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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » The check bounced! What's next? (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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DanTheMagicMan
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Regular user
Edgewater, Maryland USA
138 Posts

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I recently had a client's check bounce for a performance at a child's birthday party. I have sent e-mails and certified letters to the person without a response. My question is what would one do next? Should you pursue legal action? I am posting this question in this forum because I think child performers may be more sensitive to pursuing legal action because it may do more harm than good in negative publicity. Any comments or similar experiences would be welcome.
Dan The Magic Man
e-mail:[email]info@familymagicshows.com[/email]
web site:www.familymagicshows.com
MagicEvents.org - View or subscribe to upcoming magic events and birthdays.
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
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These are not necessarily what I would do, but alternatives. Do you have a Small Claims Court system in Maryland. In other words can you take them to Court for payment for 'work done' without it costing you an arm and a leg? Next suggestion: In the States does a cheque remain presentable for 6 months? If so then try it again two weeks before Christmas as everyone with children should have cash in their account then (hard? yes, but practical). Suggestion: Some people have been known to scan bouncy cheques and put them on their websites - just like the guy at the local petrol (gas) station pins them up on the wall. Suggestion: Just swallow it and put it down to experience? Any fair minded person would agree that you are entitled to payment for a satisfactory performance, so I would not worry about backlash. Do they give any reason for the situation? Smile Our only 2 bouncy cheques in 25 years (to date!!): first one recovered through presenting cheque just before Christmas. I know it might have been the kids' present money but you know this is business! Second one kept calling at the house. Child's father (a car dealer) paid up out of embarrassment. Then there are the 'first time bouncers' - in other words you represent them and they clear second time. One of these belonged to a hotel owner with a string of racehorses! Sorry for another long post but just trying to help.
p.b.jones
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Inner circle
Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Hi,
aceparties, I have never had a bounced cheque(yet). Does the bank charge you anything each time you represent it?
Phillip
Cheshire Cat
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Wilmslow, UK
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Not mine. Smile You have an excellent website Phillip - my wife also uses the Dragon Table circa 1990? Like the bit on your site about toilet paper!
DanTheMagicMan
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Edgewater, Maryland USA
138 Posts

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You say cheque, I say check... I can tell who are the UK people here.

In the U.S., most banks charge a fee for returned checks. My bank charges $25 (I don't know what that is in pounds). I might be able to present the check to a branch where the check was written to save on the fee, I'll have to check that out.
Dan The Magic Man
e-mail:[email]info@familymagicshows.com[/email]
web site:www.familymagicshows.com
MagicEvents.org - View or subscribe to upcoming magic events and birthdays.
Adam V
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Australian banks charge you fees for using the little pens on chains. The fee for attempting to cash a bad cheque are quite large.
Adam V - 9 out of 10 dentists recommend him.
Peter Marucci
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By all means, pursue this.
Years ago, stores were reluctant to prosecute shoplifters, for fear of the bad publicity.
That did nothing to stop shoplifting.
Today, they aggresively prosecute those shoplifters and that seems to be having some effect.
A small-claims court is the way to go, assuming there is such a thing in your jurisdiction.
This costs you nothing, other than your time (no lawyer, no legal fees, nothing -- assuming you win; and, if the defendant doesn't show, you win by default and the court takes over from there!)
However, despite the advice we can all give you, the decision is still yours.
Is it worth it to you to do this?
Andy Wonder
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Auckland, New Zealand
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The small claims court (in New Zealand) is only for situations where there is a dispute over what money is owed. It can not enforce payment.
I have twice been burnt with non-payment this year. They were not private parties but business that went under (a restaurant & an entertainment agency). I have had about five such bounced cheques over the last five years (we say cheques in New Zealand). My attitude is not to sweat over the small stuff and I can afford one such expense every year. I write it off as just another cost of doing business.
Andy Wonder, Auckland, New Zealand
flourish dude
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from ? But I know where I am going!
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Check your state but in some states if you get their plate number on thier car you can put a lean on their car and they can not renew their plates until the lean is paid off. this is much faster then a lean on their house.
Nothing of the same will bring any change, take action today!
Just taking a step, is a step in the right direction because when you stop working, your dream dies.
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DougTait
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Sebring, FL
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Dan;
Go to this web site for the law in Maryland regarding dishonored checks. It has a "Notice of Dishonored Check" which you can copy, fill in and mail to the individual. Hope this helps. (The web site has the laws of all the states for anyone else with this problem - just substitute the two letter state abreviation into the URL after..... states/XX/checks.htm)
Doug
http://www.lawdog.com/states/md/checks.htm
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing."
RandyStewart
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Texas (USA)
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Do nothing until the following year - child's b'day and mail a b'day card to child and family with original bounced check. Tell them last year's performance is on you and wish them the best.

Randy Stewart
BarryRice
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Indianapolis, IN
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I am no expert on business and have done very few paid shows so take this for what it is worth.

It seems to me that it would be a good idea to get at least a partial payment in advance. That way you can find out if the check will bounce before you waste your precious time. To make the person hiring you feel better about payment before the show, draw up a contract. It really does not need to be formal, but I think it will ease their minds as well as making you seem more professional.

Just an idea.
"The magic of the tongue is the most dangerous of all spells."
-Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton

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Alikzam
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Quote:
On 2002-11-14 23:09, RandyStewart wrote:

Do nothing until the following year - child's b'day and mail a b'day card to child and family with original bounced check. Tell them last year's performance is on you and wish them the best.

