I own and have owned several businesses over the last 50 years and have found that most people are great and fine to do business with but no matter what, there will be about one a hole a year. I have the one for 2013. On July 1st a guy from North Carolina starts emailing and calling me needing a carb for a Franklin speedster he just bought and wants to take on an HCCA tour. So after email after email - I pretty much spent the day answering his emails and the same questions over and over - he finally sends me money for it. I told him I was taking a few days off for the 4th and it would be the next week or maybe the week after that before I could get to it as I am just buried with work. I took the 3rd, 4th and 5th off, came back Saturday so I could get some work done in the shop; when I got started on his order Monday I saw that he has sent a note with his paypal payment that he wanted it by the 12th. So I finished it up, mailed it Priority Mail on the 10th so it would be there Friday the 12. He started emailing me on the 11th wanting to know where his carb was, told me it would never get there, I should have got it out earlier, called me a few names and said I should not have taken the 4th off when HIS ORDER wasn't done yet, etc. I finally had enough of his insults and told him to just send it back when it got there and buy one somewhere else. I refunded his money and told him not to even open the box. Delivery confirmation shows that it was delivered at 12:40 PM on the 12th. He now refuses to return it or pay me for it, says if I am that stupid to refund his money I can go to Hell.
I'll probably get the money eventually but anybody who is thinking about going in to business for themselves and dealing with people needs to think about stuff like this before you fire up that business plan. The carb was $550, I only know of one other place that rebuilds carbs and they get around $1200 for the same thing.
This guy runs some motel supply business and sells toilet paper and little bars of soap so he is a real big shot. It's his daddy's business and he is the sales manager. Yeah, right.
Well, off to the shop. Back to the carb bench. I'm just glad everybody isn't like this jerk.
Stan, the restoration business is like that you always have one bad apple among the group I put up with it all the time. I get a lot of flak from people because I am 16 and I work on model T's and A's. People just have no respect for what we do.
I deal with people like this almost every day, I could go on and on.
You did your best, that's all you can do, the guy is no man, but a child and a thief.
You only get just one a year? I'm moving to Montana:D
I worked at Social Security for 9 years. People get REAL bent out of shape when they don't get their SS checks. Can't really blame them but it is amazing to me how often it was THEIR FAULT!
Just like your example Stan... Did he wait until the last minute to order? Probably.
Over the years I have found people who order things last minute and expect delivery yesterday so they can make their next tour are the hardest to deal with.
Generally, if they don't make advance arrangements they will be trouble to deal with when you go to extra lengths and pull your fanny through a knothole to help them.
I will bend over backwards to help someone who helps themselves, but having been there before I am very careful when dealing with guys with requests like your customer in NC. Especially if they are very aggressive in my first contact.
Ron the Coilman
Stan, There is always one idiot out of any group of people you invite to a pool party that just can't wait to pee in the pool.
Where in North Carolina? I can go rough him up for you. Maybe take a knife to his tires. =) Just let me know.
I hate it for you. We have a strict "No refund until items are returned" policy.
What happened to the old rule, "The customer is always right"? I think you should have told him right up front that you could not get it there by that date, or at least have waited for him to return it before you refunded the money. You sure broke your back to get it out on time, and it got there on time. I guess you could sue him, but might not be worth the time or effort. In this case, the customer was NOT right!
That guy hasn't ever dealt with that other Howell in Texas. LOL
Mark, your comment about having just one per year was great!
Stan, I feel your pain! One of my favorite slow-pay customers was IN Montana! He's actually a good guy, too. He ordered some items at our convention in Reno in December of '09. I shipped it on time, and it arrived on time to him in perfect shape.
He just wouldn't pay. I had given him a Net 30 account based on my usually-proven question, "I will just send you an invoice; will you send me a check in thirty days?" to which he nodded, "Yes."
In any case, after about six months of no pay, no response to phone messages, e-mails, or faxes, I said to myself, "I've always wanted to visit Montana and see at least part of that magnificent scenery in person." The total amount he owed was about $1600.00 which was within the small claims court limits.
