Partial Payment Received
This is the fourth installment of my ongoing Small Claims Court Experience...
Well, I guess I wasn't being fed a load of lies when I travelled to the company on Wednesday with my small claims court papers and was told not to file, that partial payment was on its way. After some thought and comments from interested readers, both in my blog and via email / IM, I decided nuts with it and filed on Thursday (yesterday).
Lo and behold, today I got in the mail partial payment, exactly half of what is owed to me. The letter was postmarked June 30th, so I'm not certain if they really had “mailed out” the partial payments earlier in the week and they just had yet to get around to taking them to the post office, or if me showing up at the company with a short temper and papers in my hand prompted them to send me 50% in an attempt to placate me.
Any suggestions as to what to do now? As I see it I have two options:
Accept the partial payment and wait (hopefully not another six months) for the other half. The upside with this approach is that I actually get to see some of the money owed to me materialize into my bank account. That would be nice, eh? The downside, of course, is that I believe acceptance of partial payment would require me to drop my suit, no? As commenter Brian said, “ In Georgia and Florida too, I believe, if you accept a partial payment it is considered giving credit to the debtor. Giving someone credit means you have a different route to take to win your case and get paid in full. For example if someone owes you $1,000 they send a partial payment of $20 and say they will continue to pay you as they can then you cash the $20 check. You have now granted a loan to that individual and must give them whatever legal time they are entitled to repay the loan.”
Reject the partial payment. With this option I would be passing up the “bird in the hand.” I like Brian's suggestion, though: “ My advice if you do receive the check go back to their office with the check and the legal paperwork and demand either another check to make the debt paid in full or return the check and tell them you are going to court.” If they refused to pay I would then proceed to take the matter through the legal channels.
So, any suggestions as to what route I should take? The total payment due is low enough that even if I don't see a red cent it won't impact me financially, but I would like to be paid as promised for services delivered, naturally. Plus, I'm no Vanderbilt - whereas I won't go hungry or miss a mortgage payment if this payment is never paid, I'm still going to miss it, as I've always had a strong attraction and bond to every dollar bill I've ever met.
As I see it the benefits of going through with the court case are:
- Education - I've never had to go this route before and this unfortunate circumstance presents a lesson to be learned that, if floundered, won't be a big deal.
- Showing this company that they can't push around the little guy - this company really needs to review how it interacts with its instructors. Did I receive one call explaining partial payment was on its way? No. And on Wednesday, when I wrote an email to the controller asking them to verify that partial payment was, indeed, on the way, did I hear back at all? No. This company's communication patterns mimic that of a black hole.
- Getting paid in full (hopefully) - I know a judgement doesn't equal getting paid, but who knows if I'll ever see the other half of the payment if I accept their terms.
The major downsides of pursuing a case would be (and in this order):
- Time - the courthouse is like 15-20 minutes away, one way. Lines are long. Filing the paperwork ate out about two hours of my day, two hours I could be working for clients who do pay. I've calculated at this point that the time I've spent so far pursuing this, plus the additional time that would be required in court and whatnot, would end up costing me more dollar-wise than the other half of their payment.
- Not seeing a dime - if I accept the partial payment I'm half way to getting what's owed to me. If I reject it, who knows how this whole mess will turn out? I might end up not seeing a penny.
Due basically to the time costs I'm leaning toward just taking the half they sent and waiting for the rest. I'd really like to stand up against this company, but at the rate this is going I don't know if it makes economic sense. Any insight, comments, suggestions, etc. most appreciated. Thanks!
A complete list of blog entries related to this topic can be found at My Small Claims Court Experience and through Going Independent category. Your feedback is most welcome - please leave a comment or drop me a line.