The 10 reasons a process server may fire clients is not limited to ten. I have read many articles for lawyers or law firms on firing a client. They all basically say the same thing. I want to talk about the reverse. What do I mean about the reverse. When a process serving agency should fire a lawyer of firm as a client. We use the same principles as lawyers do in firing clients.
First of all, I must tell you that it is not an easy decision nor does it happen overnight. Especially for long term clients. Why do we fire clients; the simple answer is keeping our sanity and better servicing all our clients not just a few!
Let me take you through these one at a time.
This doesn’t happen very often but we have had some clients that has had another agency try to serve paper(s) and have messed them up. Generally the client tried to save a few bucks and it has come back to bite them in the “behind” . Then call us and not let us know that you had another agency try to serve these papers. I guess in the legal world if something is not mentioned it is not lying. Maybe true, but if a service was already attempted/messed up we need to know about it. Why, because it changes our whole approach to serving these entities.
BIG ONE. No, we will never lie to you or for you, us or anyone else. We once had a lawyer who waited too long to give us the papers and wanted us to lie about when it was served. The attorney wanted us to say it was served before we even received the paper! Well, we said no way! The lawyer needed to file the affidavit right away and we said no problem we will handle it for you right away. The lawyer said no, I will meet your clerk at the courthouse and file it myself. Sure enough, we went back a week later to get a copy of the affidavit, and the date of service was changed. GOOD RIDDANCE!!
This isn’t really a big one as long as the client has good reasons. Maybe waiting for payment from their client. Some of our clients forward our bill to their client and they pay us directly. All these are generally not a problem. One client we waited almost two years for payment while still serving process for them. Why, Hurricane Sandy decimated their offices and they need time and money to get back to normal. Not a problem because they have used us for over a decade and they called us and explained the situation.
Now, the client I did fire was for slow payment or more accurately “No Payment”. We send statements out on the 1st of every month. It is automatic and emailed to the client. Then after 45 days past due we email a copy of the invoice that is late. This again is automatic. Our system just does it. Now, this particular client would pay for about 70% of all invoices for all cases and keep about 30% open. Just like clock work, at the end of the every year they would call us and ask to credit these open invoices because the case was closed internally. In the beginning we would because they gave us a lot of work. Then we figured out it was actually costing us money to serve their papers and we had to stop.
This is one of our favorites. Having us jump through hoops, drop everything, all hands on deck services and then when the bill arrives, the client nitpicks the invoices. Every invoice is justified and the price hasn’t changed but they can’t understand why it is so much. We explain that they asked for this when they ordered the service.
Our standard operating procedure is to work with them on a case by case basis. But when a client continues the same behavior over and over….GOOD-BYE!
We can understand when a service doesn’t go exactly the way or in the time frame you want it to go, it gets a little frustrating. We don’t do it on purpose. Sometimes people are out of town, the door man won’t let us up or what ever. Every attempt is emailed to our client to keep them appraised as to what is happening.
So when “Bobby Big Shot” calls and goes into a petulant tirade telling us what idiots we are and the process servers are stupid yada yada. Enough!! We fired a “Biglaw” firm over this. No matter what we did, we kept getting yelled at by this “Bobby Big Shot”. We don’t care who you are or who you work for…SEE YA!!
First, I want to explain that certain clients have our after hours number for emergencies. They are usually the Biglaw firms that has offices all over the world. Sometimes they put the managing clerks in a time crunch and need something done or setup right away. Fine, that is why we have the after hours number. But it is not there for non emergencies. Email will do quite nicely.
I can honestly say that all our Biglaw people respect and understand that and it has never been abused. Thank You!
This is a little touchy because we do a lot of same day services locally, nationally and sometimes internationally, so explaining this maybe a little difficult. But here goes. Over a decade ago we let a client go because all of a sudden he needed things done all at once. But then they decided to push the envelope. Meaning, come pick it up, serve it, have the server come back and prepare the affidavit, file it with the courts and drop it off a stamped copy at their office before noon. The only problem was when they negotiated the fee at the beginning of the relationship, they said they would have little to no same day rushes.
Once in a while is ok. We understand emergencies arise. But to do it everyday without renegotiating or letting us charge appropriately for it is out of bounds. Funny side note here, the gentleman we are remembering lost his job at this lawfirm and called us to see about opening up a process serving agency in New Jersey. The advise we gave him was to get clients!!
This usually happens on an extreme (same day) service. Sometimes a service is given to us with special instructions. It could be a simple request as personal only or whatever. We rush out to serve the documents and maybe the concierge is refusing to let us up or in NYC, most buildings, they have to call up and send someone down. When the individual refuses to come down to accept service or sends someone down who states they cannot accept for individuals only the company. The server relays the info back to us and we need to speak with you to get your direction.
The server may lose a chance to serve it by alternative means. So please, take our phone calls. Yes, I know you are busy but we want to do the best we can to achieve the results you wanted.
We don’t mind this because that is what we are here for except on certain occasions. The continual request to keep a server on hold because maybe we are serving an attorney a notice of motion that our client wants to serve at 10 pm knowing the opposing attorney won’t see it until the next day. Don’t get us wrong, we love this kind of service. It is even ok to do it numerous times and cancel at 9:30 pm while the server has been waiting since 6pm as requested. But then do No. 4 above. Come on!!
Yes, this happens quite frequently usually with the Pro Se client. Yes, we do want to serve the documents but our servers have other services to do as well. So calling our office and telling us, “He is home now send the server now”, isn’t always going to work with us. Meaning that at that exact time, the server who has the paperwork may be out of position or tagged with some extremes. So, just be patience and we will get it served.
Now for the law firms. There seems to be a line that can be crossed and I don’t have a reason for it except to say that we may get too close to some clients in the sense that they try to dispatch for us. They tell us I want someone there at 7 am, 11 am, 4 pm and 8:30 pm. Ok that is fine, but why, do you know something about the service justifying these times? No, but they are probably going to be difficult so this is what I want. Ok Fine. Have we given you any reason to think we cannot serve this without your direction?
Just tell us what you know and we will take care of it as always. If you know they are at the address a 4 pm, yes tell us. But to just randomly “dispatch” us is non productive.
We think the best way to decide is how is it effecting your office, organization and your life. Are you losing people because the client is raising stress levels and lowering morale? Do you find yourself worrying how they may react if there is a problem? Are they directly or indirectly affecting your quality of life? Well, it has been our experience that if this client(s) are doing any of these to the extremes, get rid of them.
But how. Well, I will tell you that “Bobby Big Shot” did happen during one telephone call. Yes, we should have given notice, possibly referred him to someone else and kept it more professional. I didn’t, my mistake. That being said that is exactly how to fire a client. Don’t do it on a whim. Try to work with them but if it doesn’t happen give lots of notice and/or refer them to someone stating we are unable to do your services anymore.
On a personal note, I have fired clients even during the great recession. We have replaced them and I feel better, my office has little to no stress and I sleep better at night. When the weather is good I may even get a couple of rounds of golf in knowing that the office can handle anything that comes into our office. Before, I thought I should be there just in case these clients called and tried to upend my office seemingly just for sport.