So, I got the papers from the small claims court, mailed them back to the court with a check so that the sheriff would serve him (which he did in a few days), and sat back. It's rare that I do this, but usually when the law shows up with a suit, the debtor (if he has any money) will pay, especially when there's been no dispute about price, delivery date, or condition of the merchandise when he received it.
The total cost to go to Montana and collect would be about $750.00, but hey; I have always wanted to visit Montana, one of the five continental states I've not ever been in (Idaho, Wyoming, and both Dakotas being the other four).
Long story short(er!), I was calling on a customer in late July of '10 when Mary called me from the office saying that the customer had called and paid his bill with a credit card. I was actually a little down about this; as I've said, I always wanted to visit Montana.
In any case, I called the customer to thank him for paying and to reassure him the suit would be dismissed. He and I talked on the phone for a half-hour about agriculture. He still orders from time to time and always offers his credit card, which I accept. I still see him at our conventions. I actually, no joke, like this guy.
With your guy-with-attitude in North Carolina, I believe you could follow the same steps that worked for me. I also believe that your correspondence indicating his lack of good faith could result in court costs being added to what he would owe you.
Again, I'm sorry you've had this problem, even though you did everything right.
Not that it will get your money - or the carb - but I do offer my sympathy.
Some homo spaiens are an embarrassment to the rest of us.
Sorry for your experience....maybe Frieda will figure out a suitable retort. (Herman would surely get too agitated to be civil.)
My brother had a sign up in his Powder Coating business in California that said, "Rule number one: The customer is NOT always right. Rule number two: We have not lost a customer, we have eliminated a problem for this business."
Seth: Lumberton. I'm going to send him a picture of all 6'2", 275 of me and tell him if he sees me walk in the front door of his store he'd better be going out the back. =) Nah, I wouldn't do that, down there in redneck country the sheriff is probably his brother in law and the county attorney is probably his cousin. Wouldn't be worth it.
Ron, I agree. Virtually every problem I have ever had in business is some self important jerk who expects me to drop every thing else so I can wait on him hand and foot.
As far as suing him, the best thing that happens on a deal like this is that you can usually get it in the local paper if you actually take them to small claims court. Most of those small town papers are pretty slow for news these days and a local Deacon of the Church being sued for obtaining property under false pretenses might make a pretty good story. It is just amazing what you can find out about somebody on the Internet, too. I googled him. My "investigation of this incident" will also include a letter to the president of the North Carolina Horseless Carriage Club as to whether he did or did not take a stolen carburetor across state lines to an HCCA tour in Georgia. That should get him a little press in the HCCA world. I might never get my money back but I will cost him a little reputation and aggravation.
He might also like to subscribe to a couple hundred magazines via that "Bill me later" card in Cat World, Tween, Pride, etc., etc. They turn those over to collection agencies after a few non-paid subscriptions. =)
This guy is completely in-the-wrong. When the law shows up, it's the most sobering, mind-clearing attitude-adjusting experience he can have, especially if his wife is there.
With his being a Deacon in his church (unless he's a career criminal), he'll be calling you with his credit card (and possibly an apology, although I wouldn't hold your breath for that) within 24 hours after the Sheriff leaves. All it would cost you is about $85.00, the time to fill out the papers, and a stamp to mail them.
"He might also like to subscribe to a couple hundred magazines via that "Bill me later" card in Cat World, Tween, Pride, etc., etc. They turn those over to collection agencies after a few non-paid subscriptions. =)"
I knew Freida would come up with something!
When they throw out the magazines that are outdated at the drug store/magazine shop/porn store/truck stop/wherever -- that little card is usually still in the magazine. If not, the guy at Walgreens or Hastings doesn't care if you pull the card out while browsing the teen girls section -- or whatever you think your "friend" might be interested in having delivered to his place of business or home. Just check the Bill Me Later box. I, of course, would never do that but it is an enticing thought.
Stan, take out an ad in his church bulletin with some kind of christian saying.
The great thing about the webernet is that this type of scum is soon found out, and everyone knows in a short time. I suspect that he will not be participating in the T hobby much longer, as he will find that he is persona non grata in every place you would find an antique car. In the military collecting circles, there have been a few real scumbags, but they do not last long, as they find it difficult to cheat more than one or two people before no one will have anything to do with them.
