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Debt collection CA creditor debtor law, past due invoices paid in full check deposit

Simi Valley, CA |


A customer purchased a number of items for resale in February, much more than usual - about $2000.00 worth of products over a period of a month, involving 6 purchases.

Then after all but one invoice was past due, she called saying that one toner cartridge she had purchased was defective, so I called the manufacturer, but they said that we needed the serial # from the printer in order to exchange it for a new one. I told this to my customer and she said she would check with her customer and let me know. I tried contacting her several more times to remind her to get the serial # so that we could resolve this issue, but she never contacted us back.

Finally, after several months and many unreturned calls and mailed statements pointing out the past due invoices, I went to her business address, but found out that it was just a mailbox. So we contacted a collections agency. They tried calling and mailing her, but were never able to make contact with her. However, she finally called us saying she would send us a check, but we never received one.

Then, a day after the collections agency left a strong message, she faxed us saying she was upset with how we handled the defective toner cartridge issue and would send us a check but would deduct the price of the toner which is about $270.00.

Weeks passed and still no check and the collections agency gave up (they had tried to contact her for 2 months and she never took their call or returned their messages or letters). So, I threatened her with small claims court and then a few days ago she called at about 5am in the morning and left a message saying that she would send a check, which we just received today (6 months after she made the first purchase). The check is short the $270.00 for the defective toner and says "PAID IN FULL."

My questions are: should we deposit the check? If we do, can we still go after her for the remaining $270.00? Would it be worthwhile to pursue the remaining $270.00 in small claims court? Would we be able to make her pay for the court costs? Would there be any guarantee that we would be able to collect after we win? Any other thoughts on this?



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Attorney answers 1


You should deposit the check and not bother going after the $270. Even if you win, there is no guarantee that you will collect it. In fact, it sounds like the other party knows the routine and has frustrated you so far. In the future, you should refer the matter to an attorney 30 to 60 days after it is late. Most collection agencies can only send letters or make phone calls. They cannot sue the debtor and you just waste time trying to collect your money. Either ask your business attorney if he does this or find an attorney who handles collection matters.

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