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jared 02-11-10 03:15 PM

When the check bounces
I worked a new years show where the bastard that ran it screwed everyone. All the performers, waiters, staff, etc.. It was in WV (I live in NY) they flew me out there and put me up, but the checks all bounced.
I don't have a contract, which is my own stupidity. Though I know that some of the performers did. And I know the person who initially contacted me (who also wasn't paid).
So my question is, what can be done in a situation like this?

Doctor Eric 02-11-10 04:15 PM

Do you own a claw hammer?

Doctor Eric 02-11-10 04:36 PM

Okay, in seriousness, the check he wrote, if you still have it, is proof that you had a verbal contract, the fact that he wrote it shows that he knows he owed you that much money. So legally, you have a leg to stand on, BUT, you'd much rather not do it in court, it'll take way too long. So the best thing to do is to hound the guy, call him every day for the next week or so, let him know you're taking legal action, and that you're advising the REST of the performers to do so as well. Threaten the best you can, and if that doesn't work for a week or so, then take him to small claims. You'll win.

Doctor Eric 02-11-10 04:38 PM

And in small claims, you can sue for a little more than what he wrote the check for, for your time. Just don't get greedy, another couple hun maybe but not too much. If you sue for too much extra, the judge will just think you're a greedy prick, but a little extra for your time, and for check bounce fees is totally reasonable.

martin ewen 02-11-10 08:30 PM

Step one; name and shame.
Won't impact your chances of getting any money back and might help someone else not get ripped off. In turn someone may remember you were the guy who set them straight and saved them potential grief and that in turn ever so slightly effects the regard in which you are held by the community you are associated with and that in turn Kevin Bacon.

martin ewen 02-11-10 09:08 PM

step 2
Go up the chain.
Presumably you know who the client was, it could go, promoter, venue, client or simply promoter, client,
Send a VERY polite letter to the venue people, if it was held in a commercial venue and or the client if it was not. [this is business bro] and outline how you would like to thank them for the venue/work but have a question regarding the chain of distribution of the budget accociated with the event. Apologise for the inconvenience and explain you are doing your own para-legal work before retaining council to try and keep your own legal costs to a minimum.
Ask them specifically whether their commercial relationship with 'X' could in any way relate to the fact that the majority of those subcontracted for the event were not paid.
Then yours sincerely yadda yadda.
What you are doing here is firstly letting them know that the matter is ongoing, secondly if it is indeed the case that he's just taken the budget and kept it for himself giving them the opportunity to stitch the guy up from the opposite end, their end and thirdly giving yourself further data that could be used later to pin the guy if he tries wiggling and trying to use extenuating circumstances to justify his theft.
Cos it looks like straight up fraud and if there's enough of you not paid you should get a lawyer between you and not take him to small claims but sue. He'll settle, you'll squeeze a bit and you could actually, if you identify him alone as the fraudster and set it all up with the right kind of mongrel lawyer, hurt him rather than just get your fee. With the lawyer involved you probably won't get that much more than the fee but you'll get the satisfaction of fucking with someone who tried to fuck with you.
Alternatively you could all get together and each chip something in and email me and for a small fee I'll take him out to some abandoned cabin in the woods and torture him.
That won't gain you anything but I'll feel better.

Steven Ragatz 02-11-10 10:34 PM

For a single gig, suck it up to experience and move on. Continue to try to contact the guy, but at some point it is more damaging to your own health and frustration than worth the money for one show.

Threaten them, but only with threats that you're willing to back up. If you're ready to get a lawyer involved, then go there, otherwise I wouldn't bother to bluff, especially since it sounds like nobody got paid.

Certainly don't work for them again. Feel free to share the information to other performers as well. You might not choose to slag the client online, simply because there can be ramifications, and it looks unprofessional, but all sorts of deal details get shared backstage. Networking is powerful stuff.

Keep your spirits up because there may be a silver lining! Chances are that this gig was not a very big one, but I imagine the experience will temper your contract policy. That change in attitude about your relationship with a client may pay off big time for a larger gig in the future. Learning experiences should not be taken for granted, even ones that are unpleasant. I swear I learn more from the bad ones than the good ones anyway.

On the other hand, it may just suck. Shit happens.