The magazine trick reminds me of a friend who was off on a mission, he filled out a Playboy subscription card for his little brother at home. His brother was called on the carpet by his father when the first issue arrived, the brother told his father that he was disappointed in his father that he would think that he would subscribe to Playboy, or that his father would think he he was stupid enough to have it sent to his parent's address.
I've always liked the idea of having a dump truck full of horse manure make a delivery to someone's front yard. Still waiting for the opportunity.
(Maybe in NC that would be considered a generous gift however?) ;>)
Stan, want to really tick him off? Contact Paypal and explain everything. A friend says when they get a complaint the first thing they do is freeze the other guy's account so he has no access until matter is settled.
Usually the last thing I say to people like this is: "Your now on my short list of people I need to visit should I ever get a terminal diagnosis"!
Gosh all these good ideas.
I think I would do them all and have the guy wish he had never been born.
"When I get done with you there won't be anything left...."
But that's me.
STAN, I feel for ya, seems that the folks I tried to bend over backwards for always got me. I do believe though that everything comes back around to those that do wrong to you. KB
Strictly my $0.02 but return the payment? Why oh why Stan? You did the work AND delivered the product PLUS you have proof it was delivered on time AND you had an idea of the type of person you were dealing with. I sincerely hope you get your money or the product back but lesson learned any way I hope.
Now that I know he's in my North Carolina HCCA chapter, and he only lives a few hours from me, I'll be emailing our president today. This makes the HCCA look bad and I don't appreciate it. Stan has never seemed like anything but a stand-up guy to me. I personally find this pretty embarrassing as a club member and hope that we can handle this "in house" for you.
I refunded the money the day before it was delivered. I told him to refuse it and quit harassing me. As I said, I have been in business in one form or another for over 50 years, I'll get even.
We had a deal here on the street I've lived on for 35+ years. Kid about 16 or 17 was yelling and cussing his mother, she took a couple pretty good hits from him. I went down to put a stop to it, he volunteered to beat the crap out of me, swearing at me and calling me every profanity he knew, etc., I told him to "Go ahead and take your best shot, I spent 7 years roughnecking in the oil field and played music in every dirty, nasty oil field bar in Montana and Wyoming for years. You think you're tough, just try me." By the time the cops showed up he was considerably easier to get along with than he had been earlier. Of course she is begging them not to do anything to him. They hauled him off to Juvie, she moved a few days later, he's probably still thumping on her.
I'm a big boy and after 31 years in the auction business am pretty good at taking care of myself. This guy will regret it before it's over. I may not get the money but he'll regret this.
By the way, he is not a Model T guy. He is a Franklin guy.
Boy I'm never going to make any of you guys mad at me. Let's see
#1 I could be put in a wrestling hold till my eye's popped
#2 Be run over by a black Model T while leaving the coffee shop
#3 Be buried in a sea of Teen Girl magazines.
#4 Have my tire slashed
#5 Have the Sheriff show up for non-payment of 200 plus Girly Teen magazines.
#6 Hey I bet one of you guys smiled reading this.
Stan, you only get them once a year?!? That's incredible! Back when I was a piano and pipe organ technician/tuner, I got those just about every other month, lol.
I had trouble with a guy not paying for services and a neighbor who caused me trouble more then once. Similar to your magazine idea I went to the local county fair and went to every booth that had sign up forms and signed them up for sweeper demos, window replacements, aluminum siding, water testing etc. My neighbor stopped by one day all confused and upset because he had received non stop phone calls from all these vendors as well as several stopping in to sell their products.
I dealt with a guy like that a few years ago. I called the police department in his home town and explained the situation. They went out and talked with him and I had my money within a week.
Bob, that is way too easy and not nearly enough fun. This guy has wasted some of my time and energy as well as raised my blood pressure a couple times. He ain't gettin' off that easy.
Not all Franklin guys are like this. Quite the opposite. Best of luck with this guy.
I doubt all people in NC would think a load of manure was a gift any more than all people in MI are obnoxious Yankees, but it sure is easy to stereotype.
Jay, that nifty little cartoon of yours speaks much about my life !! Thanks for the laugh.
Sorry to hear of your hassle Stan.
I agree, Ned. So far I've only met one Franklin guy like this. Most old car guys are good.
