Saturday Story

HOW TO COLLECT A BILL

Among the jobs I’ve held, probably the least liked was “Civil Process Agent”. But as long as people sued and got divorces, there was work.

Right next to that was bill collector. I was good at both jobs, which probably says something about me as an individual.

Really, how many bill collectors get thank you cards from debtors? I did.

Paul Dugan, the best man at my wedding, worked for a heavy equipment sales company. The company had a lot of outstanding bills due. They weren’t sure on how they wanted it done or maybe Paul was just throwing me some work. Yeah, whatever.

The bill was $6K, a small construction company that just kept putting the bill off. It was for work done, repairs to equipment.

Paul convinced this boss to give me a chance to collect, fee of 10% of what I collected. Collection agency’s get 25 to 40%, a deal.

The construction company was located in the Mapunapuna Industrial area, in an overhead office with stairs front and back. The office was basically 2 rooms, a receptionist’s small waiting room, and the bosses office took up the rest. There was a wall and door between the two rooms.

I studied the bill, made my plan, and then made several calls to them. Each time I got the equivalent to “the check is in the mail”. In other words, putting me off.

The day arrived and I waited down the street and watched as the owner and receptionist arrived unlocked, and went inside. I waited a while, and then followed.

I was wearing a suit and tie, carrying a brief case, and looked business like and very professional.

I introduced myself to the receptionist handed her copies of the past due notices, the work invoices, and told her I needed to see her boss.

I knew he was there I had watched him enter and knew he hadn’t left.

Her response was as I expected, the boss wasn’t in and she didn’t know when he “would be in”. Now to put my plan into action.

I told her, “I’ll wait”. And I sat down, opened the briefcase, and took out a very thick book. I think it was Michner’s “Centennial”, several hundred pages. I opened it and started reading with page number 1.

I sat there for several hours. I read, she answered the phone, and told the callers the boss wasn’t there. She couldn’t transfer any calls, because that would mean she’d lied to me.

Sensing she was close to breaking, I took a large lunch bag, from the briefcase and began eating what appeared to be one of many sandwiches in the bag, I was right, this broke her.

She walked back to the interior doorway, and without knocking went in quickly closing the door. I couldn’t see what was inside, nor could I hear any voices. After all, the boss wasn’t in, right.

She came out, sat back down at her desk; I noticed she hadn’t brought any files back with her.

After 5-6 minutes the phone and, she answered, and behold, the boss was “checking in”.

She explained, over the phone, who I was, who I represented and what I wanted. They talked a few minutes and she indicated he wanted to talk to me.

Of course he didn’t understand what had happened and why we hadn’t received the check.

I was polite, understanding, even reminded him to cancel the prior check “in case the wrong people got it.”

He thanked me, I gave the phone back to the “receptionist” and he told her, loudly so I’d hear it that she’d better find out what happened to the prior check and to issue me a check for the full past-due amount. Which she did, and I thanked her, took my check and walked out. His car was still there.

Every time the subject would come up, Paul would brag about how I could collect more with a book and a lunch bag then most people could with a gun.

Of course, Paul’s company was sure I had done something “shady”, why else would they have paid so quickly. Could never convince them I hadn’t. Could never convince them to let me have any more accounts either.

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