Steven Ragatz

jared 02-12-10 12:19 PM

Thanks for all the great advice. I have been hounding him and every contact I have in relation to the gig since the event. Every now and then someone will get back to me, say "you'll get paid" and then vanish for another week. They actually just replied yesturday saying they would pay me promptly at 9am this morning... and guess what happened. Maybe they're just fucking with me.
I do have the check and would love to take him to small claims, but he is in a different state.. and I would need to be in his county, right? If there is anyway around it, I'd do it. It was a $650 gig, I can move on. But I'm just pissed and want to make him pay.
He is the owner of the venue, and he didnt pay the person he hired to hire me. So I can't really attack at the rest of the chain.
I may just have to move on with a lesson learned, continue to hound him, if anything just to annoy him and punch him in the face if I ever make my way back his way. :)

martin ewen 02-12-10 01:19 PM

you got some sort of ethic consideration about sharing his name? Doing so would help innoculate others from being infected by him is all.

Isabella 02-12-10 09:01 PM

You can also clearly and non-aggressively write out your side of the story, and submit it to the local Better Business Bureau and any professional associations the guy might be a member of or associated with.

Doctor Eric 02-13-10 03:17 AM

Also, for a small fee, you can hire me to show up with my claw hammer.

nick nickolas 02-13-10 05:21 AM

and for a few dollars more I'll come along with a banjo and squeezebox.

Mr.Taxi Trix 02-13-10 07:02 AM

You can take him to small claims, there's a loophole I've used, which might work for you. When filing, if they see the address, and ask about the location, you tell the clerk the contract was made and agreed to over the phone, from your home or office there. This lets the claim go through, and if the producer wants to argue for a change in venue, they still have to show up. If they fail to appear, you can still win a judgement.

Then the work begins.

You have to wait 90 days for payment that will fail to come, then you have to contact the police in this persons area, then show them your settlement and their failure to pay, then, ready? They get ARRESTED! They must then pay you, or you will press charges.

Suddenly, cash arrives.

Best of luck.

Lee Nelson 02-13-10 08:14 AM

I have been through this process in another country. It was by far one of the most satisfying things i have ever done. Getting someone who thought they were above the law arrested.
Dont get me wrong, I wouldnt want to spend my life doing this but it was certainly worth the effort. And that money sure was sweet when I finally recieved it. I still get a big smile on my face everytime I think about the police arriving at his house.......

jared 02-13-10 08:50 PM

Ethics? Guy's name is Greg Campbell. The event was at his restaurant "jeckyl and Hyde"
I will try that loophole with the small claims. Thanks for the tip! From what i've heard the guy has already been arrested more than once from fucking all his other employees. I hope he isn't getting too comfortable there.

Doctor Eric 02-14-10 04:02 AM

I definitely suggest you go after him. It's good to set a precedent for yourself, and not take shit lying down.

jester 02-18-10 10:24 AM

Cut the rubbish
If you are telling the truth you have nothing to fear from naming and shaming. Just name them, but remember to post when they do actually pay and do so with good grace.

Last year I had a problem with an agency claiming that a juggler I worked with was not very good and that their client was unhappy.

I was at a party where the organisers were inconsiderate to guests who arrived 15 minutes early, where the venue was cold and not sufficiently heated and where the band were cheap and the singers were not good.

There were so many possible avenues of complaint but the organiser chose to blame the young juggler who had dropped the odd item in the cold. The juggler had been asked to stand outside in the cold February air for 30 minutes longer than originally agreed and there was no warm room for her to go in to to warm up afterwards.

The guests were indifferent to the juggler anyway as I was stealing the show with my more spectacular circus props. Being larger and better insulated and moving around much more I was warm enough.

So the agency rang demanding a substantial discount. I told them my side of the story and the agency told me that they had already agreed to the discount. I told the agency that this was now their problem and I expected my juggler to be paid in full.

Agency came back re-ieterating the organisers complaint... So I rang the event company, spoke to the person on the ground to discover that none of the guests or staff had a complaint.

So I rang the person who had made the complaint and she was hostile and angry.. and threatened to black list me... and I got paid in full that day. Ta Dah!. Simple words: "I am telling you my side of the story, if you would like me to put that in writing and address it to your client, the venue, the agent and your partners at work, then continue to shout."

However I was paid so I shall not mention their name. I still think they are TWATS and even in these hard times I have twice refused to work for them.

Doctor Eric 02-18-10 06:58 PM

He already named the guy in the post directly above yours, Jester. I thought you were turning over a new leaf?

jester 02-19-10 12:15 PM

I'm sorry. I promised not to be deliberately annoying. I never said I was cured of stupidity!

martin ewen 02-20-10 01:55 AM

Brilliant, humility is all we ask for, even if it's faked. it's a same page kinda deal

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