My A H of the year last year was a guy in Michigan who has a 19?? Mitchell, which came with a Rayfield carb. He couldn't get it to run right and wanted a Stromberg for it. Stromberg never made a direct replacement for it so I told him he would be better off to rebuild the Rayfield. No way. He wanted a Stromberg. So he measured up the flanges and bought an OS-2.
A year later he sends me a nasty email telling me the linkage doesn't match up. I had told him several times that the linkage would not match and he would have to fabricate linkage. I told him to send me both carbs and the linkage and I would see if I could figure how how to make it work. I spent two days making a beautiful set of linkage, powder coated it all, made up a kit of every bolt and nut he could possibly need to mount it, took pictures and printed out an instruction sheet on how to mount it, spent $50 postage sending it to him . I told him I had spent two days on it and that the linkage wasn't part of the original deal but I didn't really expect him to pay shop time for two days work -- which would have been a couple hundred easily - just send me what he figured it was worth and we'd call it even. He sent me twenty bucks and a nasty letter telling me I had an obligation to make it fit, what a jerk I was, etc. I sent his $20 back and told him he needed it worse than I did.
I have a little list - a short one but still a list - of people I will never do anything for again. He's on it. It took him several months to even send me the $20 because they were at their winter home in Florida. So it isn't like he didn't have any money. The nasty letter is what really bit me.
Oh well, most people are really nice, I have carburetors running from South Africa to Japan at the Japanese Museum of Transportation where they call me Stansan. Back to the shop. Working on an OS-2, just about done.
Not connected but brought back memories.
The principal and the Director along with a counselor stopped by my shop classroom one day. It seemed I had some magazine subscriptions that were delivered to the school to be put into my inhouse mailbox! Porn types and a Penthouse! They wanted to know WHY would I have these sent to the school? I just looked at them kind of confused and replied... "What!?". They then started laughing. Yes, I was now divorced but... come on guys!!!!
What got me as it took them so long to figure it out! The walk from the office to my classroom was at least a block long.
Joe in Mo.
Might want to check it out in your state but in our's if you lose in Small Claims Court it goes on your credit report. You will have to explain it every time a potential creditor checks your report. I'd tell the guy that if you have to go the small claims route he will not only have to pay court costs but explain the black mark on his report every time he wants credit for the next several years.
That's a good idea, Gary. I got an email today with an interesting idea. Send a sympathy card to the relatives expressing sympathy for the loss of their "loved one" saying that you are sure if it hadn't been for the stress of the arrest and trial he would still be "with you." I LIKE that!! You guys are great.
You mean that guy is an exception? i thought most people were like that.
I bought a rather rare old comic from a guy on eBay back before ebay had some of the buyer protections they do now.
Long story short, after not receiving the product 3-4 months later, I sent an email to the sheriff of the county he lived in, in Texas politely asking him to knock on the door of this fellow and encourage him to send the product I paid for.
The sheriff didn't respond but three days later I got a fed-x package in the mail with not only the comic I bought plus a few extras.
That should have read "The sheriff didn't respond TO ME..." but it was pretty clear he responded on my behalf.
Stan the man.
Every person who starts a business has some basic principles: being successful, love the work, and be kind to his fellow man. Stan has all these values. I had my OF STROMBERG carburetor restored by Stan, the best man in the business and it turned out fantastic. I have some new projects and hope he will be available to work on them in the near future. Stanís Warranty speaks to the quality of the man and his work.
Warranty: I will repair, replace or refund until you are happy. Bear in mind that these are 80+ year old carburetors going on engines of varying quality. I test run them on a stock engine. Your results may vary on your engine but I will do whatever I can to get your T to run as well as possible.
Iím a happy customer! Thanks for being the man.
wish stan could give me some advice about the auction busness i started an auction barn, nice place, have had 6 sales so far, crowd seems slow, first one was standing room only.
Sorry Stan. On a brighter note, see you next week in beautiful Minnesota for the Early Ford Tour and New London to New Brighton Run.
And as long as we're on it, if I send a carb late this week, can you have it rebuilt, polished, adjusted and bring it along? I'm call Ron P. with the same request for coils.
