As promised in our post titled ‘Small Claims Saga: Payment Gratefully Received’ (September 14) here is our answer to the question initially posed: ‘So, how easy is it for a small business in England to recover debts from non-paying customers?’
Would the cheque be honoured or bounced? Had one of the other claimants already filed a Third Party Debt Order, freezing First Metal’s account? I could almost hear the excuse; a voice saying, ‘But I tried to pay! It’s not my fault that someone like you has frozen my account’.
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.
The problem with the bailiffs is that they cannot take ‘tools of trade’ and companies offering IT services often have little else of value — apart from a coffee machine maybe. The problem with freezing the account is that the company might be in debt, which would explain why they haven’t paid our invoice.
We’ve previously written about Money Claims Online, a website offering to speed up the legal claim process by allowing claims to be made over the Internet, as well as the Better Payment Practice Campaign website that offers advice on issuing reminders, collecting information, and charging extras such as interest and debt collection fees.