As promised, this week I’m sharing the steps I take when somebody sends me a bad check. Sure, I understand that bookkeeping mistakes happen, but by the time my bank has notified me of a bad check, the person whose check bounced has usually already been notified by their bank. If they haven’t contacted me immediately to right their wrong, I have to assume their actions were malicious. I also have to assume that there are a lot of other people who have received bad checks from this individual as well. It is my job to quickly get the money they owe so the author whose book they purchased isn’t left with nothing for their efforts…not to mention the money we’re out for the printing and postage costs.
My method really works! Since I started using this letter to collect on bad checks, I have never failed to secure immediate payment from a bad check writer. Rather than tell you what I do, I’ll show you through a series of emails I exchanged with a bookstore owner who recently wrote us a bad check for a book order.
I received a note from our bank on January 3rd that a bookstore in Wisconsin had sent us a bad check for $97.11.
This is the letter I immediately emailed and mailed to the owner:
January 3, 2007
City, State, Zip
We were notified by our bank that the check you sent to us in the amount of $97.11 was returned for insufficient funds.
You now owe us $97.11 plus a $25 NSF fee.
If payment is not received within five business days, we are going to notify your local police department that you are writing bad checks. I’m sure you understand that writing bad checks is considered theft and you will be prosecuted.
You ordered 2 copies each of Karen Bishop’s books (8 books total):
Staying in Alignment
The Ascension Companion
The Ascension Primer
Remembering Your Soul Purpose
We must receive the total amount owed, $122.11, by January 10th, or we
Middleton Police Department
7426 Hubbard Avenue
Middleton, WI 53562
We will also notify the Better Business Bureau and will issue warnings about your firm to well-known consumer protection websites.
We have zero tolerance for fraud. This is the only warning we will send to your firm.
The owner responded, blaming me for the bounced check, saying if I’d deposited her check earlier (we deposited it the day it arrived), it wouldn’t have bounced. She then wrote, “In the meantime, my bank has taken over my checking account and will only pay what they feel is necessary. So I did not write you a worthless check. It became worthless through no fault of mine…”
She went on to say she was meeting with investors to see about getting us paid (proving she really didn’t have the money, and hadn’t for quite sometime). She asked for more time and gave me a sob story about not having any money, but never once apologized.
If she’d apologized and asked for a couple of weeks to send the money owed, I would have let it go. But, since she blamed me and her bank and never took responsibility for her actions, I knew I wasn’t dealing with an honest person.
Your check was received and your order was processed on 12/22. Banks do not determine which checks are paid and which ones aren’t. A customer’s balance is what determines that. You clearly wrote checks for which there was not enough money. That is a crime.
You wrote us a bad check. You have received your books. Those are the facts. Return the books or pay what you owe within 5 business days or I will contact the police.
You can mail payment or return the books here:
P.O. Box 2399
Bangor, ME 04402
She replied by stating, “The bank has decided to deposit a small salary in my personal account, so I will get a personal check out to you tomorrow.”
She then went on to criticize my customer service practices and enclosed copies of legal documents, showing how much money she owes her bank (apparently, she obtained a business loan through them for her bookstore). She then once again blamed me, saying I didn’t deposit her check fast enough. I did not respond to her email. Sometimes, not responding to an email after a demand has already been made is more powerful than continuing an email debate.
We received her check on January 9, 2007, which was 1 day before the deadline. We probably weren’t the only one who received a hot check from this bookstore, but I bet we got reimbursed the fastest!
If you find yourself in this situation, you can easily find someone’s local police department by googling their city, state and “police department.” Including this information in my “collection letters” to bad check writers has worked every single time for me.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Ask Angela About Self-Publishing
Angela Hoy is not only publisher of WritersWeekly.com, she's also co-owner of self-publishing services firm BookLocker.com and works directly with each author. That's right, you work directly with the owner of BookLocker. No revolving customer service reps, no layers of bureaucracy to navigate, and absolutely no outsourcing to low-paying overseas call centers. We don't use call centers or telemarketing at all. You will never be shuffled from one "customer service rep" to another because we don't have any of those. You will communicate directly with Angela about any needs you have at all, as well as Richard (book marketing advice), Brian (ebooks and technical issues), Ali (print formatting), Gwen (color-interior books) and Todd or Nancy (our awesome cover designers).
Since we are selective about which books we publish, we are able to work with every author one-on-one. In the past 18 years, BookLocker has published more than 9,000 titles.
Angela's been in the print-on-demand and self-publishing business for nearly two decades. She's seen it all, and is a great source of information. To ask her anything click here.