We have been exceptionally busy at Freelancealot over the last few weeks. Consequently, our attentions have been on more important matters than dodgy ‘clients’. Once the increased workload was running smoothly we returned to the enforcement of payment and whether to call in the bailiffs.
We conducted a little research prior to parting with the £55 to hire the services of the court bailiffs as we didn’t want them ending up at a mail forwarding company. A search on the Companies House WebCHeck gave us the registered address, however we were unable to get a phone number or email and decided to phone Companies House who informed us that they were also currently examining the company. We phoned the client’s number and confirmed with the receptionist that she was actually sitting in the address that was published on their website and that she worked for ‘First Metal’. That established, we knew we had an address to give to the bailiffs. Ever the optimist, I rang and spoke with Mr Sunburn to give him another opportunity to pay.
At first he denied he had seen any of my emails or that he was aware of owing us money. Once I had told him that we have copies of all the correspondence and recordings of phone conversations, he then tried the line that we had not performed our role adequately. I countered this by mentioning that we have emails from him telling us that his client was ‘chuffed to bits’ with the quality of our work, and that he had already said during one conversation that he had sent a cheque already but to an incorrect address. He then had the audacity to say as it was a Monday, I would have to wait until Wednesday or Friday as these were the only days that he issued cheques, and added that he was surprised that we had pursued a claim for £150! I reminded him that, with costs, the amount was about £220 and that, were I to call in the bailiffs, a further £55 would be added. I also added that if he couriered the cheque to me by the following morning, or if he paid immediately by BACs, I would not summon the bailiffs, and that I was not surprised that he was surprised. He declined to pay so I requested the bailiffs be sent and paid the £55 on Money Claim Online.
And that was the end of the ‘online’ part of this claim. After a wait of about three weeks we received a note in the post from Stockport County Court. The note informed us that the bailiffs had visited ‘First Metal’ and had been told by Mr Sunburn that he had paid us directly. It further stated that unless we responded within two weeks our claim would be ‘filed away and you may have to pay a fee if it is necessary to re-issue it’.
I telephoned the court and assured them that we had not been paid. Research at this time revealed that there were three outstanding warrants against ‘First Metal’ and that Mr Sunburn was well known to the bailiffs. Furthermore, I have been told that there are few items of value in their office – which made it unlikely they’d be able to get the money back.
My partner phoned ‘First Metal’ to ask the receptionist/secretary if she was aware of the outstanding warrants against the company and to enquire whether wages had been paid. The secretary confirmed that her wages had been paid. This suggests that there is some money in the company’s bank account, the freezing of which was to become our next recourse. Mr Sunburn spoke with my partner and, after first denying that a payment was due (an automatic response of his I believe), agreed to send the cheque recorded delivery that afternoon. Predictably, no cheque arrived the next day.
After informing the court in writing that no payment had been received, we had a phone call from Mr Sunburn (unfortunately when we were out) who left a message stating that he had sent the cheque that day. We also received an email later in the day stating that he had sent a cheque. To date that cheque has not arrived, though if it does I shall not be surprised if it is ‘bounced’ by the bank.
We will post again and let you know when the often promised payment arrives or, more likely, the process behind ‘freezing’ a bank account, known as a Third Party Debt Order.