Randy Stewart


that's awsome! I'd probably never do it, but still... awsome. hah
Chrystal
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Canada/France
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Hi Dan,

I think the best bet would be to go to the branch which the cheque(check) is from - they will be able to tell you immediately if there is enough funds in the account for it to clear.

(we use both cheques and checks in Canada and neither is considered incorrect)

Although I have been doing this for years I never had to deal with a bounced check but something happened recently which came close. The client turned out to have the same banking branch that I deal with. At the bank the teller told me ahead of time..this check isn't going to clear at this time - "you'd better hang on to it." Very fortunate indeed as 99% of the time I use an interact card and never do my banking in person.

Again as luck would have it, it was the first time in 5 years I had left a prop behind and the client called and told me she was keeping it safe.(This is before I found out about the check) Being in the area a few days later I decided to knock on her door, an elderly lady answered. I was somewhat suprised as I was sure I had the right house. She said "oh she lives in the basement suite." (The party had been held outdoors so I hadn't known about the basement suite.)

She said "you can come through this way" and mentions she's seen my show and enjoyed it as did the kid's and it was nice that I cheered up the mom especially since she recently lost her husband and that the little girl had been in that horrendous car accident. I am led downstairs, the mom and three kids are eating dinner, they are all happy to see me and invite me to sit with them. The mom goes to a locked cupboard and places my prop in my hand telling me she's placed it there for safekeeping and the kids haven't had access to it. The oldest daughter grabs my hand and wants to tell me something..she brings me into her room. "I want to be a magician", she says excitedly. I look around the room and realize all three children share the tiny room - the eldest child sleeps on a matress between the two beds. As I hadn't called ahead of time none of them knew I was coming and couldn't be deceiving me.

I don't mention the check and in fact call a few days later and tell a blatant lie..I say once a year I place names in a container and that client wins a free show for the following year but as I still have her check as her name was chosen, I'm just ripping it up. I'm not sure if the mom knew my fib or not but she's sent more business my way than a good agent ever could. Everyone that calls tells me she's a huge fan and raved about my show. Both of us saved face the way I see it.

Sorry I went off topic a bit and am not recommending that people just ignore bounced checks but sometimes things have a way of working out for the best as I see it in this case.
Alikzam
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Wow Chrystal that's a great story. I have done shows myself for people for free when I know that they just cant afford the show at all. I don't do it very often, but when I feel that there is an occasion or a person that I know will really appreciate it nothing can possibly make me happier. Its a great way to remember that you really should love your audience Smile
magic4u02
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Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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Many, many years ago I had a bounced cheque from a birthday customer. They wrote it on an account that no longer existed! (A closed account)

So, after trying in vain to get them on the phone, and to get them to replace it, I changed my birthday show policy.

Now, I only accept payment, IN CASH, at the show.

I tell them this immediately after they book the show, during the phone conversation, then in writing in the confirmation letter, and also again when I call to confirm it two days before hand. I have not had anyone back out of the show, because of this policy.

I have been doing it this way for over 10 years, and all works out fine.

I have had only one problem with a bounced cheque from a non-birthday customer (a school), but they called and warned me, before I found out from the credit union. They immediately sent me a replacement cheque, and included extra to cover the NSF fee I had to pay. They were terrific.

So, I have not had to implement the cash-only policy for anyone but birthday customers.

Yes, I declare my income fairly (I am not trying to do things under the table), and always give my customer a receipt.

Because of accepting cash for birthdays, I find I am tipped more, too!

The Gr8 DonaldD.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Shawn D
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Hughson,Ca
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I have been doing shows for 5 years and had good luck on checks.Then this year there was a bounce check frenzy.I got like 3 bounced checks in like 2 months.Weird.Even weirder was when I booked a show the following week of a bounced check I was check shy and the lady asked me after my show if I take checks. I told her the story about the bounced check and the hassel but said if that is all you got then ok.She said I am good for it and if not you know where I live.Well her check bounced. Anyway I went to the bank that was on their check (so their bank) and asked if it would clear.I did this on a Friday and a Monday.My thinking that their paycheck would be in the bank by then.They cashed them.
Now like the above I ask for cash and like above it seems like you get more tips with cash.
I like the ideas everone has here. One of mine would be is I have lost a check to a show I did and just never asked for another one. I wonder what those people thought when I never cashed the check.
Shawn D
KeirRoyale
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Denver, CO
550 Posts

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By all means pursue any legal means to recover your money! They have broken the law and you should not feel bad about their criminal behaivior. If you have tried to politely contact them to no avail as you said you have, then take legal action. No question about it. If you are worried about your reputation, don't be. You don't want (nor will you get) referrals from this type of clientel. And the reputation that you will earn if you don't do anything is that you can be taken advantage of.
Smile
glodmagic
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USA
501 Posts

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Dan,
When you Speak with them (not letter correspondence) what is/was their explanation?

Something else of importance:
Call all of your Local competitors in Magic and make sure they know who this is. In my town we do that and it has saved me and others. Vermin like this will go to another performer next year and (possibly)do the same thing because I have found a demographic out there that thinks we are easy and unimportant.
Remember ANY of your posts here can be Googled by your customers and Clients. Just entering your name in Google can bring up your negative comments that stay for years!
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