Meet Your Debtor Face to Face

Two men shaking hands.Is there value in an old-fashioned sit-down with your nonpaying client?

You caught the client’s attention and now they would like to meet. Should you? Is it worth your time? Could it lead to a resolution? Seems that the client now wants to discuss the claim and have asked for a face to face meeting. They had ample opportunity to do so before you started the litigation process. So why now?

Perhaps the filing of the lawsuit was the trigger. Not only do they recognize that you mean business and that your goal is collecting the monies owed you. They also recognize how the lawsuit impacts other areas of business life. A public filing can be of great concern to the clients of your client. A lawsuit can negatively affect their public persona. Realizing the attention this could bring a negative impact along with it. This may have been what brought the lawsuit to their attention.

Meet Your Debtor Face to Face

The lawsuit encouraged your non-paying debtor to ask to meet with you.

A face-to-face, old-fashioned sit-down with your nonpaying client may be beneficial if you have the opportunity. Be prepared and make the best impression possible. You strengthen your hand and bolster your position in the non-paying customer’s view. That may avoid protracted litigation. But, you must also have realistic goals.

Be sure your collection counsel attends these sessions with you. And make sure you stated at the beginning of each meeting:

  • That you’ve gotten together merely for settlement purposes.
  • That the meeting is off the record.
  • That the proceedings are not part of the litigation.

Once you’ve met with the client, each of you has heard the other’s perspective and issues on this claim. If you both wish to resolve the claim, begin a dialogue that hopefully leads to resolution.

If there’s no mutual desire to settle, the meeting has not prejudiced your case. You can continue with a clear understanding of the customer’s reasons for nonpayment. Your position is now offense rather than defense.

After the Face to Face Meeting

Keep in mind that your customer requested the sit-down with you. This should indicate that they wish to explain their position directly to you and without the usual relay of communications through your debt collection counsel.

Once you get this meeting, be respectful. Do not threaten them with retaliatory banter and put on your poker face. Hurling insults will merely undermine your integrity and force the customer to withdraw and draw a line in the sand.

Understand the cost and time of continued litigation and its impact on the amount you will realize if the debtor can legally sustain any of their arguments and if they have an endgame in mind. Allow them a short time to put together their thoughts and come back with an offer. Make sure that you let them know you do not expect to be paid 100% of your claim based upon what they have disclosed.

Once resolution has occurred and the agreement between you and your debtor is satisfactory to you both, walk away with a smile and not a smirk, and thank them for reaching out.

If your nonpaying customer reached out for a meeting, it’s a good time to engage a debt collection attorney if you are not already working with one. Give us a call to review your case and find out more if a face-to-face will be beneficial to your claim. Call us at (212) 686-0100 or fill out our contact form. 

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