Collecting from a collections expert


One tax client was a local attorney who specialized in collections work. He would come in the week before April 15 and dump his records on my desk. This included the law firm’s business Schedule C. I got the return done and filed on time for him because tax preparation is a SERVICE business. He repaid the effort by waiting a good 6 months to pay the invoice. In the third year, 6 months came and went. I sent a reminder statement. No response. I sent a second reminder statement. No response. Clearly, he was trying to stiff me and I had lost all patience. This was clearly MY problem, and unless I made it HIS problem, I was out the fee. Small claims court was an option I was willing to take, but only as a last resort. How could I make this HIS problem? Well, it was a joint return, so I called his wife at home in the middle of the day and asked why my bill had not been paid. She was surprised and really, she had no idea, but recommended that I call her husband. I told her that I had, but he had ignored me. She promised to call him herself and ask.


Now I had made this HIS problem. The last thing he wanted was for me to call his wife repeatedly at home to ask about the bill, because then she would continue to remind and bother HIM about it.


About 10 minutes after the first and only call to the wife, I got a call from him. He said, “I understand you called my wife at home!” in a gruff voice. I replied calmly, “Yes, I did.”


That’s all I said and I waited. There was silence on the phone for several seconds as he turned over the issue in his mind. I had not reacted to his call. He had not “pushed my buttons” as I think he had hoped to do. The next words out of his mouth were, “We’ll get a check out to you Friday.” I said that would be fine. He did and we were square.


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This entry was posted on June 28, 2011 and is filed under Collections, Small Business Advice. Written by: . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.