Can a lawyer help us get this nightmare transaction done with?
February 11, 2013 2:15 PM   Subscribe

We paid $4000.00 for a service, and now we're having trouble getting what we wanted. It's been 3 months and we need a resolution to this nightmare!

So, we paid a pressing company so we would get 500 items done for our very small businessl. We were supposed to get these items in November, but we still haven't got them. After two batches of substandard product and really bad customer service, we need to either get a refund or the order done properly, but they are not being cooperative at all.

Is this too small potatoes for a lawyer? What are our resources?
posted by Tarumba to Law & Government (8 answers total)
This is the perfect case for a small claims court in your jurisdiction. It is likely that just filing the case will resolve your issue. If it doesn't, you can negotiate with the vendor directly at the court steps on the day of the case.

Do be mindful of limits on what can be recovered in small claims court; it may be around the $4000 you're looking for. If that is the case, you still might find that small claims court is better than the alternative of a proper court.
posted by saeculorum at 2:22 PM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh Yes! Small Claims Court is your remedy!

Once you file the case, be sure to call People's Court to see if they'll mediate it for you. When you win, you're sure to be paid because the show pays you. You'll get a trip to NY and you get to have an adventure.

You can also advertise your business!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:28 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The main value in engaging a lawyer for a debt this (relatively) small is that having a lawyer write a demand letter can often get you the attention you need to get this resolved. It sucks that it has to be that way, but it happens. It could easily cost up to $500 for the lawyer's time (and frankly, it could easily cost more, but I wouldn't personally be willing to pay that), and the resolution may just be a partial refund.

On the other hand, did you sign a contract? See if your contract has an attorney fees provision (and also check if it has a venue provision and/or arbitration provision--it may be that you've already agreed to arbitrate any disputes or bring any lawsuits in, say, Virginia. While you can sometimes get out of these, doing so will cost you). If your contract has an attorney fee provision, you might get a lawyer who will take the case if it has merit and if they think the defendant is someone who will actually pay a judgment and the attorney fees if they win. It surprises me that lawyers would get involved in cases of about this size, but every day when I get the report of suits filed that day, I see breach of contract cases for under $5000.

Small claims court is one of those ideas that sounds great, but is tedious. The trouble lies mainly in trying to enforce the judgment. Even if the court agrees with you and you win, how do you get your money? This can be extremely frustrating. The good news about small claims court is that it is not overly expensive and time consuming, at least compared with other litigation. I went to small claims court when I was in college and it was a very positive experience for me.

You could also try getting the attention of the business by dealing with groups like the Better Business Bureau, but it's hard to imagine that such a complaint would be a great stride toward getting what you want.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:33 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing small claims court. The one thing to keep in mind regarding the lawyer/no lawyer question is that you can call the court for details on how to file, fees, the process you'll go through within the court and the steps you must take to enforce a judgment in your favor should you receive one and the defendant doesn't pay. But there's a limit to how much info court employees can give and they won't tell you anything that can be construed as "legal advice."

I'd personally try to do it myself and if I came up against a wall with info I need that the court can't give me, then I'd consider consulting a lawyer. That's how most people going through the court I work for do it.
posted by houndsoflove at 3:20 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Once you file the case, be sure to call People's Court to see if they'll mediate it for you. When you win, you're sure to be paid because the show pays you. You'll get a trip to NY and you get to have an adventure.

You can also advertise your business!
Yup, free advertising as a business that not only solves problems (rightfully or not) by going to Court, but also the type of business that thinks The People's Court is the right way to solve a problem.

Sorry, I'd never do business with anyone who was on that show.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:38 PM on February 11, 2013

Looking at the OP's profile, we see that OP is in Peru.

Many of the answers that apply in the U.S. will not transfer.
posted by megatherium at 3:46 PM on February 11, 2013

If you paid with a credit card, dispute the charge if you still can.
posted by Slinga at 4:23 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

thanks everyone!

I actually live in the US now, so these answers are very helpful. We will see if we can get this solved before the end of the week and if it isn't we'll go the small claims court route.
posted by Tarumba at 11:25 AM on February 12, 2013

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