, just kidding. See you in a week,
Stan has done carb work for me and is a real gentleman. He informed me of cost, time frame and any part requirements up front. Any changes were handled by e-mail in a very timely manor. I have had the carb on my car for quite a while now and it is a work of art...(or should I say a work of Stan). Runs great and I would use Stan again anytime!
We get that sort of customer at our business. We simply play by the same set of rules with everyone. If they don't want to be businesslike, we still do. We remain professional with them, and if we disagree then they can try our competition.
They will come back when they find that no one else offers what we do. Good service and professionalism.
Thanks, guys. I was working on this but realistically, this guy is a big shot in North Carolina, has a big business selling toilet paper and bar soap to motels, has a big car collection, more money than I will ever see and probably has lawyers on retainer. It's a waste of time to think anybody is going to do anything to him in the town he lives in or in the HCCA or Model T world. I never got a response from an email to a couple people I thought might lean on him a little -- as soon as they found out who he is they ran and hid. He is pretty proud of what a big shot he is an he's probably right. He knows damn good and well if I'm 70 years old and fixing carburetors for a living in my garage that he can buy and sell me and any charge I bring against him is a joke to his lawyers. He probably owns the sheriff in Lumberton and plays golf with the county attorney.
So, the best shot I have is to just hope I run into him some time at a tour, embarrass the hell out of him in front of a bunch of other T guys and -- while I can't post his name on here -- let everybody know privately who this jerk is.
Life goes on. We had an auction one time where the guy was an absolute jerk, tried to kill his wife during the auction, cursed us and the crowd during the auction, etc., etc. Later, he tried to sue us and after a dozen lawyers turned him down he found one old drunk who took his case and wrote us a letter wanting $200,000 to settle the case. (He was later disbarred for fraud) I wrote him a letter back and explained to him that we were no-fault in our actions. We advertised, we set it up, we had over 500 people at the auction, prices were good considering the economy and that the auction was only two and a half weeks after 9-11. I closed the letter by telling him that this whole thing reminded me of the two cowboys setting at the bar having a beer while their recently departed boss was being buried up on the hill. After about the 3rd beer the first cowboy says, "When they get him planted I think I'll go up there and take a big leak right on his grave." Second cowboy says "I'd go with you but I took a solemn oath when I got out of the army that I would never stand in line for anything again." That's kind of the way this deal is. I've been in business long enough to know that I'm not the first guy he's screwed and won't be the last. That's OK, he has to look himself in the mirror in the morning and again every night. I can do that and not look away. I wonder if he can?
I have probably 650 carbs running all over the world, I just sent an OF to South Africa for an 1911 Torpedo right hand drive, I have an OD-1 on a 1924 Willys Knight at the national Auto Museum in Bogolo, Russia, an OE-1 on the oldest Izuzu bus still in existence in the auto museum in Tokyo, Japan, hundreds of OF's, dozens of OE-1's, I can't tell you how many Zenith S4BF's etc all over the US. So now I'll have a Stromberg OE-1 on a Franklin Speedster in North Carolina. There are a lot of people who will see it and know how he got it.
I've had 399 commercial auctions in the last 31 years and 396 happy customers. The other 3, God himself couldn't have had an auction for them and made them happy.
I've played music for over 60 years in beer joints, concert halls, festivals and fairs and have never played anyplace I couldn't go back. (Well, maybe one or two places where the owner's wife though I was pretty good looking)
I have had a couple unhappy carburetor customers. I've done everything I could to make them happy but they aren't and never will be.
Business is just like that. Some people are never happy. The sign on my wall says "They crucified Jesus and shot Abraham Lincoln, what chance have I got?" It's true. And sometimes you just have to be realistic and know that a deal like this can beat you down, you are going to lose no matter what you do, at the least, a bunch of hours and frustration in your life that won't be worth the money if you do get paid. At best, you will win and get your piddly $550 and then he will bad mouth you to everybody in the hobby, some who will believe every work he says because he is rich and has a big car collection and is a big shot in the Model T clubs and HCCA. It's probably better to just admit the guy screwed me and move on.
