Thankfully, almost never.
Great customers, our high success and satisfaction rates, professionalism, sensible pricing and clear communications combine to deliver a non-payment rate of virtually zero for us.
We operate ethically and this actually generates goodwill that generally shields us from non-payers and other undesirables. I also carefully filter enquiries and avoid assisting those who I think might be flakey. That being said, I’ve had two non-paying customers in a decade.
The first was a crooked real estate agent. I repaired and serviced his turntable, and he simply failed to respond to emails about collecting it. His equipment was worth far more than he owed us though, and he knew that. My final warning after 12 generous months noted that I would sell the turntable to recoup funds if he did not collect and pay for it immediately! He suddenly wanted to collect his equipment 😉
Even the collection was even more of a drama, with a crying baby, a screaming wife and a strange, sweaty man making all sorts of attempts to wiggle out of paying. Luckily I had customer and neighbour witnesses, none of whom could believe what they had just seen and all happy to support me if needed. He’s very lucky I didn’t sell the deck after a month, as I am entitled to. Naturally, he didn’t thank me.
This same guy once ripped off some bikes. He learned that this was a terrible idea the hard way when they came to his place of work to extract payment from him. They grabbed him as he left work, put a bag over his head and bundled him into a van. He paid them immediately. Again. Oof!
I don’t sanction this sort of behaviour of course, but ripping people off and not paying for things is stealing. You get what you deserve when you get caught.
The second non-payer asked me to service and repair his turntable as a high-priority job. I did that for him of course and had his deck running perfectly again, but he then disappeared, never responding to attempts to contact him or even doing the courtesy of apologising for his wrongdoing.
We sold his turntable and recouped around double what he owed. The result again was good for us, but what an unnecessary waste of everyone’s time and energy. This guy lost a beautiful, perfectly running vintage turntable, and for what? He disappeared, so we will never know, but his name is Mr J-o-h-n Messina. If you know him, tell him Mike would love to catch up with him.
There are some unscrupulous characters in this world who, no matter how much you try to help, won’t or maybe can’t behave ethically. My colleagues and I have a simple policy for dealing with people like this which you can read about, here.
It’s worth noting that these guys and others like them actually see themselves as the victims and those of us working honestly to help them as the villains, such is their bizarrely skewed view of the world. You can’t reason with people like this either, you just have to try to spot them before they do any harm.