In life two things are guaranteed – death and taxes. As a motorist, you would also add accidents and breakdowns. Our client is a Sheffield based accident repair centre. Insurance companies provide the majority of turnover. As an authorised repair centre of all German and Japanese makes, they rarely have a quiet moment. Occasionally they will undertake repairs for private or company-owned vehicles. When high voluntary excesses are used to reduce policy costs, it can be cheaper for some to pay for the repair themselves having advised the insurance company. The debtor opted to do just such a thing.
As a roadside recovery firm with access to a national network of mobile mechanics, our debtor inevitably succumbs to the odd prang. This particular accident was a low-speed shunt between two company-owned vehicles on company property. There were no spurious cases of whiplash or anything more sinister to investigate. Our client provided a quote for the repair which was considerably lower than the insurance excess. It would be a labour intensive repair using panel beating techniques. Parts and sundry items made up less than 20% of the quote. An insurance claim would require ordering brand new panels and meant the vehicles being off-road for several weeks. As the vehicles were due to be decommissioned and sold within a few months, it made financial sense to get the repair done by our client.
With the job signed off and invoice raised our client waited patiently for payment. Two payment promises were made and broken. When the £1.1K reached a month overdue, Advocate Debt Recovery were instructed. The client normally presents cases significantly higher in value and they were understandably frustrated this debtor had taken up so much time. For the first week of Advocate’s instruction, the debtor attempted to be evasive. Calls were not returned and emails were not responded to despite the debtor’s IT system acknowledging the content had been viewed. Persistence soon paid off. The client received a direct payment of £1.1K processed on receipt of the Final Demand. This was another successful commercial debt recovery by Advocate on behalf of the accident repair centre. However, our file could not be closed because the statutory late payment charges incurred through settling the account late were still outstanding.
The debtor responded to a follow-up email claiming the debt was paid before Advocate had been instructed sighting the Final Demand as evidence. In a blissfully oblivious own goal, the email trail included the initial Notice of Court Proceedings issued a week before payment was made! It also included some of their internal correspondence and choice thoughts about Advocate’s instruction. Throwing this back at the debtor in jest would only serve to feed a primal egotistical desire for a brief moment of jubilation. Instead, their ‘oversight’ and timeline discrepancy were respectfully highlighted. Payment of the statutory late payment charges arrived swiftly and without being challenged further. In such situations Advocate always has one eye on the long game. It is quite possible we will come up against the same debtor again and engage with the same people. Annihilating what little spirit of cooperation presently exists would have bitten the hand potentially feeding our client next time round. In this case, three things were achieved – the client got full payment, Advocate recovered its costs, and the debtor’s door of communication remains ajar for next time!