I took yesterday off from the shop, from working on a couple auctions I have coming up, from a bunch of carbs setting there that I should be working on; but I went to the state fiddle contest to watch my little 12 year old friend Savanna defend her Junior Junior Division Championship and
take she and her mom to dinner before the last round. We had a surprise birthday party for my little friend Maggie Maghee who turned 14 yesterday. Mr. big shot told me I had no business taking the 4th of July off when his carburetor wasn't done, he probably doesn't think I should have taken yesterday off either.
He can rot in Hell waiting for a carburetor as far as I'm concerned, I will go to see my little friend play fiddle and baseball and watch her Christmas concert whether he likes it or not. I have my life's priorities right according to the way I live my life.
I'll sleep soundly tonight. I didn't go to church this morning, I suppose the jerk in North Carolina did, he's probably a deacon.
Thanks for all the phone calls and emails. I appreciate the support. Life will go one, there are bigger disasters in life than losing a few bucks to an a hole. They could be planning the funeral or the local auctioneers could be pounding on doors trying to find out who the administrator of my estate will be so they can get the auction. It will be a good one.
Well, I've wasted another hour of my life on this, I could have been out in the shop working or spent an hour on my motorcycle or out at my ranch fixing fence instead of sitting here going on and on. I have cash to eat breakfast, I have a new motorcycle, I have a nice friend who is going to stop on her way through town to go to late lunch with me, life is OK. If some guy in North Carolina needs to screw me out of $550 to make himself feel more important and powerful, so it is. So it is.
Mike........The reason they didn't come back is that you got good money out of your merchandise and ran a good auction. People try out every new auctioneer to see if they can get some good deals out of him. If they can they will come back, if they can't they are gone. Figure out who it is you need at your auctions and then work to get those people there. I'm willing to bet that most of the people at the first one were just lookers and bad-mouthers, not buyers.
Stan, I'm angry for you, and angry at this guy for taking advantage of your trusting nature. I have a similar approach to my customers.
We all know that there are people who's sense of entitlement is beyond reasonable; your customer is among them.
I sense that you'd like this episode behind you; this same feeling has descended on me multiple times in the past concerning slow-pays, no-pays, chiselers and gripers about price and delivery of their orders.
Whenever I have felt that I should just write off the bad debt and forget it, I compare it to having a boil on my butt. I can just let it eventually fade away, or I can apply hot packs and drain it myself (or in the case of a bad one, I'll go to a dermatologist and let him work his magical lance!).
I've found that, for me, getting that boil drained (whether by a dermatologist or home-remedy) hurts a little, but then it's over and I'm back to my old self faster.
I'm sorry your friends didn't get back to you. Since most people who act the way this jerk has acted do so out of big egos and their perception of their own inflated self-worth, I do believe, however, that if you file a small claims action (which is easy to do by mail, and very low cost), the potential harm to his "reputation" will shake him up.
Yes, he may very well run it by his lawyer(s), "Hey, do I have to pay this guy in Montana?"
After reading your correspondence with him, his lawyer(s) will undoubtedly answer, "Yes. Send Stan a check today. Or, Mr. Big Shot, I will call Stan for you and give him your credit card number. You not only owe Stan the money, he used the U.S. Mail to ship you your order; if you don't pay him, and now, you risk getting onto the Postal Inspectors radar. You do NOT want that only slightly less than the IRS dropping by saying, 'What Shall We Talk About?' Pay Stan, today."
Your facts are too good, regardless of his lawyer(s) and any bias that a small claims judge, or Justice Of The Peace may have. I've been in front of so many I've lost count, and all of them were in small southern towns where the guy who owed me money was "an upstanding citizen" "a church-going man" "a business leader", etc. As I wrote earlier, the one I really wanted to see was in Bozeman, but the guy ruined my trip to Montana by paying his bill before the court date. Even with my mid-western accent (I was born in Harvey, IL, and lived near Chicago 'til I was 10; I still have the accent), I've never lost because my facts were right. My facts always were 1. The customer ordered the merchandise. 2. The customer received the merchandise, undamaged, on time. 3. The customer has not reported any dissatisfaction with the merchandise. 4. The customer has not wanted to return the merchandise, but instead used it.
You'd win, no question about it. And, by the way, Stan; you'd STILL be able to embarrass him at a tour, if you still felt like it.