Every court reporting agency owner has experienced it, those clients who don’t like paying their bills. Who among us could blame them? If we could all get away with selectively not paying for goods and services thereby reserving more in our bank accounts for our own personal entertainment and/or living expenses that we want to pay for, wouldn’t we all do that? (That’s a rhetorical.)
Recently, I’ve had a rash of dine-and-dashers. That’s what I like to call the lawyers that dial my agency, book a court reporter and then ignore their unpaid invoices. For months. Sometimes for a year. Sometimes for years. Sometimes they just never pay us at all. Seriously? Seriously. They want service. And they want it for free. Dine. And. Dash.
I mean, who does that? And what’s the message they mean to send?
Well, in the case of one particular attorney – I’ll call him “Scott” – his message is that he likes me.
“I’ve always liked you and your business and spoken very highly of you.”
He didn't say that our product sucks or that our reporters are late or our administrative staff is rude. In fact, quite the opposite. He likes me and my business.
Really? That’s currency I can spend in the checkout line at Mariano's:
MARIANO’S CASHIER: That will be $140.00.
ME: Okay. Good. So did you know that “Scott” likes me? Here’s his number. He owes me all this money, money that I already paid to court reporters and my staff for his litigation. So call him, and because he likes me, he’ll probably pay for my groceries. In the meantime, my pot roast has a date with my oven. Gotta scoot.
It's not just that "Scott" likes me and his way of proving it is by stiffing me. He actually went on to justify his actions by telling me...
"As you might know I often deal with others who owe me money to pay their bills as well…"
So here it is. Plain as day. "Scott" has me confused with a bank. Alternatively, "Scott" makes bad business decisions; he takes on clients who don't pay him for years, so he says, and I unwittingly get to suffer the consequences of his bad business practices? That's clearly the take-away from his explanation.
Because it works for "Scott," this getting goods and services and expecting someone else to foot the bill, I decided to try it out.
I gave "Scott's" phone number and address to my creditors. I said, "'Scott' likes me. He said so. I know I owe you [creditors] money and surely, "Scott's" got my back. Because he likes me. He said so." So "Scott" can now expect a call from Rush Hospital, American Express, Bank of America and others."
I mean, "Scott" (and others like him) can't actually believe I should work for free, forego healthcare, a roof over my head and the ability to cover business expenses. Or do they?