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My men tell me the day they repossessed the windows was the most fun they have ever had at work

Here’s one way to deal with deadbeat customers: Send out the repo men.

(Within the law, we recommend, which is tough to do.)

It worked 15 years ago for John Cummings, an Ontario window and door installer, as he posted earlier this week:

“FIFTEEN years ago we delivered windows and doors for a 6,500 square foot house being built by a ‘contractor’ in a remote area for his own family. He had previously taken delivery of three smaller orders, one of which one was paid and two were just over 30 days. I began checking with other suppliers and trades and found out the guy was a crook.

I dispatched five employees to the site to retrieve the product. Nobody was there; the house was under construction and all the doors were open. Our guys cut through the vinyl brickmould from inside with reciprocating saws and loaded the windows into the truck. Just before my men left the site with the second truckload, one of the contractor’s men showed up on site. I got a call from the contractor. He said the police were on their way.

Our vehicle, loaded with windows, headed up the highway with the contractor following close behind in his truck. An OPP cruiser came down the highway and did a U-turn and dropped in behind the caravan with his lights flashing. The contractor and the police cruiser pulled over and our guys kept on trucking.

Later that day the officer paid a visit to our warehouse and took photos of the repossessed goods. He said this guy wants to lay charges. I showed him the order which states that “all goods remain the property of the supplier until they are paid for in full.”

A few days later, the same OPP officer called and asked me to send the five men to a village which was halfway between our location and the OPP dispatch location. I told him I could only send three because the others were at a remote job site. The three received trespassing charges. The officer communicated through the three that his supervisor wanted the other two to come to the OPP dispatch location to pick up their charges because he was not coming all the way to our location to serve my men.

A month or so passed and the three employees received subpoenas to appear in court. A week before the court date, I told this story to an OPP officer that I know and he spoke to the Crown Attorney and the bogus trespassing charges against my men were dropped.

The following year on the anniversary of the “repo,” we were served with a lawsuit. I turned it over to my lawyer. A couple of weeks later my lawyer called and said the suit is dead because the plaintiff’s lawyer was unable to collect a retainer from the plaintiff. This lawsuit hoax was repeated for two more years on the anniversary with the same outcome.

Six months later, a roofer that had done work for the con-(artist)-tractor was in our office on unrelated business and told me the con-(artist)-tractor has fled to the US and that he was wanted by the police – and biker gangs were after him due to some drug dealings, allegedly. I haven’t heard from the con artist since.

My men tell me the day they repossessed the windows was the most fun they had ever had at work.

I would not recommend this method of dealing with bad accounts. We now use a more civilized approach.”

Posted by
Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Doing this kink of cowboy Action on reenforces the bad reputations of contractors.
    This is not the wild west any more Guys, if you want respect from the public for the industry behave like it.

    The Reno Coach

    • Steve Payne

      Reiner, respectfully submit that you’re being a tad harsh on the “cowboy action” judgement. Repossession of unpaid-for goods is something that you CAN contract for, and in this case, it appears that it was clearly contracted for. The trespassing charges had SOME merit, yes, but they were thrown out before they even came to court. And, the author himself admits that he wouldn’t do it this way today. As for the Wild West, I believe that contractors themselves live in the Wild West among the customer base they serve. The public has an equal share of liars and thieves as does the contractor community. Someone like you who is a Reno Coach, holding the hands of the public through a Reno, is of course going to argue that many contractors are unprofessional, and many indeed are. But I think we also need “Coach” support for all the contractors out there that have to deal with this type of customer. Thanks for your comment, as always!

  2. Great story. Seems like every year or so I get one dead beat customer, always a contractor. Good on you. I will put in my invoice “all goods remain the property of the supplier until they are paid for in full.” But I will use a bailiff instead, though they may need to use my men for the work.

  3. Great story and power to you. I, too, hate dealing with lousy customers and have recently (3 months) been adding the same clause to my contracts. I also write that unpaid amounts accrue interest charge of 2% per month, compounded annually until the full amount is paid. That way if we have to go to court to collect, the court awards that rate on top of the awarded amount.

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