Sunday, 22 March 2015

Loads of CPD - and some tips on credit control

12 February 2015

Today is the Merseyside regional meeting.  I had not realised how much stamina they have in Liverpool.  The seminar lasts from 11.30 am until 5.30 pm, which is an awful lot of CPD in anyone’s book.  The hotel staff do their best to increase our suffering, firstly by turning up the heating to gas mark 3 and then by directing us here, there and everywhere in the refreshment breaks.  Those of us who go here when we should have gone there are firmly admonished.  It is clear that in Liverpool, the concept of the customer always being right – or indeed of the customer always being welcome – is unheard of.

I have brought my Cowtrackingclangingthingen (aka cow-bells) from Austria.  I use these to herd the delegates from here, there and everywhere into the only-just-subtropical meeting room, and also to tell the speakers when to shut up.  There are six speakers, and though they have most fascinating topics to speak on, I would really rather they didn’t exceed their allotted times or we will still be here at midnight.  In between Cowtrackingclangingsounden we hear about data protection laws (which apparently we are supposed to comply with, sigh); IP taxation (which apparently we are supposed to know about, sigh); and excluded subject matter (which apparently we should stop trying to protect because the IPO are getting frustrated).  Sigh.  We also hear the latest on the UPC, the latest from the courts, and a bit about criminal sanctions for IP pirate bandit criminals.

The most entertaining talk of the day is by a bailiff, who insists he is not a bailiff but a court enforcement officer.  His job is to get money off people who have shown little inclination to pay despite niceties such as invoices, solicitors’ letters, writs and County Court judgments.

He says there are basically two types of debtors: Can’t-pay and Won’t-pay.  Can’t-pay has six children in a one-bedroomed flat, boarded-up windows and very little furniture left after the last time the bailiffs I mean court enforcement officers visited.  Won’t-pay has electric gates and a Porsche®.  The speaker has photographs of these two types of debtors, and of how he managed to put wheel clamps on the Porsches despite everyone’s best efforts.  He says that his success often depends on the “twitcher” next door.  The twitcher is that most neighbourly of neighbourhood watchers, who keeps an eye on things through jumpy net curtains and is always happy to give away information if pressed sufficiently firmly for instance with a cup of tea.  The twitcher will tell you where the Porsche is hidden, and whether the owner is really out or only pretending to be, not to mention who he is sleeping with and how often his wife gets a delivery from Oddbins®.

In my experience, there are several other shades of debtor too:

  • Never intended to pay
  • Can only pay in turnips
  • Thinks you were joking.

Never-intended-to-pay gives a contact address that turns out to be a public convenience.  This makes the “know your client” procedures distinctly unpleasant.  Can-only-pay-in-turnips is protected by a moat of mud and cow pats, a raging bull, six hungry sheep dogs and eleven very feral farm cats.  And a tractor with man-mincing jaws. 

Thinks-you-were-joking shows up with a fiver and expresses dissatisfaction about your use of decimal points.

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