I
was always put on hold, then hung up on), or write them, but I never
received any replies to my letters. Finally after three years of
aggravation, I gave up.

You have my sympathy, and I do hope that you are able to get some
good resolution of this matter.

Alma


#12
    I am not in favor of the "bad mouth" approach either but I do
know that warning other associates in the industry that these folks
have a habit of stiffing you or paying late could save other
jewelers from the same problems that you are going through. 

This could get you in a lot of trouble – depending how carefully
you word your comments you could wind up on the receiving end of a
slander or libel lawsuit. You CANNOT publicly blast someone for
being a “deadbeat” or whatever…I know the Contemporary Design
Group (a trade group of designers) has gone down this road before to
great dismay.

And a few years ago a couple of designers were sharing info on a
retailer at the JA Show – two warning another about MR X due to
their own histories with him – the sales rep for the other designer
who is friends with MR. X told him about the conversation. The next
week both designers got slander warning letters from his lawyer. AND
he refused JBT’s efforts to collect for one of the designers
claiming she defamed him so he’s not going to pay the money he owes
her and if she insists on collecting he’ll follow through on the
slander suit threat!!! And all these folks were friends enough
to have many a dinner together when times were better.

There have been many a time when a store is a bad payer for one
vendor and an OK payer for another. Or there’s a disagreement about
their arrangement but the designer still goes around blaming
retailer rather seeing his own part in the problem. I have seen
examples of both. And of course, there are plenty of examples of
retailers who get in over their heads or are poor cash flow
managers.

I just say tread lightly on the public forum / sharing.
There’s a reason JBT exists and is the only one legally allowed to
document credit history in the industry.

Cindy Edelstein


#13

Laura,

The best advice of all sent publicly to you is to contact the Better
Business Bureau (BBB) in that area of Florida.

I recently went that route with Sears after American Express twice
did not invoke their Purchase Protection Plan. BBB resulted in a
reversal of a charge on my American Express Card.

This was all done online.

Shalom,
Terrie


#14
    I feel like I always have at least one bad account that I'm
battling. Right now, there's two. 

Hi amery;

I sympathize. I sometimes end up waiting for payment, and it’s tough.
I don’t like to pressure people, I know what they are sometimes going
through. I have a local account who complains, every quarter, that he
has to wait to pay me because he has “payroll taxes” to pay. I remind
him I have more payroll taxes to pay than he does and I have to pay
them with what he pays me, at least partly. I have to pay mine ever
month. I’ve thought about the credit card bit. I’ve thought I might
raise my prices 5 percent, then offer to take 5 percent off the bill
if paid within 10 days of the invoice. Cash flow is the hardest thing
to get control of in any business. You see, everybody thinks
everybody else is making more money than they are. I have some
accounts who pay me right away, some who take longer, and some who
have me biting my nails. Fact is, when I have to wait for somebody to
pay me, I have no choice but to shift my priorities over to working
on the accounts who pay right away so that I can get cash flow. So,
the better the pay, the better the service. Myself, I pay my vendors
right away, and I mean, immediately. I do this because I want them
to think of me as a good account, in case the time comes when I need
a little time on paying for something. It works. The guys I buy
stones from get paid quickly, but if I need to get money from a
customer before I can pay for something expensive, they know I won’t
be jacking them around and they give me a little more time.

David L. Huffman


#15

Hi all;

I had a guy in another state who owed me $500 for a whole year! I
finally found out who really owned the store and sent her a
certified letter. In it, I told her how dissapointed I was to be
treated this way after all the hard work I’d done for them and all
the excellent service, etc. Mr. Manager got me a check toot-sweet. My
point here? Make sure you are in fact dealing with the people who own
the business. Sometimes, these owners are absentee and have their
trusted servants in complete control of the operation. If the manager
is mismanaging the money, he or she will stall anyone and everyone
for payment, lest the owner figure somebody needs to be laid off
because business is getting thin.

But in regards to this Florida case, does anyone know if it’s
possible to have a lawyer represent you in a small claims case
without you’re actually having to be there? I know the accused has
the right to “face” their accuser, but can a case be brought via
conference call? Does power of attorney apply here?

David L. Huffman


#16

i recently bought an eclipse verfone merchant acct machine the thing
does checks and will even scan drivers license’s. it saves me alot of
time id ont have to go to the bank to deposit checks i get the money
right away they cover the check if there is a problem and if they
have bounced a check the machine knows about it and its cheper to run
the checks than it is to run plastic - this doesnt really have
anything to do w/ the store that wont pay but others may want to
research tele - check for them selves i bought the thing on
ebaysaved a bunch just another way to help screen out those p.i.t.a.
customers


#17

I always get a deposit at least upfront, to cover the cost of
materials and do nothing until it has been cleared.

In our IT business, I use the (UK) law to recover unpaid invoices.

Pat


#18

Telephone as mentioned the JBT or the Better Business Bureau. Is
this store-owner a trade member? Or actually talk to some of your
in-town store owners, or repair-shops, let ‘them’ know of this
individual. You must know of some State-run trade orgs.

“Don’t get mad…get even!”…did you give him a memo-sheet or an
invoice to substantiate your method of billing and collection ? and
did he sign it?..in business you should leave “friends and the
karma” feelings outside the office door…Gerry!


#19

Amery,

It could be that you are overlooking the fact that credit card
holders can easily set up a charge back if they want to play games
or if they have a real or imagined grievance about your goods or
services. In actuality it is easier to set up a charge back than it
is to stop payment on a check! It costs money to put a stop payment
on a check !

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#20
    Is the store in Florida Jewish run? If so, perhaps you could
get in contact with a local Rabbi to be an intermediary. 

What a strange thing to say, Lee! If the store is run by Catholics,
should one get in contact with a local priest? What if it’s run by
Muslims or Buddhists? Whatever were you thinking?!

Beth