Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gah!

You may remember how a certain company owes me $500 for work I did on their non-existent magazine.

I have their emails offering me the job, their emails requesting certain articles to be written, and my emails responding to these. I also have my invoices and copies of the letters/emails I sent them, requesting payment.

I recently sent them a "if you don't pay me within the month, I will be taking you to the Small Claims Court" letter (which, as far as I understand it, is a requirement before you do take them to the Small Claims Court).

This is that letter, boomeranged nicely back into my letterbox today.


So what do I do next? I doubt I can take them to even the small claims court without a valid address, phone number or email contact (emails are bouncing; their phone is cut off; they've taken their website down). Also, I'm supposed to notify them and give them a warning before I do so (does trying to contact them count?) It's not worth talking to a lawyer, since I expect their fees would soon be more than the $500 I am trying to recover.

Do I just let it go?

13 Comments:

liina said...

Report them. And then let it go.

grace said...

Is there a Free Legal Advice Service in Oz? Here you can at least get a law student to sit down with you and talk about the basic legalities.

StyleyGeek said...

Report them to who, liina? I don't think it's a police matter when someone doesn't pay you for contract work, if that's what you have in mind.

Grace, I've been trying to find out about this. I might be able to use the student legal advice office at the university, but may not be eligible anymore since I am kind of finished (though not graduated). I think I have a good understanding of my legal options from the websites I've been looking at, but the legal options appear to be: (1) small claims court, with the associated problems I described, (2) real court, with a lawyer, for lots of fees, (3) debt collection agency, which would probably not be interested for such a small sum, and would also require contact details.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I'd call the small claims court people and ask about the address problem. They can't be the first people who have bailed on their bills --and you probably aren't the only one they owe money to.

If you can file with small claims court and get a judgment, at least you'd be in line to get money from them if they surface... it probably won't get you any actual money, but you never know what will happen...

Seeking Solace said...

Is there a Consumer Advocate Bureau or some other organization that can help? You may also want to contact the Bar Association for assistance. (Do they call it the Bar Association where you are? It's the governing body for attorneys.) They may have free services to help you.

Jana said...

It sounds to me, unfortunately, as though you'll end up having to write it off - it doesn't sound as though the firm, even assuming you could find them, will be in any position to pay you.

Your time has a value, too, and I guess it's a question of how much of it you want to expend in pursuit of something that's likely to be a hopeless cause.

Marie said...

My experience with small claims (in the U.S.) is that you pay a lot of fees to the court (which you can theoretically get back if they rule in your favor), but that they actually do very little to help you get your money. I had a legitimate claim, but the guy never showed up to court and I would've had to hire somebody to investigate where he banked or worked to get my money. The issue was eventually resolved through insurance companies (this was in regard to an auto accident), but I never was able to recoup all the fees I paid and was left feeling really bitter! So, my advice is to avoid small claims unless there really is no other way...but maybe the system works better in Australia.

triviawasfunbutwewereshite said...

One of my modelling agents NEVER paid me for ANY work I did over nearly 12 months. They became uncontactable and I had no recourse except to take them to Small Claims, but the costs of doing that outweighed the money I was owed. Basically, if it's not over $750, there's no point. But report them to an Ombudsman--I'm not sure which one. Natalie may be able to tell you!

The History Enthusiast said...

I have nothing useful to contribute to the discussion, but I just wanted to say that I hope this gets settled quickly!

StyleyGeek said...

Marie, I think that is what I've heard too: even though Small Claims Court is cheaper than real court, it still costs fees, and the judgment is only going to help if you can then send someone after the money. But you have to do that last part yourself (or, at that point, I think you can go to the police). Without an address, it's not going to be possible.

Jana, you are right about my time, too.

Summer said...

Have you looked on the Australian Securities website? If they are a 'registered' company, they are required to have a legal address registered with the securities commission.

try: http://www.asic.gov.au/asic/asic.nsf and search in the box in the corner

liina said...

I think you can report scams and such.... scamwatch.gov.au ?

liz said...

Around these parts (US), law schools and bar associations have free legal clinics you can go to for advice, help filling out forms, etc. Does your home base have similar offerings?